Artist Interview with Self-Publisher Barbara Hughes
We love to publish all kinds of blog posts on Northern Cards, from an artist interview to an Etsy seller interview and topics such as All About The Forest Stewardship Council, The History of the Greeting Card and The Digital Age: Is the Greeting Card Industry Near Death? However, for our new interview series, we are introducing you to various people in the world of greeting cards. We'll be interviewing artists, self-publishers, printers and many more people involved in this industry, so that you can learn more about what they all do.
Our next interview is with Barbara Hughes. Barbara is an artist and self-publisher who lives in Pennsylvania and who sells her products at Holistic Lotus in Allentown.
When and why did you decide to design your own cards?
I have been making cards, using the images from my paintings, for a number of years. They had been for personal use until I recently decided to try launching a home business for my designs.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
I draw inspiration from the turn of the seasons and the holidays of the year. I am very influenced by the weather. Snow gets me in the mood to start painting Santas, while the summer sun has me thinking about blooming flowers and rabbits and squirrels in the backyard.
Are there any particular publishing companies which inspire you?
What is the typical process you go through when designing a card from scratch?
I sort through my paintings and select images that I think will translate well as a greeting card, keeping in mind what season I am working in. Then I photograph and start editing the image and resizing it to fit my 5x7 card size. When I know that the image will be a fit, I start adding copy and other design elements to the card. When I am satisfied it goes off to the printer.
Do you sell anything other than cards?
I am concentrating on card design at this point in time. However, I am a figurative painter and enjoy doing portraits. I am a current member of the Portrait Society of America as well as the Maryland Society of Portrait Painters. Examples of my portrait work can be seen here on my website.
Where do you sell your products?
My 'Buddha and Lotus' cards are currently available at Holistic Lotus, LLC. in Allentown, PA. and my 'Woodland Creatures' collection will be available later this summer at Now and Then Books in Emmaus, PA. I will also be expanding the line at Holistic Lotus to include birthday and wedding cards this summer as well. The owner told me that summer is her best time to sell cards and that birthday and wedding fly off the shelf for her.
Do you sell internationally?
Do you sell wholesale as well as retail?
I am currently interested in selling primarily through retail outlets in my area. I am actively looking for additional retailers to carry my cards. At this point I do not have the economies of scale to make wholesale feasible.
Who is a typical customer of yours?
Someone who would buy an art card or print. People who like to frame and/or display their cards. I look at my cards as small works of art that have become a real labor of love for me. Since my cards are a 5x7 size they fit perfectly into standard mats and ready-made dollar store frames for hanging or table top display. Since I work in multiples of twos and threes, they look great hung together as a collection.
What do you think makes a card design perfect?
If the card has good graphics and catches your eye on the display rack. There are a lot of cards out there, so if a card stands out from the crowd it’s a winner.
How much do you sell your cards for?
They are currently priced at $5.
How do you actually print your cards? Are they all custom done or do you keep an inventory on hand?
I send the jpegs out for printing. I have some cards on hand to replenish what gets sold.
Do you send your own cards to friends and family?
Always. They expect no less from me.
What is the best card you ever received?
All the cards that I have ever received from my son. He is the card connoisseur in the family and always picks out the right card for the right occasion. He is also my biggest supporter and likes to critique my new cards when they come from the printer.
Who would you love to send one of your own cards to?
Hmmmmm.... Watch out, you might find one in the mail.
What's the most difficult thing you have found when self-publishing?
It has all been fun. This is so new that I am sure that I have not run into all of the things that can go wrong yet.... but give me time.
What type of things have you tried to increase your exposure?
Currently, I am working on increasing traffic on my Facebook page; it is a work in progress. I also have a blog that you can read here. I am also considering adding Instagram to my lineup of social media to gain a wider audience.
What would you say is the best thing about self-publishing?
Seeing the finished product. It feels like Christmas when the cards arrive from the printer and I get to look at them for the first time. It is exciting when a card prints as well as I am hoping for and a teachable moment on the occasion that it does not.
Do you have any words of advice for anyone who is contemplating being a self-publisher of greeting cards?
Write up some sort of business plan, even if it is sketchy. Have goals for yourself so that you do not lose your way. I would also say that you really need to love and be excited about your product so that your excitement shows through when you are selling or placing your cards for sale. Show your enthusiasm!