The Postcard Post: Joan Charles

Sub It Club is pleased to present author/illustrator Joan Charles and her latest self-promotion piece to the The Postcard Post. I first came across her work on Kathy Temeans’s Writing and Illustrating blog and loved it. You’ll find a link at the end of this post but in the meantime, enjoy Joan’s tips and stunning postcard.

Joan Charles is an illustrator, writer, and graphic designer. She has worked as an editorial illustrator for newspapers and has illustrated numerous stories for children’s magazines, as well as two middle grade novels for Scarletta Press. In 2012 she started her own line of illustrated greeting cards, “Raven and Renn”.

Postcard front – I want to know where they are going.

How do you choose the image(s) for a postcard?

The image must tell a story. I want the viewer to be eager to learn more – what just happened – or what is about to happen? I like to create a little bit of mystery and use an image with a strong emotional impact. This is my chance to grab an art director’s attention and convey my aesthetic through the use of image and typography.

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 prefer a stand-alone image – no text – so the picture can speak for itself.

Do you create illustrations specifically for your self-promotion pieces?

Not usually, no. I choose an image that is (hopefully) eye catching* and showcases my style.
*Rest assured, it is!

Postcard back – lovely typeface!

Some illustrators create a series of postcards and send them out over time. Do you create a series or stand-alone images?

Although a series sounds like a great idea, I send stand-alone images.

How often do you send out postcards?

Twice a year.

Who do you target with your mailings?

Children’s publishing – books and magazines. It’s important to recognize where you fit in the marketplace.* I tend not to send cards to publishers of books or magazines that specialize in publishing for very young children – my work is aimed more at an older child.
*Excellent point.

How do you compile your mailing list? Any tips on keeping a list and sending out?

Over the years I’ve collected the names of art directors and editors through various sources:  SCBWI, Children’s Book Council, at conferences, editor/art director credits listed at the back of some books, Writer’s Market, and on blogs and websites like Writing and Illustrating, Literary Rambles, and Harold Underdown’s Purple Crayon.

I use a database (FileMaker) to manage my list – it’s easy to add or remove names and keep the list up to date. I can categorize by type of publisher and target mailings or send a mass mailing with ease.

Do you have any tips on the production process? 

I use Photoshop. If the image is small enough (9 x 12), I scan it at home on my Epson scanner. For anything larger, I take it to printer or processing house to have it professionally scanned. It’s important to color correct your image to make sure the printed postcard will be as close to your original illustration as possible. As for fonts, I tend to keep it simple and try to support my brand. For this card I used a “hand-drawn” font that matches the font I use on my website.

Do you use any online services? What are your favorite places to get postcards printed?

I usually use Vista Print or PS Print. The quality is fine and they stand behind their work in case there is any problem with the printing.

To see more of Joan’s illustrations, click on the links below:
Twitter: @joanrcharles

And here’s that link I promised: Kathy Temean’s Illustrator Saturday: Joan Charles

Thanks so much for inviting me to participate, Dana!
You’re very welcome, Joan. It was a pleasure and your artwork is a treat! Truly spectacular.

If you’re joining us for the first time at The 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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