Mail art is a worldwide cultural movement that began in the early 1960s and involves sending visual art (but also music, sound art, poetry, etc.) through the international postal system. Mail Art is also known as Postal Art or Correspondence Art.
Something interesting that Wikipedia claims is that one of the first instances of mail art was when Cleopatra had herself delivered to Julius Caesar in a rolled up carpet! Interesting concept, no?
The definition of mail art to me is simple. Art being mailed. Simple as that. But often, my mail art delivers a letter along with it! Some prefer to send mixed media postcards, some like to hand paint an envelope or letter...the different types of mail art are limitless. There is no such thing as 'bad' mail art, either! There are no limits! Your mail art can be as simple or as elaborate as you want! A great way to get ideas or find new techniques is to follow blogs that are written by mail artists. Also, you can simply Google 'mail art'! My favorite blog for mail art used to be "Goodnight Little Spoon," however, Bianca over there seems to have taken a hiatus.
Here are a few samples of her work!
Another recent discovery has been Rin over at "Papered Thoughts"!
Some samples from her blog:
Above is her version of what is called a zentangle! Or at least I think it is. 'Zentangle' wasn't noted anywhere. A zentangle is normally a small piece of art made by repeating patterns, usually using pen or marker.
As you can see, you can also make mail-art'd postcards! Rin's postcards are lovely in a simplistic and modern way!
Don't know what to use? How to start? Well, I've prepared a very, very simple postcard mail art tutorial for you! For this card, I used a piece of cardboard that I cut out from an old box last night....hopefully it wasn't a Christmas light box! Anyways, I wanted to make a postcard that was more 'industrial' looking and cardboard was my first choice for a background. Yes, you can send a piece of cardboard through the mail!
- backing of choice.
- glue of some sort. (my choice was glossy Modge Podge.)
- paper bits and bobs.
- well...anything else you feel could be added!
I tend to hoard paper, so I had old book pages, map pages, vintage music, lottery tickets, board game money...the list could go on and on. Seriously, you can use ANYTHING! Receipts, tags...I even have the tag/sticker (the one they put on your package) from the last time my grandmother flew here stashed away! I also enjoy adding postage stamps to my art. I have a rather large stash of vintage unused and used postage stamps and I use them on my mail art a LOT. You can also add things like brads, rhinestones, glitter...the possibilities are endless! Also, rubber stamps and various inks are great to have on hand for further embellishing once your glue medium dries! I've found that stamping/applying ink on wet or damp Modge Podge is a smudgy no-no.
What I Used:
What I Do:
So, take your base piece (my cardboard) and choose some sort of papery bit to adhere to it. When I do this kind of collage-ish art, I always just layer, layer, layer! Use an old paint brush to slap some Modge Podge on the cardboard and stick your paper bit to that, and then go over it with a layer of your glue-y substance.
And then begin layering from there on! Below, you can see the direction I went with mine. I tend to not be exact, so the edges always end up hanging over. I just cut them down once everything is try. I don;t like to get my scissors sticky! :P
Skipping forward to when I was nearly done! Be sure to put glue/podge down first, then your paper bits, and then slap on another layer!
The photo above was my finished product! As you can see, I am still waiting for it to dry so I can cut it, but I went super simple for this post. Maybe because I'm lazy? Anyway, hopefully you are a bit inspired to get your glue and bits and bobs out and get to work!