mefiswap- and postcardx-style metafilter art exchange June 2, 2005 7:20 PM   Subscribe

Is there any interest in a mefiswap- and postcardx-style metafilter art exchange?
posted by interrobang to MetaFilter-Related at 7:20 PM (66 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

I'm now working at a place where it'd be easy and simple for me to mail things. I have been bad at following up at sending CDs in the past through bluesilver, but right now, mailing things is not a problem at all.

I make drawings, and from the discussion around here, there are others that do, too.

I think it'd be interesting to set up a system wherein we mail art to each other, based on themes or sizes. I do not have the internet skills to create a website for this, so someone else would have to do it.

Another little rule that would be nice would be that all drawings (or paintings) would be about the same size for the first session, and a time-limit could be imposed so that no one would feel like they'd spent too much of their lives and free time working on it.

It would cost about forty cents to send something--much like mailing a postcard--and I think it'd be extremely rewarding. Is there anyone else who wants to do it, and can anyone figure out a way for those interested to get addresses to each other?
posted by interrobang at 7:21 PM on June 2, 2005

yes, and I can probably help with web/contact stuff once I'm back in town in a few days.
posted by jessamyn at 7:27 PM on June 2, 2005

This sounds like fun. Count me in.
posted by maryh at 7:35 PM on June 2, 2005

I'm in too.
posted by shimmerglimpse at 7:47 PM on June 2, 2005

I would do this. Are you suggesting that each participant be paired with one other, or would there be small groups in which each participant would mail something to each of that group's other members? (I'd lean toward the latter. Maybe groups of 5.)

I like the idea of a size constraint. Smaller than a city mailbox?

Some sort of theme restraint would also be pleasant.
posted by nobody at 7:56 PM on June 2, 2005

You mean like a real-life version of this?
posted by dg at 8:02 PM on June 2, 2005

I like the idea of a size constraint. Smaller than a city mailbox?

By "size constraint", I mean pieces "smaller than 12" X 10", or whatever is decided upon at any given session of exchanges. Again, I can't moderate this; I'm looking for someone who can. I'd personally like it if things can fit into ordinary mailing envelopes.
posted by interrobang at 8:07 PM on June 2, 2005

dg, I saw that yesterday, but didn't understand that all of those pieces were by different people.

It would indeed be interesting to see people uploading all the exchanged art onto one site, but I don't know how to do that kind of thing. I also don't know if I want it to be that formal.
posted by interrobang at 8:09 PM on June 2, 2005

Damn, I'm interested but can't do art for shit. I'd swap music mixes for art though if anyone's keen on that. (Though just email me direct, I'd hate to muddy up the process.)
posted by dobbs at 8:29 PM on June 2, 2005

If you mouse over the images of the collab that dg linked to, you'll see short descriptions of the pieces. That was taz's doing - she da man.

I really like mail art and would be up for something like you've suggested, interrobang.
posted by iconomy at 8:31 PM on June 2, 2005

sounds like a good excuse to be arty, artsy, fartsy, or crafty. me too.
posted by whatzit at 8:33 PM on June 2, 2005

Is there any interest in a mefiswap- and postcardx-style metafilter art exchange?


i-bang, you should also check out the next emcee coming up at MetaChat. It's shaping up to be an exquisite corpse. One person fills in a small area, the next takes over with an adjoining area...

But I think the idea of a snail-mail version is really cool too. Snail mail has a real charm to it.
posted by Shane at 8:38 PM on June 2, 2005

But I think the idea of a snail-mail version is really cool too. Snail mail has a real charm to it.

Shane, that's really more what I'm interested in than making something online. I'm talking about sending and receiving real pieces of art.

We still need someone who's willing or able to coordinate all this.
posted by interrobang at 9:00 PM on June 2, 2005

We could do something like this, whereby we decide on a theme or a phrase, and everyone creates pieces to do with that theme or phrase, and the pieces all get mailed to one person. Go through the archives of that blogspot site; there are some gorgeous works there. He gets sent letters and cards from people all over the world who've heard about the site one way or another.

