Wednesday, December 18, 2013

£50 for next year's sale

The price of cards will go up to £50 for next year's RCA Secret sale according to an email sent out by the college.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Yinka Shonibare cards up for sale

Here's a link to a couple of Yinka Shonibare cards for sale next month at Dreweatt Neate.  This is the second time these cards have come up for auction, the first time they failed to sell and the estimate has been reduced to £600-£800 for the 2.

Friday, November 01, 2013

Dates for RCA Secret 2014 revealed

The college has revealed the dates for next year's RCA Secret sale.  It's in March again with the exhibition opening on 13 March 2014 and the sale being on Saturday 22 March 2014.  An exciting date for your diary then!  The sale is also named after its sponsor - Stewarts Law RCA secret.

All details on the college's website for the sale.  

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

November is the cruelest month

This year anyway.  Normally by this stage preparations would begin in earnest, research done, art fairs coming up, twitter scoured for eagerly awaited news.  Hey ho, a few more months to go.  Lots of things to do art wise this month so I may see some of you at the various fairs and stuff in London.

Did you see the Emin card which went under the hammer at Christies in September?  I have to confess this one completely passed me by.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Rego card for sale too

A Paula rego card from 2005 is also for sale at
Bonhams tomorrow.

5 RCA Secret 2013 go under the hammer

No less than 5 RCA Secret 2013 postcards are going under the hammer at Bloomsburys auctioneers tomorrow.

RCA Secret 2013 postcards at Bloomsbury, auction on Thursday 27th June at 2pm

134. John Baldessari (b.1931) Was It Worth It? I Suppose So.
two unique rubber stamp prints on postcard, 2013, each signed in blue
ball-point pen verso, produced to raise funds for the Royal College of
Art, London, as part of the RCA secret, on wove paper, with full
each sheet 147 x 105 mm (5 3/4 x 4 1/8 in)
£1000 – £1500
auction link

248. Yinka Shonibare (b.1962) Untitled 1 & 2
two unique pen and ink with applied gold leaf and collage of printed
fabric on postcard, 2013, each signed in black felt-tip pen verso,
produced to raise funds for the Royal College of Art, London, as part of
the RCA secret, on wove paper, with full margins,
each sheet 147 x 105 mm (5 3/4 x 4 1/8 in)
£800 – £1200
auction link

262. Lawrence Weiner (b.1940) Caught between Ships Passing in the Night
unique rubber stamp print with paper collage and hand-colouring in red
crayon and green watercolour, 2013, signed in black ink verso, produced
to raise funds for the Royal College of Art, London, as part of the RCA
secret, on wove paper, with full margins,
sheet 147 x 105 mm (5 3/4 x 4 1/8 in)
£1000 – £1500
auction link

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Raffle open for Oli Postcards

The raffle is now open for first 30 places in the virtual queue.  All the details below

Sale date: Friday 21st June 2013, 6.30-8.30pm
Venue: Westminster School, London SW1P 3PB

Oli Bennett Charitable Trust Anonymous Art Fair

Nearest tube: St. James’s Park or Westminster.
The school is just south of Westminster Abbey.

If you wish to attend the sale please email us - to be put on the guest list.  Please note that places are limited are the night of the sale.  Please note that since this is a central london school in term time security is tight.  You will not be admitted unless you are on the guest list. 

The cost of the cards this year is £40.

As last year we will be holding a raffle for the top 30 places in a virtual queue so that whether you are able to attend the sale or not you will still have a chance of buying the cards you would like to buy.  Raffle tickets are £1 each and you can buy a maximum of 20. 

The raffle is now live.  Please visit

To make your donation.  Here is a timeline for the raffle:

15 June 2013 - Raffle opens
6pm on 18 June 2013 Raffle closes.
Evening of 18 June 2013 - Winners notified
End of 19 June 2013 - deadlines for supplying raffle selections and making payment for cards (£40 each)
20 June 2013 - raffle winners are informed which cards they have purchased.

