One way to ensure a successful mail art exchange is to follow any and all postal rules regarding the mailing of your mail art.
Some of these may seem obvious, however, not all of these simple rules are followed in mail art exchanges. Not following these rules can result in some very bad things, including:
1. The mail art may never reach its destination.
2. The undeliverable mail art may never find its way back to you
3. It may become damaged
4. It may be late because it is returned to you
5. It may result in “postage due” for the recipient (very bad form)
6. It may be deemed suspicious by the post office (very bad for you)
5 Postal Rules for Successful Mail Art Exchanges
I have participated in hundreds of mail art exchanges in the U.S. and with international artists. Here are the basic postal rules to follow for mailing art:
1. Address the Package Correctly
Any artwork exchange needs to be addressed correctly to the recipient. Even when the address “looks funny,” be sure to address the package exactly as the recipient as described.
When exchanging internationally, this is extremely important because addresses are formatted so differently for each country.
2. Use a Return Mailing Address
Don’t get lazy and forget to include a return mailing address on the mail art package. You never know what could happen to the package, and the intended address. The label could peel, the address could bleed, the package can tear.
Or, the address may be incorrect and the package becomes undeliverable. In this this case, the postal service will need a return address.
3. Label the Envelope as “Do Not Bend”
The post office is less likely (no guarantee, of course) to bend or fold your envelope if it is clearly labeled “Do not Bend.” Write in Sharpie or permanent marker, or make your own labels.
4. Use the Right Postage
Nothing will get your artwork returned to you quicker than not including enough postage. Make frequent trips to the post office, or invest in a postal scale. Keep track of the standard amount of postage you need for your typical exchanges.
For example, I know from experience that I can mail up to 5 ATCs (with no embellishments) to anywhere in the U.S. with one first-class stamp. This is why I like 5-for-5 exchanges.
For international trades, be sure to get the proper weight and postage amount before mailing
5. Do not Send Bump Envelopes
If your artwork is anything besides paper, it will need some cushioning. Use tissue paper, a bubble envelope, or whatever material you need to make the envelope less bumpy.
A bumpy envelope, which includes mail art with beads attached, can tear the envelope, and may even cause suspicions on the part of the post office, which will hold up the artwork postal exchange.
These five tips for mailing mail art should help with speedy and successful delivery.