Sunday 26 March 2023

2023 Topic 04: Mail Art - Topic Introduction

Hi everyone,

We are very excited for this topic to get going, as behind the scenes there has been idead flying as to how we could do a community challenge for this topic...more on that later... so read on !

This  topic invites you to play with everything mail related. Embellished letters, envelopes and postcards have been around since the beginning of writing, adding meaning to the words with images. The practice became an art movement in the 1960’s, with a focus on interacting with the postal services and their iconography,  and is still active despite the general fall in popularity of 'snail' mail.

More than just sharing news and information, mail can be conceived as forging links between people and distance. Not to mention the joy of receiving a little personal art work in the post!

While mail art is commonly agreed to be something you pop in the post, for this topic, we are sharing with you some wider possibilities. 

  • as explained, typically mail art is a project, either a decorated letter/envelope, or a postcard put through the postal system 
  • mail art can also be art that incorporates postal imagery as the main theme of a project: postal stamps, post marks, ‘par avion’, etc. 
  • Postal supplies can be used as substrates: envelope books, altered vintage postcards, postcard binders, old letters, postage stamps etc. 
  • The wider topic letters and correspondence can be explored, maybe a box to store precious letters, faux postage, personalised stamp sheet retracing your life etc.
  • 3 dimensional objects too that link to this theme, mini postboxes made from postal themed papers and more are also an extension of this concept.
No doubt there are many other ways to interpret this topic that we haven’t thought of! Think outside the (letter) box, we are looking forward to what you come up with. We hope to inspire you with all sizes, types and styles of projects.

Mail Art historically, might have been happening long before you may have realised! Mail art is free and accessible to all people. For an item to be truly considered mail art, it must pass through the postal system, ensuring the sender loses control of their creation, entrusting it to the postal system, and the receiver is surprised to get a non-conforming item in the post. The natural wear and tear that occurs enroute, is all part of the fun, especially the postage mark 'cancellations' the postage stamps -proof that the item has been posted from afar.

This French presentation of Mail Art by Raymond Balestra includes historical examples of early decorated letters.

In this document, linked, it explore the increased interest in the 19th century of postal art, within both letters and postcards. There are some guidelines, the address must be clear, the item sent should not incur a charge to the recipient, the item should be clear of sharp or perishable elements, and the size should not exceed 1metre x 60cm 

Follow the link below this image, by artist Didier Triglia, and you will land on a gallery of his mail art created from 2009-2014. With over 600 pictures, it's quite extensive! His quirky animal-human creatures are quite fascinating, lots of posca pen love within his work, bold colour and designs.

Fictional or not, creating a work of art on an envelope has been pushed to the extreme here to create the impression of something created decades ago.  I'm sure Mr Painter on Paintbrush street would be thrilled to receive this beauty!

What a beautiful arrangement! The actual design, layout, arrangement is a typographical feast. Different fonts, colours, layers along with a mix of hand written and typed elements leads your eye all around this composition.

Addressing a letter with personal touches can make the receiver feel extra special!

A play on both texture and light, once this box is formed into a cube ...would it survive the postal system? This is one one of the entries in the #cubicmailartproject on Instagram. Someone asked the same question, and got the answer; yes all are arriving intact! I guess its going to be dependent on the card strength and the interior support, but lots of fun for sure!I t looks like an open challenge for 2023. How pretty is this die cut mandala!

Cubic Mail Art Project  hosted by Diane Beauchamp.  You can Check out all the entries for the #cubicmailartproject on instagram. This entry above is by Eni Looka

Another mail art call that is open is being hosted by the inter-Art Foundation in Romania. The focus is to highlight the role of women in 21st century society, with attention on the need for women's roles in contemporary communities to be positively represented. They hope that civilised societies can all recognise women's rights, and freedoms, and they are calling for artists globally to send mail art dedicated to Women, as a symbol of life. Deadline July 1st 2023, format, max A4 size. Selected pieces will be exhibited from August 11th.   

The terms mail art and postal art are generally used to represent the same thing. Even the post boxes have been given a makeover below ...

This letter celebrates the coronation of King George VI, complete with Windsor postmarks!

Texture on this letter too with embroidered flowers and some collage, I'm sure a postal worker would have been amazed back in 1966, but now would this get stuck in the automated sorting systems?

