ex postal facto lectures at the SFPL are live!

Fantastic news, everybody: the Ex Postal Facto lectures hosted by the SF Public Library are live and direct!

The first lecture of the day was titled “A Brief History of West Coast Mail Art”. John Held Jr. led the panel discussion featuring Anna Banana, Leslie “Creative Thing” Caldera, Carl Chew, and performance artist Lowell Darling. It was both a great introduction to the west coast “scene”, as well as wonderful storytelling by each panelist.


“Artistamps and Their Makers: Seeing the World in Miniature” was the afternoon’s second lecture. Perforations, postmasters, and the particulars of stamp design were covered — moderator Jennie Hinchcliff spoke with Black Rock City Postmaster James Cline, artistamp makers Ginny Lloyd, James Felter and Harley of Terra Candella in a lively discussion.


The Ex Postal Facto organizers would like to extend their enormous thanks to the SF Public Library for hosting these lectures, as well as the A/V department at SFPL for editing (and making available) these wonderful videos. Both lectures were sponsored by the Marjorie G. and Carl W. Stern Book Arts & Special Collections Center.

You can learn more online at :http://sfpl.org/index.php?pg=1013402901


interested in purchasing a “mail/art/book” catalog?

MAB postcards

The exhibition catalog for “mail/art/book” is a soft cover, full color record of all the artwork on display at the SF Center for the Book. Designed by Maureen Forys of Happenstance Type-O-Rama and photographed by Von Span Photography, this catalog is a welcome addition to bookshelves and reference collections.

opening reception

Included in the catalog are two essays: “A History of West Coast Mail Art: Artwork from the Patricia Tavenner Archive” by John Held Jr. and “Our Path is Strewn With Words and Letters: Making, Mailing, and Postal Modernism” by Jennie Hinchcliff.

Info for ordering:

Copies of the exhibition catalog can be purchased in person at the San Francisco Center for the Book. If you would like to order via email, please direct all queries to malgosia@sfcb.org, with the subject header “mail/art/book catalog”. You can also call SFCB during business hours (415.565.0545) and ask to speak with Malgosia directly.


Catalog price is $40.00 per copy, plus $8.00 shipping and handling (domestic). Catalogs can also be shipped internationally, with shipping prices varying depending on destination.

All catalog sales directly benefit the San Francisco Center for the Book, a 501(c) non-profit organization which fosters the joy of books and bookmaking, as well as the continuing presence of books in our culture.


Ex Postal Facto 2014: what a weekend!

now THAT'S an opening reception!

now THAT’S an opening reception!

A great big, gigantic THANK YOU to everyone who traveled from near and far to attend the Ex Postal Facto weekend — words can’t describe how incredible this event was. Three days filled with stories, laughter, and creativity underscored the fact that the mail art community is filled with some of the kindest, most generous people on the planet.

From the bottom of my heart, I’d like to thank the XPF team who helped make it all happen: Maureen Forys, Kate Kaminski, Sally Wurlitzer, Jennifer Utter, and Angelique Evans — through the talents of these five fantastic “postal partners in crime”, Ex Postal Facto came together into one unforgettable weekend.

Over the next few days, I’ll be posting video and photos, snapped over the course of the weekend. I’d also like to invite anyone who has Ex Postal Facto related stories, artworks, photos, etc. to send them my way; plans are already in motion for an Ex Posto Facto yearbook! More details to follow, ASAP.

Thanks for the amazing weekend.

Now I can reply to all of that correspondence that’s been piling up!


here’s the table map for Saturday’s vendor (ex)po! …

hotel ken_01

Located at 450 Post Street, the SF Elks Lodge will play host to the Ex Postal Facto vendor expo on Saturday, February 15th. Vendors for the day include everyone from Anna Banana to V. Vale of RE/Search Publications. If you haven’t seen the line up, take look over here.


Here’s a handy table map, so that you can plan your shopping strategy! In addition to the Ex Postal vendors, there will be areas set up for sharing/swapping, passport WILL CALL/stamping, and plenty of room to sit back and relax!

sf elks

Built in 1923, the SF Elks Lodge is the oldest continuously operating lodge in the US. The Ex Postal team sends a heartfelt thank you to current Exalted Ruler Nasir Shakour and his wife Tina, who have both been instrumental in the planning of the vendor expo. Due to their support and encouragement via the SF Elks, the XPF team was able to find THE perfect venue space in downtown San Francisco!


Guess what else takes place on the VERY SAME DAY?  The 2014 Chinese new year’s parade! Starting at 5pm, the parade route runs one block from the SF Elks. Why not visit the vendor expo, and stay for the parade? If you will be driving into SF, it is suggested that you reserve a parking spot in a nearby garage via Parking Panda.

Ready or not, here comes Ex Postal Facto!


24 hours left to pre-purchase your XPF passport!


