postcard design

Auto Shop Showcase Postcard Mailer DesignAuto Shop Showcase / Bowling Green, KY

My longtime client Gary Gunn started up a new business in 2023, returning to mentoring auto repair shop owners. Gary collaborated with me on his new website, as well as his online and print advertising campaigns. This postcard mailer design has been a huge success for Gary’s startup business. In fact, it has attracted several valuable automotive business owners to join his monthly mentoring meetings.

Postcard Mailer Design Story – Changing Business Model

Gary Gunn started his career in the automotive industry in 1979. When we first crossed paths in 2006, he hired me to work in office doing clerical duties, sales calls, and human resources tasks. Soon, he saw my talent for graphic design and allowed me to manage his website and lay out CDs and printed curriculum for his coaching clients. When I moved to Lexington from Bowling Green, KY years later, he kept me on hand as a freelancer. Gary eventually sold his coaching company and helped others start their own mentoring and coaching businesses. In 2023, he finished his tenure working with them and started a new business, Auto Shop Showcase.

Back side of the business coach postcard mailer design

The back side of the auto shop coach postcard mailer design.

Initially, Gary’s business model centered around interviewing shop owners and other automotive industry professionals. I got his podcast and Youtube channel up and running, as well as his website. Soon, his business model changed, as business models often do. While his business’ end game was always recruiting auto repair shop owners to his monthly coaching calls, the weekly interviews were unsustainable. I soon shifted to editing daily social media Reels, in addition to the long form Youtube “Auto Shop Tips” videos. In addition to creating and managing his Facebook Ads, I laid out this postcard mailer design.

Postcard Mailer Design – Getting Started

We all get bulk presorted mail in our mailboxes. A lot of what we receive is “junk mail” that we chuck in the recycle bin right away. Business owners especially are bombarded with unsolicited offers. However, the right offer, coupled with an eye catching layout, can break through. Gary and I collaborated to create just that. Which elements came together in order to create a campaign that continues to deliver results?

When Gary first came to me for this postcard mailer design, I already knew what he was looking for. Since I had designed print projects for him for so many years, I knew his tastes by heart. Our collaboration method has not changed much since I left Bowling Green and started working from home. Gary begins the process with a mockup in Microsoft Word. He includes a few suggested images, headlines, and copy in order to get his point across. I start by correcting any grammar and spelling errors and selecting the most effective text. Then, I make my own tweaks to it before moving on to Adobe Photoshop for the actual design.

Graphics And Layout For Direct Mail Card Design – Front Side

Regarding this piece, I already had the perfect stock image in mind. The older gentleman featured is a blue collar worker who looks like he could be right at home managing an auto repair shop. He is clearly frustrated. By what? In this instance, it is a lack of written SOP’s (Standard Operating Procedures). Without a clear operations manual, none of his mechanics, service advisors, or management know how to do their tasks properly. You can see why he is so frustrated!

Gary’s business Auto Shop Showcase has the solution. When a shop owner scans the QR code on the card with their phone, it takes them to an online form. When they provide their email address, they receive a free starter kit teaching them how to write SOPs, step by step. Gary also follows up with them in order to make sure they understand. This also opens the door for him to offer them a spot in his monthly mentoring meetings.

Returning to the elements that make the card effective, I added a motion blur to the shop owner, since he is shaking his fist. I employed a bright purple to pink background behind him, with an image of a repair shop faded into it. In order to make the headline pop, I used the wacky title font made famous by the video game Fortnite, heavily stroked in black. The phrase “Frustrated by SOPs?” is highlighted in golden yellow. Futura Black spells out the rest of the card’s content.

Back Of Card Design – Completing The Message

The back of the card repeats the faint automotive shop image, this time over a bright teal blue background. Gary’s smiling face is beaming to the left of his bio. The shop owner from the front of the card returns, this time with a smile of satisfaction on his disembodied head. A final nudge urges the reader to “End Your Frustration Now”. Clearly, it has been an effective campaign thus far. After all, many automotive repair shop owners have signed up for the starter kit using the link.

Do You Need Your Own Postcard Mailer Design?

Despite the many rumors of its demise, direct mail advertising is alive and well! Gary has had massive success in the auto repair industry with this campaign. It all starts with an eye catching layout. That all starts with an experienced graphic designer. Investing in my skills will pay your business back in spades, so contact me today.

