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Posts Tagged ‘ephemera’

all in a day's work!

all in a day's work!

 

Sometimes, being a mail artist is hard work. Not the kind of work that you dread (i.e. cleaning the bathroom or washing the dog), but more like the pleasant kind of work where, at the end of an afternoon, you feel like you’ve really accomplished something. After a few hours of creating and corresponding, I like to bask in the glory of it all, imaging the surprise and/or joy each recipient will experience, upon opening their mailbox.

 

my tools of the trade...

my tools of the trade...

 

However, there’s another aspect to receiving a wealth of correspondence, one that people often don’t consider when they dive into the world of mail art — there is always mail that has to be answered. I’ve talked with people who jump into the deep end of the Networking pool, only to find themselves overwhelmed with feelings of obligation or guilt, having never anticipated that mail art would be so much…well, work. I believe the delicate balance lies in answering all of the incoming correspondence in a timely manner. It can be a slippery slope, especially at busy times of year.

I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again: organization is key. For example: to streamline my working process,  I separate all incoming mail: postcards are placed in one stack, letters in another. 3D mail art gets a box of it’s own — I’ll make something equally wacky in return. Time sensitive correspondence gets it’s own stack — things such as invitations to participate in CFEs which have deadlines. Once I’ve categorized each bit of mail (it’s like my own version of the USPS sorting system!), I go through one last time — just to make sure I haven’t forgotten anybody.

 

here's a bit of outgoing mail...

here's a bit of incoming mail...

 

Once I’ve made my stacks, the real fun begins! I’ll usually spend a day or two making postcards — that way I can design and create something to send to each person who has sent me a postcard, and work efficiently on a group of things all at once. Letters take a bit more time so I’ll often end up at a favorite neighborhood cafe, writing letters while surrounded by folks on laptops. (Ironic, no?)

 

away they go!

away they go!

 

Ultimately, each person finds a “system” that works for them when it comes to mail art. Basically, you  need a way to track what’s coming in and what’s going out. Some people are most comfortable with an Excel spreadsheet; others might have an envelope filled with addresses and scraps of paper. There is no “right” or “wrong” way to keep yourself organized, but at the end of the day it’s best to have some idea of who you’ve sent what to, and whether or not they’ve sent you anything lately.

So what kinds of tactics and schemes do you use when it comes to tracking your correspondence? Is anyone currently using the oh-so-wonderful LWA Correspondence Log? Leave a comment and let us know how you keep on top of your stacks of “send to”!

In all things postal,

I remain —

–JH

PS: Letter Writers Alliance Correspondence Logs are available for purchase in the “members area” of the LWA website. If you aren’t a member, you should be: it’s the best three dollars you’ll spend all year. This is what being a member is all about.

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Hello beautiful postal people!
fireworks on the water

fireworks on the water

The July 4th holiday has come and gone, and what do I have to show for it? A pile of completed work! I’ve been busy over here at the RLD HQ; it seems like the months of July and August are hustling and bustling by. There’s always alot of talk at this time of year about things like vacation and taking it easy; somehow or other, I managed to be out of the room when that conversation was taking place.
junk mail_01

junk mail_01

So what’s been up? Well, I’ve been hard at work on a project entitled “So Many Products, So Little Time: The Junk Mail Show”, which is opening in San Francisco this week (scroll down to the bottom for show info). The theme of the show is — wait for it! — junk mail. How brilliant is that?! Curators Sarah Smith and Andy Vogt are definitely My Kind Of People.
the adventure begins!

the adventure begins!

Tell me if this sounds familiar: every teeny tiny scrap of paper at your house gets saved, especially if it has some sort of unusal texture or printed design. You just can’t bear to part with a single piece of ephemera: coffee filters (unused. you gotta draw the line somewhere), candy wrappers, birthday cards, cake mix boxes…it’s all just raw material to create mail art. I understand completely, because your plight is my plight. In this age of shredding all incoming credit card offers and auto insurance fliers, I spend alot of time separating the wheat (security envelopes with cool inside lining patterns) from the chaff (all that other crap that comes inside the envelope), and have acquired quite a collection. So when I was invited to join in on the junk mail fun, gathering together my tools of action was not really a problem.
look at these beauties!

look at these beauties!

Once I had created my envelope-covered 5×7 panels, it was time to begin gocco printing! Armed with photocopies of 1920’s and 30’s junk mail slogans (“Growing!”, “My Secret”, and “SENSATIONAL!” to name just a few) as well as a fistful of screens, I began to print. Flourescent ink over the top of those security tints is pretty exciting, dont’cha think?
whee! good things are happening!

whee! good things are happening!

Gotta let the gocco ink dry, but that’s o.k. I’ll make some fauxstage to attach to each panel. I think it should tie in with the theme of the show…
your junk is my treasure...

your junk is my treasure...

Laid out on the table, the riot of color and texture on all 16 panels is a sight to behold. Looking at the panels as a group made me realize how much junk mail comes from specific types of companies, primarily credit card and insurance dealers of some kind. It was also liberating to realize I’ll never have a shortage of junk mail/security envelopes, and that,  by extension, I’ll never have a lack in the “materials” department (as far as a project like this is concerned). I have a feeling that this group of 16 is the first of many such prints/panels…
in the home stretch of "done!"

in the home stretch of "done!"

If you’re in the bay area and interested in coming to see the show, here’s the info. Each of the panels that you see in the above photos is for sale; additional mail art will be created specifically for each purchaser on the back of sold panels. Once the show comes down, panels will be mailed to purchasers, thereby creating mail art out of junk mail! If you are unable to make it to the show or opening but want to see more, let me know — I’m sure we can work out a solution!
And it might interest you to know: the SF Weekly had a bundle of nice things to say in today’s (July 7th) edition of the paper. All that being said (written?),  I hope to see all of YOU, my postal loving, junk mail hoarding friends, on Friday night!
In all things postal, I remain —
–JH

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TAD: 02.01.10

Today’s the first day of “Thing A Day”, so as per the “rules” of the game, I did something quick.

I’ve decided that I’m going to implement some guidelines of my own, just to keep me from going crazy, spending too much time over-thinking, or getting overwhelmed.

–I’ll be doing my month’s worth of work in a day-by-day Moleskin; easier to carry around in my bag. I’m sort of working in reverse in my book, so I’ll be date-stamping at the top corner of each page, just to keep track of each day’s work.

–each week will be themed, to keep some sort of consistency going.

  • wk 1: text
  • wk 2: color
  • wk 3: narrative
  • wk 4: form and/or shape

I’ll keep everyone posted!

–JH

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