The Sub It Club welcomes Maria Bogade this month. I’ve met Maria in the virtual world through SCBWI as we are in neighboring regions (I hope we meet IRL one of these days). Her illustration work is beautiful so sit back and soak it in.
Maria Bogade is an award winning illustrator and author with an animation background. After graduating 2007 from the University of Media in Stuttgart in Audiovisual Media, she worked as a freelance animation artist on award winning projects such as “The Gruffalo.” In 2011 she went after her dream of drawing all day. Shortly after leaping into her illustration career she authored her first book SCHLAFPLATZ GESUCHT! which was published beginning 2012 by Bohem press AG. Maria loves creating illustrations with a strong narrative that are colorful and beautifully composed to entertain children and adults alike. She has worked for clients around the globe. The most recent book Maria illustrated, THE LOST (AND FOUND) BALLOON was published by Aladdin/ Simon & Schuster in June.
Maria is a member of SCBWI and lives with her three children and spouse in a tiny town in southern Germany.
2013 Nautilus Silver Award for BEN‘S FLYING FLOWERS
2013 Gelett Burgess Children’s Book Award for HEALING DAYS
How do you choose the image(s) for a postcard?
When deciding for an image for a postcard I try to think up what kind of project I would like to do. Sometimes I use illustrations from a previously published book but sometimes, in order to get other projects, I create a whole new illustration that shows I can tackle a certain theme or even a style.
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 to have my illustration without any text to make it really fill the space and shine. There are art directors that don’t mind if you put text on the front but there are also the ones who advice you not to. I personally do not like to have my logo and contact information on the same side but rather make people curious and hopefully turn the card around to see who it is coming from ;-). On the back I place all my important contact information and usually combine it with a tiny note to make it a little bit more engaging. I sometimes put some art on the back (b/w spot art) but in this case I did go with some color art.
Do you create illustrations specifically for your self-promotion pieces?
This depends on how much time I have and what I want to achieve with my card. If I want to promote a style that is already established and I have a brand new project to showcase it with I go with an existing illustration. If I want to promote new work and maybe show that I have developed one of my styles further, I’d certainly go with a new illustration as you only get the kind of commissions of work you share.*
The illustration I did for the card I’ve shared with you today was made for a totally different reason, but once the image was done I thought this would make a perfect postcard. Initially it was to explore a new style or maybe rather a way of working, which I want to build. I work digitally as well as traditionally but felt that my traditional style could do with a little “rehab”. I recently took part in an online illustration class which forced me to leave my comfort zone** and explore new techniques— a good thing to do from time to time but hard with commissions, as clients commission you for what they see on your site. However, while exploring I fell in love with collage again, something I did play around with when starting out as an illustrator but neglected as my digital work seemed to resonate best with clients at that time. So here I am trying to evolve my traditional style in a new way that hopefully pleases art directors around the globe. Wish me luck ;-)!***
**Admirable bravery, not resting on your laurels.
***Bon courage, Maria!
Some illustrators create a series of postcards and send them out over time. Do you create a series or stand-alone images?
No, I never create a series and do not think that this really makes sense. To me this feels like restricting myself to a certain setting and maybe even characters. This would limit my marketing efforts. The thing I would also wonder is if art directors would notice it at all. They get tons of cards and may not remember what they received a couple of months back from a certain artist. So stand-alone illustrations it is for me :-).*
How often do you send out postcards?
I try to send out cards three times a year. I actually managed it this year, so yay for promotional momentum!*
Who do you target with your mailings?
I’ll send the card I’ve shared with you today to a huge mailing list I’ve built over the last few years. So my card will arrive at the desks of art directors, publishers, designers and editors in the world of children’s publishing and children’s magazines.
How do you compile your mailing list? Any tips on keeping a list and sending out?
To compile my list I use a program called Bento, which is unfortunately no longer available. I’ll keep using it until I find a suitable replacement though. The program helps me sort all the contacts nicely in one place and I can also make notes to each contact on the list. Basically it was a sort of cheap version of Filemaker.
Do you have any tips on the production process?
This is hard, as actually I could probably ramble here for a while. I do use Photoshop to prepare my illustrations for printing. When illustrating or scanning in art, I work in RGB. Once the illustration is done in order to print you have to convert it to a CMYK profile. I did a blogpost about this a while ago. You can read about converting your files from RGB to CMYK here: http://www.mariabogade.blogspot.de/2012/09/best-friends-illustration-tiny-how-i.html .*
When scanning in files I can only recommend scanning them in as big as possible meaning with at least 800 dpi, best 1200 dpi. You can down-sample in Photoshop once you have cleaned the image from all things that needn’t be there. Also with many scanners your colors get a little greyish. Simply adjust the levels of your file by using the Levels tool, which will give you a kind of diagram. You need to push the values by moving the slider set to 255 right below the diagram to a value between 240 -250 (this works best for me, but play with it) and the one set to 0 to something from 5 – 60, depending on if it is b/w or color and how strong a contrast you want.
When choosing my fonts I try to have something that looks either almost hand-lettered or has a rather clean graphic look. It has to go well with the illustration so this is different each time I do a new card. Most of the time, I play around a lot and flip through my fonts with the text already written out to get a better feel for what might work best and which direction to follow.
One basic tip would also be to work at a larger scale than the actual postcard no matter if you work traditionally or digitally. You never know what might come of a card and this way you can also use it for prints if you like.**
*See you over there, everyone!
**Great tips— take note, all.
Do you use any online services? What are your favorite places to get postcards printed?
I print my cards at a company called www.unitedprint.de. I have tried others like Moo and what not, but I was not happy with the prices let alone the quality so I can only recommend unitedprint although I think you have to speak German to understand their site ;-).*
*Darn! Ich spreche kein Deutsch. (Danke, internet translator.)
Thanks so much for having me, Dana!
A big DANKE to Maria for all this helpful information and beautiful illustrations! Machs gut! Alles Gute! Bis zum nächsten Mal! (pleeease let that mean what I think it means…)
A few clicks and you’ll be enjoying more of Maria’s work:
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.