Postcrossing Blog

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

Posts tagged "mailart"

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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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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The Graceful Envelope Contest

Time to submit your entries to the Graceful Envelope contest, one of the nicest mailart contests out there! Every year, they pick a theme for the submissions, and 2018's topic is simply the weather. 🌦

From their website:

There’s always something to say about the weather. From severe storms to sowing crops, to using the sun and wind for renewable energy, the weather affects everyone. Summon a brainstorm to capture what’s outside your window—or outside the box—and design a winning envelope!
The Graceful Envelope Contest

And if you think you don’t have a nice enough handwriting to participate – don’t fret! One judge on the contest’s 2011 edition revealed that they’re not simply looking for the best calligraphy or painter… in the end, what really matters is the winning combination of all elements in the envelope (ie, design, calligraphy and stamps) and how they work together to reflect the year’s theme.

The contest is open to entries from all around the world (as long as they are sent in by March 26th 2018) and there are separate categories for children too, so do encourage your little ones to give it a go!

You can read the contest rules and how to participate on the Washington Calligraphers Guild website, and check out some of the previous entries for inspiration on their Flickr page.

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Graceful Envelope Contest

Another year, another chance to participate on the Graceful Envelope Contest!

This year, the theme is “Pushing the envelope”, which is very exciting as it leaves room for all kinds of artistic interpretations. The organizers explain how this motto embraces two concepts at the heart of the contest:

The first meaning dares you to take your creativity beyond your comfort zone. “Push the envelope” and find new ways to use graphic design, hand lettering and postage stamps to enhance your entry. It may be a small canvas, but you are capable of big ideas.

The Graceful Envelope Contest also celebrates the significance of writing, sending and receiving letters. In this era of email, tweets and emojis, seeing a hand-addressed envelope in your mailbox can make any day special. So your entry should “push the envelope” in the sense of promoting the exchange of letters. Depict the joy of letter writing. Or salute an American tradition as old as the U.S. Constitution, which empowered Congress “to establish post offices and post roads."

One of the previous contest’s judges revealed that they’re not simply looking for the best calligraphy or painter… in the end, what really matters is the winning combination of all elements in the envelope (ie, design, calligraphy and stamps) and how they work together to reflect the year’s theme. The contest is open to entries from all around the world (as long as they arrive before March 27th 2017) and there are separate categories for children too, so do encourage your little ones to participate!

You can read the contest rules and how to participate on the Washington Calligraphers Guild website, and check out all of last year’s winners on their Flickr page for some inspiration.

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Have you ever heard of the Graceful Envelope Contest? Maybe you’ve seen some of these stunning envelopes before…

Graceful Envelope Contest — Linae Frei Graceful Envelope Contest — Cindy Rudolph Graceful Envelope Contest — Jeri Hobart Graceful Envelope Contest — Ruth Korch

The contest is held every year by the Washington (DC) Calligraphers Guild and open to worldwide entries. Participants of all ages are invited to use their calligraphy and artistic skills to interpret a given theme on an envelope, which is then mailed to the Guild. Bonus points for using stamps that fit the topic!

This year, the theme is Communication:

“Ever since Benjamin Franklin became America’s first Postmaster General, many of our most important messages arrived inside an envelope. Now your challenge is to design the outside of an envelope to highlight this—or any other—mode of communication. Your Graceful Envelope could honor the mail or the internet; the telegraph, telephone or television; person-to-person conversation or whatever kind of communication inspires your imagination.”
Graceful Envelope Contest — Leena Vierikko & Yukimi Annand

The deadline for 2016 is March 28th… so gather your stamps, envelopes and colouring pens, and give it a go! :)

You can read the contest rules and how to participate on the Washington Calligraphers Guild website, and check out some of the previous entries on their Flickr page. A big thank you scribefriend from bringing this wonderful contest to our attention!

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