Do you prefer to receive mail art that is original (such as an original drawing or collaged piece of mail art) or are you okay with receiving printed or reproduced mail art? Is there a mail art etiquette regarding this or does anything go? Mail art calls don't seem to specify one way or another and when people send me things, they seem as often as not to be prints/reproductions rather than originals. I could send out a lot more mail to a lot more people if I sent reproductions of some of the artwork I've done, but I don't know if that goes against the idea of mail-art. Should each piece be an original? I was thinking so, but I am now uncertain. So, I am curious about what the mail artists here tend to do.
Your opinions would be appreciated!
I prefer originals - but - part of what I enjoy about mail-art is receiving mail in the first place...either way it's about the connections.
I do original collages incorporating photos I have personally taken - having said that, there are some duplicate prints...although I've printed each one of the black & whites in a dark room (- the color photos I use are mine...but printed at the drug store). -jim.
Connections, I agree, are key. I frequently make zines with my family (incorporating stories, poems, photos, drawings, etc) and I print 20 or 30 copies of each issue. Then, once I'm ready to send things out, I usually add a hand made postcard or little collage or tiny painting to make each "package" complete. At the very least, I'll do something odd to the envelope. The point, whatever I send, is always an attempt to connect. (The quintessential existencial dillema: How does an individual connect with people beyond their immediate surroundings in a commercially driven, technologically isolating, indifferent world?)
At the same time, however, I totally believe that a mass market item (a strange toy, a funny commercial postcard, a comic book) can have personal implications, and can gain something from simply being recontexualized. I get a light-switch plate in the mail, or a label from a used firework, or a deflated ballon, and I'm pleasantly surprised because it's an unexpected experience. I'm cool with anything sent through the mail (or left in a bag on my porch) because it's unexpected. And it's fun looking at things in a new way and consider them in this new context. Think, "Why the hell did they send this?" Maybe, because it's funny.
---Richard F. Yates