Holly Camp Cards: Honoring the work of becoming a mother

New greeting cards from local artist Holly Camp help find the words to love, honor, and support those for whom the pathway to parenthood isn’t all storks and cute Instagram posts.

Last Mother’s Day was a hard one for Holly Camp. An “emotional roller coaster,” she calls it, undoubtedly echoing the sentiments of fellow women struggling with infertility.

“I knew I needed to create something that addressed the fact that not all mothers hold a baby in their arms, and that lots of women have an incredibly difficult path to parenthood,” says Camp.

Camp is the owner and designer of Holly Camp Cards through which she sells greeting card prints of her original acrylic paintings featuring everything from illustrations of red poppies, a flower-bearded lion, or a drunk octopus (“Drunktopus”) to flourish-y declarations of “You caffeinate me.”

A Richmonder via Atlanta, Camp became interested in art in middle school.

“As every middle school aged girl is want to do, I spent a lot of time drawing horses and butterflies and girls with big bangs in the margins of my class notes. I took that very solid artistic background and graduated from the Communication Arts program at VCU, with an emphasis on Illustration,” Camp explains. “Following that, I spent a lot of time focusing on freelance illustration projects with a wide range of editorial and book clients, painting everything from illustrated maps to a vial of blood to runaway radishes.”

Camp started creating greeting cards eight years ago, with Holly Camp Cards gaining momentum over the last year or two and attracting the attention of the likes of Martha Stewart and Bust.

“That sensation of pulling a hand addressed envelope (something that isn’t a bill or a coupon for window washing!) out of your mailbox never gets old. Writing and sharing messages on paper is beautiful,” says Camp. “Holding a well designed greeting card, sent to you by a loved one, and knowing they also held it and took the time to consider what that card would mean to you? That’s so special.”

Camp taps into this power of a well-chosen note with her newly-released line of greeting cards designed for women struggling to conceive–a project she’d had on her mind since that hard Mother’s Day last year.

“I spent almost the whole entire year knowing I wanted to do this project, and then at the last possible moment, I finally spent a very frantic and very coffee-fueled two-week period with my sketchbook. It was emotional and raw, and, I do believe, exactly right for what I needed,” Camp explains.

“Trying to build a family can be difficult,” Camp continues. “I have been lucky to have an incredible support system of loving and welcoming friends and family, but, unfortunately, a lot of people don’t have that, or don’t realize they could have that. Infertility is already a devastating and all-consuming struggle, and it’s so unfortunate that, for the most part, people feel societal pressure to keep this particular pain and grief to themselves. That can make an already challenging time infinitely more overwhelming. With one in eight couples suffering from infertility, no one should have to feel alone.”

While all of Camp’s cards are quirky, her infertility/TTC1 line also brings in elements of real talk, a little sass, and hope. Whether you go for a simple message of solidarity with her “Wishing you love, strength, and whiskey” print, or opt for the more humorous approach with her TTC acronym-filled illustration, Camp hopes these cards open up the dialogue about infertility, particularly on Mother’s Day–a day she (rightly) deems “very complicated” for many women.

“One of the more incredible things from all of this that I have experienced is the immense bond that forms within a huge community of women facing this same struggle,” says Camp. “All these women–these mothers–already prioritizing and doing everything they can for their future children, even though they haven’t had the opportunity to meet them yet. The word ‘mother’ entails a lot of different things, and I know for sure that some ways of being a mother include dealing with stressful and invasive medical procedures, getting buried under mounds of home study paperwork, and continuing to be strong after loss.”

“Greeting cards connect people in a unique way and can speak to a larger conversation. I love the role of greeting cards as being an active participant in these conversations,” says Camp. “My greatest hope would be that for someone receiving these cards, that they communicate a sense of love and comfort, a safe and compassionate place for sharing, and the understanding that what you’re going through matters and that your pain is real and deserves to be heard. And possibly given whiskey and doughnuts. Maybe even more whiskey, too.”

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Holly Camp Cards can be purchased on Etsy (some are available via instant download). TTC cards can also be picked up at Orange in Carytown and Gather Home and Garden in Church Hill. Ellwood Thompson’s and Strawberry Fields Flowers and Finds carry selections, as well.

For more on Holly Camp and her work, visit hollycamp.com.

  1. “Trying to conceive.” 
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Valerie Catrow

Valerie Catrow is editor of RVAFamily, mother to a mop-topped first grader, and always really excited to go to bed.

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