No, not like that… Well – wait – maybe. If you are artsy, crafty, or some type of paper / stationery / mail enthusiast, I think you may find this post more than a little intoxicating. I definitely did. Then again, there was spray paint…
Wait – let me explain:
On Monday I dropped 30 of these bad boys in the mail. Some Seattleites have probably already received theirs. What are they? Why, they are what I am calling “elevated envelopes.”
Last year I attended Letters of Joy (a local calligraphy conference), and signed up for their Decorated Envelope exchange. This is a little program where you exchange beautiful envelopes with fellow calligraphers just for the fun of it. Over the year, I got these beautiful creations at random:
Receiving one of these was such a nice change of pace. The truth is that I don’t write as many cards and letters as I should – and therefore, people don’t write much to me these days! My mailbox is usually full of credit card offers and grocery store circulars. Not exactly blog-worthy. So to get one of these was a total thrill! I loved seeing what people came up with. Sometimes they included an anonymous-sounding note, some people explained why they made what they made. It was just really a fun idea with no purpose at all but to literally send your creativity out into the world.
I realized, hey, I know a lot of creative people, and I’d love to see what they came up with. So I thought I should spearhead my own exchange and call it The Elevated Envelope. And you’re invited to participate…
What is it exactly?
Wouldn’t it be fun to be pen pals with incredibly creative, talented, smart strangers? That’s The Elevated Envelope in a nutshell. There will be a theme (SUMMERTIME), and you will plan and design a creatively-addressed envelope that embodies that theme to you. Then you execute it 10-ish times for the people on your list, put something fun inside explaining your concept, and mail it out by the deadline. Those same 10-ish people will send their creations to you as well. Cool!
Why do it?
- Flex those creative muscles – for those of us who are designers, sometimes we get in a bit of a rut designing for others. We’ll have a theme for each exchange, but beyond that, the sky is the limit. Go crazy or keep it simple. Whatever you like. What’s been on your mind? Here’s your chance to get it out.
- It’s fun to send and receive mail, but so much better when it’s pretty. Or BAD ASS! I promise every time you get an envelope, you will smile. Sometimes you might even be jealous, but that brings me to reason #3:
- Seeing what other people do with the same theme will probably inspire you.
- You will probably make new friends!
Who can join?
ANYONE CREATIVE! Ok, anyone over 18 who is creative.
The 30 envelopes I sent are to fellow creatives, but anyone can join! I only sent out 30 because I only have the two hands. To participate, you don’t have to be super artistic, but you do have to be willing to put in some creative effort and work hard on it. There are some pretty talented people I’ve invited, so while you don’t have to be into calligraphy or drawing or graphic design in particular, you do have to bring it.
(If that just freaked any creative-but-not-”artistic” people out, please click here!)
Here are all the people who can expect invitations:
Alexa Johnson (Fiore Blossoms) | Alison Lang (so, there.) | Anne Bryant (Anne Bryant Creative) | Ariel Nay Nebeker (Photographer) | Barbie Hull (Barbie Hull Photography / I Love Facedowns) | Becki Mullins (Myrtle Alley Press) | Ben Campos (Designer) | Brigitte Hefferan (Calligrapher) | Carina Murray (Crow + Canary) | Carl Montford (The Montford Press) | Erin May Hobson (Hobson House Design) | Fiona Richards (Cartolina) | Heather Gilson (One Love Photo) | Heather Van Breda (Real Card Studio) | Jaime Maddalena (Send More Mail) | Lila Symons (Daily Calligraphy) | Marcia Shaver (Artist) | Mary Beth Person (Calligrapher) | Melanie Harris de Maycotte (galería/atelier)| Melissa Morris Ivone (Operation Nice) | Michael Stoltz (Artist) | Moya Minns (MM Ink) | Nancy Brones (Calligrapher) | Nole Garey (Oh So Beautiful Paper) | Norma-Jean Trabold (Calligrapher) | Patricia Warren (Calligrapher) | Terri Kruger (Calligrapher) | Wendy Watson Diedrick (Calligrapher) | Whitney Speir (Brown Sugar Design) | and #30 went to me!
