I love postcards. There, I have said it. As with books, I refuse to imagine a future where they don’t exist. How can they not? They are such a strong piece of human social history, as well as being a mini piece of history themselves. Just hearing the word can conjure up images of seaside holidays, treasured memories of travels and precious sentiments sent from loved ones who are missed back home. All this can be stored safely on the fridge door, rather than hidden away in a digital device, only to be viewed when sought out by the keeper and lost forever should you ever break your phone or fail to store on cloud software.
Surprisingly, unlike the book, or even the leaflet, they haven’t been around as long as you think. The picture postcards that we know and love today first appeared in Austria in 1869 and became fashionable after gaining extra exposure in the Paris Exhibition of 1889. They achieved the height of their popularity before the First World War. After this, technological developments in communications saw them pigeonholed into the seaside holiday niche – which is where my passion for them started.
There is something magical about being sent a postcard. Waking up in the morning and finding in your letterbox something that wants nothing from you other than to be read and enjoyed. In fact, the only thing better that receiving a postcard, in my mind, is writing one. Browsing for the postcard, finding the perfect scene that you wish to depict – perhaps a beach scene, maybe a classic saucy British joke card. Then deciding what to write in that text space, having to keep the information concise, as there is only so much room to fit it all in. In that sense, it’s the original Twitter!
Of course in this age of Twitter and other technology that makes communication easier, one might assume the postcard is “quaint” and that its future is bleak. I beg to differ, and argue that the postcard is in fact, diversifying. With the growth of digital photography and graphic design, as well as traditional art forms such as painting, the postcard is gaining a new lease of life as one of the main ways to get your art out there and known ( link to art cards ). If I love an artist or an image but cannot afford an original piece of artwork, then the post card is the perfect item to purchase. You can support the artist in your small way, as well as having something that you can keep and show off wherever you wish, due to it’s convenient size. A great example of the resurgence of artists loving the postcard can be found at the RCA secret postcard sale .
It isn’t just in the fields of photography and art that the postcard has carved it’s own niche. It’s become a staple in the marketing world, even at times replacing the flyer in offering information and being something that can be delivered to your door. The postcard can also act as marketing that can be kept as a memento, unlike other paper marketing. It is more durable and long lasting, so should you want to advertise your Bastille day event, but want something more elegant than a paper flyer, then the postcard is the item for you! You can offer information about the night as well as making the design extra snazzy so it can be used as decoration later. Oh là là, what’s not to love?
So have I managed to convince you that the postcard is more than just a retro device, or is it dead in the seaside water? Let us know below, or feel free to send your answers on a postcard to the printed offices – I’d love to see your designs!