VERY IMPORTANT - once you have made your donation please email stating the name under which you donated and the amount. For some reason Justgiving no longer provide us with the email address of the payee, even if you tick the box that says you are happy to share that. IF YOU DON’T EMAIL US YOU WON’T BE IN THE RAFFLE. Many many thanks

All remaining cards not sold in the raffle will be sold on the night of the sale.  Any remaining cards after the evening sale will be advertised for sale on this site on a first come first served basis.

Thursday, May 09, 2013

Contributor news for Oli Postcards

I'm pleased to announce the following confirmed contributors to Oli Postcards this year. Please note contributors are only confirmed when we have the postcards in hand, there are plenty more exciting contributors promised...

Sir Peter Blake
Anita Klein
Paul Benjamins
Guy Denning
Remi Rough
Adam Bridgland
Antony "ABC" Collings
Florin Ungureanu
Ida Taavitsainen
Eeva Rinne
Petra Semerdjiev
Caroline Payne

And many others

Keep your eyes peeled to the website for more info.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Sneaky peak of some Oli Postcards

Here is a sneaky peak of some of the first Oli Postcards received!  Keep your eyes peeled here for more news and remember it is not too late for artists to contribute, just email 

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

Oli Postcards is Back!

Yes I've been persuaded to do it all again. The Oli Bennett charitable trust will be running a secret art postcard sale that bears a passing resemblance to the RCA secret sale....

Last time we ran the sale it was a raging success, raising over £8000 and generating a lot of publicity for the charity and the artists involved.

All the postcards from that sale can still be viewed on the website until 31st May. We had donations from, amongst many others, DFace, Sir Peter Blake, Candice Tripp, Anita Klein, Remi rough and Josie McCoy and actors Eddie Redmayne and Clemency Burton-Hill.

This time the sale will be on 21st June 2013.

If there are artists reading this who would like to donate a postcard or three then please email me your name and address to:

I'll will get a pack sent out to you.

Thanks for reading!  The above is a sneak peak of one of the first cards donated!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The meaning of life....

I did love these cards by friend of the blog and regular RCA Secret contributor James R Ford.

Monday, March 25, 2013

My RCA Secret 2013

I waited, it rained.  I queued, it froze.  I shivered it snowed. 

I've been coming to RCA Secret for around 13 years now but never have experienced such cold in the queue.  When the college moved the sale from November 2012 to March 2013 I was very disappointed that there would be no sale in 2012 but consoled myself with the certainty that it was bound to be warmer in the queue than in late November.  How wrong I was.

But more of that later.   Preparations for the sale were, perhaps in comparison with previous years, a little muted.  There didn't seem to be as much media coverage before, and not quite as many exciting contributors to get everyone talking in advance of the sale.  Nevertheless by the time the college released the cards on a thursday morning (after some problems with the website) I was excited, as I guess were many of the readers of this blog.

The new venue was, there is no doubt, a gem.  It's only drawback, being a long way from any tube, was more than made up for the contemporary feel of the venue and the natural light on the cards, even on a very grey day in March.  I'd been with the family as usual on the Sunday to check out the cards in the flesh and to buy raffle tickets.  The kids made a list in the hope that they might be drawn in the raffle that year as well.  The next few days were spend eagerly awaiting the sale date.

I turned up for the sale queue around 8am on Friday.  Already there were, I guess, around 15 tents in front of me, perhaps more.  I spotted a few old friends from previous years queues and renewed acquaintance as we waited for the doors to open for the last day's viewing.  Once opened everyone piled into the sale room to look at the cards and keep warm, it was already bitterly cold.  A happy day was spent viewing cards and checking on the tent to make sure it hadn't blown away in the seemingly gale force wind that was whipping round the courtyard where the tents were located.

