Keep Writing

Viva Snail Mail: Tell us about your Keep Writing project postcards.

Gutwrench: Since I moved to Baton Rouge three years ago from New Orleans, I wanted a way to keep in touch with my friends and penpals.  I knew I would be busy in school and also wanted a project that somehow related to what I was doing while working towards a degree in printmaking.  I started printing postcards, one each month, and sending them to everyone on a mailing list.  The first year had no theme; I made what ever I was inspired to.  The second year, each postcard was a collaboration between myself and a friend, sometimes a printmaker, sometimes not.

This past year, I have been printing interactive cards.  Each has a part for the recipient to tear off and send back to me, completing some task that relates to the card I sent.  For example, the first card I was having a difficult winter.  So I printed the word TRY in large silver letters on handmade paper and asked recipients to send me something about what inspires them in difficult times, what gets them through the winter.  This project has been incorporated into my school work and the cards I have received will be displayed as part of my senior show in December.  Of course it will continue, but I am not sure in what form.

VSM: What gets sent back to you and what does the recipient keep?

Gutwrench: The “try” side was the half they kept.  The other half was blank on one side with instructions, a stamp and my address on the other. The orange paper was made partially from my favorite shirt from Summer 2004, when I was living in New Orleans.  The hurricane hit the next summer.  And, obviously, things changed.  All the postcards are about staying connected to the people you love, not just in postcards, but in other meaningful exchanges.  This is a way for me to keep in touch with my friends but also to let them know a little about what is happening with me and ask them a question about their lives.

VSM: What’s been the best thing about this project?

Gutwrench: The best thing for sure has been hearing from people I did not expect and reading their responses.  My cousin has responded to every card, though we usually only talk once a year or so.  One friend has sent very thoughtful responses every time.  I think the format has encouraged people who don’t usually write postcards but want to.

Viva Snail Mail!

Visit Gutwrench’s Etsy shop or write a comment on her blog, wishing her luck on her senior show!

How to fix the big and small postal service

After Bloomberg Business Week’s cover story, The End of Mail, the popular website Freakonomics is asking readers to vote on ways to save the USPS from complete economic collapse. After reading these articles, I watched my cheerful and lovely mailman roll his mail cart up to my building with a better understanding of just how bad things are. And then when I opened my mailbox to retrieve some completely not interesting bills and junk, my heart sank knowing that this crap is what’s paying my mailman’s salary. According to Bloomberg Business Week, in 2005 junk mail surpassed first class mail in volume. The USPS needs 3 pieces of junk mail to replace the profit made from one piece of real mail with a first class stamp. Blech.

In more adorable news, remember the World’s Smallest Post Service? Lea from Leafcutter Designs has joined forces with Chronicle Books to sell a World’s Smallest Post Service home kit! How great is that? Maybe we can all buy them and send mail with 44 dollar postage stamps, no 444 dollar postage stamps, and turn this thing around! What da ya say?


Make Mail!

This past weekend I hosted an art event for kids called Make Mail! Almost as soon as I set up my table at our local, annual flea market kids came up and got started with paper, art supplies, colored envelopes, blank postcards, and postage. After their mail making was complete they dropped their creations in the tiny mailbox that I made out of my new computer box. Thanks to Nico for that inspiration. I have a newfound appreciation for smartphones after watching several parents look up mailing addresses on them. I loved seeing those portable communication devices used to assist paper mail production!  The whole day was super fun and I can’t wait to host another.




My family and I recently went on a fabulous vacation to Philadelphia. We had a great time and among the gems in that city is a gallery on Arch Street called Space 1026, which was having an exhibit of Charles Schulz’s love letters. Yeah, the Peanuts guy. His letters were written in the early 1970’s to a Philadelphia native named Tracy and he was so into her that he longed to bleep her nose and reminisce about a hug at a bookstore. It was such a benign collection of asexual writing and drawings that my childhood image of Peanuts and their creator has remained intact.


Kids’ mail has been very much on my mind. I am going to host an art making project for kids of all ages at the Greenwood Playground Flea Market in Brooklyn on May 7th called “Make Mail” and I am very excited! So when I discovered boys in capes quietly making supermail in my living room, my heart swelled with love and pride.

Ding Dong Meow

The Andrea Rosen doesn’t just make valentines. She is also a comic, actress, and writer and she is performing her one woman show “Ding Dong Meow” this month. Go see her! March 9th & 23rd at 8pm Upright Citizens Brigade Theater 307 West 26th Street RSVP 212.366.9176.

Ding Dong Meow is not about doorbells and it’s not about cats. Sorry! It’s about a guy named Gary, Madison-Wisconsin, Oprah, a bride with a hearing issue, Old Faithful, and diarrhea. It’s about saying and doing the wrong thing at the wrong time, and then telling everyone about it on stage. It’s storytelling, letters, characters, and cookies!