19 pen pals you wish you had

snailmail-5 As you probably know, I like to draw pictures on my mail to make them pretty. But did you know there was a whole movement called "mail art"? I only just discovered this! It's when people take the time to decorate the envelopes, so you get a wonderful treat before you even open the letter (and the postie gets something lovely to look at, too).

I've taken a wander around the Internet and collated 19 lovely letterly folk who - surely - make the posties and pen-pals of the world very happy indeed!


1 // Sender: Kaitlyn Patience from isavirtue. Last Christmas, Kaitlyn came up with the idea of a snail-mail advent: she posted one beautiful letter a day to various friends, in the lead-up to Christmas

2 // Sender: Dean Grey from Exploding Doughnut, who sent this 'leaf mail' to cheer up a friend who was going through tough times

3 // Sender: Katherine from Wishbone Blog. Katherine has two younger sisters who are the "golden threads" in her life, but they live far away. So she sent this lovely mail to them for their birthdays

4 // Sender: Fabrizia from Wreck this Girl. Fab is a pen pal extraordinaire, although she's put new pen pals on hiatus while she focuses on uni. Take a look through her blog for some beautiful mail

5 // Sender: Marian from That's the Way the Cookie Crumbles. I love the way she makes collages on her mail from pop culture clippings

6 // Sender: Giova from One Bunting Away. There are lovely themes to these mail packages. Take a look at the Alice in Wonderland-themed package. I must do that for a friend one day!


7 // Sender: Illustrator Axel Sheffler, to children's book publisher Klaus Flugge. Take a look through this gallery in The Guardian to see some amazing snail mail Flugge received from other illustrators

8 //Sender: Bianca from Good Night Little Spoon. Bianca is so generous she not only made this beautiful envelope for a mail-swap, she created a free printable so we can make our own letters look this pretty too!

9 // Sender: Magdalena from The Craft Revival. I love these envelopes: they are like a colour explosion! Magdalena gives the rest of us five tips to make our mail look this great

10 // Sender: Rin from Papered Thoughts. Rin sends and receives all kinds of beautiful mail. Take a look through some of the incoming and outgoing mail on her blog

11 // Sender: Meghan from And Here We Are. Meghan must truly be the typography queen. You don't need to draw pictures or use colours to create stunningly beautiful letters

12 // Sender: Rin from Papered Thoughts. Again. Because, how adorable are those washi tape flags!


13 // Sender: Paper pastries. This blog is full of hand-crafted and designed mail, and lovely calligraphy, as well as stories of personal mail shared between pen pals

14 // Sender: Le Blog de Liberty. So my French isn't great, but as far as I can tell, this post title says "Spring mail-art." And those colours are tres jolie, oui?

15 // Sender: London illustrator Chetan, who goes by the name Cheism. How amazing is the line-drawn city behind the address on this mail!!

16 //  Sender: Emily from Thimble Cat. Do you know any fans of the Grand Budapest Hotel? If you do, how about sending them a little letter that looks like this?

17 // Sender: Lindsay Ostrom. Lindsay heard a story about a post-mistress who was trying to save her little post office, one postcard at a time. So she sent her this stunning record postcard


18// Sender: Moi! I'm not exactly in the league of these other guys but I do love to send mail, and if you subscribe to this blog, I'd be happy to send you a free copy of my book Airmail to say thank you. I'll try to make the mail look pretty, too. Here's some other mail I've sent. (Fair warning: I put the snail in snail mail, but I will write!) Just go here to send me your details.

19 // And finally, anyone who contributes to the Mail Me Art project. About eight years ago, smarty pants Darren Di Lieto came up with the genius idea of inviting artists and illustrators from all over the world to send him decorated mail. They didn't even have to include anything inside the mail: "the medium is the message," he said. You can buy the books from this project here and, if you're feeling creative, you can contribute to the latest project (and book) here.

Now it's over to you. Who would you add to this list? Do you like to send pretty mail? Share a link to your mail project in the comments if you do so we can all admire it!

UPDATE 5 July 2014: as of today I have run out of copies of Airmail to send you. However I would still love to send you something nice by snail-mail to say thank you for reading this blog, and I will still do my best to make it look pretty. If you have subscribed to this blog (or you want to), simply fill in your postal details on this page. And if you're still keen to read Airmail, there's a list of stockists here.