• Three Fabulous Mail Art Tutorials

    This blog post introduces three innovative mail art tutorials that will help you transform envelopes into unique pieces of art. Each envelope has a unique theme, complete with different lettering/illustration styles and mediums. Get ready to feel inspired!

    Three Envelope Art Mini-Tutorials | The Postman's Knock
    In today’s blog post, you’ll find three mail art tutorials featuring varied themes and lettering styles.

    If, for some unfathomable reason, I had to choose just one type of project to do for the rest of my life, it would be mail art. Each envelope serves as a unique canvas that’s focused on creatively enhancing the recipient’s name and address. Mail art isn’t just about sending a message; it’s about crafting a personal piece of art that connects people across distances, making each piece a meaningful keepsake. Today, I’ll walk you through three different mail art tutorials that are designed to spark your inspiration.

    Tutorial #1: Banner, Lettering, and Swirls Mail Art

    Three Envelope Art Mini-Tutorials | The Postman's Knock

    This mail art concept goes to show that sometimes more is more. It features flourished florals, four different lettering styles, a banner, and a maximalist postage stamp collage. To get started, you’ll need a few basic supplies:

    1. Write Flourishes and Add Postage

    Begin by drawing “Telephone Cord and Flower” calligraphy flourishes in the upper left and bottom right corners of the envelope. (To learn how to do this, see tutorial #3 in the Three Simple Calligraphy Flourishes article.) Next, use an assortment of stamps to create a stamp collage; preferably, the stamps should correspond with the color of the envelope. Once you have created your stamp collage, use your white pencil to draw two parallel wavy guidelines, and write “PLEASE DELIVER TO:” between them, as pictured below.

    Three Envelope Art Mini-Tutorials | The Postman's Knock
    Try writing your “PLEASE DELIVER TO” in Roman Style lettering.

    2. Add a Banner and the Recipient’s Name

    Next, draw a banner around “PLEASE DELIVER TO:”. Then, use your white pencil to sketch out the recipient’s name. For the envelope below, I didn’t use a specific lettering style: I just wrote the first name in cursive bubble letters, then I wrote out the last name in print.

    Three Envelope Art Mini-Tutorials | The Postman's Knock

    Now, write over your pencil guidelines with ink. If you drew bubble letters like mine, you can trace along the outside of them, then leave a space and fill in the inside.

    Three Envelope Art Mini-Tutorials | The Postman's Knock
    Filling in the inside of your letters (while preserving the border) gives your lettering a playful, retro look.

    3. Add the Recipient’s Address

    Finish up by writing the recipient’s address under their name in any calligraphy style that you like. I chose Kaitlin Style because it is whimsical and pretty.

    Three Envelope Art Mini-Tutorials | The Postman's Knock

    Don’t forget to add your return address on the back! I like to match return addresses with the calligraphy style used on the front, so I used Kaitlin Style calligraphy here again.

    Three Envelope Art Mini-Tutorials | The Postman's Knock
    If you’re right-handed, you might find it easiest to create right-leaning script with an oblique pen. I switched to a Brause EF66 nib to write the calligraphy for this project.

    Once you’re happy with how your envelope looks, treat it with MicroGlaze (or the finishing agent of your choice). Remember, Bleed Proof White ink is essentially an opaque watercolor, so it’s a good idea to do what you can to protect it against smearing and moisture.

    Tutorial #2: Botanical Explosion Mail Art

    Three Envelope Art Mini-Tutorials | The Postman's Knock

    This mail art is cheerful and interesting to look at! It’s a great piece to tackle when you want to take thirty minutes for yourself and just “zone out” to a great playlist or podcast, paintbrush in hand. Here’s what you’ll need in order to make it:

    1. Write the Recipient’s Address in a Banner

    Start by drawing a banner in pencil. After you draw the banner, draft out the recipient’s name and address in pencil. You can write in any style that you want; in the photo below, I opted for Janet Style calligraphy with a little bit of Sans Serif.  Once you have written out the name and address in pencil, trace over everything with your waterproof ink.

