Published: 05th December 2018
Write a 'snail mail' to Sumedha Sah and get an awesome illustration in return
Sumedha Sah is a self-taught illustrator and architect with a master’s degree in Sustainable Architecture. Originally from Nainital, she moved to Mumbai after getting married three years ago
When was the last time you remember receiving a handwritten letter or actually writing to someone? I can recall those envelopes from when I was seven or eight years old that my grandparents used to send letters. It took ages to reach the other person. I am sure all those in my generation would find this story quite relatable. In today’s fast-paced world, handwritten letters — that take days, sometimes weeks to reach their destination — are aptly termed ‘snail mail’. We all have them, stuffed in a box full of memories somewhere in the corner of the house.
However, this woman in Mumbai is trying to open these boxes and revive the practice of handwritten letters with her unique project ‘The Snail Mail Project’. Sumedha Sah is a self-taught illustrator and architect with a master’s degree in Sustainable Architecture. Originally from Nainital, she moved to Mumbai after getting married three years ago.
My work is a combination of art and design while taking inspiration from my interest in the subject of Sustainability. I have a keen interest in the transformation of the relationship between man and nature and my work moves between Architecture, Illustration and Art
Sumedha Sah, Illustrator (Pic: Sumedha Sah)
Started in 2015, the project was a way to seek inspiration for the illustrator — the 30-year-old would sketch illustrations in response to the letters and send them back to the letter writer. She had posted an open invitation on social media, on her Tumblr account, and responses started flooding in. Since then, Sumedha has received and exchanged at least 100 letters across the globe, starting from India, Japan, Singapore, United Kingdom, Malaysia, Turkey and Scotland.
“The thing I love most about handwritten letters is that the writer gives it a lot of time and thought. It’s not a quick message or an instant reaction like we do now in texts. I like the fact that it travels from one place to another, takes time to get to the other person — I think there’s some magic about it,” explains Sumedha.
She recalls writing letters herself when she was young. “I remember carrying a bag of letters and cards, I was about 12-year-old, but I was not too regular. I stopped after I began my higher studies and then, eventually moved out of my hometown,” Sumedha recalls.
Love for handwritten letters: Sumedha replies to the letters with an original illustration (Pic: Sumedha Sah)
After she moved to Mumbai, she knew very few people and the pace at which things occurred in the city was very new to her. “There was a phase when I was feeling lost, I wanted to do something about it. That’s how Snail Mail Project was born. My love for handwritten letters and love for illustrations, combined, made this project happen,” adds Sumedha. She reveals that every letter is unique and people can write anything they wish to. “I am glad that people identify with the project. I think that’s great. I have received great responses from people around the world till now,” she says.
Sumedha still has 70 letters to answer out of the 140 or so she received throughout these years, “It takes time for me to reply to every letter as they are so different, I try to do justice to every word in it with my illustrations.” Sumedha says she is not much of a person of words, she’s more interested in art and that comes easier than any other way of expression. Thus, she chose to reply to these letters with detailed illustrations.
When asked to recall any one special letter she has received that she likes, she struggles to pick one and ends up admitting that all the letters are unique and equally dear to her.