Should Artists Put Their Art on Greeting Cards? | Collective Wisdom

I recently received this question from a RedDotBlog reader:

I have been earning a living solely from my art for more than 25 years and much of my income before that was from my art. I own an art gallery, the success of which depends mainly on the paintings and prints sold. For many years, people have asked me to put my paintings on gift cards. That might seem like a good idea on the surface (good advertising, spreading the messages the paintings were created to spread), but the followup to that question is often “I want to frame them.”Production costs of quality cards isn’t inexpensive, packaging and signage must be added to that, and labor is intense. You’d need a marketing rep for cards to make card sales pay anything to make it worth your while. Then take into account that the sales of cards, which might earn you a dollar each if you do them yourself, replaces the sales of prints. After the recession hit, some people were buying canvas bookmarks I made from some of my paintings to sells “stocking stuffers”, but they wound up being main gifts. They framed bookmarks. This happened at my biggest studio event of the year, which normally brought in a substantial amount of money, enough to get through the long winter off-season at the beach. That year we brought in about 20% of my lowest year, about 10% of my highest. The recession had a lot to do with that, but the less is better for gifts mentality seems to remain.

Taking all this into consideration, do you have an opinion about offering cards of artwork? In my case, all of my prints are gicle’es and I care about the quality of color reproduction to the extent that I do the gicle’es myself. Cards would probably misrepresent the work in addition to replacing print sales. Someone very nice approached me for a card of one of my most important works today and I had to turn her down. I could see she wasn’t pleased, so I’ve been going around in circles thinking about this again.

Should artists put their paintings’ images on gift cards?

Ellen

My Response

It sounds to me like you already have a pretty strong sense that you would be better off not creating the cards. I can’t make an argument that is strong enough to counter any of the points you’ve made.

I know that many artists are creating these kinds of cards and either selling them or using them for promotional purposes, but I’m not sure that those efforts are having a strong impact on their total sales.

I personally don’t have strong opinions one way or the other – I don’t feel that creating cards is either going to destroy your career or make you fabulously wealthy. With that said, I look at cards as a good potential way to increase the visibility of your work and a potential way to convert non-buyers into buyers.

On the Pro Side of the Question

I like the idea of using these cards for thank you notes and to send out updates of newly available work. If you are going to be using them to this end, it makes sense to think about packaging them for sale as well.

If you are in an area that has a heavy volume of traffic but a large percentage of that traffic doesn’t buy either originals or prints, it may be that having a lower priced item like a pack of cards could help turn non-buyers into buyers. While the sale of one pack of cards probably isn’t going to have much impact on your bottom line, if you can convert a decent percentage of walk-ins who like your work but wouldn’t buy an original or reproduction to buy cards, it can have an impact over the course of a year.

On the Con Side

You are right to be concerned that you might have some buyers who would have bought a giclee who end up buying cards instead, but you might also have some who buy cards who eventually move upmarket and buy reproductions or originals. Someone who is going to frame a card probably isn’t your best target audience for more expensive work anyway.

You are also right that the quality and color isn’t going to be perfect. You certainly couldn’t expect the same quality in terms of printing. I think that’s okay for cards though. As long as the quality of the card is good and the imagery looks good, the fidelity to the original isn’t as critical.

There is certainly also time and energy that will be put into creating the cards, and the cards probably aren’t going to generate enough revenue to make them wildly profitable.

What do you Think?

Do you reproduce your work on cards or other promotional/gift items? Why or why not? If you do, has it been good for your business? Can you add to my list of pros and cons? Share your thoughts, experiences and insights in the comments below.

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104 Comments

  1. Greeting and note cards were my first “product” for sale way back when printing ink sketches on high-quality cotton cover with matching envelopes was the only affordable way to go. I would attend art shows and festivals as a vendor and felt empty-handed until I had a product to sell, and since then, moving through all the iterations of full-color printing, cards are one of my big products.

    Many people don’t have room on their walls for art, they don’t have the money for it, they want to share your art with someone, your art says exactly what they want to convey to someone. Even in these days of immediate electronic communication, many people still send cards and they are all the more meaningful.

    I have had customers purchase cards and later purchase the painting, but most of the time they were never going to be a customer for an original, and at least you have a connection with them that works for both of you. I find that often people never send the cards but keep them to look at and, yes, frame them. My information is on the back, and they always know where to find me.

    I have been a commercial artist and graphic designer for over 30 years. Since this is what I do for a living it’s second nature to design and contract print for something for myself. For those who are not experienced in this field it can be very expensive and time-consuming. Cards are never going to make a whole lot of money, so if the effort to manage them costs more in time and money than it brings in, don’t do it.

    1. I agree completely I believe my art is to share in whatever way I can reach people I have a very colorful business card and have given many out to a small child and was rewarded with a smile and maybe inspired a future artist
      My talent is a gift to share and I have made cards from every painting. My friends love to get them as gifts.

  2. All of the above, that Ellen said.
    Greeting cards have to be cheap quality, such as in stores. Not quality prints.
    I have been sending Veterinarians cards for over 10 years to send to their clients and probably all deceased pets. I have never had a request for a portrait from this form of advertising. However, I have created a knowledge base about me, that is ad hoc that has come to me vicariously. I’ve even asked my vets to put up prints – NO because actual adverts for vet products go on the walls first.
    What an opportunity to explain to people who love your art and style to arrange a purchase. People have to be educated- would they really prefer a knock off from China? Or would they like a piece of original art that they can talk about and about the artist and the art world and its finances. Art Patrons are so important. They see the world the same as I do. I tell them that. I refer to them as an art patron on the first purchase and I give them discounts after that on future purchases.
    Greeting card companies are a good idea, you might not get much money per each card sold, but you’ll see yourself out there and that affirmation is important. You can tell your Art Patrons. Besides for the 5-7% on the wholesale price of the greeting card sold (or sometimes a lump sum) – they do all the work.

  3. I totally agree with Jason’s pros about conversion. In fact I just got an order from someone who had purchased one of my cards are her local store. I am fortunate though because I license my images to a greeting card company, and allow them to do the distribution and card making for me. I also agree with the cons that it’s time consuming to make your own cards, and is probably not going to make you fabulously wealthy whether making them yourself or licensing. If you think of making greeting cards as an entry level to your sales funnel, it can be worth it. With digital printers these days the colors can be extremely accurate, so I don’t think this is as much as a factor as it use to be. Good luck whatever you decide!

