Make Your Own Happy Mail

diy drawing Aug 23, 2022
How to make DIY decorated envelopes

Getting your mail is usually supremely boring or a total bummer. Bills, junk mail, so much wasted paper for nothing. Whenever I send orders to customers, I use this as an opportunity to infuse what is normally a mundane task with something that brightens their day. 

If you sell items online, you can easily print a shipping label, slap it on an envelope and send it on its merry way. If you have the time, why not add just a little more love? Whether it is a little doodle thanking them for supporting your small business, their first initial, or their name, the time you put in shows them how much you care… and how creative you are!

I like to use the time it takes me to organize and package orders as an artistic warm-up, a gratitude meditation, and a creative experiment all in one. Warm-ups and creative experiments usually disappear into the ether, so why not use them to brighten someone's day? And though spending time being grateful is rewarding on its own, something magical happens when you express it and put it out into the world.

But first, let's make sure you have all your tools ready.



Basic supplies:

  • Envelope (uncoated/non-shiny, for the win!)
  • Pencil
  • Sharpie (or any black marker, but I like to use a fine point + a chisel tip Sharpie)
  • Eraser
  • Freebie!


Bonus supplies:

Plus extra fancy optional supplies include stickers with your logo and/or shop info and gel pens.



Step 1: Envelope Layout

First, decide how much room each element will need on the envelope. Place stickers and all necessary labels where they will be going, keeping in mind that you will need a block of space for what you are drawing (in this example, it will be a name).




Step 2: Start Sketching!

Next, decide if you want the recipient's name floating, contained between parallel lines, or in a banner. Loosely sketch guidelines and the shape of the letters, refining things once the spacing is worked out. I usually draw my lines or banners with a Sharpie, then work on the lettering, but you can easily reverse that order if you prefer.

Once the letters are mapped out, build them into your preferred shape and style. This is meant to be fun, so you can do a tried-and-true lettering style that you are confident with or try something completely new. Other than misspelling their name, you can't go wrong!



Looking for the best monoline pen that will become your forever go-to?




Step 3: Outline Your Letters

Now that your letters are sorted and looking great, use a fine point Sharpie to outline them. Keep in mind what you plan to do inside the letters, leaving enough space within and around to accomplish the look. Erase your pencil marks now that you've got it all inked up.



If you opted for the bare-bones pencil and Sharpie method, do something fun inside the letters (you'd be surprised how awesome some simple horizontal lines look), and add a shadow line if you feel like it. 


Step 3 (optional): Time to Color In

If you chose to bring colored pencils and markers to this party, decide what you want to put where. Adding an interior outline in colored pencil and then going over it with a marker looks way cooler than something so simple should. The sky's the limit, so add as little or as much as you'd like. Hit them with an inline, a zigzag, a design, whatever your heart desires. Add a drop shadow or offset shadow line if you feel so inclined.






Step 4 (optional): Add a Special Touch

Does it look awesome? I bet it does! If you want to refine it with a gel pen, go for it! Maybe it needs a twinkle (I mean, don't we all?). 


Now it is time to share that work of art with the world! 

You're about to brighten the day of mail carriers and the recipient, alike. Your customers will be grateful for your expression of gratitude... it is a gratitude ouroboros! 

Be prepared for orders from their friends and family, because who wouldn't want to be a part of something like that?

Well, friends, I hope you're excited to give it a go! If you'd like to see examples of my Happy Mail, check out my Instagram @artbybwsmith and the reviews on artbybwsmith.etsy.com. If you'd like an eBook with more about this process, check out my Happy Mail ebook!



Brittany Warner-Smith (b w-smith, if you’re nasty) is an artist and adventurer, creating all kinds of art while bouncing around the world. She has been a tattoo artist in Hawaii, a Vans footwear designer in California, a digital nomad traveling coast-to-coast in her camper van, and many things before and after. As a self-diagnosed art nerd, workshopaholic, and forever student (getting degrees in Fine Art, Illustration, Graphic Design, and Graphic Communications), there aren’t many mediums she hasn’t tried. 

She opened an Etsy shop during her tattoo apprenticeship over a decade ago and has been filling people’s mailboxes with happy mail ever since. You can order all kinds of goodies from her shop, but she is also enthusiastically open to fun freelance, commissions, and licensing work. Sign up for her newsletter and follow her on Instagram to see what she is up to (and say hi!).