I am posting this blog to try and create a central place for people to post when they receive the docs for the Nudity in Mail Art call. Also, to share a little of the process with anyone who is interested. It was a big project and, like many things in life, if I'd known in advance how much time and effort, but above all, how much money, it would take to get it done, I'd probably not have done it. So, thank goodness for ignorance because I'm really glad I did it nonetheless. :)

I have made chapbooks of artwork and sometimes poetry for years now and thought I knew what I was getting myself into when I decided to produce a chapbook of the artwork received in the nudity call. Ha! Not even close. All of the ones I've worked on in the past were smaller and more controlled events. At most, there were 15 or 20 people involved and in every case I had control over the size of the submissions and, most importantly, they weren't full color chapbooks. Most of the pieces were black and white. If I'd given it enough thought, I'd have known what the differences would lead to but I put out the nudity call on the spur of the moment in reaction to the discussion on nudity we were having here rather than planning for it in advance. Me and my big mouth. (!)

My husband is laughing at me all the time for this kind of thing (and he is the reason I can laugh about it - before I knew him, I was an even worse perfectionist and procrastinator - which two things seem to go hand in hand. Now, I realize that, like most things about a person, this is my best and worst trait simultaneously. :)

So, here's what I did to make the chapbook. First, I scanned all of the items which were received in connection with the Nudity call. Some things which people told me were coming never arrived, even now (more than a month after the deadline). At least one item was returned to the sender with a 'mail fraud' label on it. We still aren't sure why. (!) Some people sent me scans by email.

Once I had all of the scans, I tried out various layouts to see which things seemed to work well together on facing pages and/or the same page. Smaller items were sometimes fit together with other small items, even if by someone else, and other small items were able to stand on their own on a single page. In every case, the decisions I made were in an attempt to create a final product which would be interesting and pleasant to look at and browse through, whether from cover to cover in sequential order or just random perusal.

I have a color laser printer at home because of running a small business in photography and graphics for several years and I know how rarely mail art calls can be documented in color so I wanted to use the resources I had to make something special for the participants. With the ability to post shows online, we finally have a relatively-inexpensive way to show the work we receive for calls in their entirety and in color but the costs of doing something tangible, that can be held in our hands, are prohibitive still, and only getting higher as time goes on. So, just this once, I decided to splurge a bit. I was especially concerned, also, that some of the work wouldn't be able to be posted online due to the subject matter and, therefore, I wanted to find a way to share all of the artwork with all of the participants which wouldn't be shut down by a network administrator somewhere. Also, this is something one can keep on their bookshelf or in a drawer at home and share with anyone they like, whether or not they have an internet connection.

So, once I got the layout the way I wanted it, I had to figure out what I could afford in terms of printing and mailing costs. Balancing the toner and paper costs with the cost of mailing, especially because there were so many participants from countries outside the US (which I loved!), I decided to make the chapbook a quarterpage size to fit in a standard invitation-style envelope. It ended up coming in at a little under 2 ounces so the mailing costs were bearable. I have been saving postage stamps for decades and always have more than I need on hand so I used up some of my stores to send these out and didn't have to buy new stamps to accomplish it.

I had originally meant to have a cardstock cover but that didn't come out under 2 ounces so I gave it up. I used Hammermill color copier paper to do the printing - it is lightweight but images don't usually show through to the other side of the sheet. It also takes laser ink really well and remains true to the original colors of the artwork for the most part. I didn't want to send copies which didn't show the work in a good light. Some things still didn't reproduce as well as I wish they would but it's possible to get a good idea of everything I received and that was my main goal.

The chapbook ended up being 46 pages plus front and back cover. Someone jokingly asked me if they got the cover but I ended up choosing the piece for the cover which showed both male and female nudity and was a strong graphic for the theme. That honor went to Miguel Jimenez (El Taller de Zenon). Thanks, Miguel. :)

Along with the chapbook, there are two double-sided sheets included in the mailing which are:

a full participant list with addresses (snail and email, if I had them)
with a list of participants and which page their work is on and any titles people gave me


a copy of the call for Particulates Matter, the only mail art call sent in with the submissions
and a partial list of all of the current mail art calls I'm aware of with deadlines this year
(I couldn't fit all of them so I chose randomly, sometimes by if they had a picture attached!)

Please let me know if there are any errors in your names, or anything else, so that I can do an errata list here. Also, please let me know when you receive your copy so that I will stop worrying they won't make it through the post. :) I mailed them all from the post office on March 14th, exactly one month after the deadline. I thought it would be about 2 weeks but now I know to give myself more time in future.

I made some limited edition artistamps for this mailing and, although I ran out of envelopes in the middle (!), I think the package looks okay in either color (most are white, some are pink). I will post images of the white version since that was the original design idea.

Thanks, again, to everyone who participated and here's to nudity in mail art! :)

Carla Cryptic
March 16, 2009
Richmond, California

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Comment by Oh Boy on March 20, 2009 at 4:41am
Wow Carla!
My copy arrived today.

Thank you for putting together an amazing documentation.
It is clear that a great deal of thought and effort in this.
You did a wonderful job.

Oh Boy!

By the way, RF Côté has posted 2 pages on his blog
Comment by Carla Cryptic on March 19, 2009 at 1:15am
Oh, fantastic, it's made it to you pretty quickly actually. Thanks for the nice comments! :)
Comment by Jan-Willem Doornenbal on March 19, 2009 at 1:08am
Thanks Carla, the booklet arrived today and contains a fantastic collection. And I did indeed wonder about the enormous amounts of time, money and effort you put into this documentation. Respect! (as is the 'new' Dutch term in cases like this ;-) )
great, regards, Jan-Willem
Comment by Carla Cryptic on March 18, 2009 at 7:38am
I forgot to post the envelope example image yesterday. Here it is in white.

Comment by Carla Cryptic on March 18, 2009 at 6:55am
Oh, yes, it's wonderful. Singing was my first and most passionate love and probably always will be. :)
Comment by Carla Cryptic on March 17, 2009 at 9:35pm
Thanks Christine! It helped that you guys sent in such great stuff to work with. :)
Comment by Carla Cryptic on March 17, 2009 at 7:13am
John Lee just left me a message at Facebook saying he got his. Cool. :)
Comment by Carla Cryptic on March 16, 2009 at 9:39pm
Thanks Chantal. :)
Comment by Chantal Laurin on March 16, 2009 at 9:16pm
High Five !



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