A new way to keep the handwritten note
Today we are thrilled to interview New York based Illustrator and painter Anja Riebensahm from Das Brooklyn about her love for the handwritten letter.
What do handwritten letters and notes mean to you?
Hand written letters mean love and care from friends and family who are far away. My dad was an engineer and we moved to a new country every few years, starting in the early 1980’s when I was very young. Writing letters was the only way to stay in touch with my friends and my grandmother, so it’s always been very important.
Can you tell us how you keep them?
For decades I had a giant duffle bag with every letter I ever received in the basement. At the beginning of the pandemic I decided to scan them all and get rid of all but a few. So far I have digitized 1500 pages from my oldest friend and there is no end in sight. It’s a very long term project! I love paper but I was running out of storage, so now I am printing books in order to have everything in chronological order and in one place. It’s still much more tangible than a computer file, but less than bags of old letters thrown together.
Do you still send handwritten notes, postcards and letters?
These days I try to send at least one postcard a day. I mostly catch up with people on FaceTime and email, so I often don’t have enough to say to fill a long letter, but it’s still so wonderful to receive physical mail and I have several friends who reciprocate. It also used to be much easier to find interesting writing paper. When I went to Japan a few years ago I stocked up on paper products in a major way, but in New York a lot of the great stationery shops have closed.
As an artist what are your inspirations?
My main sources of inspiration for my art are museums, travel (esp. traveling to museums), and animal rights activism. I have designed some custom animal wallpapers for different clients and those were some of my favorite commissions.