I'm inspired by all I experience. I believe most of us are like this. We all respond to what is around us in one form or another. In this world of letter writing I'm also inspired by those I correspond with. It can be something they say or do in their letters that can start the wheels in my head turning.
"When this happens I let it stew for
a bit to see what will develop."
In this case I already had Steampunk bubbling on the brain for weeks. (Google "Steampunk" images if you've never heard of it.) My creative imagination paired that with my correspondent. Then it stewed for a few more weeks until I had to put pencil to paper...
I hope this post will inspire you to go after the little ideas that won't go away. Nurture them, sketch them out... they can turn into the good stuff. Below is a bit of the process.
On two separate occasions I felt like getting some thoughts out onto paper. I sketched some thumbnails of the inner-workings for this particular style called: Steampunk. There were some things that had to be worked through.
The small thumbnail in the right image is the one that I chose to develop for the final. You can even see that while very tiny (2" tall), it's detailed because it was working for me.
You'll see below that I drew it out to-scale on tracing paper (because it allows more light to go through). Then with use of a lightbox I traced it onto the paper that would be my final envelope.
Next step was the inking in. (Even at this stage though, I found there were still things to be worked out that I hadn't in my study sketches.) I have a ton of ZIG Memory System fine markers. I really love them. I have no idea if they still make them anymore. I've had these forever. The ink is permanent and archival. For this piece I used #8, #5, and #3 sizes.
Once done with the drawing, I chose to use my ink dip-pen for the calligraphy. This can be a little scary when you've put so much time into a piece like this. Using loose ink can go oh-so-wrong. That's why you want to pencil in the address to take spelling and proportion off your stress-radar... the ink flow is enough to deal with. But at some point you have to just get on with it!
Don't take in any caffeine before doing this kind of work. This isn't the time for the jitters. Once my calligraphy was done I decided it all needed a little bit of depth. With some greyscale markers I added strategic strokes that helped give it a little more dimension.
My creation incorporated the postage in the design. The globe is the current international stamp (a new one is to be released next week!). I wanted it so bad for this design but alas, I had to get this letter in the post already. (No worries... I have something brewing for that stamp too!) The second stamp (penguins) is for the .22¢ fee called "nonmachinable". Supposedly, that means that the oblong direction of the envelope (portrait instead on landscape) makes it unable to go through the postal machine... more on this later. Hiding the stamp behind the goggles meant I had to cut away part of it. Boy, I'm really pushing the envelope now!
More often than not my work is highly detailed. I found that for this piece I had to focus hard to keep it simple. For art and layout like this you have to consider that you're going outside the postal guidelines set by most postal services. Most are guidelines though, not laws. It's not likely that you'll be hauled off by the postal police, but you are raising an eyebrow as your envelope travels to its destination. It could very well be an eyebrow of someone having a bad day. So do your best to choose your battles as wisely as you can and then cross your fingers.
Note: I weigh my letters at home and in special circumstances like this I use the USPS online calculator to make sure I'm getting things right. (I have an upcoming post on this). By chance when I posted my letter I asked the clerk to check it anyway.
Wouldn't you know it!... even though I had the extra .22¢ for the "nonmachinable fee" AND CLICKED on the "Odd shaped envelope" choice, by technicality it needed another .96¢ that the online calculator did not figure. Apparently designing it in portrait direction made TWO things happen: 1) it made it "nonmachinable"; and 2) at its height (6.4"h) it measured past the max height for 'letter' mail. It was no longer in the letter category. Max height for letters is 6.125", which I knew! I thought clicking that little "odd" option on the online calculator settled that, but not so.
Although I also had some art on the other side of my envelope, the .96¢ machine-postage-label fit. YUK! The clerk was nice enough to heed my concerns about there being no room on the front. I had done my homework and still there was a snafoo. You just have to do your best and move on. Your best has to be good enough. Stay happy.
Obviously only the partial address is shown below. You can see my trademark of placing something on its end (In this case, the word 'England' and my copyright in the key). I have been singing my work this way for years. I do that for my photographs too. I have followed through with this trademark in addressing my envelopes. Put yourself into your work. The letter after all is from you, not another artist.
Below you can see some of the tiny changes I made at final production. Like the spring above the globe and making the monkey's smile go off the edge completely. —He is Sir Steampunk Monkey of Manchester!
Don't forget, if you're doing "correspondence",.... what is the point of great art if you haven't put time into the letter itself? Don't let the art do all the talking. Give your recipient something to read and respond to. Just be yourself... you are a fascinating person. Go on!
Hello, I’m Nina, the maven behind the
IQS blog. I’m all about creativity (ya think?).
I work in several disciplines. So it's no surprise that the Art of Letter Writing would come knocking on my door. Smitten!
However, I did not want to simply add MailArt as a discipline to my website. Thus it became the IQS Blog within my site. And that is why there are TWO navigation menus. *Here’s a Tip: stick with the BLOG Menu in this Column. The main site menu will lead you astray into dark places where you will be screaming for help and no one will hear you.
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