    1. how did you get your work licensed ? I’m 66 and have quite a portfolio and would like to pursue that avenue but don’t know what the first step would be. thanks for sharing

  4. I vote in favor of cards. I do sell enough cards at local coffee shops and to friends to pay for production costs, plus I believe dealing with local businesses offers a nice community aspect to everyone involved. And as an extra added bonus, one of my designs was just picked up by a national charity who will add the card to their Christmas card line, and that is something I am very proud of.

  5. For me, selling cards has sometimes resulted in selling paintings. They ARE free advertising and I’ve had people contact me from across the country about buying large quantities cards to sell in their stores, or purchasing a print of the card they received. Yes, they do frame the cards and I jokingly tell my “fans” that they need to mail them, so they can change out the framed artwork. I’ve gotten a lot exposure from my cards and well worth the minimal cost and effort. And I like to think that receiving one of my cards in the mail might turn someone’s day around which, in my mind, is the purpose of art – to bring happiness in whatever dosage they can afford or are willing to pay. Many people don’t have the money to afford a print and I’ve had people counting out nickels just to buy a card – now THAT is flattering. On the other hand, I do have a paying job so my need for cash is less urgent.

  6. I had always printed cards because my cards were 6″ square ones , lots of people bought them to frame instead of the slightly larger giclees. So now I still do cards but they are postcard sized cards. I print them myself and only sell them at art fairs alongside my work. I regard them as advertising and a way to make people longer at my stand. When sales are down, selling lots of cards is encouraging.

  7. I both produce my own cards for direct sales on arts trails / open studios and also a couple of galleries I work with wanted them. I also license images to go on greetings cards which go nationwide and indeed, internationally. Here in the UK we send the highest per capita number of cards, so people are always on the look out for nice ones. I don’t want to be a wholesaler, which is why I licence, but as I do not do my own prints so it is nice to have something other than original work to sell on an art trail. I have had both original and commission sales from people who have received my cards and I use them as thank yous too. They are so easy to produce with digital printing, but if you wanted to make real money from them you would need to have sales/warehousing/distribution etc. I can’t be bothered with that!

  8. I send out a thank you card which features one of my paintings to collectors after they have purchased an original. In the past I had several images printed up which I made up into boxed sets to sell in a local gallery/gift store. It never paid off for me.

  9. I’m really glad to see this topic. I do produce cards and have sold them pretty well. Just when I was considering stopping I had a sale of a painting that was on the card this person bought. I also use them myself as thank you notes and notes in general. I guess what I am saying is I have been happy with the marketing side of having the cards for sale.

  10. Bev Doolittle published a book showing her work. At the time I owned a furniture store and one of my manufactures would purchase the book, cut out the pictures, matt and frame them and made a lot of money from the single purchase of her book. Shortly after the book was no longer being distributed.

    No to cards! There is always a good business person out there that will figure out how they themselves can profit from your talent and labor.

      1. Margaret and Ceylon,
        You are absolutely right! People will only do to you what you will allow. The person violating that copyright law should be prosecuted or they’ll just keep doing whatever lowlife act they can to line their pockets.

  11. Hi! I’ve actually recently started designing greeting cards. So far what I’m doing is creating art that is specifically only for cards. I make original art and prints of that art, but I’m keeping my greeting card illustrations separate to only have printed in that form. I’m aware that greeting cards are not a huge moneymaker, but it is a way for people to notice your work and potentially create interest in your original art. It also gives people a lower cost option if they can’t afford an original (or if they actually like to send artsy greeting cards to people). By creating separate art only for greeting cards, I can still create exclusivity with my original art and prints because I’m not printing that art on my cards. I’ve only recently started designing cards and so far this is what I’m doing. Hope this helps!

    1. I like this idea! Its given me something to seriously think about regarding the cards I sell. How to create a product that doesnt directly compete with my oroginal paintings and giclees. I think there definately is a need for a product such as cards, bookmarks, etc as well as the marketing tool they also are. Nice idea, thank you

    2. This is a great idea. I make my own prints and had considered offering cards to extend the usefulness of my printer, but I gave up on it because I could not compete price-wise with large greeting card companies. I also didn’t really like the way they looked (paper wasn’t right). I am going to reconsider using your idea of completely separate card ideas. Like perhaps black and white on glossy card stock so I can use up the photo black in my printer.

  12. Notecards are not a focus of our studio/gallery, but they have served as advertising, small thank-yous, and have even brought in collectors and sales. I have some Fine Art notecards of both my and my mother’s paintings, and have a basket of them on display. I use them for special thank you cards to collectors, and as a small memento that most any visitor can afford. Recently a visitor bought a pack of cards for $20, and sent them out to friends. I heard from one of the recipients who liked the card he’d received and checked our studio out online. He came in in person and spent $3,500.

  13. This is a really interesting topic. I have thought of this and have been uploading g images to a website called Fine Art America where they primarily sell images of artwork in the form of pro rd and also postcards, greeting cards, phone covers, tote bags, t-shirts, shower curtains, pillowcases, coffee mugs (my new interest), etc….pretty mu h anything you can put an image on). With this site, I have generated some sells but nothing significant, currently. However, I do receive weekly updates on the activity of my portfolios images; and I am tickled when I see that there are visits from around d the globe (Poland, Russia, China, Czech Republic…Czech Republic?!!?!…at first I thought it read “Check the Republic” and I waslike ‘Huh??!!!’ Haha). I tho k it is a fascinating way to promote my ART while providing g people with an affordable way to a quite a w/o derful image that is e notable. One buyer bought a coffee mug just to have the image a d he put it on a pedestal as a s ulpture :-). !!!! Now, that’s creative. Why sure, I would lo e to sell works of my ART that are priced in the funders to thousands; however, for a person to be that creative be wise they wanted to have “my image” then having the Art like that is Fine by me America.

    1. Dune,
      Are you licensing your art – keeping copy right. Please elaborate. I have seen that company and others like them. Never understood enough to proceed. Enlighten me please. I do a lot of paintings from our National Parks. People from all over the globe visit – might open a weird – different market?

