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Postcrossing Blog

News, updates, and all kinds of goodies and stories from the postal world!

Posts tagged "back-of-postcards"

Another month starts and it’s time for a new suggestion for the messages on your postcards! But first, let us ask: did last month’s writing prompt help you unlock some creativity and write a bit more on your postcards? We really hope so!

(For those that are new to them, the writing prompts are an ongoing experiment that invites postcrossers to write about a different topic on their postcard’s messages every month. These are just suggestions though — if you already know what you want to write about, or the recipient gives you some pointers, that’s great too!)

December’s writing prompt was suggested by Heepy on the forum. Here it goes:

In December, describe a famous food from your region.

This should be an easy one, right? Around here in the south of Portugal, the “holy trinity of crops” consists of almonds, carob and figs. Most of the local sweets will include one or more of these, giving them a very characteristic taste and texture. After extensive research, we can confirm it’s absolutely delicious! I could definitely write about it at length on my postcards… 😋

What about you, what is typical from your region? We invite you to pick a favourite local dish or sweet and tell your recipients all about it on your December postcards — you might even inspire someone across the world to try it out someday!

PS – Got some cool ideas for more prompts? Feel free to share them on this forum thread!

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Do you also feel like the best postcards we receive are often the ones that are completely filled with thoughts? When the text is so long and interesting that words start spilling into the address side of the postcard, grabbing our attention for a moment longer… Those tend to be the ones that truly connect us to another place and another person, beyond the standard “Hello, my name is…”

That said, we know coming up with interesting subjects for writing on your postcards can be hard. Sometimes we’re not particularly inspired, or we’re tired at the end of the day or we might feel like there’s just not that much to say. If you struggle with what to write on your postcards, we’re starting an experiment today that might help — we’re calling them the “monthly writing prompts”.

Here’s how it goes: in the beginning of the month we’ll publish a post suggesting a topic, and if you’d like, you can use this topic as a starting point for the messages on the postcards you send that month. Please note that the suggested theme is 100% optional and meant as a suggestion only. If you already know what you want to write about or the recipient gives you some tips of what they’d like to hear from you, that’s wonderful… but just in case you need ideas, we’re here to help!

Ok, so here’s the topic for the inaugural month of these prompts, as suggested by ColourfulCourtney on the forum:

In November, write about something that makes you smile.

This is one of my favourite topics to write on postcards, actually! Things that make you smile have a big chance of bringing a smile to someone else’s face, so it’s nice to share them. Incidentally, this theme reminds me of Maria singing about her favourite things on The Sound of Music, which reminds me of musicals… which is one of the things that puts a smile on my face! 😊  I could definitely write about all my favourite musicals, and all the songs I know by heart…

You get the idea, right? Just pick something that makes you smile and share it with your recipient. Be specific and elaborate on it as much as you’d like. Let’s fill November’s postcards with stories and meaningful messages and spread some smiles all around. Have a great month, everyone!

PS – Have ideas for more prompts? Feel free to share them on this forum thread! Remember that the forum requires a separate login from that of the Postcrossing website, so if you have not created an account there, you will need to do so in order to use it.

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Dear Data book

Early last year we mentioned a project called Dear Data, in which two ladies across the Atlantic exchanged drawn infographic postcards every week, detailing one specific aspect of their lives. Things such as complaints they uttered or compliments they’ve received, or even very specific things like animals they saw or doors they went through were all counted and sketched into white postcards, and then posted to each other. They kept it up for a whole year, collecting data and turning the experiment into a weekly ritual of discovery.

The project was so popular that it didn’t surprise me to discover it was edited in a book format recently, and I think it’s even better to browse the postcards this way, in an analogue format equivalent to that in which they came to life.

The postcard images remain intriguing and unreadable at first glance, inviting further investigation in order to decode them. The legends on the back though are super detailed and often contain several layers of information to add to their complexity… it’s astonishing to realize how much data they must have collected over the year!

Dear Data - laughter week

The pages in-between postcards are also funny and often provide insights or little anecdotes into Stefanie and Georgia’s lives… like how they both discovered their love for Haribo gummy bears on week 17!

