intro terminology publications post links artist links country links postscript
Toast Postes Artistamp Archive
Preface - a cautionary tale of sorts:
Like other neophyte mail artists, most probably, I had no intentions to create an archive. Early years of mailart participation routinely found me stuffing received artworks, in addition to those of my own creation, into envelopes and passing them along to others in the network. Through personal experience, I had become a believer in a philosophical viewpoint that, if allowed, the material world will own your spirit. But, as often happens over time, I developed a weakness for some of the creations that were sent my way... especially anything that resembled a stamp. So, I started with “the” artistamp box, through which I would often happily rummage in efforts to provide rainy day inspiration.
Before drastically downsizing from a spacious studio, I had been afforded so much storage space that the thought did not strike me that an accumulated mass was growing to any great extent. How unobservant can one be? Boxing, moving, storing, retrieving, unboxing, sorting, cataloging, researching, reboxing, labeling, hauling back to storage - well, you get the picture. The laborious process had revealed an alternate universe... one which deeply encoded some rather dark gray-matter imagery and at times, invoked the “cranky guy muttering to himself” cliché. One box had turned into manymany and this morphological materialism revealed the truth that “my” archive... owned me to some real degree. Yeeees, Master.
"Why go through all this obvious madness?”... (we can hear people ask one another). I can easily imagine that other mail artists have faced (or will *soon*), the line of questions that I recently asked myself. While a number of those queries have been left unanswered, especially those which dwell upon >disposition<, I did conclude that the archive was probably important enough that the details of its contents should be shared and the many artist contributors acknowledged with genuine gratitude for their generous and open inclusion... an archival pre-mortem, thank you masked crocodile, if you will.
A number of artistamp producers have been “sent” in recent years. We all must “return to sender” eventually, so I accept that certainty. However, if the artform is to have any historical relevance, the state and content of individual archives should be considered. If not to be consigned to the aethereality, I’m suggesting that part of the responsibility for documenting lies directly upon the receiver.
It would be exceedingly difficult for anyone, other than the receiver, to complete a task like this without a great deal of background research. Remember that fact if you are counting on “others” to accurately catalog for you. The result might be the something akin to: 205 envelopes and contents from various people in Box 1. Can you feel the enlightenment? Yes, perhaps that task is counterproductive to individual creativity, but the absence of that effort is a distinct loss for group creativity. Although I encourage you to at least consider the task, I respect the individual choices we must make and the priorities that rule our lives. It’s your decision.
Although almost all “history” is to some degree fictitious, having little access to the contextual fabric that actual life experience provides, makes historical observation and chronology tough to document. So, I've accepted this challenge, even though it's a bit daunting to provide a result that sheds objective light. My attempt to keep opinion and emotion at an almost wholly non-existent level has been a very difficult struggle from the start. Try it... you'll see what I mean.
Since I'm one who rarely sleeps more than a few hours each day, most of my own contributions have been little more than a fun (okay, silly, if you insist) way to pass quiet hours of the night. My personal eccentricities notwithstanding, some of the individual artworks in this archive, and especially those which reflect group interaction within the realm of the “mailart network”, may reach an authentic level of significance.
The extent to which I believe these often ephemeral creations have had or will have impact on anything of permanence, must wait for a future generation to more closely examine, ponder and draw conclusions. I'm too close to the subject to provide the kind of objectivity needed to approach any definitive analysis. Yeah, I know... there are more than a few who readily stand upon their respective soapboxes and make grand gestures towards the importance of the mailart world’s specific contributions to art and to its related social impact in general. However, I can only guess... and offer a bit of evidence. In doing so, I hope to have repaid some of the debt owed to those who, over time, so willingly shared their art with me. I can state the absolute truth that, at times... it’s been fun.
This mail was mostly a wonder to receive and has been a revelation to revisit. Only after sorting and cataloging these bodies of artworks, have I now gained any real measure and appreciation for the tremendous level of individual artist growth over time, that this archive so readily evidences. Thank you. The pleasure has been real.
The dadayadayadadada: There is an ongoing debate as to what defines an "artistamp". Although I am not one of those who demand adherence to a particular range of inclusion, I have a pretty good idea as to how I personally define the term, and some of the catalog descriptions reflect that viewpoint.