  14. I do ad my art to redbubble where I have it on cards, a number of other items, as well as art prints. I feel it makes my art accessible for those who can’t get an original yet and also makes it more visible when someone uses my art on their phone case, for example. I just sold a phone case with one of my paintings and I know that person will tell people where it’s from when they ask. As far as money goes, every drop helps

  15. I’m about to have my first gallery show and made a different decision. While one or two artists at this gallery also sell prints of their work, I’ve decided that the time, money and effort to make prints (a relatively joyless process) is not worth it to me. Instead, I want to keep the joy in my work and have opted to create small paintings on canvas to sell as originals to those who can’t/don’t want to pay for the larger originals. I’m having fun creating these and think that many people will enjoy owning a small original instead of a print or card. I do high color abstracts and the small paintings echo my larger pieces. The gallery owner and a couple of artist friends have encouraged me in this choice. I’ll know in October how this experiment turns out!

    We’re all looking for ways that work for us. Good luck to all…

    1. Yes, that’s exactly the path I’ve taken as well. Nothing beats original art and getting people to become “a patron of the arts” with mini-art at an affordable price is a great way to turn ordinary people into collectors. I too am having lots of fun with the mini paintings (we call them “cupcakes”) and the buyers love them. Joy all around!

    2. Molly, this is exactly how I feel. Instead of prints of my art on cards. I make one of a kind frameable original collaged cards and have a sign by them that says as such. I sell a lot of these and I have fun making them with very little overhead.

    3. That’s what I do too. I prefer to keep all my work original. I’m an artist not a retail store! But, I did realize I needed smaller more affordable pieces for some of my clients that like to give my art as gifts or just want smaller art for their home

  16. I print post cards with my Artwork on one side with details about the original on the back along with my contact details, how they can order a Giclee print, website, asking them to sign up to my mailing list etc… I give these away as gifts & also pop them through letter boxes in the town.

    People seem to really appreciate these relatively inexpensive gifts & it gives me exposure & generates sales for me…

  17. I am not elitist enough to believe that only those with plenty of discrecianery cash deserve to enjoy nice art in their homes. It is my hope and belief that people who buy some cards to frame, with images of artistic works by artists they like, will eventually trade up to buying prints from those artists, and eventually, original works. I believe that feeding initial appreciation and desire for nice art is an important beginning step in an eventual collector’s art education and journey.

  18. This is not totally on point, but it’s closely related. I have taken to self-printing sets of cards on good card stock as a little surprise gift to people who buy one of my original paintings. I enclose in the package with the original painting 4 cards and matching envelopes, always of the painting they just bought. The cards have the name of the painting, a brief statement about the painting itself, and my website on the back. I’m not offering them for sale as a product, and nobody is expecting them to be first quality… they’re not expecting them at all (in fact they are quite good quality, but not giclée level). I find they’re received with delight and good will. The collector is pleased to send out a little social note, thank you or whatever to friends and family, showing off their new painting. I just started doing this a few months ago and can’t yet report that any secondary sales have followed on, but I wonder if it might happen.

    1. I do this too, I have my giclée printer print them up on watercolor paper and include appropriately colored envelopes. People love it. I like the idea of promoting the sending of art through the mail. We don’t get enough pretty mail!

  19. Ellen, it sounds as if you’ve already answered your own question, and I agree that greeting cards are not the best use of your time and money. Using the time and money you would have spent creating quality greeting cards to instead sell more paintings makes more sense to me. Think about it – the sale of a single large painting could easily surpass a decade’s worth of greeting card sales. Take this advice with a grain of salt, though, because I have chosen not to print cards of my own work and therefore have no personal experience to back up my assertions.

  20. I have to say that Ellen brings up some very goods points. Cards have crossed my mind, but after reading her post/question, it is out of the question. I much rather spend my time, effort and money on creating art or online marketing efforts.

  21. I went to a Carlos Loarca exhibit in 2012. Carlos was there doing a lecture during the opening and it was very inspiring. He didn’t have cards of his images but did have a small book/catalogue, A Possible Reality, 6″ X 8″ size on glossy stock, printed front and back, for $16. Most of the images inside are about 3″ X 4″, and it includes a nice bio of him. It is broken into sections by year of creation, showing about 8 years of selected pieces. It is a createspace/amazon book.
    It isn’t likely people would tear a page out to frame. This was a great way for me to be able to remember him and his art, since I wasn’t able to purchase a painting. The gallery owner later told me that several people who bought the book came back during the exhibit to buy a piece of art.
    Color-print books aren’t cheap, but the new print on demand services, of which Createspace is one of the best, make it very doable.
    I love this little book of Carlos’ work. Perhaps this is a happy median way for people to enjoy your art without the hassle of getting cards made. Making cards was a monetary loss for me, so I don’t see myself doing that again; but I like the booklet idea. This Loarca book is beautiful, and he signed it for me as well. I wish I could have bought a piece of his art, but simply couldn’t, so I sincerely appreciate being able to have the book.

  22. I had some cards made up. Sold some, but I don’t think it’s really cost effective. I ended up giving them away as a free gift to people who bought paintings.

    1. I have a series of postcards that I carry with me all the time. I give them away. PR for me. I am not broke or begging. I order the same post cards each year. I meet a lot of new people and they want to know what kind of art I make. Life is to short to not PR for ones self. We all have the POWER to choose. Cheers -Bob Ragland- Denver ,Colorado.

  23. I vote “yes.” A box of ten assorted note cards costs me a total of $7-$8 to produce, including the box and a nice little gold ribbon. I sell them for $15 to $20 and people buy multiple boxes for gifts. I also have desk calendars of the year’s new work printed at the holidays and give them to my clients as a way to say thanks and keep in touch. These also cost me around $7 each and again, I sell them for $15. My clients get a special rate, everyone else pays full price. Every year people ask for them. Last year, a client from two years ago purchased 15 to give to her own clients, and recently, a friend went to a new dentist and reported that when he walked into the office , he immediately recognized the calendar sitting on the receptionist’s desk as mine. So yes, definitely worth it.

    1. Just new in the waters of cards , can you explain how the process only cost you $7 to $8 dollars for a box Set? A baby in the Process!

