📙 #006 - Dan Catt vs the Post Office
Hello again, it's Tuesday afternoon, and I got sidetracked by scripting a video (pen plotting tutorial). I always promise myself that I will make each newsletter nice and short; I may manage it this time by only having 40 minutes to write it out!
It's fair to say I love sending out letters and post. Back in the mists of time, I used to do a thing called Mail Art. People would send out a call for a mail art project on a theme and the addresses of willing participants. The art was often the envelopes themselves, drawn on, painted, stickers, ornamental writing and rubber stamps. So, many, rubber, stamps!
Of course, getting a letter included inside was part of the joy. If you could, you'd find some way to take what you'd been sent, add to it, and then send it onwards. They'd all get sent to a final address to be collated and exhibited at a certain point.
It's no great surprise that these types of projects aren't as prevalent as they once were, but the excitement of them has stuck with me. To this day, I post things out (often letters) two or three times a week.
One of my favourite things about the Royal Mail here in the UK is that they have an ever-changing selection of Post Marks, the things they stamp onto, well, stamps, to show they've been used. Here's the most recent selection...
They're shown on the Royal Mail website here: https://www.royalmail.com/postmarks; the Postmark Bulletin is the best way to see the dates they're valid until. Using them is so old-fashioned it's great. You address and stick stamps on the letter you want to send as usual, then put that letter into a larger envelope to send to one of the stamping centres, mainly London but sometimes Edinburgh or Cardiff, with the number of the postmark you want them to use written on the outside.
Someone then opens the outer envelope, stamps the inner letter with the postmark and then puts it into the post system to head on its way.
All this is to say that yes, I am very nerdy about the postal service!
Sometimes people are surprised when they message me asking about something, and I'm all, "I'll just pop that in the post to you" they reply with "Are you sure?". I'm literally heading back out to the post office in a couple of hours (again), I'm totally sure! The main sorting office is four minutes from the studio in one direction, and the post office is three minutes in the opposite direction.
Over the last few months, I've been testing various printers, paper, ink, designs, etc. A couple of weeks ago, I changed the envelopes I use to send out prints. Meanwhile, I'm still searching for the perfect (affordable) packing tube which doesn't use plastic ends; I know they're out there.
Protecting prints is my highest priority. Corners are a particularly vulnerable part of a flat print. So last week, I took to Twitter to find some postal "Guinea Pigs" to which I could send some test prints so that they can report back on the corner survival rate!
This means I have a moderate pile of prints, envelopes, corner protectors and tubes taking up space in my "mail room", which need to be rehomed.
WORRY & SOCIAL ETIQUETTE
As some of you may already know, I am somewhere on the neurodiverse spectrum. Not so much that it causes huge problems but enough that I spend a fair amount of time worrying about completely messing up a social interaction by over or underthinking them.
Sometimes I'd send a letter and then be all, "Oh fuck, what if they now feel compelled to write a letter back? I'm fine writing letters, but I know it's not for everyone. Have I now put the other person into an awkward social situation? At what level of friendship do you need to be to write a letter compared to a thank you note? Oh no, is even a thank you note acceptable in this day and age, postal addresses are so personal?"
To the extent that sometimes I even included a little booklet explaining that no, you didn't need to send a reply.
I told you I tended to overthink things.
Because letters are such an archaic thing to receive, I ended up just deciding to ask people, "Hey, are you okay with receiving letters now and then?" pretty much everyone I asked said yes, so I guess again, I was worrying too much, but that's just what I do.
In a similar vein, when asking for postal addresses, I've ended up going with "Let me know an address you can pick post up from" because saying "Send me your address" basically boils down to "Hey, internet stranger, tell me where you live" 🤔
With that in mind...
I have just over a dozen or so test prints of various sizes; I can't do specific requests, but if you would like to add your name to the list of people who don't mind having random prints and pen plots sent to them, then please feel free to reply to this email with an address you can pick post up from.
If I receive more addresses than I have prints at the moment, I'll just keep shuffling the list around as I get new test prints/plots in or until the list becomes too big to be practical.
I think we may be in the sweet spot where there's just enough of you all to make it fun and easy, but not so many that it takes up all my time.
I think I managed to hit the 40-minute mark, but that brings us neatly onto...
SOCIAL MEDIA EMPIRE
Instagram: 12,224 (+38)
Twitter: 5,942 (+44)
YouTube: 990 (+227) !!!
Newsletter: 163 (+10)
TikTok: 27 (+2)
It'll be nice to hit that 1k mark on YouTube, so I'd better get back to working on those pen plotter tutorial videos!
Until next time I'll see you on the social medias! Don't forget to reply with your address or email directly to firstname.lastname@example.org.