In April 2018, around the birthday of my late grand-father, I suddenly remembered that I wrote him a birthday card when I was too little to even know how to write and that I kept it. I started going through my oldest memory box (I have plenty of them) and what I found profoundly shocked me. Tons and tons of post cards from all over the world. There were birthday greetings, Christmas and New Year greetings, Holiday cards, … and I pass on. I even found a card that my grandmother’s aunt (that I loved dearly) sent for my grandfather’s birthday something like 20 years ago. Seeing her handwriting for the first time in years deeply moved me and I started to remember myself, spending lots of time choosing the right card at the card shop or crafting my own, thinking about what I would like to send to this particular person.
Nowadays, we live in a connected world, where smartphones and social media let us reach to anyone anywhere in the world almost instantly … and at the same time we never felt that lonely. A lot of people would agree with me on this point. How many times did you think of a friend you didn’t see for a long time, thought of sending a text or calling, then started scrolling through his/her Facebook page and saw his/her latest life events and … totally forgot about reaching to him/her in person? To me it happens a lot. Sometimes I want to know what a friend is doing, then I see the Instagram story and I decide that it is not worth it … what I want to ask is right there in the open.
Sadly, this type of behaviour prevents me from actually connecting with people. I feel connected because I know what is happening in their lives but in truth, I am not connected at all. And don’t even start about the fact that what I see is curated and could be far from the actual reality!
After this big emotional roller coaster, I decided that it was the best time to go back to these old habits and start sending some postcards! I didn’t want to just give them in person, I actually wanted people to receive them in their mail! Why? Just because nowadays we only receive bills and advertisement in our mails, to the point where sometimes I am even scared to open the mail box.
Being an artist was also the perfect opportunity to put my skills in practice! I have tons of reference photos and ideas that seem to never make to the paper for my usual craft (because not worth it from a time/money perspective) but are perfect for such projects.
I scrolled through my huge personal database and got immediately inspired by a cute bicycle and some amazing flowers. My subject was bright and shine in my head and I decided to try for the 100th time to use watercolours (I dread watercolours) … I wanted something that reminded me being a kid and going around by bike in the hot summer days.
The result was great and I sent it to a printing website! What I got back was not bad but not the quality I was expecting, but I decided to go with it because the first birthday I wanted to send a postcard for was approaching fast.
The next step was crafting thoughtful personal notes and it felt amazing sitting behind a desk and thinking of what I wanted to say to someone and put it in print. It is such a different feeling from when you write a text or email on your smartphone. You cannot go back and easily correct what you wrote, so every word counts and has its meaning. I did what I didn’t do for years, drafting texts on scrap paper and then tracing the words with my hand on white paper.
Final step was to put them to the mail. For the first time I was actually worried about the postman working hours and I spent hours understanding their timetables and calculating the right time to post my card. Dealing with actual people and not just your phone reminders is much more complicated but much more gratifying. Not one of the postcards arrived on the actual birthday date but a couple of days later (I suck at planning). The one I sent to South Africa arrived 6 months later … and I had to deal with some union strikes along the way. But guess what, it turned out to be great! My friends and family sent me lovely messages saying how delighted they were to receive actual mail and not the usual rubbish and how touched they were by what I wrote. And I was happy and grateful for making them feel good for a moment.
I learned a lot from this yearly experience. Connecting with people, actually connecting with them, is what makes us human. Relationships are worth all the gold in the world and it made me want to spend more true time with my loved ones. Even with my hectic schedule, I decided to stop making excuses and find ways to live meaningful relationships again.
This year I am planning to keep sending postcards. I don’t know what design I will create yet but if you are part of my closest circle, expect to receive something in the mail in 2019!
PS : the design of this postcard is available in my webshop to download.