With neither issuing authority nor denomination, some of the works of the following artists fall outside of what I can determine is a commonly accepted artistamp definition. Having some philatelic background, I have personally concluded that these artworks have a more closely approximation to a definition of "sticker". That interpretation is neither meant to be derogatory nor demeaning. I can not begin to share how much I enjoy most all the artworks sent to my doorstep and state unequivocally that I am NOT the arbiter who will answer the "what is and what is not an artistamp" question.
As I have done for myself, I leave that personal conclusion up to each to happily(?) reach for themselves... especially the individual creators of the works. Call them what you will. That determination is your choice to freely make. And, as to whether they are artistamps or artist stamps or artist's stamps... I*just*don't*care. I've chosen one, but I may change my mind tomorrow. Although we need an ability to effectively communicate at times, there's just so little real significance in the differences to me... semantic quibbling often equates to creative death. Again, it's your choice.
If you are reading this sentence, what you are about to view will not be a complete catalog of the archive. I will update as time avails itself for the task and provide a date for each addition. When complete, I’ll state the fact. I am attempting to catalog an entire receipt of an artist's correspondances before adding them to the archive list. You wouldn't believe how maddening this has been, as I continue to find more stored artwork and boxes that have been insufficiently labeled or entirely mislabeled.
Do NOT repeat my stupid mistakes!
There are approximately 200-300 hundred artists, so be patient... or if patience lies outside your skill set, let me know what you want to see *immediately* (ha). Most of the archive has been roughly sorted... just not cataloged as yet. I am listing by year created if one can be determined (postmarks help sometimes). No attempt to chronologically sort within each year has been made. That task would include too much guesswork... and future investigation just might provide employment for some art historian (or other obsessive/compulsive type).
This will not be a fancy website, but as data is only as useful as it can be easily accessed, links by post, artist name and country/region have been provided to help make direct navigation to individuals easier. Hopefully, I’ve linked all correctly, but will accommodate changes that you note.
An attempt has been made to describe the contents of this archive in ways that bring some reliable and consistent visual references to mind. Please note that this process almost always leads to misinterpretation, and that problem especially applies to the uninitiated. Only the creators of the individual works can have final say as to the proper description of their respective artworks. Errors on my part are unintentional and interpretation may often be only fractionally accurate due to insufficient objectivity on my part. Although attempting to establish a basis for artistamp description, brevity almost always limits accuracy. The hope is that other artistamp archivists might be encouraged to catalog as well and the language that we use for that task will evolve into useful common descriptors.
I realize that a picture can also lead to misinterpretation, however, detailed visual representation still remains the best way to communicate artwork. Unfortunately, my small army of paid staff workers resolutely decline to shoulder the task of scanning or photographing the entirety. I’ve heard talk of strike. Neither can I, nor do I have any desire to, physically disseminate the archive for viewing. Please stay (digitally) real. After the cataloging has been completed, I may add some selected scans of individual envelopes and stamps. I definitely will for my own artwork, but I’ll be adding them after including everyone else. Those producers who note entries for artistamps/envelopes they created, but failed to document for themselves, please contact me with your needs and I will try to provide selective scans. Be kind.
The ain'ts: Visitors may be welcome to view the archive... if intentions are serious. The same applies to inquiries. This part of my life cycle has a "Wasted Time Exclusion Clause" in the contract (closely related to the "Sanity Clause"... and don't tell me there ain't no Sanity Clause), so this is neither an automatic nor an open ended invitation and I may rescind the option at any time... for any reason. Sorry, I’ve been dark for nearly a decade and have enjoyed my Baronian period of obscurity, so this may sound like I'm getting my grump on. It ain't nec·es·sar·i·ly so.
As this site’s intrinsic design is geared to be mostly educational, I have provided some links with the intent to help better describe the artform and provide direction to the work of individual artists. These quick connects are by no means complete and should only be seen as starting points for more comprehensive researches. If able, please provide better links and I will edit. To speed the process when rebrowsing this catalog, remember which update you last viewed.
And finally... though we never reached a confluency during our travels through the mail, a special thanks goes to Ginny Lloyd and her Artistamp Museum blog for inspiring me to ignore the holes in my head, throw sheets to the wind, but trust that I could lick my inertia and stick with this stamp project, by gum.
... who says time travel is impossible?
intro terminology publications post links artist links country links postscript