Christopher Skinner, a UK graphic artist, blogger (Lestaret), bookbinder and dabbler in many creative graphic outlets, recently introduced me to the concept of Mail Art. He is a member of IUOMA – aka the International Union Of Mail Artists, a community of people who enjoy sending and receiving visually interesting stuff through the mail.
When I commented recently on his blog about his fab contributions to the mail art community he kindly offered to make me a piece of mail art. Being fellow dog lovers (he has recently acquired a Whippet and I have a Portuguese Water Dog) he said he would create something inspired by dogs. His work is quirky, original, inspiring, incredibly detailed and created with meticulous care.
I had forgotten how exciting is is in the digital age to receive something other than bills, junk and corporate communication in the mail and Christopher did not disappoint. Here is what he sent me:
Inspired by his walks with his new canine companion I received this small hard bound ‘field notes’ guide which opened ingeniously to describe one of his local walks in such detail that I could (if I lived nearby) have retraced his steps precisely.The cover felt like a brown woven sackcloth and inside he included moody black and white photos which perfectly complemented the style of the book and of the flat, East Anglian landscape.
The cover opened as a regular book would, however due to the clever construction of the book from a single, un-cut sheet of heavy paper, the rest of the ‘pages’ were joined together on different edges and the book had to be re-orientated each time to read them.
Coincidentally I have been reading a book by David Jury called Graphic Design before Graphic Designers (highly recommended) and discovered that in the 19th century, to save money cutting and binding pages, pocket size booklets called chapbooks were produced this way, as a means of getting popular folklore and writing to the masses.
When fully opened out the book reforms itself into the single sheet of paper from which it was created. It was also particularly relevant to me as I spent a year with my dog researching and writing a dog walking guide to my local area (Buckinghamshire, England), so it bought back many memories of the process of documenting the walks.
Due Christopher’s characteristic attention to detail and originality, this was a charming and personal piece of mail art. Thank you! A reply is now on my to-do list!