I have been a mail artist for quite a few years.  I am sadly leaving IOUMA.  There is a certain style of art I usually see here, and a style that I usually receive.  It is a mid century-collage based cut and paste look, which I admire and enjoy, but is NOT what I do.  I just got a comment that said my art was not hand-made, because I started with a print of a watercolor.  This is not a photocopy, and even if it were, who is someone (across the globe, I might add, for which I spent $3 on postage to get my work there) to tell me they are sad and disappointed in what I did?  I feel like people here impose their rules on others, that if you don't cut and paste in a collagey style, then you are not congratulated enough, or let into the club.  This is exactly the OPPOSITE of what free expression and the love of sharing should be.  I have worked for 20 years to develop my own personal style as an artist, I am proud that it is different from what the club does.

Long live free expression.

Long live personal style.

Long live sharing art with no expectation of return or personal gain.

I now participate in Free Art Friday -- I leave works of art in public for anyone to find and enjoy.

I love mail art and will miss this place, but criticism about what I do is ridiculous when my art is given freely.

Best of luck to all.



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Comment by Em on August 3, 2014 at 4:03pm
Thanks to all for the time you took to encourage and uplift me. How could I leave now? I love the idea of freely sending bits of art all over the world, of building connection with real, tangible effort you can hold in your hands. I needed this boost of encouragement, and it's safe to say statistics here show, one negative nancy can not beat out twenty awesome artists. Thank you all.
Comment by Lynn Radford on August 3, 2014 at 2:52pm

I'm late jumping in here...

That said, I echo the sentiments of everyone here.

We haven't exchanged that I remember, but I have seen your art and I do like your style.

Art is subjective. What one person creates is not going to be everyone's cup of tea. It goes back to "You can't please all the people, all the time."

One person can do so much damage with misplaced words and innuendo. It's tough not to let it get to you. I have had issues along those lines with "He Who Shall Not Be Named." An anonymous friend here helped me to understand that I have the choice to feed into/buy into the crap being dished in my direction. By choosing NOT to, I am chose to honor my self and my art.

There was a time when I felt as though I should tailor my art to those I sent to. By that, I mean if they sent me a piece of X, I felt that's what they wanted to see in return. It took awhile (and viewing the Ray Johnson docu/bio) to understand that mail art is largely successful because each of us has a unique perspective.

Don't let anyone tell you that what you do is crap, or doesn't matter, or isn't good enough. If you are lucky enough in life to be doing what you love, then you're way ahead of the game.

I hope that by now, you have changed your mind.

If you haven't, my begging you to stay won't help. I wish you all the best!

Comment by Valentine Mark Herman on August 3, 2014 at 5:37am

Aaron Neville, sends you this musical message, Em:

"Don't go, please stay
Don't go, please stay

If I got on my knees and I pleaded with you
Not to go, but to stay in my heart
Would you walk out the door
Like you did once before?
But this time be different and please stay

Don't go, please stay
Don't go, please stay"

Comment by David Stafford on August 3, 2014 at 2:09am

Yeah, don't go, Em. Richard's a good bloke...This is a Tower of Babel mishap. Please go back to your cubicles and resume creating.

Uh huh

Comment by Borderline Grafix on August 3, 2014 at 1:45am

Please don't go........

Comment by on August 3, 2014 at 12:39am

I wonder, from what I can tell if this was more a lost in translation situation...

My partner designs on a computer and prints his work on quality papers and inks. I have a hard time convincing him that he's an artist. For me, it's foremost about your pleasure and vision and the driving urge to create - the result is art. How others see it is up to them or whether they consider it art is their opinion and easier said than done to not take it too personally, especially when you've put so much of yourself into it.

I'm a cut and paster, mostly because I'm not patient enough or talented enough to put paint on paper or any other medium and really I just rearrange what I have to hand, but boy do I respect what you and many others do!

Please keep doing what you do - Life would be so dull if we all did the same thing.

I've taken my address down for a while as other commitments needed attention and I didn't want to get behind with responding to people, but I'm caught up now so If you'd like to mail swap at anytime friend me! All mail art gratefully received! 

Comment by Susan McAllister on August 2, 2014 at 9:50pm
Em, I am so sorry that happened to you. That kind of behavior is not in the spirit of mail art, in my opinion. Sure no one loves every piece of ma they receive. But it should be respected. I hope you decide to ignore that person, stay and exchange mail with the rest of us. I would be happy to trade with you any time.
Comment by Em on August 2, 2014 at 6:21pm

Thanks for the insights posted here, I appreciate the generous and thoughtful ideas about what mail art is.  It really is whatever the sender wants, is it not?  and the "offending artist" did not say anything other than his idea is that mail art must be an original hand made work, since mine starts with a print of my paintings, that fell outside his definition.  As a person who has always felt like an outsider with my art, it jangled me for my work to be labeled outside of the outsider art group . . . .  (read sarcasm there.)  I love that everyone does their own thing here, but what I see a lot of what is posted looks an awful lot like a genre, call it mail art, and it has a "look."  My post is about this, in a way, the idea that so much of mail art is a certain style.  I love Ray Johnson (and everyone should watch the movie about his work) but I don't make art that looks like his work at all.  He was the father of mail art, in many ways, but that doesn't mean mail art needs to look like "in the style of Ray Johnson".  Mail art can be a banana with a stamp on it.  So I hope we all realize that if it comes in the mail, it's legitimate.  If I stamp a store-bought postcard and mail it out, and it causes an explosion of reaction, perhaps that's a great piece of mail art, for the response it engenders.  No?

Comment by Valentine Mark Herman on August 2, 2014 at 6:00pm

Polls and Surveys - A new one each month! This month's is about the issues raised by Em's Blog and the subsequebt discussion.

Please share your views on the following isues raised by Em's Blog:

1. Em should remain in IUOMA                                                                                   YES     NO

2. Em should name and shame the offending Mail Artist                                            YES     NO

3. (Mail) Artists should respect each other's work                                                       YES     NO

4. One bad apple shouldn't spoil the IUOMA barrel                                                      YES     NO

5. Feel free to add to the Poll.....                              

Comment by DKULT on August 2, 2014 at 4:17pm

Hi Em--it would be great if you could post the crap you received from this person. It says a lot that this person is taking the time and going to the expense of doing this in lieu of actually making art. I hope you don't take it at all seriously. It amounts to a publicity stunt in my opinion. Don't give him the power to make you feel like you have to defend your work or anything else.  If you post it would be cool to collab it and turn it into something else--transform it    I only received hate mail once but I posted it and got some communication about it and it made me feel alot better.



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