Friday, August 5, 2016

2016 DC Pen Show Handout

2016 Seminar notes on the Art of Personal Letter Writing
By Michael Kovacs


Ten Rules for Letter Writing

  1. Write letters.
  2. Letters are a conversation in slow motion between two people. Treat it as such.
  3. No one HAS to write back. If they do, it is a gift. Respect it as such.
  4. No one can tell you how to write. Conversely, you are not allowed to tell anyone how they should be writing you.
  5. Write letters.
  6. You must make the choice between what you choose more: content or presentation.
  7. If someone does not write back, send a postcard asking how they are doing and if they got the letter. If there is no reply, respect the silence and keep going on with life.
  8. To quote Charles Bukowski, as the spirit wanes, the form rises. You are not obliged to follow any strict form in personal letter writing. If you wish to do so fine, but that is a personal choice.
  9. Unless otherwise stated or understood, letters are between the sender and reader. Respect that privacy.
  10. Oh yeah, did I mention WRITE LETTERS!
  

Ten Rules for Stationery Making

  1. Decide if you are a more verbal or visual person. If you feel you express yourself better with your art, incorporate that into the letter. (Give example)
  2. Stationery is not “art” inasmuch as it is functional and is completed visually when a letter is written on it. Consider this when designing stationery.
  3. Stationery is FUNCTIONAL. When designing a page, try, at the very least, to leave 51% blank space to be written on.
  4. When reading the English language (more general term?) , the eye tracks from left to write. Designs on the right side of the page tend to be distracting and hinder flow. MOST BASIC AND EASY DESIGN CONCEPT: SOMETHING IN THE UPPER LEFT CORNER, SOMETHING IN THE LOWER RIGHT CORNER.
  5. If you think about it, most people would rather receive a passionate and heartfelt letter  written in pencil on a legal pad than something written on $20 a page paper and a $1500 Mont Blanc with $40 a bottle ink that has no emotion. Think about it.
  6. Stationery can be designed after the letter is written by leaving blank spaces on the page and having designs added to give context to what has or will be written
  7. What you are making is being made for an audience of ONE, not for the world to see or care about. Do not put pressure on yourself to make a De Vinci, Van Gogh, or Rothko.
  8. You do not need much of anything to make stationery. Basic collage techniques, some ink, some old magazines, and a color copier are all you really need.
  9. Every try, ever fail. No matter. Try again. Fail better. -Samuel Beckett
  10. Write Letters.




Ten Rules on Becoming a Better Personal Letter Writer

  1. Write letters.
  2. The only goal is to have your own voice, that you sound like you and only you. Why? By basic logic, you can only be yourself. Think about it.
  3. Read the letters of the greats and see what they do. Hemingway, Iris Murdoch, Vincent Van Gogh, Kurt Vonnegut, Albert Camus, F.Scott Fitzgerald, Rilke, the Letters of the New Testament, etc. They will calibrate your mind towards the flow of the artform.
  4. Never EVER criticize the writing of the person writing you in a reply letter! EVER! If you think they could do better, YOU do better. Raise the bar by example, not by criticism.
  5. Write letters.
  6. Not all letters are the same just as no conversation between different friends are the same. Do not expect something from the other person that the relationship cannot give.
  7. Be kind and honest over clever and flashy. Always.
  8. Re-write, by hand, passages from letters or books you think are amazing. You need to get the feel of what it means to WRITE things down, not just read them. (Hey, it worked for Hemingway and Hunter S. Thompson....)
  9. Be patient for a reply. This is not a game for sprinters, but for the long distance runners.
  10. Write letters.








Suggested Media:

Music:
Seasos......and other Imperfect Circles:: The Fractal Ensemble
(four spoken word letters are part of the album)
Airmail: Michael Kovacs
Off the album “sacred”
After the Valentines: Mike Kovacs and the Post-Modern Tribe
Rock Opera kinda based on letter writing between people

Books:
Any/ALL letters of F. Scott Fitzgerald.
(The Romantic Egoists:The Letters of F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald)
The Letters of Iris Murdoch
Van Gogh’s Letter to Theo
Letters to a Young Poet: Rilke
Albert Camus’ Letter to his former teacher upon receiving the Nobel Prize
Dear Fatty by
Letters of artist W.C.Wyeth
Any books on the letters of Soldiers from any of the Wars

Films/Plays:
The Best of Friends

Collage/Art Books:
There are hundreds on Amazon.com. Take your pick.
Also, go to as many museums as you can and steal ideas.

Design (general):
Color Design: by Jim Krauss (Now Publishing)

Places to find Penpals:
Letter Writing Resources: (online sign up))
League of Extraordinary Penpals (online sign up)
Contact information:
Michael Kovacs
PO Box 200
Old Bridge, NJ 08857   www.postmoderntribe@gmail.com


Yours With Utmost Gratitude for Being Part of  the Journey,

Michael