Everyone was talking about the where the cards by Rego and Opie were hidden.  As this years big contributors to the sale they were the big "finds" and were, unlike previous years contributions from those artists, tough nuts to crack.  Of course there were many other quality offerings on display and we discussed the merits of numerous cards as we came to them.  Tipping out time came at 6pm and we went into the wilds of rainswept Battersea.  By that stage the courtyard where the queue was located resembled a scene from Gandhi as tents and people were everyone, milling around in little groups, anxiously clutching their mobile phones in their un-gloved and hence virtually frost bitten hands.  Alas no winning raffle call for me although Adam, one of my regular queue friends did get the call and quickly packed up his tent to go home. 

After a quick spot of food and some fortifying whisky I settled down for the night.  It was tough, I really do take my hat off to those rough sleepers on London's streets.  I have the luxury of a tent, sleeping bag, thermals, money in my pocket and the knowledge I can go home in 12 hours, how they do it day after day is simply beyond me.  I didn't sleep much.  It was too cold and wet and the constant drip dripping of water from my tent and the noise from the nightclub next door to the college put paid to any ideas of a peaceful night.  After a couple of hours of tossing and turning I got up and had a chat with some old timers of the sale and some newbies, exchanging advice and guidance and (wrongly it turned out) confidently advising what in my view was the Margaret Calvert contribution - sorry!

Eventually, finally, after a seemingly interminable wait, daybreak came.  And with it the snow, starting softly but eventually coming down in great white drifts, landing on our already wet clothes.  "Rather snow than rain" said a neighbour and I couldn't disagree.

The inevitable queue barger turned up, resolute in his refusal to see logic and common sense, determined that he had a god given right to push in past people who had been queuing for 4 days.  Predictably he got told by security to go, and eventually did, arms crossed and huffy.  Then after a few more minutes where my feet seemed to part company with my body we were finally into the warmth of the college, along a long corridor and into the sale room where the usual crossing off of card numbers from our lists began in earnest.  Within a few moment I was there at the front of the queue, with the majority of my first choices already sold.  Four cards purchased then into the sale room where the cards were collected.  And so I got:

I got a card by Ron Fuller who was a contemporary of David Hockney at the RCA. The card is a photo of Hockney in a waistcoat taken by Fuller. I'm very pleased with it as it is a piece of art history, and may write more about this later.

I also got an Alan Kitching and a Ryan Mosley. My fourth card was a beautiful painting. I had no idea who it was by when I bought it and it is by Zadie Xa, an first year fine art student at the college.  I am delighted with my purchases which will be framed and go on one of the already art laden walls in my home. 

Would I do it again, you betcha, although I wasn't saying that until I'd thawed! 

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Almost forgot

This Daily Mail article, worth a read if nothing else for the comments underneath which are quite hilarious.

How was it for you?

So RCA secret ends for another year.  Did you enjoy it?  I will, once fully thawed out and recovered, do my usual post about how it was for me.  But in the meantime here is a link to a few stories about the sale:

Firstly the telegraph cover the sale here.

Secondly here is a story by BBC London news.

Here is a piece in the standard.

And this is an ITV interview with Asif Kapadia, the director of Senna, who not only contributed to the show but also queued to buy postcards himself.

Finally the author of the artists has now been revealed on the college's website.  If you did get a card that you love why not email the artist and tell them?  I'm sure they would love to hear from you.

Speak soon...

Thursday, March 21, 2013

See you tomorrow

Hope to see you in the queue tomorrow or the sale on Saturday.  In the meantime a few articles were published today.

Firstly there was something in the Standard about the queue.  Hello Lee and Harvey!

Secondly there was an article in Elle with a chance to win the 51st place in the queue.

Finally a short article by yours truly in the New Winchester Review.

Have fun finishing your list and best of luck to the queuer's tonight.  It's bitterly cold.

Excited yet?

Whose excited now? Not long to go. Are we seeing things clearer now?

Monday, March 18, 2013

Brain fade

Do you feel like the picture? Lists, numbers, oils, acrylics, pencils, pen and ink. Birds, dogs, cats, rats, mice, hamsters. Statues, old men, old women, children with tattoos, pregnant women. After a while you can get brain fade.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Easy like Sunday morning

I went along for the first view of the cards in the flesh this morning and had a very pleasant few hours looking at them and inevitably catching up with a few old queueing friends along the way.

