Have I told you how much I love getting mail?
Let me fix that: I freaking adore getting mail!
At least… The happy kind. The non-bill, non-junk kind.
There’s a lot to like about it-- It feels good when someone takes the time to write something by hand (or typewriter. Those are fun letters, too.) just for you. I’m in love with postage stamps (I haven’t shown you my collection? For shame!) and it’s always been one of the biggest sources of childlike wonder in my world.
So… yeah, I like getting mail. A lot.
I have a box where I store letters, postcards and notes from people, mostly my penpal from middle school (Hi Stevie! *waves frantically*). We’ve been writing to each other for something like 12 years, and the box is overflowing now. But recently, being bogged down with the business of “being an adult with no time” I’ve been sending, and therefore receiving, fewer letters. It’s sad, going to the mailbox and not experiencing that giddy excitement, wondering if there’s anything hand-written in there.
In an attempt to find that sense of childlike wonder again, I set about doing some google searching. I found something called the Postcard Collective fairly quickly, while I was looking for artist postcard subscriptions (did you know that’s a thing?). I fell in love with the premise fairly quickly.
Artists making postcards for one another… Given that I’ve been missing a few things from my life-- happy mail, other people’s art, and that sense of childlike wonder, this. Was. Perfect. I applied to their call to artists, and promptly forgot about it.
The email came a couple months later. I opened it, and saw my name right at the top of the list of accepted non-member contributors. I was to create a postcard to send out to the other 30 or so participants, and also RECEIVE 30 OR SO POSTCARDS from the other artists. The challenge: designing around the theme “Spectacularly Unspectacular”. I was tempted to paint a paper bag, or the most bland idea of a circus you’ve ever seen. The answer fell into my lap.
By chance, I’ve been talking with a new friend about my oddities collection. Apparently, it’s strange to hoard skulls, bones, and other variety of dead critters… It’s all very tasteful, I assure you! He asked me what it was about skulls that I enjoyed so much. I couldn’t just leave it at “they’re dope, yo.” so… I put my thinking cap on.
Skulls and bones are so common… they’re everywhere. All of us vertebrates have them, but each is a frozen moment in the evolution of that species. As time goes on, the things that make an animal’s shape, it’s bones, will change. A typical boxer skull from 100 years ago is distinctly different from a typical boxer skull from today. These are individuals, and incredibly intricate natural sculptures that tell a story, both about the animal it gave shape to, and about the growth of that species… and yet, they’re so mundane, aren’t they? They’re spectacularly unspectacular…
I chose to draw my wolf skull, because canines are cool, and it’s what I had at the office. While I will jump right into a painting with no real planning or preparation (let’s see what we can find!) I draw with a little more mindfulness. I did all of 6 sketches, and then whipped out a final draft that night.I make it sound simple, but one thing that I wasn’t 100% sure on was how to properly format the card to meet U.S.P.S. standards. Oh boy are they picky about postcards…
While I was working, one of my roommates brought the day’s mail in. Surprise! Two of the first postcards, AND a letter from Stevie (Super happy for you, girl! I have a response half written!). It was incredibly gratifying to know that other artists were working towards the same goal I was, and were so ready to share their work and ideas, just for the sake of it.
Sense that night, I’ve gotten a new postcard every couple days. I’m sending out the last batch tonight (now that I have international stamps. Details!). While it’s going to be fun seeing my finished postcard up on the Collective’s website once the challenge is finished, I’ve really gained the most satisfaction from seeing what other people created. The shared generosity has been absolutely spectacular, and I am absolutely applying for the next challenge!
While the main focus of the Postcard Collective is in member challenges, they DO have a program that anyone can take part in. Sincerely Yours is a postcard challenge to foster gratitude; you are asked to create a postcard, and write to the collective sharing what you’re thankful for.
I’m thankful for childlike wonder.
Sometimes it’s elusive, but it doesn’t disappear. I had some mailed to me.
If you would like to design your own postcard-- to share with the Collective, or friends, here are some resources to help make sure it’s sendable! They were SO helpful for me!
Explains the “why” of basic postcard regulations:
Excellent graphics for layout:
Peace out, keep arting!