The Postcard Post: Doug Cenko

I picked up a postcard at the SCBWI summer conference and it just so happens it was created by this month’s featured illustrator. Sub It Club welcomes Doug Cenko to The Postcard Post.

Doug Cenko lives in Chicago with his wife and daughter. His day job is in the live special FX industry, but his true love is illustration. He has illustrated three children’s books and is currently working on his first book as an author/illustrator, MY PAPA IS A PRINCESS, due to be released in September 2018.


How do you choose the image(s) for a postcard?

I try to go for an image that makes you stop to think about what’s happening. A raccoon running through the woods makes for a fun image, but put a teddy bear on his back and you stop to think for just a little bit longer. I saw a webinar with an art director once and he said that his initial reaction when looking at postcards is “so what?” or “now what?”. I definitely would prefer to be sending a “now what?” postcard.

Postcard front: definitely “Now what?!!” 🙂

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 prefer to keep the text on the back. I feel that any text on the front distracts from the image.

Postcard back (I wonder if that’s coffee…)

Do you create illustrations specifically for your self-promotion pieces?

I do create images specifically to be used in my portfolio and as postcards. Those end up being some of my favorite pieces because they have no limitations.*
*Great way to think of these illustrations– no limit!

Some illustrators create a series of postcards and send them out over time. Do you create a series or stand-alone images?

I have only sent stand-alone images. A series would be nice, but it would be hard to pull off a series of images where each image is as strong as the rest. I do like to include an image on the back of the postcard that adds to the story of the front in some way.*
*That’s a good way to keep the story going…

Postcard front

How often do you send out postcards?

I have only sent out two mailings so far, but I am hoping to send out a new postcard every six months. I always make sure to have postcards on hand for conferences.*
*Ha! Yes, I know (see introductory paragraph above).

Who do you target with your mailings?
I mostly send mailings to art directors and book publishers.

Postcard back (adorable!)

How do you compile your mailing list? Any tips on keeping a list and sending out? 

I’m very fortunate that I belong to an incredible SCBWI Illinois Illustrators Network. One of the group’s meetings was entirely about postcards and creating mailing lists. Rich Green and Cedric Gliane taught everyone in the group about their mailing list creation process using Excel. They compiled their list by using SCBWI’s The Book, Children’s Writer’s & Illustrator’s Market and by just staying on top of current events.

Do you have any tips on the production process?

Definitely print at home to check colors before you send anything out. I’ve noticed that my monitor displays images much brighter than they print.

Do you use any online services? What are your favorite places to get postcards printed?

I’ve only used online services and have had the best luck with MOO and Modern Postcard. They’re not the cheapest, but I feel that the quality is the best. The thing that I really like about MOO is that it lets you have multiple front images on the same postcard order. Sometimes I like to include a piece that I’m working on to test and see what it prints like without having to pay for an entire order.*
*Clever idea!

Thanks so much for sharing your tips and adorable postcards, Doug!
Check out more of Doug’s work here:

Twitter: @dougcenko
Instagram: @dougcenko

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 searching for The Postcard Post on this blog. See you next month.

4 thoughts on “The Postcard Post: Doug Cenko

Add yours

  1. I’m not an illustrator, Dana, but I always learn something important when I pay attention to posts about illustrators and how their process works. Thanks for introducing me to this talented artist! AndI loved the marketing/promotion tips about mailing lists that Doug gave.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. As an illustrator myself, I can appreciate the fun and inspiring artwork Doug has created. I love the raccoon running through the bamboo – very dreamy and atmospheric. These are great children’s book images.


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