Art Swap Mailing 2016

A few days before Christmas, after a day of sorting, packing, taping, and maneuvering three armfuls of boxes to the backseat of my car, I finally mailed out this year’s Art Swap packages.  This was the fourth annual Art Swap, and since I’m a sucker for stats, here’s what this year’s looked like:



  • 19 people participated
  • 4 were joining for the first time
  • 7 have been in every swap since 2013
  • 2 are people I’ve never met in person


  • People came from 15 different states
  • Closest state to me: Vermont.
  • Farthest: Hawaii
  • State with the most participants: California (3)



Most things tend to look more impressive when you pile a whole a stack of them in one place.


  • Most expensive package to mail: $11.51
  • Cheapest package: $6.80
  • Average shipping cost: $9.60

Cool Stuff

  • 7 people made some kind of 2-D visual art
  • 4 people made zines
  • 3 people made textile/cloth projects
  • 2 people sent music
  • 2 people made some other physical item
  • 1 person made jewelry
  • 1 person made an online explorer quest
  • 1 person made something I can’t classify easily in a list (a unique button wrapped in a card with notes about button collecting)


Yeah, so I know that adds up to more than 19, but that’s because some people sent more than one thing ;-)

Shipping this year was also easier than in previous years – the first year I was able to hand-deliver a bunch of people’s stuff and only had to prep a few packages, so I saved a bunch of money by using cardboard and paper bags I took for free from the grocery store checkout line.  I also did this the second year, but it took WAY longer because I had 13 packages to mail and decided to make them triangular-shaped boxes as the most compact way of sending a small sculpture.


These triangular boxes were fun to make, but took a REALLY long time.

These triangular boxes were fun to make, but took a REALLY long time.

After that I caved and started buying boxes in bulk, which this year I was able to get from Staples for $1.49 apiece.  This involved a trade-off—I could have saved everyone some $$$ by scrounging up old Amazon boxes or something, but finding boxes that are exactly the right shape can take up a LOT of time.  So that’s when you compromise.

I like the Art Swaps because they’re fun and bring a lot of excitement to people’s lives, both in the creating process, and in the receiving.  Over the years, I’ve come to realize that they’re a key element in the Day Job lifestyle, where so much of the paid work people do doesn’t bring them much fulfillment, so they need other outlets to sharpen their skills and bring them satisfaction.  Plus, outside of college, no one’s really going to give you a creative project to do—you either have to set the guidelines yourself, get involved with other people who can help you stay focused, or be lucky enough to have a paying job that brings you fulfillment.

All that said, if anyone out there in Day Job land thinks joining an Art Swap sounds like a kick-ass idea, get in touch, or start your own.  If anyone requests it, I’ll post some general tips on how to make your own swap a reality.

This goes back to something I believe in utterly—when people make cool things and share them with like-minded people, everyone wins.  How’s that for New Year’s inspiration?

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