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The Fun Hobby of Mail Art
Examples of Artist's Postcards/Mail ArtClick thumbnail to view full-size
I have discovered a new hobby that is quickly overtaking all of my "spare" time. It is mail art, and I have become obsessed with it. I was of the opinion that "snail mail" was quickly becoming a thing of the past, with all of the technology we have today, but there is a growing number of people that are involved with the hobby of mail art. If you don't know what mail art is, I will attempt to explain where you can understand.
Mail art involves making or buying postcards (and other types of mail, but I'm concentrating on postcards today) and mailing them to people who have posted a "Mail call" or have signed up for a "swap". Mail calls and swaps are a bit different. With a mail call, you make or buy a postcard that means something to you artistically, then mail it to the address provided on the mail call, which you can find by doing a search on the internet for the words "mail call". There is also a really cool website called "Postcrossing.com", where you join and fill in your mailing information, then random addresses are generated for you to send your postcards to. They may be in or out of the US, depending on the settings of your account.
I am signed up for both in and out of the US, as I want to make contact with people from all over the world. So far, I have sent postcards to Germany, Poland, and several places in the US. On Postcrossing, you can be involved in up to 5 swaps at a time to start. Each time you enter a mailing on your end, your address is generated for someone else, randomly, and you will be receiving a postcard from someone in return, from "who knows where"! I have always loved getting mail and penpals, so this was a perfect hobby for me. I can combine my art and the fun of receiving and sending mail together.
If it is the postage costs you are concerned about, think of how expensive other hobbies can be! All you need for this is cardstock cut to a 4" x 6" size, markers or collage or other types of art, and enough postage for a postcard (cheaper than regular mail). Plus, the site limits how many swaps you can be involved in at a time, so you won't get overwhelmed.
There is another website called "Swapbot.com". On this site, you can sign up for different swaps, where the mail might be ATC's (Artist Trading Cards), Inchies (Measuring 1" x 1"), and other types of mail including postcards. I just recently discovered this hobby, and already I have sent out about 6 postcards and several ATC's.
Keep Snail Mail Alive with Art!
I like to think of this hobby as a way to keep "snail mail" alive and well by using art, plus this gives me one more creative outlet, which really makes me happy. I like the idea of all my little creations traveling all over the world! This is a fantastic hobby for the entire family, especially children, as it will cause them to start getting mail in return for theirs. I have gotten my husband in on the fun, and he has swapped some ATC's and postcards himself. This is a great hobby for the whole family to do together, although the websites do require that you be a certain age to sign up. I believe the age limit is 13, so that give a lot of leeway for youngsters to be involved. Summer is a great time for this hobby as well, with kids always looking for something to do, when they are complaining of boredom.
There are also random mail calls all over the internet, that can be found just by doing a search for "mail art" or "mailart" or even "postal art". That is how I found the majority of the ones I have been involved it. Another great aspect of this type of art is you are working on a small scale, and complete the cards within a relatively short length of time, so you don't get burned out.