Valentine’s Day is approaching and the only thing more cliché than the holiday itself… is hating it. It says something when the acronym for its subcultural adversary (Singles Awareness Day) actually spells out the word SAD.

There is definitely a spectrum on which people choose to express their disdain for Valentine’s Day. And if Shred Your Ex, where people send pictures of former lovers to be run through a paper shredder and delivered to an animal shelter as kitty litter, is on one (emotionally unstable) side of that spectrum, then on the other side, there’s graphic designers like Victoria Seimer (@witchoria), who express their criticism of the holiday in a more… abstract manner.

Valentine's day party
Some people throw birthday parties. Seimer, featured here, throws pity parties — very exclusive affairs where the lines between organizer, party-goer, and photographer get blurred. Because they’re all the same person.

Siemer, who goes by the alias Witchoria, is a graphic designer based in Brooklyn, NY. She describes herself as working “predominantly in the digital realm, creating surreal photo manipulations that reflect her penchant for ennui, existential crisis, and heartbreak.” Her work has been featured in a variety of digital publications including Wired, Juxtapoz, Huffington Post, Cosmopolitan, and Business Insider.

Her subject matter is typically mundane everyday objects that pique our curiosity by tweaking simple elements:

happy valentines day
©Victoria Siemer (@witchoria)

Sometimes, by inserting simple phrases into contexts some might consider a tad out of place.

valentine's day ideas
©Victoria Siemer (@witchoria)

Sometimes by appropriating corporate design elements (like the all-too-familiar pin from Google Maps) and substituting corporate microcopy for something a bit more sinister.

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tornado picture
©Victoria Siemer (@witchoria)

And sometimes, by omitting text altogether, and creating absurd images by editing all kinds of insanity into her morning cup o’ joe (no big deal).

creative picture editing
©Victoria Siemer (@witchoria)

In all cases, what results is a sardonic surrealism that sends a message louder and clearer than the words she uses to communicate them: Things are never quite what they seem. And in fact, they’re probably a lot worse.

©Victoria Siemer (@witchoria)

So, you can imagine, when deciding what to write about this Valentine’s Day, Seimer’s cheeky Sweetheart series from last year caught our eye. Because nothing says, “I’m over it” like appropriating the symbols of a holiday that commodifies romantic love for commercial gain and re-releasing them with a cynical spin.

valentine's day photo ideas
©Victoria Siemer (@witchoria)

Her series featured the small, heart-shaped sugar candies sold around Valentine’s Day, reworked into a new, sarcastic context. Traditional cutesy phrases like “Love Me” had been replaced by self-deprecating ones, like “Nope” and “Self-Loathing.” And they are magnificent in their simplicity.

Inspired by Seimer as a case study in creative cultural criticism, we want to know, what’s your your take on Valentine’s Day this year? It’s coming, whether you like it or not, so here’s your chance to make your voice heard. Submit your images with the hashtag #ToughLove.


Karine is a Staff Writer at PicsArt Photo Studio. She originally hails from Washington D.C. and currently lives in Yerevan, Armenia. A musician by training, she is also a freelance journalist and graphic designer who is passionate about the arts and the environment (in no particular order).