  24. I’ve been selling cards and prints of my work for the last 10 years and find that it provides a steady income stream. 40% of my income is generated that way. I print them and package them myself and find that way I can try new images without a large investment. I can print as few as 2 at a time of 300 different cards at present. It does take some time, but I find that sales of paintings are up and down while, unfortunately, expenses remain quite regular. In an evening I can print and package a month’s supply of cards. Frankly, I don’t see any down side to selling cards and prints. The target market is different than that of paintings. The majority of people who come into our gallery (both tourists and townies) are not prepared to spend the price of a painting but are quite willing to spend $4 to $8 on a card or $25 to $80 on a print. Why would you let all those customers leave without buying something they can afford and will enjoy?

  25. I love the idea of giving a few cards of the painting with the painting. I make my own cards and use them for notes to potential or current collectors. I also sell them and it is a nice supplement to income. Although I am a painter as well as a photographer, most of my cards that sell are from photographs, not paintings. From a buyer’s perspective, I can tell you I have purchased a card from an artist thinking I really couldn’t afford the original. However, I have always regretted not buying it. Still I have the card to remind me not to pass up something I love again!

  26. I sell my cards to three coffee shops, a book store, soap shop, fancy bedding store, antique store, art gallery, and to the local hospital gift shop. After five years , I am expanding my product line to include magnets and prints taken from my original watercolors, gelli prints, and acrylic paintings. I create one painting every three or four months when inspired. I take a photo of the painting, upload it to the Walgreen’s website, enhance it, order actual photos of the art, and assemble the cards in my home studio. Once a year I participate in a studio tour and sell the original art, but my art income is mostly from card sales. I also gift a card or magnet to each visitor to my airbnb. It’s a very gratifying part of my life, and I have other sources of income to pay bills.

  27. I am an oil painter , selling my originals and a few giclees. For years now I have painted my own card on a small canvas and had it made into cards. More expensive than buying cards at the store to send, but more personal. Several people I send them to have framed a number of them (similar topics) together in one frame and display them that way. A few of them have also bought the original later. I enjoy doing this, and feel it is good exposure through people who view them there.

    Carole Jeffries.

  28. During Open Studio sessions in my town, I offer little cards I make from card stock. $2.50 apiece or 5 for $10. Very few people buy paintings or prints, but they “just love my work.” I do sell a few cards which makes me feel a little better.

  29. The more often the public sees examples of our work, the more likely they will want to purchase an original. I use my cards for announcements, or a note to a friend, or as a gift along with a purchased item. I love when they frame my cards; many collectors have contacted me after seeing a framed card on a colleague’s desk.

  30. There are many people ahead of me here, but I’ll add my perspective as an artist and former gallery owner anyway. The artist is the person who gets to decide what should happen to her work. If you don’t want to make note cards, don’t. There is no requirement to use your art in ways you aren’t comfortable with, no matter what others want you do do or would do themselves. But given that, if you decide to make cards, price them high enough so it’s worthwhile. Whether you sell cards by the pack only (instead of singles) or set the price at $10 per card, let it be a way to make some money, not just a way that people can get your work for cheap. Losing a $40 print sale for a $4 card sale doesn’t make sense. And if the card prices are higher, some people may be encouraged to spend a little more money and get the print. If they don’t, maybe they aren’t your customers anyway.
    You get to decide.

  31. I sell greeting cards as well as fine art and have found a printer who prints my greeting cards (with sentiments in them) on good quality paper and I can still make a profit. That being said I decided last year to print out some of my more popular pieces through Costco–no sentiment. Costco does a fine job on printing photographs and that way my own printer and ink wouldn’t be overused. And you can do a test run to check colors. The 4 x 6 pictures were .17 cents each and the 5 x 7s were .59 cents each. My ultimate cost for the printed pictures, the cards I glued it to and the envelopes was under $1.00 each. I got my stationary from a local wholesale stationary dealer. I don’t know if others have had a similar good experience like mine, but it’s certainly worth trying if you are considering doing cards.

  32. I have turned about eight of my best pieces into note cards. I use them to send personal notes and have them placed in an art center gift shop. I know I’m not going to get rich through this, but I believe it is worth it in terms of promotion and extra exposure. I played with the idea of packs of note cards vs. selling them individually, but I can’t get the price point of a pack of cards to a reasonable price level at the quantities I print, so I have placed cards for individual purchase. I look at it as an opportunity to attract customers who want to take something home to remember what my art looks like or would not invest in a more expensive piece. I don’t think that person is likely to be one I could convert to a higher-priced purchase, but, just in case I’m wrong, what better way to keep my art top of mind? As for quality, after a lot of calls and research, I found a local print shop that will show me proofs at three different exposures so that I can make the final selection for each one so that they don’t lose detail in poor reproduction. I have been pleased with the results so far.

  33. ~ Not interested! Believe it or not – I found at a Walgreens drug store one day a revised image of ‘My Original Art’ that I had sent to Hall Greeting Cards . . . I bought the card as a reminder that – Hmmmmmm! – it’s not easy being an artist . . . Is it? ~

  34. Four years ago I was a vendor at my very first local art festival. I had about 30 original images matted and framed for sale, about 50 signed reproductions (not numbered), and about 250 greeting cards with envelopes reproduced from some of my originals. I had not made greeting cards from every original. I have found that landscapes, still lifes, and flowers are the best sellers in the greeting card category. I sold only ONE small original for $140 (a 5″x7″ colored pencil drawing, matted and framed to 8″x10″), but I sold $460 in greeting cards! That covered all of the costs associated with the festival, and then some. If I had not had greeting cards available for sale at that first festival I would have likely jumped to the conclusion that festivals are not worth my time, are too costly and even a money-losing proposition. What I learned was that even if I don’t sell many (or any) originals, through greeting card sales I sent a LOT Of my art out into the world with my name, website, email address, and mailing address on the back of each card. In doing so I ensured that people who have already bought my art know how to contact me for more. Most of the people who bought my greeting cards also signed up for my email list, so I had a way of contacting them with information about future creations off my easel as well. In my opinion and my experience greeting cards are a small insurance policy against utter defeat at festivals, and a great way to build a contact list of willing buyers.

