What is Mail Art?

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Although the term “Mail Art” is self-defining, there’s further meaning in its global application.

At its most basic, Mail Art is a type of art that is created by sending small, handmade pieces of art through the postal system.

Mail Art can be anything from a simple doodle or sketch to a more elaborate collage or painting.

Some Mail Art can be seen as a type of alternative art, as it is often created outside of the traditional art world.

Mail Art may be created using found or recycled materials. Yet, there are also Mail Art pieces that reflect classic artistic sensibilities, as well.

Mail Art can be a very personal form of art, as it is sent directly from the artist to the recipient. This direct connection between artist and viewer can lead to an exchange of ideas and feedback between the two as well as reciprocal works of Mail Art.

Mail Art may carry a political or social message, and can be used as a platform for self-expression or protest, and can be used as a tool for activism. It’s been used to raise awareness for a wide variety of issues.

There are also “Call for Mail Art” projects around the world, often featuring a theme, where participants may mail their pieces to be exhibited, whether in a physical environment, in a print publication, or online.

Artists For A Better World International launched its first Mail Art project in 2001, in response to the 9/11 attacks in the United States. Back then, hundreds of hand-made cards were created by young and old alike, with pencils, crayons, paints and individual caring. Positive and inspirational messages were written in English, Spanish, Japanese and Chinese. These were sent to the emergency workers in NY and Washington, DC as a show of support.

Since then, many of the AFABW Int Mail Art projects include a purpose to raise awareness for World Art Day, an international holiday that celebrates the arts. Furthermore, these projects feature an inspirational theme that reminds artists about the value and power they bring into today’s world, regardless of whatever else may be going on in our contemporary reality.

Whether you’re a highly skilled artist or new to the arts in general, Mail Art is open to all. If you’re interested in creating Mail Art, it’s easy to get started.

  • First, you’ll need some supplies — blank postcards or paper and envelopes, as well as stamps, and anything else you might want to use to decorate your art.
  • You’ll also need a list of addresses of people you want to send your art to. Or, you’ll need the address of a current “Call for Mail Art” project that is occurring somewhere in the world. (See below if there’s a current AFABW Int “Call for Mail Art” project).
  • Once you’ve gathered your supplies, you can start creating. “Call for Mail Art” projects may have a theme to consider, but otherwise, if you’re creating on your own for your own friends and family or others, there are no rules — just let your creativity flow!
  • When you’re finished, simply address your envelopes or postcards and drop them in the mail. Whether you send your work to friends, family, associates, or specific “Call for Mail Art” projects, it’s a simple way to get your art out into the world.

Have fun and keep creating!

Participate in the AFABW Int 2025 Global Call for Mail Art

Mail Art Examples