Printing promotional postcards is a regular occurrence in the life of a children's book illustrator. I was familiar with designing my own postcards, however I had no particular loyalty towards any of the printers I'd used so far.
I decided to go with VistaPrint mainly because I found a great coupon code - $100 off a $200 order. (The code is expired now, sorry.) I found my Vistaprint coupon code by Googling "Vistaprint coupon code." I am not kidding. Before you place an order with anyone, Google for coupon codes. You never know what you might find. With this discount, I was able to afford a ridiculous amount of postcards - 450 of them, to be precise.
Don't worry, I'm not under any delusions about selling 450 postcards at a single show. In order to recoup my costs on the postcards, I'll need to sell about 90. I plan on mailing the extra ones to art directors for self-promotion, and hopefully selling the rest at more art shows in the future.
I had the postcards printed on recycled matte paper. The postcards arrived in the mail just a few days later. My high-key illustrations look very nice on the matte paper. However, I was unimpressed with the paper thickness - it seems a bit flimsy to survive being put through the mail.
However, my low-key illustrations looked too dark and lost a lot of vibrancy.
I called Vistaprint and told them I was unsatisfied with some of my postcards, and they generously offered to reprint those designs on their premium glossy paper for free. In my experience, darker illustrations tend to look better on glossy paper -which I should have remembered when I originally ordered them. The replacement cards arrived a few days later.
I don't know if this comes through in the photograph, but they look great, you guys. The colors are rich, and the paper is nice and thick. I regret not printing all my postcards on the premium glossy stock. Here's a comparison between the two; the glossy is on the right.
So as far as postcards go, I would recommend VistaPrint as long as you use their premium glossy paper. Also, lighten your artwork before you submit it. Their customer service was awesome too.
Stay tuned for the next in this series, which I should probably rename from "Preparing for an art show" to "Kelley forgets to lighten her artwork before printing." Learn from my mistakes, you'll save yourself a lot of trouble.
Printaholic is a handy website that reviews various printing companies and provides coupon codes. Here are their 2014 ratings for postcard printers.