The new venue is great, really light and airy and very contemporary. The cards displayed on the street side in particular really benefited from the extra light provided by the huge windows, even on a dull day such as today.

Of course as always the cards look so much better in the flesh and there's quite a few that I'm beginning to fall for, although no one card this year that is an absolute stand out.

The show was pretty busy when I was there, at least 20 people on arrival just after opening and roughly 3 times that once we'd left.

Facilities in the local area are considerably better than the Kensington site with a number of restaurants and bars close by and a co-op supermarket virtually on site.

No tents yet and no idea where the queue will form, guess we will get a better idea of that next week. Have fun to all viewing.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Emin a contributor?

The metro is reporting this morning that Tracey Emin has contributed to the sale.  Check out hard copies for details as it isn't on their website.  All will be revealed in just a few hours time. 

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Have fun!

Well, it's been a busy day press wise with RCA secret.  The college held a press viewing and it has certainly generated a lot of interest. 

First up there were some more cards featured in Time Out this morning.

Next there was a great article in the guardian featuring interviews with Maggi Hambling, Pete Fowler and David Bailey.

The telegraph also featured some great photos of the gallery and some of the cards.

And finally the website has been updated to include some FAQ's and an essay about the sale.

Have fun reading through all these.  Maybe see some of you at the viewing this weekend.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Pictures of the Dyson building

Another quiet day on the news front, sure to be press articles next week though.  In the meantime check out this great blog post about the Dyson Building where RCA Secret will be hosted this year.

Saturday, March 09, 2013

Another card to see

Not too much to report from today's press.  The show is however featured in RA Magazine's pick of the week, together with a card we haven't seen before, shown above.  Hopefully there should be some pieces in the Sunday newspapers tomorrow.

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Known knowns and Known Unknowns

With just over a week to go now until the show opens a quick recap on what we know and what we don't know in advance of the sale:

Known Knowns

Contributors - so far we  know that the following have definitely contributed, either from the college's website, press articles or from artist's twitter and facebook feeds or blog posts.  I've tried to make this as definitive as possible but if you know of other contributors, or have contributed yourself, then do please post a comment.

Paula Rego
Julian Opie
David Bailey
John Baldessari
Nick Park
Mike Leigh
Sir Paul Smith
Orla Kiely
Manolo Blahnik
Wayne Chisnall
Angela Lamb  
Broughton and Birnie
Annabel Tilley
Rosalind Davis
Andrew Tyzack
Dallas Collins
Emma Russell
Fiona Shaw
Tomi Vallauschek
Nadege Meriau
Niamh Clancy
Louisa Chambers
S Kurdika Davenport
Masayo Matsuda
Lee Borthwick
Barrie J Davies
James R Ford
Llorraine K Snape
Richard Colson
Karoly Sandor Aron 
Arina Orlova 

We also know that there are 2700 cards this year.  This is slightly down on 2010 and 2011 which were absolutely bumper years but is more than the college habitually get - the shows between 2000 and 2009 had around 2300 to 2600 donations as a rule.  Great to see that despite the change of venues and timing the show has still been very well supported by the contributing artists.  I am sure it will remain equally well supported by the art buying public!

Known Unknowns

Contributors - The college tend to drip feed contributor news as and when donations are received and to keep the press interest in the sale going.  We reported on this blog that another blog was saying that David Hockney, Tracey Emin and Yoko Ono had agreed to contribute to the sale.  We've had no confirmation of that from the college and therefore it must be treated as speculation.  It's worth observing that there are a number of regular or semi regular contributors who have yet to feature in any press release.  These include the three mentioned above but we would add to that list, in no particular order,  Sir Peter Blake, Quentin Blake, Grayson Perry, Olafur Eliasson, Lawrence Weiner, Maggi Hambling, Anish Kapoor and Franz West all of whom have contributed in the recent past on more than one occasion.  Readers can probably think of many others.   Hopefully a few more of these names will be added.  Who knows we may get a complete surprise contributor like in 2009 when Gerhard Richter contributed.  There's likely to be press articles on the sale this weekend so keep an eye out for them and check this blog regularly.

