Selecting just the right stamp to mail a card or letter often reflects the mood of the sender, but a card from Gigi Trabant goes beyond the art of the stamp. Her hand-crafted cards and envelopes are inspired by a selected stamp, which she surrounds with original related drawings and design, tailored to the individual to whom she sends the card. With her large collection of vintage and modern stamps, coupled with her imagination and artistic talent, a card from Gigi is a real gift.
Gigi has been designing cards and envelopes based on stamps for over 50 years. As a teenager, she started by crafting holiday cards and letters every year, creating individual copies of the same card to send to friends and family. Because each card with its accompanying envelope is a work of art, Gigi’s mother suggested that she make copies of her cards. Chronologically, those cards today fill about a dozen binders, with each addition of a new card and envelope representing a fresh idea and approach.
Born in Monterey, CA, Gigi grew up in Europe, primarily in France, due to her father’s work with the photographers of Life magazine, and later, with the Marshall Plan. Gigi took immediately to living in France, enjoying her first summer at camp in the French Alpes. At a young age, she “discovered” good food. Arriving in France at the age of seven without knowing a word of French, Gigi was tutored after school by a kind teacher in the small village of Orgeval, who taught her how to speak and write the language.
Cards by Gigi are just the sort I would love to see in the now rare, well-stocked stationery store. She has crafted just about every kind of card, from thank you notes, birthday cards, condolences, and more. However, as she explains, her cards cannot be commercially duplicated, because they include real stamps, which are copyrighted. Her art also has been used for events, including San Francisco’s Black and White Ball, which supports the San Francisco Symphony.
Gigi’s work has not gone unrecognized. She has participated in and supported a contest sponsored by L’Unafam, an organization in Paris that supports families dealing with mental health issues. Gigi’s entry won 1st Prize in 2014, the first year of the contest, which is a fundraiser for the organization, supported by the Postal Museum of Paris (Musee de la Poste). All of the entries/envelopes become part of the Museum’s collection.
She also is a contributor of two individual pieces in Alphabetilately, a philatelic exhibition of the Smithsonian’s U.S. Postal Museum, which had a 7-year run, Sept. 2008 – Oct. 2015. In support of the 15th anniversary of the National Postal Museum, Alphabetilately features cases in which “each of the 26 letters stands for some aspect of the collecting of stamps or the sending of mail.” The exhibition, sponsored by AIGASF, a professional design association located in San Francisco, now is part of the Smithsonian’s permanent collections.
In addition to designing cards and envelopes and collecting stamps, Gigi Trabant raised three daughters: a librarian, an interior design architect, and an archivist. Beyond the art of the stamp, she runs a bed and breakfast, is an open water swimmer in the chilly San Francisco Bay, and serves as President of the San Francisco Beekeepers Association. A true renaissance woman.
This Post Has 12 Comments
Fernando Aguikar11 Aug 2021
Marcia, nice write up on our queen bee, Gigi. I feel like I k ow her better after reading your article.
Hope all is well. Cheers, Fernando
Kevin McKean11 Aug 2021
Wonderful post, Marcia. Thank you!
Nancy Taylor11 Aug 2021
What an enticing post that I suspect has left each of us wishing we knew Gigi Trabant and had one of her cards framed on our wall! Her story is fascinating and her work is inspiring and simply delightful.
Lis Thomson12 Aug 2021
I am very happy to say that I know Gigi Trabant very
well. We met in Paris 60 years ago and have kept in touch ever since. I have 35 of her cards which I treasure. She certainly is an amazing person!!
Goulin anne13 Aug 2021
Je suis fière de Gigi qui méritait vraiment detre apprécié.
Depuis l’âge de 10 ans à l’école Gigi me glissait de beaux dessins sous le bureau. Quel dommage de ne pas les avoir gardé. Mais son talent (parmi tant d’autres) est enfin reconnu . Nous l’aimons très fort ,un grand HUG .
Rita Yakubik14 Aug 2021
In addition to the descriptions of Gigi’s talent, history and stamps, Gigi is a compassionate hospice nurse with national certification. Her ministry to dying people and their families is unparalleled, and may even surpass her artistic talents. When it is my time, I’d take great comfort if I knew Gigi was a part of the process to nurture me and add to my comfort.
maura devlin14 Aug 2021
This is such a wonderful post! I have known Gigi my whole life–she is like a sister to me! I too, have many of her cards, which I treasure, as well!
May Chong15 Aug 2021
Fantastic post. I’ve known Gigi for about 6 years and there’s so much about this amazing woman that I keep learning about. We are part of a women friends group known as “The Decades Club” each one of us were born in a different decade. She’s such a talented and renaissance woman. I am also the proud owner of a couple of her cards.
Challiss Mosher17 Aug 2021
I met Gigi four years ago at the South End Rowing Club, where we swim in Aquatic Park. When we were getting to know each other, she mentioned that she had inherited a vintage Mahjong set from her grandfather, but didn’t know how to play. I offered to teach her, and we have been playing ever since. I have to say that Gigi has “card sense”, or should I say, “tile sense”! She understood the game from the beginning, and loves to play — that, along with all her other interests, makes her a true eclectic woman!
michelle Luhtala21 Aug 2021
I am thrilled to see Gigi (A.K.A. Mom, to me) get this deserved recognition! Thank you, Marcia for writing this piece. We treasure our correspondence from Gigi as well. She packs a mean gift box too – even the simplest things, such as my annual birthday shipment of San Francisco sourdough bread, eucalyptus leaves and honey, arrive wrapped in joy and love. Mom has always inspired me with her “can do” attitude. The word to describe it in French is “debrouillarde”. The English translation is “resourceful”, which doesn’t do the French, or my mom, justice. She sees the world as a buffet of infinite possibility, which leads to boundless optimism. ☺
Lorna23 Aug 2021
What a lovely blog! I enjoy interesting stamps and this artist’s work is amazing! Thank you Marcia.
Gina B Domizio1 Sep 2021
Thank you for this well-written and interesting piece on my multi-talented and lovely friend. I feel very fortunate to be a recipient of Gigi’s beautiful, creative cards.