Kentucky shirt design detail for Louisville Bluegrass band

Misty Mountain String Band

Louisville, KY

I created this Kentucky shirt design for The Misty Mountain String Band, who are long time clients and friends of mine. They are surely the hardest working bluegrass and roots music quartet in the USA. I may be biased in this assumption, though. The Louisville foursome showcase traditional Kentucky instrumental and vocal sounds. Four voices create soaring harmonies over banjo, mandolin, stand up bass, and the six stringed acoustic guitar. Their distinct blend of folk and old time music styles creates a crowd pleasing live show.

As with their previous records, the group called upon their fanbase to help crowd fund their 2018 LP “Kentucky Bound”. The Kickstarter online fundraiser service was a perfect platform to do that. Since a new record always calls for new merchandise, they needed a distinctly Kentucky shirt design as a reward for their donors. As the details unfolded, it looked like I was about to become a Kentucky tourism shirt designer!

Kentucky shirt design story – choosing the right images

Kentucky Postcard that inspired the "Kentucky Bound" Shirt Design Their stand up bassist contacted me with a concept that was based on a vintage postcard designed to attract tourists to the Bluegrass State. Like the retro postcard, the shirt would feature a variety of Kentucky landmarks and attractions. We worked together to flesh out a variety of examples for their Kentucky shirt design. Finally, we all settled together on an iconic group of eleven notable ones. We decided that the shirt’s title letters should feature the following inside:

First, I started by hunting down the most appropriate royalty free images that I could find for each of the attractions. I then assembled the lettering for the main title from a tall sans serif font. After outlining the text, I reshaped each letter to make them stand out like those on the original design. Using the Adobe Illustrator application, I stroked the letters with thick black strokes and added a thinner white stroke inside. Then, I manipulated the text. I added both warp and 3D effects in order to mimic the text style featured on the original postcard.

Main title and photo retouching by Kentucky tourism shirt designer

Next, I cropped each of the photos so that they would fit exactly inside of the letters. As with the original design, some of the items also needed to take up the space of two letters. Peabody’s coal shovel was so enormous that it warranted taking up the “B” and “O” to get the full length effect. The patterns on the monarch butterfly’s beautiful wings deserved the extra space provided inside the letters “N” and “D”. After I laid out and cropped the images, I color corrected each of them. I did this adjusting their brightness and saturation factors so that each picture would balance the others out. Last of all, I blended some filtered copies together with the original photos in order to give them a painterly feel. I was ready at last to add the finishing touches.

Finishing touches on the Kentucky shirt design

In front of the faded and pale sunset background, I then set the band’s name. I employed a mix of italicized tall sans serif and script fonts. A majestic cardinal, which is the Kentucky state bird, rests its sturdy talons on the letter “I”. The red bird looks straight ahead to a bright future for our commonwealth. The goldenrod is the official state flower of Kentucky. The yellow flower also appears floating in the bottom left corner of the postcard. You might even choose to say that it appears as a garnish to balance all of the elements out.

Finally, this Kentucky shirt design features the historic Bill Monroe Homeplace in the bottom right corner of the postcard. This is a call back that is reminiscent of the Kentucky state capitol building, which is featured in the original postcard. As with the main title, I blended the original photograph with a copy of it that I stylized with a painterly dry brush Photoshop filter. I added an inside stroke to the rectangle shape in order to complete the postcard feel. To top off the shirt design’s composition, I later added a grunge texture overlay. This gives the whole piece a feel that looks both worn and weathered. A few minor revisions later, and we had a finished product.

Kentucky shirt design – fan reception

This design was roundly praised. When the teaser images were posted on the band’s social media channels, fans remarked that they couldn’t wait to get their hands on the new MMSB swag. That being said, this shirt graphic design turned out to be one of my favorite projects to date. The colorful postcard image really pops off of the mid grey colored shirt. It is always a pleasure to work together with The Misty Mountain String Band.

Contact me for your own Kentucky shirt design

Are you part of a Bluegrass band, a record label, or a small business which is based in Kentucky? Does your group need an original shirt design that pays tribute to your old Kentucky home? You can put full confidence in this Kentucky tourism shirt designer to get the job done. Contact me today!