Who printed it?
I’m really particular about color and paper quality, and since each postcard is basically a 5 x 7 art print that I hope the recipients will keep, I went the labor-intensive route and printed the promos in my home studio. I used an Epson Stylus Pro 3880 and Moab entrada rag bright 300 gsm double-sided paper. I took turns with my wife, Jeanée (who is also my studio manager and creative collaborator), printing, sealing, and slicing the 17 x 22-inch sheets.
Who designed it?
Jeanée makes my marketing materials; she taught herself basic graphic design and photo editing. The vellum envelopes are from JAM Paper. My brother-in-law Seth Kelly of Helmet Studio designed my logo and website.
Tell me about the images.
We chose 10 images — mostly portraits related by color, lighting, and mood — and custom picked 3 for each recipient. That way, we can remind people of photos they liked before or show them something new that’s relevant to what they’re looking for. Here’s what we sent you: 1) The woman in the orange coat is my former Brooklyn neighbor Amanda Smith, an artist and vintage clothing enthusiast I shot in my home studio. 2) On the sofa is the model/actress/media heiress Lydia Hearst with her collection of horror memorabilia, shot for a “Domino” magazine Halloween story. 3) Starting as a personal project, I photographed the Atlanta fiber artist Sonya Yong James over a year while she worked on a huge sculpture commissioned by the U.S. Embassy in Mauritania. I shared the images with some editors and ended up publishing some in “The Atlantan” and “Uppercase” magazines to illustrate stories about Sonya.
How many did you make?
We made about 200 packets, with half going to editorial outlets and half to advertising agencies and entertainment companies.
How many times a year do you send out promos?
This was my first physical mailing in a few years. I plan to do them twice a year and monitor the impact. I may also make a book for a small number of recipients who are most aligned with my style.
Do you think promos are effective for marketing your work?
I don’t know yet whether physical promos are more effective than e-mails. The last time I sent physical mailers, which was a few years ago, I outsourced postcards and did not write anything personal to the recipients. The response rate was close to zero. This time, I printed the cards myself, presented them as little art pieces, and hand-wrote everyone a note. I’ve had a couple of enthusiastic replies.
I think that whether I’m emailing someone images or snail-mailing them prints, what I say is just as important as what I send. For example, referencing a conversation we had during a portfolio review is more impactful than just saying “here’s some new work.”