There’s hardly a better canvas to practice your art, calligraphy, and lettering skills on than an envelope! Envelopes’ practical, temporary nature makes them great for trying out new techniques and exercising old favorites. In this post, you’ll find 12 artistic envelope ideas to fire you up for making your own mail art!
1. Be Bold with Your Illustrations
It’s okay to let an illustration dominate your envelope! Try dedicating the space on the left to an artistic element — like this flourished bunny — and use the remaining space on the right for the address.
2. Ditch the Dip Pen
Many artistic envelopes make good use of a dip pen. That doesn’t mean, however, that you have to know how to use a dip pen in order to create eye-catching mail art! Try experimenting with different lettering styles, graphic elements, and a gel pen.
3. Embrace Decoupage
If you don’t like to draw, there’s another way to grace your envelopes with a dose of creativity: decoupage. This is also a great technique to use if you’re short on time! Just cut out your illustrated element, glue it on to the envelope, write out the address, and the envelope is ready.
4. Give the Return Address a Chance to Shine
If you prefer to put your return address on the front of your envelopes, try adding some embellishment! Emphasis is normally placed on the recipient’s address, so giving the return address some love is a surprising way to switch things up.
5. Don’t Ignore the Back of Your Envelope
The front of an envelope usually takes center stage. Try switching things up by keeping the front of the envelope plain …
Then, make the back of your envelope pop with a cool illustration or flourish!
6. Use Ombré Lettering
I love using ombré lettering to make a recipient’s name stand out on an artistic envelope! The trick is to write in pencil using faux calligraphy first, then fill in the empty downstrokes with watercolor or colored pencil.
7. Use Doodles to Fill Up Negative Space
There’s a time and a place for clean and professional-looking envelopes. Some days, though, you just want an envelope that expresses your creativity with lots of different doodles!
8. Coordinate Colors
Try coordinating your envelope or calligraphy colors with the predominant color(s) of your postage stamps! Be sure to pick out your stamps before you write, then choose your ink(s) accordingly.
9. Take Inspiration from the Season
If you’re at a loss for mail art themes, look no further than the season that we’re in! You can use themes from an upcoming holiday to cobble something together. (For those in the US, the Fourth of July would be a good theme right now.)
10. Make a Messy Sketch
This hurried sketch of a perfume bottle features the recipient’s address! If you can incorporate an address into your messy sketch like this, all the better.
11. Use Watercolor Calligraphy
Watercolor calligraphy is a unique technique that will leave your recipient wondering how you achieved such a cool effect! You can learn how to write with all different colors of watercolor in the A Video Crash Course on Watercolor Calligraphy tutorial.
12. Vary Your Mediums
You don’t have to stick to one medium per envelope — feel free to experiment! The envelope below was created using felt-tip pens, a dip pen, and graphite pencils.
I hope that you enjoyed this artistic envelope collection, and that it fires up your creativity in some way! If you’re concerned about using non-waterproof elements on envelopes, check out the How to Waterproof Paper post. You may notice that I love to use a lot of postage stamps; if you’re curious about stamp collages, see the How to Make a Stunning Postage Stamp Collage post. Remember that you don’t have to use the techniques above on envelopes. They would work just as well in a sketchbook, bullet journal, or DIY greeting card!
I know that many people are hesitant about the post office’s reaction to artistic envelopes. Try to follow the advice in the 10 Mail Art Tips article, and your envelope will have a good chance of being delivered! Thanks very much for reading this post, and we’ll reconvene on Friday with a neat tutorial.