Just a friendly reminder: online sales for the official Ex Postal Facto passport will end at 5pm PST on Wednesday evening. If you haven’t had a chance to make your purchase, now’s the time! We’re down to a mere 32 passports. Designed by Happenstance Type-O-Rama and silkscreened by The Lords of Print, these babies are sure to become collector’s items.

The Lords of Print mix ink like nobody's biz...

The Lords of Print mix ink like nobody’s biz…

While there will be a handful of “walk in” passports available over the course of the weekend, the XPF team expects that these will sell out at SFCB’s opening reception. Why’s that, you ask? Well, “mail/art/book” and Ex Postal Facto are going to get some very good -ahem- press on Thursday…

how to decide? (at Happenstance HQ...)

how to decide? (at Happenstance HQ…)

With that in mind, I’m looking forward to seeing all you postal moderns in a few short days!


you want rubber? XPF’ll give you rubber…

got a passport? then you're in luck!

got a passport? then you’re in luck!

Ex Postal Facto has plenty of rubber stamping going on throughout the weekend — what would a mail art get together be, if it were lacking in rubber stamps? (boring, that’s what!) Attendees are encouraged to bring their favorite rubber stamps and art making tools to wreak artistic havoc in other people’s passports — all part of what makes a good correspondence “congress” GREAT. Here’s some inspiration:

During Ex Postal Facto, each day’s event has a special “visa” (see first photo above) which will only be stamped in Ex Postal Facto passports. Stop by the “Passport Control/WILL CALL” table to get yours!

yep: it's exactly what you think it is...

yep: it’s exactly what you think it is…

In addition to passport visas, there will be a commemorative postal cancellation available during the opening reception of “mail/art/book” at SFCB. Ex Postal Facto attendees are welcome to bring their own pre-addressed mail art and hand it off to our Postmaster-For-The-Evening, Mr. James. For those of you travelling light, there will be a mail art creation station for those last minute valentines and love letters.


The following guidelines must be observed, if you are interested in bringing your own mail for cancellation:

  • postcards/letters must be legibly addressed with proper postage. Your return address must be included in the upper left hand corner.
  • if you have 3D elements attached to your outgoing mail, please affix the proper amount of postage (i.e. “more”). Otherwise, the recipient runs the risk of having “postage due”.
  • mail art that does not have postage affixed, cannot be read, or does not have a return address will not be mailed and will find it’s way to the Red Letter Day Dead Letter Office.
  • mail will not be cancelled at the event. It will be cancelled and mailed once Ex Postal Facto has wrapped up.

Alright gang: time to get to work creating something fabulous! Photos can be shared over at the Ex Postal Facto FaceBook page (if you’re into such things); just search “Ex Postal Facto 2014”.

Postally speaking —


Ex Postal passports are hot off the assembly line!

passport sewing party

Ex Postal Facto passports are HERE! A legion of volunteers spent the better part of Saturday folding, stitching, sewing, and corner-rounding (see above & more on that later) to complete 250 of these cuties. With silkscreened covers by The Lords of Print (thanks Rick!), hand stamped details, and plenty of pages to fill with artwork and ephemera, this is a FANTASTIC way to commemorate your Ex Postal Facto adventure!


The full run down is available at the “WILL CALL passport” shopping page, but here are a couple of super-important, not-to-be-missed details:

WILL CALL passports can only be picked up in person at one of the following events: SFCB opening reception, the vendor expo at the SF Elks Lodge, or the lectures held at the SF Public Library.

WILL CALL passports will not be mailed out. If you are unable to attend Ex Postal Facto, but are interested in purchasing a passport, there will be a small portion of passports held aside for this purpose. Further info will be posted on the Ex Postal Facto website, in regards to this type of purchase.

WILL CALL passports must be purchased by 5pm on Wednesday, February 12th. Online passport sales are limited to 100 passports. There will be a small amount of “off the street” passports (i.e. people who attend XPF events, but do not purchase a passport in advance) available at the above listed events, however the Ex Postal Facto team cannot guarantee availability of passports.

XPF_passport_inside front cover

The Ex Postal Facto team is excited to see what these passports will be filled with — artistamps, visas, rubber stampings, artwork of all types and kind! Don’t delay, order yours today:

Passports for Ex Postal Facto 2014 can be purchased here.

here’s the schedule of events for XPF!

XPF stamps

All events (with the exception of Thursday night’s lecture at Chronicle Books) are free and open to the public.

Thursday, February 13th:

5:00 – 7:00 pm: Chronicle Books and Ex Postal Facto kick off the Ex Postal Facto Conference with  “A New Look At Stamp Design”, presented by Niko Courtelis

located at: Chronicle Books, 680 Second Street (between Brannan and King) PLEASE NOTE: this event is currently at capacity. If you register for this event, you will be placed on a wait list.

what’s happening:

-award winning creative director and philatelic designer Niko Courtelis will speak about contemporary postage stamp design and aesthetics.

