Writing, Art, Creativity… and Postcards from Scotland

Big words, aren’t they?  Writing.  Art.  Creativity.

We can tie ourselves in knots trying to work out what they mean.  What the relationship is between them.  If writing is art, or something ‘else’. Whether ‘art’ can ever be something we do, or only ever something other greater mortals can aspire to…

But this isn’t a post about abstract thoughts and big questions.  No, I just wanted to let you in on a project I’m involved in and an experiment I’ve signed up for.

I follow, avidly, a blog by the painter Janice Cartier.  She told us the other week about a mail art project she’s involved in.  It’s about creating works of original art on a postcard, and mailing them, with a stamp, by snail mail, to the other participants.

So far so good, and I’ll enjoy following where she goes with this as I do all the projects and experiments she shares with us on her blog.

To make it even more interesting though, Janice has extended the project to invite in some of the ‘non-artists’ who follow her blog.

I’m in.  It seemed like an offer too good to refuse: it was the chance to get a piece of original artwork from her.

Then she tempted me in by wondering whether she might get a postcard from Scotland from me as part of the project.

postcard from Scotland

But it was also the chance for me to push and extend the boundaries of what I understand by ‘art’.

Janice she got me thinking, in response to another writer, about how we could, should, think of words and writing as art:

words are art…as a writer your art would look like words….scribbled…typed.. that’s kind of the point of opening this to “Non artists” too to broaden the perception of what is art… there’s a huge narrative impulse in the art world at the moment…bet you can draw a word on a card…;-)

I haven’t the faintest idea what I’m going to create, and not too much of an idea what to do next, but I’m not worrying about it at all.  I’ve declared in advance I’m ‘not an artist’ so already peeled off the label of expectations :-)   Plus Janice is coaching us, gently, to experiment and see what happens.  To do the preparation: look for blank postcards, buy the stamps, show up.

That’s what creativity can look like sometimes. Just one thing, then the next, then another

And my mind is quietly starting to wonder what I can play with from images of Scotland, and the kind of postcards I want to send, and maybe a poem I’ll write, and the words I can then cut, splice, type, write and play with in snail mail, postcard art.

It feels good, creative, fun.  A good way to get out of some bad blogging  habits, and experiment with the pleasure of something new.

I’ll keep you posted on what I end up creating… and what arrives back through my door.

Photo Credit: Postcard from Scotland by Joanna Young

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  1. Alex Fayle | Someday Syndrome · · Reply

    I’m in on the project as well and while I’m excited I’m also kind of freaking out - I mean how will I create post cards that are actually interesting enough for people to want?

    Saying that however, I already know what I plan to do…

    Alex Fayle | Someday Syndromes last blog post..Are You Working Yourself Too Hard?

  2. Fred H Schlegel · · Reply

    Not an artist? Words are your paint.

    Fred H Schlegels last blog post..Texting Innovation For Rural Medicine

  3. I am in awe. I’ve just spent a heck of a lot of time wandering through Janice Cartier’s website and blog. Ooooh! Just what I needed on a rainy Tuesday, I’ve been feeling like a slug for the past few days, and I couldn’t frame a plan on how to surface into that crowded pool of humanity where everyone is seeming out of sorts at the present.

    Now I’m thinking, wouldn’t that be fun? Could I do something of that sort on my blog, maybe with photographs? Would people really be willing to stick a photo in the mail? Then I recalled reading that you can make a postcard out of a 4×6 photo, maybe reinforced on a piece of sturdy paper if it’s going international. All you have to do — on the back of the photo, draw the center line, write a few words, and put on the addresses. And, it’s magically a postcard as far as the post office is concerned.

    Hmm. Joanna, maybe you’ve just helped to prompt me out of my slugdom. :-) Thanks!

    Bos last blog post..Liberty at Sunset

  4. Lori Hoeck · · Reply

    I think words played out in Wordle-like fashion with a catchy font or fonts might be interesting. How much can you play with “Scotland” this way? Perhaps something beyond these bare-bones examples: http://tinyurl.com/ncms49 ?
    Have fun!

    Lori Hoecks last blog post..Signs and traits of emotional predators

  5. Janice Cartier · · Reply

    Ahhhhhhh….now that’s what I’m talking about…….:-)

    It would be NO fun if it didn’t freak you out just a little bit.. no fun at all…

    That’s tickling the part of you that KNOWS it can play here , as I said to Karen Swim.