  35. Seems that the kind of art work one does is a factor here. If you produce paintings or sculpture that sell in the thousands then post cards will be more for promotion and spurring interest aimed at getting sales of original works. Getting significant income from card sales is unlikely. The only exception might be if one were a very well known artist that could attract larger sales of cards based on their name. But then these artists are probably focusing more on sales of larger works and not on cards.

    On the other hand I am a photographer and digital artist and for one thing small size card prints are also likely to be more faithful copies of the original digital images. But I don’t do cards as such as I make my works available at different sizes, the smallest being close to the same size as standard postcards.

    But it does seem to me that having packs of card size prints could be appealing and profitable for many artists. Packs can sell for more than single prints hence providing more profit for the artist. Moreover quality cards are relatively easy to come by and inexpensive.

  36. I get cards printed by Fine Art America (they also do many prints and sizes if someone is interested). I set up often at the local Farmers Market and sell on average 18 cards (@$5) and one or two prints (@$25) each week. These are fun mornings and pay for my weekly groceries. Without cards I would spend a lot of time talking to myself. Many of the card customers are repeat customers and buy variety and repeats as they send cards to friends. I do not even bring originals to the market but hope it helps create name recognotion when I do have exhibits. And the cards have the FAA information in case people want to buy prints. Also this has led to commissions as well.

  37. “Yes to producing greeting cards.
    I’ve always looked at them as a way people share my art with their closest friends or family; the ones they will take the time to hand write a note. It is like a personal advertisement that they paid me for. One greeting card mailed from friend to friend resulted in a sale of over $800.
    I only offer them at my studio, local gallery or on my web site. My belief is that they also reach a market that won’t purchase a larger print or an original painting.

  38. I print my image on photo paper and put it on cards with matching envelopes from Kelly paper.. It takes seconds to put them together.. Since I am a multi- type artist, usually my photos are not of one of my pieces. with exception to my Day of the Dead Series. which is professionally printed larger than cards. I use my photography of local areas, flora’s, mountain, river scenes for my cards.. I create fabric wall hangings, work with gourds, and jewelry. And sometimes I play with sketching. Especially if I am in an exhibit, I might make cards of the piece for advertising. we live near Yosemite so we have tourists that sometimes only have room in their suitcase and a card is a reminder for them and to show friends.. who know where the card might go.

  39. MOO delivers nearly perfect replicas of art on glossy or matte cards, but it has to be the right resolution. If you do vivid digital art, as I do, it doesn’t matter. The color is so saturated that the lowest res works fine, but some things can come out slightly darker or blurry. Certain colors, for some reason, don’t work as well as others, like fuchsia, which comes out a bit dark, more on the purple side, and for the cards I have to lighten the work up a bit before I create it as a card. I sell sets of 25 large, high gloss “frame-able fine art” postcards online , and I also use them when I am talking to a potential buyer/collector, as gifts to remember me by and also to sell in high-end gift stores. I created sets of postcards for my favorite spa, for their gift store. As for sales: we all want to make money, but use your intuition. If you love something, it’s easier to sell, and high gloss art cards are delicious items for me. I am always buying them for myself, and to me, the joy of working with an item I love is what’s important. If I have a smile on my face when I’m selling the work, or put it in a top notch website or online store where it looks yummy – that’s part of the fun of being a professional artist today. Who knows? You could be the next Laurel Burch. I have read that people can make millions from online greeting cards. Go for it!

  40. Actually for sales, I, as well as others, have found with e-mail, Facebook, etc. people don’t send cards much and they don’t sell very well!

  41. Looks to me like there are lots of Pro’s on the cards. Can I ask for recommendations or at least a list of web sites to visit? Somewhere you have had success with? Cutzy MCCall what is MOO?

  42. Have a friend who years ago produced a line of cards, a lot of work, little return.
    As for me, I used to produce photo note cards of my work, a lot of work, little return…There wasn’t enough margin in them to make them worth while and people would buy the cards and forego the full size prints, I even matted some of them myself, a lot of work, little return!

  43. You have to love cards!!! I do, and many people I know do. No where else can you get beautiful cards, except at an art show or a gallery. I cannot buy all the beautiful art I see, but it least I can enjoy buying cards of artists that I love. I Hand sign them, then price the cards accordingly so I make a profit worth while. On mine I add a little extra element to them. For instance,
    A tiny feather with a seed bead and attach it just below the image. My images are western, but it could be a small sea shell for an ocean scene for example. This allows the price for your cards to be much higher in price. I do very much enjoy making them and they are limited to how many I do. Some artist I know just do not want to take the time out for them. This is understandable. An artist will make more money on the larger items, and they can be time consuming, But I find the small items do add up! I do these for special gallery events.

  44. No … stopped years ago because it wasn’t worth the effort. The only cards I mail are a handful of Christmas cards, family birthdays, and bereavement. That’s it. If I send just a few cards why expect others to need mine?
    I mail thank you cards to buyers but use production cards from the National Museum of Women in the Arts … it’s important to me for people to understand the https://nmwa.org/ mission.
    Instead of cards, I have offered a substitute that could be framed … they went pretty quickly. I printed the image at my local FedEx (full printing services) store, and mounted the card stock image on a sturdy dark cardboard and covered it with plastic. Not giclee quality but very nice on better card stock. Nothing larger than 11 x 14. The darker size-appropriate cardboard makes the image appear framed.
    I’m working on marketing a few images and consider it commercial … not an extension of my fine art. I don’t want the two confused and will be marketing it under a different name entirely. If an artist can market her work to greeting card companies it seems to me far more lucrative.
    I understand a gallery promoting their artists with cards, show invitations, etc., but other than that … I don’t see cards as efficient advertising.

  45. I’ve only done one (small) local show and the cards were my only selling item. I’m a photographer and had some nice conversations with people about the fact that I still shoot film and that my prints were all hand printed in the darkroom, but no one bought any. By watching what people were buying at other tables, it was almost always something that could be used for something. This area just doesn’t seem to be into nice things that just hang on the wall. I did make my entry fee back plus some, but not enough to really want to do another.

    1. Wow! Congratulations on printing – ANY – photograph. I confess myself intimidated by the cost of the upper end (heck, even mid-range) paper printers and as I also have my work on wood and metal for two, am delighted to delegate that step to the printer’s expertise. (Subject, of curse, to my approval of the result…)

  46. Well, if you are a great, super talented, hi demand artist…it does not matter what you do. (more or less) So no need to worry. Any postcard you send out with your signature may be worth $50 – $100 or more down the road.

