Last week I was asked to shoot some model polaroids and create a comp card for my friend and a fantastic model, Mallory Mims, for her to take with her when meeting with agencies in LA. Before starting I did some research and gathered some examples so that I could give Mallory the best results and ensure she’d make a great first impression when meeting with potential agents. I got a little nervous during my Google search because I wasn't finding consistent standards or templates very quickly. Since I had such a hard time in my own research I am sharing what I found and a template to make this easier on you guys than it was for me.
After creating Mallory’s I made one for myself and ordered prints of them. Comp cards are a perfect in between marketing material to show off your talent and gain clients, they are definitely something to add to your business. I have learned that portfolios are sometimes too much, and business cards aren't always enough when promoting your work. I get a lot more “wow“ reactions when I handed people a postcard with my images on it instead of a business card they usually have to hold a few inches from their face to really see.
To start I want to tell you that when searching “How to make a model comp card“ on Google, almost the entire first page of results are pretty terrible. This makes it hard for a new and even experienced artist to learn exactly what to do and feel confident about it. In any city, but especially small ones, having clear standards for stuff like this is pretty important to maintaining a strong, progressive artist community. I am sharing this info to not only help you as individuals but to share in your community as well to strengthen your local arts industry. Since photographers and graphic artists are usually the only artists that know Photoshop and other design programs, we have this special ability to help other visual artists succeed and snag opportunities with a single piece of paper.
For this post, I will use modeling as the example but the same techniques can be used for any form of art, photography, painting, video, interior design, acting, dance, writing, etc. So, after scrolling through pages of mediator tutorials and blogs I finally came up with a handful of solid standards to use when making my own, here's what I found.
Both digital and printed composite cards should be double sided and 8.5 x 5.5 inches and contain a total of five images.
- On the front, you'll put your absolute best headshot or portrait and your first and last name. This can be a horizontal or vertical image. Keep in mind the back side should be the same orientation as you choose for the front so your viewers aren't flipping the card around to look at it.
- Black and white or color is acceptable for this image, just make sure it stands out!
- The attention grabbing image you choose can cover the entire front side but I found it looks more professional with a white border for your name to go in. If your model or artist is already signed to an agency or working for a notable company you can put this info on the bottom border space.
- The font is important, there is no certain one you should be using but it can definitely become the difference of being taken seriously or not so don't skimp on this detail.
- Choose a legible, eye grabbing font that looks good with your main image, one that's not too fancy but not too boring either. The text on this side should be all caps and I'd refrain from using any excessively bold fonts.
- For models, I found mostly thin serif fonts being used so I chose Chapaza Font, if you like it you can download it for free.
- On the back of your comp card, you will place the other four images in an appealing clean grid.
- The standard is to make one image bigger than the other three, but I saw most people getting creative with the arrangement.
- I recommend using the same size border as on the front side around your image collage.
- There are a few ways to add the info on the back with your images. I chose to put it at the bottom in the larger border space as I think it appears the cleanest here. You can also leave a white square or rectangle space somewhere inside the borders of the college and place artist info there.
- I chose to use the same font on the back for everything to keep it simple and clean. Most cards I came across repeated the artist name on the back of the card in the same font as the front.
- For models, the text area should contain measurements and sizes. On my own card, I wrote the types of photography offer.
- Make sure your text area is balanced itself as well as alongside the images you choose. To find balance in Mallory's I took down the opacity of the info text and made the text span the width of the images above.
For this one, I used our polaroids from a single shoot so they flow naturally together on the page. If you are making a card using images from different shoots make sure your photos look good next to each other. This was one of the most common issues I saw when viewing examples online. Images were too often distracting to one another usually in the area of color grading. Of course, you want your absolute best work on these, but if there's one image that just doesn't look right, take it out!
Once you have a clean balanced card finished you should send a batch to the printer so you can share your mini portfolio with prospective clients!