The Postcard Post is happy to welcome illustrator TeMika Grooms. Get ready for a wonderful postcard, all kinds of insights, and plenty of tips.
TeMika Grooms is the illustrator of many children’s books and has most recently released Nana’s Favorite Things by Dorothy H. Price through Eifrig Publishing. TeMika is an author, illustrator and arts advocate inspired by great stories and the characters who live them. She is intrigued by sequential art, specifically in the form of Children’s Literature and Graphic Novels, and the power they have to influence change in society. TeMika now uses this picture platform to engage the community through workshops that encourage others to be creative, imaginative and gain freedom through visual art and story creation.
How do you choose the image(s) for a postcard?
My fine art and illustration both include expressive line work and movements. I want to create images that are animated, diverse and with energy expressed through the body. I consider that a part of my style. My choice of art is based on if the image represents my style while accurately reflecting where I am on my journey as a visual storyteller.
It is important to let agents, art directors and industry leaders see how you are progressing in your work. My work is going through a transition now and I am playing with different materials. I want my newest postcards to reflect that change. Postcards can be a great way to show new work being created, but also consider doing cards for seasons and holidays. Doing that helps to keep your art inspiring and fresh. The most important thing is to show great work.
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 once saw the same art director at two different children’s book conferences. When asked what she would like to see on a postcard, both times she stated that she only wants to see the art on one side. No name. No website. Just Art.
The first time I heard her make this statement I disagreed because my ego wanted my name to be seen! But when I heard her speak a second time it clicked for me. Visual storytelling really is about the art. Artists should present their best work to be seen and it should be striking and memorable. The art is your signature even if they never know your name. But be wise and include your name and website on the back so they can see more. I also put another image on the back just for a little extra gift.*
*I’m sure it’s appreciated!
Do you create illustrations specifically for your self-promotion pieces?
It depends. I may pull an image from my portfolio or a freelance project if it is a good fit. But right now I am experimenting with new materials in my creative process. My portfolio is similarly going through a transition. Creating art specifically for self-promotion pieces allows me to show where I am as an artist. It gives me room to play while still continuing to build fresh work for show.
Some illustrators create a series of postcards and send them out over time. Do you create a series or stand-alone images?
My cards include stand-alone images. However, as I build my portfolio, I think a series of consistent mailings is a great opportunity to build relationship with agents and art directors as they become familiar with my artistic voice. And it gives them a chance to have a mini-collection of your work.*
*A mini-collection is a nice idea!
How often do you send out postcards?
I am trying to become more consistent with sending out new postcards. My goal this year is to send out newly designed postcards quarterly.*
*Good luck! Lots of illustrators shoot for the quarterly mailing.
Who do you target with your mailings?
My mailings target agents and art directors. At this point, I am confident that I have the talent to visually tell a great story. I still have a lot to learn and I would like the guidance of individuals who I can partner with to create great children’s books with diverse voices.
How do you compile your mailing list? Any tips on keeping a list and sending out?
I collect a lot of cards when I attend conferences. It’s a great way to get to know your peers and future partners the publishing industry. I usually come away with tons of cards.* My mailing list includes art directors and agents who may be looking for my style of work. I use resources like SCBWI’s The Book and Children’s Writer’s & Illustrator’s Market to find appropriate contact information each year. Right now I am doing it the old-fashioned and low-tech way. The Excel spreadsheet method allows me to take some time to enter the information and keep a record of the image sent with the mailing date.
*One of the benefits of going to a conference. I love the postcards too!
Do you have any tips on the production process?
My work is transitioning into a hybrid as I explore digital mixed with my traditional art. Lately, I have been drawing a sketch by hand or rendering an image completely in traditional media. Adobe software and the Sketchable App allows me to photograph and manipulate the image in its digital state to develop a finished product that meets size and resolution requirements.
Living in a digital world nowadays gives us access to so many resources. If I am creating a freelance project or a book dummy, I love the part of searching for fonts online. Fonts are another art that speaks volumes through the expression of lines and I am considering learning how to create my own.*
*Let us know if you do– we’d love to see it!
Do you use any online services? What are your favorite places to get postcards printed?
With a goal of sending out quarterly postcards I am watching my budget closely as I build my business. Most often I use Vistaprint because I can get cards designed and delivered quickly and inexpensively.
A big thank you to TeMika for this very thoughtful interview!
Go see some more of TeMika’s work at these links:
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.