How is it going to work - we guess this is the biggest unknown.  With the change of venue will there be any changes to the way in which the sale is conducted?  Where and how will the postcards be displayed?  Where will we queue?  All these questions will only be answered once the sale opens.  Bring it on!

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Article in Vogue

The sale was featured on the Vogue website today. Nothing extraordinary to write home about but a few more images we haven't seen before. Full text reproduced below.

MANOLO BLAHNIK, Paul Smith and Orla Kiely have each created a postcard-sized artwork to go on sale for just £45 at the Royal College of Art's forthcoming Secret Postcard annual event. Visitors will have to spot them among the other 2,700 postcards on display, designed by an array of students, professional artists and designers.

"We're thrilled with the number and quality of postcards that have been sent to us this year," said RCA Secret curator Wilhelmina Bunn. "The breadth of artistic styles will make for a really stunning exhibition, with contributions by artists and designers from all walks of life displayed next to each other. At a time when arts education funding is being cut we're even more grateful for this support, with donations helping the next generation of artists coming through the college."

Each sketch, drawing, painting or sculpture is signed on the back by its creator. Other participants include photographer David Bailey, film director Mike Leigh and visual artist Julian Opie. The collection will go on display on March 14 at the RCA in Battersea and will go on sale on March 23. Proceeds will go towards the RCA's Fine Art Student Award Fund, which provides financial assistance to emerging artists.

Saturday, March 02, 2013

RCA secret queue bingo

Here are 10 phrases that you are bound to hear people say at RCA secret.  See if you can cross off all 10 whilst whiling away the hours in the queue.  And yes I've said all of these many times myself.
1)    I got one of my numbers wrong
2)    I don't think my list is long enough
3)    I've never won the raffle
4)    It's not a vintage year
5)    Does anyone know how to fold up a pop-up tent?
6)    My feet are soooooo cold
7)    Is he pushing in?
8)    Do you remember that year when....
9)    I wish there was somewhere round here to buy coffee
and the oldest chestnut of all:
10)  Buy what you like

Thursday, February 28, 2013

2700 cards!

The college have announced in a press release today that this year's sale will feature 2,700 cards.  Full text below.

27 February 2013 – Legendary photographer David Bailey and internationally acclaimed artists Christo, Paula Rego and Julian Opie have all donated mini artworks to this year's RCA's annual Secret Postcard Sale.

The pieces will be available for just £45 at the RCA Secret postcard event later this month, though visitors will have to spot them among the other 2,700 postcards on display.

Each year, the Royal College of Art asks professional artists and designers, plus up-and-coming art students and graduates to make and donate a postcard-sized piece of work, signed on the back to help fundraise for the RCA Fine Art Student Award Fund. Artists can paint, draw, sketch or even produce a 3-d sculpture as long as it’s postcard-sized.

This year's event will feature original works by renowned artists such as Paula Rego, Julian Opie, David Bailey, Christo and John Baldessari, Wallace and Gromit creator Nick Park, film director Mike Leigh and from the world of fashion, Sir Paul Smith, Orla Kiely and Manolo Blahnik.

All postcards will be displayed anonymously for a week as part of the RCA Secret exhibition at the College’s new Dyson building in Battersea before going on sale for one day only to the public.

Each piece will be priced £45, regardless of whether it’s been made by a famous name or a young art student. Although it can help to know the different styles of the artists, it can be pure luck. Many collectors don’t realise whose work they have chosen until the sale day.

Wilhelmina Bunn, RCA Secret curator said, 'We’re thrilled with the number and quality of postcards that have been sent to us this year. The breadth of artistic styles will make for a really stunning exhibition, with contributions by artists and designers from all walks of life displayed next to each other. At a time when arts education funding is being cut we’re even more grateful for this support, with donations helping the next generation of artists coming through the College.'

