One thing that’s really important to me is taking the time to regularly step outside my comfort zone. This includes making up weekly, monthly, and quarterly challenges that force me to be a little bit uncomfortable. In the height of my state of indecision, I decided I wanted to challenge myself to keep illustrating, even though so much of my life was in flux.
Curious Mail was born out of a need to cultivate light in a time of uncertainty–both personally and for the greater world. The idea was simple: over the course of 3 months, I would create original illustrations and send them out to people via snail mail.
I’ll be honest, this was an interesting challenge. I love the idea of sending things directly to people’s mailboxes, but the reality of doing that monthly was drastically more difficult than I ever imagined.
I wanted to walk through 3 things I learned from the Curious Mail Project:
Honestly, I always knew that I loved drawing cartoons, but there’s something beautiful about having to create something on a recurring schedule. I enjoyed pushing the limits of my own creativity and loved being able to develop and send out a variety of new pieces within such a limited timeframe.
One of the major highlights of the project overall was getting regular direct feedback on the pieces. Very frequently I would run into someone that connected with a specific art piece. They would mention how they hung a certain piece in their home or gave it as a gift to a friend that they thought would love it.
This may seem obvious, but in practicality I quickly learned how much time it takes to do all the different parts of creating a successful subscription mail business. After finishing a piece, you have to order it from a printing company. That adds at least a week to any process. Then you have to pack the items. Even with only 25 participants, packing the orders took around 8 hours to prepare the batch of orders.
The final step, which was actually the most daunting, is printing the postage and getting the pieces to a mailbox. I used an online system through the USPS to print the postage, but the process was not incredibly intuitive and a lot of times, I found myself spending hours trying to figure out how to print the postage on the sticky paper. (I’ll fully accept that this probably has more to do with my personality type than a severe knock on the process)
Over the course of this 3 month project, I designed a variety of different art pieces, including a packet of postcards, 4 new 8×10 art prints, and a slew of cards. This was an exciting way to make each package feel special, but it also created a series of logistical challenges. The biggest one was that there was additional research necessary (and sometimes costs) in printing the variety of different pieces.
In hindsight, if I were to relaunch the Curious Mail project, it would probably be a singular art print every month. By simplifying the objective, I think I could spend more time on the individual piece that I created for that month.