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Using Note Cards as a Marketing Tool

by Tommy Thompson on 10/22/2009 3:23:37 PM

This post is by guest author, Tommy ThompsonThis article has been edited and published with the author's permission. You should submit an article and share your views as a guest author by clicking here.

Using Note Cards as a Marketing Tool

Artists can endear themselves to their collectors and promote their artwork at the same time by giving the purchasers of their artwork a token of appreciation.  One way that I do this is to give my collectors five note cards featuring their recently purchased painting on the cover of the cards.  I provide the note cards to those who buy a 16 x 20 inch or larger painting. My collectors appreciate receiving these note cards, which they can then use to send notes, invitations, or thank-you's to their friends and others.  These cards are saved as templates and copy/photos are changed as needed.  I've included instructions for designing the note cards for my horizontal and vertical paintings below:

Note Cards for Horizontal Paintings

Using Photoshop Elements, I open a 300-dpi, vertical page.  I then drag onto that page the painting image that I have saved as 300 dpi, 6 inches wide and rotated 180 degrees (upside down).  About one-half inch below the photo, I type the following information:

                  "Tennessee Hillside Horses"

                 by Tommy Thompson
               30 x 40 inches, Oil on Canvas
                In the Collection of John and Mary Doe

Note Cards for Vertical Paintings

For vertical paintings, I open a 300-dpi, horizontal page in Photoshop Elements.  I then drag onto that page the painting image that I have saved as 300 dpi and 6 inches tall, but I do not rotate this one.  The sample copy above is placed to the left of the image at the bottom of the card. This card is then folded flush with the left side of the image and trimmed borderless.

I print the note cards on 8.5 x 11 inch, 67# white vellum cover, fold them flush with the top of the image, and trim them borderless to fit in envelopes purchased at an office supply store.  After the card is folded, the text will appear on the back of the card.  I enclose the note cards and envelopes in a plastic sleeve and ship them to the collector in a bubble mailer.

To see sample note cards, both horizontal and vertical, click here:

I am always sure to include a handwritten "Thank You" to the collector written on an extra note card.

In addition, I also save the jpeg file of the note card image on a CD and mail that, along with the five note cards and envelopes to the collector; giving them permission to print more cards as they wish.

A great benefit to providing these note cards for collectors is that I feel I gain greater exposure for my artwork every time my collectors send out these cards. Additionally, when my collectors print more note cards at their own expense, I reap the benefits without the added expense of printing and postage.

Saying "Thank You" to collectors can first appear to be a minor gesture; however, it can make an artist stand out from the crowd.  In an age of electronic messaging, taking the time to send personal messages to your collectors can reap big rewards.

This article is reproduced with permission.
Copyright 2009 - Tommy Thompson

Learn More about Tommy Thompson at:

Tommy Thompson's Blog:


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Topics: Art Business | art marketing | Sales 

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Jeanne Guerin-Daley
Thanks for the directions, Tommy.

I have been an avid user of note cards for a couple years now. I love the idea that after I spent time to create an image, that that image can be sold in the form of a note card. One benefit to the customer is that oftentimes this customer is someone who really loves your art, but can't afford the original, or even a print. But I say to folks, "Anyone can afford to buy a three-dollar card." I also have used them as you suggested, as thank-you gifts to collectors.

I believe there is no substitute for a hand-written thank-you card received in the US mail. There is just something about the actual paper in your hands, and the handwritten message that makes it special. And don't we all want to feel special?

I hadn't thought of the idea to send them the digital image and give my collectors reproduction rights to my image. I have a particular collector who has not only bought my note cards, but also bought several sets! A repeat customer! She certainly deserves to have the capability to print her own once her personal stash runs out. Thanks for the tip. I will act on it. (I think I'll send her a note card telling her about it!)

*One note: I designed my note cards using MS Word and they print two out; meaning, you have to cut the sheet in half in order to get two printed cards. A little more work, but they do fit nicely into an invitation card type envelope of a 4 3/8" x 5 3/4" size. (Each card becomes 4.25 x 5.5")
Also an FYI-You can buy plastic sleeves pretty inexpensively for them at They also sell clear plastic boxes that you can buy flat and can open up to hold five or ten cards. (Or more if you really want to pack 'em in!)
Also, I usually buy the bulk pack of invitation cards at Staples pretty inexpensively.

- - Warmly Yours, Jeanne

Joanne Benson
Hi Tommy, I too have been using note cards as gifts for collectors for years. When I do a commission or special order for someone I always include 6 notecards. However, I don't give them a digital image. I do let them reorder cards and or small prints that I do myself on my computer. This has proven to be a good thing to do as well. The more cards they buy, the better deal they get. I also have printed note cards and sold a few here and there at various venues but decided it really isn't worth my time and effort. However, I happily do them for commission customers and it is certainly appreciated.

Clint Watson
As a collector, several artists have sent me note cards and the do get my attention and make me feel a bit special. I have indeed used them to send notes to my friends.

Diane Spears
I've been using reproductions of my drawings as note cards for gifts, and even selling them, but never thought of putting the purchased painting on a notecard or sending the formatted images on a CD with permission for the purchaser to print cards themselves. GREAT IDEAS!

Tommy Thompson
Thanks for your comments, Everyone. I am always eager to share information to help other artists. As my friend, the late Alex Haley, author of "Roots" once told me, "When you see a turtle on a fence post, you know that he did not get there by himself." In other words, most people who succeed in life have received help from others.

