Friday, December 31, 2010

Leif Parsons

Holding degrees in both philosophy and design, NYC-based Canadian artist Leif Parsons is known for his cleanly detailed illustration work for such companies as Poketo, LA Magazine and Dwell. His show "He looked at her, She looked at it, It looked back" at Wild Project in NYC is a demonstration of a completely different artistic facet, which features collage and spontaneous line-making. This is the style which he chose for his reply. You can view more of his illustration work here. In addition, I recommend taking some time to explore Leif's labyrinthine website.

Sent: "What's your favorite spot in New York City?"

Received: "here"

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Evah Fan & Brendan Monroe

Today's mail is from husband and wife couple Evah Fan and Brendan Monroe in Hägersten, Sweden. These two American artists met at their own gallery showing, shortly after graduating college (Pratt in NY and Art Center in Pasadena, respectively). Here is a great article from Fecal Face featuring a ton of great photos of their L.A studio back in 2007, two years before they moved to Sweden.

Brendan describes his work as "sort of eerie, but not scary, while also making something I think is fairly beautiful" while Evah refers to her primarily "travel-size" art as "scatter-brained fragments (formed) into some sort of naïve narrative". Both are wonderful and completely different, yet somehow complimentary. These two pieces arrived, stickered side-by-side to a piece of cardboard. After seeing them separately here, I feel like they are meant to be viewed together.


Received: Evah Fan

Received: Brendan Monroe

Monday, December 13, 2010

Words of wisdom from the inspiring Sheilah Beckett

Canadian artist Sheilah Beckett is one of the great female illustrators of the mid-century. Entirely self-taught, she became the first female illustrator at Charles E. Cooper, a highly respected advertising art agency in New York in the '40s and '50s. Today, at 97 years old, she is still drawing (with a Wacom tablet no less) and, in 2005, she published "The Six Wives of Henry VIII". Among her other published works are included several Little Golden Books, a series of Gilbert & Sullivan illustrated songbooks and a paperback printing of Voltaire's 'Candide'. If you are curious to learn more about the career of Sheilah Beckett, I recommend this four part post from Leif Peng's wonderful illustration blog.

I first discovered Sheilah's art when I picked up a copy of John Fowles' Cinderella (Little Brown & Co., 1976) at my favorite Half-Price Books in Redmond several years ago. Upon opening it, I discovered the sweetest most elegant black and white line drawings I'd ever seen in a published work. I have studied her use of patterns and her characters' gestures endlessly (I especially love the way she draws hands) and frequently find myself referencing this book in the same way one references an anatomy drawing text.

So, even though her card came back without art, I love that she replied because I consider her something of a personal hero. And because her answer to the question was so lovely.

Sent: "What advice would you give a young illustrator?"


"Skip the waiting.
Drop the knitting.
Take your dreams to the drawing board.
And work, work, work.
Enjoy the battle!
You'll reap the rewards.

The very best of luck,

You're well on your way."

Friday, December 10, 2010


I just replenished my supply of envelopes this afternoon at Paper Source in Bellevue. I absolutely love their stationery; the quality and colors are wonderful and worth the extra cost. Half the fun of creating these pieces is matching the art and the envelopes, so naturally over the course of this project, between the outer envelopes (A2) and the small return envelopes (4 Bar), I have accumulated quite a rainbow of colors. Today I was inspired to buy some metallic papers in the spirit of the season (and because they are shiiiiiiiinnnnnnnnyyyyy).

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Double feature, part two: Melinda Josie

In addition to Shaun Tan's fishy roommate, I received this lovely watercolored Icelandic stamp from Toronto-based illustrator Melinda Josie.

I love the quietness of Melinda's work; that it is painted simply and then given lots of open space to breathe on the page. Also, there is almost a Scandinavian folkloric sense to her design. She recently won the TD Canadian Children's Literature Award (Prix TD de littérature canadienne pour l’enfance et la jeunesse) for Le Géranium, a French-language kids book she illustrated with writer Mélanie Tellier.

Sent: "Where would you like to go?"

Received: "Iceland!"

