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Postcrossing Blog

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

Posts tagged "back-of-postcards"

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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Some time ago, we stumbled on katilemur's profile and were intrigued by a request which read “draw, please, the Dachshund – is a short-legged, long-bodied dog. It’s easy for drawing, really!”.

We wondered… did she receive a lot of drawn dachshunds on her postcards? Turns out… yes, she did!


From the top-left corner (with permission), drawings by zheka-french, Anja71, flooranna, Lord5005, cami21901, katkarapusalaatti, Bookorama, Ella_Grape and julykachanova.

A lot of drawers seem a bit reserved about their drawing skills, but they still gave it a go! How cool is that? :D

We were curious so we asked Ekaterina… why dachshunds?

“Once I wanted to get something more interesting than just ”greetings from… happy postcrossing". I thought how to encourage people to do little more than they used to. And I’ve decide the simple drawing is what I need. So remained only to choose a theme. It had to be something simple, have the typical features and everyone should know it and the result must be funny… I guess it’s very easy to draw the dachshund for anyone, even if you don’t know how to draw: long body with short legs! I’ve got the dachshund and I like this breed. So my choice was predetermined =)"
Hot dog dachshund

Drawing by BenjaminYuxin.

Great work, everyone! :) You can see more lovely dachshunds on katilemur's collection here.


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Writing is great – but why not take advantage of postcards to express yourself in more creative ways? Sometimes a bit of colour or a funny sticker can really make a postcard stand out and bring a smile to the recipient’s face!

Here are some decorating tips that will take your postcard-making experience to the next level:

  • The way you write out the words can create a striking effect. Try writing in a spiral, starting from the inner point and circling your sentences around each other… or just arrange the words in a recognisable form, shaped poetry style!
  • Scituate postcard
  • Draw something on the postcard! Maybe try your hand at a portrait of yourself, the postbox where you’ll post your card or perhaps match it to the image on the front – even if you’re not a great artist, it will at least make for a good laugh!
  • Pens, tapes or glue glitter also help make a colorful statement!
  • Customize a rubber stamp that is unique to you, and use the cool design to sign off with instead of your name. Or choose from a variety of pre-made rubber stamps to add a bit of quirkiness to your message.
  • Postmuse's postcards
  • Stickers! Stickers are fun, especially shiny, fuzzy, and smelly ones! Add a couple to your postcard for a pop of color, or turn your message into a deciphering exercise by using picture stickers to symbolize words instead of writing them out!
  • And last but not least, choose the stamps carefully, since they’re an important element of your card! You can try to match them to the card, or just give them a bit of context, like the funny example below:
  • Flickr stamp

    Got any more fun decorating tips? Do share them in the comments below!

    Postcard photos by PostMuse, stamp photo by Donovan Beeson.


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