It was the start of lockdown when we launched Elsa Rose Frere's collection of cards featuring her distinct illustrated characters hugging. We wanted to help people stay close to their loved ones, even while apart, by sending some love through the letterbox. As lockdown rolls on for longer than most of us were initially expecting, these cards continue to help people reach out to their nearest and dearest in a physical way that a video call can't.
To find out more about the story behind the cards and Elsa's reaction to the incredible response they've had, we had a little chat.
"It's such a wonderful feeling as an artist when your work evokes an emotion with your audience."
What was the initial idea for the designs?
The idea for the hug illustrations came in response to the pandemic. Initially it was just a simple idea, being able to send an ‘illustrated hug' in place of a physical one. A hug is such a normal way we as humans show support, so it was just a nonverbal way of me illustrating that we were all together in being apart.
How do you feel about the response to the cards?
I was so touched by everyone's response to the hug illustrations, they really seemed to resonate with people which meant the world to me. It's such a wonderful feeling as an artist when your work evokes an emotion with your audience. The fact that I was then able to develop the idea to help people show their loved ones that they were thinking of them during this difficult time felt very special.
Have you sent the cards yourself?
Yes, I have sent a few of the hug cards to my elderly relatives as I know how much receiving post means to them.
Elsa's home studio
What do you like about sending cards in non-lockdown times?
I love sending and receiving post. I also love writing, so I've alway really enjoyed writing letters and cards. There's something about physically receiving a handwritten envelope through the letterbox (that isn't a bill or junk mail) that is so personal. When so much of our time and day-to-day life has become so digital I think people really recognise the gesture in sending a card the good old fashioned way.
How have you been coping with lockdown?
I work from home anyway so that side of life has felt much the same. I've been very fortunate to be really busy which has meant that the past 7 weeks have passed pretty quickly. My husband and I also have a golden retriever puppy and she has been a real comfort, not only in routine, but also in the way she finds pure happiness in the simplest of things.
Who are you most looking forward to sharing a hug with once we come out of lockdown?
That's a really difficult one. I love hugs and I have a huge family who I can't wait to cuddle as well as some very dear friends. I think it would have to be a hug sandwich with my Mum and Dad though, I miss them a lot.