The Postcard Post: Lorian Tu-Dean

Sub It Club is pleased to present Lorian Tu-Dean and her postcards this month. You’ll find solid advice and adorable images below. And, between you and me, Lorian now holds the record for the fastest response time in Postcard Post history. Her speed blew me away and now her work will charm you! Enjoy.

Lorian Tu-Dean is an author-illustrator based out of Hanover, New Hampshire. She has a passion for expressive lines and coffee, and spends most of her time in her bedroom-studio, hiding reading, writing, and illustrating children’s books. Her interests in visual narrative, emotional exchange, and the wonder of childhood drive her work. When she’s not making art for books, she’s making art with her students (because she’s also an art teacher). Lorian has a degree in Child Study from Saint Joseph’s College, and is currently pursuing an MFA in Children’s Book Writing and Illustrating from Hollins University. 

How do you choose the image(s) for a postcard?
I try to time my mailers to coincide with a season/holiday/event (summertime, back-to-school, holiday season/winter), so focusing around the theme of when I’m sending them out, I create a handful of thumbnails to narrow down the idea. First, I’ll make five or six different ideas, then, I’ll take one of those ideas and try to think of three different compositions for it. At that point, I feel like I’ve really narrowed down the concept and made good friends with the character(s). I call this “getting cozy.” I think everyone else calls it being “insane.” From there, I make a rough sketch, send that to my critique group, then make any changes based on the feedback and tighten it up a bit, then add color and turn it into a postcard with digital magic.*
*I love your process!

Screen Shot 2017-06-09 at 8.04.08 PM

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?
If I’m using a spot illustration for the front, I tend to add text, but if I’m doing a full-bleed illustration, I usually forgo it.

Screen Shot 2017-06-09 at 8.04.16 PM

Do you create illustrations specifically for your self-promotion pieces?
Most of the time, yes, I do. Otherwise, if I already have something that’s gotten really positive feedback at a portfolio review or something, or if a specific art director (or my agent) really liked it, I’ll use that. My bottom line is that I want to show my ability to tell a story, design characters, create setting/mood, and that I’m skillful in my medium.

Some illustrators create a series of postcards and send them out over time. Do you create a series or stand-alone images?
I usually create stand-alone postcard images, but I love the idea of making a series and spacing them out. Only problem with that (for me) is that my work tends to evolve so much by the time I’m ready to send my next mailer that I feel like I’d be sending “old me” work.

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How often do you send out postcards?
I try to do once every three months, but there have been times when the space between mailings has been more (never more than four months) or less (never less than two months). Basically, I shoot for four times a year. I wouldn’t worry too much, though, if you “missed” a mailing one year because of a major life event… though that event might be a good reason to send a mailer (“just moved!” “got hitched!” “new baby!” are all things you might want to share anyway.)*
*Ha! Great idea.

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The spare use of graphics taken from the postcard front (above) is very effective.

Who do you target with your mailings?
I send postcards to art directors only, not editors. I’m not sure if I’m doing myself a disservice by making that choice, but I figured my agency has the editor end of things covered anyway, when they pitch my dummies. Before I signed with The Bright Agency, I would send mailers out to agencies as well, but not anymore. I always send to the “Big 5” (Penguin Random House, Hachette, Harper Collins, MacMillan, and Simon & Schuster) and their children’s books imprints (for example Grosset and Dunlap), and then I send to a handful of smaller presses like Candlewick and Little Bee (though they aren’t that small anymore!). I’ve sent to publishers abroad, too, like Flying Eye and Nosy Crow (both are UK based) and magazines like Okido, Anorak, and Storytime (also UK magazines), and of course Highlights Magazine. Of course.

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How do you compile your mailing list? Any tips on keeping a list and sending out?
For the longest time, I had a manila folder, with addresses handwritten all over it and some pages from SCBWI’s THE BOOK printed out and tucked inside. Now, I share a google drive folder with my pals in Puddlejump Collective that’s in a spreadsheet and all organized. I highly recommend the latter, for people who like to be organized. I’ll be honest with you, it hurts my eyes and brain and I wish I could find my old folder. haha! The best way to get addresses, in my opinion, is to look in THE BOOK that SCBWI has for its members on their website.* Otherwise, targeting a specific publisher and doing the research MAY lead you to a reliable address. Or just ask a type-A person with a good spreadsheet of addresses to share it with you. You can do that too.
*Agreed! SCBWI’s THE BOOK is a treasure trove.

which one? summer mailer
Which one? Help Lorian choose an image for her summer mailer!

Do you have any tips on the production process?
Make sure you’ve got the specs clear, which are usually available on the printer’s website—- most of the time they even provide a downloadable template. As long as you know the dimensions and what “bleed” means, you’re good to go. I use Photoshop to place text, but you could use InDesign if you prefer. I’m not sure how you’d do it if you don’t have those programs, but I’m sure there’s a way. However they did it in the 80s…? Font-wise, I like to use hand lettering or a font that looks like hand lettering (like natwood draws), or Baskerville. I love Baskerville. I think as long as the font itself doesn’t take away from the image, you can use whatever floats your boat. I mean, you want to match the general feel of the image with the feel of the font. Except don’t use comic sans. Oh, and don’t forget to set the mode to CMYK* and double-check your colors. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve sent out an RGB file and had them come back really off.
*YUP! That’s very important.

Do you use any online services? What are your favorite places to get postcards printed?
I use even though they’re kind of expensive. They’re reliable and always top quality paper-and-ink-wise. They’re quick, too. I know a bunch of people who like and I think they offer spot gloss, which is nice. If you can find a local printer, though (not a chain) I’d try them. #shoplocal, right?

Thanks so much for all the great tips and postcards, Lorian! What a fun interview.

Here are a few places you can see more of Lorian’s work:
Website and blog:
twitter: @paperpencilplay
Instagram: Paperpencilplay
Puddlejump Collective:

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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