    Artist is very pleased….Now must go cut up some cards myself.. :-) We are going to have such cool snail mail come July…

    Janice Cartiers last blog post..Bucking the Tide

  6. Ulla Hennig · · Reply

    your post is really seductive - in fact I have bought some postcard formatted photo paper, and I’ve already created two postcards out of my photos some time ago. I am thinking about what could be done with some very nice photoshop filters - and then my rational self sighs and says: sorry, not this month! But I am looking forward to hear more about it from you…

    Ulla Hennigs last blog post..Alive again – The American Bison

  7. Sonia Simone · · Reply

    I have absolutely NO IDEA what I’m going to do with these, but I suspect something fun will happen. Maybe I’ll work on them with Little Dude. He comes up with some incredible stuff. Or I could work some of his things in, as he tends to not like to share once he’s made something really cool. :) Or I’ll make collages with gardening catalogs. Or break out my million favorite rubber stamps. Or do something good with some of my fountain pens.

    Too many options, is my problem. :)

    Sonia Simones last blog post..What I Love About My Job

  8. Kelly · · Reply


    I only wish a brogue would fit in the mail. Now that would be some postcard!!

    In a day that’s been filled with smiles (I love this sort of day!), this post is the biggest smile of all. I adore Janice’s idea and oh my, I love seeing other people’s wheels spinning on it. Janice knows how much I truly believe there’s a little artist hiding in all of us. I only wish there were more Janices in the world to think of coaxing the little artist out of every one of us, a heck of a lot more often.
    :D <<—this grin is not big enough



    Kellys last blog post..Your Startup Planning Guide—and It’s NEVER Too Late to (Re)Start

  9. Alex I think she’s hooked us in really neatly - it’s terrifying and exciting at the same time :-) Can’t wait to get your postcard through the post!

    Fred thank you for that reminder. “words are your paint”. I love it

    Bo Janice’s blog… well, Janice really… is a treasure, and I’m glad to be able to point people towards it. Glad she / we’ve given you the creative prompt too, and I’ll look out for your own project. Now I’ve done one why not more?!

    Lori that’s a great idea, and thanks for showing me an example too. The wheels are turning…

  10. Janice you are absolutely right - it’s tickling the part that knows it can play, that wants so much to play and create with you and the other amazing people you’ve got lined up for this. You’ve got the knack for hitting that sweet spot you know.

    Ulla there’s just no end to the things you get up to… looks like there’s lots of interest in postcard projects… I wonder where we’ll all go with this? (Now you’ve got my mind rolling on another theme again… thanks!)

    Sonia “I have absolutely NO IDEA what I’m going to do with these, but I suspect something fun will happen” - that’s just how I feel too. Isn’t it liberating?!

    Kelly you know I’m coming to believe that there’s an artist in all of us too. Slow progress but I’m getting there :-) Jan’s influence on me is so far reaching, so many of her ideas and thoughts work their way into my thinking and doing. When I wonder sometimes why I blog I often think of what I’ve learned from (people like) her, and like you, smile, and keep going.

  11. Wilson Pon · · Reply

    Hi Joanna, it’s my first time here at Confident Writing. You have a well-designed yet informative blog! I loved your writing style, and I’m certainly will be checked back more frequently…

    By the way, I thought that Writing, art and creativity are inseparable, where they have to be gently mixed together, if you want to create a remarkable blogpost!

  12. Surf’s Up: Top Creativity Links for June 20, 2009 « Creative Liberty · · Reply

    [...] with a small bit of your creative self they can hold in their hands. (Many thanks to Joanna at the Confident Writer for tipping me off to this [...]

  13. Wilson welcome, and thank you for saying hello. I also appreciate your feedback - and reminder that writing, art and creativity all need to go together :-)

  14. The Principles of Uncertainty | Janice Cartier · · Reply

    [...] just had another surprising message from someone special in my life. AND I had just read of all the excitement about our mail art project. I was smiling [...]

  15. [...] idea was to create some postcards from Scotland as part of the mailart project Janice Cartier has organised.  Plus there’s a sub-plot of [...]

  16. Scottish Book Trust · · Reply

    Hi Joanna,
    We are trying to reach aspiring writers and book-lovers in Scotland to tell us about the book that changed their life. You can read and post stories about a book that made an impact on you at http://www.scottishbooktrust.com/thebook
    The most inspiring stories will be published in a book in 2010.
    Please post a story on the website and link to our blog at http://thebookthatchangedmylife.blogspot.com/
    Tell your friends and help us find out which book s have shaped Scotland!
    The Scottish Book Trust

  17. Claire thanks for letting me know about this… will see what I can come up with

  18. Lyne Marshall · · Reply

    Hi Joanna
    Great to read of art combined with writing. I think creativity is all about inspiration and working from an unconscious level and I love creative spirit. I write about creative process on my blog and in my books on art on http://www.lynemarshall.com.au and http://www.artclique.com.au

  19. @Lyne Marshall: you’re right, it is all about the connection with the unconscious mind, and working with heart :-) thanks for letting me know about your blog, book, and work… your art is stunning

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