Mail Art History
The Mail Art Network
One thing common to all mail art is obvious: it needs stamps to get where it has to go. The mail artist must use governmental stamps of whatever nation he is in to send his creations. And the authors deal with the meaning of stamps, both practical and artistic.
Sometimes, (especially in the case of Artistamps) the stamps are more tied in to the art than at other times. Chuck Welch, aka the Crackerjack Kid may be one of the finest mail artists in this regard, tying stamps and even postmarks to his art.
Finding Your Place in the Mail Art World
On the practical side, authors Hinchcliff and Wheeler tell you how to send your creations without running afoul of the post office's rules. It also helps to be nice to the postal workers, as the authors point out that having a friend or two at the post office can assist the mail artist in practicing his networking more easily in an atmosphere of friendly understanding.
Needless to say, the stationery and supply needs of the modern mail artist are covered, including what to put in your on-the-go mail art kit. After all, just because you’re on vacation you shouldn’t stop creating. Its something to do any time, anywhere: “Mail art, at its best, is of-the-moment, not overwrought or overly precious,” write the authors. “Growing comfortable with working freely, independent of location, with available materials, is another step toward understanding the spirit of the mail art Network.”
Create and Then Collect
Before the Internet many stamp collectors added to their collections by exchanging with pen pals. The book has an extensive section on how to be a pen pal, from rules of etiquette to improving your handwriting skills. The authors believe that if we don’t use the post office we’ll lose it, an opinion a number of stamp collectors also share.
So while Good Mail Day deals with the pleasures of exchanging your art and communicating with a pen pal, it also presents an overview of influential artists like Harley (Terra Candella) and E.F. Higgins (Doo Da Post), who have created their own postal systems; those who have adopted an artist identity (Chuck Welch/Cracker Jack Kid); or have created their own Artistamps (Anna Banana). Good Mail Day makes it clear that it is not just the art, but the stamps that are important to these artists. If you’ve followed along and taken part in the how-to and project sections of the book, you may find -- to your pleasant surprise -- you’ve become a mail artist.
* Sealed With A Kiss