Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Mail art for creative recession busters

I love making mail art but I don't always have the time to "do it right." And luckily for me, there is no right way to do mail art. Send a fruit basket in the mail. No, not those costly gift ones—an actual plastic container what holds fruit at the grocery store. Only put a dinosaur diorama inside of it, slap an address label on the other side and you've got some mail art. Will it go through? I don't know—that's the wonder of it all.

This was not my clever idea though. Oh no. My friend, DC came up with it. I don't think she'd mind if I posted here.

You probably don't have any idea how great it feels to get this in your mailbox, so I'll tell you right now:  pretty damn great. My mail lady loves it too. You know how people sometimes say, "That brightened my day," and you're thinking: right, sure, good on you, dude. But truly, my mail lady claims that this mail art project has brightened her day considerably. I suppose sorting and distributing a ton of junk mail for hours on end would make you look forward to something like this.

DC is a master of mail art. I'm just a beginner. A schlub. I've mailed comics and fanzines and homemade postcards in my time, but this project has been an interesting challenge. What weird object can you send through the mail? DC pushes these boundaries on a regular basis. She once sent me a latex glove, stamped and addressed properly, with a hand-shaped letter inside. My mail lady said they all wear those same gloves at the mail station when they're sorting. So that latex glove was a big hit that day.

I'm still finding my mail-art legs. I'll post a few of my attempts here.

My latest collage is a remembrance of our shared youth in San Francisco during the 80s. I used to put these types of things together back then too. I'm telling ya—collage is probably where it's at with me, despite all my photography/cartooning desires. Something about gluing the paper together to make something new out of old. Or perhaps it's because you can combine all of the 2D art elements into a collage. I've always been a hoarder of art elements.

Back of envelope

DC correctly guessed that I used a Laughing Cow container to send this box of hippies to her. Jackson and his friend Clarabelle did the spin art. I included some Spirograph notes from my vintage set, just to set the groovy tone. Inside: a family of hippies with quotes from each of them. The dog has a tic but I'm sure they'll fix that with homeopathic remedies, so don't worry.

The little girl will grow up to be an investment banker—that's how it goes

This is a fold-up Hulk. He unfolds when you untie his classy golden cord. He has a lullaby about insomnia pasted on his chest (wish I hadn't done that—I actually drew a pretty decent chest on him). DC and I both suffer from insomnia. I think the Incredible Hulk can fix anything, even our hormone-induced sleep issues.

You'd be amazed what you can send through the mail. You can send candy packaging. Why not? This was a package full of grocery-graphics people. I cut out some graphic designs on processed food items (some were organic, so get off my back, hippies!). Then I turned these cut-outs over and "saw" the people and drew them into being. Their flip-sides are on the second photo below.

The secret people that live in food graphic design
Their true looks from grocery packaging

Inkblots—I got these going after reading The Inkblot Book by Margaret Peot. You might think: inkblots? What's in it for me? Well, inkblots can be quite lovely and very surprising. If you draw over them, you'll be consistently amazed at what you see and create. The element of surprise only enhances the artistic experience. Peot's Inkblot Blog offers more inspiration.

The Debate - two angry snails
Bat Spirit
I drew characters this way
Then flipped the envelope over and drew these characters as well

Pulpo! He has six tentacles only. He is self-conscious about this.

Some teeny tiny Republicans have escaped from their hell-mouth envelope.

Random stuff I sent DC when we first started this project: bookmarks (she's a librarian as well as being a kick-ass artist), Marc Maron's tweets in comic form, odds and ends.

Flowers made from gesso, watercolors, scribbles and tea stains. I didn't know what I was doing or how it would come out. That's OK. That makes it fun.

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