Steps to publish your art as cards, notecards or postcards

Publishing your work as art cards, notebooks and postcards

Art cards, notebooks and postcards are excellent for getting your name out there while earning some coin. Notebooks are working well for abstract artists where color and feeling draw.

Postcards are great for photographs and promotion. Our standard art cards come as 5" x 7", note card (1/4 letter), 4" x 6" or 5.75" square. They are used as stationary and often framed. 

As PageMaster prints books in-house, we have created an efficient process and standard sizing for art notebooks. Publish your art and see it spread.

A package of card, envelope and clear bag are under a dollar and take little room in your display. There is good margin so you can sell them in stores, including the PageMasterPublishing.ca store. Postcards are about $0.15 each. We have four sizes of notebooks which run between $2 and $6 to manufacture. These products do take more setup than straight prints, but they also provide more price points. Also, don't require wall space for the end user.

The steps include: determining the audience and tone, selecting images, confirming the size, writing your short bio and descriptions, photographing or scanning, creating the cards, proofing and approvals, manufacturing, and then on to marketing and distribution.

1

Determine the audience, tone images:

All communication begins with the question of connection. Who do you want to connect with and what do you want them to feel or do? You can easily publish a number of images, so think of groupings. Each card series may have a different tone, but getting clear on who and why will make the other decisions easier, and the product more effective. Your style will also determine the tone and often inform the size and aspect ratio of possible art cards, notebooks or postcards.

Curating images:

Is the work funky, serious, realistic, abstract, classical, baroque, drawings, photographs...? Can you create a series, or four? How many images to test the market? What potential outlets are there? What are the aspect ratios of the work? Is cropping okay?

It is recommended to do 100 or more cards for printing efficiency. You can mix images but it is cheaper if you stay with one or two sizes or formats. Some artists do well with cards and others don't. Some do well with notebooks. Consider your audience and your work as you choose images for your first run.

2

Choose Format:

We have three main formats available.


Art cards

Art cards come in standard sizes with invitation envelopes. We stock clear bags for art cards and some clear boxes.

folding art and note cards

Folding cards in a variety of sizes: 5x7, quarter letter, 4x6, 9.25x4, 5.75 square

Notebooks

Blank or lined journals (6 x 9), doodle books (5.75 x 6), and sketchbooks (9 x 12) are available. They have a trade paperback binding with UV coated cover and about 80 sheets (160 pages). Art work title and artist on the inside front cover, about the artist on the inside back cover. These are setup for economical printing and have no critical spine alignment. 

art covers for notebooks

Art adorned notebooks in four sizes.

Postcards

Standard postcards are 4 x 6" but since no envelope is required, only the minimum and maximum postal sizes, and printing efficiencies dictate size. Postcards are printed full color one side and black on the back. UV coating for protection is included. 

The aspect ratio of your work will affect your choices of both format and size.

common aspect ratio table

Journals and postcards match 35mm or 3:2 aspect ratio. Standard art cards are 5 x 7 inches which does not match most originals without cropping. Note cards (quarter letter) work well for many images but are on the smaller side. 

Other considerations for size and format:

Is it okay to crop just a portion of the image?

Will the images fill the frame? If so, is there bleed allowance? or, will there be a border? It is generally acceptable to have a slightly larger bottom border but the art should look natural and not forced into a size. The border doesn't have to be white. Bleed allowance is the bit of extra image printed to allow for clean trimming. If important detail would be lost, then a border would be best. Borders need to be a minimum of 1/4"  and can be white, a color, or texture.

Notebooks can have an image wrap around the entire cover, be mirrored on the back cover, or have a related image on the back cover. The standard notebook pricing is designed to bind efficiently and requires no hard spine edges.

The choice of postcard, folding card or notebook format have more to do with budget and audience. You may want to have postcards for marketing with a coupon, or just your site; but that is a different strategy.

3

Adding value through connection:

About you. It is good to have a short bio and artist photo to help build connection. This work is created by a real person, and often local. There is room for a photo on the back of your art cards. A cropped environmental portrait is recommended.

Title of the work, size, media, place and a short story can all add connection. Providing a table or spreadsheet for content, including the file names of images, is best if sending the work to us or another designer. You may also want to add a series name.

