I met Tina Kugler on twitter and was blown away by her work and lively twitter feed. If you don’t know her illustration work already, you’re in for a treat. She has tips too. Take it away, Tina!
Illustrator Tina Kugler lives in the Los Angeles area with her artist husband, three very loud boys and an enormous hairy dog named Harryhausen.
Tina spent ten years drawing storyboards in the animation industry, owned a children’s bookshop, and worked in the youth department of a public library. She is also a Cub Scout leader and has little to no spare time.
This one is…the postcard that WORKED. I have been sending out postcards for over ten years now. I’ve been trying and trying to get published, and this is the first postcard that EVER got me a bite: a picture book called THE CHANGE YOUR NAME STORE, written by Leanne Shirtliffe, coming out in May 2014 with Sky Pony Press.
Which begs the question, why is anyone looking to ME for advice? Hahaha. Sorry.*
*This is great advice for all of us! A testament to persistence.
How do you choose the image(s) for a postcard?
I usually give myself an assignment— so the image is more narrative than, say, a single character standing still. For this particular one, I thought about what I would do if I ever had the opportunity to do the cover of a SCBWI Bulletin, which always features a kite.*
*I thought of SCBWI the minute I saw this image. It should be a cover!
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’m all party on the front, business on the back—* I prefer to have full-color art only on the front, without any info on it to distract from the art. On the back, I do a smaller image (either grayscale or color) and put all of my information there. Always, always, always list your website address! At the SCBWI summer conference, I picked up illustrators’ postcards and business cards that didn’t list a website— just a phone number! How is someone going to see more of your work? Is an art director or editor going to call you based on one image? ** Even a blog URL is acceptable. Also (and I didn’t do this on this one), include your Twitter handle or other social media info, if you use it. And finally, if you have an agent, include their contact info as well.
*HA! That is hands down the best answer for this question!
**Hee hee. Now that you mention it, it does seem silly. Trying to imagine that phone conversation…
Do you create illustrations specifically for your self-promotion pieces?
Yes, but for my next mailing, I am going to feature art from THE CHANGE YOUR NAME STORE, so I can print a double batch to promote the book itself too.*
*Book promotion! Another excellent use of the good old postcard.
Some illustrators create a series of postcards and send them out over time. Do you create a series or stand-alone images?
I just do a two part on one card— image on back relates to image on front, either giving more of a story or like the punch line to the setup on front. I vary the subject matter on my cards, for example, one mailing will be kids, and the next one will be animals, and so on, in order to show the widest variety.
How often do you send out postcards?
My goal this year is four mailings— don’t know if I’ll make it! I usually manage 2-3 a year.*
*Good luck with 4 but 2-3 is still really good.
Who do you target with your mailings?
The SCBWI has an amazing book with addresses, between that book* and my awesome agent Teresa’s suggestions I’ve cobbled together a list. It is primarily children’s publishers. I don’t have many magazines on there, but my dream since age 5 was always to be published by Highlights Magazine, so I keep them on my list. Somedaaaay.**
*That book is called THE BOOK and it’s free to members: find it here.
**Sub It Club’s fingers are crossed for you. That’s a lot of fingers so good news should be on the way.
How do you compile your mailing list? Any tips on keeping a list and sending out?
I used to use my Address Book on my Mac, but after an extremely unfortunate incident involving my 11-year-old and his iPod and iCloud, MY ENTIRE MAILING LIST was deleted off of my desktop.* So now I have everything in a Word document, completely disorganized. (I’ve gone back to a Moleskine pocket calendar, perhaps I will do the same for addresses.) I address my postcards by hand, because I prefer the personal touch, and sitting and addressing them all with a mug of tea is sort of a meditative thing. (I need more meditative things.) I love the process of imbuing each little card with a wish while I address it, and then sending it out into the world (and pretending they are not all immediately swept into office recycle bins in NYC).** The process also helps me to be familiar with the names of the recipients, more so than slapping on labels.
*Chills down spine! The horror!
**Banish the thought!
Do you have any tips on the production process?
For being a digital artist, I am horrendously bad with various programs, like Photoshop. Well, I’ve never taken classes, and I’m too lazy busy to look up tutorials, so there we are. I usually do my font placement in Illustrator. Futura is my standby, it seems to be a good basic font that works with my style, although occasionally I use something else. Make sure you leave room to keep your text clearly legible. Don’t choose a font that overwhelms your art, you want your work to be the star— it should complement but not distract.*
Do you use any online services? What are your favorite places to get postcards printed?
I recently discovered GotPrint* (suggested by illustrator friends), they are wonderful- great color & quality, reasonable prices. They can do a rounded corner, which is a favorite of mine, sturdy weight, and a nice gloss. (As a bonus, I loved that I could pick them up nearby in Burbank versus having them shipped.)
*I checked and they have sites in Germany, France, United Kingdom, Netherlands, Belgium, Austria, Ireland as well as the USA.
Well, that was fun. Much thanks to Tina for a great interview chock full of helpful tips and wonderful illustrations. Don’t forget to check out her website and social media and especially her upcoming books. All the links are here:
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.