A lifelong project, Mark Mothersbaugh’s series of postcard-size artworks began
in the mid-1970s shortly after he left Kent State University. During those years, he shared and traded many of the small works with other artists—a popular practice at the time as the mail art movement was gaining momentum. Since printmaking was his primary medium as a young artist, most of the postcards from this time period are photo collage–based prints.
When DEVO began a heavy touring schedule in the late 1970s, Mothersbaugh lost the luxury of time in the printmaking studio. While his artistic output during those years was almost exclusively related to the band and its many enterprises, he frequently produced small drawings on postcards, sometimes just to share with his bandmates.
In the mid-1980s, when Mothersbaugh was less exclusively focused on DEVO, his work began to diversify again and his postcard output increased dramatically. Though he might have had the flexibility to dive back into printmaking, this time period marks a notable shift from the collage-based prints of his early years to the brush pen drawings that have become a signature feature of his mature work.
Today, Mothersbaugh creates postcard-size works daily. A chronic insomniac, he frequently spends his sleepless nights producing the small drawings, and over time he has amassed an enormous collection. Some days he makes just one or two, some days as many as twenty-five. By 2014 the lifelong project included more than 30,000 individual works.
In the context of Mothersbaugh’s larger practice, the collection of hand-held works is part notebook, part sketchbook, and part personal diary. His larger prints and oil paintings, and even many of his sculptures, are derived from images that originally appeared in postcard format. A private image repository amassed over decades, they provide a unique and revealing glimpse into the artist’s personality and inner life. Mothersbaugh’s traveling retrospective exhibition Myopia is the first- ever public showcase of the entire collection.