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Postcrossing Blog

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

Posts tagged "back-of-postcards"

On a recent Instagram browsing session research expedition, I accidentally stumbled on Amy (aka amyvnwijk)'s colourful account, and was immediately captivated. The stamps, the washi tape, the airmail stickers… Her creations are awe-inspiring, every postcard a miniature piece of art!

I was curious to find out more about her mailings, and luckily, Amy agreed to answer a few questions about it, so we had a mini-interview! Here she is to tell us more about her gorgeous postcards.

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

I get most of my inspiration from the season we are in or the place where I’m at. I love traditional Dutch images or illustrations, flowers and nature, so I like to incorporate that in my mail as well. Along with lots of bright and happy colors of course! A few examples:

Photo Dutch Mail Photo Holiday   Summer Mail

Dutch and holiday/summer themed mail

Photo Christmas Mail Photo Color Themed Mail

Christmas and color-themed mail

Where do you start?

I start with choosing the stamps. If it’s a certain season or holiday I like to use stamps and tapes complementary to that. If I go for a colored theme I match the colors of the stamps together with a same colored washi tape. I always begin by making a border around the card with the washi tape. Sometimes I use small tape but if the tape is a little wider I cut of the excess with a scissor. Then I stick on the stamps and the priority label. Finally I use rubber stamps. While the ink of the rubber stamp is drying I go to the next card and when everything is decorated I start writing.

Which materials do you use to decorate your postcards?

I mainly use washi tape and rubber stamps to decorate my postcards. My favorites are tapes with floral prints because they are always very cheerful. I also like using rubber stamps — for official Postcrossing cards, I use a Postcard ID-stamp. For writing I use colored gel pens or fine liners. As an extra stamp I like to use an old Dutch “gulden” stamp. They are no longer allowed as postage but I think they are beautiful and a nice decoration to the card.

Amy's Decorated Cards

Some other useful materials are a pair of (small) craft scissors, a ruler and a retractable knife. I try to stay away from glue or really sticky deco tape because it’s easy to stain the card and hard to correct when you make a little mistake. Paper tapes, like washi tape, are a lot easier to remove when you decide to go for something else or need to make an adjustment.

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

I love choosing and decorating cards the best from the whole Postcrossing experience! I enjoy sending happy and colorful mail and when I read on the profile that the receiver likes it as well, I get excited straight away. Sometimes it’s a bit of a gamble if the receiver would appreciate it, but I’ve received a lot of positive feedback on my sent cards so far. A few weeks ago a woman wrote in her hurray message that she would frame my card — that really made my day.

And finally, can you show us the place where the magic happens?

My desk is also my work and laptop table so when the addresses are requested the laptop goes to the side so I have enough room for my craft supplies. I keep everything in basic storage boxes in a cabinet so when the crafting and writing can start I bring everything I need over to my desk.

Amy's desk

Thank you Amy, that was lovely — I’m really inspired to beautify my postcards now!

Do you decorate your postcards too? If so, share your own tips below!

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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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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!

Dachshunds

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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