adrienne mason art

glue + paper + scissors = collage

Mail Art?

Washington_CollageWith a bit of searching on the Internet, you can find quite a bit about mail art (or postal art or correspondence art). I am not going to reinvent the good work other people have done, nor pretend I am an expert. Or maybe I am. Because that’s the thing with mail art. Just make some art, put a stamp on it, and mail it to someone. In return, you hope that person does the same to you. End of story. It is very egalitarian. Everyone who wants to produce art, does. No galleries, critics, or art teachers required. (And no money exchanged.)

I first got interested in mail art because I was making a lot of small collages and wasn’t exactly sure what to do with them. I gave a lot away and I’ve kept a few, but I wanted to share them. Then I learned about mail art and found that … serendipity … this event was happening in San Francisco, so I got myself down there. Since then? I’ve made some great friends through this “Eternal Network” and I’ve made (and sent) a lot of art.

Just in case you have come here hoping to learn more about mail art, I’ll point you to a few places.

Although the site is a bit difficult to navigate, you should check out the International Union of Mail Artists, especially their welcome page.

All historical mail art roads lead to Ray Johnson.

Karen, over at Mail Me Some Art, sets up period mail art “calls.” You can troll the site to see what people have been up to.

And I can’t say enough about Pamela over at Cappuccino and Art Journal. Get yourself a drink— perhaps a cappuccino?—and settle in with her blog because you are in for a treat. Pamela is a creative and dedicated correspondent and is generous with ideas, both in regards to letter writing and mail art.

This young woman made a video explainer:

And here are a few books:

Envelopes:A Puzzling Journey Through the Royal Mail by Harriet Russell, in which Russell experimented with codes, puzzles, puns, illustrations, visual games and more to see what could by delivered by the Royal Mail. This is a gem.

Good Mail Day: a Primer for Making Eye-popping Postal Art by Jennie Hinchcliffe and Carolee Gilligan Wheeler.  The best, and probably the only, book on the how-to of mail art.

Mail/Art/Book, the exhibit catalog for the exhibit by the same name at the San Francisco Centre for the Book, is a treasure trove of information about mail art, with essays by Jennie Hinchcliffe and  John Held Jr.. Ninety-nine pages of inspiration in this baby.

Mail Me Art: Going Postal with the World’s Best Illustrators and Designers by Darren Di Lieto.

Signs on the Wind: Lenore Tawney Postcard Collages – Page after page of inspiring postcard collages sent by artist (primarily of woven sculptures), Lenore Tawney.

Finally, you can always go to my old site and search on mail art, to see all the different things I’ve sent and mail art projects that I’ve been involved in.


Okay? Now get to it. And you can always start by mailing me some art!



8 thoughts on “Mail Art?

  1. Thank you so much for the shout-out about my blog, Adrienne. Much appreciated. And I am looking forward to seeing more of your wonderful art.


  2. I’ve just bookmarked your new blog. Happy new year, and more mail soon!

    ~ Jack @ Cascadia Artpost


  3. Update on the Peeps Photo Project (PPP) book:

    I have completed draft page layouts on 23 out of the planned 30 chapters of the PPP book, and hope to finish all the chapters plus preliminaries and concluding sections in the next 10 days. So far the book is 83 pages in length and likely will end up in the 125-140 page range. For that reason and durability, I intend to bind the book in a hard cover. Finishing the layouts will enable me to produce a dummy book, develop a signature and binding plan, and an accurate estimate for ordering paper (likely a 28# text I like), book cloth, and book board. Hopefully I’ll be able to cut the sheets of paper and then print all the pages for something like 33 to 35 copies (26 participants plus extras) in February and commence binding. It’s going to take a while. Definitely this is the largest book arts project I’ve ever undertaken, but doing so many copies hones one’s technique. Finished copies of the last book I made, much smaller, were 8 to 10 per week. Despite the wait, I’m sure everyone is going to enjoy the final product. That the content is pretty interesting is an understatement.

    Hopefully I’ll be in a position to resume creation of new artistamps and mail art sometime this spring.



  4. I like the phrase “the power of the small over the large.” Here’s a link to an article on collage that may be of interest:

    This past week has been a productive one for the Peeps Photo Project book. I now have drafts of all the pages laid out and am awaiting input from co-editor Colin before taking the next step, assembling a book dummy. One giant step for peeps…




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