The Postcard Post: Renée Kurilla

Sub It Club welcomes illustrator Renée Kurilla to The Postcard Post. You’ll love Renée’s illustrations, full of color and whimsy.

Renée is an illustrator of many books for kids including ORANGUTANKA: A Story in Poems by Margarita Engle (Henry Holt). Her next picture book, THE PICKWICKS’ PICNIC by Carol Brendler, is scheduled to publish in Fall 2017 from Clarion Books. Renée lives just south of Boston with her illustrator husband, their fluffy cat Timmy, and their newest and spikiest addition Lemon the hedgehog.

How do you choose the image(s) for a postcard?
I’ve been sending out postcards for years and I think I’ve approached each one differently! I used to use a one-off illustration that I felt proud of, but lately I’ve been trying my best to use illustrations that go along with a story I’m either writing or plan to write. My career goals have changed a bit through the years.

Postcard front and back.

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 keep all my text on the back. I figure it’s not too hard to flip over if someone forgets who the illustrator is, that way they can enjoy the art without the advertising. ☺

Do you create illustrations specifically for your self-promotion pieces?
I have so many story ideas in secret. I’ll usually pick one and finish an illustration from a dummy or sketch that I’ve been staring at on my wall for a while. It’s a good excuse to make a new portfolio piece too, or to get myself excited to work on a new dummy.*
*Good idea. And I’m intrigued by your secret stories! 🙂  

This is Renée’s sketch for a dummy book. This sketch will become the image for the postcard.

Some illustrators create a series of postcards and send them out over time. Do you create a series or stand-alone images?
I’ve never done a series, but what I do is draw sequential images on the front and back. I try to include a black and white sketch on the back with the same character as the front.  

This is the first color version…
…and this is the second color version. Fun to see how this postcard image evolved from sketch to final: color changes, what was taken out and added to the final image.

How often do you send out postcards?
I try to send cards at least twice a year. If I have a good productive year, I’ll send three. I time my mailers with the postcard sales!*
*You aren’t the only one! The sales are a great motivator. 🙂

Who do you target with your mailings?
Everyone! I send postcards to art directors, designers, and editors at magazines and publishing houses. I pay as close attention as I can to the Publishers Weekly job announcements to see who has moved or has been promoted. I update my list all the time. I also make sure to have extra cards on hand in case I learn of a new editor after my mass mailing goes out. I’ll pop a rogue one in the mail now and then! My mailing list is still small, about 250 (yes, that is small!).*
*Small! You’re setting the bar high for the rest of us!

How do you compile your mailing list? Any tips on keeping a list and sending out?
I actually just use Avery mailing labels and the Contacts app on my Mac. I have different groups for each publishing house and just hit “print all.” What’s nice about this is you can choose the label type to print on and so everything is nice and centered and pretty. I’ve had some nightmare experiences with printing labels and this system works best for me! The rogue mailers usually get a hand written address because it’s faster…

Previous postcard mailings.

Do you have any tips on the production process?
I designed my text a few years ago and have been using the same Photoshop file ever since. I like the font to match my website because it’s all the same brand.* I was a graphic design minor in school so there’s a part of me that really likes a nice, clean design. Big enough to read, but not be obnoxious! No smaller than 9 point.
*Illustrators are discussing brand more and more. Something for all of us to consider.

Do you use any online services? What are your favorite places to get postcards printed?
I used Overnight Prints for a long time until my cards went out in a rainstorm and the ink basically melted. (A friend send me a photo when it arrived and I died a little inside.) Now I use It’s more expensive, but the cards are gorgeous.* Like I mentioned, I time my mailings with the 20% off sales!
*I agree. I love moo and those of us outside the USA can use them too.

Thanks so much for sharing your fun illustrations and excellent tips, Renée!

To see more of Renée’s work, click on the links below:

Twitter: @reneekurilla
Instagram: reneekurilla

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). Or click on The Postcard Post under “Categories” in the right-hand sidebar to see more posts.
See you next month.


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