    What I do is to send out RPPC’s of my photos 3 times a year, plus a few stragglers here and there. Usually they amount to about 450 to 550+ cards a year. I do it for advertising my work and to keep my 3 inkjet printers running so they wont clog up between print jobs.

    Sometimes galleries wont let you take photos of the art.

    What are they thinking? Someone will take a photo of the art, make a copy and sell it for a bundle of $?

    Or someone wanted to buy a $10,000 paining, but they got a 4 x 6 post card in the mail and are not going to buy the painting now?

    Well, maybe in history some of these scenarios happened, but they are not likely.

    My advice is to jut spread your art far and wide.

    Collectors want signed originals, not postcards.

    People that are not going to buy or can’t afford your art, like whatever they can get.

    nsfw

    https://danielteolijr.wordpress.com/2017/02/28/anal-photo-collectors-value-the-signature-more-than-the-photo/

  47. Like most things in life (and painting) there is no answer that works for everyone. Some folks enjoy having their images printed on cards, mugs, etc., managing inventory, re-stocking their outlets, going to shows, and other WORK that goes with it. If you enjoy it, go ahead. My personal choice is to spend my time creating original paintings. I do not do prints. But I do have some of my images printed on cards by a local printer where I can order just a few of each. I have them available at my gallery shows and a local gift shop, and use them for personal correspondence. To me they are not intended to be a money maker, but it’s a form of public relations. For the small price of a card a person can take home one of my images with my contact information on the back. It might be a reminder of the paintings they saw or they might just need a card to send, but it gets my name out into the world and someone else pays to send it. If they choose to frame it, that means they like it – and that’s a good thing. Selling original paintings is totally different, and really has nothing to do with cards.

  48. Between selling originals, embellished art prints, commissions and open edition prints on-line through a third party vendor. One of my best sellers are my 5″×7 matted prints in plastic sleeves. It cost me about $0.60 to make and I sell them for $6.00 ea and 2 for $10. Since I work in series, most people would purchase an entire series at a time usually perchase, from $50 and up.

  49. I offer 10 pack card sets, each pack the same image. One reason is I mail out SO many to my clients for Christmas and as thank you cards. Buying in bulk and selling to remaining offsets the cost. Plus I do sell a lot of them and people love to buy them. Some do frame them and I consider it a compliment. Often keeping my name in front of them they come back and purchase larger items. It is time intensive and I don’t make a lot on them. It it does add up and is something nice and small for my collectors. I don’t think it is worth selling them individually tho. Not for me.

  50. When I was first starting out as an artist, I sold note paper packs. The image at the top was a line drawing in black. I found a way to make a case for the note paper and envelopes, then put information about myself on a blurb on the back. The sales were few and far between, and definitely not worth the work involved.

  51. I started doing collages on Strathmore note cards and sold fairly well at a local artisan shop. Then started printing images of my paintings on photo paper and gluing them on the notecards. I don’t make a lot of money, especially on my collages, but people love them. However, the prints are fairly inexpensive to make, little time, and sell much better than the collages, which are original art! (I do art collages, but also special occasion and holiday cards.) Like everyone else, many people tell me they are going to be framed, but I don’t think most of those people would buy the original anyway.
    And I also give the cards to people who buy the original. They really appreciate them.
    Fortunately I don’t have to support myself on my art, so I enjoy making and selling the cards.

  52. To me cards are flyers that people pay for! I do not take them to art shows so that people buy my giclées. I make them small (4″ x 6″) so that they are too small to be nice framed and I only wholesale them. My greeting cards have been sold in over 80 stores across North America and in Europe and I’ve sold original paintings from people receiving them from a friend. They are a great gift to hand out to collectors, to add to online sales or in professional prospective mail. I am all for the greeting cards if done with the right approach.

  53. I did not read all the responses- apologies. My thought is about using the “card” as an art form. By this I mean- treat the “note card” as a project. You’ve got some interesting parameters like a series, and a seriously small surface area. a part of my design training stressed size and scale as an aesthetic choice. The idea of a new size might be invigorating and interestingly it’s your work but not a miniature reproduction which keeps the other work from dilution. I’m wondering if this might become a useful element in generating sales.

  54. I do note cards from my paintings and sell them in upscale gift shops. They account for about half of my sales. I don’t understand how selling cards would prevent sales of giclees. There is a big difference between a $4 card and a $50+ giclee. ( I assume your giclees are much larger than your cards.)

  55. I am opening my own gallery of photography work in a very touristy location on the Isle of Skye. I did a bit of research on this and found from other galleries that cards do extremely well in this market as there are a lot of people looking for small gift, easily transported souvenirs. I have a lot of people who will never buy a big item but will happily buy four or more cards. I have done this myself, every time I travel, I may not buy an artwork but I will buy cards. I also think people like to think before they purchase, they want to research you and read reviews before they buy so taking a card of an image they want in a large size probably helps to keep them focused for long enough to go to the website and purchase. I worked out that if everyone who comes into our gallery bought one card then that is already a substantial spend so that costs are covered. I also will sell the small frames to put the cards in (as I anticipate like like Ellen, that the next question is where do I get a frame that small), the frame has a margin that is twice the value of the card. This strategy probably works best because of our unique location and high tourist volume but personally I love cards and would encourage people to see them as marketing materials. Invest in a decent printer and seek out card stock you are happy with and you can increase the margins even further.

  56. For me producing and selling cards of my artwork is a no brainer. I’ve got a great printer here in the U.K. There’s no minimum order size, the printing is excellent quality, they’re printed on fine art paper and the cost per card isn’t prohibitive so I make a 60% profit on every card sold.

    They’re very popoylar during my annual open studio event and exhibitions. Purchasers of my original artwork sometimes buy a card depicting the same piece of work they’ve just purchased! Friends and family buy them to send as greeting cards.

    I see the cards as a great way to increase visibility of my work – you never know where they’re going to end up and whose eye they’re going to catch.