So basically all anyone needs to start (for an idea like this, anyway) is a scanner and a blogspot type site, and the willingness to put the time and effort into it. I don't have a scanner, or I'd volunteer.
posted by iconomy at 9:44 PM on June 2, 2005

That looks great. What's nice about that possibility is that everyone gets to see everything. I'd also offer to organize, but I don't think everybody wants to be sending their stuff to Greece.
posted by taz at 10:24 PM on June 2, 2005

Again, I'd like to keep this really simple: user x and user y agree to exchange a drawing, with an agreed size and an agreed time limit. Sort of a postcard exchange, but without the hazards of things being directly handled by the post office. We could mail them in envelopes.

Every couple of weeks or so, someone could come up with a theme, and people could exchange drawings about whatever it is. I don't even know if a theme is really needed; people could just sign up with each other and mail--for 37 cents and an hour of work--art to each other.

I wouldn't want to exclude anyone who doesn't have a scanner. If someone wants to host pictures, that's great. I'm not talking about an online project, other than that people who know each other on metafilter can send each other little drawings.
posted by interrobang at 10:31 PM on June 2, 2005

I think this sounds great. Recently found this and this and it sparked an interest in mailart. I could a create mailart blog for anything I received but might be a downside that I'm in the UK.
posted by skarmj at 10:52 PM on June 2, 2005

Oooo. I love this idea.

I'm in.
posted by cmyk at 12:06 AM on June 3, 2005

I like this idea too, with a similar caveat to skarmj's, namely that I am in Australia.
posted by nomis at 12:17 AM on June 3, 2005

this would be really fun. would it really be difficult to make it international if people stuck to postcard-size collage pieces/sketches?

not that i'm any good at this sort of thing, but i'd give it the old college try
posted by crush-onastick at 8:10 AM on June 3, 2005

I'd really like to do just flat-out postcards. Cheaper, easier, and easier to send overseas [though slow sometimes]. I can co-ordinate images via flickr somehow and make lists of small groups [maybe3-4-5-6 people per group?] that way everyone can share with smallish groups like the MeFiSwap, and as a secondary benefit, we can put them online in a Flickr group. One person in each group will have to have a scanner, right?

Sort of a mini version of 20 things but for mail arty stuff. If that's workable for people, I'll co-ordinate it. If it's not, then someone else can co-ordinate.
posted by jessamyn at 8:15 AM on June 3, 2005

Great idea, count me in.
posted by fire&wings at 8:26 AM on June 3, 2005

Great idea, I'd love to do it. Caveat: Euro.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 8:33 AM on June 3, 2005

I, too, would be totally down for this sort of thing and would be willing to help in a capacity greater than regular participant, but probably less than the main coordinator.

I also think that small postcard sized works is the best for getting the work done, sending the work, and --at least in my case-- actually receiving the work.

Sounds like there's a basic framework that's being suggested that is workable and possibly a place to display (flickr), but we are lacking an organizational site component (like the swappers have with dreama's bluesilver action). Are there other pieces of the puzzle that are missing (or that are there and I just missed)?
posted by safetyfork at 8:34 AM on June 3, 2005

I'd definitely be in for this as long as it was kept to postcard sized and small-scale (meaning, I didn't have to make too many separate art-things)

I'd be more than willing to help with scanning and/or hosting if necessary.
posted by ITheCosmos at 9:33 AM on June 3, 2005

IN ON THIS. (plz wrap my postcard in $5 bills plz thnx)
posted by naxosaxur at 9:55 AM on June 3, 2005

Please count me in. Lovely idea. Thanks.
posted by verysleeping at 12:09 PM on June 3, 2005

I'm in too.
posted by cali at 12:39 PM on June 3, 2005

me too--great idea. Why not make it 5" x 7" or smaller?
posted by amberglow at 1:18 PM on June 3, 2005

Sure, sure.
posted by me3dia at 1:33 PM on June 3, 2005

I love the idea of exchanging pictures.

Every couple of weeks or so, someone could come up with a theme, and people could exchange drawings about whatever it is.

