I knew I had to get Brooke Boynton Hughes to share her postcard tips after I saw her work on the Official SCBWI Conference blog. Brooke’s portfolio was selected as a runner up at the SCWBI Winter 2014 Conference in February. A jury of art directors, editors, and agents from children’s publishing chose from over 200 entries. Can’t wait to see this postcard!
Brooke Boynton Hughes grew up in Loveland, Colorado where she spent her childhood days drawing cats, mermaids, and tree houses. In 2001 she earned a BFA in Printmaking from Colorado State University. After a brief move to Austin, TX, Brooke headed to New York City where she attended the New York Academy of Art and earned at MFA in Figurative Art. Now she lives in Fort Collins, Colorado and illustrates books for kids. When she’s not drawing, Brooke can be found watching movies, hiking, or learning to play the ukulele. Upcoming books include CUPCAKE COUSINS by Kate Hannigan, published by Disney/Hyperion, BABY LOVE by Angela DiTerlizzi, published by Beach Lane Books, and MORE! by Linda Ashman, published by Random House.
How do you choose the image(s) for a postcard?
I try to choose an image that shows both a likable character and a compelling setting. The image should have a sense of narration and hopefully makes the viewer want to know more about the character’s story.*
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 always include my web address (www.BrookeBoyntonHughes.com) on the front of my card. I want editors and art directors to immediately associate my image with my name and for them to be able to easily find more of my work. On the back of the card I put my name, website, contact information, and any upcoming books.*
*Making the most of the back of the card!
Do you create illustrations specifically for your self-promotion pieces?
In the past I’ve created images specifically for a postcard, but for me those pieces don’t seem to be as strong as pieces that I’ve created for a story idea. I think I prefer to use one of the strongest images from my portfolio so that there’s an obvious visual link between my postcard and my body of work.*
Some illustrators create a series of postcards and send them out over time. Do you create a series or stand-alone images?
I’ve only ever created stand-alone postcards, but I think that creating a series of postcard images sounds like a really good idea.*
How often do you send out postcards?
It’s been years since I’ve actually mailed out postcards. I use postcards when I attend conferences, which is usually 2 or 3 times per year.* But, I’ve heard that sending out postcards every three months is a good idea.
*Good alternative use of the postcard.
Who do you target with your mailings?
I think it’s important to target art directors and editors who make the kind of books that I’m interested in making. I think a carefully researched, well targeted, personalized mailing of 20 cards has a much greater chance of being affective than a general mailing of 200 cards. If you’re only interested in illustrating children’s picture books, then it doesn’t do you any good to send cards to publishers that specialize in YA.*
*Good point: target and research!
How do you compile your mailing list? Any tips on keeping a list and sending out?
When I was doing regular mailings I relied heavily on CHILDREN’S WRITERS AND ILLUSTRATORS MARKET to figure out who was publishing what. If the description of a publisher in the Market book sounded promising, I would do further research of that publisher to decide if my work might be a good fit for them. I also looked at the picture books that I liked to see who published them.* Attending SCBWI conferences has been a really good way to learn about the preferences of specific art directors, agents, and editors.
For me, sending out postcards in small batches felt more manageable. I’ve used both spreadsheets and hand written lists to keep track of what I’ve sent to whom.
*Excellent way to research potential clients!
Do you have any tips on the production process?
I use Photoshop to design my postcards and I spend a lot of time experimenting with different fonts. I think as an illustrator it’s important to show a strong sense of design in your postcards. The text should be clear and easy to read and the words and images should work together as a whole.
When I’m setting up a file for a postcard I make sure that it adheres to the specifications of the printing service I’m using and that I’m taking into consideration extra room for bleed and trim size.
Do you use any online services? What are your favorite places to get postcards printed?
I use OvernightPrints.com. For the most part I’ve had really good luck with them, although I do recommend getting a printed color proof if you have time. OvernightPrints does rounded corners, which I really like.
Thanks so much for sharing these great tips, Brooke.
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.