Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The Past of Composite Cards - The 1980s and 1990's

Long ago, composite cards were costly to create, and methods of design were primitive. Most fashion models didn't have the money to make composite cards, so they began with a basic 8x10, black and white photo with a solid white outline. The model's stats were pasted to the back side in plain text.

I can still remember those good old days, printing tons of copies of the same dull headshot. Again and again and again. These 8x10 headshots were also pretty expensive, and this stopped the model distributing them. Models typically sent them to companies who were more likely to offer them a gig, or to talent agents who were likely to put them to work. Models could easily have missed out on some gigs just because they couldn't afford to hand out these headshots to everyone.

Eventually, a model would grow to be more successful and make more cash. This would let the model to design a black and white comp card made by an efficient printer. Only the best models in NYC could pay for full color. Offset printing calls for a lot of capital up front, but the price became cheaper if an order of hundreds or thousands of comp cards was ordered. Now, a model would have hundreds of cards available - and the model could definitely afford to send a card to anyone who could be only somewhat interested in seeing the model. The comp cards were even inexpensive enough to put in the mailbox to mail to talent agents around the nation, broadening a model's scope.

The sed cards of yesteryear were a specific way due to  the tech and investments involved with printing. This determined one shot on the front and a series of photos, every one a quarter of the space, on the rear of the card. A spot was also reserved on the rear of the comp card to print measurements for the model and a phone number.

Printing techniques wouldn't allow the pictures on the rear of the composite card from touching at all, and you could not make use of any spiffy colors or layouts. All comp cards were therefore designed on a plain background, with solid white outlines. These outlines also made it possible for the printing press to hold the composite card as it traveled through the printing process. Comp card printers couldn't extend the image to the edge, the way today's cards and layouts do. Although printing techniques has come quite a ways, the comp cards we print these days are still derived pretty solidly on this original graphic design, which came out necessity.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Warning Signs of a Fashion Modeling Scam

If you're trying to break in to the world of modeling, you need to keep an eye out for unscrupulous characters. Some people are looking to scam you, promising a great career in exchange for an up front fee. At the end of the day the only thing you'll have is an empty wallet.

Here are some warning signs that you need to keep an eye out for.

1. Classified ads. If you see an ad posted somewhere - in a newspaper, on Craigslist, etc - then think twice before responding. Successful modeling agencies have plenty of walk-in talent, and they don't need to scrounge the bottom of the barrel. You may want to heed open casting calls, but in general general adverts like these are a bad sign.

2. Charging money up front. If the agency charges you money up front before you can work for them, then turn right around and leave. This is a clear sign that they aren't making money on commissions, so they need to make money elsewhere. If they aren't making money, then neither will you.

3. Forcing you to use their in house photographer. A real agency will tell you to get a portfolio together along with some comp cards, but they aren't going to force you to spend tons of cash on their own photographer. You can shop around and pick a photographer or comp card printer who you like. If they really want a specific photographer, they'll pay for it.

4. They want you to pay to take their modeling classes or whatnot. It's simply a way for them to make money. It might seem more legitimate than a "signing fee" or something. But at the end of the day it's the same thing.

5. They guarantee you work. If only it were that simple. No one can guarantee that you'll get a job as a model, and anyone that promises that is just trying to sweet talk you. Chances are, they're trying sweet talk you into paying them some money.

After you've seen a few of these scams, they become simple to spot. The general idea is that they want to bring in as many potential models as possible, charge them money up front, and then throw them a few bones with a few open casting calls. As long as people keep coming in the front door, they don't care you're sitting at home not working. They made their money. Don't let that money be yours.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Five Things You Need to Know About Modeling Comp Cards

New to modeling? One of the first thing you'll need to do is create a comp card. So what are comp cards, and what do you need to know about them? Here are five things that any aspiring model should know about comp cards.

5. What Are Comp Cards?

Comp cards, also sometimes called zed cards, are like a business card for models. It has a selection of images from the model's portfolio, and it lists the model's vital stats. Comp cards usually also include contact information for the model or for the agency to which the model belongs.

The bottom line is that a comp card is a connection between the model and a potential employer. Any time you go on a casting call or audition, you'll be expected to leave a comp card behind - the same way an actor would leave a headshot or a regular employee would leave a resume. Check out this sample comp card to see what I mean.

4. What Kind of Images Go On a Comp Card?

A comp card is like a small, focused portfolio. You want to wow your potential employer, and at the same time show some range. A comp card typically features a headshot or similar close-up on the front, and a selection of 3-4 images on the back. The back of the card should include some variety - different styles of make-up, modeling, hair, what have you. This is also a good place to feature full length shots, as opposed to the headshot on the front of the card.

3. What Information Should Go on a Comp Card?

The information on the comp card has two purposes - to list size and measurements and to convey contact information. You should include typical measurements like chest/bust, waist, hips, height, and weight. You may want to include eye color and hair color, although this is less important if it changes from time to time. Some models also choose to include shoe size.

As for the contact information, that's up to you. You want to include the simplest way for the casting agent to get in touch with you. If you have a website or online portfolio, you should include that. If you have a business phone number, you should include that. I would definitely include an e-mail address.

2. What Size Is a Comp Card?

Printers will offer you a lot of different sizes, but the traditional size of a comp card is 5.5" x 8.5". Comp cards were initially printed on A4 sized paper (~8.5" x 11"), but this shifted to A5 size (~5.5" x 8.5") in the 1970's. The printer might offer you a slightly smaller size (~5" x 8") to conserve paper and make the cards cheaper. It's advisable to stick to the industry standard, however.

1. What Quality Paper Should You Use?

Comp cards should be printed on high quality, thick card stock. In terms of paper weight, this should be between 12pt and 14pt. Anything lighter than 12pt will seem chincy; you don't want to come across cheap. Some companies are beginning to offer cards printed on photo-quality paper, just like they offer "greeting cards" printed on photo paper. Although they may claim it will lead to better image quality, a good quality printer can reproduce colors well on card stock. You should stick with the traditional stock so that your card is thicker and more durable, rather than settling for the thinner photo paper.

Follow this link to read more about comp cards and comp card printing.