The May Postcard Post: Jennifer Thermes

The Sub It Club is very happy to have Jennifer Thermes share tips and her latest work with us. When Jennifer showed this month’s featured postcard in a step-by-step progression on her blog, I knew she’d have to pay us a visit. I’ll give you a link to that post but only after you read the interview! So, without further ado…

Jennifer Thermes is a children’s book author and illustrator. Her recent books include THE ICIEST, DICIEST, SCARIEST SLED RIDE EVER! by Rebecca Rule, which received a starred review from Kirkus, and MAGGIE & OLIVER, a middle-grade novel by Valerie Hobbs, which was named a Bank Street College Best Children’s Book. Jennifer has books forthcoming in Fall ’13 and Spring ’14 with Albert Whitman & Co., Islandport Press, and Sleeping Bear Press. Her work has been described as “reminiscent of Lois Lenski” by The Horn Book Magazine.

Front (This could make any landlubber take up sailing.)

How do you choose the image(s) for a postcard?
First it’s a matter of whether I want to do a color or a black & white card, which depends on what kind of assignments I’m going after. Then I try to come up with an image that grabs the viewer’s attention. I like to create a sense of movement in my art, so I design my illustrations with that in mind. Other than that it’s really a matter of gut instinct— what am I feeling most excited about at the moment!

An early sketch (Exhilarating movement!)

Do you prefer text on the front of the postcard with the image or do you prefer all text on the back of the postcard?
I like text on the front to be minimal, just name and website, on the theory that if an editor or art director pins the card on their board it’s easier for them to keep my name in mind.* All the rest of the information goes on the back.
* Excellent point.

Back (I want to read that message in a bottle!)

Do you create illustrations specifically for your self-promotion pieces?
Yes, usually, because I don’t always have an image that would be appropriate for a card and fits the size format. Also, it’s a good idea to send something that you really love to do, since that’s the kind of work you’re trying to attract.

Some illustrators do series of postcards and send them out over time. Do you do series or stand-alone images?
I’ve thought about creating a series, but that idea always manages to bump up against a deadline, so it’s been stand-alone images. Also, I’m not sure a series would make sense to an art director if you were only sending cards a few times a year. Unless, of course, they loved and kept every one! But that said, it’s still on my “to-try” list.

How often do you send out postcards?
Roughly four times a year, give or take a few months.

Who do you target with your mailings?
I send cards to art directors and editors in children’s publishing. Often editors are the ones who choose an artist, so it’s good to target both. *
* Great tip–take note, everyone.

Do you have any tips on the production process?
I have a template file set up in Photoshop with information all ready to go, though I do tweak the colors and design from time to time. It’s pretty simple, since the focus should be on the art. Since I work traditionally in pencil and watercolor, I scan my art once it’s done, and drop it into the template. Voilà!*
* I knew some French would slip in eventually.

 Do you use any online services? What are your favorite places to get postcards printed?
I’ve been using for a few years now and have usually had good results. Their prices are reasonable, too.

Thank you for inviting me to share, Dana. This was fun!*
* It’s been a thrill for me to have you here, Jen. Your work is beautiful and you’ve given us all some great information.

Don’t let the fun and feasting-of-the-eyes end here: the promised link to Jennifer’s work-in-progress:

And there’s more. Click away!

If you’re joining us for the first time at the Monthly Postcard Post, you can catch up with a general article on postcard mailings for illustrators and previous featured illustrators in the archive (there’s a tab above too). See you next month.

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