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Critique Clinic – August 12-14, 2011

August 12, 2011

How does it work? For three days a week (Friday-Sunday midnight), I will open the clinic to any artist who wants an honest peer review and critique of a card which gets plenty of clicks but no sales, so something’s probably not quite right, or you’ve got a new design you want to test drive, or you’re unsure about the marketability of a card. Or perhaps you’re a newbie who isn’t sure if a recently submitted card is up to a marketable standard. Anyone is welcome to participate. In fact, I encourage everyone to at least look at the cards in question and read the critique comments – you may learn something. The purpose of the clinic is to help artists improve the commercial appeal and marketability of their cards.


  • ONE card per artist only.
  • Card must be for sale at Greeting Card Universe.
  • We will take an unlimited number of artists, including those who have submitted recently, HOWEVER I reserve the right to close a clinic for the day if the submissions become overwhelming. If the clinic has been closed, and you submit a card, your comment will be deleted.
  • To submit a card for critique, post a link to the card’s details page at GCU in the comments section of this clinic post.
  • Any artist is free to comment and/or give a critique of a submitted card. HOWEVER, post-and-run comments like “great card” or “you suck” will not be tolerated, nor will abuse. Criticism should be constructive, not destructive. Play nice or you will be banned.
  • I also won’t tolerate temper tantrums if you decide your “artistic integrity” is being stepped on because you asked for a critique, and someone told you the photo you’re using isn’t in focus. If you can’t take honest criticism, don’t submit. Once gets you a warning; twice and you’re banned from submitting in the future.
  • Artists who critique may do so by giving their opinion, posting an example of another card, or pointing the submitter to a video, on-line article, or other helpful suggestion.
  • Don’t forget that artists who are giving you tips and helpful advice are volunteering their time and trouble. Be nice. A link back to their store on your website or blog is appreciated (but not mandatory).
  • You are free not to take any advice offered. There’s no guarantee any card will be a bestseller, so don’t come into the clinic with unrealistic expectations.
  • Rules may change as we go along and we see how things turn out, okay?

So without any further ado, I declare this week’s Critique Clinic open!

48 Comments leave one →
  1. August 12, 2011 2:31 pm

    Happy Friday to all, I guess I will start things off today with this invitation that has alot of clicks and no sales. I know this is a new area but I have seen some sell so I question my design. I have 3 to offer in this category but this is my favorite. Hope you all can shed some light for me. Thanks so much.

    • August 12, 2011 3:56 pm

      I don’t know how popular such parties are in the U.S., so I can’t comment on that. I will say that I like the pink/blue split, but I think it’s kind of spoiled by the yellow banner and the text. Maybe take the text off the front altogether, to let the little foot detail shine, and put the text on the inside?


    • August 12, 2011 4:55 pm

      Cute! I’d love to be able to see the whole little foot. I’m not terribly fond of the yellow banner either–at least not across the center. Maybe lower it to the bottom of the card. Or, like Corrie said, put the text on the inside…

    • August 12, 2011 5:23 pm

      Hi Betsy: I get this message when I click your new link: 832223 is not a valid product id from your cards.

  2. August 12, 2011 4:55 pm

    Here’s one for Christmas with only one sold but lots of clicks:

    Thanks, John

    • August 12, 2011 4:59 pm

      Hmmm… I find the atmosphere very dark for a Christmas card. If you could lighten up the colors, especially that dark green, it might help a lot.


      • August 12, 2011 6:50 pm

        I was kind of going for a late night, lights are low and everyone’s asleep but Santa look, but, I’ll try and lighten it up and see how it looks. Thanks Corrie!


    • August 14, 2011 2:51 pm

      My first impression was also that maybe its too dark. If you are going for nighttime, add some twinkling stars in the sky.

      Once again I think your inside message does not speak to your image. Your Santa looks like he might be telling us something and yet inside is a very basic holiday greeting. Let that great sense of humor of yours continue on the inside of your cards and you’ll have more winners! 🙂

      Doreen Erhardt

    • Violet permalink
      August 15, 2011 12:42 am

      My first impression was that the tree and star are welded to the back of his gift pack, and his hand seems too big for his size.


  3. August 12, 2011 5:24 pm

    Oops. sorry that link won’t work unless I am signed on. The new version just isn’t showing up in my store yet. I will hope that it does soon and will send that on. I have a card that was approved hours ago and isn’t showing up yet either. I am sure they will soon.

  4. August 12, 2011 5:32 pm

    Ok, I put the pic on my blog so you can see it. Hope this works!

    • August 12, 2011 5:41 pm

      I think that’s better.


    • August 12, 2011 5:58 pm

      Yes, it gives it an element of mystery, which is what the card is all about. I like it better too.

      • August 12, 2011 6:08 pm

        Again Thanks to you both! I’ll keep you posted if I make a sale!

