Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Postcards - Supersize Calling Cards

When the digital printing revolution took off, it began with postcards. At least that's how I remember it; if business cards were offered I didn't notice at the time. I had my first full color postcard printed by Modern Postcard for a show in 1995, with this painting on it ( I was in a Co-op gallery and we all had to do our own show promotions-- a great learning experience).

"Hot House Roses" - oil - 28" x 28" - SOLD

I quickly realized how much help these art cards were in answering the Inevitable "What Kind of Art Do You Do?" Question: hand someone a big beautiful postcard, and the conversation can really begin. Postcards of your art definitely have a bit of WOW factor, and I always try to have some handy just in case. Back then the minimum order was higher than some companies today, so as a result I still have some after all these years, and now I always order so that I have a stack of extras. Tomorrow I'll write about how the extra cards are still useful years later.

Marian Fortunati asked a good question yesterday; "How do you decide what painting to use on a card or postcard?"

  1. Use your best work (that probably seems like a natural)
  2. For your business card, choose a painting that is representative of your current body of work. So, if you feel your best painting is a portrait you did, but it's a one off and everything else you have is seascapes, then choose your best seascape
    *(an exception to this might be, if you want to offer portraits by commission, have a separate card for that).
    For a show invitation, choose the 'star' painting of your show.
  3. If you do two or more genres of work (for instance, still lifes and landscapes), consider a double sided card, or two or more cards.
  4. Be careful when printing images with a lot of blue; of all the cards I've had printed, blues are the least likely to match. It has to do with that RGB/CMYK thing, I think.
  5. Have reasonable expectations: if you are buying discount printing, there may be some color discrepancy. If the color absolutely must be spot on, choose a more expensive printer and pay for a color proof.

For most of us artists, I'd suggest printing short runs. You can order business cards in runs of 250 quite reasonably; this would get many artists through a year. I usually print a new business card every 1-2 years, depending on how much my work has changed. Postcards can be ordered in quantities starting at 100 at some printers.

I'm still sending out samples of printed postcards; those of you on my mailing list will see one in your mailbox soon! (Want one? Click here).

A big thanks to Megha Chhatbar, who has kindly passed forward the "Passion for Painting" award. Thanks, I'm blushing! I will try to name some awardees this week.



  1. Excellent advice, postcards have worked very well for me. I've just followed a template that allowed me to show 1 large image and 3 smaller images. Clients really like it when you select their painting to showcase on a postcard. I also like that I can write a quick note on the back and drop the card in the mail. Thanks for all of your hard work you do for us.

  2. More great advice R! Nice work on the post card too.

    Thanks for visiting my blog and your kind words too...I appreciate it.

  3. Congrats on the award, R.! Thanks for another informative post. So much good information packed in here!

  4. Hey R., this info is really useful. Thanks! I tell you, you create magic with colors...Fantastic Work! :)

  5. Hey R - As always, thanks for your generous sharing of information! Gorgeous painting too!

  6. Thanks, r!!
    And that card that you printed so long ago... If that's the one shown in this post....... It's just a gorgeous painting!!! WOW!!!

  7. Hi R.,

    Thanks once again for a helpful blog. I was just planning to order some note cards, but I am thinking now about postcards instead.

    A lovely painting on your postcard. Stunning as always.

    Take care,


  8. I've completely enjoyed reading all the great info! Loved seeing your DSFDF entry too!

  9. Once again, this info is so helpful. Thanks.

  10. Love your blog, a very enjoyable read and good advice on postcards. I am doing a solo show in October so this is very timely. Love your art, you have a very pleasing style.


Thank you for your kind comments! They always make my day.