Sub It Club welcomes illustrator Amy Farrier to The Postcard Post.
Amy Farrier grew up surrounded by books and art supplies from an early age. She graduated with a BA in English, but it would take her several interesting jobs before finding her way to SCBWI and the idea of telling stories through picture books. She volunteered for over three years as the Illustrator Coordinator for SCBWI Austin and learned a ton about the world of children’s book publishing, in addition to meeting some amazing storytellers. Amy works in watercolor and pen and ink, embracing all the beautiful surprises that brings. She lives in Austin, Texas, with her young daughter and sassy, semi-feral cat. She is a member of SCBWI Austin and is represented by Susan Hawk of Upstart Crow Literary.
How do you choose the image(s) for a postcard?
My promo postcards usually happen one of two ways: before an SCBWI conference* or as part of group mailing for the Girllustrators, an illustrator group that I’m part of. For a conference, I try to choose a story-worthy character or a scene from a story that I’m currently working on. For our Girllustrator mailings, we agree on a concept, layout and loose color palette that we all stick to. Some past concepts: Dia de los Muertos/Valentine’s Day mash-up, recipe card, etc. If I can use one of my already existing characters in these parameters, even better, but sometimes they are a standalone.
*Yes! That tends to motivate a lot of us!
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?
Aesthetically, I’m a purist and would prefer just the image without any text. But for practical marketing reasons, I think having the website, at the very least, on both sides is important. It helps that my website is my name, so it serves multiple purposes. An art director once mentioned that if a postcard was pinned up on a board, it was important that it have some sort of contact info immediately visible without having to flip it over. If in doubt, go with whatever involves the fewest steps between the art director seeing your work and contacting you.*
*Illustrators often have strong feelings about this one way or the other but this makes sense.
Do you create illustrations specifically for your self-promotion pieces?
I have, but I prefer to use characters that I’m exploring for story purposes. I’m more invested in them, and I feel like because of that, they are more interesting and specific.
Some illustrators create a series of postcards and send them out over time. Do you create a series or stand-alone images?
I love this idea, and I’ve had it on my to do list for years…maybe one of these days.
How often do you send out postcards?
I’ve heard 3 times a year is a good goal, but since having my daughter, I’d be happy with one time a year! I’m still finding my way back to storytelling and promo postcards and social media since becoming a mom.*
*Well, here you are so you’re getting there.
Who do you target with your mailings?
For individual postcards, the first target is SCBWI conference faculty and fellow attendees (I love gathering other illustrators’ postcards and being inspired by what they are doing!). Then I have a list of children’s publishing AD’s and editors that I send to after the conference.
How do you compile your mailing list? Any tips on keeping a list and sending out?
I use the SCBWI Book to keep up to date on contacts, but I pull from art directors and editors that have been faculty at conferences or have done blog interviews that I’ve read. I try to keep my list curated to people/imprints that are a good fit for me and my work.* I’m a big Excel nerd, so I keep my contacts in a spreadsheet with columns for mailing dates and notes, including anything I’ve heard art directors/editors mention that they like. Then print out mailing labels from there. I wrote addresses by hand early on to give it a personal touch, but now I feel like the art should do the talking. I will write a short personal note on the card if I’ve met the person.
*Smart. The research is worth it.
Do you have any tips on the production process?
My production game could be tighter, as my graphic design days are getting further away in the past and these aren’t skills I use on a daily basis. But I illustrate with traditional media, scan at a very high resolution (my work is often very small), use my out-of-date Photoshop to make minor corrections/adjustments, and then worry about whether the color will translate at the printer. I’ve had both excellent color reproduction and skewed colors from printers; it’s always a nail-biter, so I’m learning to leave time for reprints before a conference. As for fonts, I use a simple font that goes with my minimal logo.*
*Your logo is beautiful– great branding.
Do you use any online services? What are your favorite places to get postcards printed?
I have used Overnight Prints for my personal promos. I’ve used Moo for minicards with a variety of images, but those disappear really quickly at an event. I’d love to do a Moo full-sized postcard targeted mailing in the future, with images tailored to recipients*…but that takes more time than I have at present to do well. As for our Girllustrator group mailings, we use a local printer here in Austin.
*The multi-pack DOES look tempting but I never have the time to figure it out!
A big thank you to Amy for sharing her lovely images and helpful tips.
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.