How I get my notecards made

Jason was kind enough to ask me how I get my notecards made and I’m happy to talk about that. And I’m really happy to get comments from “new” readers! Thanks Jason.

After my painting is complete, I take a photo of the finished painting with my digital camera. I usually end up taking about 8 photos, some in the shade, some in the sun, some laying flat against the ground and a couple with the canvas leaning against something. I take all the photos outside on a sunny day. It is surprising how different each photo can look, but I pick the best one and then crop it in Photoshop.

There is a little planning involved in cropping the photo. You need to know the dimensions of your envelopes and from there crop your photo to those dimensions. Once the photo is cropped to the right dimensions I save the image as a PSD or PDF file for my printer. You could ask your printer how he wants you to save the image, he’ll know the best way for the best resolution. At this point the file is usually too big to e-mail to the printer so I copy it onto a disc and drive it over to my local printer. My printer does have a remote site where I could e-mail a large file to and he could retrieve it from that site, but it’s just easier to drive the 1 mile over to the print shop. I mention this because there are some on-line places that do a fine job of printing postcards and probably notecards and in that case you would need to send them something online.

Oh, don’t worry, if you don’t have Photoshop then the printer could crop your image where you tell him to.

At the printer you’ll need to choose which paper stock you want your notecards printed on. It’s all personal preference and I choose matte cover stock. You could also choose glossy paper. The printer will have lots of samples to choose from. I think it’s best to avoid something like a linen finish where the image might get a distorted by the ridges in the paper. I also choose white paper, no flecks of color or anything special/fancy like that.

I also give the printer another file, a word document, where I have some type that I put on the back of my notecards. Mine say the name of the painting, for example “ho ho ho” and below that “Joan Breckwoldt” and then a couple of spaces down from that I put my website. All that I put in black type about 12 points. I don’t want it to be too big, but I do want people to be able to read it. Especially my website. haha, kidding. But not really.

So, a couple of days after the printer has everything he needs from me (word document and image file), I get a call from him to come look at a proof. If the text is in the right position and the color looks good, then I approve the proof and he prints the cards. I say “print” but when I order under about 500 notecards, it’s more economical for the printer to use their inkjet (?) printer instead of sending it out to a large 4 color press. If you’re going to order 1000 notecards or more, you might look into having it done on a press, otherwise the inkjet is more economical. You might wonder, why don’t I just print them at home on my color printer? The answer is that it would be more time and trouble to do this. Ink is expensive and I would have to cut (!!!) each card and then fold it. The printer prints them, puts a nice score down the middle and I get a pretty shrink wrapped package of my notecards. I will admit that is my favorite part of this whole process, picking up that package from the printer! All I have to do is fold them along the fold where they’ve been scored.

I can give you an idea about the prices I pay, but of course it will be different in other places around the country. For 100 cards that fit in an A-6 size envelope, which is what most of my cards are, I pay about $65 for printing. Then I need to buy envelopes. I go to a paper store, all they have are reams of paper and boxes of envelopes, and I buy envelopes in boxes of 250. A box of 250 envelopes in A-6 size cost about $30. A-6 envelopes are 4 3/4″ x 6 1/2″.

Then you need to think about packaging. I used to just tie a ribbon around the notecards and envelopes, which was fine, but I had to have a tag that I tied on to the ribbon with my website info and a place for a price tag to be attached. I had some tags printed that I could attach and they were expensive! So now I put 8 notecards and 8 envelopes in a clear plastic bag which I order online from U-line by the 1000 (which is their minimum order). They come in many sizes so you just pick the size that best fits your envelopes. I print out (on my computer) some little slips of paper that say “8 blank notecards and 8 envelopes” and also my website. I put one of these into each package. Here is where you need to stop and think, do I really want to go through all this trouble?

Okay, you’re still reading . . . . The next thing I do is go buy ribbon to tie the packages closed. Here in Houston I go to a wholesale place called Craft-Tex and buy ribbon in spools of 50 or 100 yards. In the beginning I bought smaller quantities of ribbon because I was trying out different color combinations to see which ones I like. Be sure and bring your notecards with you when you pick out ribbon! Michaels, Hobby Lobby, fabric stores, all these places have ribbon. Then I sit in front of the tv or get my kids to help me and I assemble the notecard packages.

I figure each package of notecards costs me somewhere around $6 to $6.50 to make once it’s all done. Ribbon isn’t cheap. Well, I buy pretty ribbon, wired french taffeta for example. I sell the packages for $12 each which means I probably make 25 cents an hour once it’s all done. Except when the church bookstore orders some from me, then they pay me $6.50 per package and I don’t make any money. That is actually a great deal for me: I get my money back, the church makes money, and my cards are a good marketing tool so everyone wins. I mention this because any kind of retail establishment wants to pay you only half of what they’ll sell them for. Notecards in small quantities are not a money making proposition, I think you would have to get your costs down by printing 1000’s instead of 100’s. But if I participate in any kind of art show, then I sell them myself for $12 each.

I think I covered everything related to notecards, just ask if there are any questions.


  1. December 11, 2008 / 9:25 am

    Ah! This is great information, Joan! Thanks so much for taking the time to list all the steps.

  2. December 12, 2008 / 3:33 pm

    Hey Joan,

    Thank you so much for this information. This is a brilliant post. Im going to print this post and keep it in my notes. This information is so valuable, and I cant thank you enough for taking the time to put all of this in words.

    I think there are allot of talented artist out there, who have no idea how to get prints made, and this really covers all the basis. Thank you so much.

    Blessings, Jason
    p.s. Thanks for the link back as well, Im also going to add you to my links list today and give you a link back as well.

  3. December 12, 2008 / 5:44 pm

    Hi Jason,
    You’re very welcome. I am so glad you found the information useful and I’m flattered that you’re going to print out the info and keep it. Thanks for the link! I’ll add a your blog to my list of blogs I read too.
    blessings to you too Jason,

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