• 12 Inspiring Mail Art Ideas

    In a creative rut? The mail art ideas showcased in this blog post will inspire you to dazzle someone’s mailbox with innovative lettering, clever illustrations, and pretty postage.

    12 Artistic Envelope Ideas | The Postman's Knock

    Transforming an ordinary envelope into mail art offers an excellent way for calligraphy and lettering artists of all levels to practice their craft. The simple, transient nature of envelopes makes them an ideal medium for testing new techniques or revisiting favorite ones. Today, we’ll explore 12 artistic mail art ideas designed to get you excited about sending something beautiful in the mail.

    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. (A flourished marinera dancer would also look amazing.)

    Free Printable "Flourish by Number" Bunny | The Postman's Knock
    You can learn how to make this flourished bunny in the Free Printable “Flourish by Number” Bunny packet.

    2. Ditch the Pointed Pen

    Many artistic envelopes make good use of pointed pen calligraphy and lettering. That doesn’t mean, however, that you have to know how to wield a pointed pen in order to create eye-catching mail art! Try experimenting with different lettering styles, graphic elements, and everyday pens.

    Four Simple Envelope Embellishments: Part II | The Postman's Knock
    This geometric envelope layout was created with a white Gelly Roll pen (affiliate link). You can find a tutorial over how to make it in the Four Simple Envelope Embellishments: Part II post!

    3. Embrace Decoupage

    If you don’t have time 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/s, glue it onto the envelope, write out the address, and the envelope is ready.

    This envelope looks fantastic with a few strategically-placed vintage roses.
    If you choose to decoupage, make sure that everything is glued down securely. Otherwise, post office machines may inadvertently catch a loose edge and tear the illustration off! This envelope features roses from the Illustrated Roses Templates for Tracing/Collage.

    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.

    12 Artistic Envelope Ideas | The Postman's Knock
    You can click here to find a tutorial that details how to make a return address like this one.

    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 …

    12 Artistic Envelope Ideas | The Postman's Knock
    The front of this envelope features nice and simple Janet Style calligraphy.

    Then, make the back of your envelope pop with a cool illustration or flourish!

    12 Artistic Envelope Ideas | The Postman's Knock
    You can learn how to draw a medallion like this one in the Simple Calligraphy Medallion tutorial.

    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.

    12 Artistic Envelope Ideas | The Postman's Knock
    Check out the Quick Ombré Lettering Mail Art Tutorial to learn how to achieve an effect like this!

    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. To that end, draw flowers, branches, dots, whatever!

    12 Artistic Envelope Ideas | The Postman's Knock
    The calligraphy and the doodles on this envelope were created using iron gall ink. Yellow gouache lends a funky pop of color.

    8. Coordinate Colors

    Try coordinating your envelope or calligraphy colors with the predominant color(s) of your postage stamps. Choose your stamps before you write, then pick your ink(s) accordingly.

    12 Artistic Envelope Ideas | The Postman's Knock
    I used yellow gouache to color coordinate this Flourish Formal address with the Jimi Hendrix stamps.

    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.)

    12 Artistic Envelope Ideas | The Postman's Knock
    It won’t surprise you to learn that this envelope was created in October! Instructions for making the spider can be found in the Not Your Average Calligraphy Drills: Garden Edition packet.

    10. Make a Messy Sketch

    I love the look of quick, contrast-filled sketches. This fashionable 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.

    12 Artistic Envelope Ideas | The Postman's Knock
    If you utilize watercolor in your messy sketch, try using your finger to flick excess watercolor from your paintbrush onto the envelope. This will give the piece an off-the-cuff, effortless look.

    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 How to Create Watercolor Calligraphy tutorial.

    Mail Art with Kaitlin Style Calligraphy
    All four of these envelopes were created at a coffee shop (read more here). Watercolor calligraphy offers a great on-the-go technique!

    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.

    12 Artistic Envelope Ideas | The Postman's Knock
    In addition to utilizing different mediums, this envelope has different lettering styles. The George Style lettering of the name pairs well with the Kaitlin Style calligraphed address written underneath it.

    I hope that you enjoyed these fun mail art ideas! Here are a few tips for success:

    Rent Check Mail Art Envelopes: A Collection | The Postman's Knock
    This was a seasonal “rent check envelope” that I made one December. My main tip for creating envelopes that successfully get delivered is to make sure the zip code is crystal clear!

    I know that many people are hesitant about the post office’s reaction to artistic envelopes. Try to follow the advice in the From Creation to Destination: Mastering Mail Art Delivery article, and your envelope will have a good chance of being delivered.

    Happy mailing,