Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
Mail art (wikipedia.org)
110 points by pmoriarty on March 15, 2018 | hide | past | favorite | 13 comments

A few years back, I'd missed my sister's 30th birthday and wanted to do something a bit dramatic to make up for it.

I got the idea of sending her the message "Happy Belated Thirtieth Birthday!" with each character on a separate postcard, all sent via separate post offices.

So I researched 30 separate interesting towns in the US. Then I ordered 30 postcards, each with a picture of the place on the front, and a single character of the message on the back in a large block letter. Finally, I wrote a note on each that said something about the place but started with the big block letter.

Then, I mailed them all to the postmaster at each location, stamped and inside an envelope along with this letter to the postmaster: Dear Postmaster: I am mailing my sister 30 postcards from 30 towns for her 30th birthday.
 I have enclosed a postcard, which I ask be hand-cancelled with a postmark from your town. To protect the postcard from machine cancels in its journey through the mail system, I have enclosed a stamped envelope addressed to my sister in which to seal and mail the postcard. Thank you very much for your time!

About a week later my sister starts getting the cards, but it doesn't make sense to her so she calls me after a few. I tell her just wait, there's more, she'll understand soon enough.

Finally after maybe 2 weeks she had all the cards and was able to decode the message.

Oh, I also found a 50-state stamp set on eBay so they all had unique stamps.

It was cool. Here's what they all looked like along after she received them with an closeup of one:


Barrow, AK and Kealakekua, HI travelled the farthest, from my home in NC to those cities to my sister in Miami, FL. There didn't seem to be much correlation between the distance the cards traveled and how soon she got them.

This reminds of a differnt type of mail art, in the signature of posts one usenet, here is an example of one: http://archive.birdhouse.org/etc/kibosig.txt

I enjoyed the 'Twin Peeks' chart


You can learn more about the person behind this at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Parry

I was so disappointed when the USPS rejected my postal-stamp-sized envelope.

It would be cool to have a service (maybe one already exists?) that specializes in the processing/fulfillment of machine-unfriendly mail pieces.

Reminds me of this guide: https://thepostmansknock.com/how-to-make-deliverable-mail-ar...

Back in the 90s, when we got all of our gaming news primarily through print magazines, the big ones like GamePro and EGM would publish the best envelope art sent in by readers with their letters. There were often elaborate scenes, from Mega Man, Chrono Trigger or even DBZ, drawn onto the envelopes surrounding the address.

Yeah I feel like magazines sort of popularized this in that era. As a kid, I would send mail art in to some skate and gaming magazines that I read.

Ken Miller's Mail Art Archive


How valued is micro art today?

Stamps are such that one must have one to mail something, so why not pick one with a pleasing aesthetic?

I'm working on a side project centered around graphic art containing varying subject matter aimed to be used in a similarly nuanced way as mail art.

I believe this idea is even more applicable in the digital world as graphics are more readily available than artistic stamps.

The Washington Calligraphers Guild regularly conducts an event whereby calligraphers from around the world mail in a decorated envelope. A panel selects the best and they post it on their site over here https://www.calligraphersguild.org/envelope.html

If you're into this, it's fascinating to check out the earlier editions of the contest and the winners. One of my long term hopes is to actually send in something which they atleast consider.

Excellent doc on Ray Johnson- “How To Draw A Bunny”

Reminded me about keyset art: https://geekhack.org/index.php?topic=94482.0

Back in my day user generated content was sent by mail. You would have to mail in your upvotes and comment sections were published in news papers. The whole process was very slow and cost money. Glad the internet was invented.

Guidelines | FAQ | Lists | API | Security | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact