I’m a firm believer in using several kinds of art cards as visual reminders of my artwork with my contact information attached to get my art out in the world.  Sometimes it takes a while for people to be in a position to purchase a piece and I want to make it easy to find me when the time comes.

I’ll talk about many art cards and their uses below but first I have to share my delight that a blank greeting card with one of my images on it is about to go on sale at Trader Joe stores across the country.  The original painting , Victorian Crazy Quilt, is in the fabulous  collection of original art at the University Hospital, in Madison, WI and giclees of it are available on my sales sites.

©2010 Helen R Klebesadel, Victorian Crazy Quilt, Watercolor, 30 x 22, in the collection of University Hospital, Madison, Wisconsin

The way the Trader Joe card publication came about is an example of how ‘good things come to those who ACT and then wait.‘  Five or more years ago I was researching how to get some of my images made into greeting cards.  While many artists publish their own cards of their work I am not interested in taking time away from my studio to do that.  I wanted to license the use of my images (I retain copyright) for a percentage and let someone else deal with printing and distribution.

I started by looking to see who was publishing the collections of artists greeting cards I found most appealing in the stores I frequented and looking for publishers listed in the  Artist and Graphic Designers Market My search led me to send portfolios to several places.  In particular I contacted  a company called Artists to Watch owned by Kathrine Shaw.  While at the time it didn’t work out, Kathrine remembered my work and contacted me when this opportunity came up.  After going through the jury process my image was selected to be included in the next round of Trader Joe cards published and put on sale.  Look for them if you have a store near you.

Other kinds of cards:

Regular business cards and mini cards: To be honest while I have them I usually didn’t use traditional small business cards as ‘leave behinds’ as often as postcard sized cards for the larger image space they provide.  However, as small business owners all artists need business cards so I have just ordered a new batch.    I’ve been very impressed with Moo Cards for this purpose.  There are cheaper places to have business cards printed (they also do post cards, greeting cards, and mini cards) but you can not beat the quality, they offer green options, and they allow you to print two-sided full color with multiple designs or photographs in your order. Best yet, if you sell on Etsy or have images on Facebook the images can be uploaded directly very easily. (I ordered a set of business cards with twenty separate images on them in less than half an hour). They also have a line of mini cards that make nice inclusions in smaller packaging when sending and order off to a customer.

Exhibition Post Cards: I always keep a stack of postcards on hand and in my purse to share if anyone indicates the slightest interest in my art.  These cards with 4×6 images are often posted on refrigerators and bulletin boards, and sometimes even framed.   Ask your friend/artists who they use to print their announcements to see if there is someone local who can do it for you well at a decent price.  There are many, many places online now where you can have quality postcards printed at a reasonable rate. I ordered my most recent batch at OvernightPrints.com and was very happy with the price and quality, but there are many more options if you research them.

One strategy I have found to be very effective is to print extra blank cards whenever I have an exhibition announcement printed by a gallery.  I always ask the gallery if they will print 500 to 1000 blank cards if I pay the cost of the extra cards. Since most of the cost is in the set up I usually only end up paying for the paper they are printed on.  I’ve found this a great way to keep quality ‘leave-behinds’ on hand over the years.  The only issue you need to pay attention to is whether your name and the artwork title and specifics are printed on the back or the front.  If they are printed on the back you will lose them on the blank cards unless you are willing to pay a separate set-up fee for printing a new back.  I usually create small Avery labels with the art specifics and my website and attach them before handing out the cards.

Blank Greeting Cards: As I mentioned before I am more interested in having greeting cards handled by a publisher than printing and distributing them myself.  It requires a willingness to give time and attention to cost analysis for the artists who are successful at making and selling their own cards, and many are.  Some artists cost out the printing and use their home printers to make cards.  Others print their art on cards and objects at sites like Cafe Press and Zazzle.com (check out my morel mushroom hunting shoes here).  Some of the mega artist sites like Fine Art America sell giclees and cards for the artists that sign up with them, but I don’t know enough about it to recommend them.  (I’d like to hear what your experience has been if you have your work there).

Cards for Fundraising: I have worked with a local non-profit to create a set of blank greeting cards as a fundraiser.  I have a series of watercolor quilt paintings and everytime I shoe the series it results in inquiries about whether I work with Hospice.  After the third or forth inquiry about this I made an appointment with the CEO of Hospice Care Inc. in my area (with the help of a friend who was braver than I, thanks Joan).  The response was positive to my offer to let them use the images for free, as long as my name and contact information was on the back of each card.  They produced a set of cards ten of my quilt images that are available in their facility gift shop and through my Etsy Store.  One hundred percent of any profits go to this fine cause.

Art Cards for Hospice Care Inc. fundraiser.

Art Cards for Hospice Care Inc. fundraiser.

The best part for me about my altuism was that it back fired in a very positive way.  In trying to give away the use of my images (but not my copyright to them) my work came to the attention of people who were an excellent audience for me.  Hospice Care Inc. commissioned me to create a new work for the Ellen and Peter Johnson HospiceCare Residence in Fitchberg, Wisconsin.  My triptych is now on display in the lobby of the new facility.  You can see it in person if you stop by to find my cards in their gift shop.

©2010 Helen R Klebesadel, Hospice Comforters, Watercolor, 30 x 68, in the collection of HospiceCare Inc. Wisconsin