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GCU Community Newsletter #15 – August 25, 2011

August 25, 2011

Everyone’s busy this month – savvy designers are getting ready for the holidays (Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa), summer is winding down to a close, and autumn is around the corner.

Hidden Gems: Haunted Halloween - artist K.T. Blue Designs

No newsletter last week means we’re got quite a round-up, so let’s get into it!

Doreen Erhardt’s weekly column, A Dash of Inspiration, a Cup of Creativity, gave us some tips and tricks for amazing animal photography, in addition to Photoshop brushes and Action sets handy for making Photo Cards. Our Design Spotlights were on Doreen and her Smug Pug, and Rosanne and her Beautiful Birman.

The conclusion of our Lightning Round: BUTTERFLIES gave us some beautiful blog posts. And finally, we got down to the nitty gritty with a pair of topical Nuts & Bolts articles: advice on using the Artist’s Notes Field for Product Descriptions, and How to Write Product Descriptions that pop.

Until next time, don’t forget to pass the love around!


Designer’s Tips for Creating Photo Cards

Since Photo Cards are the hottest topic at GCU right now, with virtually every designer feverishly creating and uploading cards, I thought I’d talk about some of the  slightly more technical aspects to Photo Cards that you may not know.

The Bigger It Is, the Better It’s Liked: At a bare minimum, the photo area (this is the transparent spot where the shopper’s photo will go) should take up 1/4 of the card’s surface area. However, market research has shown that consumers prefer the purpose of the card to showcase their photo, not the artist’s work (which should enhance, rather than dominate). The bigger the space you leave for the shopper to fill, the happier they are. If possible, try to use at least 1/3 to 1/2 of the card’s surface for the photo area, if not more.

For the Purpose, Please: One of the worst things you can do is take an existing card design, and try to shoehorn a space out of it to make it a Photo Card. This does not work. In a lot of cases, it looks exactly like what it is: an afterthought. You’ll have much more success designing Photo Cards from the ground up.

Elementary, My Dear Artist: Again, we’re going back to that research thing. Shoppers love Photo Cards where an element of the design will interact with their photo (such as a frame with part of the flower detail coming over the photo). It looks cool, but you need to be careful of a couple of things. First, don’t let the element be too intrusive – that great whacking snowman you designed may look great, but if Frosty’s taking up half the photo area, that’s too much of a good thing. And second, always be aware that in general, when uploading their photo, shoppers will try to put their face in the center of the photo area; if the card is meant to be sent by a family or group, faces will be going across the length (or breadth) of the space, so never position an element that will obscure those smiles.

Hidden Gems: Haunted Halloween - artist Tammy Moody

The Cutting Edge: At the moment, one of the hottest trends is the 100% Photo Card (that’s what I’m calling it)- meaning the shopper’s photo takes up the full 5×7 front of the card, with some kind of design element, such as a customizable text box, small banner, and/or discreet graphic somewhere that won’t interfere with the photo’s subject.

Now you’ve got a few tips to get started, or help you refine your existing plans. Go for it, and happy designing!



Time for a new Blog Carnival, and this time with Halloween in a couple of short months, we’re blogging about ghosts! That’s right, time to tell us about a ghostly encounter you had, your favorite ghost story, a haunted house film you like, a haunted attraction you visited, the history of Ouija boards, seances and mediums, or anything to do with spooky spirits!

Just make a new blog post or Squidoo lens (or Hub page, Weebly page, or a page added to your website, I’m flexible) on the topic of ghosts. Use your imagination! And you must include links to 3 scary cards at GCU to be eligible. Once again, I’m offering a prize worth $25 – Amazon, Starbucks, or card credits, winner’s choice! AND all participants will receive a spook-tacular Community star!

You have until September 19, 2011 to leave a comment here with the URL of your blog post. On September 19, I’ll make a master list of posts, and announce the results of our random drawing for the prize winner.

So get out there, folks, and conjure up a blog post that’s to die for!


The Critique Clinic is open every Friday, Saturday and Sunday to all GCU artists seeking peer review, advice and tips. Any artist may submit or leave a critique. All artists are encouraged to check the comment threads – you’ll learn something that may help you with your own marketability.

There is a GCU artists’ group on Facebook? We encourage you to join, post cards for your fellow artists to admire, share news, and have fun!

The Salon of Art Facebook fan page (by Doreen Erhardt) is a great place to go to find links to all kinds of helpful resources like tutorials, brushes, news about competitions and contests, marketing tips and a lot more. Check it out!

Hidden Gems: Haunted Halloween - artist Richard Toglia

If you have a question about one of your cards being “held” for review, or if your card has been declined due to the new Marketability Standards, write to and include the PID# of the card in question.

DID YOU KNOW you can “like” this newsletter or any post on the GCU Community blog, or include them in your social bookmarks? Or Google +1 them! Just click the title of the post, which takes you to the permanent link page. At the bottom of the page you’ll see buttons for social sites like Facebook, Reddit, StumbleUpon, etc.


The next Newsletter will be published on September 1, 2011

3 Comments leave one →
  1. August 25, 2011 1:19 pm

    Oh was I excited to see this blog challenge! Here is my entry. Can’t wait to see everyone else’s! I love Halloween.

  2. August 25, 2011 1:29 pm

    Corrie, you are an absolute gem. Aside from all the excellent advice, encouragement, and, yes, inspiration you constantly provide (which are in and of themselves invaluable), your writing itself is a joy to experience. You can’t imagine how the way you’ve composed a thought can turn an entire day around! Once in awhile I purposely go to look at the GCU “How It Works” page just to watch your unmistakable creations glide into place; that never fails to make me feel very happy and satisfied – something about the (what I call) humanity in every stroke. This blog that you initiated and sustain is a phenomenon. Gifted you, lucky us.

  3. August 26, 2011 8:21 am

    Hey there – sorry for being out of the loop but life just got busy! Thanks for all the feedback on my last critique – glad for the advice. Here’s my ‘ghost’ of a story…thanks for reading!

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