The Postcard Post welcomes Matthew Rivera. I picked up Matthew’s postcard at the SCBWI Summer Conference in Los Angeles this past August— more proof, if you need it, that postcards are great communicators!
Growing up, Matthew Rivera was notorious for doodling on any receipts or utility bills his parents left lying around the house. He entered every kind of poster contest he could in elementary school, and won– from energy conservation to the 5th grade holiday musical. He received his BFA from the University of Arizona, and worked for many years as an art director for corporations and toy makers. Now, he’s a full time illustrator and writer of KidLit, has won many SCBWI portfolio contests, and is the recipient of this year’s Social Media Mentorship from the L.A. summer conference. His first picture books as an illustrator debuted this year, with more on the way in 2020 and 2021.
How do you choose the image(s) for a postcard?
The artwork is typically based on new story ideas I have for potential picture books. Sometimes the illustration comes from new picture book dummies I might have in the works.
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 try to create artwork that will capture the viewer’s attention right away. I usually just put my website on the front because I don’t want to crowd the image. Since my background is in branding and marketing, placing my name and what I do on the back goes against everything I learned as an art director! However, I think letting the image speak for itself is the way to go in this industry.
Do you create illustrations specifically for your self-promotion pieces?
Absolutely. I’ve created a lot of art for self-promotion. I also like to use it as a tool to raise awareness. I love promoting animal and nature causes, which is something I’m passionate about. This includes World Elephant Day, Earth Day and I participated in KidLit4Climate on social media. I often use this art on the back of my postcards.
*Great way to promote worthy causes while showing your passions and interests to the recipient.
Some illustrators create a series of postcards and send them out over time. Do you create a series or stand-alone images?
All of my postcards are stand-alone. A series sounds like a good idea but I worry about art directors and editors seeing them out of sequence or context.
How often do you send out postcards?
I try and send out a postcard once a quarter. This past year has been difficult since I’ve been lucky to have a lot of contract work. I do try and stay on top of it otherwise.
Who do you target with your mailings?
I target 30-40 different art directors and a few editors from many publishing houses. I use the SCBWI’s THE BOOK* as a guide, which provides useful mailing information. A few publishing houses have several different art directors and the SCBWI reference states whether they want postcards sent to each individual or to a general art submissions group. I also send them to art directors and editors that have given workshops at SCBWI conferences.
*For those who aren’t familiar with this resource, it’s The Book: Essential Guide to Publishing for Children which is available to members of The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) only.
How do you compile your mailing list? Any tips on keeping a list and sending out?
I share a working list via MS Word on Google Drive with my critique buddies. Again, my list comes from the SCBWI’s THE BOOK but sometimes the information is out-of-date. We try and keep our list as updated as possible. When I’m ready for my mailings, I print a checklist and address my postcards by hand using a waterproof marker. If I personally know or if I’ve met an editor or art director at a conference, I’ll write a friendly note on the back.*
*All great info here! SCBWI updates THE BOOK yearly but things change fast in publishing so double checking is a good idea. And I LOVE the waterproof marker! 🙂
Do you have any tips on the production process?
Since I was an art director and graphic designer in my previous profession, print production is second nature to me. I use online printers a lot and I make sure to follow the guidelines they have listed online. I typically convert my artwork to hi-res TIFF or JPG files for uploading. Every online printer should have guides and templates. As for typography, I try and use fonts that are classic and not trendy, and I make sure they don’t compete with the artwork. Readability is definitely a priority. I’ve found some great and affordable typefaces on myfonts.com, which is my go-to font shop. Something I learned this past year: adding my return address on the back to see which postcards don’t make it to their destinations.* This helps me avoid sending four postcards a year to someone that’s never going to see them.
*Matthew! You think of everything. A true postcard genius!
Do you use any online services? What are your favorite places to get postcards printed?
Gotprint.com is my go-to printer. I’ve used ‘fancier’ online printers in the past but I like gotprint’s quality and they’re super affordable. They’re usually half the cost of other online printers and they’re pretty fast.
Thank so much, Matthew, for sharing your amazing tips and beautiful postcard! Check out the links below to see more of Matthews’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.
Thoughts? Questions? Comments? We want to hear them!