So what do we need? Just a list of names? Then we jumble the list and X sends a pic to Y and Y sends a pic to X, etc? Or does A send to B who sends to C who sends to D etc etc, round-robin back to the beginning?

Writers: take a simple picture or scan and put a poem or bit of prose over it in Sharpy marker. Photographers can play too. EH?!

Also, is anyone interested in a forwarded scrapbook? Take a cheap notebook, draw on one page, send it (media mail rate = easily less than $1) to the next person who does the same, ad infinitum?

Heck, let's do all these ideas. It'll make us draw and be creative.

This is the absolute #1 thing I love about the 'Net: just playing creatively, exchanging ideas, tossing the ball back and forth, collaborating, goofing around, improvising on a theme or riffing on nearly-no-theme at all. Sometimes things really take off into the fantastic, but at the minimum it's always good fun.


(It's how animals learn, and they're smart enough to keep playing even when they grow up, heh.)
posted by Shane at 2:03 PM on June 3, 2005

i'd like to join/play (wince) too.
i'd be happy even if there were no theme at all - just mail stuff out. but i would like to receive something in return (don't like the idea of sending everything to one person).
posted by andrew cooke at 2:57 PM on June 3, 2005

although the idea that people only send stuff to cd swaps etc when they can do it via work kind of freaks me out. is that just amazing cheapness or is there some kind of weird logistics involved? cos i don't much trust interrobang to post stuff to chile.
posted by andrew cooke at 2:59 PM on June 3, 2005

Actually, where I used to live, I wasn't anywhere near a post office, so I never had stamps. That was the main problem. Here, I can just take things to the mail room at my job, they they give me a bill at the end of the month for how much it cost.

And I would post stuff to Chile, or anywhere else in the world. It can't cost more than a couple of bucks.

So, it sounds like a couple of people are willing to moderate this thing. Can we get someone to set up some kind of simple way to get everyone's addresses to each other, and to create sets?
posted by interrobang at 3:04 PM on June 3, 2005

I think we should have a default thing too, where every single person sends a piece to the organizer or someone as an official repository--we could actually print the total or something.
posted by amberglow at 3:56 PM on June 3, 2005

ok, sorry. in a foul mood today (with people here, anyways).
posted by andrew cooke at 4:04 PM on June 3, 2005

ok, quick before it scrolls off the main page....

send your mefi name [and if you want, your real name] and postal address to:

mefimailswap AT

We will start there. I'll try to sort into groups that have an equal ratio US/non-US to make mailing not too onerous for anyone. Once that's done, I'll use all the assembled mailing addresses to send out a quick request to see if anyone wants to help with notification but I think it will be easy. If anyone wants to co-mod, email my real address [in my profile] and I'll send out the password and we can share. Here is what I am thinking

- 5x7 inches [roughly 12.5 cm x 17.5 cm ish] max and basically flat
- groups of 3-5, depending on how many people sign up [that okay?]
- each person can either upload an image to Flickr, email one to the gmail account and I'll do it, or have the recipient do it if they don't have a scanner/camera [tag: mefimailswap]
- theme....? I don't care terribly much about this, anyone else want to offer a suggestion?
- FIRST DEADLINE: how about July 15th? roughly a month and a week? I'll make groups up in the next 10 days. I'd do it sooner, but the 4th of July is sort of big around here, hard to get things done.
- anyone has to agree in principle to be okay with sending at least one or two international, even if you're sending from Australia to elsewhere it shouldn't run you more than $5-7AUS max and for most people it will be more like less than $5USD
- bookmark this thread for updates until there is another place to chitchat.

