The Postcard Post welcomes author/illustrator Liz Wong. Prepare to be wowed!
Liz Wong was born in Honolulu, Hawaii, where she spent her early childhood painting and clambering about in mango trees. Winning the first-place trophy in her elementary school poster contest encouraged her to pursue art instead of a sensible career in finance like the rest of her family. She is the author and illustrator of QUACKERS and THE GOOSE EGG, and the illustrator of PIRATE QUEEN: A STORY OF ZHENG YI SAO written by Helaine Becker, due out in 2020. She currently resides in Edmonds, Washington, with her husband and son.
How do you choose the image(s) for a postcard?
I try to choose my strongest image – one that is representative of my current work, aesthetically pleasing, and hopefully intrigues the viewer or tells a story in some way. Since I’m trying to get work for book illustration, I try to choose something with a strong character or storytelling element over something that is purely decorative.
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 like to put all my text on the back, and just have an image on the front. On the back I try to include a black and white spot illustration that relates to the front in some way, and list my name, website, email, and agent.
Do you create illustrations specifically for your self-promotion pieces?
Generally, yes, so I can make sure it fits nicely within the dimensions of a postcard and can also fit the dimensions of my portfolio. It also has to read well at postcard size and at portfolio size, and fit in stylistically with my other work. I made a dummy once that was a really long, weird size, and though I really liked the illustrations for it, it’s pretty challenging to fit it in my portfolio or on a postcard!*
*Good point! Images can’t always do double-duty.
Some illustrators create a series of postcards and send them out over time. Do you create a series or stand-alone images?
I’ve only done stand-alone images for my postcards, but I have done multiple portfolio pieces with the same characters to show that I draw characters consistently.*
*Yes, so important. It’s helpful to see how you keep your portfolio in mind.
How often do you send out postcards?
I try to send out postcards once or twice a year, but since I got published, I found that the amount of time I have to make promo pieces and send out postcards has shrunk significantly; the time I used to put towards marketing myself as an illustrator now goes towards marketing my books. Of course, if I want to make more books, I still have to market myself as an illustrator. It’s a balancing act.* Once a year is pretty ambitious for me at the moment.
Who do you target with your mailings?
I target art directors and editors for children’s book publishing. In addition to illustrating picture books, I do work that skews towards middle grade, so I will sometimes tailor my list depending on if the postcard art is more for picture books or more for middle grade covers and interiors.
How do you compile your mailing list? Any tips on keeping a list and sending out?
I use Excel to keep track of contacts and mail merge with Word to make mailing labels. The main source of my mailing list is the SCBWI resource THE BOOK, but I also use the Publisher Weekly’s Job Moves to keep track of editors changing to different publishing houses (search “Children’s Job Moves” on the Publisher’s Weekly site). The Publisher Weekly’s Right Reports can also be a place to gather editor and agent names, and see what kind of books they are buying. LinkedIn can also be useful to see if a particular person is still at a publishing house.*
*Great tips! People move around a lot in publishing.
Do you have any tips on the production process?
I use Photoshop to design my postcards – most postcard printers have templates that you can download from their website. I spend forever looking at fonts and inevitably just use Garamond.* I designed a logo for myself** that I put on the back of my postcards and on my website. I can waste a lot of time designing a postcard, so making a template for the back and simply varying the spot illustration on it when I make a new postcard saves me a lot of design-related anxiety.
**Branding. Illustrators take note!
Do you use any online services? What are your favorite places to get postcards printed?
I use GotPrint. They are relatively inexpensive and the colors print fairly faithfully to how it looks on my screen. I’m a fan of their 16pt matte cover paper stock.
Thanks so much for your very helpful tips and sharing your beautiful postcard, Liz!
Check out the links below to see more of Liz’s work:
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.
This was super! Love Liz’s work.
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Thanks, Cathy! Me too!
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Gorgeous work! And hooray for your project with Helaine! Thank you for sharing this interview, Dana.