Meet award-winning author/illustrator Jessixa Bagley. Not only does she have a fun postcard to share, but great tips, too!
Jessixa Bagley is a Seattle based artist and children’s book author/illustrator. She has been a professionally practicing fine artist, comics creator, and illustrator since 2002. She has a BFA in painting and printmaking. Jessixa loves drawing anthropomorphic woodland critters- something that is inspired by her growing up in the Pacific Northwest. Her first picture book, BOATS FOR PAPA (June 2015) has won numerous awards and accolades including the 2016 SCBWI Golden Kite Award for best picture book text and the 2016 Washington State Scandiuzzi Children’s Book Award. Jessixa has several other picture books out or soon to be published: BEFORE I LEAVE (February 2016), LAUNDRY DAY (February 2017), and VINCENT COMES HOME (Winter 2018). VINCENT COMES HOME is collaboration with her husband, Aaron Bagley. All of her books are Neal Porter Books published by Roaring Brook Press.
How do you choose the image(s) for a postcard?
It depends. I like to pick a fun image of characters from my Woodland world that can really tell a simple story in one image or can tell a story between the front and the back. Lately I’ve been creating images with characters from my most recent books.
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’ve tried both options in the past, but now I prefer to keep all of my text on the back of the card and let the image on the front be the focal point. I try to imagine what each postcard would look like tacked on someone’s bulletin board. If it were me, I think I’d just like a fun or sweet image up on my board.*
*This hedgehog qualifies as both fun and sweet!
Do you create illustrations specifically for your self-promotion pieces?
Yes. Especially because I am now relating them back to my books, I want them to feel special and unique.
Some illustrators create a series of postcards and send them out over time. Do you create a series or stand-alone images?
I typically do a stand-alone image, but have it relate to a small image on the back in some way. Like a page turn in a picture book.
How often do you send out postcards?
I wish I had more time to create a series of images and send them out seasonally, but what I’ve been focusing on in the last few years is sending out a postcard in early January for New Year’s.*
*Great idea! Everyone could use a snailmail pick-me-up in January.
Who do you target with your mailings?
I have a pared down list of editors and art directors from various publishing houses that I send my annual postcard. It used to be a much longer list (including agents)*, but now that I am published and have an agent, I try to focus it on people that I either “know” (have met in in real life or within social media) or people I know of and would love to work with and want to stay on their radar.
*Not everyone thinks to send to agents but it’s a good idea. Take note illustrators!
How do you compile your mailing list? Any tips on keeping a list and sending out?
I used to just keep it all in a notebook, but that got very hard to find and change info (and sometimes hard to find the actual notebook).* Now I keep everything in a spreadsheet to update things easily. Often, I take that info and I put it into an address label template in Word so I can just print off labels and place them on the cards. But sometimes I run out of label paper and just have to hand write it- that takes a bit longer…
Do you have any tips on the production process?
I use Photoshop for making my postcards. I start off by scanning all of my images at 300 dpi. If I were doing something larger in size, I’d do the layout and text in Illustrator (so the text didn’t appear pixel-ly), but for sake of time, since I am already in Photoshop for the image, I just do it all in there. I guess I’m a lazy postcard maker.* I like using two fonts: One with more character for my name like a softer serif font (so it stands out) then a simpler font for the rest of the information. You can also use two colors- one for your name, and one for other info- just as a way to break things up!** Because now I use the postcards to alert them of upcoming books, I tend to take the emphasis off of the text by using grey and black fonts so it doesn’t feel too promotional.
*You aren’t the only one!
**These are great tips for fonts. So easy to go too far or not far enough.
Do you use any online services? What are your favorite places to get postcards printed?
I use Overnight Prints because the quality is good (most of the time) for the price, but I’ve been looking into using MOO* in the future because the quality is much higher. Since I don’t make postcards very often, I’d like to make them even more special when I do send them out. I’d like my postcards to be something that people want to keep on their bulletin board or desk for a while.**
*I love MOO. They have sales periodically so, if you can stand the promotional emails, best to get on their mailing list or follow them on twitter.
** I have a feeling they do!
Thanks so much for all the info and the fun postcard, Jessixa!
Where can we check out more of your work online?
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). And you can see recent posts by clicking on The Postcard Post under CATEGORIES on the right sidebar of this blog.
See you next month.