Postcrossing Blog

Stories about the Postcrossing community and the postal world

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A while ago, Anu (aka Gummu) from Bangalore 🇮🇳 surprised us by mailing six postcards to Postcrossing’s PO box, each with a quirky illustration, fun stamps and a piece of a postal story! You see, each postcard had a little chapter of the adventure that was searching for these same postcards in her hometown. We’ll let Anu tell the story, as it was written to us on her postcards: 😊

"Dear team Postcrossing, hello from Bangalore!

July 2019. It has been years since I entered a post office. I’d occasionally send a new year greeting or a birthday card. Signing up for Postcrossing brought back to mind all the post office coordinates around where I live, as did the fact that I hadn’t set foot in the gorgeous old GPO (General Post Office, Govt. of India) building in my city forever. So here’s a story in 6 cards…

A multi-postcard adventure story!

August 2019. The first visit to GPO revealed a philately desk and a shop. There I found this 20-card booklet, Bangalore in the 70s, illustrated by Paul Fernandes, Bangalore-based artist. Each card is an amazing, nostalgic throwback to a city we loved, loved, loved, but have seen slowly disappear over the last three decades. I picked up two booklets, gifted one and used up mine in no time. Went back for more but it was out of stock everywhere!

November 2019. Got a lead from the GPO that they may be available in one Post Office in another area. I head off on a Friday afternoon. At first, the staff said, no sorry, no stock. I get to speak to a junior branch manager, who, after listening to my quest said, “Let me make some calls…”

Subhash, the junior branch manager, made 6 calls over half an hour. Got phone numbers of staff at other branches and finally, tracked down a PO sales exec who had them at an exhibit at the agricultural university, just outside the city. Told me he would be there until 5pm, set me up with the sales exec’s phone number. Thanking Subhash profusely, I set off. If you know Bangalore traffic, you’d start to get nervous bout me ever getting there on time.

I made it to university by 4:45pm and discovered the beauty of the campus, green sprawling, rows of mango trees. Spied the convention hall where the exhibit was happening. Turned out to be an exhibit by uni students on the lives of insects (fascinating!) and located the young sales executive. He had kept aside 20 card booklets for me!

A multi-postcard adventure story!

Happy dance! Learnt from the sales person that India Post is planning to do another run of this card set. I hope they do! They are delighted that Postcrossing is going strong. I’ve spread the joy a bit by sharing the cards with old Bangaloreans, and with postcrossers. So, thank you team, for igniting the love for sending, receiving, reading, writing and connecting with the world.

Love,
  Anu"

Thank you Anu, for sharing your adventure and Paul Fernandes gorgeous postcards with us!

We love the story as much as we love the multi-postcard format — so pleasing! Imagine writing a story like this to a friend or little one, in postcard-sized installments that keep them peeking into the mailbox everyday for more… wouldn’t that be lovely? Pick a story or maybe an adventure you’ve recently lived, an unsuspecting friend and go surprise them with a few postcards! 😊

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Alexander (aka puzzlel) from Germany says he started drawing as a little child, and never really stopped. Although he considers it just a hobby, his hand-drawn postcards are a work of beauty! We were enchanted by his talent and decided to ask him a few questions about them.

How did you discover Postcrossing? What made you stay?

One year ago my aunt Karin and her husband Meck introduced me to Postcrossing. I bought some postcards and started. Address No 8 was supposed to go to a postcrosser in America. She wrote in her profile: “Handmade cards are like a gift ~ I love them!” I thought about it and sent her my first handmade card DE-6864388. That – and her very positive reaction when she received the card – was the starting point. You can guess: I owe her a million thanks!

Puzzlel drawn postcards

I don’t know what makes me stay. Sometimes I think I got addicted to making postcards…

As I understand it, you find your inspiration for the postcards on the profiles assigned to you. Could you explain a bit the process of making these postcards?

I get the new address, read the profile and try to find something in the list I could draw or paint. It must be something I am happy with. Sometimes it is pretty easy, for example if the receiver is fond of pineapples or elephants I know what to do. Sometimes I have to think about it for quite a while. If I have no idea at all I read the text to my kids: they have enough ideas!

