Thursday, March 31, 2011

Save the postcard

I remembered recently, when I found a High Life Magazine in the back corner of my art drawer(smuggled from a trip last fall) that Lynn and I have an ally in British Airways. (Yes, I smuggle airplane magazines now and again. Is it possible to resist global photographic inspiration?) Their October 2010 edition was especially tempting since it contained an article on saving the lost art of postcard writing, which was written to launch an effort to save the post card sending. A corporate initiative I can get behind. In reflecting on postcards, they write:

It was a standard rite of being abroad: a trip to buy a bunch of cards. Stamps had to be bought in tobacconists. Or maybe that was just in France. Then settle into a café to perform two epistolary tasks: the gratification of anxious parents and the annoyance of jealous friends.

This is now nearly a thing of the past. A TripAdvisor survey showed that just 11 per cent of travellers still send postcards home while 60 per cent use text.

Like the ashtray, which faces extinction because of smoking laws, the postcard is a minor art form that struggles to survive. Facebook, email, texting and tweeting have deskilled communications and impoverished our visual culture. But no new medium has ever completely succeeded its predecessor and the easier it becomes to send electronic tosh, the better will be appreciated the charm of a well-written postcard. Generally speaking, the easier it is to communicate, the less art goes into the communication.

Oh no, how sad! Not if Lynn, British Airways or I have anything to do with it. Check out their celebrity postcard bid auction. The opportunity to buy is lost (thanks to my cluttered art drawer, which led me to forget to post this earlier), but the tiny art that was sold still is up and available for viewing. I have posted one by Alice Dellal for inspiration. Lovely.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

In Tamale

This is a room where Jessica stayed when she visited Tamale the first time for work.  I don't know if she stays here still, but she was there when she drew herself in the room.  Sometimes the daily stuff around you is what you start sketching (perhaps if you are out of ideas).  While usually the ordinary is a bit uninspiring in this case its great because I can see what Jessica is around everyday.  Now that she lives in Ghana its hard for me to imagine sometimes without a visual.  On the back of her card she talked a little about her process, of getting an idea and playing around with a few versions of the drawing before getting something she wants to send me in the mail.  I think it was about this time last year that I started a sketchbook for ideas, it let me practice with things I'd like to draw and keep track of ideas.  Where do you keep your inspiration for your creative pursuits? 

Friday, March 18, 2011

Bird a la Martha

Yes, this was inspired by Martha herself. Seeking valentine card ideas, Lynn happened upon a MS posting on Victorian birds and viola a plan for a card to her pal. A slight change from her actual valentine card theme last year - 'mechanical pets.' Not really sure what this means, but some how I imagine cut puppies with hinges. No matter, these are perfect snow day activities, especially when combined with a few hours hunkered down with a book called The Swan Thieves.

I have been sorely out of touch my friend. Any recent snow days? What are you reading? Let's hope my month goes out with lamb so we can finally discuss these very important details.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Excuse me, where but can I send my mail?

I had to laugh when I re-read the back of this post card.  Jess told me she had been living in Ghana for a month and she hadn't found her post office yet!  I laughed because of three things that I thought of back when I got the card, and immediately remember now. 

First when you are in a new country, you tend at first to cling to small things you know how to do and can go months without bothering to learn anything new if it isn't essential to your daily life.  (As in find out how to send a letter? Not today thanks, I'm good, I'll just keep talking the bus from this stop here and visiting the corner store that doesn't actually sell cereal which I really would like to eat.)

Second, because when I moved recently I felt oddly attached to my post office and library.  I secretly went back the ones I no longer lived by because I was a bit sad about leaving them. 

Third, I laughed hardest because when I first bought international stamps to start mailing postcards to Jessica in Ghana the post office clerk immediately said "Oh, I know why you want to send letters to Africa.  I had a nice young girl in the other day for the same thing, you are sending letters and papers there so you can adopt a baby.  You know, she got her baby and then boom! she was pregnant with a baby of her own.  You hang in there sweetie!"  Shucks, in a manner of minutes I was no longer a customer, but a hopeful adoptive mother with infertility problems.  Its one of the reasons, perhaps, I should be glad I got to leave that post office behind.  What will she thing when I never come in with an African child?