The thank you note is an endangered species. I’ll readily admit that I have forgotten more than once to send one off following the receipt of a birthday gift or a holiday card filled with monetary cheer. And when I do finally remember, it’s months after the fact, and as I’m unsure of the statute of limitations regarding thank you notes, I usually end up not writing one at all.
A couple years ago I came across this group interview amongst a few San Francisco design principals, and one thing that caught my eye was the bit where Christopher Simmons of MINE™ mentions the dying art of the handwritten thank you note. Not just the thank you note, but handwritten thank you note. It was around this time that I was designing out my personal collateral, and I thought this would be a nice opportunity to include a thank you note for interview follow ups, etc.
And when you think about it, a thank you note is such a perfect way to make an impression – you can allow your personality to shine through, it gives you a chance to display your design ingenuity, and it shows the recipient that you have plain old good manners (which there seems to be a deficit of, as of late).
Snap to the present: at the end of this term I – along with Clay Cooper, Patrick Dougherty, Spenser Garden, and Baktaash Sorkhabi – had the opportunity to trek up to San Francisco and spend an afternoon at Michael Osbourne Design, during which we presented our final projects of the term to none other than Michael Osbourne.
Well, I say “presented”, but really what happened is the six of us had a nearly four hour conversation in which we talked about everything from coffee and international exports, to the nuances of language and the primacy of the written word in contemporary culture.
Mr Osbourne also spoke to us at length about his philosophy on hiring, and it was during this bit where the phrase “thank you letter” was mentioned. On our way out, I made a strong mental note that I would indeed remember to mail one out when I got home.
It would be a week after arriving back in Long Beach when I would finally get an opportunity to sit down and pen a note. My old personal identity (which consisted of non-standard sizes, and a healthy amount of Bodoni Seventy-Two and Akzidenz Grotesk) is on its way out, so I decided that I would fashion a one-off to send out instead.
During our meeting, Mr Osbourne made his love of type very clear, so I was more than happy to oblige with something that was very type-centric. At the same time, I wanted to create something that would give everyone who came across it – from the person that delivers the mail to my building, to the guys in the sorting office, right on to the postal worker delivering it – a bit of a smile. Design, after all, is about people, and I thought it would be nice to give a bit of acknowledgment to a group that I’m sure rarely gets any thanks for performing such an essential task.
The result was a note in which the envelope is both the package and the note. A flap on the back of the note has adhesive applied to it which joins the two halves together, and additional flaps on the sides keep the ends closed. On the inside, I used the top space to handwrite a note of thanks, and on the bottom I cut out slits into which I could affix a business card (always be self-promoting, right?).
It was with some trepidation that I put this letter into the mailbox; the addressing is very non-standard after all. Worst case, I figured that the fellows at the sorting office would get a chuckle and regretfully send it back, but after a few days of checking my mailbox it seemed that there was no sign of it returning my way any time soon.
I hope it caused some smiles along its journey.