Advertising for Artist Shows – Postcards / Artist Cards

Artist Postcard

An effective artist show card shows your work and tells your story

In working with artists I have seen some very good artist show cards and some which left a lot to be desired.  If you are having a show or exhibition of your art work then make sure you make the most of your efforts.  Art show cards or postcards are a direct reflection of your brand and can serve more purposes than having something to hand out at your art show or exhibition.

Some of the uses are:

  • Announce an upcoming show or exhibition
  • A take-away for visitors to the show or exhibition
  • Another piece in your marketing materials portfolio
  • Inclusion into a press kit or press release (digital version)
  • An addition to your artist portfolio
  • Something to show current customers, prospects and others in your network

Remember that your artist show postcards don’t do you any good sitting in a box or stuffed in a drawer.  Get them out there so people can see your work and experience your brand – be creative!

The basics of an effective artist show card


As with any effective art marketing tool you use, artist cards require some degree of planning to make sure that the advertising supports your brand and it gets the intended message across.  One common mistake is to not allow enough time to design and produce the materials for your show.  If have seen it time and time again where the artist had a show with little or no marketing materials to hand out to the guests – don’t let this happen to you!  Plan ahead and allow yourself plenty of time.

Elements of an effective ad

Think of your art show cards as a form of advertising because they are one!  Just like any advertisement you should follow the basic rules of creating an effective advertisement.

Some of the elements you should consider in designing your art marketing card include:

  • Headline – Something to grab you audience’s attention this could be text or graphics (think your art!)
  • Story – What is the story behind your art exhibition or your art?
  • Proposition – You may want to add a bit about the benefits or sizzle of your art
  • Call to Action – What do you want your viewer to do after reading your card? Buy the displayed art, place an order, visit your studio, go to your website, tell a friend?

For more on the basics of an advertisement see Creating Effective Advertisements

Art show card contents and design

Think outside the box when designing your artist show card

Think outside the box when designing your artist show card

There are no hard rules on the contents and design of your art show cards; just make sure that they support your brand and look professional.

Some things to consider:

  • Make sure your graphics and photos of your work are top quality – don’t skimp on this!  If you need to get the help of a competent photographer and designer in putting together your card then do it.
  • A card has two sides – use it!  Too many times I have seen art show cards with a blank back side.  Use this side to tell your story and other details about the show and the art work being highlighted.
  • Make your card easy to read stay away from confusing type fonts and small text size.
  • Follow two of the basic rules of advertising:
    1. You can’t bore people into buying from you
    2. You can’t put ten pounds of stuff in a five pound bag
  • Cards come in a huge variety of sizes, papers and finishes – don’t be limited by what everyone else is doing – think outside the box and make the card a part of your brand experience!
  •  You may also want to experiment with the format of your card as well.  Maybe a card that is folded (this will give you four panels instead of two to present your marketing message). You could also create a small booklet if you have many pieces to highlight.
  • Don’t forget the basics like:
    • Your name and/or your studio name
    • The dates and times of the show and when you will be there
    • The address of the show including the city, state, zip code and possibly directions if the venue may be hard to find.  Don’t make the assumption that everyone will know where Gallery XYZ is and how to find it – bad assumption!
    • Your contact information such as phone, website address and your social media channels such as Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter etc.

Producing and printing your art show card

Once you have your contents and design put together you will need to put it in a format that a printer can use.  The process is not complicated but you will need to follow the rules and specifications of the printer before submitting your job to them.

Here are some tips:

  • You will need a good graphics design program or have someone else put your ideas and layout into a computer file.
  • Use the template supplied by the printer this will keep you from having content cutoff in the trimming process.  Templates are available that will work with a variety of design programs.
  • Make sure you are using the right color space in your design software.  Printers use a color space called CMYK (cyan, magenta, yellow, black) which is different that the color space used. for photography and computer monitors (i.e. RGB, aRGB…).  If you don’t use the proper color space your final printed piece may not look like you had intended!
  • Check ALL of you information for spelling and correctness.  Too many advertising pieces have been spoiled by a bad phone number, address or other items – Proof your work!
  • Choose a printer that produces the type of cards you are printing.  This is probably not a job for your “corner” printer.  There are firms that specialize in postcards and the prices are very affordable.  Once such supplier is GotPrint – check them out.

The general rule of printing is that as you increase the number of cards ordered the unit price (cost per card) drops until you get to very large quantities.  For example, a recent look at GotPrint quoted 500 5″x7″ cards with color on one side and black & white on the back:

      1. 100 Cards $.34 each
      2. 250 Cards $.21 each
      3. 500 Cards $.12 each

As you can see, the price per card drops as the quantity ordered increases.  Only order as many cards as you can use but think about how you might use “extra” cards.

And don’t forget that you might want to produce your own show cards using an inkjet printer.  This can be a great route to take if you only need a relatively small number of cards.  Producing your own can also be a good way to “proof” how the card will look before ordering larger quantities from a printer.  Check your local office supply store as there carry blank cards that are ready to print in your inkjet printer and they come in a variety of sizes and paper stocks.

The bottom line(s)…

If you are having a show or exhibition you need to have some marketing materials for your art, and artist’s show cards are an excellent and inexpensive solution.  Make sure that your cards represent your brand well and think about other ways you can use these cards.  I invite you to share this article with your artist and creative friends.  Good Luck!


Neil McKenzie is the author of The Artist’s Business and Marketing ToolBox – How to Start, Run and Market a Successful Arts or Creative Business available in softcover from Barnes & Noble and Amazon and as an eBook from iTunes, Amazon and Barnes & Noble.   He has developed and teaches the course “Artrepreneurship” at the Center for Innovation at Metropolitan State University of Denver, and is also a visiting professor at University College at the University of Denver.

Neil has over 30 years’ experience as a management consultant and marketing executive, working with some of the world’s top brands. Neil is a frequent lecturer to artists and arts organizations, a guest columnist for Colorado Biz Magazine, where he covers the creative sector of the economy, and the author of several articles for Americans for the Arts, a national arts organization. Follow Neil on Twitter: @neilmckenzphoto

4 thoughts on “Advertising for Artist Shows – Postcards / Artist Cards

  1. Anna Porter Artist

    It seems like this article could have used a graphic. An image of some sort … the old adage of a picture is worth a thousand words still holds as true today as when it was first coined.

    1. Neil McKenzie Post author

      Good suggestion! I have quite a collection of artist show cards and couldn’t make up my mind which to use – some are really good and some definetely need some work!

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