Festival of Postcards

Altered Art – Mail or Postal Art

Have you ever added a doodle or a kiss to the back of a letter or postcard? Well congratulations you are already a mail art artist.

Using art as a form of communication comes as second nature to an artist and not surprising to see examples of mail art in the works of Vincent van Gogh and other well know artists. Over time different groups and artists have taken on mail art as a way of getting art into mainstream communities as a small piece that we all can hold, brighten our day along the way or participate in.

Mail art can be decorated envelopes, letters and postcards. The Festival of Postcards celebrates the best of all the different styles of postcards, vintage or vacation, and a perfect place to share some of the creative things people can do with a post card.

You probably have your own resources to confirm the replacement value of postcards or their historical, religious or cultural significance. As lovers of postcards of course that would be your first consideration at all times, preserving what is best about postcards.

For those other postcards that have seen better days, what could be more fun than giving them a new way to shine with a few creative altering techniques those little cards can become unique pieces of art.

Main Street was a fun theme to work with but the closest thing I could find in my collection was this postcard from Hong Kong. Kind of average looking late 60s, nothing special according to my girl friend from Hong Kong who gave me permission to play.

Click photos to enlarge

Using my collection of Hong Kong postage stamps and Asian themed ephemera we were able to recreate the card with simple cutting and pasting.

The background of the harbor was faded and damaged so I cut along the horizon line of the city and mounted the remainder of the card on to text from a newspaper and some pretty printed paper.

The decorations included, starting on the left there is flowers cut from a greeting card including the artist’s signature block, fabric dragonfly, a coin, and on the right, two Hong Kong postage stamps.

This is another example of working with an old postcard that was nice but – with the addition of a cute little fairy, flowers cut from a paper napkin and postage stamp to match the theme, just a little more whimsical.

Current Restrictions or Reality Check
Sadly we now live in a less innocent time and much of what mail art is about is on the list of things to be suspicious of. Check with your local post office to see what regulations apply to what can be sent in the mail. The sample post cards I have shown here could not travel in the modern sorting machines and would need to be posted in padded packaging.

There are many good books that provide more how to information on the subject of mail art.

Creative Correspondence by Michael & Judy Jacobs has some fun variations of postal art with very detailed instructions.

Nick Bantock’s books are some of my favorites for creative inspiration. The Griffin and Sabine series is one of the more famous publications showing examples of Mail Art.

Love Letters by Michelle Lovric is simply beautiful

Mail Me Art is a web site and published book by Darren Di Lieto who challenged illustrators and designers to create works of art on packages, envelopes, and postcards and to send them through the mail.

As we said in the beginning, all due respect should be given to preserve quality or rare postcards and postage stamps. There are images and subjects that should be maintained for historical and cultural reasons.

But then as postcards are commercially produced for the enjoyment of many, why not celebrate ! Be creative and give old postcards new opportunities to shine in a whole new light. I hope this gives you some more ideas on how to celebrate your postcards in new and different ways.

Evelyn in Montreal is hosting the Festival of Postcards with the theme of ‘signs’.She and her blogging buddies who collect vintage and interesting postcards are allowing us a peek at their treasured finds. Altered Artists, Mixed Media and Mail Art devotes are welcome to participate in our own altered style.

Creative Swap News

Chenon of the Meandering Pearl is hosting a creative postcard swap with a close date of 16 August. Her blogging friends are scattered around the globe so you are sure to meet lots of new friends via the swap. Altered revamped or creative postcards are all welcome.

Another place to check for inspiration is Mixed Media Monday.