  5. August 13, 2011 7:29 am

    Here is one of my cards..
    I now have 33 cards in my store and 9 more to be approved.. Trying to do at least do 3 or 4 cards a week..
    I really appreciate the critiquing….thank you.

    • August 13, 2011 8:48 am

      Donna, your design looks imbalanced to me, with all the elements on the left and empty space on the right. I don’t know if you can center it better at this point, but that might help with the “eye appeal.” I also find there’s not a lot of contrast between the yellow shade of the girl’s shirt and the brown-ish background color you’ve chosen, so she’s tending to blend a bit, but I’m not sure if you can do anything with it since it’s a watercolor painting. The “Miss You” message is a smidgen too far way to connect it with the subject – can you adjust it a little closer to the girl?


      • August 14, 2011 6:11 am

        Thanks Corrie,
        Since this is a water color, I can take my scanned image in PhotoShop and do some may take me a while but I will work on it, I’m still pretty new at Photoshop CS4… I really appreciate your help.

    • August 13, 2011 10:59 pm

      Hi Donna, I just love your artwork! I don’t know much about the illustration process, but is it possible to move the flowers from the left to the right? Since the lady’s head is tilted to the left it would just seem a little more balanced with the vase on the other side…in theory anyway . . .

      • August 14, 2011 6:15 am

        Yes, I see what you mean. I am going to try and move things around in Photoshop CS4.. I’m new in Photoshop so it may take me a little while, but I love a challenge..and I love learning….I’m glad you like my work, thank you so much.

    • Violet permalink
      August 15, 2011 12:49 am

      My impression is that she looks too happy to be missing someone.

      I agree with the others about rearranging.


  6. Cindy permalink
    August 13, 2011 12:11 pm

    I haven’t been on Greetng Card Universe for too long, but have tried to sell this card in the past without a lot of luck. Any ideas as to why she may not be selling??

    • August 13, 2011 1:09 pm

      I agree. The busy design means the woman is completely lost in a sea of balloons. If her hair was in a stronger color, such as black, she’d stand out more, I think. Also, on your inside verse rather than what you’ve got, I’d say, “Wishing your special surprises and a happy, happy birthday.”


    • August 14, 2011 8:35 am

      Cindy I love your art..I can see how the girl is lost in the balloons, but I tell you I still love your style..Make those few changes like Corrie said and you’ll be selling this one like HOT CAKES.

      Donna Collins

    • August 14, 2011 2:58 pm

      HI Cindy – Though I agree with everyone, I have a different idea to correct it. What if you made the balloons shades/hues of the same color. Bringing this card down to a 4-color version would simply and possibly make the woman pop a bit more. I like the composition and the idea very much; and your drawing style is delightful.

      Doreen Erhardt

  7. August 13, 2011 1:03 pm

    It’s a very nice card, but my first impression is the color of the gift and the woman’s hair kind of blend in with the balloons. Her dress stands out nicely, but that is where the eye tends to center, since it is the only element with a real contrast. Maybe make the gift and the woman’s hair contrast more in color to the balloons?

  8. Cindy permalink
    August 13, 2011 2:10 pm

    Thanks, I’ll change it up!

  9. August 13, 2011 4:37 pm

    Cindy –

    I really like the woman, and the layout of the card, but I think it would look much nicer if you redrew each of the balloons individually. At the moment you seem to be using the same 5 or so over and over, and I think it over powers the woman in the middle, and makes the balloons look very stiff around her.

  10. August 13, 2011 4:45 pm

    Here is one for parents to give an adopted daughter; thanking her for joining the family. A little specific and I’m not sure if it is hitting the mark or not:

    • August 13, 2011 5:15 pm

      I like the idea of the card, and the sentiment inside is lovely. However, I have to admit the image on the outside confuses me greatly. I think it’s because it’s neither truly abstract nor truly figurative. I’m not sure what you can do about it at this point.


    • August 13, 2011 11:07 pm

      Hi Ley,

      I really like your illustration on the front of your card, but I had to stare at it for quite a while before I realized that the green creatures were the adoptive parents (at least that is what I’m assuming). I don’t know if there is a way to clarify who they are so the customer gets the connection at a glance, like a little written ‘dad’ on the dad and ‘mom’ on the mom….hope that makes sense. Whether it’s something that can be incorporated into the design without cluttering it or not, I don’t know…haven’t worked much with illustrations.

      • August 14, 2011 5:37 am

        I’m messing around with some text, at the moment its seeming a little distracting, I’m going to keep trying. Thanks : )

  11. August 13, 2011 5:39 pm

    I’m almost done sprucing up all of my cards, but no matter what I try with this one, I hate it. I had one idea and my husband had a different one–I went with my husband’s and I just don’t like it…is there a way to fix it? I’m personally thinking it needs to be deleted.

