The Postcard Post welcomes author/illustrator Meridth McKean Gimbel. Get ready to enjoy!
As a grub, Meridth McKean Gimbel could be found reading books during math class, writing stories during lunchtime, and drawing pictures all over her arms and legs if she ran out of paper. So she got a BFA in Illustration from BYU, and she had the good fortune of interning with Brad Holland and Brett Helquist. Her illustrations have received many awards including the SCBWI Los Angeles Summer Conference Mentorship Award. Meridth lives in Central California with her husband, kids, and a paper eating corgi.
How do you choose the image(s) for a postcard?
I try to be conscious of the type of work I most want to create. I want to illustrate nonfiction and fiction in picture books and middle grade books, so I try and pick the illustrations that showcase my diverse interests.
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?
Always put your name on the front. And do your best to put the website there too. What if an art director or editor loves your piece and pins it to a bulletin board? They may love your art, but they need to remember your name for you to get the job.*
*That’s the dream!
Do you create illustrations specifically for your self-promotion pieces?
I used to but since I have a lot of stories on my drafting table and stories that are out on submission, the postcards will often be an illustration from a book proposal. But sometimes I can’t get an image out of my head, so the art I create for funsies ends up being featured on a postcard.
Some illustrators create a series of postcards and send them out over time. Do you create a series or stand-alone images?
I have thought about it but haven’t done it yet. I think that could be fun. Hmmmm.
How often do you send out postcards?
My goal is to send out at least four postcards, one per season. I’m actually keeping up with my goal this year. Yay!*
*Yay! is right. That’s fantastic!
Who do you target with your mailings?
I am focusing largely on trade publishers and a select group of magazines publishers. I try and make sure that the books or magazines I am targeting are a good fit for one of my art styles. I will send postcards to art directors, designers, editors, publishers, or anyone that I think might be interested in hiring me. I think a lot of people leave off the editors when they send out mailers, but at some publishing houses the editor is the one who will select the artist.*
As for how I find the people on my list, I will go to a bookstore or library and find the books I love the most. Then I will find out who published/edited/art directed/represented the author and/or illustrator for that book.** It’s also helpful to go to conferences, such as SCBWI, so you can get an impression of what that particular publishing person’s wish list is, and what they might be like to work with.
How do you compile your mailing list? Any tips on keeping a list and sending out?
I use an Excel spreadsheet to keep my list tidy. I used to handwrite the postcards, but that was so tedious and I have tendinitis, so I try not to do silly menial tasks as much as possible. (Hence all the laundry laying around the house.)* Now I use Mail Merge and print labels out. If I have a personal connection to the recipient, I try and write a note and/or draw a bit on the postcard to make it personal. I sometimes send out something extra, like enamel pins. (But I only send those items to a select few. So if you got an enamel pin from me, I really really like you. ☺ )
*Haha! Some of us don’t have the excuse of tendonitis!
Do you have any tips on the production process?
Make sure that you save your digital file as CMYK and not RGB. You will get better color that way. Concerning fonts, pick one fancy font and have the rest of the type be a plain Jane font like Helvetica. It’s helpful that you create a logo or use a specific font for your name so that the more you send your mailers out, the more iconic your logo will start to become.* Also, when you meet fellow artists or go to a conference, snag a postcard from the artists you admire. Those good design skills will seep into your subconscious.
*Yes, branding is so important.
Do you use any online services? What are your favorite places to get postcards printed?
I used to print my postcards at Overnight Prints because it was relatively cheap, but they messed up the color in my postcards too many times and the quality was just okay. Right now I use Moo. I love the quality of their postcards, but they are much more expensive. I’m open to changing, but I love that buttery paper so much it’s hard to break the habit. >shrug<
Thanks so much to Meridth for sharing her tips, some very valuable insights, and those wonderful postcards!
Check out the links below to see more of Meridth’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.