It's All Write



Making a case for a case of old letters.

In the instant gratification of modern electronic communications, we email, PM, SMS and tweet constantly, discarding messages almost as quickly they come. I don’t imagine too many people hoarding these digital missives as mementos. Cut to budding young design star Gretchen Nash, who stored all the letters she’d received since childhood in a suitcase, and now has put together a book dissecting every single missive.

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“Dear Gretchen” is a kind of ode to letter writing, done up (naturally) in paper. Like a businesswoman making a presentation of her life through correspondence, she’s created charts and graphs accounting for such minutiae as the incidence of swear words, what animals are mentioned most (cats, apparently), most frequently used abbreviations, and name-calling, among other things. But while Ms.Nash is an accomplished graphic designer, she didn’t rely on any electronic business programs: all the histograms and pie charts were done by hand as 3 dimensional paper constructions. It’s a fun, tactile and extremely creative way of presenting the content of something as everyday as letters.

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But what I find fascinating about this work, beyond the sheer fun of it all, is that it highlights how a written note can have so much more life – and specifically your life – than a quick text message or email. There’s something about holding a postcard or letter, and remembering the details that bring back the history between you and the sender. Seeing Gretchen’s graphs, but also seeing the actual letters in all their aged and crumpled glory, reminds you how personal and tactile letters can be.

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All images © Gretchen Nash,

“Dear Gretchen” is a personal book project of Gretchen Nash, and I believe the original is the only copy, but you can see more of her work at However, don’t let that stop you from starting a few letter writing projects of your own. We’re big on paper here at Kate’s Paperie, so it almost goes without saying that I’d encourage you to pick up a pen and maybe a lovely blank card and write to someone you care about. And with Mother’s Day coming up, what better person to start with than Mom? You can certainly pick up a lovely Mother’s Day card, but make sure you add something written completely by you to make it even more personal. In this day and age of throwaway digital communications, a written note can go a long way beyond just the distance the postal service takes to deliver it. So go ahead – write away.

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George G., Creative Director At Large, is a New York-based art director whose work spans everything from store display to interactive media. Also an accomplished artist, his illustrations have been published and exhibited in various galleries in New York. Being a self-professed design junkie, he is constantly on the lookout for what’s new and fresh in the worlds of art and design.

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