Friday, February 14th:

5:00 – 6:00 pm: pre-reception and “mail art mixer” for Ex Postal Facto attendees

located at: Arch Drafting and Graphic Supplies, 99 Missouri (at 17th Street)

what’s happening:

-shopping and socializing

-issuance of commemorative Ex Postal Facto/Arch artistamp

after stopping by Arch, walk over to the San Francisco Center for the Book for the opening reception of “mail/art/book”!

6:00 – 9:00pm: opening reception for “mail/art/book”

located at SF Center for the Book, 375 Rhode Island Street (btwn 16th and 17th Streets)

what’s happening:

-“will call” passport pick up/passports also available for purchase

-passport stamping for official Ex postal Facto passports

-mail art creation station-postal cancellation window –> make your mail art, deposit at the postal “counter”

Saturday, February 15th:

11:00am – 4:00/5:00pm: vendor shop & swap, with over 25 vendors of mail art and artistamp items!

located at: SF Elks Lodge #3, The Kensington Park Hotel450 Post Street (btwn Powell and Mason Streets)

what’s happening:

-passport stamping for Ex Postal Facto passports

-25 different vendors selling, sharing, and swapping their wares

-ADDED BONUS: San Francisco’s Chinese New Year parade starts at 5pm; parade route runs 1 block away from the Elks Lodge

Sunday, February 16th:

1:00 – 4:30pm: panel discussion series on correspondence art and artistamps

located at: Koret Auditorium, SF Public Library Main Branch, lower level, 100 Larkin Street (at Market)

what’s happening:

-passport stamping for Ex Postal Facto passports

-1:00pm lecture: “A History of West Coast Mail Art” with guest speakers Lowell Darling, Carl Chew, Leslie Caldera, and Anna Banana. Moderated by John Held, Jr.

-2:30pm lecture: “Artistamps and Their Makers: Seeing the World in Miniature” with guest speakers James Cline, Harley/Terra Candella, James Felter, and Ginny Lloyd. Moderated by Jennie Hinchcliff

-3:45: reception for speakers and Ex Postal Facto attendees

event just added — “A New Look at Postage Stamp Design” !

Niko Courtelis, alongside on of his "Philatelic Atrocities"...

Niko Courtelis, alongside one of his “Philatelic Atrocities”…

The Ex Postal Facto team is pleased to announce that publisher Chronicle Books will be hosting a lecture on Thursday, February 13th in conjuction with the Ex Postal Facto weekend. Titled “A New Look at Postage Stamp Design,” creative director and stamp designer Niko Courtelis will discuss not only postage stamp aesthetics, but also the design fundamentals for an understanding of stamp graphics.

design/art direction: Niko Courtelis

design/art direction: Niko Courtelis

PLEASE NOTE: Limited seating is available for this event; attendees are required to have an RSVP ticket. For full details (as well as registration) head over to Eventbrite to sign up.

copy/art direction by Niko Courtelis; "Stamp Story" is a visual documentary about vintage postage. (http://gautamdutta.net)

copy/art direction by Niko Courtelis; “Stamp Story” is a visual documentary about vintage postage. (http://gautamdutta.net)

Niko will have a selection of his “Philatelic Atrocities” on display as part of the SF Center for the Book’s “mail/art/book” exhibition. He has taught graphic design at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, NY; is design director of World Stamp Show NY2016; and is a former member of the Board of Governors of The Collectors Club in New York City. He is a partner at PLAZM magazine and design.

(did we mention that he is also an AWESOME postage stamp designer? The Ex Postal team is excited to be working with Niko over the course of the conference and can hardly wait to hear what he has to say about designing postage!)


PS: want to know more? Steven Heller wrote about Niko’s Christmas seal collection for Print magazine; get ready to be inspired!

2014 has arrived — Ex Postal Facto can’t be far behind!

new year's greetings from Leslie C./Creative Thing...

new year’s greetings from Leslie C/Creative Thing…

Happy New Year to all mail artists, artistamp makers, visual poets, collagists — in short: this always expanding Network that we happily work within and with. As 2013 turned into the “fresh start” of 2014, I couldn’t help but be excited by all of the possibility and promise offered: new correspondents to meet, new projects to embark upon, new address books to fill.

Leslie C/Creative Thing's XPF artistamps, close up

Leslie C/Creative Thing’s XPF artistamps, close up

Part of this excitement stems from my anticipation of mail artists and postal enthusiasts arriving in SF for next month’s Ex Postal Facto event. Every day my email inbox seems to hold another piece of I-can’t-hardly-believe-it news: another luminary, attending XPF; an idea for an additional event; someone working on a wonderful design or artwork for the weekend (ed: see Leslie Caldera’s artistamps for the event, above).

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing all of this exciting news with XPF readers. Places to stay, special announcements about “in-the-works” outings, names of other attendees, write ups in the press — these are all topics that will be addressed over the next few weeks. Be sure to stay tuned! And it goes without saying: I can hardly wait for 2014 to GET STARTED!