Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Mail Art Past and Present

Photo from Ruud Janssen's blog iuoma.blogspot.com/
  I started participating in mail art many years ago. Long before blogs were common place. The main way that you found other mail artists was to go on line to the one or two obscure sites that posted mail art calls, sign up for a call and participate. Once the call was over "documentation" would be sent by mail to all the participants. This documentation was a list of names and addresses of those who participated in the mail art call. This list was like gold... it was the way to build up your address book of mail artists and began to get those lovely colorful pieces of mail in the mailbox. I would pour over the list of mail art calls and find those that I felt like I could meet the requirements for, create the mail art, post it and wait with baited breath for the documentation to come... sometimes that wait would be months since the documentation followed the mail art call and there was a long suspense date. Things have really changed since those days... now all I have to do is "Google" mail art or mail art blogs and there is a long list to choose from.
   Mail art itself has many faces, some many years old and some new kids on the block. There are those "old school" mail artists who send handmade post cards to random strangers with no return address...a gift with no expectation of reciprocation, who post  mail art calls and those who answer them, then there is Fluxus and DaDa, and those like Ruud Jansen of TAM (Traveling Art Mail), and I.U.O.M.A. and Susanna Lakner of Planet Susannia, who have invested untold hours and expended huge amounts of energy to promote the idea of a global mail art community. Most of this kind of mail art was all about the art... there was usually no letter included.
  New to mail art are those who have gone a step further than penpal letter writing to send mail that includes both an artistic or decorated envelope and a letter. Many blogs have sprung up to promote the art of letter writing and to share the beautiful and fun mail they get.
  I have a foot in both worlds, old and new. I am happy for the opportunity to create mail for a call and to send mail to mail artists that I have known for many years only by their art and their mail art moniker. This mail is almost always just mail art, no letter. But I also love letter writing and making friends both here and overseas. Some of these pen friends write and create art, others just write. I am very glad to be able to participate in all things postal, artistic or just to correspond.
  For the next few posts, I am going to talk about some  "Old School" mail art people and projects and tell a little about mail art's history.  So until next time I will see you in the mail!


  1. Looking forward to your posts. It's clear how green I am to the mail art world. I've been decorating envelopes since my daughter's summer camp days. Who knew there was a community of like-minded moms and others back then? :) I'm often behind and out of sync. LOL. This is going to be interesting. Looking forward to the next post.

  2. I look forward to reading more about it all!