Potential collectors will be able to view all the postcards in person at the RCA in Battersea or on-line at from 14 March. All postcards go on sale on Saturday 23 March on a first come, first served basis, with a maximum of four cards per person. There will also be a raffle for collectors to win a position in the first 50 places in the queue.
Over the last 19 years the event has raised more than £1 million for the RCA Fine Art Student Award Fund, helping hundreds of emerging artists at a formative stage in their careers.

RCA Secret 2013 is being exhibited for the first time in the College’s new Dyson building in Battersea which houses the studios and facilities of the School of Fine Art.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Thoughts on the queuers

It is interesting to read the comments at the bottom of the independent article by two posters who clearly believe that there are dealers who operate at RCA secret, and that it is those "dealers" who queue for the longest periods.

I wonder whether this is a common held belief and thought I would like to dispel some myths that have clearly built up.  The first and most obvious point is that RCA secret is not a closed shop.  The college have worked very hard to ensure that the sale is open to everyone.  Everyone has the same chance of winning the raffle, provided they buy the maximum of ten pounds worth of tickets, and the cards are sold on a first come first served basis.  It is open to most to queue although I fully accept that this is not an option for everyone and understand in particular that this method of sale is frustrating for those who are physically unable to queue or are based overseas.  Each year new people join the queue and are welcomed by queue regulars.

It is difficult to see how the college could make the sale fairer.  Certainly any sort of online sale would be a disaster as we know from sales of tickets online and limited editions prints (such as Banksy releases) that there are some very technically IT savvy people who would be able to ensure that any such sale was heavily weighted in their favour.  Likewise any extension of the raffle process would almost certainly give the college an even bigger headache than the current set up.   So in an imperfect world the college do have the best system for selling the cards.

As to the presence of dealers in the queue I really don't think this happens.  As regular readers of this blog know I queue overnight for RCA secret and therefore don't queue for some of the ridiculous amounts of time that others do.  Nevertheless having done it for so many years I have met virtually everyone who queues overnight or longer.  And I can assure you that I have not met dealers who do so.  When Gerhard Richter contributed in 2009 there was a chap from a Parisian gallery who queued just to buy the Richters, but he is the only dealer I have met in the queue.  Everyone else is simply a committed art lover.  Many of them are based outside London and use the show week to camp for their cards and also catch up on the vibrant London art scene.  There are plenty of conversations in the queue about the current show at Tate modern or whatever, and about art generally.  

If there were lots of dealers in the queue then why aren't there more secondary sales of cards?  You can count on the fingers of 2 hands the number of cards each year that are sold on, and the vast majority of these are sales on ebay for less than the cost price of the card.  Sure there is the occasional stand out sale of a card at auction but most of these are cards which featured in sales many years previously that people have held on to and then been forced to sell for financial reasons.  I know for example of one regular queuer who sadly passed away a few years ago.  His family did not share his passion for RCA secret and needed the money so his cards mostly ended up at auction.

Also it is a mistake to believe that people at the front of the queue are only there to buy cards by the big name artists.  Sure some of them are but I have seen plenty of their purchases directly after the sale and there is a strong proportion of cards that have been bought simply for the love of the card.  I know of a number of people who queue for significant periods of time and, when they get to the front of the queue deliberately eschew cards they know to be by big name artists in favour of cards that they have fallen in love with.

It's a cynical world we live in and full of conspiracy theories and greed.  I'm not saying RCA secret is perfect but it is in my opinion the closest thing the contemporary art world has to democratising art ownership.  And that's one of the reasons I love it so much.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Updated FAQ's

In advance of the 2013 sale I thought it would be helpful if I updated the FAQs.  So here they are.

How do I spot the cards by the top artists?

The million dollar question. My first answer to that would be another question – why would you want to? If it is because you love the artist anyway and RCA secret is the only way that you can pick up their work at an affordable price then trust me you have a good chance of spotting your favourite artist’s work.

If it is because you are looking to make money out of the sale then, sorry you are on your own. And in any event it is unclear how much the cards from the sale are worth in any event.