Next step: I need a reference. I cannot make a pineapple just out of my head without a photo or a real pineapple in front of me. I look in the internet for a proper photo; I check my sketch books for a drawing I could use as reference; I ask my kids “Guys! Does anyone of you have a photo of Darth Vader/a pig/a cat/Lucky Luke/an ice bear? Maybe in one of your books?” Or I ask “Would you mind borrowing me your teddy bear/Eifel tower/plastic scull/little locomotive for a while?”

Puzzlel drawn postcards

Then I start to paint or to draw.

There is an important post process as well. I send a photo of every postcard to my aunt Karin (the game does not work without her comments) and I show the card to my wife and my kids for quality check. Sometimes I have to do corrections.

When the card is about an animal or a plant I usually write the name of it in the language of the receiver and in German on the card. A Chinese and a Russian friend help me to check my writing. Once I made a funny mistake: for the animal “Seehund” I wrote the Chinese word “sealing”. It took a while to understand: google does not translate directly German to Chinese, but German to English and then English to Chinese. The English word for “Seehund” is seal.

Do you have a favourite postcard that you’ve made?

On very rare occasions I stood in front of the letterbox with the new postcard in my hand thinking: No! I would like to keep this one! … I remember that it happened with DE-6959811, DE-7169621 and lately DE-7761999 (still traveling). So I guess these are my favourite ones.

Puzzlel drawn postcards Puzzlel drawn postcards
How much time do you need for a postcard and where do you find the time to make them?

It depends. Usually it takes one or two hours. Not counting the time thinking about what to paint/draw.

Over the years my wife and I watched less and less TV. Last year we replaced it by a fireplace (much better program…). Think of all the free time you generate in the evenings when you stop watching TV and reduce internet surfing to a minimum!

On the weekend I wake up the same time as every day. While my lazy family stays in bed I have one or two hours just for me to do a little painting. And to listen to music they are not so very fond of, like Miles Davis.

Puzzlel drawn postcards

Thank you Alexander for this wonderful interview! You can see more of his postcards on his Sent gallery.

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Kehvola

We first saw Kehvola's cards on a pop-up postcard fair organised by the Finnish Postcrossing Friends Association in Tampere, and I confess I was instantly smitten! It’s no secret I have a sweet spot for illustration, but their playful style and daring colour palette was what got me hooked.

At the time, I sent the postcard on the right to a booklover friend, and stocked on others… though I’ve been very reluctant to part with them!

At the time, we talked a bit with the owners, Veera and Timo, who were staffing their booth at the fair, and Timo agreed to answer a few questions for the blog. So ladies and gentlemen, here he is to tell us more about Kehvola!

How did Kehvola get started? Could you tell us a bit of the story behind it?

Veera (my wife) had previously worked as a store manager in the Finnish National Gallery’s museum shops. There she noticed that there are no nice Helsinki cards available. She started the company and asked the nearest and the cheapest illustrator (me!) to draw a set of Helsinki postcards. This was just four years ago.

We’re fascinated by how coherent your collection is — despite being illustrated by different people. How did this group of illustrators get together? And how do you choose the themes for your pieces?

We are illustration fans and we’ve been very lucky with our artists. So far everybody we’ve asked to join us had said yes. I think our illustrators all have something in common yet they all have their own distinct style. Our illustrators have all illustrated children’s books and are capable of creating narrative pictures with strong sense of atmosphere.

Illustrators are free to offer their own ideas but most of them prefer clear orders from us. I myself think what I would like to draw (this could be an old bike or a rubber boot, a big bookshelves, elvis, tiger or an apple pie) and then consider with Veera would somebody be interested in such a card. If we like the idea enough we print it anyway.

Kehvola good times
If you could define Kehvola’s style in 3 words, what would they be?

Narrative, colorful, warm.

Are you letter or postcard writers too?

Always when travelling. I love bookshops and museum shops and browsing through their postcard selection. Writing a postcards in a cosy pub or cafe after a long day of walking is an essential part of my traveling.

Could you show us your studio, or the place where the magic happens?

Here’s a picture of Kehvola’s "headquarters”, where I also do the drawing:

kehvolastudio

Thank you Timo, that was lovely! Besides their shop, you can also find Kehvola on their Instagram and Facebook pages.