    Three Envelope Art Mini-Tutorials | The Postman's Knock
    It’s important to use waterproof ink for this project because the banner will be exposed to moisture as you paint around it. My go-to waterproof ink is Ziller Soot Black.

    2. Add Watercolor Florals

    Now, break out the watercolors! Paint florals, leaves, and dots all around the banner. You don’t have to paint in a specific style; just let yourself paint whatever you want to.

    Three Envelope Art Mini-Tutorials | The Postman's Knock
    Felicita Sala‘s bold painting style inspired the florals for this mail art.

    3. Add Yellow to the Banner

    After you’re finished painting your florals, add a sunny yellow tone to the edges of your banner. Once everything looks good to you, then the envelope is ready to send!

    Three Envelope Art Mini-Tutorials | The Postman's Knock

    As with the Banner, Lettering, and Swirls envelope concept, it’s a good idea to finish this mail art off with MicroGlaze or a similar protectant. Otherwise, your watercolor might get smeared. Try, too, to find a postage stamp that complements rather than detracts from the floral design. You want the focus to be on all those pretty flowers!

    Tutorial #3: Landmark Mail Art

    Three Envelope Art Mini-Tutorials | The Postman's Knock

    This mail art utilizes a drawing of a landmark to make for a compelling and intriguing piece. The landmark that I chose for my envelope is Hearts on a Swing, a bronze sculpture that is a staple of the Pearl Street Mall here in Boulder. While I chose to depict a sculpture, you can apply this technique to almost anything: buildings, vegetation, bridges, etc. As long as the landmark reflects the recipient’s city in some way, the artwork will make sense. To make this mail art, you’ll need the following supplies:

    1. Draw the Landmark

    Begin by finding a reference photo of your chosen landmark online and sketching it with a crowquill nib and black waterproof ink. If you are intimidated by the sketching process (or need to expedite it), you can always print out the photo you find online, insert it into the envelope, and use a light box or a bright window to trace over the photo. That’s the route that I opted to go here, thus the absence of a pencil draft.

    Three Envelope Art Mini-Tutorials | The Postman's Knock
    You’ll need to dilute your waterproof ink with some water to ensure that it plays nice with your crowquill nib. Learn about how to dilute your ink here.

    You can add shadows by crisscrossing tiny lines; the closer together those lines are, the darker the shadow will be. Lines that are farther apart denote light shadows. This shading technique is called “crosshatching“.

    Three Envelope Art Mini-Tutorials | The Postman's Knock
    If you’re new to the concept of crosshatching, you can learn about how to do it in this tutorial.

    2. Write the Recipient’s Address

    Once you have finished drawing and shading your illustration, it’s time to add some calligraphy! I opted to use Janet Style calligraphy in the photo below to write out the recipient’s name and address. The elegance of Janet Style complements the sculpture’s beauty.

    Three Envelope Art Mini-Tutorials | The Postman's Knock
    If you’re using an orderly calligraphy style to write your recipient’s address, it’s a good idea to make pencil guidelines.

    3. Add Color

    Finish up the mail art by painting a landmark. Watercolors are an excellent choice for adding color to the landmark art, but I actually used McCaffery’s inks in brown and green to mimic the real sculpture’s bronze tones. I love to use McCaffery’s inks in place of watercolors because they have a beautiful transparency to them.

    Three Envelope Art Mini-Tutorials | The Postman's Knock

    The main subject of this envelope is meant to be the landmark, so try not to go overboard with the postage. A simple pretty postage stamp should suffice! Know, too, that you don’t need to treat the envelope with MicroGlaze if you opt to use inks to add color to your illustration. If you use watercolor, however, applying a finish like MicroGlaze is a great idea.

    I hope that you enjoyed reading through these little tutorials and that you feel inspired to make some mail art! Remember that you can adapt these pieces to suit your personal style. Please feel free to modify the ideas in this post however you want to. Experiment with different envelopes, different colors, and different techniques. And, of course, know that if a recipient doesn’t come to mind right away, there’s someone at More Love Letters who could use a snail mail pick-me-up.