CPC Sparking Creative Ideas

by Travis N. Tom

(1.20.03) The Creative Postcard Club is a group of graphic designers and artists throughout the world who design and create postcards based on a given theme assignment. As the founder and publisher of this site I have had the pleasure of getting to know some of our talented members. By asking members about their cards and sharing updates on everyday life, it appears that our postcard designs have landed in several of our own portfolios and on our Web sites. Some of our artwork from Round 3 An Alphabet and Round 9 HOW Self-Promotion Annual Cover postcards were published in HOW Magazine in 2001 and 2002. Tracy Pokryzwa from Canada was commissioned by HOW as the actual cover for the 2002 issue (see fig. A). Another member from Iowa, Michael Blair, is teaching a typography course this semester and is planning to include the Alphabet and Hello... My Name Is... themes as assignments for his class. Even though we are a fun hobby group, it's good to see that our projects are crossing over into our real work and sparking creative ideas beyond the original assignment.

Some CPC members, like myself, display our postcard designs in our portfolios and have received positive responses at interviews. Deborah Clague from Canada mentioned to me, "Since joining the CPC, I've added a lot of pieces to my portfolio whether they be the actual postcards themselves or variations on the proposed themes. Several CPC assignments have gotten people to request a further look at my portfolio." She is also inspired by the aspect of seeing other creatives tackling the same design problem and says, "The other members' work has also inspired me and got me to think outside of my normal technicolor box." Deborah is planning to create several promotion pieces based on her CPC designs such as a mini portfolio to send to art directors and her recent R13 Vintage Travel Poster was fitting for the season and used as a Christmas greeting card (see fig. 1).

Although Danielle is a digital and interactive designer she has included her designs on her online portfolio at www.digitalgrrl.com. She lives in Washington DC and attends local AIGA (American Institute of Graphic Arts) events. She recommends purchasing a 5x7 plastic photo album to display the postcard designs and keep them on hand to share with someone at a happy/hour or seminar. She says, "If I'm talking with someone about fun side projects I can show them samples from the club". In the same way, this is how I actually met Renee Pearson at a portfolio showing at the Aquent office in Atlanta. Renee is a designer and illustrator and joined the club in Round 6 A Festival Poster postcard.

Members have expressed that they have taken their assignments a step further by creating a continuing series based on their original card design. Both Debbie Rose (California) and Lisa Ackerman (Illinois--see fig. 2 ) have told me that the latest calendar assignment has inpired them to design a full 12 month calendar based on their original designs. I included my calendar design in a self-promotional packet that I sent out in early January and also sent a few out as holiday greeting cards to family and friends. The calendar design assignment was fun and may initiate an actual printed CPC calendar for 2004.

Our Round 13 Travel Vintage Poster postcards have also inspired a few members to pursue a series based on their original cards. This article was inspired when Robert McLaughlin (California) e-mailed one day with some news to share. He designed his postcard of one of the Missions in San Diego and a friend of his saw the postcard and wanted to market his work as a sales rep. They printed a poster size image of the original postcard design and presented it to the Mission (see fig. 3). They loved the poster and wanted a possible series done of the other surrounding Missions in the city. This kind of story always motivates me to search for ways to market my own work. As for my own R13 design titled "Tee Time" I was imagining it could be used as actual postcards for local golf clubs and on merchandise like coffee cups and tee-shirts. This may still be in the works as I send a few promos and proposals out this year (see fig. 4).

Another member, Trevor Botting (Canada), was inspired to illlustrate his card on a local landmark known as the Gazebo in Victoria Park in Kitchener (see fig. 5). He hopes to expand this into a series of postcards which would include the playground, the Clock Tower, the Boat House, the Pavillion and the Statue of Queen Victoria. The park is host to a few festivals and events that take place throughout the year and would be a good place to start for a tourism series of postcards.

While Jon Lai (Toronto, Canada) was in a coffee shop he was pondering over his travel vintage poster postcard design when the owner came up and asked why he was staring at his print outs of his design. After seeing the design and liking it, the owner offered to put some samples in the shop for tourists to respond to. If there was interest and demand in the card design then the owner would negotiate a percentage of the sales for the shelf space. Jon is excited about the opportunity and exclaimed, "So what it amounts to is that I get to test the market for free!" Goodluck Jon (see fig. 6).

Who ever said graphic design is not a fine art? Karen Larson of Michigan was inspired by the assignment for R11 Series of 4 Stamps (see fig. 7). She created her stamp designs entirely on her Palm Pilot and has even designed a site www.PalmArt.us, which is an online gallery dedicated to showing artwork created on a PDA. Karen's inspired Palm artwork recently pushed me over the edge to purchase a new Palm for myself. I found myself completely engrossed drawing with digital pixels. I was considering buying a monochrome PDA to use as an organizer and type contracts, proposals and book copy until I saw Karen's gallery of Palm art. I had no idea of the capabilities of this device. Now I'm hooked on the new gadget. Please visit her site and look around. Her initial goal is to include other Palm artists from around the world.

When I first started the club out of the blue in 2000, the very first assignment in the club was a self-promotion postcard and had 15 members participating. I still use my self-promotion postcard to send as a promo piece for icon work (see fig. 8 and 8b). I incorporated the same template and other design elements in other promotional pieces to keep a consistent look and feel. I've also printed some of my CPC assignments on promotional bookmarks.

There have even been a few inquiries if our postcard designs are for sale. Fairly recently, someone e-mailed me about the CPC site and asked if some of the travel vintage posters were for sale as actual posters. This is exciting to know that people outside of the industry are finding us and wanting to purchase our art to decorate their homes.

The Creative Postcard Club was established as a platform for other creatives to have fun as a hobby and share our art within our groups and creative community. It's good to grow and become inspired by our own ideas and concepts. Sometimes the result is a creative feeding frenzy and sparks a great idea for our own real-life promotions. Let's hope the creative spark never burns out.