Don't forget to include your web site and relative social media profiles. Consider how much contact information you want to make public, but do include some.

4

Building the art cards, notebooks  or postcards:

Photographing or scanning:

If you are publishing your work, you probably already have them in digital form.

Smaller reproductions are not as critical but we do offer scanning and capture services from our Edmonton location. If you would like more information on capturing your own art, please leave a comment below or contact us. If there is sufficient interest I will put a course together.

The main factors for good photographs for your art include lighting, color balance, and perspective. Use of a tripod, balanced lighting, grey graduations card, and incident light meter are necessary for accurate work.

Smaller pieces of art can be scanned.

If images are to print full size they also need bleed allowance (extra edge that will be cut off). If the image doesn't fit the aspect ratio of the card or book, some will be cropped. We believe squishing or stretching an image to be sacrilegious – we only crop.

Color space and resolution:

You will get the best color with an RGB workflow. Ensure a color profile is embedded.

Resolution of 300 pixels per inch at the final size is optimal. There is more information on resolution here.

how much resolution to print?

Resolution test strip. The original image portion used was 300 pixels per inch (31mp Hasselblad capture). Each test was downsampled from the original and printed on photo paper at the same physical size. There is some loss of quality between 300 and 144 ppi but barely perceptible. Below 144 we deem too soft or blocky if you are walking up to the image.

File naming and formats:

JPG max/high is okay for transport. Each time you make changes to a JPG file and resave it you lose quality. Work in tiff, raw or other lossless format and use JPG max for the final file to save bandwidth.

For file naming we include your initials as the first characters of the file name followed by an underscore, then the name of the piece, then the camera numbers. If sending files to us for assembly this helps.


Graphic assembly:

DIY:

We accept art cards and postcards as PDF ready-to-print files. 

PageMaster Assembly:

For books, we accept image files and copy and do the assembly. The standard rate for assembling and first time setup for art cards and notebooks with up to four images is $44.35. Additional images in the same order are $5 each.

If we are assembling the cards, a text file or spreadsheet with file names matched to descriptions of works is excellent. If there are only a few images, you can add comments in the project.

We also request a short artist bio, author photo, and your web and social accounts to build connection with your people. Information can be uploaded into your project.

Proofing

We recommend a hard copy proof to check color. If we are assembling, a digital proof to check cropping and copy comes first. Expect a week for assembly and two working days for proofing. 

 

5

Printing your cards or books

A week from proof approval is the standard timeline for cards. It is recommended that you print a minimum of 100 cards to offset setup costs. 

Setup

There is some cost for setting up for the first printing, even if you provide "print-ready" files. We separate the cost of setting up the equipment each run and the variable cost of each item to make pricing simple.

Images can be mixed and matched without additional costs as long as quantities are similar. (20 each of these, and 10 each of those is okay). 


  • postcards are full-color with a black back. Setup is $37
  • art card setup (blank inside) is $38.50
  • single notebook/journal/doodle/sketch setup is $27.50
    (additional sizes at the same time, $5)
    Add $10 setup if inside pages are printed/lined

Variable printing costs

Standard stock is 10pt cover (the same as we use for books). Books and postcards come with gloss UV coating for protection. Other stocks are available.

Books are on 50# opaque Husky, with 60# opaque optional (books are the same thickness). Book pricing is for blank inside pages. 

Folded cards are creased and include clear bag and white invitation envelope (assembly available). 

We print from 1 to 8 at a time and ask that quantities reflect the setup. Final count can be within 5% (industry standard is 10%). 

Postcards

  • 4 x 6 postcards (8 up and 4 or 8 images is best) $0.15

Folded cards

  • art cards ..2s (5 x 7) $0.88
  • square cards ..3s (5.75) $0.58
  • note cards ..4s (4.25 x 5.5) $.053
  • 4x6 cards ..4s  (4 x 6)

Notebooks

  • doodle books (5.75 x 6) $2.00 
  • journals (6 x 9) $2.50
  • sketchbooks (9 x 12) $4.15

Marketing and distribution are the topic of another post.

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