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How to Get Your Art on Greeting Cards

Published Jun. 11th 2012

Birthdays, Christmas, new baby, Halloween, anniversary, wedding, bereavement, graduation. . . is there any occasion in life that’s NOT commemorated by a greeting card?

The greeting card market is huge business, and card companies need a constant source of new designs to decorate their card lines. That’s where you, as an artist, can earn some extra cash.

Here are four quick steps to help you sell artwork to greeting card companies.

1. Create a marketable greeting card

The key to selling artwork as greeting cards is to understand the needs of a greeting card company. Most cards stand upright in stacks, so it’s vital that you include bright lettering and an intriguing picture in the top third of the card.

Cards need to be focused around a certain event, such as Christmas, birthdays or Easter. Don’t be afraid to illustrate “obvious” subject matter, like bunnies, eggs and birthday cakes, because companies are always in need of cards with these illustrations.

Make sure the style of your card fits with the style of the cards produced by the company already—is it humorous, edgy, timeless, quirky, cute?

Most greeting card companies want artwork that doesn’t exclude certain population demographics. For this reason, animals are popular, because they’re cross-cultural.

There are also many specialist companies who want specific types of illustrations, usually catering to a certain cultural or religious demographic or utilizing a specific type of humor.

These companies often receive fewer submissions than the bigger companies, so they might be a great place to begin, especially if you have specific ideas in mind already.

2. Find greeting card publishers

There are literally hundreds of companies printing greeting cards for different holidays and styles. Don’t just submit to Hallmark and the other big names—you might have more luck with smaller boutique publishers.

You need to hunt out a few possible publishers who work with artists who use your style. Use Google and look at the websites of greeting card artists for ideas. Here are links to just a few greeting card companies to get you started:

Amber Lotus
Abacus Cards
Up With Paper

3. Submit your greeting card designs

Once you’ve identified publishers you’d like to approach, you need to create your submission package. Make sure to follow the instructions for submission on the publisher’s website, since each one will want something slightly different.

Generally speaking, the publisher will want to see, either by post or email:

Samples of your cards:

Your samples can be printed, saved to a CD as lo-res jpgs, or even uploaded to an online album. Whichever method you use, make sure to watermark your pictures and never send original work.


This may be necessary if the publisher doesn’t list their own prices on their website. Check to see if they ask for it.

Your contact details:

Always send your name, phone number and email so they can contact you.

A link to your website:

Your site should include a full portfolio or additional online samples so that the publisher can get a broader idea of your abilities.

4. Follow up with the card companies

Publishers can be slow to respond, so it’s a good idea to follow up every submission you send out to publishers. Even if you haven’t heard back about a previous sample, keep sending out more designs and keep your work in front of them.

Eventually, if you keep at it, you’ll find a publisher who loves your work—and at that point, don’t forget to read that contract carefully!

Good luck!

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