Slowly, throughout the book, you also realise how a conversation is happening between the designers through their correspondence, how they’re getting to know each other and thinking a bit more about their lives through the analysis that is taking place in real time.

All in all, Dear Data is a remarkable book, inspiring us to slow down and really observe what is happening all around… and then grab our pens to put all these interesting details into our postcards!

Spending time with data

PS – Sadly, it’s also very noticeable on the book how badly US machines treat their outbound mail… Why, USPS, why?! 😠

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A few of you sent us the link to Dear Data this week — an intriguing project mixing information visualization with postcards and mail. We loved reading about it and thought we should share it with everyone!

Giorgia and Stefanie have a few things in common: they’re the same age, only children, love drawing and are both information designers. They live across the ocean from each other, but decided to embark on an adventure together: to send each other weekly postcards, depicting their weeks as data graphics!

Dear Data project

Each week has a loose theme, which they turn into an infographic. For example: counting the number of times they check themselves on a mirror, how much complaining they did or how often they picked up their phone… When the postcard is done, they mail it to each other!

Dear Data project - random postcards

Each card is unique and mysterious, urging you to check the legend on the back before having a second, closer look at the front image.

Sample postcard, from Stefanie to Giorgia

The result is really fascinating, an analytical yet intimate glimpse into Giorgia and Stefanie’s lives and the way they see and measure their world.

Sample postcard, from Giorgia to Stefanie

Right now there are 10 weeks of postcards posted on the website, and we’re already eagerly anticipating the next ones! What do you think they should measure next? And how would your week look like, if you gave it a try? :)

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The other day, while randomly browsing the internet for inspiration, I chanced upon this Tumblr, where I noticed all the beautifully decorated postcards… which upon further inspection, proved to be actual Postcrossing cards!

Look how pretty they are:

Amiko's postcards

My jaw dropped at all the detail on the back… from the stickers, to the decoration tapes, to the carefully chosen stamps… even the address labels and Postcard ID bubbles were pretty! :) After much oohing and aahing, I decided I had to get in touch – and luckily Amiko (aka amiko_h) who comes from Japan, kindly agreed to do a mini-interview about her art! :)

Here’s what she had to say:

Can you tell us a little bit about your decoration process? What inspires you? Where do you start?

Firstly I choose a postcard for the recipient after checking his/her favorite or wishlist. Then I pick up the main theme such as color or motif. Sometimes I connect the theme with the postcard image, sometimes I pick up the other motif from the recipient’s favorites, or sometimes I just connect the theme with the stamp I want to use at the time. At this selection phase, you should also remember your taste. Enjoy yourself. Actually I never use my dislikes.

Next I choose material from my collection, and try this or that combination on the card for the color and total layout including message area. Usually it takes me the most amount of time to fix the layout. When you have the feeling of interlocking pieces, go on to finish it!

Amiko's postcards
Which materials do you use to decorate your postcards?

Mainly I use washi tapes and ready-made stickers for my decoration. Sometimes I put in some cut-out from origami, my hand-made stickers, scraps from magazines and use my hand-carved rubber stamps. Of course, you should remember beautiful postal stamps! I am apt to buy on impulse those small material as well as postcards whenever I find them…

Amiko's postcards
What are the member’s reactions when they receive your postcards? Do they appreciate the extra effort?

There is either some appreciation or nothing. Half and half. But it doesn’t matter so much either way… I think the decoration is just decoration. And I myself enjoy the process more than anything! :)

I think the most important thing in Postcrossing and penpaling is a kind of hospitality. I always consider the recipient as my guests or friends I haven’t met yet. Without any decoration, people would be happy when they get warm message and consideration.

Happy Postcrossing!

And finally, can you show us your workstation… where the magic happens?
Amiko's work area

Thank you Amiko, that was lovely! Though now I’m sure I’ll have dreams of stickers and washi tapes…

Do you decorate your postcards too? Leave some tips on the comments – we’re always looking for inspiration! :)

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