Friday Tips: Utilizing Postcards and Newsletters


Peanut Sauce, Pastel on Museum Board, Deane Kube 

I’ve written this section under the assumption that you’re not yet in a gallery. If you are in one, just follow their lead on this issue; they’ll likely know how to handle it. If they don’t, just have them read this blog, or my book. Please note however, the blog’s free.

Postcards, like copies of articles, are a very useful promotional tool. All you need is a well-photographed image of a strong work to produce one. Most printing firms, and postcard companies, can help you with layout. I tend to prefer companies that specialize in postcards, since they’re often the cheapest.

On the front of the card the most important thing of course is the image, and the quality of the reproduction. Assuming that you do have a good image, you have two choices: put your name in large letters above the work, with title, medium and size in smaller print below; or print the front as a full bleed and put all the information on the back. In my gallery, until an artist is established, we always put their name on both the front and back. This helps clients to understand, at a glance, who did the work. Later, after you’ve achieved global fame, you can opt to have the name on the back only.

On the reverse side, whether or not you print anything on the front, you’ll need your name in large letters, and beneath that the contact information. If there is room for a brief bio, then that can go beneath the address and phone number. For the front, use the format I’ve laid out above, or in the book if you like. But whatever format you use for the reverse side, please be careful to not place your address in the lower section of the card; if you do, the postal computers may read this as the mailing address, and send it back to you. In fact you must leave the lower 5/8 of the card blank.

You do not need to have a major show under your belt to qualify for printing postcards. You don’t need to have landed a significant commission, or to have sold the work pictured. You don’t even need to be established. All you do need is one or more pieces that you feel represent you at your best.

The same applies to newsletters. Of course in order to warrant printing a newsletter, it’s best if you can provide your readers with some actual news. Don’t worry if your career isn’t that advanced yet; those things will come in time if you’re dedicated. Besides, the bulk of all newsletters are composed partly of fluff. Their only purpose, really, is to inform prospective clients and galleries that your career is advancing. You don’t care to write one? Perhaps you’ll eventually join a gallery that already does, and that will include you. But whoever writes it, make certain it’s brief, based in fact, with crisp images and an impressive layout.

The point is, whether you utilize postcards, newsletters, or both, the printed word, when married to impressive images, is a powerful combination. By handing these to prospective clients, you’ll find that you look established, and feel established. I advise you do this early in your career. It will become a good habit, and a worthwhile one, especially when dealing with the public at art fairs and juried shows.

What about those art fairs? When will I discuss them, how to get into them, and whether they’re worth the bother? Soon enough.

William Lobdell at Citizens Bank


Installed William’s sculpture, Infrastructure, at Citizens Bank in sububurban Kansas City recently.  They’re headquartered in Fort Scott and Overland Park, have several branches around Kansas, and are big supporters of regional artists.  They were looking for something sculptural to contrast with the Kim Casebeer painting on the left, and this piece was the right fit.  It’s made of wood, steel, polymers, and oil paint, and is an interpretation of several historic buildings downtown. 


Without area businesses like Citizens, the Regional Renaissance would not be making the great strides it is.  My hat (if I wore one) is off to those who are participating.  All of us in the arts owe them much.

A Hurricane and a Magazine Conference in Orlando


I’ve been in Orlando the past couple of days attending an editorial conference with some of the staff and contributing writers of Art Calendar Magazine.  Great bunch of very sharp and well-informed people. 


Basically we covered where the magazine is going, how its profile will continue to evolve, and what subjects will be covered over the course of the next year.  The publisher pretty much wined and dined us, which is always nice.


Now I’d love to tell you that the weather was like that in the top photo, but it was more like the lower one.  I arrived in the midst of Hurricane Fay, and am departing as the last buckets of rain fall–well, blow.  That’s cool.  I dig stormy weather.  Besides, I understand it’s sunny back in good old KC.  That means a few laps at the pool later today.  Damn, I do love summer.

Linda Ganstrom Installation


Placed this sweet little piece with a private collector recently.  He and his wife–two of my favorite people–live by the Nelson.  They have an amazing collection, and are amazingly generous–a trait that the art world, and the world in general, cannot move forward without.  No, we’re not going to use patio furniture as a pedestal.  We just shot the piece on this table; ped later.

Linda Ganstrom is one of my finest ceramists.  She celebrates the feminine mystique in a way that is real, direct and yet abstracted.  It’s an honor to carry her work.  Where does she live?  Hays, KS.  You never know what kind of sophistication you’ll find in the outback.

