While fluctuating in definition, the term ephemera is generally defined as printed matter of passing interest or a short-lived thing by the American Heritage Dictionary. For a brief period of time, after which they become historical records. Ephemera document transience and express a timeless quality by being both of their time and in the present.
As a graphic designer, I am extremely concerned about all the ephemera produced every second, some of that is considered instantaneous rubbish for people who receive a sample directly and few cases have a sense of artistic or emotional value. It depends on the visual medium, market quality and the moment it is delivered.
In the Extra Art exhibition catalog, Leiber provides specific criteria for determining what constitutes artists’ ephemera and how it can be distinguished from traditional art ephemera. His criteria are:
1. All materials are conceived and/or created by artists specifically for the purpose of being reproduced.
2. All materials are distributed for free or very inexpensively.
3. All materials have a supplemental relationship to art and perform a double function: a) they are secondary expressions of or about art, finding distribution in contexts in which these expressions are useful or instrumental for a short, limited time, and b) although these secondary expressions sometimes function in an external relationship to art, they also function, to varying degrees, as integral components of art or as art itself.