|My Moo cards are printed and ready for Amsterdam!|
A tradition at the annual international Urban Sketchers Symposium is to exchange small cards with other sketchers. Like business cards, they usually include contact information on one side and a sketch on the other – a fun and easy way to remember people we meet and to stay in touch with them. When I get home from the symposium, I tape all the cards I’ve collected into my sketchbook, and they are among my most cherished souvenirs as I think about the many sketchers I met. I’m looking forward to doing it again later this month in Amsterdam.
I used to print my own at home, but I got tired of all the cutting, so I’ve been ordering cards and stickers from Moo the past few years. Since the materials are digitally printed, a batch of cards costs the same, whether you choose to print the same image on all cards or a different image on each. The online tool for setting them up is easy to use; the hard part, for me, is selecting the images.
|This sketch tells a story about the |
place where I live, but at this size,
I can't even see what it shows.
Considering that I sketch every day, you’d think I’d have plenty to choose from, but that’s not the case. What I’ve learned from printing these tiny cards is that a sketch that looks OK in its original 6-by-9-inch size doesn’t always look as good when it’s reduced to 2-by-3 inches. All the details I was so pleased with in the full-size sketch are barely visible. High contrast and strong values are even more important in a small format. If I had a mediocre composition in my sketchbook, you can bet it doesn’t improve when the image has been shrunken down to a card.
At the same time that I’m choosing images that might reproduce well in a small format, I’m also thinking about subject matter. Since I know I will be giving the cards to international friends who may not be familiar with my home, I try to select images that might give them a sense of “the place where I live” (to paraphrase the manifesto). You see? It’s a tall order.
Choosing images for my Moo cards is a humbling experience. I flip through the digital scans on my hard drive by viewing thumbnails at about 2-by-3 inches, and I’m lucky if I can find even a dozen that pass the Business Card Test. It has become an effective way to set an ongoing goal for myself: Make a 6-by-9-inch sketch that will still look good when it’s 2 by 3.