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The Postal Store®

Obsessed with strange lifeforms, Elise Gravel finds endless fascination with monsters, slugs, rats, and even eccentric people. A native of Montreal, she is the author-illustrator of more than 50 children’s books and writes in both French and English. Gravel collaborated with stamp art director Antonio Alcalá to create the whimsical Message Monsters stamps.

What do you like about monsters?

Monsters are a little bit ugly. They’re not perfect. My monsters also have no gender and no race, and they have all different body shapes, so they can be used to promote diversity and to show that we’re all weird in our own way, but we all deserve love. It’s very easy to draw a monster — you just draw something and put googly eyes on it. So it makes kids feel like anything is possible, like you can be whoever you want or draw whatever you want.

When did you start making drawings like the ones on the stamps?

I was just out of graphic design school, and I started practicing illustration to see if it was something I wanted to do. My first book was a collection of fake ads for silly products, and I started my second one by just drawing monsters for fun. I turned it into a guide for kids on how to raise monsters, explaining that they need a lot of love and care — and that they smell, but that it’s okay.

What was it like to illustrate Message Monsters?

I knew that a lot of kids were going to see the stamps, so it was extremely fun. When I started the project, Antonio already had it figured out: He wanted monsters with little sticker designs around them so that kids could decorate their monsters. It was one of the smoothest contracts that I’ve ever had. I can pretty much draw monsters with my eyes closed — I’m a child inside, and they’re what my inner child finds cool. Generally, I don’t even think about what they are going to look like. They just come alive.