Tuesday double feature, part one: Shaun Tan

Shaun Tan is an incredibly talented visual storyteller. I first discovered his work three years ago when I walked past the featured children's books table at the University Bookstore in Bellevue. I noticed amidst the pile of brightly gleaming kids stories, one seemingly worn sepia-colored book with a bewildered-looking man and a small white monster on the cover. Upon opening it, I was captivated by a story completely devoid of words but nonetheless impeccably told through pictures alone. This book was "The Arrival", the story of a man whose family, much like the Jews of WWII Germany, is being persecuted. He sets out alone to an outlandish new world to find work and set up a new home where he can bring his wife and child. How the monster comes in, you will have to find out for yourselves because there is little point in me putting words to a story which is told so breathtakingly well without them.

Sent: "Describe the worst room/house mate you've ever had."


He included this postcard from "The Arrival" with a nice thank you note on the back.

"The Arrival" was made into a remarkable stage presentation which featured actors, dancers and puppets. Here is a short video with some excerpts.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Audrey Kawasaki

Audrey Kawasaki, interestingly enough, contacted me first. She heard about Mailbag Art Museum via Amy Sol's Twitter and emailed me when she saw her name on the list of artists.

I originally learned about Audrey when I saw the beautiful letterpress print created by Pressure Printing (Denver, CO). Over the last few years, her work has grown increasingly well-known; her girls, with their sleepy eyes, seductive mouths, and delicate pink-tinged fingers, are easily recognized. A Pratt graduate, she has been featured in Juxtapoz and on the cover of Hi-Fructose.

You will notice the two pink splotches on the border; Audrey included in the envelope a folded piece of blue cardstock explaining how these accidental marks came to be. I like that they are there and am happy she did not decide to re-do the piece.

Sent: "What 3 albums have you been listening to lately?"

Received: " 'Brothers' by The Black Keys, 'Applause' by Balthazar, 'Broken Bells' by Broken Bells"

Friday, November 26, 2010

Tiffany Bozic and Eleanor Grosch

I arrived home today, post-Thanksgiving, to find two envelopes on my desk. The first was from fine artist Tiffany Bozic. She included in the envelope a card from her NYC Joshua Liner gallery opening two weeks ago, which included a nice thank you note with some kind words of encouragement. As for the artwork, I had to spend a minute or two thinking about which way was up and decided on the configuration below, based on the shadows under the two birds and the fact that the bow should be hanging down (at least according to the laws of gravity).




The other envelope was from Philly-based vector-artist Eleanor Grosch, who, in my opinion, is like the Dr. Doolittle of the mid-century style art world. Her art is so animal-focused, it's almost more accurate to call it a "menagerie" than a "portfolio". That's what I love about it. I have met her a few times at past Bumbershoot Flatstock events (she is such a sweet person) and still have the lovely hand-screenprinted Of Montreal poster with flying fish I purchased from her in 2006 for $20. It used to hang in my kitchen when I had my own apartment but I now share a house with other people and unfortunately wall space is a bit limited. Also, a few years ago, I had the incredible luck of taking a trip to Portland and just happening to walk in to Powell's books at the same time she was having an exhibit there. A very happy accident.

Sent: "And then what happened?"

Received: "I landed in some flowers!"

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Allison Sommers

First off, let me just say that it's pieces like this that make dropping all my originals into the letterbox, unsure of their fate, all worth while.

Allison Sommers
' paintings and sculptures generally feature suggestive and grotesque anthropomorphic scenes. However, for Mailbag Art Museum, she chose to paint something a bit more tame, although equally enjoyable. I love the humor of this piece and the fact that she used both the question as well as her answer as a basis for the subject matter. In truth, that is the real purpose of having the questions there; to provide inspiration if it's needed.

Question: What is your favorite section of the zoo?

Answer: The Break Room.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

30 and counting...

Cards sent out today:

Here's a screenshot from iPhoto showing all 30 cards sent out so far.

14) Tiffany Bozic - "Sea Witch" sent 10/16/10
15) Jillian Tamaki - "Antique Photo" sent 10/16/10
16) Leah Chun - "The Viewer" sent 10/21/10
17) Moira Hahn "The Nightwalker"sent 10/25/10
18) Eric Fortune - "The Contest" sent 10/26/10
19) Gary Baseman - "Space Ghosts Enjoying Themselves" sent 10/26/10
20) Audrey Kawasaki - "English Rose" sent 10/27/10
21) Yoskay Yamamoto - "Woman with a tattoo" sent 10/29/10
22) Asaf Hanuka - "Smoke Break" sent 10/29/10
23) Tomer Hanuka - "Blind Spot" sent 10/30/10
24) James Roper - "Underwater Flora" sent 10/30/10
25) Eleanor Grosch - "Little Bird" sent 11/2/10
26) Shaun Tan - "Roommates" sent 11/2/10
27) Leif Parsons - "Unseen Forest" sent 11/8/10
28) Allison Sommers - "Victorian Portrait" sent 11/9/10
29) Resa Blatman - "The Vamp" sent 11/9/10
30) Julianna Bright - "Is it Fall Already?" sent 11/9/10

