Drowning in postcards?

Was the printing bargain just too good to pass up? Did you really go and order THAT many postcards? I talked with an artist yesterday who was ordering 5,000 postcards (”because it was such a great deal”). Truly, there were no other options in this deal. As I understand it, it was 5,000 postcards or zippo. I’m guessing she’s going to have about 4,634 remaining.

Here are some ways to use up those extra postcards. Some are less serious than others, but you have to figure out which is which.

  1. Put them in your portfolio.
  2. Attach them to the front of a note card and make thank-you notes. I like the colorful choices at Paper Source. (Don’t forget matching envelopes!)
  3. Mat and frame them inexpensively and give to your favorite businesses. Ask them to keep a supply of your business cards on hand for when someone inquires about their lovely framed art.
  4. Pull a Kinkade. Embellish the pretty side and sell them for $1.97. Or $197. Or $1997.
  5. Recycle them.
  6. If you have at least five old postcard samples, create a mini-portfolio of them and send them to prospects. Read how Michael Shane Neal did this on page 142 of I’d Rather Be in the Studio!
  7. Under the cover of darkness, put stacks in conspicuous locations where lots of people congregate.
  8. Send one to ten artist-friends and ask each to make a new piece of art from their copy. Post the results on your blog and give a prize to “the winner.”
  9. Leave them with (not in place of) your tips at restaurants.
  10. Glue pairs together (pretty side facing out) and make a mobile for a friends’ baby nursery. Dismiss this idea if your postcards feature images of skulls, naked bodies, or clowns.
  11. Put them inside magazines at your doctor’s office, dentist office, or salon.
  12. Slip one inside the crack of a car window you walk by on the in a parking lot. Or just leave them on windshields.
  13. Put them on the floor and watch your cat attack the paper.
  14. Cut them in half and add them to the spokes of your bicycle.
  15. Wallpaper your bathroom.
  16. Line the floor of your birdcage.
  17. Use them in your own art:
  • Four words: “The Postcard Collage Series.”
  • Shred them and weave the shreddings to create a lovely tapestry for over your mantle.
  • Sew a bunch together to make a postcard quilt.
  • Boil them, put them in a blender, then mold into a sculpture.
  • Try your hand at performance art by passing them out on street corners. Or, better yet, send one a week to the gallery that turned you down. If you have enough, send one a day.
Send to Kindle

18 comments to Drowning in postcards?

  • Hi Alyson,

    Good list (and guessing a few are tongue-in-cheek suggestions!).

    I brought a huge stack of extra cards and full page-sized reprints when I spoke to an elementary school class and the kids loved grabbing a bunch… the trick is to get them to take the cards/mini-posters home so the art-buying moms and dads can enjoy, too.

  • In 1993, I printed 500 limited edition prints, thinking I was going to get rich…
    In 1996, I printed a line of giclees,which looked real pretty in storage…
    In 1999, I printed 1000 postcards in envelopes, which 366 came back address changed…
    I stopped printing snail invites in 2000, though I have a very healthy collection of business cards, that look nice on my shelves…
    For the record, I believe the printers got rich…

  • I usually order 1500 to 2000 postcards at a time. I have them printed up with upcoming show information. I send them out to my list, and hand them out at shows, instead of business cards. When I have extras, and the information on them is no longer timely, I print up new information on label sheets & cover the old information with it & hand them out that way. People love having the postcards–and I hate to waste them!

  • Postcards are great to hand to people- it gives one a chance to start a mini- conversation about one’s upcoming show. And many times people tell me they collect my announcement cards or post them on their refrigerator door. It is hard to hit “delete” on a postcard.

    On the other hand, if you’ve been at it for more than a few years, it is possible to grow your postal mailing list too big. It can become unmanageable. Corporations have lobbied to make bulk mail rates the big advertisers use very cheap, First Class postage most ordinary folks have to use has skyrocketed. Where the cut off point should be for how many cards to mail out I debate with myself all the time.

  • Two ideas:
    1. Print the postcards with no event info on them. They can be sent through a printer later with event info in the quantity you want to send.

    2. I’ve cut squares out of the images and glued the square onto a wood block that has been painted or stained. Then I sign the back. It’s a free giveaway prize, or a small gift item with my art image, signature and my website address on the back! I sell them for $4-10 depending on the size of the cube.

  • Smile, chuckle, smile Great fun list.

  • WOW, what a fantastic brain-stormed list of ideas! Made me smile for sure.
    I print 500 at a time and NEVER put time sensitive information on them. I don’t have a huge mailing list (350 or so now) and I don’t send out to everyone (some are overseas, etc.). And I put them at shows I do and eventually they are all gone.
    Love that idea of making a little gift of part of an image on a block of wood. Hmmmm….

  • I don’t usually print time sensitive information on mine & have been selling them in little packs with envelopes. I also use them to write thank you notes on & tuck into orders.

    For the show ones, it’s definitely a little trickier. I’m doing a group show right now & we’ve got a pile of them that are essentially fliers – show info right on the front. I’m thinking the car windshield trick, especially within a few block radius of the gallery will be the biggest use.

  • I’m with Alyson, Don’t buy more than you need. However, if you already have got what feels like the lifetime supply, you can also try these along with the other splendid ideas:

    If you walk a tradeshow doing recon to decide if you should pony up for a booth, you can places in the public meeting areas to leave your postcards. On the tables in the dining area of the show. On the literature tables at the show. Around the hotel where buyers are staying offers opportunities.

    If you know a show where potential clients are gathering is taking place nearby, do the same thing. Leave copies in discreet amounts in strategic places.

    If you attend other arts events, you can discreetly leave a few copies in the public meeting areas.

    Keep a stack in your car. Ask if you can leave some in the local coffee shop, or boutique where you shop.

    If you have read The Tipping Point, you know a Maven (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Tipping_Point) can be very instrumental in helping. Figure out who are the mavens in your neighborhood, in your city and send them cards. Ask if they would help you get them distributed to the right people.

  • I like #8 and very much like the very last o…I just take mine when I do ArtOMatic every year and that pretty much uses up everything I have (over 50,000 attendees last year).

  • Lol,Great list, Alyson.

  • I give out postcards to everyone – rather than business cards. The recipient receives it as though it were a gift, rather than something to be stuffed away in a wallet. They usually end up on the fridge or the wall or at least the coffee table for a while – and sometimes even sent to a friend.

    Just make sure your website is listed – I print mine three times and turn it vertically as the divider between the letter/address part of the card on the back. My name and the name of the piece is at the usual spot.

  • [...] Postcards are relatively inexpensive. Large quantities of 4-color postcards are cheaper to print and mail than folded invitations or announcements. And let’s not forget another great reason to use postcards: they don’t have to be opened! A full-color image of your art on the front of a postcard can capture the interest and eye of the recipient by standing out in a stack of mail. [...]

  • [...] artists have postcards printed from time to time, but very few consider a postcard [...]

  • I am still trying to figure out how “inexpensive” postcards are??? to me anything printed in large qty means $qty. So how cheap do some of you get these cards printed for anyways?

    I mostly do all my marketing by designing myself and printing myself , I reprint as I need.inks and a good home printer is all I need . I yearn for high quality glossy though!!!

  • Colette: Have you priced any? You can usually get 1,000 for under $100.

  • Last time I had postcards quoted it was more like $1000. THis is in Canada. IF you know of where I could get some for $100. I could order on line. So I welcome a contact in printing these. Thanx

  • [...] know that anyone can pick up a postcard and frame it and we’d have little control over [...]