I just can’t get enough of creative people and their clever ideas. Another small, cute and thoughtful project I wanted to make a dash at is ‘Postcards Beyond’ by Turkish art student Gizem Kuzu, which is none other than a lifetime venture in the making. To some extend, her project reminded me a bit of this guy, who plans to meet each and every of his 1000+ virtual facebook friends for a coffee and have a proper conversation in real life. Other than getting in touch with people she (somehow) knows through social networks, Gizem’s idea is to send a postcard to at least every region in the world, build relationships the old-fashioned way by reminding people how special it is to get something physical from someone you’ve never met before: ‘We’re living in an age of technology and that’s great but what are we going to give our grandkids? My father gave me his stamp collection and wanted me to continue and I’ve turned this to something else.’ But before I bubble over with excitement and spill the beans here and now, let’s rather give Gizem a chance to have a say herself. Instead of scribbling them on the back of a beautiful postcard, I sent off a few questions about her project on a 2.000-something-mile journey from Edinburgh to Izmir in the electronic mail. Shame on me. I vow betterment for next time. Promised.
Hello Gizem! Thanks for taking the time to have a chat. Do you mind introducing yourself briefly? Hi, not at all, thank you so much for giving me this opportunity, Mathias. Well, I was born in Istanbul in ’89 and had lived in Istanbul until 2008. Then I moved to Izmir for studying. I’ve always been interested in art, especially photography, painting and sculpting. Now I am studying sculpture, but I realised that I am more into painting really. I worked for some online magazines and newspapers as a columnist, yet couldn’t resist to get back into art again.
Let’s get right into it: How did it all start with ‘Postcards Beyond’ and what’s the bigger picture behind it? I created this project 6 months ago. At first, I wanted to find creative people who can exchange postcards and letters with me. I used to write letters when I was 15 and then somehow I stopped. Facebook, twitter, basically the internet seemed to be enough to get in touch with people, but over time we forgot how exceptional it is to share our lives and moments through writing. I grew up with books and paints, I know how special it is to use your hands to express yourself. And now, I am trying to remind people that even writing to a stranger can make a big difference in their lives.
How many postcards have you received so far and how many did you send out? I’ve received 146 postcards – wow! It’s almost one postcard per day – from 35 different countries and I’ve sent 151.
I can imagine it’s a pricey business to send them especially to people overseas. How do you cope? (Sighing) Well, it’s really pricey. I am a student and it’s getting harder to afford that much money. That’s why I am selling my own postcards on Etsy to send more and more. I also running an Indiegogo pledge that is waiting for some lovely support.
What was the reason to start designing your own postcards? When it got tougher to find creative postcards in Turkey, I just started to create my own.
Your watercolour paints are gorgeous! Where do you draw your inspiration from and is there another medium you’d like to experiment with? Oh, thank you so much. My basic material is ink and I usually sketch architectural textures and wildlife. I know these two things vary quite a bit, but I draw my inspiration mostly from nature and it’s hard to find that in this city. So I’m bringing both worlds together in my drawings and paintings. I know I am not a professional yet, but I’m currently trying to improve my watercolour techniques. The other thing that’s special to me is photography. I love taking pictures even though I never got a fancy camera. For now, I use my phone to document the project and share every postcard I’ve sent & received.
You say you have a soft spot for travelling. What’s the #1 destination on your list? Yes, travelling is really my soft point even though I’ve been abroad only once. I am trying to discover new and secret places in Turkey for now. My first destination will be the UK, surprise-surprise! I’m in love with Europe and hope I can spend some time over there soon. This is the most important thing about my project: travelling. I know I cannot travel the world yet, but in a way I am going on journeys with my postcards. At the end of this project, at least someone in each region of the world will have received a postcard from me, so I will have been everywhere with my words.
Have you established any friendships with people you’ve got in contact with or have you visited some of the places on the postcards? Yes, I’ve made some beautiful friends and I’m trying to keep in touch with them through letters and social media of course. Instagram is the best place for keeping this project alive and reaching out. I haven’t visited any of these places or people yet, but I’d like to visit every country I sent postcards to and organise meetings with everyone I got in touch with. Something like worldwide Insta-meets. That’s my biggest dream right now! 🙂
I know ‘Postcards Beyond’ is a lifelong project and not going to be over any time soon, but is there anything exciting planned for 2015 you want to tell us about? I wish I could say that I am going to start travelling in 2015, but I need more time for that. So I am planning to send 500 postcards till 2016 and also keep on designing new postcards.
Thanks for the chat, Gizem. All the best to you and I can’t wait for some mail from Izmir…
Oh, and if you’d like to check out more amazing photos, postcard designs or get in touch with Gizem, feel free to follow her on social media: