Sometimes I am just completely in awe of the natural creativity of folks. For instance, this pen pal I met at the first Portland Correspondence Co-op, Supa’Flous. She wasn’t familiar with the world of mail art until that day, although she was familiar with sending and receiving mail. I chatted with her about the community that I have basically grown up with, the mail art community. I showed her some examples of mail art, letters that I had brought with me, and she seemed instantly hooked! We exchanged addresses and that was that.
The first thing I received from her, all I could think was that she was a natural! Her drawings are unique and she has some really awesome ideas of non-traditional mail. Here are some examples of the awesome mail she sends my way!
The majority of my pen pals are letter writing pals but Steph fits in a different category: mail art pal. I think she’s the only one (hmph! I need more). I received this amazing package awhile ago but it’s too good not to share. Steph has serious style. Like I-wish-I-could-be-her-style. Ok, maybe not that creepy. Specifically, her use of neon paints and bright colors is fantastic! She pulls everything together flawlessly. I don’t know how she does it! If you’re looking for eye-candy or inspiration, I definitely suggest giving her instagram a peek.
I can only imagine what her collection of images, ephemera, bits and bobs, scraps, and art supplies looks like. The various peeks she shares on instagram look overwhelming in the best way possible. Steph always sends a really great selection of papers and images. It’s always a treat getting mail from her!
Yesterday I posted a little bit about the missive mission I went on last month. As I mentioned, I was sent on a top secret mission through the post. I thought this was such a cool idea and I was so excited to see what was in store for me. The only thing I found out ahead of time was that the lady, Marissa, who sent me on the mission was going to send me a postcard with the briefing.
The postcard itself was a blurry picture of some buildings. It could’ve been any city, but it was probably Portland since it was from the UFO museum after all. The building’s name and address was listed on the back of the postcard. Marissa wrote that she was more interested in the surrounding neighborhood than she was of the museum itself. That worked out well since the museum is no longer operating! I was kind of stoked to go visit a UFO museum but, you know, you can’t always get what you want.
I completely lucked out on the location — I was instructed to explore my neighborhood! The museum was in an area that is just a few blocks from my apartment, an area I know very well and used to walk by every day on my way to work. It was exciting to think about my neighborhood in a different way, see it in a different light. I was anxious to get working on my reply to Marissa. I decided to send my reply in some sort of zine-y format.
My first order of business was drawing a map of the neighborhood. I love maps! You should know that I drew the goose and soccer ball all by myself.
I wrote a little description of the neighborhood, what the area was like, how it’s like living there, and my thoughts about my home. I also included prints of the photos I took while exploring.
I stole some soil from a near by tree as well as some leaves and flowers to share with Marissa. I felt like the dude from Everything Is Illuminated when I was carrying around the little baggie of soil!
As I’m not one to check in to see if people receive my mail, I have no idea if Marissa received my report; I haven’t heard anything from her since the original postcard she sent. I sure hope she received it! I’m also considering sending out these little missions to anyone who might be interested. I have tons of postcards of places I’ll never visit and need to do something with them.
I get a lot of amazing mail from my dear pen pal, Emilie. Not only does she send me really cool things, she also writes me the best letters. She is one of those people that I totally relate to (which is super hard for me to find these days!). Her letters always cheer me up and her thoughtfulness is just downright amazing.
Emilie and I have also met quite a few times. That seems to be a pretty common occurrence these days with pen pals. I can probably thank social media for that as well as just being an adult and being able to do things. Then again, even when I was a kid my mom drove me to California to meet a pen pal/online friend. Thanks, Mom! Anyway, I first met Emilie when I moved out to Rhode Island and she was living in Massachusetts. I think our first meeting was at an event at a local typewriter store in a suburb of Boston. I think! Correct me if I’m wrong, Emilie 🙂 After that, we met up once more when she hosted a letter writing social at a Boston bookstore. Now THAT was fun; it was just a few of us hanging out, cracking jokes, eating cookies and pretending like we were going to write letters. Emilie also opened up her home to me and my boyfriend when we drove across the country from Rhode Island to Oregon. Simply put, she is the best.
One of my favorite things about receiving mail from Emilie is how creative she is! I feel like she doesn’t use traditional envelopes often. She puts things in boxes, photo sleeves, chocolate wrappers, and bags. This package was no different! In addition to a very awesome letter, she sent me some rubber stamps, tree bark, stamps, washi tape, ephemera, and a pterodactyl! I’m pretty lucky, guys. Maybe one day I’ll convince her to send me one of her pies.
What am I working on? Stationery, of course! I’ve been straying a bit away from digital collage these days in favor of physical mixed media pieces. I’ve been buying little blank packs of postcards to make my creations. After I finish the piece, I scan it in and turn it into envelopes and stationery. As much as I love the convenience of digital collage, there is nothing quite like getting your hands dirty!
One thing I’m super into lately is patterns. I dunno what it is but I can’t stop stamping patterns on everything. I think it might be because of the ink pads I recently purchased through Stampin’ Up. Thank goodness for birthday money! I can’t get over the quality of those ink pads though. They are amazing.
I am, however, having trouble coming up with names for these designs! I’m calling the donut pattern “donut you love writing” but that is about as creative as I get with titles. Anywhoo, these guys will be in my shop soon! You know, once I get off my bum and take photos…
Here is a really great incoming missive from one of my best pals, Mermeg. She really knows how to pack an envelope and collage one! I think Megan is my longest-running pal at the moment; we’ve been exchanging mail since 2008. We have kept in touch over several moves (for both of us), different relationships, and other life happenings. It’s really amazing to think about. We’ve also had the pleasure of hanging out at least three times. It could be four but my memory is hazy. Most recently she came to Portland at the beginning of this year and we watched mail art videos on youtube. I’ll make it out to Wisconsin one day to hang out on her turf!
Megan always seems to pick the most perfect items to send my way. I’m not sure if she just knows me really well or that we just have the same style. I don’t care either way because it just means I end up with loads of ephemera. Yes! Also, recognize some of those stamps? They were featured in Monday’s post!
I know I probably say this all the time but, you guys, I love stamps. I received most of these cancelled stamps from various pen pals and before I could use them for anything, I had to take pictures of them. I almost love pictures of stamps more than the actual stamps. So dreamy, right?
I’m not really into trying to salvage cancelled postage from the letters I’ve received. Mostly because I don’t like to rip up the beautiful envelopes I receive; the postage (cancelled or not) really pulls everything together in mail art! If it’s junk mail, I have no problem ripping it up but they don’t typically use actual postage on junk mail.
Of course, I love international postage (and vintage!). Although I’m quite fond of a lot of the new postage designs, you get kind of numb to the designs after awhile. That is especially true for those freakin’ postcard and other low-denominational USPS stamps. Thank goodness they are finally releasing some new designs for them! Anyway, I think I love the international and vintage postage so much more because I hardly ever come in contact with them. It’s like whenever the USPS releases a new stamp, I freak out and spend several minutes inspecting them. Very similar to what happens when I see international and vintage postage.
To celebrate these wonderful stamps, I ended up turning them into stickers. You can check out the Etsy listing here!
Stacks of mail are my favorite thing to photograph, I think. There is just nothing more beautiful than a pile of mail and stamps to surround it! Feast your eyes on some lovely mail that I have received over the last few months.
I receive a lot of amazing things in my mailbox almost daily. I thought it would be nice to feature some beautiful mail art here and there.
I received this amazing piece from Kate, my first piece of mail art from her! She actually ordered some goods through my shop and that is how we ended up exchanging mail. One of my favorite things about the internet! I’m never surprised at the creativity of folks but I’m always amazed that I’m the recipient of these missives.
I absolutely love everything she included in her letter. Her handwriting is fab and lettering on the Tara stickers is spot on. I wish I could be that talented! I can’t wait to start incorporating the bits she sent me into collages. I love it all!
Kate has an Instagram dedicated to her art. I suggest you give it a peek!
You guys, Portland is getting hot and I can’t stand it. I long for an A/C and wait for the sun to go down each day. I lose what little motivation I had when it’s warm. Go away, summer!
In other news, here are some fun postcards I’ve received lately. I don’t send, or receive, postcards that often anymore. I used to be pretty active on Postcrossing, Swap-bot and Sendsomething, sending postcards to randos across the world. They are easy and don’t require much effort. Why do I stop?
The below postcard is from a super talented mail artist, Allison Anne. I love everything about the postcard she sent, her handwriting, the drawing, the collage, the postage placement. It’s so lovely!
One of my favorite things about the mail I receive is that almost everyone addresses their mail to me as “TARAdactyl”. It’s so great. I love seeing my nickname written in all different handwriting and colors.
Postcards can be challenging for me because I love to include a variety of postage, stickers, doodles, and whatever I can fit on the card. That usually isn’t a lot. I need space! In addition to decorating the card, I love to include a long message as well. Usually I have to sacrifice one for the other! Do you like decorating the postcards you send?