The inter-connected world of mail art

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The inter-connected world of mail art

Post by eye-sea » 04-21-2004 10:38 PM

I received some PM’s when I made my aside concerning mail art, so I figure to post a public answer for all or any interested parties to see.

Two years ago, I was not a mail artist and I did not get a lot of mail, only bills (Yeeech), junk mail and the obigiatory family communiques. Then I heard about mail art (oddly I cannot remember how, now). I’ve always been “arty” along with being a poet/writer and musician and such (and there are aspects of mail art that focus on poetry and music). Anyway, somehow, I foundRuud
and found Dragonflydream from New Mexico kioytie's den. Each of these sites have info, links and lists of calls to get started with. You can find examples of mail art (including mine---look for Dawn Amato) on display at VENUS and]NeoDada[/URL] And also at Kiyotei’s den, (see above), he has a gallery linked to different finished CALLS to look at. A call is when a mail artist will put out a call for a specific type of piece. Often there are size limits and a theme although some are completely open (do your own thing). This will give you the range of what goes on in mail art.
There are also sites for Artstamps, or Faux Postage On the Venus call, above, you can see that, not only did I do a collage piece, (yes, I’m a mad gluer!) but I decorated the envelope also, both sides. It’s called mail art because you decorate everything. I do a lot of homemade postcards 4x6 because the postage is cheaper, especially overseas. There are mail artists who do poetry, doodles, photos, collages, ATC (trading cards---make your own tarot deck) found stuff, rubber stamps, faux stamps, booklets e-music and e-mail artist. Often things are done in colloboration. This is called a add-and-pass or add-and-return. I’ve done some great booklets with other artists. The sky is the limit. No rules. No judges. It’s great fun.

The most important part of mail art is not so much the art per se but the Network. It is a worldwide community. I get mail from Belguim, Germany, France, England, Italy, Spain, The Duchy of Luxemburg (!), Poland, Russia, Turkey, Thailand, Korea, Japan, yes, even China. Also Australia, various South America countries, Canada, and of course my American mail art friends.

Now when I go to my mail box, I never know what amazing, weird, “bling bling”, “you’ve got to be kidding” kind of thing I will find that someone, somewhere decided to send me. Plus I get to send weird, wonderful, beautiful, bizarre things right back to them. And now, if I ever get the money put together, I can pretty much travel around the world and visit and stay with friends everywhere.

There is a spot for everybody in mail art; young, old, thin, fat, rich, poor, republican, democrat, socialist, monarchist, painter, doodler, gluer, de-facer (that is where you take a commercial postcard and de-face it), as I said before, anything goes.

Another site I haven’t even got involved with yet, but that I should mention because it is huge is Nervousness

So check the links above

Yahoo has some mail art groups….iuoma, ma-network plus others.

Log in at the clubs. Lurk a bit. Check out the calls. Decorate a few envelopes or 4x6 index cards (for postcards). Pick some names off the database address lists or from the calls lists and send some of your art off into the mail. You’ll be glad you did


You know you’re a mail artist if your mailman gets a goofy smile on his face every time he shows up at your mailbox.:cool: :)

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Mail Art

Post by Pappy » 04-22-2004 10:57 PM

Hey Eye Sea!

Glad to make your acquaintance.

I'd like to thank you for introducing Mail Art. It's very cool!

I had no idea that this existed, but it tickles me deep down inside. It's about connectedness, creation, anticipation, wondering what you'll get next and not know what to expect. It must never fail to bring a smile and send someone directly into that creative, loving zone where possibilities are endless.

In short: beautiful!

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Post by Laird » 04-22-2004 11:59 PM

Nice idea ... sounds like a fun.

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Post by eye-sea » 04-23-2004 12:24 AM

Yes, Pappy, it's way cool and you don't have to be a GREAT artist, it's not about that, it's about connections and fun and community

.Larid, yes, try it and see what happens. That's what I did. There are mail artist in their 80's who have been at it for 30 years or beginners like me. The internet really helps getting connected world wide.

I would love to send anybody here a one-of-a-kind made by yours truly:D :cool: :) postcard. If you, Laird, Pappy or anybody else would like to recieve something, e-mail or PM me a snailmail address you can recieve mail at. (Care of Gerneral post is fine.) and I'll send you something and you can send me something back.

Another site is herepostcards

this site has a lot going on if a bit confusing to navigate. The link should put you to the "mail art" list.



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Post by eye-sea » 04-23-2004 09:55 PM

and here is something that may explain better:

MAILART - An Introduction
Article and carvings by Melanie Sage-Enkoff of Toad Hall/Rubber Anarchy
Reprinted with permission of Lynne Dahl / Art-Stamp Journal.

Mail Art, stamped art, envelope art. We've heard the terms used. Is there a difference? Sometimes.

Mail Art can mean different things to different people, but above all, it should give one the freedom to create and send whatever they feel is on their mind without feeling inferior or that their work is being compared by others receiving it. Mail Art is a form of _expression, but can it really be defined in any certain terms? I'm not sure. The purpose of this short article on Mail Art is to help readers better decide if Mail Art is something they would like to try by knowing a little more about it.

Mail Art can be an exchange between any number of people from 2 to 200 or more or a piece of work sent to a mail art show. There are many terms you will see used in Mail Art circles, and we will attempt to better acquaint readers with what they mean.

1. Guilt-free, no reply expected. This is the major philosophy behind Mail Art. All mail sent is Guilt Free. A friend of mine describes this elegantly as "the free give." The focus for some mail artists is enjoyment in the process of making the art. It's not focused on what the person on the other end of the envelope is going to think or send you in return. One sends things out because they like to send art. When it leaves the mailbox, try not to think about it again. When you get something back, it's a bonus!

