Thursday, April 28, 2016

The Magical World of Mail Art

*See note at bottom about edits made to this post*

I stopped doing 2-D art for about 6 years. Yes, I painted my nails with some interesting designs and I did fiber art (dyeing, weaving, crocheting) but I didn't do any drawing or painting. I didn't feel like I was good at drawing, and didn't practice enough to feel any better about my drawing after I took some courses in college.

Anyways, the reason I bring that up is because it led me to where I am now, making mail art. I have been working on regaining, and improving, my drawing and painting skills. It's been a little over a year of consistent, almost daily, practice. I can see some actual improvement. However just studying drawing and constant exercises can really sap your will to keep going at that pace. I started looking for other creative outlets. It lead me to trading Artist Trading Cards, or ATCs which are art cards the size of a playing card (2.5"x3.5") that are "arted" up (drawn, painted, collage, stamped, etc.).

While on one site ( I found several types of mail art. Mail art is, at it's most basic, sending art through the mail (descriptive, right?). Knowing what I know about the USPS, this idea really frightened me. My mom worked for the USPS when I was a child and I have heard stories. With that said, trading mail art has amazing. It's not without it's bumps and snags (hey, we are talking the USPS, here) but the other artists I trade with are a fantastic group of people that are really there for the camaraderie, the art, and excitement of getting something amazing in their mail box.

This group of artists I trade with send "envies," or decorated envelopes, "naked" through the mail. Naked, as in the art isn't inside the envelopes, it's on the envelopes. I have been having so much fun with envies that I felt the need to share. The envies we send are larger than ATCs  so they are less restricting, but can also take a lot more time.

Do you want to see some art? Why else are you here? Why do I ask so many questions? (It's like having a conversation with myself where I answer, then laugh at the response. No one said being an artist was for the sane.)

All of the envelopes below are made of watercolor paper folded and glued into an envelope and are painted with gouache and ink. Hope you enjoy!

Front and back of October 2015 Envelope of Frida Kahlo inspired by her various paintings.  The first envelope I did.

Front and back of the November 2015 envelope featuring a Ragdoll cat and her toys. You can see where I left a square unpainted to accommodate the recipient's address.

 Front and back of December 2015 envelope featuring the northern lights. The stars have sparkle medium on them. 

Front and back of January 2015 envelope featuring different mineral specimens. This envie included a fair bit of reflective (gold and white sparkle) ink to add depth to the mineral specimens. You can see the blacked-out address of the person I was sending it to to protect the innocent 

The front and back of the Heceta Head Lighthouse on the Oregon coast for the February 2016 envelope. 

This is the front and back of my March 2016 envelope, it is of Edgar Allan Poe and his ever-present raven on the back. 

 This is the front and back of my April 2016 envelope, you can see where I left the space for the recipients address on the front. This envelope is my favorite of all the envelopes I have done so far for these swaps. It has an orange cat, go figure.

This is obviously as far as I have gotten as I just finished the last envelope a week or two ago. I plan to keep trading envelopes with other artists as it is a good challenge and good fun. I also plan to do a post soon about how I make my envelopes. I haven't found a good watercolor envelope that I like on the market, so I make my own. More on that soon...

As always, if you have something to ask, add or just want to ramble at me, go ahead and comment below! Operators are standing by. 

**Edits made were I found some spelling errors and other mistakes and I took out a spoiler warning for the recipient of the last envelope, she got it a few months ago now.**


  1. I love the Edgar Allen Poe envelope! Hope to be your partner in the upcoming months! :)

    1. Thanks Megan! I was hoping we would be partnered soon, too! :)

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