Sub It Club is thrilled to welcome author/illustrator Isabella Kung. Prepared to be wowed by her postcards and tips!
Isabella Kung is the author and illustrator of NO FUZZBALL! (Scholastic, 2020), a picture book about a fuzzy feline despot who rules the house with an iron paw. Continuing her feline obsession, she also illustrated over 120 cats for the board books 123 CATS and ABC CATS by Lesléa Newman (Candlewick, 2021). Her illustrations have received accolades from institutions such as the Society of Illustrators, Spectrum Fantasy Art, 3×3, Creative Quarterly, and SCBWI. Outside the world of publishing, Isabella teaches illustration and watercolor classes at Storyteller Academy and Etchr Lab. She is also the current Illustrator coordinator of the SCBWI SF/South region. Isabella resides in San Francisco with her husband and two adorable – you guessed it – cats! She is represented by Jennifer Laughran at Andrea Brown Literary.
How do you choose the image(s) for a postcard?
I would usually choose a newer personal piece that I am proud of. Something that showcases a skill I haven’t highlighted in my portfolio yet.
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 most of the text on the back of the postcard. The only text I’ll put on the front of the postcard is my website. This way my postcards can be used for promotional purposes and available for purchase at craft of gallery shows too.*
*The versatility of postcards is great.
Do you create illustrations specifically for your self-promotion pieces?
Yes! As an illustrator, the artwork you put in your portfolio and promote is often the type of work you will be commissioned to do. One of the few ways you can show off new facets of your abilities and add variation to your portfolio is to create new personal illustrations. Even when I’ve created proud new pieces for a new book or project, I often have to wait months to a year before I can start promoting it. So if I have time, I try to experiment and create new personal work to use for promotion!
Some illustrators create a series of postcards and send them out over time. Do you create a series or stand-alone images?
Generally, I create stand-alone images. I think after working on 32 or 40-page picture books, it’s nice to take a break and do some stand-alone illustrations. Though working on a series is a great idea, it will certainly make the promo series more memorable! Sadly, I don’t have the time in the past few years to create much personal/promotional work. And when I do, I try to spend that time writing and developing my next story.
How often do you send out postcards?
In the past, about 2-3 postcards a year. I’m a little embarrassed to admit, I have only done 1 per year for the past 3 years (none in 2020).* I’ve been quite busy, but I do look forward to later this year when I am done with most of my deadlines. Maybe then, I can create new personal pieces and hopefully one will be postcard worthy!
*One a year is still good :-)… and 2020 was a weird year since illustrators weren’t sure about mailing postcards.
Who do you target with your mailings?
Mostly children’s publishing art directors and a few editors, and only 2-3 magazines.
How do you compile your mailing list? Any tips on keeping a list and sending out?
I have a spreadsheet* that I update every year. Adding or refining to it as I read about industry news or when I discover a new art director or editors I like. I also cross check my mailing list with SCBWI’s THE BOOK.** They have a publishing directory that lists almost all of the current publishing houses’ information and sometimes lists submission directions too.
*Oooo! I admire the spreadsheet– very organized!
**Yes, THE BOOK. A real perk for SCBWI members.
Do you have any tips on the production process?
Oh good question! Make sure to scan your work at 350 dpi or higher for any artwork that you’d like to print. Keep your fonts simple and legible – try to avoid script-like cursive fonts (unless that is your logo), and leave room for writing addresses at the back. Also, 4×6 standard postcard sizes are the most cost-effective.
Do you use any online services? What are your favorite places to get postcards printed?
Yes! My favorite online printing service is Gotprint.com. They have always produced great quality prints with color accuracy, quick turnaround, and at a decent price too! I also print my business cards there.
Big thanks to Isabella for sharing her images and excellent self-promo tips.
Get to know more about Isabella and her work with these links and be sure to check out her YouTube channel:
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.
Love your illustration work Isabella! So much color, texture, and terrific compositions. Thank you for sharing your advice and tips!
I’m in love with the cat in the pool image! All your images here have such depth!