Clusters are such fun to make, and these are perfect little embellishments for any mixed media project. Stitched, glued or stapled together, they are little bundles of joy!

Eve Adamson

Ohhh but how small are these postage stamp houses??? With chimneys!!!

These boys are off for a surf, they might get a bit soggy, Maybe they can dry out in the Hawaiian sun....

Using postage stamps to make the collage itself, very Mary Poppins! And what a riot of colour!

A stamp at the very centre of this piece of art, from which the art emerges ...

Postal jewellery, Lick and stick?? They do look reinforced, perhaps a resin layer to strengthen?

Luise Heinzl a junk journaller, shares in this video how to alter vintage postcards by cutting windows into the card and adding extra elements, backgrounds, stitching, tags etc

The various elements related to correspondence are wonderful substrates for any mail art project: vintage, or new envelopes, papers, correspondence, postcards are all fair game to create a new project. 

So many ways to build a book of envelopes! Here are 3 different ones: Accordion by Undercover Classroom, Spined by Cloth Paper Scissors, and Folded Line by Playful Bookbinding.

If you are a Pintrest user, this page might be of interest to you with many ideas pinned by Florence Cathala .

Moving onto actual elements directly related to the topic of mail, here are some fun little mini envelope clusters made from scraps, stamping and ink. How fun these are to add to any mail related project?

And of course faux postage is so much fun to create yourself too, from any media, maybe even fabric scraps.

Teeny tiny collages with postmark cancellations and butterflies as the common link.

Or even a Sara Naumann postal stamp might float your boat! Sara i one of our designers who frequently adds postage stamps and cancellation marks to her stamp designs.

With the most recent PaperArtsy minis collection, Leandra made this journal spread - postal themed.

Looking back on the PaperArtsy blog, we have tackled this topic on 2 occasions previously
you can check out those topics here 2019 Topic #3: Mail Art 2016 Topic #24: Mail Art

It makes complete sense, that as a mail art topic, we should collectively create some mail art to send to each other! This quarter we are partnering with the lovely Victoria Wilding from our blogging team, and she has cooked up a #paperartsymailartswap

The process to get involved in the #paperartsymailartswap  
  1. Sign up here to participate.
  2. Follow @victoriawildingscreates and @paperartsy
  3. Create a piece of mail art to send to Victoria: a postcard (6x4"), a tag (#8) or a journal page/ spread (no more than 7x10"), making sure to use a PaperArtsy product. Send the item off on it's travels through the post, to arrive with Victoria by1st June 2023 (you will receive further details of how to do this after you register here).
  4. Upon receipt of your entry, Victoria will send by return a handmade piece of mail art, made just for you
  5. A challenge winner will receive a mystery box form PaperArtsy to be announced 4th June 2023
All mail art entries will be added to the journal Victoria has made in this blog post. When the challenge closes, she will share a video of the completed journal.

As entries are received, they will be photographed, and shared via IG, added to a highlight

Please use the hashtag #PaperArtsyMailArtswap on Instagram or use the album on the PaperArtsy People Facebook Group to share your entry. 

If you wish, you can download the following #PaperArtsyMailArtSwap labels at each link for your: postcard or tag, or an envelope to put your journal page in.

A huge thanks from us to Victoria for organising this challenge, and we really hope you are inspired to join in!

From all of us here at team PaperArtsy, happy mail art crafting!

As always, even outside the challenges, we love to see what you are up to so don't hesitate to tag us on Facebook, Instagram @paperartsy , Twitter, or post in PaperArtsy People Group on Facebook. We really love to hear about how the blog topics have inspired you, so don't be shy!!


A Pink said...

A fab 'read and see' post full of great ideas and inspiration of ways to interpret the current topic 'mail art'!

Brill topic n love the idea of a exciting #paperartsymailartswap

Victoria Wilding said...

So much inspiration! It’s really got me thinking about the art I’ll be sending off to everyone participating. The embroidered postcard is an absolute gem, but you’re right, it’s probably too fancy for modern sorting systems.

Anonymous said...

I love this topic. Mail art is so special. It will be fun to take part in the challenge said...

Wow so inspiring it has totally sent me into a spiral spin of postage ideas rushing around in my head. Can I ask, can you send a few pieces of postage art or just one? Happy Creating :-) Kezzy