The Postcard Post: Mike DeSantis

I picked up a lot of wonderful postcards at the SCBWI summer Conference in Los Angeles (those postcards do get around). One of them was created by our featured illustrator today. Sub It Club welcomes illustrator Mike DeSantis to The Postcard Post.

Illustrator Mike DeSantis lives near Cleveland, Ohio with his wonderful wife, his three delightful children, and two wiener dogs. He currently creates most of his color work in traditional media and his black and white work digitally. He is a regular contributor to Highlights for Children magazine and Highlights Press puzzle books. He has also illustrated three picture books, including ROCK AWAY GRANNY by Dandi Daley Mackall (SkyPony Press, 2017). Mike is Regional Advisor for SCBWI Northern Ohio.

Postcard front (I wonder what’s going to happen next…)

How do you choose the image(s) for a postcard?
Most of my postcard images come from works in progress or online illustration prompts (e.g., #ColourCollective)*. This postcard came from an idea that I jotted in my journal, “International Bear Radio Network.”Unfortunately, I couldn’t remember what I was thinking.** I made a few sample illustrations to see if it would jog my memory. No luck. This was my favorite from the set (plus we took a trip to Iceland this summer and I had puffins on the brain).
*Great way to come up with new illustrations.
**Haha! I can relate.

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?

Name recognition is key, so I always include my name on the front of the postcard. If I can get the recipient to associate my name with a fun image, all the better!

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

Yes, I usually create pieces specifically for promotion. Pieces created for other assignments or projects are often not the right scale or proportion for a postcard. If I am going to the trouble of creating a promotional piece, I need to use an image that best suits the purpose.

Postcard back (Love that the story continues…)

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

As part of my business strategy, I stick with stand-alone images (in reality, I am not organized enough to plan more than one postcard at a time).*
*Ha! You had me believing the “business strategy” bit for a few seconds.

How often do you send out postcards?

I shoot for four per year, and usually achieve three.

Who do you target with your mailings?
I primarily target art directors and designers, but also some editors. My mom would be mad if I didn’t send her one too.*
*What a good son!

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

THE BOOK from SCBWI was the starting point for the list. I usually compare my list to THE BOOK at the beginning of the year to check for any changes. There’s also a “Publisher’s Corner” section of the SCBWI Bulletin that includes recent job changes for art directors and designers. LinkedIn can also be a source of identifying names of art directors and designers, but I am always careful to find projects they have worked on to make sure my illustrations would be a reasonable fit.*
*So many solid tips in this answer.

Sample ink and watercolor illustration from a work-in-progress.

Do you have any tips on the production process?

There’s not a lot magic here. I downloaded the template from the printing service’s web site. I tend to use the same font/layout for a year or two until I get bored and switch things up.

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

I use* for my printing. Their website is easy to work with and they are local for me. The “soft touch” finish really complements my watercolor work.
*I didn’t know of this printer before but the website has some good offers. Local people take note.

Thank you so much for inviting me to participate!

A big thank to you, Mike! Great tips and fun illustrations.

Check out more of Mike’s work here:
Twitter: @MDeSantisDraws

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.

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