Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Asemic writing postcards - Due September 2nd

Thanks to Jan Hodgman for suggesting this one.

examples of asemic writing from google.

According to Wikipedia:
Asemic writing is a wordless open semantic form of writing. The word asemic means "having no specific semantic content". With the nonspecificity of asemic writing there comes a vacuum of meaning which is left for the reader to fill in and interpret. All of this is similar to the way one would deduce meaning from an abstract work of art. 

Your Challenge:
Create a postcard that includes some type of asemic writing.
Check out this Pinterest board for gorgeous examples. You'll see some artists use writing as the only element, while others add it to a painting or collage.  You can take on this challenge any way you see fit.

This is something I've been fascinated with for a few years, but haven't really tried.  Handwriting is so ingrained in me, it's hard for me to let go and "write" without resorting to letters.  The closest I've come is scrawling illegibly on a transparency and then turning it over to reverse the text before adding it to a collage, like this:

I'm eager to stretch my boundaries and challenge myself with something new.  I hope you are too!

Swap details:
  • You may submit as many as  four cards  (you will get back the same number you send)
  • if you're sending me more than one, please make sure you insert waxed paper or parchment in between the cards so they don't get stuck together in the envelope
  • write “MMSA asemic writing” on the back of your card to remind your recipient why they are receiving this wonderful work of art in the mail
  • I highly suggest you write your return address on the back of the postcard (in case of postal delivery problems) and your email address so the recipient can thank you.   
  • A note for your partner is a nice touch.
  • include a mailing label with your name and address for each card you create
    (I will attach them to the cards I mail back to you)
  • Please attach the proper postage to your postcard (see below for postal guidelines).  If you don’t have any stamps and it’s difficult for you to get some, go ahead and send me money instead.  You can stick cash in the envelope, or send it to me via paypal (
  • international swappers are welcome - the postage cost is $1.15 per card (paypal account is

Postage and Card Size
You are welcome to make any size postcard you want, but please pay attention to the following postal guidelines
  • In order to use the postcard rate ($.34) your card cannot be bigger than 4.25 x 6 inches, and it must be thin and flexible.  A 4x6 card that is thick, lumpy or doesn't bend, needs more postage
  • If your card is a rectangle bigger than a postcard, but still flat and flexible, a regular "forever" ($.49 ) stamp is what you need.
  • If your card is an unusual shape (square, round) or is flexible but has some lumpy embellishments it will probably cost you the "non machinable" rate of $.70
  • If your card doesn't bend at all, the post office considers it a package and you should go get it weighed to figure out the proper postage.
You can find all the postal specifications (and a handy postage calculator) here:

Mail your cards no later than September 2nd. (I don’t need to receive them by the 2nd, they need to be postmarked by the 2nd.)

Karen Isaacson
PO Box 532
Shrewsbury, MA 01545
United States


  1. I love this one, Karen, the examples are stunning...I do enjoy a good scribble writing sesh every once in a while..

  2. Love, love, love. Putting this one on my 'to do' list.

  3. So... how is "...scrawling illegibly on a transparency and then turning it over to reverse the text …' not a good potential example of asemic writing? heehee :D this looks like fun, and may just go play tonight w/my left hand, thanks to right hand tendonitis and/or competing arthritis!!

  4. Here's a quote I ran across while enjoying the art (and this quote) of Susanne Carmack:

    “Marks that look like writing are indecipherable, and they are carriers of feeling, like a seismograph records the trembling of the earth.” Susanne Carmack

  5. Hi, I used to scribble nonsense when I was little and pretending to have an "office." 50+ years later, I just did a "test run" and discovered that it's easier to scribble nonsense as an adult by
    starting on the right side of the paper and heading left. In other words, backwards. Try it :)
    Honi C.

  6. Wow, the asemic cards that are coming in are really terrific! SO inspiring, this whole group!
    Thanks for stepping up to the challenge!