2. Mail Art call. Many Mail Art calls are issued every year. A call can be a themed request for art. Sometimes calls have size maximums or other starting points, but are usually open for interpretation. Most calls have deadlines; if it doesn't, or one hasn't been set, it's referred to as "ongoing" and submissions can be sent continuously. A Mail Art call is usually originated by someone who is willing to commit the time to organizing, documentation, planning for a show somewhere, and keeping all the finished works in some kind of "archive." It takes some work, and one could easily participate in several calls before hosting one to get a feel for how they can work. You can find out about Mail Art calls in magazines like Global Mail, Mail Box or other stamping publications. Often, a small flyer about a Mail Art call will be passed along with other Mail Art. When you receive a flyer for a call, write down the information or make a photocopy and then stick it in a piece of outgoing Mail Art so that others will hear about the call, too.

3. Documentation. It was mentioned that people who host a Mail Art call are responsible for documentation. At minimum, documentation is a list of people who sent something to a call, and their addresses. This list is sent to everyone who sent something to a call so that Mail Artists have the names of others who felt compelled to send to the same show. One can pick names off the list and send art, in hope for an exchange. The mail is sent guilt-free, and sometimes accompanies a note like "Got your name from so-and-so call documentation!" - but sometimes doesn't. Sometimes you may receive Mail Art on a regular basis from people you don't know, but could assume that they may have seen your address on documentation. Sometimes documentation includes photocopies of some of the pieces received, and sometimes it includes actual pieces. Each person does documentation differently, and one usually doesn't know what kind of documentation will come in the mail until it is actually there. One example of documentation in book form for a call titled "Rust" was a book bound in cardboard. There was a rusty screw wrapped in cloth attached to the front of the book, and the book was many pages thick with photocopies of all the works received. In each book, the person who hosted the call laid down a few of the pieces of the actual art received over their photocopied counterparts in the book. It was quite extravagant and remarkable. Eighty people had responded to that particular call.

4. No fees, no juries, no returns. This is often seen as part of the description for a mail art call, and is pretty straight-forward. Mail Art is not considered a commodity, and does not have a monetary value. There is no cost to have your work displayed at a show. Likewise, there is no jury, no blue ribbons, no "bests." All art is accepted to the show as equal and displayed as such. No returns. It would be quite costly to send everyone back their art, so the person that hosts the call often keeps the pieces of art or records them in an archive. Often the person who has hosted the call makes the artwork available for future viewing at their home or another place for fellow Mail Artists. Not all Mail Art calls are operated this way; I've seen calls where each person who came to the exhibit took home a piece of the art. Sometimes a call for Mail Art will say where the art is going afterwards and becomes a traveling show.

5. Mail Art show. Usually after a call for art is made, there are plans to display all the pieces somewhere. This might happen on a college campus, a store wall, a hospital, a barn - wherever there is enough room to show every piece. The art is not put in frames under glass; it is often pinned to bulletin boards with tacks or taped to walls, or strung from clothespins on a line. It can be touched. It can be easily seen. No one attempts to make it appear more glamorous than it actually is; it's art in the raw. Sometimes a show travels around the world, and local mail artists plan for its display in the area for a period of time, and take it down after the display to send it off to be displayed at another place. This can take arranging months in advance.

6. Senders receive. This is another of the major philosophies behind Mail Art. After participating in a single call, a person often has a good list of names of people to send art to. The more that you send out, the more that will come back to you. It takes time to develop a network of people to exchange with, but before long, you could end up with many mail artists responding with your work. Wonderful things come to the mail box, and I've heard a Mail Artist's mail box referred to on many occasions as a "Mini-Museum." How true.

7. No money exchanges hands. Mail Art has been exchanged for over 40 years, and part of what the exchange was about was a rebellion against the art community that placed high price-tags on art, and made it inaccessible to people without money. Only the prestigious make it into the museums. Not so with Mail Art. What is more accessible than the mail box?

Because Mail Art is such a form of self-_expression, it often wavers on the realistic side. Issues are often themes for Mail Art, everything from child and partner abuse to politics. Sometimes Mail Art is a play on words, or has no theme at all. Sometimes it is heavy on humor. As you can see, Mail Art can be many things to many people.

Once you've started sending, it's fun to find people whose art you really feel a connection with. If you find that you connect to the subject of women's issues, you may find yourself sending out more often to people who also make and send this type of art. You may not send this type of art exclusively, but find it to be a continuing theme in your art. Like other interests in your life, you may seem to enjoy sending more of what you relate to, but keep an open mind and be willing to open up to others ideas as well.

Mail Art is not made exclusively with rubber stamps. Mail Art may be completely composed with paper, paints, pencils, computers, or a variety of other things. It's an exchange where words don't need to be said because the art speaks louder. It's a community. It's a wonderful network. It's about finding kindrid spirits. It's meeting other people who you have a real sense of connection with. It's a stress releaser. It's time to make art for yourself, and is very freeing to know that you will not be judged. It can give you a new glow, and be a place of freedom to send your art-stamped (or non-art-stamped) mail.

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Post by Guardian Angel » 04-29-2004 12:52 AM

Thanks for sharing this eye-sea;)

I think I shall give this a try as I seem to only get bills in the mail and nothing neat.

Thanks again..

Be Good To Yourself :D
My Stuff

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Post by Katia » 04-29-2004 03:00 PM

Eye-sea -- I had not heard of mail art until your introduction -- many thanks from me as well for bringing us the info. Count me in as another who'll give it a sounds like so much fun; I know I'll enjoy it :)

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