Mail Art

Hello everyone – Amy here.

I have become quite fascinated with mail art recently.  I am just beginning to explore the expansive mail art community, and I’m heady with possibility.  In fact, I just bought this book from amazon.com, and it is just thrilling!  Eye candy and inspiration – oh my!

You know, I think that mail art may be similar to the whole handmade crafting trend.  When I was growing up, handmade meant (to some people, anyway) that you couldn’t afford to buy the “good” stuff at the store.  Now, it often costs MORE to produce it yourself, and a handmade object (especially a well-made one) is a thing of value.  We love the imperfections – it means it wasn’t mass produced, that it was made by a person for a person.

Mail is a similar trend.  Mail is so passe.  It’s so slow.  It’s old-fashioned.  Why mail anything these days if you can help it?  It’s the exception now to receive a personal communication via snail mail – and who has time for that, anyway?  Heck, even Christmas cards aren’t personal anymore.  My most valient friends manage a newsletter with an update on the year… and that’s only from my friends conscientious enough to try to keep in touch with the masses of people they know.  Usually, you get a signature and a mass-produced card.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m not trying to turn back the clock.  I find e-mail and blogging to be the most efficient way to keep up with most of the people I care about.  How wonderful that we have digital photos and Skype and all sorts of ways to connect with each other.  I am not saying we should handwrite a personal note to every one of the 300 people on our Christmas card list.  (I haven’t sent out Christmas cards for years!)

What I am saying is that mail is a new medium.  It’s not efficient as a means of standard communication anymore, and it’s evolving.  For those of us who appreciate holding a personal memento in our hands, mail has a new pull.  You send, you receive, you appreciate, and you foster connection between people as creative beings, little as may be known about their lives in general.  It’s personal even if it’s anonymous.  Best of all, it’s FUN IN YOUR MAILBOX.

When I was in my early 20’s, I caught on to the wide variety of items the post office would deliver to remote locations.  Yes, yes, they have their rules and their dimensional standards, but what you may not realize is that in practice, they will deliver quite a lot more than you’d expect.  I had a huge crush on a cute boy the summer I was 21.  He went to college in my hometown in upstate NY, and while he was at his family’s home in CA for the summer, I avoided feeling like a pathetic loser by conducting a series of experiments to determine how far the good ol’ USPS would go to deliver a package.  So, I sent things to my crush (okay, also to my best friend in Utah – how could I resist?  Too much fun!).  I started out pretty conservative – a dog chew toy shaped like a creamsicle, a picture frame made out of craft foam with a frightening picture of myself inside, a mini frisbee… and gradually got more adventurous – a neon orange Jesus nightlight (bulb removed, of course!), a small sink plunger (my favorite! I put 29 one cent stamps up the handle!).  Everything got to its destination except the pinwheel.

Whether you’ve conducted similar experiments, swapped ATCs, or sent handmade cards, mail art is chock-full of possibility.

With about 30-minutes’ worth of research, here are some mail art links I found – there are many, many more… you could do a year-long blog hop and probably never find the end.  Take a look around, and be sure to post your creations on the Flickr group before sending (be sure to blank out the recipient’s address please!).  We’d like to see and hear your experiences with this medium – feel free to send us an e-mail or post a comment here if you find an online project group you particularly enjoy.  And remember – if you get one, send one!

 

Here are the fruits of my search – this should keep you busy for a while!  We’ll start with the blog of the ladies who wrote the fantastic book above – make sure to check out their links, as well.

http://goodmailday.wordpress.com/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mail_art
http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G1-11854520.html (kids)
http://www.flickr.com/groups/exchange-my-art/
http://www.flickr.com/groups/mailexchangepaperart20x30/
http://mailboxfriends.blogspot.com/

http://a1mailart.blogspot.com/
http://artpostalement.blogspot.com/ (French)
http://mailartists.wordpress.com
http://found-art.blogspot.com/
http://mailartmoney.blogspot.com/ (ended 1/1/10 – check out the eye candy, tho!)
http://christinetarantino.blogspot.com/ (no longer updated but great past posts)
http://payitforwardaustin.blogspot.com/ (free collage art if you do community service)
http://www.flickr.com/photos/elefantus/sets/72157600464890120/ (mail art elephants!)
http://www.flickr.com/photos/elefantus/sets/72157600453402555/ (art stamps)
http://www.flickr.com/photos/elefantus/sets/72157600452020559/ (bicycles mail art)
http://www.manteia-online.dk/frame-5-blue.htm (tarot mail art and stamps)
http://www.wrbray.org.uk/
http://www.postcardcollecting.co.uk/ppm.htm (magazine – vintage postcards)
http://www.kenbmiller.com/satpostman/ or http://shoutingatthepostman.com
http://mailartdiscussion.blogspot.com/
http://mailartprojects.blogspot.com/
http://thesortingoffice.blogspot.com/ (looks no longer active – lots of links, tho)
http://clochart.blogspot.com/ (Italian?)
http://dododada.ning.com – art postale – Italian?
http://fripsmailart.blogspot.com/
http://handypostcard.blogspot.com/ (hand mail art – no longer active)
http://themoreichange.blogspot.com/ (no longer active – self exploration)
http://stickerset.blogspot.com/ (Let Your Postcards Do the Walking – feet – no longer active)
http://synaptic-patina.blogspot.com/ (furrowed brow – active)
http://alyonkamailartproject.blogspot.com/ (various calls)
http://cascadiaartpost.blogspot.com/
http://mailmania4.blogspot.com/ (biennial exhibition, based in Canada)
http://mailartforrachel.blogspot.com/

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7 Responses

  1. Great article!!
    I love getting mail (bills are not included in mail…they are bills) and I love sending mail. But, when you get a decorated piece of mail. The mail man is happy (mine needs it) and I am happy

  2. Ohhh, LOVE mail art. My absolute fave is Nick Bantock. Love that you were able to mail a small sink plunger! lol.

  3. If you are interested in a Mail Art Swap you can find a fantastic one here:

    http://creativeswaps.blogspot.com/2010/10/new-swap-mail-art.html

    and my contribution to this swap can be seen here:

    http://friedaquilter.blogspot.com/2010/10/lennas-mailart-swap.html

  4. I love this post! I love sending mail…just never decorated the mail package though…so inspired to try! 🙂

  5. I Heart Mail Art! What a great post you’ve done on this; I have this same book, “Good Mail Day” & I just love, love, love it! Such fun to send & receive “happy mail”.
    Smiles, Suzie

  6. Amy, this is a great piece. May I quote you on the Good Mail Day blog? I know our readers will agree with your sentiments and love the links list as well!

    –Carolee
    Good Mail Day

  7. […] we are releasing a new kit NEXT WEEK!  I don’t want to give too much away, but if you like mail art, you are going to LOVE this kit.  The new kit has a smaller version and a larger version – […]

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