Washington Calligraphers Guild home
2018 Graceful Envelope Contest
Call for Entries!
Call for Entries flier
2018 CALL FOR ENTRIES: Calligraphers and artists from around the world are invited to participate in the 24th annual Graceful Envelope Contest, conducted by the Washington (DC) Calligraphers Guild and the National Association of Letter Carriers. The contest is open to all ages, with separate categories for children. There is no entry fee. Postmark deadline: Monday, March 26, 2018.
This year's theme:
Whatever the Weather
Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night…
There's always something to say about the weather. From severe storms to sowing crops to using the sun and wind for renewable energy, the weather affects everyone. Summon a brainstorm to capture what’s outside your window—or outside the box—and design a winning envelope!
Address it artistically to:
The Graceful Envelope Contest
100 Indiana Ave. NW
Washington, DC 20001
POSTMARK DEADLINE: Monday, March 26, 2018
Winners will be chosen based on artistic hand lettering, creative interpretation of the theme
and effective use of color and design, including incorporation of postage stamp(s).
In addition to promoting the art of calligraphy, the Graceful Envelope Contest celebrates the role of letters in binding people together and serves as a reminder that the people who deliver the mail are career government employees who take pride in their work and care about the communities they serve.
The contest was created in 1995 by the Smithsonian Institution's National Postal Museum, which administered it until delegating responsibility to the Washington Calligraphers Guild in 2001. Beginning in 2003, the National Association of Letter Carriers agreed to partner with the Washington Calligraphers Guild and exhibit the Adult winners.
Contest Rules (Below: 2017 Best in Show by Christy Robb. Theme: Pushing the Envelope)
WHO CAN ENTER
- Entries will be judged in these divisions:
-- Grades 9-12
-- Grades 5-8
-- Grades 1-4
- Only one entry allowed per person.
HOW TO ENTER
- There is no entry fee.
- Each entry must be a stamped envelope, either manufactured or handmade, delivered through the U.S. Postal Service. The envelope will not be opened.
- Entries may not be enclosed in a separate envelope or in any protective covering.
- Size may not exceed 7x9 inches. Standard #10 business envelopes are also permitted. (Some envelope sizes require additional postage.)
- Use calligraphy or hand-drawn artistic lettering to address the FRONT of the envelope to:
The Graceful Envelope
100 Indiana Ave. NW
Washington, DC 20001
- On the BACK of the envelope, print your name, mailing address and email, clearly labeled "FROM." Students must indicate their GRADE (international students: please provide your age).
Note to teachers: If this is a class project, please put your address and email on the back of each student's envelope.
CRITERIA FOR JUDGING
Creative interpretation of the contest theme to transform an ordinary envelope into a work of art. From breezes to blizzards to thinking outside the box, the 2018 theme, Whatever the Weather, encourages artistic brainstorms.
- Quality of calligraphy or artistic lettering used to address the envelope. Computer-generated or -enhanced lettering is not permitted.
Effective use of color and design employing standard media such as paint, ink, markers and pencil. Not permitted: stickers or manufactured rubber stamps (hand-cut stamps permitted).
Entrants are encouraged to integrate postage stamp(s) into the design.
- See below for the advice of a past judge.
- The Call for Entries and theme are announced in the fall.
- Entries must be postmarked no later than Monday, March 26, 2018. The contest will not acknowledge receipt of entries.
- Judging will take place in late April 2018 by three professionals from the postal, calligraphic and arts communities. Only the front of the envelope will be judged; the name, address and email of the entrant must be written clearly on the back. (If a class project, teachers should put their address and email on the back of each student's envelope.)
- Winners will receive certificates in early June 2018 and their names and entries will be posted online. No prizes are awarded. Please note: Entries not selected by the judges will not be notified.
- All winning envelopes can be viewed online at www.calligraphersguild.org and Adult winning envelopes are exhibited for a year in the National Association of Letter Carriers headquarters lobby (100 Indiana Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20001; 202-662-2851). Winners may also be published or exhibited elsewhere. Entries not selected by the judges will not be displayed or returned.
- If you have any questions about entering or if your entry is returned to you, contact the contest administrators.
- To help the envelope reach its destination, make certain the zip code (20001) is easily readable. (You may also repeat the contest's address on the back of the envelope, clearly labeled "TO.")
- First-class postage is 50 cents for envelopes weighing up to one ounce. Postage for square, oversized or unusual envelopes starts at 70 cents. You can use stamps issued in any year. NOTE: If you reside outside the US, use your country's postage in the denomination required for mail going to the States.
- One of the judges of the 2011 contest, Shane Perry, provided this insight into the judging process:
For the Graceful Envelope Contest, I look at a compelling design that grabs my attention and that conveys the theme, either directly or indirectly if it is cleverly done. The lettering needs to be well-executed and congruent to the overall design. Also, the use of the stamp needs to be well-considered, since it is part of the envelope, and therefore is part of the design. Envelopes that are expertly painted and/or drawn but contain lettering that seems like an afterthought would not be considered a winner. Expert lettering that does not produce a pleasing overall design that adheres to the theme would not be considered a winner.
But an envelope with a design portraying the theme in a unique way, setting it apart from the pack, with lettering that works well with the design and a stamp that looks like it belongs, would definitely be in the running.
Overall, I don't believe it is the best calligrapher that will always win, nor the best draftsman or painter -- it is the artist who is able to use both effectively to execute the theme in the most compelling way.
Themes of Past Contests
1996--Mother's Day or stamp-related
1997--Pushing the Envelope
1998--National Postal Museum's 5th Anniversary
1999--The Beauty in Nature
2000--Significant Events from the Past Century
2001--25th Anniversary of the Washington Calligraphers Guild
OR Celebrating 200 years of Washington as the Nation's Capital
2002--Greetings from America
2003--The Written Word
2005--the letter P
2006--A Fine Line
2007--A Mailable Feast
2008--C's the Day
2009--Address the Environment
2010--A Stream of Letters
2012--D-liver D-letter D-sooner D-better (the letter D)
2013--A World of Change
2014--The Superlative Letter S
2015--There's No Place Like Home
2017--Pushing the Envelope