No Place Like Eureka Springs


Went to Eureka Springs, AR to relax recently.  Great town deep in the Ozarks, surrounded by springs and rivers, composed of a curious admixture of hippies and rednecks.  Saw this Space Shuttle van while there.  Note rocket boosters.


Then of course there’s The World’s Largest Wind Chime.


Other than that, stayed at our favorite inn, went cliff-diving at our favorite lake, loitered at a variety of coffee shops and restaurants, with lots of time for reading.  No computers, no schedule, no ringing phones.  Man it was nice.  Modern life, with all of it’s absurd overwork, doesn’t allow enough for just doing nothing.  Or is it we who don’t? 

Allan Chow in Kuala Lumpur


I’m negotiating a commission for Allan Chow currently, and while that has nothing to do with the painting above, I still like the story behind this piece.

Allan did it when he was only a year out of college, and it still reflects the touch of a master.  He was born in Kuala Lumpur, had gone back to visit after graduating from the Kansas City Art Institute, and noticed this scene in a bicycle repair shop.  So he did a sketch, then completed the painting after returning to the states.  The composition is understated: the father who started the bicycle shop is declining into old age; his son has taken over, and is young and vital as the old man once was; the ancient bike is likely a British design, like a relic of the colonial days.

All these elements tell a subtle story, but it doesn’t matter if you don’t see it.  The piece is firstly a great little painting.  The one below?  That resulted from his 2007 trip to Kuala Lumpur.  The change in style speaks for itself.

chow 2.jpg

Coordinating the Completion of a Monumental Sculpture


Matt Kirby and I have been working on this 18′ sculpture of his design since April, this for a civic client.  It’ll be made of structural steel (powder-coated black), stainless steel, and cast glass.  To give you an indea of what goes into a piece like this, these shots were taken from a morning of appointments where I met with different subs.


Started at the offices of Donald Jack Engineering in North KC, since you can’t fabricate something this massive without making certain that everything passes structural requirements, that the concrete ped is adequate without being excessive, and that you’re joining the various metals in a way that won’t later cause corrosion.  Good old Dave Buck helps me sort through the details, and keeps me from making mistakes.


Next stop was Mid-States Supply in the East Bottoms, to see Larry at the order desk.  He advises me on the grade and schedule (thickness) that I want to work with within the confines of the engineer’s recommendations.  We overbuild everything so that each piece will withstand gale-force winds and unexpected stresses, but it’s my job to make sure we do so within budget.  That’s why you must begin with a realistic budget, then stick to it, no matter what sort of creativity you have to employ in doing so.


Finished the morning at Union Machine and Tool in KC, KS, where good old Geoff and his crew reviewed fabrication methods with me, how we’ll access the attaching hardware, when we’ll sandblast and paint, and whether or not the base-plate holes align with the template, which is what we’re checking in the photo.  They aligned.

I love these aspects, which are much more fun than sitting behind a desk and coordinating.  After all the freaking paperwork is done, and the 1000 emails sent, nothing beats working in the field with the artists, the trades, and the sun.

Next we’ll get the glass in, then comes final fabrication and assembly, then disassembly, then transport, then reassembly, then dedication.  When that big black drape is pulled off, and the crowd applauds, that will be a great moment for Matt.  Me?  I’ll stand in the background content in knowing that all the details were handled correctly, and that the piece will still be standing long after I’m gone.

Saturday at Richard Raney’s Studio


Took my sons and one of my favorite young artists, Jacob Powell, to Richard Raney’s studio yesterday.  Richard has this great place on the 5th floor of an old warehouse in the West Bottoms.  We often go up to the roof to talk, look out on the trains, the river, etc.  Note Broadway Bridge in the distance.  The boys loved it.  Richard’s a great role model, so it’s no accident that I took them there.  Jacob attends Lincoln Prep Academy; my sons KU.

Started the morning with breakfast at some greasy spoon in Westport.  Encountered a car wreck on Broadway as we headed downtown; rendered assistance.  Wandered the Bottoms for awhile as the heat of the day began to build toward 100.  Later checked out some new rebel galleries on Troost.  Man, I do love summer.

Sculpture for Warner Brothers film, “Watchmen”


As I mentioned last fall, we provided contemporary sculpture for the new Zach Snyder Film, Watchmen, which will premiere next March.  Here’s an article about the flick in Entertainment Weekly.  

Warner Brothers used works by Brent Collins and Arlie Regier on a couple of different sets, which everyone on the film raved about.  I’m now arranging openings for the artists in LA and Santa Fe that will coincide with the film’s release. 

I’d hate to presume what this will do for their careers, but I’m certain it will be good, if not stratospheric.  How does it feel to be able to arrange this for a sculptor from Kansas, and another from Missouri?  Damned good.