What is a Modeling Comp Card?

Composite Cards or Zed Cards Are Important Marketing Tools for Models

David Jones Spring Summer 2016 Collections Launch Sydney Model Casting
Jessica Gomes scruitinises a model's comp card as Kelvin Harries looks on during model casting for the David Jones Spring Summer 2016 Collections Launch at Museum of Contemporary Art on July 5, 2016 in Sydney, Australia. WireImage / Getty Images

Many new models are surprised to hear that they’re expected to create and pay for their own marketing materials. Maybe they didn’t know models needed things like composite cards, portfolios, and web profiles. Or maybe they thought it was the modeling agency’s responsibility to put together these essential items. Whatever the reason, the real story is that models are considered to be independent contractors, and these marketing materials are considered to be basic start-up items that don’t involve the agency.

It’s just the ​cost of doing business!  

One of the most important marketing materials you’ll ever use is a composite card, which is sometimes called a comp card, z card, zed card, or sed card. This small piece of paper has the power to bring big results!

Want to know more? Here are some commonly asked questions about composite cards:

Who Needs Comp Cards?

Composite cards are essentially business cards. They’re an inexpensive and effective way to make a good first impression, to professionally showcase your abilities, and to share your contact information with agencies, scouts, clients, photographers, and other industry professionals. So, any model who is serious about their career, whether it’s commercial, fashion, plus-size, or any other type of modeling, needs to have composite cards! Keep in mind that if you plan on doing multiple kinds of modeling (like commercial and parts modeling, for example), you’ll need to have a separate comp card for each type.

 

Do I Need an Online Comp Card or a Printed Comp Card?

Both! These days, many models use a combination of digital and physical composite cards. They’re basically the same, but with one obvious difference: One you email, and the other you snail mail or hand out. 

However, if you are just starting out then an online composite card is the way to go.

 The beauty of an online composite card is that you can quickly swap out photos yourself rather than having to reprint hundreds of cards at the printing company.  Online comp cards are the most inexpensive choice for new models who are often changing their photos in the beginning.  Once you become a little more established then you can invest in printed cards.

All comp cards, whether they’re online or not, act like mini-portfolios and are a quick and easy way for agencies, scouts, and clients to see what you’re all about as a model, and shows them that you’re serious about a future in modeling. It’s good to have both kinds on hand just in case the recipient prefers one type over the other.

What Does a Comp Card Look Like?

No two comp cards are identical, but the industry standard layout includes one large photo (your best one!) and 4 smaller photos, with your name, details, and contact information at the bottom. Online comp cards are simply an eye-catching image that contains all of these elements, typically with the large photo on the left and the 4 smaller ones stacked on the right. Physical comp cards are typically double sided (one large photo on the front, smaller photos on the back) and printed on an 8.5" x 5.5" piece of glossy cardstock.

 

What Information Needs To Be On a Modeling Comp Card?

In addition to the photos, your comp card should contain all of the vital details that agencies, scouts, and clients need to know, such as your name, height, measurements, hair color, eye color, shoe size, and dress size. But most importantly, you need to include contact information, either for your agency (if you’re signed with one) or for yourself. You’ll never get booked if people can’t get a hold of you!

How Do I Know Which Photos To Choose?

If you’re signed to an agency, there’s a good chance they’ll help you pick the photos that best represent you. If you aren’t with an agency yet, you’ll need to choose your photos very carefully and possibly tweak your choices until you find the combination that gets the best results. 

Your main photo needs to be eye-catching and engaging—one with a true “wow factor.” This is the most important image, so make it count!

That doesn’t mean you can just choose any old photos for the remaining images, though. Even though they’re smaller, they need to give the viewer a strong look at your skills and versatility. Think of them as an abridged version of your portfolio.

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