The Postcard Post: Ioana Hobai

I first met Ioana Hobai at the SCBWI Winter Conference in New York this past February and knew I had to persuade her to join us here at Sub It Club and show us her work. I’d already seen a postcard of hers when she won the SCBWI Postcard Contest but I wanted more. So here we have it. Enjoy!

Ioana Hobai loved to draw circles when she was very little and nowadays she continues to draw round and friendly critters. She is an architect who decided to change careers and return to her love of children’s book illustration. She has taken continuing education classes at MassArt in Boston as well as other illustration workshops. In 2016, she was one of the four winners of the SCBWI Postcard Contest. She was recently awarded third place in the Portfolio Showcase at the New England SCBWI 2017 Conference. For the last couple of years she has been illustrating for the educational market and she is writing and illustrating her own stories in her free time. She is a member of SCBWI and The Writer’s Loft of Sherborn, MA.

How do you choose the image(s) for a postcard?
I tend to pick recent images that reflect my current style. I am looking for consistency in terms of image, subject and color palette. I am also thinking whether here’s a certain theme I would like to showcase, for example children, animals, etc.

Postcard front for Sub it Club
ADORABLE! Postcard front.

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 usually add a band of text at the bottom on both sides of the postcard and include my name, website and twitter handle. I feel that if an art director prefers the back of my card, he or she should be able to see my contact info right away. Some older postcards have my direct email information as well but I don’t like including it unless the postcard is mailed in an envelope.

Do you create illustrations specifically for your self-promotion pieces?
I think I might feel too worried and constrained to have to create the “perfect” piece! If I work on an image that has an interesting character or colors, or even a story that I hadn’t necessarily anticipated, I add it to my list of possible images to be used at a later date. My current postcard is a smaller version of a portfolio piece created for the Illustration Challenge at New England SCBWI 2017 Conference. The theme this year was “Can I keep it?” I thought it might make a good postcard, although I did not add the text caption, for fear it might be too small. I was lucky to have this image chosen as a winner in the portfolio showcase.*
*Congratulations!

Some illustrators create a series of postcards and send them out over time. Do you create a series or stand-alone images?
It’s an interesting concept. I would imagine that it might work if they were based on the same character shown in various situations or perhaps, as sequential scenes from a book dummy. I tend to create stand-alone images. A year ago, I added on the back of a card a tile composed of four images that were based on fairy tales, but a lot of the detail was lost simply because the images were too small. Perhaps in that case a series of postcards inspired by fairy tales would have worked better.*
*We learn a lot of this stuff by doing. May be worth a try to redo the fairy tales as a series!

How often do you send out postcards?
Not nearly enough!* I’m aiming for two to three times a year, but in reality it’s mostly likely once or twice. I also print postcards when I’m going to SCBWI conferences. I feel there’s a higher chance for someone from the industry to pick one up at a conference portfolio showcase. I also think that nowadays, besides sending out postcards, a social media presence is very important because it helps getting one’s art in front of art directors and well as editors and agents. It’s a constant effort of putting one’s work out in the world to increase visibility.**
*Everyone says that!
**So true. It is a a big job!

Postcard back for Sub it Club
The back of the postcard is another opportunity to show an illustration.

Who do you target with your mailings?
I send them to editors and art directors/designers only. For agents, I tend to check their specific submission requirements and either send an electronic image or a link to my website.

How do you compile your mailing list?
Any tips on keeping a list and sending out? 
I have a very low-tech approach. I use SCBWI’s THE BOOK, and circle the publishing houses that I think might be a good fit for my work. I also have a stack of business cards from conferences and I use those addresses as well, if they are not included in THE BOOK. I think compiling a consistent mailing list will be the next step for me.*
*Everyone does this differently. I made a chart that grows as I go along but some very organized people go as far as using Excel spreadsheets.

Do you have any tips on the production process?
I work traditionally, but I scan my images and create the postcards in Photoshop. I have recently invested in an Epson Graphic Arts scanner because for me it’s essential to reproduce traditional media well. I go to the website of the online provider and check if they have any design requirements for the postcard size of my choice. Then, I am re-creating a file with the template dimensions in Photoshop and I import my chosen image, which I will scale down to fit the template. I make sure that any important information is within the recommended safe area and won’t be cut off. I like to use simple fonts that do not overpower the illustration and are consistent with the fonts on my website.

Do you use any online services? What are your favorite places to get postcards printed?
I must say MOO.com is my favorite. They are pricey but the quality is outstanding. I try to take advantage of their sales and promotions. Their template information is very clear and easy to understand. I have also used Vista Print. Their standard matte card stock is much better priced but slightly thinner than MOO’s. Their prices make a big difference when printing 200-500 postcards for mass mailings. I have never sent that many cards at once, but my advice would be shop around, because prices do vary greatly.

Thank you Dana, for this interview. I really enjoyed it.

Thank YOU, Ioana! So much great advice. And your postcard is wonderful.

You’re just a click away from more of Ioana’s work:
Website: www.ioanahobai.com
Twitter: @ioanahobai
Instagram: ioana.hobai

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 LOOKING FOR MORE? on the right sidebar of this blog.
See you next month.

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