I resolve: more mail art

I have just been looking through Good Mail Day again, and reminding myself of the greatness of the mail art movement. One of my several random resolutions for 2011 is to become a better paper correspondent: a few you have sent me lovely letters and/or mail art pieces to which I am very gradually responding (if you’ve participated in Silent Type, you know that I don’t work fast). I love those letters and I am working on responses, even if it is at a slug’s pace. Tonight I worked on a few envelopes and mini-books, and hope to get some things to you soon.

To those of you currently writing to pen pals and/or sending typewritten mail and mail art, you’re doing an important thing. I once dabbled in the hobby of card making, in which one aspires to make color-coordinated, well-designed cards from new and matching materials, and failed utterly. Here’s why. Making cards in this way is not about communication. It’s merely about visual design (at which I am abysmal). Mail art and letters are working on a different level. They are about remixing and re-use. They are about tactile and visual information. They say something much more compelling and complex than “You’re invited” or “Congratulations.” They make unique human statements entirely impossible to express with zeros and ones.

More mail art in 2011.

A former post about mail art…
And another…


  1. Those look wonderful 🙂
    I also love those rubber stamps of that other post

  2. I’m one of about 40 mail enthusiasts who have started a 365 project called Mailart 365. I don’t have a great aesthetic sense for perfectly designed cards so being able to repurpose materials and make a postcard/letter a day has been a wonderful creative outlet. I am trying to stick with a food/beverage theme, and send my 365 pieces to 365 different people, but many participants are creating with a spontaneous abandon and sending with the same abandon. The project is still open if others want to join it. No mail art experience needed!

  3. I love the “spontaneous abandon” part — I’m in Mailart 365 too and hope you join, Strikethru. Would love to get something from you. These look terrific. I will send you something!

  4. I just tried it (mail art) in an exchange with PamelaArtsinSF and it’s pretty fun. Since then I’ve been drawing simple illustrations on envelopes. I think the whole idea is pretty neat.

  5. I was hoping to start something like this with my current and future pen pals. So far I’ve not been good about it. Perhaps my next letter will have SOMETHING other than a stamp on it! Thanks for the helpful links and to PostMuse for that Mailart 365 link…I’m inspired!

  6. Card-making is no joke. I have seen it chew stout minds to rubble.

  7. Ah, now back to my point about card-making. You need to be a visual designer. Like, have the mind of an artist. Or a photographer. In a word: skillz. This is not to say that mail art people have none of these qualities; just that legitimate card-making is not as much a democratic activity. Without the skill, you’re just a hack that likes to spend money on heat guns and double stick tape. Which I was.

    Mrs. Speegle, on the other hand, has teh Skillz (an example of which is on my bulletin board of typewritery things right here in my office).

  8. And, I think Mailart 365 is most excellent.

  9. Thanks for the compliment Strikethru. Really glad you’re enjoying mailart365, and hope to see more mailart from you around the scene. A great post too, you make some points that are spot on. Although mailart is an “artform” in a sense, it’s not constrained by much of the snobbery of other arts. I love the fact that it’s so open to interpretation.