What time should I start queuing?

Any time after me ;) Seriously though I know people who have started to queue 2 hours after the sale doors opened and have still got the cards they want, although that was a few years ago now and the sale gets more popular every year.   It really depends on how committed you are. The queue starts to swell quickly from around 6.30am until the doors open.   Don't expect to see much left if you turn up much after around 9am.  It is not known how the change in venue of the sale in 2013 will affect the length of the queue.
What should I buy?

It sounds clich├ęd but seriously you should buy what you like. Isn’t that more important than buying something that you think may be by a famous artist? I guarantee most of the time your punts at a famous artist will usually be wrong.

How does the raffle work?

Once registered for the sale you can buy up to 10 raffle tickets at £1 each.  These are on sale up until the Friday afternoon of the sale.  On each raffle ticket you write your buyers number and phone number.  The college draw 50 lucky winners and telephone each of the winners on friday evening, generally between 6pm and 7pm to let them know they have won.  If you have won you are allowed to enter the sale before the queuers.  Once you are inside the building you are assigned a pre-drawn position within the top 50 and assembled into order.  You can then make your purchases having stolen a march on all those hardy queuers.  Good luck to you. 

What’s the best way to frame RCA secret cards?

I personally think that they should be framed so that the card can be viewed both front and back. A professional framer should be able to guide you on this, basically you can cut out a bit of the mount at the back to show the rear of the card and that all important signature. This can make the framed piece heavy if two pieces of glass are used, so consider using a piece of Perspex on the back, which is lighter.

Clearly the best way of protecting your cards is to make sure that the cards are conservation framed with UV glass. To make a real difference try using non-reflective glass.   Click here for details of our favourite framer.
How does the buying process work?

You can view the cards for a week before the sale day both in person at the college and online.

Don’t forget to register with the college in advance (there is no registration on the day of the sale) and then join the queue on the day of the sale. Make sure you have made a detailed list of the card numbers that you wish to purchase. Make this list as long as possible as many of your first choices are bound to be gone by the time that you get to the front of the queue.

When the sale was done in Kensington then you were eventually taken down to a room below the exhibition hall. There was a bank of tills in the room and also a computer screen which displayed the numbers and tiny images of the cards. The sold cards were indicated on the screen.  It is assumed that the 2013 sale will follow a similar process but we won't know for sure until the day of the sale.

When you get to the front of the queue read out the card numbers to the cashier. Don’t worry if you haven’t noted whether a particular card is still available – they will tell you if it is not.

Once you have selected your four cards then pay for them and take your collection slip to the gallery. There a runner will get the cards for you, confirm with you that they have the correct ones, and hand them to you. You can then check the back for the all important name.

How do the college keep it all a secret?

The college take this seriously. Whilst people have tried to suggest that the college must pass on information to others there is no foundation to this at all. The college are extremely fair in the way they deal with the sale. Only a very small number of people are aware of the identity of the artists.

 How much are the cards worth?

The short answer is whatever people are prepared to pay for them. It is true that in recent times many of the cards in the sale have fetched large sums on the secondary market. A Peter Doig card went for £42,000 at auction and a Damien Hirst for £15,600.  Other Hirst cards have fetched much more modest sums on the secondary market. 

Save for the very top artists most of the cards are not worth that much money. Ebay sales of cards from previous sales show most selling for around their original cost.

This is really not about the money for most people – it is getting some affordable original art on people’s walls.

Who exhibits at RCA secret?

Of course there are the big names.Tracey Emin in particular has contributed to the sale year on year. Many other big names have contributed in the past – Gerhard Richter, Damien Hirst, John Baldessari, David Hockney, Paula Rego, Peter Doig, Frank Auerbach, Anish Kapoor, Glenn Brown etc etc.

For me RCA secret is not just about these big name contributors though. There are literally hundreds of well known, well established artists who regularly support the exhibition. The beauty of the show is buying something by one of these artists, taking it home, doing a search for that artist on google and then finding out about them and taking an interest in their career after that. RCA secret has introduced me to hundreds of artists that I wouldn’t ordinarily have come across. If you allow it to it will open up your eyes to a whole new realm of contemporary British art.