If it works okay, we can keep the list and shuffle it another way and do swaps with different sets of people but the same overall group later on.

what say ye?
posted by jessamyn at 6:28 PM on June 3, 2005

Count me in...I'll send you my address.

theme suggestions:

"morning, summer"


or in honor of he who suggested:

posted by ?! at 9:17 PM on June 3, 2005

I think I want to do this... But I'm still not clear on how many pieces we are doing. I'm positive I could get one done, but not so sure about more. Also, a general note/question: mail to/from the U.S. takes forever here, but to the UlK, for example, it's pretty fast (relatively). I don't know if it would be better to have EU people mailing each other if there are enough of 'em.
posted by taz at 10:40 PM on June 3, 2005

count me in
posted by helvetica at 1:21 PM on June 4, 2005

I'm sending my address in. Thanks for moderating, jessamyn.
posted by interrobang at 3:16 PM on June 4, 2005

This rocks. I'm so in.
posted by Dreama at 5:13 AM on June 5, 2005

The server was coughing and wheezing yesterday in the midst of this post (before I left for the day at least) which I still think is a point worth clarifying, though many of us are probably in no matter what:

I think we need to clarify the making and mailing process to ensure that people know if they're signing on for doing:

A) one piece per unit of time and exchanging it, OR
B) multiples for a group of people and passing those all on per unit of time.

I read both interrobang and shane as variations on one piece per unit of time; but it seems like there are suggestions on the table that imply multiple pieces being sent out per unit of time. This is the one area where I think Jessamyn's statements are a little ambiguous (all others are clear and sound good).

I prefer one piece/mailing per unit of time no matter how it's exchanged. I'm still in if it is decided we send multiples. I think it's good to be clear on this particular point because the decision has monetary and reproduction implications that might be important for some folks.
posted by safetyfork at 5:23 AM on June 5, 2005

"blue" is a good theme, if we need a theme. nice and vague, but some constraints to push against, and metafilter related.
posted by andrew cooke at 4:18 PM on June 5, 2005

Seconding "blue".
posted by interrobang at 4:30 PM on June 5, 2005

Sounds good to me.
posted by maryh at 4:52 PM on June 5, 2005

ok, how about one piece per unit of time since some people seem to care about this and others seem to be in for anything? Time can be along the order of monthly perhaps?

So.... this theme will be, um .... blue?

And I'll send people "mail buddies" to swap with?

And either the sender or the recipient should try to scan/photograph their item?

And we can share them via a Flickr group [and images can be mailed to me or other helpers if you don't have a Flickr account or don't want your piece linked to it]?

And I have the addresses going into a gmailbox and I'm sorting them by UK/US+CAN/AUS/INT and I'll send out pairings in the next week or so?

If there are big questions or big issues with this method, post here. If you have small issues feel free to email or IM me.
posted by jessamyn at 6:53 PM on June 5, 2005

Sounds good on all fronts, jessamyn. Maybe we can divide into bigger swapsets once there is enough interest or more people involved? How many people have responded to you?
posted by interrobang at 8:04 PM on June 5, 2005

hey, don't knock "blue" - it was good enough for jarman, kieslowski, besson and beinex.
(ok, so the last was only blue in translation, and perhaps not in the same league, but i was a young student...)
posted by andrew cooke at 8:34 PM on June 5, 2005

It all sounds fab! Even the blue.
posted by safetyfork at 8:08 AM on June 6, 2005

Okay, I'm good with "blue," and I'm sending my info to Jessamyn.

Is that all I need to do for now? Besides a piece of art?

I guess I'll do something 5x7 inches [roughly 12.5 cm x 17.5 cm ish], I'll end up exchanging it with someone, then someone will post all of them eventually online?

Is this the basic plan for now?

posted by Shane at 11:00 AM on June 8, 2005

That's my plan, Shane. I'm waiting to hear from Jessamyn.

(Two blue-related little postcards done already, by the way. I can't wait for this project to start.)
posted by interrobang at 6:11 PM on June 8, 2005

Right now I've got I think 12-14 people, I'll send an email out to everyone today for a heads up. I think we'll do one-to-one this time and if people feel they can expand, perhaps more next time around.
posted by jessamyn at 8:28 AM on June 10, 2005

okay this is the email I just sent out
Dear Mail Art Swappers,

There are sixteen people signed up to swap mail this time around. Theme is BLUE, to be an okay get-started theme.