Monday, October 18, 2010

Paper-cut art from Jayme McGowan

Jayme McGowan is a wonderful paper-artist and illustrator from Sacramento, CA. I first saw her wallets for Poketo and have since been keeping track of her work. Her blog, Roadside Projects, is a fun read; full of process photos, videos and links to gems from other artists.

I was delighted to receive a fantastic piece of paper art from her a few days ago. It actually stands up on my desk!



Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Robert Hardgrave

I was very fortunate to have been given a private tour of Robert Hardgrave's studio earlier this year, during which I received some solid advice about contracts and engaged in interesting discussions on metal music, techniques and brushes with death, among other things. In addition, he showed me an impressive stash of pill bottles he collected during an illness he had a few years back and told me that he was saving them for some sort of epic art project. I hope to see that come to fruition in the near future. Robert is a lovely person and a very talented artist whose work never ceases to amaze me; I'm am very proud that he has chosen participate in this project.

Question: What's behind the mask?

Answer: Corporate pigs.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Mark Ryden and me as an octopus

I was excited to have the first artist to send something back be the distinguished Mr. Ryden. This is what I originally sent. He actually incorporated this back in with the blank card and included a clipping of me from the comic along with a plethora of stickers and stamps.

Here's what he sent back. Noting the Aries sticker on the envelope, I would be curious to know what inspired his choice to draw the planetary sign for Mercury on my shirt.

Thursday, September 16, 2010


Here is a list of cards that have been sent out thus far. There are actually no formal names for the pieces; the titles below are more of a description.

1) Carson Ellis - "Hiding Animals" sent 8/20/10
2) PCP "Claveloux Kingdom" sent 8/30/10
3) James Jean "Deer Trophy In A Red Room" sent 9/7/10
4) Robert Hardgrave "Dina" sent 9/7/10
5) Kozyndan - "Neighborhood Angels" sent 9/13/10
6) Mark Ryden - "Girl In A Dress" sent 9/13/10
7) Ramis Kim - "Psychedelic Space Explorers" sent 9/14/10
8) Saelee Oh "Green Bird on a Blue Branch" sent 9/14/10
9) Tord Boontje - "Unraveling Birds" sent 9/15/10
10) Moki - "Girl With A Dog" sent 9/15/10
11) Brendan Monroe & Evah Fan - "Ballooning" sent 9/15/10
12) Jayme McGowan - "Jayme As A Paper Doll" sent 9/15/10
13) Amy Sol - "Girl Picking Flowers" sent 9/15/10

Thursday, August 19, 2010

The idea...

So I had this thought the other day: what if I made little pieces of art and sent them to a bunch of famous artists, along with a tiny blank canvas for them to create something and return it? Would I get anything back? Would they even read my request?

This is an experiment, an art project if you will. Let see how it goes.

In the envelope:
- a small piece of original art
- a blank card
- an addressed return envelope
- this little note

The List:
James Jean
Gregory Euclide
Audrey Kawasaki
Jeffrey Brown
Craig Thompson
Eleanor Grosch
Carson Ellis
Tord Boontje
PCP a.k.a. Heisuke Kitazawa
Tomer & Asaf Hanuka
Shaun Tan
James Kochalka
Souther Salazar
Ray Caesar
Camille Rose Garcia
Kathleen Lolley
Robert Hardgrave
Matt Bernier
Oksana Badrak
Nate Powell
Jason Munn
Jeana Sohn
Saelee Oh
Jillian Tamaki
Andy Abero
Brendan Monroe
Catherine Campbell
Eva Mastrogiulio
Evah Fan
Fontaine Anderson
Jayme MgGowan
Leah Chun
Ramis Kim
Gary Baseman
Tim Biskup
Greg Simkins
James Roper
Ryan McLennan
Sylvia Ji
Tiffany Bozic
Tomokazu Matsuyama
Travis Louie