  57. Here is a caution for those of you who provide Limited Edition Prints.
    Many artists do not realize what the rules are for providing Limited Edition Prints. To be honest, I was also naive to this point until my printer explained it. ALL printings of that image count toward the number of prints you have set for a limited edition. For example, if I have a limited edition of 150 and I want to print 8″ x 10″, 11″ x 14″, and 16″ x 20″ of that image, it is NOT 150 of each size, but a total of 150 prints of all sizes combined. At the onset, you would designate prints 1-49 to be 8″ x 10″, etc. What’s more, is a “limited” edition is just that. You are pledging to your consumer that you will never make more prints of that image once you have completed the edition. This is where the value is to the consumer. Since every print of the image counts toward the limit you have set, weather it is on a fine art print, on a mug or as cards, do you really want your 150 Limited Edition Print to all be in the form of cards?

    I do make cards of some of my artwork, but it is a different line of art than my Limited Edition pieces. I sell cards on almost a daily basis, but do not consider them very profitable. Sales of cards in general have gone down over the years. I attribute this mostly to the fact that fewer people are sending out cards. Many people who used to mail out cards, now prefer to go online and send an E-card. Also, more people who buy cards now, are using them to frame as opposed to buying a more expensive print. So, in the long run, cards may actually hurt your bottom line, or at best generate a small profit.

  58. I make 4″ x 5.5″ note cards from my paintings and sell them in packs of 5 cards. That size is hard to frame properly and the customers that buy them are using them to keep in touch with friends (and spread my images to another audience). I have very good computer skills and the company I work with does excellent printing so my art is well represented. I stock up when they are on sale and make anywhere from 40 to 50 percent profit from the cards. The title of the painting is printed on the the inside of the card and my logo and website info are on the back of the card. People that want to see more of my art are able to check out my website. Many of the designs are from paintings that have sold so it’s a way to keep generating revenue from my art. I live in a rural/suburban area of the northeast and there are small art fairs from late spring through autumn. I sell these note cards as another price point for my customers. Not everyone can afford one of my paintings but they all want to go home with something. I also have framed ceramic tiles of my artwork at another price point. I do not sell prints. I have found that the people that like my art enough to buy a print would rather have the original. I always sell enough of the smaller items to pay for the show fee and look at it as a way to exhibit my art. I have good regular sales of my original artwork along with the smaller sales so for me this works.

  59. Very Relevant Topic! I’ve often thought about whether cards are really worth it, as many are bought to be put in frames (maybe I shouldn’t include the envelope), but people do send them also, so I think of them as business cards I get paid for. I have also gotten sales from people who received one of my cards in the mail and (because all of my contact info is on the back) looked me up. Once I left the cards at home during a festival, to realize that attendants would have been more likely to purchase a card than a painting. I decided that if people are going to frame them, it’s worth it to me to keep a small selection of cards, and I sign each of them, which warrants a higher price, to make it worth the time and headache of cards. I also don’t sell them online, so people have to buy them in person.

  60. I sell lots and lots of cards. I do them in packs of six with all different images relating to one theme. I sell them in gift shops and as the matter of fact, got a check from one yesterday. People purchase them all the time, and it shows people my work. If people want to frame them, I think it’s great–even more exposure!!! A framed gift card is never going to take the place of a painting, so I’m not worried.

  61. That’s what I started out doing. However, I found the cost in creating them made the price to the buyer too high and the profit to me too low. They were professionally printed on quality stock, original designs, some hand glittered. They were popular, but most people don’t want to pay the price for original art cards when they can get cards at the store for much lower. And some people did want to frame them. I sold a variety of designs so I did not buy in volume, which would have brought the price down. If I had ordered 500 cards printed of all one design, it would price out better, but the chance of me selling that many of one design is not realistic. The priciest way I sold was taking custom orders. Again, people did pay the price once, but are not willing to buy all their holiday cards at that price or simple note cards. They are much more willing to spend on individual cards because the price doesn’t seem so high, even though it is higher for one card than a box of 10. So I tried that. That works if you are selling outright, but if you sell them on a website, the shipping costs doubles the price on one card and they end up paying 14.00 or so and waiting for it to come in the mail. So I have discontinued selling single cards online. It just isn’t profitable and I do think it lessens the chance that they will buy an art print.

  62. Lots of response to this idea. I had my first run of cards done about 20 years ago. It was a sponsored program and cheap so I printed 1,500 of each of 10 images. I have about 2000 left so I sold about 13,000 of them. Since then I have produced a few cards but have focused more on Photographic prints 8.5 x11 and 11 by 17. Consistent good sellers. so business wise it has been worth the effort.
    The great part of this is that I get feedback and thanks from all over the world about the images. I have a list of amazing stories about meeting people in Mexico and other places and figuring out that they have my art on their fridge or on their alter. Well worth the effort.

  63. Besides printing cards with my batik printed on it (for my use only as a thank you card) I have been making small -1-2 dyes original batiks that I mount onto a blank card, and send to new collectors as an additional end of year greeting. They are simple whimsical batiks not at all like my framed pieces, but the personal touch is appreciated, and sometimes they are framed. I have no interest in trying to market these as a sales item.

  64. I look at my cards as promotional materials. When I create a card, I make sure the name of the piece and my name and copyright are on the card as well. I assume that some, if not most, of the cards will eventually be written on and mailed to a person who might not have seen my work before. Additionally, when someone makes a purchase of a large piece, I make them a small boxed set of cards of the same image as a gift. And if people buy them to display at home…maybe, just maybe, they will come back for the big one.

  65. My sole income is my art and each year I get a little wiser about how to create it. The general trend in my area is that galleries and art shows dont allow the sale of art cards or prints; original art only. Until now I have produced a line of top quality art cards depicting my traditional media paintings, these have ticked over and provided much needed income but it has been difficult to find places that will stock them. As I move more and more into original digital art (drawn, not photo manipulation) local galleries and shows do not allow my work, even with a limited edition of one piece. What do they expect? That I will sell my ipad depicting the work? This narrow minded viewpoint will have to change in time, but it has forced me to widen my horizons. I finally pursuaded one reluctant summer gallery an hour away to sell my iPad work, on condition I gave them an exclusive for their area. At the beginning of summer I consigned a small set of cradle mounted iPad drawings and iPad drawing art cards and they are selling like hot cakes. I’ve had to raise my prices to offset the cost of regular delivery. I’m told that people are buying multiples of both the mounted works and the art cards. I’m convinced that the art cards are giving me great exposure and leading to sales of the larger works. Perhaps it will help open the eyes of the less enlightened art establishment.