Again, if you don’t get an invitation, it means nothing – only that I had to draw the line somewhere. I kept it to artistic friends, paper + design enthusiasts, or people who just I selfishly want to participate so I can see what they come up with.
There are only four rules:
RULE #1: The theme is SUMMERTIME.
As I mentioned, the sky is the limit – take that word and run with it wherever it takes you. The size, shape, media, colors, imagery, etc. – are all up to you. Just make sure the mailman can read it, and that it is, in fact, mail-able. Remember that certain things smudge or may not be waterproof, so take precautions to preserve your work where necessary. (This stuff is great.) If you’re in the US, you can calculate postage here. Be sure to double check this – certain sizes, orientations, thicknesses, etc. will increase the rate.
RULE #2: It must be more HAND-MADE than not.
Huh? What I mean is that while it doesn’t have to be a 100% hand-drawn project, please don’t use your computer too much. This is not a design-something-on-a-computer-and-print-it-on-an envelope project. This is supposed to get you off the computer. You’re supposed to get a little dirty. But it doesn’t mean computers are forbidden. In the same vein, please remember this is not a “scrapbooking” project. If you have some reason to use a particular rubber stamp or something, by all means, use it – but don’t let this be about how much stuff you can purchase to stick onto paper. Truly be creative. You’ll have more fun and get more out of it! (And so will the people on your list!)
RULE #3: Put something fun INSIDE the envelope too.
Sounds obvious. But what to send to strangers? Some ideas:
- Please use the inside of the envelope to tell the story of why you designed what you did. Maybe your childhood summers were idyllic and you used to have a lemonade stand. You could make this uber-yellow, super-sweet-n-sour, deliciously decadent lemon-inspired design. Or maybe your design will be really aggressive because summers are hot and heat makes you angry and we wouldn’t like you when you’re angry. I don’t know, it could be ANYTHING! Be funny, be serious, but tell us how you arrived at the design you did.
- You could also include a recipe. You know, for the lemonade.
- You could tell us a dirty joke. Knock, knock. Who’s there? Go suck a lemon! Don’t make it too dirty. There are some classy people on this list .
- You could enclose a little present – something small, inexpensive and easy to mail. Maybe you make cards and can spare 5-10 for your recipients. How sweet of you! Just remember to triple-check postage requirements if it starts to feel a little heavy or rigid.
- You could include something that complements your design. A magazine article? A comic strip? You’ll think of something!
- Or you could keep it simple. Just write a note to the recipient to say hello.
RULE #4: Envelopes must be postmarked by Monday, August 15th. Be sure you can (and do) meet the DEADLINE!
That is 48 days from today. Getting a bunch of fun artwork in the mail and not sending any in return would be Not Cool! If we get “too many” participants (no such thing!), I will split everybody up into manageable groups of 5-10. So before you sign up, be sure you can commit to creating a design and executing it 5-10 times before the deadline. If you’re too busy to commit right now, don’t worry – I am hoping this will catch on and we can pick a new theme in a few months. Maybe you can join in the fun then!
How do I sign up?
To participate, or to RSVP to your mailed invitation (fancy!), just leave a comment right here thru Friday, July 8th. *Update: I will not actually be making my spreadsheet until early July 9, so we won’t do the cut off until that time. Just so there is no confusion, I’ll also close the comments at that time. So, if you still see a comment box down below, and want to participate, go ahead and say so – I’ll take care of the rest. Thank you!
I’m so excited! Won’t you participate?!
PS. I will be participating as well (I plan to revisit my design above). I’ll also be on everyone’s list so that I can photograph and detail all the amazing artwork we create – so, look forward to seeing your work up in lights on this little ole’ blog!
PPS. Feeling daunted? Please don’t! It’s supposed to be fun. Plus, in the coming days, I will be posting my own envelopes in more detail (UPDATE: Here’s that post.), along with a little info about the process (UPDATE: And here’s that post.). There are ways to cheat a little. I’m sure my own cheating will help you think of a smart way to cheat yourself. Plus, if I can do 30 of these in under 1 week, you can do 5-10 in 6 weeks. Promise!