Mailed item should be 5x7 inches [12.5 cm x 17.5 cm approx.] max, and flat [save for paint etc, one person requires flatflatlflat, I'll include that info to their buddy] as opposed to 3D. Try to make the addressing as clear as you can, otherwise it's a pretty free-form assignment.

For reference, the mail swap thread URL is

Please feel free to use it for follow-up unless you need to get ahold of me directly.

If you have access to a scanner/camera, please upload a picture of your item before you send it off to Flickr with the tag 'mefimailswap" or email it to me and I'll upload it. Please let me know what Creative Commons license you'd like on the picture, and what credit you'd like, if you do this. If you don't have access to a scanner/camera, please let your buddy know so that they can scan/photograph it.

I've got everyone's addresses in this gmail account. There is one UK, one international, the rest are US, fyi. I'll be sending everyone their buddy addresses either today or this weekend. I'll include your mailing address & your buddy's mailing address & both your emails so you can follow up with each other if you need to.

For reference, we'll be doing one-to-one swapping this time to try out the mechanism, possibly expanding if people feel that's okay next go-round.
I'll follow-up here once I've sent the buddy addresses out. Next day or two.
posted by jessamyn at 8:52 AM on June 10, 2005

andrew: I must admit I wasn't thinking of mefi when I suggested "blue." I was watching Kieslowski's film Trois couleurs: Bleu again while posting. I'll have to make sure my card has nothing to do with the film.

jessamyn: will this thread stay open through the project -- longer than the usual cut off point for discussion?
posted by ?! at 9:03 AM on June 10, 2005

While I don't mind uploading to flickr before posting, I wouldn't want to see what I would be receiving beforehand, as I would like to be surprised on it's arrival. I guess this only means I'll be holding back on the temptation to peek for awhile.
posted by skarmj at 11:09 AM on June 10, 2005

While I don't mind uploading to flickr before posting, I wouldn't want to see what I would be receiving beforehand, as I would like to be surprised on it's arrival.

Oh hey good point, I'll send an "upload now" email afterwards, howabout, and I'll include that information with the buddy mailings this weekend. You can upload the images and just not tag them until then possibly.

I figure we're got this thread for, what, 20 more days. I guess we'll need a wiki or something for communication after that time. Suggestions?
posted by jessamyn at 4:16 PM on June 10, 2005

I think we're just going to have to agree (if we really want to--which I do) not to look at the flickr site until everyone's gotten their postcards.

I'm looking forward to the surprise, like skarmj. I really don't want this to be at all complicated, so I'm going to avoid the flickr stuff until later--aside from my own image-uploading.

If we get more people on board for this, it'd be nice to have semi-regular metatalk updates about the photoset. It might convince more people to do this.
posted by interrobang at 12:30 AM on June 11, 2005

ok, everyone whose email I had has gotten the address of their swapee. Please let me know if something is somehow amiss.
posted by jessamyn at 7:59 PM on June 14, 2005

Is anyone else past their deadline? I hope to mail mine tomorrow...
posted by Shane at 7:41 PM on June 20, 2005

Oh, hell, nevermind... I just re-read the e-mail:

Please try to get your item in the mail by the 4th of July.

I guess I'm just used to being late for everything.
posted by Shane at 7:44 PM on June 20, 2005

Sent, several days ago.

Several of them.

Still no images under the Flickr tag "mefimailswap", though.
posted by interrobang at 7:41 PM on June 23, 2005

I got mine today! Coincidentally, today is also the day I'll be taking the one I'm sending to the post office. They could not be more different.
posted by cali at 12:57 PM on June 24, 2005

I was feeling somewhat guilty about taking so long, but now I don't. It's on its way into the mail. I had to munge out the identifying info, since I prefer not to have my name and address posted.
posted by theora55 at 9:57 AM on June 28, 2005

Mine came today! Thanks, cali!
posted by interrobang at 3:34 PM on June 30, 2005

i got home to find mine waiting for me - thanks stephen (not sure what username that would be...!)
posted by andrew cooke at 4:08 PM on July 2, 2005

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