As for the students – well remember that the RCA is an exclusively post-graduate place of study. So these students have already spent a considerable amount of time immersed in the art world. Some of my favourite RCA secret cards are by students.
What do the college do with unsold cards?

There aren’t many. The college say that they are returned to the artist sometimes. In 2006 some of the 2005 cards made reappearances.

Where can I find out more about the artists?

Often you will get home, google the artist’s name and not find anything. Especially if they have a common name. Try emailing the college. They may hold the artists CV or a short biography that they will give to you.

How do I find out more about the show?

The RCA secret blog is a great start.  Check out the RCA Secret facebook group as well.  This blog and the college also have RCA Secret twitter feeds.
Can I contribute to the blog?

Yes please. This is an unofficial fan’s blog. I want to have as many stories from you as to your RCA secret adventures. Whether you are a newbie or an RCA Secret veteran please do send me your stories and provided they are clean I will publish them, guaranteeing as much or as little as anonymity as you would wish. I’d also love to hear from artists who would like to write something about the processes involved in contributing to RCA secret.
Finally, will you tell me who did card number 129?

Er no, here to help but come on that would ruin the fun of it all. Besides you might be ahead of me in the queue.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Article in todays Independent on Sunday

RCA secret 2013 got its first major press today with a page spread on page 3 of the independent on Sunday.  The article reveals some of this year's contributors plus features a few of the cards which will be sold this year.

Full text of the article below, click here to read on the independent website.

Just £45 for a David Bailey? It must be the RCA's secret sale

Hundreds will queue overnight to buy postcard-size artworks that could be worth tens of thousands

Art for art's sake; money, well, that comes later. The works at a "secret" sale next month are interesting enough: a girl astride a giant rabbit; child-like paint smears; a collage of monsters; and a woman dressed as a zebra. But for at least some of the hundreds who will queue through the night for a £45 postcard there's the promise of a future profit that could run to tens of thousands of pounds.
For some of Britain's biggest names in the arts and creative world are among more than 2,500 artists who have created postcard-sized works for the annual Royal College of Art secret postcard sale on 23 March.

Among them are Paula Rego, Julian Opie, David Bailey, Christo and John Baldessari. Others include the Wallace and Gromit creator Nick Park, film director Mike Leigh and fashion designers such as Sir Paul Smith, Orla Kiely and Manolo Blahnik.

An exhibition of the postcards starts on 14 March at the RCA's Dyson Building in Battersea, London. Thousands are expected to buy a raffle ticket to see if they can be among the first 50 allowed to buy them. The identities of the artists are on the backs of the postcards, so people only discover if they have spent £45 on something by a big-name artist, or by an unknown, once money has changed hands.

Most will think it worth the gamble: a postcard painting of a man in a canoe, by Peter Doig, made £42,000 at Sotheby's in June 2007. It cost £30 seven years earlier. In the same sale, a Damien Hirst sketch of a skull, bought in 2004, sold for £15,600. A pen drawing of a figure by Tracey Emin fetched £16,000 in 2008. And earlier this month a painting of a woman by Gillian Carnegie sold for £6,000. It was bought in 1997, when the artist was a student at the RCA.

Yet, while fortunes can be made, surprisingly few of the postcards are sold on, says Wilhelmina Bunn, curator of the exhibition: "I think it's because the possibility of owning a piece by a well-known artist is so small to a lot of people that they tend to hold on to them."

In an attempt to prevent predatory art dealers hoovering up everything at the sale, the mini-artworks are sold on a "first-come, first-served" basis, with a four-per-person limit.

Now in its 20th year, the sale is expected to raise more than £100,000 for college bursaries.
Of the show's great popularity and the long overnight queue, Ms Bunn says: "By the morning, we have probably got about a thousand people waiting." She adds: "We get a few who will camp over for two or three nights."

View the postcards at from 14 March