I'm delighted to be receiving so much wonderful Mail Art -- I love my daily trip to the mailbox. I've been trying to document (by blogging) all the Mail Art that comes to me, plus a few of my own creations. This seems to be taking more and more time. I wonder how some of you handle this--do you document every piece of Mail Art you get on this site. If you pick and choose, how do you make your selections. I am thinking of blogging one piece each day, rather than everything. This doesn't seem fair, but, I need the time to make art. Any helpful advice will be appreciated!

Tags: blogging, documentation

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I recognize the point, I cannot handle it if I would post all received (and sent) mail art on the internet. Besides creating mail art there are other daily obligations (my paid job to be able to pay the postage and buy food etc, a family to take care of, etcetera).

So in order to have time left to create mail art, there a

re only a few themes of which I post almost all received mail art: animals, not at IUOMA but on my http://realweirdanimals.blogspot.com blog, and partly received (and sometimes sent) mail art in the matching IUOMA groups (for instance the clock lovers group, Hannah Höch fanclub, barcode art, Brain Cell project). All other mail art I also cherish, however I only post a few of them (for instance in my IUOMA photo album or add it to a previous blog, like the Platypus mail art and some of Ruud's works), only if I have sufficient time and that is by far not always the case..

Thank you for your question - I am happy to read I am not the only one who has to choose between digital (posting/blogging) and the analogue snail mail! And curious to read how others handle it!

If I have time and working scanner and internet, and if I really like it, then I will blog it here. If I don't have a lot of time, then I will just upload it here in the photos section with sender info. I think it's easier to upload multiple photos of received mail art on tumblr and one of the facebook mail art groups, but the IUOMA website is still a good place to document/share.

I don't like every piece of mail art that I get. Most of them I do like, so if I have time I will batch scan them on a weekend or after the workday and upload them somewhere. It feels good to see your own work shared by someone else on the internet.

My thoughts.

Also, when it comes to mail art, I am reminded of the Outback Steakhouse slogan "No rules; just right." So...make your own rules, so long as we don't have to get any lawyers involved.

Once upon a time, I blogged all incoming and outgoing MA on both IUOMA and my blog, wich was time-consuming. Now I blog all incoming and outgoing MA on my blog only, with thank you links to my blog on IUOMA. My blog is my art gallery. I love looking at it when I am away from my den.

Toni--a very good question. The decision to document or not is a personal one, and as was stated by Thomas Brown, "there are no rules". Having been a researcher in a previous incarnation, I am mindful of the importance of documentation for future generations. So I document mail art both sent and received on IUOMA. I limit my mail art participation so that this is not an onerous burden.

Personally I believe that mail art received is a 'gift' and I acknowledge what I receive by a comment to the artist on IUOMA, or by sending mail art in return as a 'thank you'. Again this is not a 'rule', but a mark of respect for the sender. If time does not permit this, then perhaps a note on your Profile indicating that time constraints do not permit you to acknowledge mail art received, but thanking senders in advance.

It’s a good question, Toni.  I think that trying to blog all the art we receive would be too time consuming and labor intensive for anyone with a full time job or other responsibilities/interests in their lives, like Heleen de Vaan said.  As I look back on what I've blogged about, it's traditionally been less than 10% of what I received.  I didn't even scan or photograph most of what I got.  I was only aiming to photo / scan much of what _I_ made, but not even all of that.  

One concern I’ve had is that some people like to create a group of works that are very similar and send them out to multiple people.  In this instance I was worried that I would mess up their plan if I posted pictures online of what I received from them because it would ruin the surprise for the other recipients.  That concern just complicates the whole issue of how much to blog / photograph of what we receive and is a main reason why I historically only posted pictures of what I had sent out after I figured the recipient had had time to receive it.  

Later I became worried that I could have been hurting some people's feelings or disappointing them by not blogging or documenting online what they had sent to me.  I also learned how affirming, wonderful and what a “high” it was for me to have something I sent out blogged about online (yes, you’re one of those bloggers who has made me feel stupendous by what you’ve said) – it made me feel so incredibly good!  

I also noticed that some things I sent felt so important to me that I desperately wanted to know that they had arrived safely.  Getting a message on IOUMA let me know that they hadn’t gotten lost or destroyed in shipping and made me feel happy and relieved.

So I started blogging or putting photos in my IUOMA folders more often, as well as letting people know their art arrived via internet messaging / comments / email.  I'm sure I'll have to slack on that over time though, because it may not be sustainable long term time-wise.  Spring is coming and time after work will need to be spent on food gardening, home repairs and maintenance, etc.  

If it’s of any help, my baseline, i.e. what I always make sure I am doing throughout the various fluctuations in how much I blog / photograph online, is as simple as sending mail back to those who send to me.  I think that is all that is actually needed in order to show my appreciation.  Mailing back through the post is the space where I can write my thanks to the other person for what they sent to me as well as reciprocate by sending something to them, and I think that is all that we really need to do to show our sincere appreciation for each other.  It’s slower, there is no “instant gratification” of the online world, but that is what snail mail is – and mail art is based on snail mail, right?  Photographing / blogging online is, in my opinion, extra stuff / rich icing that I don’t think most people can consistently do depending on how busy they are in the rest of their life.  


excellent advice, Gnome.

I've been quiet on the mailart front for a while, but in rebuilding my practice, I plan to use the same approach Any, who started the Mailart365 group a few years back, used. He called his My Real Wall, pinned all of his received art to it, took a photo, and posted it.   I scanned everythihn comin and going for years, but that was before my scanner stopped working, before IUOMA, and before I had a cell phone with a good camera. I expect I'll post the resulting group photos on my blog - and, naturally, I'll send a return piece of mail art to every artist.

That should be Andy, not Any, who started mailart365. :)

Now that my internet and scanner are up and running, well mainly the internet was the only missing piece of the puzzle for about three months there, I have been documenting incoming mail pretty good. The mystery to me is one of motivation. During those months without home internet, I had lots of free time at home and I probably sent out a few post cards each day. Now, I've only sent one letter out in the last two weeks. Not sure where the motivation comes from or goes to. I guess the reward is in the doing. It's nice when someone documents something I sent. One guy in Germany puts all of his received mail art on a CD and then mails a copy to everyone on the list. Hundreds of mail arts on one CD. I don't think that my goal here is to get famoose for sending mail art. The goal for me is to send out interesting things and see what interesting things show up in my mail box to help me through another week. Some really amazing things have showed up, but then the problem is what to do with all of the stuff that comes in! Haha. Well, I have a box for the favorites and maybe one day I can frame them. Some people end up sending boxes full of already received mail art to other people.

yes, thomas. i completely agree that actually sending and receiving great mail art is the great thing, not necessarily the internet posting. the internet is a fantastic way to help us find out about each other, tho.

social media is great tool to documenting anything

If you just mention you got something from me and later some day sent me some mail, I'd be pleased.  Thank you.  Pam McVay



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