19 pen pals you wish you had


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.


  • Michelle (One Earlybird)

    I just wanted to pop in and thank you for my lovely package that I received yesterday, it’s gorgeous and thoughtful. I opened it very carefully so I didn’t ruin the wrapping. Will have to come back and have a look at all these links when I have a bit more time.

  • Priscilla

    Hi Naomi – what a beautiful post. I have never heard of mail art before. I so wish I could do that! But alas I am not that way inclined.

  • Rach

    oooooh! i love these Naomi! I want to do some mail art now too. What a beautiful gift to give. My Mum used to do something similar, she was very arty… and your post is giving me inspirations!
    thank you for a gorgeous post! again!

  • Pia

    What a great post I love mail art! Nothing I’ve sent is even remotely in the realm of your 19 artists, but one of my favourite book series is by the artist Nick Bantock – the Griffin and Sabine series. The books incorporate postcards, envelopes and letters that the reader opens and reads as the story progresses. Stunning work and such a unique and exciting way to tell a story. http://www.amazon.com/The-Griffin-Sabine-Trilogy-Boxed/dp/0811806960
    I’d lend you mine if I lived in Melbourne, I think you’d like them!

  • Giova Brusa

    Thank you so much for including me in this wonderful group of snail mailers, what a treat!!!
    Lovely post!!

  • Dean Grey

    Yay me and yay to all of the other Mail Art artists!!

    Thanks Naomi!


  • Emily

    thanks for adding my letter to this wonderful collection of mail! Your book looks awesome, as does your snail mail :-)

  • Karen

    How cool are these? I try to make an effort but usually stick on a few vintage images or random circles and some washi tape! This is such a great, inspirational post Naomi x

  • Zoya

    Thank you for sharing such beautiful mail art – very inspiring.

  • Book Week and Penpals! | Ms B's room 3's

    […] PS if kids want to have a look at the envelope decoration website I talked about in class today, here it is:http://naomiloves.com/2014/06/19/19-pen-pals-you-wish-you-had/ […]

  • Sarah | Sarah's Heart Writes

    I have to say that I totally love this movement. Inspired your beautifully decorated envelope that you sent to me Naomi, I paid it forward by decorating the envelope of a recent blog stationary swap in which I became involved. The person receiving it just loved it as, again taking my cue from you, I drew something that was about the name of her blog. She sent me such a lovely note of thanks.

    To discover that there is an entire movement is such an exciting thing to discover. I am not artistic at all (seriously, not at all), but I somehow don’t think that is the point. It is about time and thought – rare commodities these days.

    All I can say is thank you for highlighting this movement, and for setting me on its path.

    Have a lovely day xx

    • Naomi Bulger

      Oh Sarah you are absolutely right. It IS about time and thought. I am a long, long way from having artistic talent. But I know the mail I send gives people joy because they can see I have put time and effort and thought into it. And in these cases, it really is the thought that counts. It makes me so happy to know that other people are enjoying this as much as me. Thank you!

  • Michelle

    Naomi thank you. I still think your envelopes are the most beautiful but this is really inspiring me to get back onto the snail mail trail (ooh rhymies).
    I don’t always comment due to phone issues but boy oh boy do I love your blog.
    Thank you for the happiness you spread.

    • Naomi Bulger

      Michelle you always say the LOVELIEST things. I’m the same re commenting, since I mostly read blogs on my phone. But I’m so glad to inspire you to get back into writing snail mail. Hip hooray!

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