Oh! And now for the best part: Timo kindly offered a set of postcards to give away to one lucky postcrosser! For a chance to win it, check out Kehvola’s shop, and leave a comment below, telling us which design or designs were your favourites. We’ll randomly pick a winner by this time next week, and announce it on this post. Good luck! :)

And the winner of this giveaway, as chosen by Paulo’s random number generator is… LesCheris, from France! Congratulations, and thanks everyone for playing along! :)

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I believe it was my friend Addis (aka sumares) who first brought visual artist Adam J. Kurtz to my attention, and I was immediately hooked. His works are a mix of pep talk and reality check, funny and honest in equal measures. Adam won’t promise you roses and that everything will be ok… I mean, who knows, right? Like the rest of us, it feels like he’s just trying to figure stuff out as he goes along. So whether he’s cheering you on, reflecting all our insecurities, celebrating the little everyday successes or just making a joke at his own expense, his work is candid and mostly optimistic, and never fails to bring a chuckle and a nod of understanding.

Adamjk postcards

Every year, Adam does a Kickstarter campaign to self-publish his popular Unsolicited Advice planners, which helps people get through the year with little drawings and (you guessed it!), a healthy dose of unsolicited advice. This year though, he also launched a series of paper products, including a book of postcards for all occasions. It’s called “What I am trying to say” and as the title implies, inside you’ll find postcards that will help you express your feelings in a more articulate way. They’re as random as it gets, and that’s what we love about them the most!

No likes — just love!

Some time ago, we got in touch with Adam (who we discovered is also a postcrosser, aka adamjk!) who very generously offered 10 copies of his new postcard book for us to give away. YAY! To snag one of them, leave a comment below telling us one nice random victory that you think should be celebrated on a postcard (but isn’t yet).

Some examples: surviving a babysitting gig, submitting your taxes on time, not forgetting to feed the cat, replying to a difficult email you’ve been postponing, making it to the dentist… Rarely can we find postcards for things like these, and there should be some, don’t you think? 😊  So let us know your random little (or big) victory that deserves cheering!

Good luck everyone! Check back on this post around this time next week, to find out who were the 10 lucky members whose names were picked by Paulo's random number generator. And a huge thank you to Adam and also to Kim at Abrams books, for sponsoring this giveaway!

And the winners of this giveaway, as chosen by Paulo’s random number generator are… butterflygirl17, Green_Heron, Mandy_L, junkgypsy, amrosendal, theaterfan23, Sheshells, sachartz, Buffy_94 and ejcain! Congratulations, and thank you everyone for your very enthusiastic participation! :)

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Living in a touristic area can be a bit challenging. While postcards are easy enough to find, they’re usually über-touristy, featuring the beaches and little else. It gets boring after a while… which is why I was delighted to discover Rosa’s postcards on our way back from a trip to the market in Olhão. Turns out, her mom has a little store by the waterfront that showcases local art and products — including Rosa’s gorgeous postcards and art.

We thought it was time we had another post on our stationery makers’ series, and reached out to Rosa and ask her a few questions. Turns out, she’s been drawing ever since she could hold a pencil, and makes more than just postcards! :)

Joana Rosa Bragança
Could you introduce yourself briefly?

I’m Joana Rosa Bragança (but you can call me just Rosa!) and I’m an artist & illustrator based in Olhão, a fishing town in the Algarve region. I love living near the sea! Besides drawing and painting, I also like to spend my time photographing with film cameras, walking in nature, reading, sewing and trying cake recipes. I love mornings, cats, artisanal ice creams, fresh figs and old books.

What inspires you?

I get a lot of inspiration from the people I see, not only the people of my hometown, with their strong characters and looks, but also the foreigners who pass by, who are a lot these days. One of my favorite themes is the beach and bathers, and here I have plenty of “models” to observe! Still, not all my characters are inspired by real people, some of them happen to be really bizarre and come directly from my imagination. I also love to draw all sorts of animals and plants.

Joana Rosa Bragança
Are you a postcard or letter writer yourself?

I used to be, I even had pen friends when I was a teenager… then the internet appeared and made me forget it a little. Nevertheless, I love sending the orders of my online shop inside envelopes full of doodles and postage stamps. Postage stamps are awesome! My favorites are the ones with illustrations or photos of fauna and flora.

If you could define your style in 3 words, what would they be?

Dreamy, joyful, ironic.

And could you show us your workspace, the place where magic happens?
Joana Rosa Bragança Joana Rosa Bragança

Thank you so much, Rosa! You can check these and other postcards and art on her online shop. And if you know of other stationery makers we should check out, let us know in the comments!