Martin Rowsell, 45, from East Sussex in England has worked as a graphic designer for over twenty years. In 2010 Martin was given the opportunity of voluntary redundancy and saw it as a good opportunity to set his own agency up, Simply Marvellous Creative. Three years later, after reading Richard Branson’s “Screw Business As Usual” and seeing Sam Roddick do a talk, Martin decided to create something in which he could use his skills to give something back and Postcards For Peace was born, with the mission: “To teach peace and non-violence by promoting respect and unity.” In its three years it has grown considerably and has supporters all around the world. Martin says:
“This is however only the beginning.”
Here is ASLI’s interview with Martin:
What is the artistic/creative background and benefit of your project?
We are using postcards as an education tool. Although just a small piece of card, they are a way of using both pictures and the written word. They are very flexible and we are developing ways in which they can be fitted into different areas of the curriculum to bring some creativity and introduce imagination into most core subjects.
Postcards are also recognised around the world so are perfect for uniting different countries as our Postcard Exchange Network is proving at the moment.
What motivated you to start your project / non-profit?
I think it was my mid-life crisis! It was born out of a desire to do more using my skills and knowledge. I’d previously used resources I had at hand to promote the work of Peace One Day and felt it was time to create something of my own. I’ve never understood violence or hate and want to use creativity to unite people around the world.
Are you creative and do your benefit from your creativity in a non-monetary way?
Yes, I’ve always been creative and was destined to do some sort of creative career. It turned out to be graphic design but I also paint and draw when time allows. I have designed most of the postcards that Postcards For Peace sells as well as the website and promotional material. I’m currently drawing a series of portraits that will feature on future postcards we sell. I do benefit in a way from the work I do with Postcards For Peace, but both creatively and spiritually. I am also hoping that more and more artists, designers and photographers around the world will join us so it’s not just me.
Who are you influenced by within your artistic discipline?
I’m not sure I am. I have favourite artists and designers but don’t think they influence my work. I absorb a lot of information through reading magazines and newspapers and my work is just a combination of everything I see.
Who inspires you in general?
I’m inspired by so many people since I have been working on Postcards For Peace because I have been in contact with so many more people from around the world. Some people don’t seem to stop doing great things, sharing their knowledge and doing good. I don’t know how they have the time! People who live so close to conflict while trying to lead a normal life have great courage and inspire me to carry on what I am doing.
What world issues is your project passionate about?
I just want every one to get on and be more caring about other humans. So our project encapsulates so many different subjects from war to refugees to equality and prejudice.
What do the statements “art saves lives” and “art creates change” mean to you?
We don’t all understand words, or want to read a newspaper, but given a picture, a film, play or dance we can often understand something more easily. Arts can be a way of getting across a message – in a simple way people can understand. They can also be a way of expressing a feeling or mood.
I’m biased towards the arts but really believe that art can create change. We are showing it with postcards but people around the world are showing it with paintings, graffiti, songs and poetry.
Have your creative outlets saved your life, or anyone else’s lives in anyway?
I’m certainly happier with art in my life. I don’t know if it has saved my life. My work with Postcards For Peace probably hasn’t saved anyone’s life yet but I think, as it grows, it could start to introduce a change that might.
What are your present and future goals for your project / non-profit?
We are in the process of converting from a Community Interest Company (CIC) to a charity which has forced us to plan more ahead. We want to get resources into classrooms and begin to really start working with children getting them to ask questions, understand more and look at different cultures with greater respect. We want to run workshops at different events and eventually create our own peace centres. At the same time we want the postcards we sell to start spreading our messages of peace around the world so that e can reach a bigger audience.
The following questions are on Capitalism, Poverty &War which is ASLI’s Campaign at this present time.
Do you think war is ever necessary and why?
I would like to say it is never necessary and as adults we should all be able to sit round a table and discuss a solution. However, not everyone is open to negotiations like this and we shouldn’t let one country invade another just for greed. I think war should be a last resort though.
Who profits and gains in general from war, in your opinion?
It is becoming apparent that war is being manufactured as a way of selling weapons. The USA and UK, among others, appear to be making a fortune by selling arms to other countries allowing them to attack others. We also invest a lot in arms, money that would be better spent on healthcare and education. While the arms trade generates jobs and wealth I would rather see more nurses, doctors and teachers.
In your opinion what motivates war? Is it capitalism, patriarchy, the standing of a country or revenge etc?
Mostly capitalism. Oil and arms.
Here are a selection of Postcards from Postcards for Peace
Please follow these links to find out more on how to get involved and support this inspiring project: