Comp cards (or “composite cards” or Zed cards) are one of those things a model needs if they are represented by an agency, and they sit in a rack (often referred to as a “talent pool”) at the agency for prospective clients to choose models to look further into for a project they are working. Because they are in a rack with MANY other models, it is important that your comp cards make an impression. A good comp card remains one of the key selling tools used to market you as a model. More often today, comp cards are sent prior to a casting call, and initial selections are made from the comp cards prior to casting.
The first thing to consider is what your cards should look like. The industry standard card has one image on the front (usually a head shot of some kind) and four (or five) images on the back with your measurements and stats. The “standard” is recommended for models who haven’t been out modeling for very long, and don’t have a lot of work to list on their modeling resume. If you have been out there a while, a custom card can be created. Remember, there are two sides to a comp card. If you create a custom comp card, be sure to use colorful and captivating layouts with visual impact in the design. If you have access to other model’s comp cards, look at what they have done. Be sure to keep the images large and type readable.
The images used can be color or black and white. Frequently, I see that black and white images tend to be more fine art images than anything else, but there is still quite a bit of black and white advertising still going on. The images chosen should be “WOW!” types of images that are used and stand out. If someone has 10 to 15 comp cards on a table, does yours stand out from the rest? The focus of all the images should show you as a flexible model. If possible, each image should be from a different photographer and project. Depending on the agency, they may want special comp cards created that focus on specific types of modeling. If you are working with an agency, talk with them. But, beware. More on this later. The key, though, is choosing those images that look really great and capture potential client’s attention. The key is finding images that show you off, showing a product or service, and where you don’t over take the product. For fashion, you need to show off your figure and shape. If there are swimsuits or lingerie, you have to make sure that the images are clean and don’t show off too much (you don’t want anyone thinking you are a adult or porn model). The images used should be 300 dpi, digital images.
Once the images are chosen, and the layout chosen, the next step if printing. Make sure you choose a good, quality printer. The card should be printed on card stock like a post card. Don’t go cheap and choose quality. Printing is one of those services that you frequently get what you pay for. Don’t be stingy. This is your image and reputation. The money you spend on the comp card should be viewed as an investment. I discourage models from printing their own, or printing the cards on ink jet or laser printers.
Frequently, a model will have the cards produced by the agency. I will discourage you from doing this. Typically, an agency will specify the layout, put their own logos on the card, and use images created from low quality image scans. This will basically make the card only usable by that agency with their own “look and feel”. Add to this that the agency will often markup a profit on the cards they produce, you can often do better on your own. Still, make sure you produce your comp cards to their specifications.