I failed to include the fact that we do send the note cards to our collectors in a plastic sleeve; this just makes for a nice presentation of the package.

Happy Painting,
Tommy Thompson

Nancy Pingree Hoover
This is a great idea Tommy! I never thought of including a note card of the client's painting with their purchase. I had thought of turning my art into note cards, but the aspect ratio never seems to be right. How do you deal with the aspect ratio?

Also, I do have the Art Marketing 101 book, and it gave me a lot of new ideas about how to promote myself and my artwork. It's a very informative book.

Nancy Pingree Hoover

Tommy Thompson
Most of my paintings are either 8 x 10, 11 x 14, 16 x 20, 20 x 24, 24 x 36, or 30 x 40; all of these sizes work well for note cards. If you are working in a 2 to 1 ratio, then your card would naturally be wide and short or tall and narrow. Alternatively, you could crop the image of your painting and show only a detail of the painting.

You may also wish to check out Alyson B. Stanfield's excellent book, "I'd Rather Be in the Studio: The Artist's No-Excuse Guide to Self-Promotion." My wife participated in Alyson's online course in the promotion of art and benefited from it greatly. We refer to Alyson's book regularly.

Deber Klein
This is an excellent idea, Tommy. I have heard of a few folks who do things like this. It's not only a good marketing thing to do, but it's just plain nice. Buyers appreciate it. I also like to wrap small sale items in pretty boxes and packages tied with ribbons, a bookmark or even a waxed stamp. When I was in France, I noticed how some of the more beautiful botiques did that, almost like a gift. It made the whole experience that much more delightful.

Carol McIntyre
Tommy, I have been giving note cards to patrons for years and they love them! They will often use the note card of the painting of mine they bought or commissioned to show others. I have also seen them frame the note card to put in their office.

Instead of PhotoShop I use PowerPoint because they have a template for creating notecards. With PowerPoint I can put my contact info/web site on the back of the card very easily, then copy that for the next image or note card. I purchase blank notecard paper from They have various sizes and textures.

Nancy Pingree Hoover
Thank you Tommy, I will keep in mind those sizes!!

Carol, you have to spill out the details now that you've said that PowerPoint has a notecard template!!! Where did you get the template for the notecards?

I have another question for you guys. I print my own business cards and I like to use glossy because it prints a perfect copy of my artwork (I have found matte to be very rough looking. However, even using photo ink, once the card has been exposed to the air for a while (even while in a wallet) it fades into nothing. Have any of you overcome this, or do I just need to use matte instead of glossy? Has anyone had this happen to their notecards?


Faye Creel
Note cards of our paintings are wonderful for the buyers. Also, I have given notecards of assorted photography which I would like to paint and that way maybe they will order another commissioned work as a result of them seeing my photography.

I clarify that I may want to deviate because of my creativity. That way I can still use my artist license for different color, or details which will add to the painting; otherwise I try to paint as near the photography as possible, with the exception of few art guidlines.

Jeanne Guerin-Daley
Regarding the fading of your prints...
A few years ago, I started to print my own business cards and note cards using my hp inkjet printer. I remember having a fade problem too. These days I don't notice much fading. Although I did change printer brands, I think the reason may not be that different brands will give you different results; more likely it depends on which type of ink the printer uses. My Canon printer now uses pigmented inks as opposed to dye-based inks. I found a good explanation about the difference at this website:
(Also, you mentioned the type of paper. I tend to use matte paper for mine. Didn't seem to make a different in regards to fading.) Good luck!

Judy Palermo
What a great idea! I have been planning on some token of appreciation for the first few collectors of my art, and this will fit perfectly for the holiday time. Note cards combine a nice gift with increased exposure- many thanks!

Tommy Thompson
Thanks for all of the comments regarding my article on note cards. Someone asked about the kind of paper that I use. We purchase 67# Vellum Bristol (semi-smooth finish), white cardstock at office supply stores. As far as business cards go, I rely on for mine; I design the card and they handle the printing with glossy on the front and matte on the back. This company offers quick service at a reasonable price.

Carol McIntyre
I am the one that said I use a template on PowerPoint. Well, I guess and kinda lied because there is no provided. Since I send 5x7 notecards out, I made a template (as well as file called "Notecards"), on Powerpoint that is 7 x 10. In this software it would be called a "slide." I also allow the grid to be shown to help in placement of my image and info on the back. Often, I do a test using copy paper I have cut into 7x10 sheets and print off in the fast/gray scale. I then use note card paper I get from Red River Paper. Envelopes are purchased in bulk at office store. Hope this is helpful.

Nancy Pingree Hoover
Jeanne, thank you so much for the link to that great site!! It helped a lot and answered my questions about the fading problem. Now I need to find myself a relatively inexpensive pigment printer. And I thought, incorrectly, that photo inks were supposed to prevent fading. Guess not.


Nancy Pingree Hoover
Thank you for the explanation Carol. I appreciate it. It clears up my confusion.


Great Idea, thanks

Tommy Thompson
Thanks, Delilah. I appreciate your comment. We still use the notecard marketing idea. In fact, we sent out 3 sets of the notecards to collectors this week. It really helps to promote your artwork and the collectors appreciate the effort.


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