Just a quick question about the current uses of terms Mail Art vs Correspondence Art. Have they always been used interchangeably or were they considered different processes? I prefer referring to it as correspondence art in order to remove the phonetic confusion of mail/male.

Curious about how these two terms have been used historically and also how it is used today, granted that language changes according to the times... thanks!

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I'm not a historian, but I would guess when the artist's of the 60's starting send postcards through the mail, it was just a term picked up because it was being 'mailed'. I think that Ray Johnson started creating mail art in the 40's. Now, I have even gotten (E-) mail Art! Maybe when others read this, they can add to this. 

thank u :)

29.11.20 .................I'm no historian either, but I thought it was all  simply  referred to as  just sending a "vacation postcard" or was it a matter of joining a "Pen-Pal Club"???,  ...."answering the mail", "keeping in touch"," sending a "thank you note",  a "love letter",  a fan letter?...uh, how about those  " Birthday  cards"? & of course the laborious task of sending "Christmas cards"??????????.  Mail art is older than fine art . Primitive man was throwing rocks at one another  & bearing gifts  long before he started making marks with charcoal sticks on the  cave wall. I'm not sure about this, but I think it was the New York artist John Evans that first used the term "mail art".... & of course, it is well documented that Ed Plunkett (from the New York circle of Ray Johnson friends) that first introduced the phrase  "The New York Correspondence School" --- (a reference to [& play on words] concerning  "The New York School" & all important historical group of abstract artist of mid 20th century). I think Ray Johnson preferred the term" Correspondence Art" to "Mail Art".

thanks for your input Richard, especially about how far back gift exchange and communication through exchange goes. I too prefer Correspondence Art to Mail Art but in the end not hung up on what its called...this is for another discussion post but, I am also very very curious as to how postal service workers view correspondence art, how (if at all) they talk and refer to it among each other, and if there are any correspondence artists who work in the postal serivce.... so many thoughts haha

29.11.20 Post Scriptum: as is increasingly typical of  richard nowadays, he  left out an important element regarding the " New York Correspondence School" & the so-called   "play on words" by Ed Plunkett. .... It also simultaneously makes reference to a Correspondence Art Instruction School  (that often published small ads in magazines  encouraging potential students to draw ("this or that") & send it in via the mail for evaluation as a potential art student.  

and then there is the, "New York Correspondance School".

Hi Mah Nu -

This website is a forum for USPS employees and the public ("customers").  You probably could ask about how employees view mail art there.  I haven't posted - but I do enjoy the comments and pictures.  I think that there are other sites like this, just from glancing at the search page.


I used to go to the p.o. a lot when living in NYS and FL, when I sold books on ebay, with packaging that was often food boxes - saltines, etc.  Usually the clerks were nonplused but a few were interested and enjoyed them.  I also collaged some, and one clerk didn't like the address as I had written it amongst the collage, on a label.  He grabbed a red pen and wrote in caps "TO:" and circled it several times, pressing hard.  "They have to be able to read the address!!!"  So I think he wasn't a fan.  Or he was having a bad day.  BUT I do now always take a good look at the address after I have placed it.  Usually, he would approve, I think.  :)

thanks for sharing this website and story! I will certainly check it out :) 

I too sometimes go a little overboard with the collages i decorate my envelopes/packages with... I try adding a little "Thank You Mail Worker" note to them though, hoping that will smooth out any cranky postal workers haha Take Care!



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