The Postcard Post welcomes Elizabeth Sparg. I picked up Elizabeth’s postcard(s!) at the SCBWI Summer Conference in Los Angeles this past August at the Portfolio Showcase. Now it’s your turn to enjoy!
Elizabeth Sparg is an illustrator from Durban, South Africa. With a background in fine art, graphic design and web design, she began her path to illustrating children’s books a few years ago. Her debut picture book “A Pet for Mr Patel” is due for publication by Bumble Books, early next year and includes her favorite thing – illustrating animal characters! Elizabeth is also studying the craft of writing and is working on a number of dummies and stories of her own. She particularly loves wordless picture books and is inspired by the storytelling capacity of their images.
How do you choose the image(s) for a postcard?
Honestly, I struggle to choose. This is why I had five different postcards with different images on the front for the SCBWI Summer Conference. Most of them were of my most recent work with just one being from something I did over a year ago, but still love. The light blue one with the multiple small drawings and my name in the middle, is what I used for the front cover of my printed portfolio for the conference, so I thought it would be a nice postcard to remind people which portfolio it went with. Then there was a bit of a variety in the others – one very character focused, one showing a street scene and buildings, and even one of an infographic nature.*
*Good idea to show a variety!
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 prefer text on the back generally. I will still put my name on the artwork on the front somewhere, though. I think it is important that people always see your name with your work, as they will subconsciously take that in and start to “remember” you and your style (if your style is distinctive enough).
Do you create illustrations specifically for your self-promotion pieces?
I do create specific pieces for my portfolio (website and printed portfolio) and then use these on other promo items like postcards (even though they sometimes need to be cropped to fit). Personal pieces made with my portfolio in mind, I think, is the best way to create something I love, which shows the type of work I want to get, without being too heavily influenced by a particular client’s needs, feedback, or aesthetics of a specific project.*
*Great point! Show the work you’d like to get.
Some illustrators create a series of postcards and send them out over time. Do you create a series or stand-alone images?
I have never thought of doing a series. At the moment, mine are all stand-alone.
How often do you send out postcards?
I haven’t actually “sent” any out yet. I have made a bunch for specific occasions like the SCBWI Conference, which I handed out there and left alongside my portfolio in the portfolio showcase for people to take.* But I am in the process of putting together some work to pitch to agents and publishers and when that is ready, I may send some postcards out with my pitch. I can’t see myself sending out physical postcards more than once a year, or only when I am pitching something specific, maybe. But I do plan to send out digital postcards, maybe 3 times a year, when I get my act together one day.*
*Postcards are great leave-behinds and great to hand deliver. Getting them out there is key!
Who do you target with your mailings?
At the moment I am targeting mainly children’s publishing so illustration agents, literary agents, art directors and publishers in the children’s book industry – both locally and internationally.
How do you compile your mailing list? Any tips on keeping a list and sending out?
I have a sign up form on my website but not many subscribers yet so I am manually putting together a couple of lists for different things. I have a short list of faculty I want to send to from the SCBWI conference (they give you’re their details and what they are specifically looking for, if you attend the conference). I also have a list I’ve compiled from going through the “Children’s Writers and Illustrators Market” handbook. And I often save names of agents or publishers I come across on Instagram – for example, when an artist I am following announces a new book, or that they’ve been picked up by an agent, I go and look at the agent or publisher’s profile and if I like them and think they might like my work, I make a note of them to send to when I am ready. I divide my lists by “literary agent,” “illustration agents and art directors,” “publishers,” and “other.” I keep all my lists for everything I do in my life, on one web page using Workflowy.com. My whole brain is pretty much stored and organized in that one web tab which is open on my desktop all day every day and links to an app on my phone. So if I come across a new contact for my mailing lists, it’s super easy to copy and paste them into the relevant list, without it becoming a big effort.
Once I start sending out cards, emails, or pitching, I will probably move the lists into an Excel sheet and keep track of who I mailed what and when.*
*These are all good ways to compile a targeted list.
Do you have any tips on the production process?
My biggest tip is to check if the company you are printing with has a template you can download. Many of the online printing companies do, and this takes out a chunk of the work and you will know you have the correct size, color space, bleed settings, etc. I use Photoshop so I will look for the Photoshop template file and then just paste my artwork in there. I like to use “clean” fonts that don’t detract from the art too much so I will typically pick a standard, sans-serif font and not spend too much time fussing over it. (The art is the most important after all. And my postcards are usually last minute so I don’t have time to fuss). I did add a little bit of hand lettering on my last set of postcards. I can’t remember if I scanned this in or did it directly on my computer – probably a combination.
Do you use any online services? What are your favorite places to get postcards printed?
I printed my last set of postcards through Vistaprint while I was in California. They were affordable and fast. I chose the “standard” postcard option but I didn’t really know what to expect in terms of quality. I was very happy with what I got for the price. The colors come out great, which was my biggest worry.
Thank so much, Elizabeth, for sharing your very helpful tips and variety of postcards! Check out the links below to see more of Elizabeth Sparg’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.