The Postcard Post welcomes author/illustrator Laura Zarrin. Read on to find out about Laura and pick up a tip or two.
Laura spent her childhood in the St. Louis area exploring creeks, woods, and attic closets, with plenty of tree climbing and digging for artifacts in the backyard all in preparation for her future career as an archeologist. She never became one because she realized she’s much happier drawing in the comfort of her own home while watching TV. Obsessed with the Little House books and Native American cultures, Laura drew lots and lots of pioneers and studied pictographs and books about that time period. When she was 12, her family moved to the Silicon Valley in California where she still resides with her very logical husband and teen sons, and their illogical dog, Cody.
She is represented by Justin Rucker of Shannon Associates.
How do you choose the image(s) for a postcard?
Since I’m promoting myself for picture books, I choose an image that tells a story. I start by going through my sketchbooks for ideas* and doing additional sketching. Now that I’m writing, I find something from one of my stories to illustrate.
*Good reminder to keep those sketchbooks handy.
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?
Most of the info is on the back, but I make sure my name and website are on the front. My hope is that it gets hung on a wall where they’ll see how to contact me when that just right project comes in.*
Do you create illustrations specifically for your self-promotion pieces?
Usually. Every once in a while, I create a piece and realize it’s perfect for a postcard, but it will usually need some tweaking to fit the format.
Some illustrators create a series of postcards and send them out over time. Do you create a series or stand-alone images?
I haven’t created any sequential mailings so far, but I do carry the story from the front to the back. That also helps show my black and white work.*
*Excellent use of all the postcard promo space.
How often do you send out postcards?
I shoot for 4-5 times a year with some email promos going out in between or instead of to key recipients.
Who do you target with your mailings?
Children’s publishing, magazines, educational clients, and some product manufacturers. I send to both art directors and editors.
Do you ever include a personalized greeting or note to the person you’re sending to?
Only if I’ve met or talked with them at some point in the past.
How do you compile your mailing list? Any tips on keeping a list and sending out?
I’ve been using Bento to compile my database and print labels, but it broke a couple of weeks ago and is no longer being supported by Filemaker which makes me very sad. I’m trying out Filemaker, but it’s too expensive and has way more frills that I need. I’m very careful to keep accurate records of what I’m sending to whom and the response I’ve gotten, so I need a new solution soon.*
*Dear readers: leave your solutions in the comments!
Do you have any tips on the production process?
Make sure you save often and back up every day. I use TimeMachine and have an off-site automatic back up running and I’m using ForeverSave. I’ve accidentally flattened art that needed corrections or saved a low-resolution version over the high resolution too many times. It’s so painful!*
I use Photoshop a lot, but I’m weaning myself off of it and onto Manga Studio, but it’s tough to be a beginner again.**
*Ouch! I think we can all commiserate.
**Again, lots of commiseration.
Do you use any online services? What are your favorite places to get postcards printed?
I use PsPrint. The postcards are really nice and you can buy them when they’re on sale, then upload the art later.
Thanks so much, Laura!
Check out the links below to see more of Laura’s work:
Blog: Creative Whimsies
Group Blog: Simply Messing About
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.
I love Laura’s illustrations. Thanks for sharing her process!
Hey Laura – Nice seeing your work. I use Bento too, so I’m sorry to hear your version “broke” – yikes! I’m also looking for a new solution with support so let’s keep in touch about that. Best wishes for your new batch. 🙂
Maybe you can get an older version of FMPro from ebay for less $ and fewer bells/whistles. Could be a crapshoot but worth it if you are lucky. If you have a PC it looks like there’s an open source software called Camelot that is worth trying although I’ve never heard of it and can’t offer any review on it.