5 years later: the #postcardempire
5 YEARS AGO I SENT MY FIRST DRAWINGS TO PRINT.
In 2011 my clients were my friends Ben and Kate at Dwolla + a vending machine at the Ames Co-op + Ephemera .
In this post, way back in 2011, I wrote about the makings of a postcard empire, that actually started 5 years prior with rolls of postcard stamps and a whole bunch of free time.
On this day (dearest August 30th) I carried a stack of hand illustrated puns into Universal Printing, where they carefully scanned them to maintain their "handmade quality" and within 2 days I had my first run of printed XO-LP goods. I would have never even considered my hundreds of pieces of illustrated correspondence could be mass produced. Until I met Sara.
450 postcards ready for sales.
Shortly thereafter I did my first "craft show" which consisted of a tiny card table I borrowed from Ashley, a display I borrowed from Emily, some confidence instilled by Chelsea + Liz and at least three visits from friends worried about my sunscreen application and well being in the heat of the East Village streets. I stuffed postcards in envelopes for that vending machine frantically over lunch with Jenni. Gabbing about how "it's really happening!"
Soon after my friends told more friends who told their friends who told strangers. Soon after I had a little buzzing biz on my hands.
In 5 years so much has changed in my business.
I held 450 postcards in September of 2011, nervous and totally pumped to "try out" this illustration thing. I'd never referred to myself as an artist, I hadn't sent a digital file of my art work since college, and even back then I didn't really know what I was doing.
These days I'm printing 450 cards every two weeks. For client projects ranging from baby announcements to personal stationery to wedding goods and custom holiday cards for big name companies. I've had the honor of illustrating some really special work, raising money for charity with my drawings and have even seen something I penned in a magazine. [2011 Laura would cry her little art heart out. 2016 Laura might have too.]
These days I scan my drawings right from my phone, can illustrate that "holy cow" with lightening speed and I'm more of an advanced user of the Adobe Suite. I own my own card tables, display pieces and digital files. And I still have that cigar box cash box.
These days I'm more confident in my Papermate skills than ever, and when asked what I do for a living, I take great pride in saying "I am an artist."
In 5 years not much has changed in my support team.
I still can't run my business without Sara and the pros at Universal Printing. I still occasionally borrow tables and chairs from friends and (more often than I should admit) need a confidence boost pep talk from a bestie.
I say this with 100% certainty: I could not do what I do without Des Moines. Without Sara. Without my patient husband. Without my team of badass friends and family who cheer me on and still pay full price for my art. Without strangers buying my stuff. Without Market Day. Without Ephemera. Without the internet. Thank you. Sincerely.
I will never be able to fully express my gratitude.
It's been a big time 5 years of life, of marriage and new beginnings. I wouldn't change one bit of it. Not even the really hard stuff.
In that 2011 post I said "poof" I have a business.
If by "poof" I meant years of hard work, blind faith and a whole bunch of incredible people cheering me on, investing in me and pushing me to be excellent: "poof" it was. That's real magic.
[I know. A sappy love letter. But you guys. I really mean it. Thanks for being XO-LP's biggest fans. You matter.]