For illustrators, there are different approaches to submitting work. The postcard is a relatively cheap promotional tool to get your work seen far and wide. It can show what you do, provide your contact info and point art directors and editors to an online portfolio. Your postcard should be excellent work presented in a professional fashion. This is your foot in the door so make sure you put your best foot forward.
Use the most successful piece from your portfolio or create a new piece, perhaps a series. Send out postcards in a style you’re proficient in and of things you like to draw. If you love drawing dragons, put a dragon on there. If you hate drawing people, don’t send images with lots of people. You just might get a job! Make sure you’ll bring in work you’re interested in doing. And your credibility is at stake if you can’t follow through.
If you’re interested in illustrating children’s books, show off your storytelling skills with a strong narrative. If you’re looking for other kinds of editorial work, highlighting your style or your mastery of a technique might be the key to catching the art director’s attention.
Most art directors and editors keep files of postcards. An art director at a SCBWI conference said she loved it when illustrators sent her a postcard every three months or so. She particularly loved series of postcards and looked forward to each new installment. She tacked up postcards that she liked on her office wall.
Although some illustrators might not like cluttering up their illustration with type on the front of the postcard, there is a good reason to do this. The viewer will identify your work with your name instantly. If you think this could work for your postcard, keep text to a minimum and integrate it in a clever, visually pleasing way.
Don’t forget about the back of the postcard! It can complement the front: use it to your advantage. Include all your contact information: name, website (online portfolio), address, email address, phone number, blog, facebook page… whatever information you feel comfortable putting out in the world. Also, black and white spot art could complement the art on the front and show the art director another skill.
There are lots of companies online who will print your postcards. 4by6.com; Modern Postcard; Overnight Prints, moo… They all have specifications (templates, sizes, file formats) that you need to follow. Read carefully so you get the best result for your money.
Mail them out. Keep track of where, when and to whom you send. Hand them out at conferences. Have them on you at all times– you never know when you’ll run into someone who might be interested in your work. Use them as leave-behinds. Keep a bunch in your portfolio. Bottom-line, you want art directors and editors to contact you, to look further into your work through this introduction in the form of a postcard.
Do you use postcards to promote your work? If you’re a member of our private Facebook group, post one of your postcards. Or post sketches of postcards you’re preparing. Let’s share feedback. Which printing companies have you used? Which are your favorites?