Thursday, October 20, 2011

DIY Postcards

Nicole and I are big fans of postcards. Cheesy postcards. Like, really really cheesy postcards. The kind you find at a tchotsky-filled sidewalk kiosk, in an old spinning rack, covered in dust, looking like leftovers from about 1982 (no seriously, we were in a kiosk like this in Sweden once and found some real gems). Postcards like these:

These are mostly from Italy and Munich since we were living in Milan at the time (my favorite is the giant fat beaver chillin on the Alps), but France has continuously and unfailingly topped our list as the country with the. best. cheesy. postcards. Period. (We of course found many--many--this time around in Paris, and sent them off to our mom, who seems to take them seriously, and to the few friends who are still kind enough to tolerate receiving them.) In Croatia I also found some great ones, most of which I sent to Nicole, the message reading something like, "Look how great this postcard is--there's a cut-out dolphin and a rainbow with hearts!"

But, while picking these treasures out, I got to thinking. I once had a drawing teacher who encouraged the class never to buy postcards again--that with a piece of paper, a pencil, and five minutes, we could create our own personalized postcards anywhere. She had us do an exercise where we looked at a slide of a typical vacation image, set a five-minute timer, and made a simple but emphatic line drawing of the image. Like these (from slides of Venice and Greece):

So (years later, and seriously out of practice), I decided to try this exercise again, on my own. While I didn't do the drawings when I was in Croatia and observing the view firsthand (looking back, I wish I had), you easily could! Just take a seat, give yourself something to draw with (I like pencils for the variety in line depth they can create--and let's face it, because they erase), a scrap piece of paper (or, hey, even a napkin), and set your phone timer for 3, 5, or 7 minutes. If you give yourself 7 minutes, you'll feel less rushed and not stressed out that you missed some element in the picture. But with just 3 minutes, you'll be pleasantly surprised with the focused, concise image you end up with. Then: draw freely! These aren't detailed drawings, and you don't need to be a great, or even decent, artist to render an impression of the place you're in and the view you're looking at. Just create a small enough frame to draw in (mine are around 3 inches by 4 inches), vary up the darkness of your lines, pick the most noticeable and interesting elements to include, and voila! A postcard that's one of a kind!

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