Sunday, March 20, 2011

The Art of Mail

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. The term networking is often used to describe Mail Art activities, based on the principles of barter and 
equal one-to-one collaboration.

I've happened upon a new hobby via a fellow blogger whom I've never met.  He's a young artist in Chicago named Dean.  I love to follow blogs of young artists and designers.  Their ideas are fresh and creative.  Chicago Dean loves to send and receive mail art.  The idea of sending bits of art through the mail by way of ordinary envelopes fascinated me.  It's the gift that keeps on giving.  Also, I love the thought of resurrecting the tradition of letter writing.  Sending a handwritten letter is an art within itself.

There is a lovely 85 year old gentleman named Leonard who lives at Raider Ranch.  We have become friends with Leonard over the months that my mother has lived there.  Leonard buys 100 stamps a month.  He writes 3 or 4 letters a day to friends and loved ones.  We have received several notes and cards from him from Birthday greetings to a Get Well card for Alan when he broke his nose.  I love that Leonard is a letter writer.  There is something good and mannerly and time-honored about the handwritten word.

Above is an example of my very rudimentary attempts at creating mail art.    I have a passion for paisleys that I attribute to the amazing art teacher I had in Robinson, Texas, my 9th grade year.  She introduced us to designing paisleys.  It has become my favorite shape to doodle over the years.  I have church bulletins and notepads filled with them.  Start preaching to me or put me on hold on the phone, and I'll start doodling away.  So, I've been adorning the fronts of the envelopes with paisleys.  I love creating some sort of collage on the back.

I'd love to send you some mail art!  The hidden agenda is that the gift of mail art implies reciprocation (see above:  "equal one-to-one collaboration").  As you can see, any sort of doodling will pass for mail art.  It can be as simple as a collage of news from your town.  I would love to add yours to my collection.  Simply contact me via facebook or email (, and give me your address!  I'll get something in the mail to you asap!

So here's to Dean and Leonard...and the United States Postal Service!  Long live mail art!


Liz said...

love love love this! can you teach classes???

Tanya said...

What a fun way to share..... I am with Liz teach a class and I will be there with colored pencils in hand.
I will send you my address via email I am like a kid I love getting letters in the mail.

Carolyn Lackey said...

Liz and Tanya, there is nothing to be taught! I just doodle on the front and cut and paste on the back. You need to make sure that you leave spaces for the address and return address on the front. I just traced a circle and left that part white. So far, they've been going through the mail just fine!! Google mail art, and you'll see some fun examples. It's just fun to play with ideas...


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