  12. Rosalie Scanlon permalink
    August 14, 2011 2:18 am

    I love the way you designed the card, however the object on the left hand side of the two animals is confusing and your eye is drawn to the object. I would also use a photo program to lighten up the image so that their faces show better.

    • August 14, 2011 4:18 am

      Thank you, Rosalie. I took your advice and got rid of the circle and lightened the image. I like it better than I did before, but but the new image isn’t showing up in the store yet . . .

  13. August 14, 2011 3:49 pm

    Hi all,
    I really liked this card when I made it…but although it’s had over 200 clicks, it has never sold! Please tell me what you think is the problem!
    Thanks, Avis

  14. August 14, 2011 5:07 pm

    Hi Avis!
    Well, I have several comments which may or may not help. First of all, I don’t think using Author Unknown on the inside is appealing to the person buying the card or the recipient. I understand why you have it there, but that type of quote is best used on the front when you can use tiny print off to the right of the quote.

    Secondly, the quote you use has no relationship to the butterfly on the front or the rest of your verse. So I think you should remove the quote and use it on a new card with a floral theme.

    Third…though I too use the Scriptina font a fair amount, it is a tricky font to use though because too much is not a good look and not all words look nice. What I would do is use Scriptina on the Sister part and use a plain small legible non-script font on the remaining words. Let the Scriptina stand out and be elegant not overpower the entire card.

    Something like this:

    Lastly, for me in order to make the butterfly work on a birthday card for sister, I would work that into the verse in some way. The image always needs to tie into the message and occasion. I just don’t think it does on this card.

    Hope that’s helpful!

  15. August 14, 2011 6:31 pm

    Thanks Doreen, all of your comments were very helpful! Looking at it now from your perspective, I can see what you mean. I thought it might have to do with the Scriptina font, and the fact there’s probably too much of it…I’ll take it all on board…the only thing I wasn’t aware of is the comment about the “Author Unknown”? I didn’t know that was unappealing.
    However, you’re definitely more of an expert than I…so I’ll take your word for it!
    When I get time, I’ll try re-working the card to these ends….
    thanks again:) Avis

  16. Rosalie Scanlon permalink
    August 14, 2011 10:56 pm

    Tracy, I really like your new card, looks a lot better. Rosie Cards

  17. August 15, 2011 2:07 am

    I guess I’m late to the game this week, hopefully not too late. This card was actually put on hold Friday, and I haven’t heard back from a second reviewer yet, so I thought I’d post it here to see if anyone has any suggestions for me.

    A few weeks ago, I saw an Andy Warhol styled card posted to the clinic and I just adored it! So I decided to try my own hand at it, and this is what I came up with (along with a couple of other versions with the same flowers but different kinds of backgrounds – all were put on hold).

    I put this for sale in my private gallery so I could post it here (hope it works):

    I suppose the fact that the flowers are kind of blurry might be why it’s being held … otherwise, I don’t know. But since it’s a pop art style, I had hoped the blurriness wouldn’t be a deciding factor in whether or not it is approved.

    Thanks for any insight or suggestions any of you can give me. 🙂


    • August 15, 2011 3:51 am

      Cindy, its most likely on hold because you are not allowed to use Andy Warhol’s name in your title, notes or keywords.

      • August 15, 2011 4:07 am

        Sorry for the abrupt reply…I had to switch computers…LOL! Okay, so first of all we can not use any name such as Ford if the image is of a car, or in your case the name of a famous artist.

        Another thing to consider with the new guidelines is that the image (front of card) needs to speak to the category and in this case it doesn’t. So you may want to consider putting something on the front to tie to the inside verse and category such as; “On your birthday…” that flows nicely to your inside verse.

        I don’t know why its going for a second review, but these two things are what strikes me as ways to improve it.

    • August 15, 2011 5:35 am

      I agree with Doreen. “Andy Warhol” is a definite no-no. All of Warhol’s works are still under copyright, and the rights are held by the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts. That’s probably your biggest factor in why it’s being held.


  18. August 15, 2011 2:38 pm

    Oh thank you, Doreen & Corrie! I’ll admit, I was a little hesitant about posting this card because I was afraid I’d be told it’s difficult to look at (and why it was being held) . . . and I’m not sure if my ego could have taken it, because I love the way the flowers turned out. lol.

    The reason behind my using “Andy Warhol” in the title is because I was emulating the card that I loved from an earlier Critique Clinic submission, and she used “Andy Warhol” in her title, as well. I honestly had no idea his name was taboo. I will change that; and also, I love your point, Doreen, about putting “On your birthday…” on the front of the card. I will do that later today when I get over to my art software. 🙂 Thank you both, again, so much. 🙂


  19. August 15, 2011 3:06 pm

    Hey, Cindy, instead of Warhol’s name, why not use the term Pop Art? That refers to the artistic movement, and therefore isn’t trademarked by any one artist.


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