Graceful Envelope Contest

In this era of email, tweets and emojis, seeing a hand-addressed envelope in your mailbox can make any day special.
The Graceful Envelope Contest, celebrates the significance of writing, sending, and receiving letters.

Created originally in 1995 by the Smithsonian Institution’s National Postal Museum, and now administered by the National Association of Letter Carriers and the Washington Calligraphers Guild, the Contest promotes the art of calligraphy, and celebrates the role of letters in binding people together.

Graceful Envelope Best in Show 2017 by Christy Robb

The “art” of correspondence…

This is a fantastic opportunity for all educators  and art enthusiasts. Some schools use the contest to introduce young people to the lettering arts.

The Graceful Envelope Contest is open to all skill levels and ages – around the world, with three divisions for students grades 1 through 12, and a division for adults. There is no entry fee.

One of Eight Student Winners 2010 Junior Division (Grades 7-12)




 images of 2017 winning entries by High school students for inspiration.


Every year, the call goes out in the Fall with a new theme to challenge entrants to create an envelope that promotes the exchange of letters. Deadline for entries is in March. Winners are chosen based on hand lettering, creative interpretation of the theme and effective use of color and design, including incorporation of postage stamp(s). All contestants are notified in June as to the final status of their entry.

Find new ways to use graphic design, hand lettering and postage stamps to enhance a single envelope. It may be a small canvas, but you are capable of big ideas.

Graceful Envelope 2015 Best in Show by Hannah C. Holder

Graceful Envelope 2015 Best in Show by Hannah C. Holder

Rules and How to Enter
Each entry is done on a stamped envelope, addressed on the front in calligraphy or hand-drawn artistic lettering so as to be delivered through the U.S. Postal Service.  The envelope, which can be handmade or manufactured, will not be opened. The size may not exceed 7 x 9 inches. The 
front of the envelope will be judged; the name and address of the entrant will be listed on the back where it will not be visible to the jurors. Students must indicate their GRADE and may use their teacher’s email and school address.

Entries are judged by interpretation of the contest theme to transform an ordinary envelope into a work of art using calligraphy or artistic lettering to address the envelope. Computer-generated/enhanced lettering, stickers or manufactured rubber stamps, are not permitted.

Although no prizes will be awarded, winners will receive certificates and possible media publicity.

Winners will be exhibited online at and Adult winning envelopes will be exhibited.

See Rules and How to Enter for details.

“The Graceful Envelope Contest expanded in 2005 to include student entries — at the same time that countless school systems were dropping art from the curriculum. Many elementary schools have also discontinued teaching cursive. And, in this era of electronic mail and text messages, rare is the young person who knows how to address an envelope. Perhaps art educators can use the contest to introduce students to addressing an envelope and considering suggested themes in different, creative ways.” – Lorraine Swerdloff Contest Coordinator for the Washington Calligraphers Guild


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