  66. I’m surprised that no one mentioned the possibility that an art collector who has just paid $2,000 for an original painting would be truly upset that the image he paid for can be purchased on a greeting card. I assume that whatever image an artist used on a card would have to be restricted to cards. Still, I might try doing some cards, using paintings created just for cards.

    1. Ever seen “My Kid Could Paint That!”? There’s a point in the documentary where concern’s been raised that the paintings aren’t fully Marla’s and they parents make a recording of her creating “Ocean.” It’s actually a selling point for the painting BECAUSE of the parents’ documentary. I suppose some would be upset, but others would be happy to say, “There may be millions of copies out there, but I’VE got the ORIGINAL.”

  67. Y’all are going to love this…I am a truly unexperienced artist. I sell at a farmers marlet on Saturdays, in a rural part of North Carolina. I have Walmart print up copies of my work as 4×6 photo prints. Then I put my business card on the back of each print. I put them in my Mrs.Fields Cookie Tin and offer them as a free sample of my work, and then provide them with my clip board to add their email to my mailing list for my monthly newsletter. The only drawbacks are the Girl Scouts who clean me out of the puppy photos, and the senior citizens who what my floral prints for free. But here’s the thing….my weekly income, after paying $15 for my booth site, ranges from $25-175, with additional contacts for commissions. This mast month, my cleared intake was $425. I figure I making more on my art than Van Gogh, so I’m ahead before I kick the bucket!`

  68. As a post card collector as well as an artist (post cards are a cheap and convenient way to create an easy-to-store/organize image library!), I can speak to cards being more likely to draw an additional customer base than “steal” your “big art” base. I’ve got a lot of artwork cards that I would never justify buying an original of, or even a small poster.

    Yes, you’ve noticed the downshift in people’s buying habits since the Recession. So have the big box stores (that’s why I don’t get as many after-Christmas deals as I did 15 years ago–stores aren’t stocking as much TO put on after-Christmas sales). It’s the new norm, and you’re not going to get your big-ticket sales back by limiting your little stuff.

  69. The recession did change things. Where we used to sell plenty of the original art, we now sell much less. I have found that the notecards with my images don’t sell that well, but I have inexpensive unframed works on paper that sell pretty well. However, my husband has only higher priced artwork. Since we have been offering note cards of his work, they have sold enough to make up for a bigger sale. Until we offered cards, sometimes we would not sell very much at all. I see the cards as being more about promotion. We also have had the same experience as others of having a note card buyer come back and buy the original. We are still trying to find the balance among inexpensive reproductions, lower priced unframed works on paper, and full priced framed original art.

  70. I haven’t read all the replies but you can have two sets of card. To charge a premium you can offer hand signed at a higher price. Or maybe offer them signed or initialed on the back making them inconvenient to frame.

  71. Jason: Great topic, it is obvious from the number of replies it’s important. Personally I have enjoyed seeing my art reprinted on cards, but they have been mostly commissions for corporate and institutional clients and the occasional event I might be sponsoring. I do use them to communicate with clients, collectors and galleries. I’ve neve made a lot of money at it, but it’s a great leave behind at a meeting. I don’t worry about people framing them because it is so unlikely they would ever buy my work if they are satisfied with a 5 x 7 card. For those that may want to experiment for little time or money, print-on-demand companies will do the printing and fulfillment for you and it gives you a place to send the customer rather then disappoint them.

  72. One of my favorite local artists joined a reputable gallery in a tourist area. I decided to buy some cards and coasters sporting her stunning red poppies – her signature look. The gallery owner told me that once the artist offered small prints, cards and coasters – her sales of original work completely stopped. Not one original sold in the past year. She thought with printing technology being so good – why buy a pricey original when you can buy and frame a print or have other versions of her art. Just an observation.

  73. I have post cards printed to show what my art looks like. I give them away. PR is special for my art life. I carry them with me all the time. I meet a lot of NEW people. I can afford to give my cards away. I have not had a mortgage since 1998. So can give my cards away. I sell all of my own art. Set aside money to reprint my post cards. Glad to hand them out. I have a working class art life. PR Matters!!!!

  74. I give away bookmarks which explains what I do, where I’ll be along with small images of what I do. I also like to think they aren’t lost as easily as business cards, which has proven true. I sell prints – framed and unframed in 8 x 10 size frames and therefore choose not to sell cards. I often debate that decision with myself, however when I first started selling, a successful artist advised me not to water down my art with cards. I’ve always remembered that. I do sell calendars each year, which is a compromise. Thank you, as I have a small, but very rewarding art business, started after retirement and it’s nice to see how others handle all the challenges.

  75. I think it’s pretty simple, to a customer who appreciates the art and the quality of glicee print, they are not going to buy a card and be satisfied with that. To those who are buying the card, they either cannot afford the print let alone an original and would still like to enjoy some aspect of art. The choice is obviously the artists, but not producing or selling cards is not going to increase your sales of more expensive pieces – the two customers are not the same.

  76. I’m personaly against creating art cards ,
    i think having cards available for sale with the artists original artwork ,
    confuses and dilutes the artists brand positioning
    as far as offering a cheaper option to buy, high art should remain in galleries and not
    become a transaction of making a ready accessible product so people can afford artworks, artists have a right to respectful renumeration of their skills and talents, time energy and the costs associated with sustaining our arts practice and operating expenses ,we as artists certainly don’t receive discounts due to our artist status, our rent’s ,living costs and the price of materials are not reduced just because we have bills , i also dislike the idea that cards are a mini version of the original artwork , we are artist’s not supplying the souvenir industry , because i feel that miniaturising the artworks could also be read as reducing the power of the work , shrinking it in a sense ,
    which could also affect the way that the work impacts the viewer , our works are not mini samples, if i did want to offer an alternative item i would prefer to create high quality limited edition prints of the work in a standard size on fine paper .
    Selling at a cheaper price point than the original , but still at a fair price for the work ,ultimately the artist is the owner of the copyright so can please themselves how they would like their work produced .

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