The 53-year-old graphic artist selects concise, often epigrammatic phrases; designs the type, which is then commercially printed on blank cards; and adds elegantly simple collages or illustrations to the covers.
"You pick up a card because of the look of it," Land explains. "But you buy it because of what it says. You buy it because of how you want someone to feel.
"I find quotes in books or on TV," she adds. Inspiration can be "a sermon at church, or the bottle cap from an ice tea. And the Internet nowadays is very helpful."
Land grew up one of three sisters in a blue-collar family in Vineland, N.J. She majored in illustration at Moore College of Art and graduated in 1980.
Her first job, designing packages and advertising for a dental supply company, was "very boring," Land says. "It's truly a struggle to be an artist. It's a hard, hard life for the most part."
When the dental job ended in 1985, "I wanted to do something with illustration, so I started a card company," Land recalls. "What attracted me to cards was that I could do a pretty picture."
She designed some samples and went door to door showing them to retailers in Philadelphia. "Everybody loved them, so I had them printed," she says. "But nobody bought them."
Land then became a "card rep," the go-between for card companies and buyers. "I was extremely good at it. At one point I had 30 different lines I was selling," she says.
It was invaluable experience, even for someone who was more interested in art than commerce. And it began to pay off when she decided to relaunch Lydia's Land in the early 1990s.
"I had gotten divorced, and with the cards I became really intent on the sentiment, not so much on the picture. I really couldn't afford to have cards printed, so I thought, 'What if I do a handmade version?' "
Land wanted her paint, paper, and fabric to do more than decorate. She wanted them to complement, even deepen, the messages.
On an anniversary card, Tennyson's statement "Love is the only gold" is surrounded by a rush of brushstrokes that suggest sheaves of wheat.
A burst of confetti showers the front of a congratulations card. And her "Life's a Dance" birthday card features a glittery purple dress that looks ready to cha-cha-cha all by itself.
"Lydia's are our best-selling cards," says Jessica Hart, manager of Arts Plus, a crafts and decor store in Collingswood. "They're little works of art."
While the Internet has made finding quotations easier, it also has further eroded a greeting card market that was suffering due to the economy.
For many people, e-mail, "e-cards," and other forms of digital communication have replaced the near-universal ritual of going to a brick-and-mortar store and choosing a paper card.
"I don't think younger people send many cards," Land says. But nothing else provides the same experience as opening an envelope, she notes.
"I like to think that people feel good when they open a card . . . that they think, 'Wow, this person really knows me.'
"It's a feeling of delight. Or if they're having a tough moment, it touches them . . . and helps them keep going."
Contact Kevin Riordan at 856-779-3845, firstname.lastname@example.org, or @inqkriordan on Twitter. Read the metro columnists' blog, "Blinq," at http://www.philly.com/blinq