We tend to think of postcards as mementos from faraway travels, picked up in airports or beachfront shops. But postcard making can bring that excitement home (even if “home” is the only place you’ve been for what feels like eons)—and brighten a friend’s day in the process. Whether you’re sending or receiving, snail mail offers a physical expression of affection even from thousands of miles away, and with the Postal Service’s future at risk, regular trips to the mailbox are all the more vital: After all, the easiest way to support the USPS is to use it. So pick up a sheet of stamps (options abound!) and spend your next quiet afternoon crafting one-of-a-kind postcards with the help of these special courses.
Make Your Own Black-and-White Ink Postcards
For a black-and-white greeting that illustrates exactly where you’re writing from, try working with ink in Postcards from Here, a class led by Dylan Mierzwinski. The two-hour course begins with the basics: looking to ink works by other artists for inspiration; walking through elementary techniques for the pen or paintbrush; and working with contour lines and contrast on bare-bones sketches.
Once the fundamentals are covered, Mierzwinski moves on to the postcards themselves. To design a cohesive four-card set, the Phoenix, Arizona-based artist invites you to consider your location, framing, and subject matter in every design, and offers concrete steps to help budding artists hone in on their own unique stories. You’ll use reference photos and images to paint thumbnails before elevating your favorite designs to full-sized works. The course concludes by sharing analog and digital finishing methods to get homemade postcards ready for the mailbox. Before stamping and sending, be sure to share your work in the project gallery: Mierzwinski frequently engages with her students, commenting and providing feedback on specific elements like texture, balance, and value placement.
Send a Postcard with a Colorful Cover
For a challenge that flexes your audio and visual muscles, try Dallas-based artist Temi Coker’s graphic design course, Create a Bold, Colorful Album Cover. A musician himself, Coker creates a new playlist every three months, sharing it with his friends and family alongside original abstract album covers—the kinds of bold designs that would also make eye-catching mail. Create your own designs with the eight-part class, which clocks in at less than 45 minutes: Coker will walk you through creating a mood board, sketching out designs, and refining your images in Adobe Illustrator, all which easily translate from a digital upload to a printed postcard.
In Illustrator, Coker uses tools like Paint Bucket and Adobe Color to manipulate hues and shapes, and he encourages his students to experiment, too. How does a color make you feel? What emotion does your playlist evoke? The answers to these questions will help you finalize your design before adding text and exporting the finished image. Once you’ve completed the course, print, stamp, and mail your project—perhaps with a note about the track list, or a URL for streaming—to share your digital playlists in a decidedly analog way.
Say Hi with Hand-Lettered Homemade Cards
For those looking to play around with color and text, Martina Flor offers The Golden Secrets of Hand-Lettering, a primer on creating hand-lettered art from scratch for the “perfect postcard.” Flor, a Berlin-based designer, outlines the process with a few overarching steps: Decide on a concept, sketch it out, then digitize it to experiment further. She begins the fifteen-part course by drawing attention to typography inspo in everyday life, examining letter shapes, and exploring how calligraphy can play a role in hand lettering. Reviewing the foundations of hand lettering allows the course to encourage free expression—there’s no room for templates or copycats here.
Next, you’ll dive into the project portion, refining rough sketches before scanning them into Adobe Illustrator, where you’ll learn vector drawing techniques and play with color and texture. Regardless of previous skill level, expect to come away with new creative strategies and an eye-catching homemade postcard—the perfect way to send birthday wishes, share a holiday greeting, or simply say “hi,” all while supporting the USPS.