Thursday, 24 August 2017

How I Create Art Cards

We've had the hottest July on record and hardly a drop of rain, not even enough to register. The wild fires are still raging. There are no large fires in the valley because we have great containment systems for small natural or man made fires, including large fines for the idiots that disobey the fire bans: However the wind is blowing in smoke from up to 1,000 miles away, where our B.C. forests are being ravaged.

So, instead of taking inspirational day trips, I'm forced inside to work on tasks I usually do in winter. Hence my coffee table is strewn with card making supplies and I thought you would enjoy seeing my creation process.

About a year ago I ran out of the pre-printed Art Cards which I designed with a printer some distance away. I found the print quality and wholesale price breaks were too high locally, so I designed a system where I monitor the quality and cost every step of the way. My system is flexible, so I can print one or one hundred of each design and not be forced to bulk order huge runs of one image.

Discounts can be substantial if you print more than one of each design, but you only have to order two for a 25% discount or three for 50%, so I usually print 2 to 6 of each image depending on popularity.

The System

1. First, I image my painting with a digital camera and optimize it. Most digital cameras come with an app, my iPad has a good one, or use basic photoshop.

2. Get friendly with your local photo lab. We have a really helpful team in our London Drugs pharmacy and I like that you can order photo prints online. Check the photo printing options in your town; compare prices and test a small batch to check quality. Chat with the tech if possible explaining that you're an artist and accurate color and presentation is important to you. They will generally turn off their automatic photo optimization, so your colors remain as you've optimized. I generally order about 100 printsso assembly can be streamlined.

3. For a 5" x 7" blank, a 6" x 4" photo looks good. Michaels blanks are slightly smaller and work with 3.5" x 5.5". It depends on your philosophy which one you choose, but 6" x 4" are easy to frame and 3.5" x 5.5" are not. If you make income from selling small prints it is wiser to opt for the latter. In
Michaels there are several color options which can make your cards ore appealing. White is standard,

 but ivory, black and tan are interesting and bright colors work for simple black and white designs.

Remember to take your prints along to see what works best.

4. This may seem pretty basic, but before sticking the print down, check where the opening is and which way you will apply the photo to the blank card: Horizontal or Vertical. It may be too late after you have stuck it down. I can't tell you how many cards I've ruined by getting it wrong.

5. After much trial and error with glues and tapes that are messy, don't stick or buckle the card, I've opted for Canson photo squares. They are pricey, but there are enough for 125 cards in each box. Attach quite close to the corner. Peel off the backing using your finger nail under the handy tab. Apply to blank card (checking you have it the right way up and absolutely straight).

6. There is very little profit in Art cards. Lets say they cost $1 to produce, even if retail is $5, wholesale is generally 50%, so selling through a gallery or shop nets you $1.50. So look at them as a no expense marketing tool. Tell the purchaser who the artist is with contact details and if fine art prints are available. Remember to put the name of the painting on the back for reference. For a few cards you can do this by hand, but more than 10 and it pays to have a stamp or pre printed labels. I like to use a label and write the name of the painting longhand underneath for that a personal touch.

7. Crystal Clear archival bags. Make sure your bags are archival quality, cellophane not polythene. Poly bags are not very clear or archival and will eventually stick to, or release chemicals onto the photo. Many galleries are hot, cold, humid or dry and Crystal Clear bags rise to the challenge of keeping your art card pristine.

One more word on the bags, make sure they have a peel and stick glue bar and that it is on the back not on the inside of the flap, so if you are taking the card in and out it won't stick to the flap. You will regret it if you buy the others.

8. Pre-printed price tags look classy and save the retailer time, so they will love you. I get mine from the dollar store, and the ones I can't use I donate to the thrifts store.

When calculating cost add all these (pro-rated per card)
Printing of image (ink and printer wear if you do it yourself)
Photo squares
pre-printed contact lable
crystal clear bag
pre printed price lable

I dont print my Art Cards on a home printer because professional photo printing is much more classy, the photo print adds stiffness and quality finish to your cards. In order for card stock to go through a printer it is too flimsy to look good. Remember that although you only make a small profit, this is free advertising and a quality card tells the buyer that you offer quality work.