What’s an Art Swap, you ask? Every year I gather a group where everyone makes a project of some kind, makes enough copies for everyone, then mails them to me to send out to everyone else. It’s a great way to meet people, share your work, and get a bunch of cool stuff for a minimal shipping cost. I also use the term “art” in the loosest possible sense, since people have sent drawings, zines, calligraphy, knitted hats, photography, podcasts, poetry, songs, sculptures, online scavenger hunts, pottery, board games, potholders, bow ties, and shoes. There’s really no rules.
The Art Swaps emerged from the Mix CD Swaps I used to run with my friends and friends of friends through the mail in the days before music streaming became a thing—when getting twenty mix CDs worth of songs made finding new music a lot easier. As the CD went the way of the rotary phone, though, I started doing the same copy and sharing process with art. This wasn’t a big leap, since a lot the Swap crew had been doing creatively themed mixes and package decorations already and I had a pool of people eager to share cool stuff they’d made.
I find the Art Swaps exciting because they give people an outlet, an incentive, and deadlines to create things they probably wouldn’t normally create, along with an audience of like-minded people to share them with. This especially made sense after my friends and I had finished college, when most of us stopped taking classes with goals and deadlines and found ourselves working Day Jobs that offered decidedly fewer creative prospects.
It felt good knowing that after eight and a half hours of answering office e-mails you could go home and work on something that people were going to enjoy. It also highlighted the real struggles that the Swap crew and I were going through in juggling our Day Jobs and our creative work, especially when things get busy, and all we all pushed on anyway to make it happen.
Want to join in and have something to share? I’m always on the lookout for like-minded people who make cool stuff. Drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org for more info.