Messing With Len Using the Suggestive Forces of Mail Art

I ended up selling 24 “I Learned Nothing from Jon Foster” T-shirts. I had a few others that I gave to people. James and Jon charged me 10 dollars to have each shirt made. I charged 10 dollars for each shirt I could hand deliver. With each of those packages I added a few items like stickers. They all came wrapped in a manila envelope. It was a project so I didn’t mind that I was not making any money and that I was technically losing it. Seeing people post pictures of them in their shirts made the project worthwhile. For people out of town I charged 15 dollars, the extra five was just for the postage. Here I made a few dollars. Smaller folks I made about two and half dollars on their package. People ordering XL’s cost a little more so I made less, about a dollar on their package. Overall I may have made eight or nine dollars on shipping t-shirts not counting, the packaging, the stickers I put inside, or the time I spent making them. Once again, worth it to see the shirts appear online and in person…that one is much stranger.

I figured I’d have one hold out, maybe two. Trying to get money from people when they aren’t required to give it to you is annoying. Neither person likes the process but in order for me to avoid losing too much money, I have to do it. The first round of people were pretty good, nothing more than sending a private message three or four times before someone either figured out PayPal or sent me well hidden cash. It’s a headache to constantly remind people of their commitments but it’s what I have to do if I want to get “stuff out there.”
One person Len held out the longest. I sent his shirt to his place in Pennsylvania. I sent him a few messages and he sent the usual runaround shit. It was stuff about checking accounts and actually doing it, you know that sort of thing. After the second or third week of him doing this to me (in no way was I mad, I expected this to happen) I figured I’d make it into a thing. He was the last guy to pay, so why not?

The first thing I did was print off images of his apartment complex. The first card I sent was just the front of his apartment with a 15 on the backside. I thought it was a subtle message but one I thought he’d figure out. I then printed off images of his face that I made into cards and then sent with disparaging comments on them. This wasn’t mean-spirited, I just wanted to make him laugh and hopefully send the money. On a side note, I’ve spent a lot of money just trying to collect the 15 dollars he initially owed me. Postage alone has been around four or five dollars, so all of this has been set up as a fool’s errand. Money doesn’t matter nearly as much as getting to make a joke into a bunch of trashy collages. I stumbled into this project.
I sent three or four things to him before he responded online. In my messages I was keeping a similar tone as I had with the cards. Once again he insisted that he was going to send the money, he even showed me two twenty dollar bills. I guess those were the ones he was going to send. Right then it hit me, make this into something bigger. On a whim I went to some of my mail-artist buddies and asked them if they’d be willing to assist me in retrieving the 15 dollars.  In an afternoon I had eight people to say they would send him a postcard on my behalf. Most were people that I’ve sent to for years. One of them was from Sweden! Obviously Len didn’t know any of these folks

Most of the images I’ve posted come from Artista in Detroit. She hit on the tone, she got the main points, and it was funny as hell. Better off, Len has no idea who she is. At this point I’m not sure how many other people ended up mailing him mail but it looks like I have agents working on my behalf all across the United States. This might just turn into a thing; have people indefinitely send Len cards about paying his debts to me.
Amy in Minnesota sent a very real looking cease and desist order to Len. At least for a few seconds, I hope he felt the letter was real. Mail artists can be so cruel.

Since Henry in Sweden’s card isn’t in English, it has a different vibe than the rest. Not knowing exactly what he’s trying to communicate gives the whole thing a menacing but alluring tone. I like how every once in a while there’s a recognizable phrase, my name, or a number stuck in there. Also it’s a Saab postcard, what’s more Swedish than Saab’s, outside of Volvo’s?


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