The Postcard Post: Roberta Baird

The Postcard Post for January features Roberta Baird. You may be lucky enough to have already seen her illustrations on social media and beyond. If not, sit back and enjoy getting to know Roberta and her postcards.

Roberta Baird is an illustrator and writer. Her work has been featured in four books. One of her favorite books, THE SWAMP WHERE GATOR HIDES, published by Dawn Publications, won a 2014 Silver Moonbeam Award. Her latest book, THE RUNAWAY PUMPKIN PIE MAN, published by Pelican Books is due out in February of 2015. She has also worked in the educational market with clients such as Scholastic and McGraw-Hill. Roberta currently resides in Texas with her husband, kids and many furry and feathered friends. When not illustrating, she can be found painting murals and sets for the theater.

Postcard front. Got to love a one-man band…or… one-cephalopod band!

How do you choose the image(s) for a postcard?
When designing a postcard I try to choose an image that has a strong narrative, is relatable and represents the kind of work that I’m interested in doing.* It also depends on the target audience. I have gators in their natural habitat and other gators that are wearing top hats. The octopus, one-man band was a fun one to create.
*This last point is so important: targeting the work you really want to do.

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?
It depends on the image. Sometimes if there’s extra space, which can happen if the artwork isn’t designed for the postcard, I’ll add my website information, but most of my postcards have an illustration, no text. I like the illustration to envelop the space with no distraction.

Postcard back. Elements of the illustration are used to create spot art that adds interest to this very clean layout.

Do you create illustrations specifically for your self-promotion pieces?
Yes, most of the time they’re created for the current mailing and for the size of the postcard. It’s a challenge to create an image that tells just enough of a story and hopefully leaves them wanting to know more.* Sometimes when I’m working on a book, I’ll use a image that will serve as both a good postcard and promotional piece.
*You’ve made another great point! Meeting this challenge can be the key to a successful mailing.

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 done that. That’s an interesting idea to consider though.

How often do you send out postcards?
I send out postcards about every three to four months. I also throw in a holiday card if I have the time.

Who do you target with your mailings?
I send postcards to both editors and art directors as per their guidelines. I send to magazines and book publishers, both trade and educational. I’m interested in all areas of children’s publishing.

Another postcard. Great painterly effects.

Do you ever include a personalized greeting or note to the person you’re sending to?
I do, but only if I’ve met them at a conference or worked with them in the past. Keep it simple.*
*Three words to live by!

How do you compile your mailing list? Any tips on keeping a list and sending out?
I use an Excel spreadsheet that I look over and update from sources such as SCBWI’s THE BOOK, (you know the one)* The Children’s Writer and Illustrator Market and the publisher’s own website under submission guidelines.
*Yes, I do! Attention SCBWI members: you can get THE BOOK at (but wait until you finish reading this post).

A peek at the drawing before and after the color is added.

Do you have any tips on the production process?
Well, I used to send oversized postcards, which lead to oversize postage,* but I heard an art director say that 5×7 is just fine. It works for me. I sketch out and refine the artwork. I like to make a corresponding spot illustration for the back of the card, then I scan it and color it in Photoshop. After that, it’s uploaded it to the printer website as a 300 dpi, CMYK file, and if everything fits, no typos or chopped artwork, it’s good to go. Press upload and pay!**
*Ha! Live and learn!
**You make it sound so easy. 😉

Do you use any online services? What are your favorite places to get postcards printed?
I use GotPrint.  I like the quality and the options available.

Thanks so much for all the tips, Roberta! So helpful!

Check out the links below to see more of Roberta’s work:

Blog: A Mouse in the House
Twitter: @robertabaird

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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