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Critique Clinic – March 16-18, 2012

March 16, 2012

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 at GCU in the comments section of this clinic post. Allowances will be made if you’ve had a card declined, or made a new design you’d like advice on. Give us the link where we can see the card, such as your private gallery, Flickr, etc.
  • 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!

9 Comments leave one →
  1. March 16, 2012 2:53 pm

    Hi! Me, again… 🙂

    Above is a card I made and sent to my sons. I took a bunch of photos of a flower arrangement and then played with cropping. Lots of fun, and now I would like some feedback on the composition, quality, and suitability of this image.

    (As an aside, I think I put most of my cards in the wrong place. I think I understand now that the private gallery cards cannot be made public? Not sure how to fix that…?)

    Thanks for offering The Critique Clinic. What a great resource for us as we are starting out on GCU.

    • March 16, 2012 2:58 pm

      Cards in your private gallery can’t be moved, so if you want to put a card in the public categories, you’ll have to upload it again and let it go through the normal review process.

      As for the photograph… I’ll be honest and tell you that I’m an illustrator, not a professional trained photographer. Having said that, I find the image isn’t as crisp as it could be. Perhaps one of our photo experts can give you some advice.


      • March 16, 2012 9:51 pm

        Thanks, Corrie. I did not realize that the cards could never be moved out of the private gallery. I have uploaded them again into the regular, searchable gallery, and hope some of them are approved.

    • March 16, 2012 5:24 pm

      Hi Sharon – I am one of those photo experts and although I find the focus to be fairly sharp, both the composition and lighting bother me. The light is coming from the lower right, which is a bit odd and leaves the left side to fall into shadow – now IF the composition, subject and lighting were all working well together, this type of lighting can be very dramatic and make for a beautiful image . . . however I don’t find that to be the case here.

      The composition makes the eye wander in a perpetual circle, not knowing where to stop and gives a feeling of being cramped. This is partially due to all the cutoff blooms. I think it’s possible that this particular flower subject may be better suited to being photographed from a further distance with more of the flower in the image rather than this macro view.

      I love your bunny slippers and hope we’ve helped you a bit here!


      • March 16, 2012 10:46 pm

        Doreen, thank you for taking the time to critique the image on my card.

        The curve of the stem and the “hairy” surface of the green part of each bud was interesting to me. I could not put my finger on what it was that kept the image from feeling right, and so I really welcome your expert advice.

        The lighting was from a window, and I put the arrangement up against a brown leather sofa. I was not pleased with the graininess and reflective shine from that background.

        I wonder if the original images could have been cropped differently to make them work?

        Thanks, Doreen. I really value the feedback you guys give me!

      • March 17, 2012 2:46 am

        Thanks, Doreen, for taking the time to critique the image on my card. I did feel like there was something “off” about the image when I looked at it, but could not figure out what it could be.

        I found the shape of the stem and the fuzzy green flower bud leaves to be interesting. I was trying to make the curved stem the focal point. I do see what you mean, though, about all of the cut off blooms.

        I am wondering if the image can be salvaged by cropping differently to remove the left side, which is in shadow, anyway. I will fiddle around with it.

        Thanks so much for sharing your expertise and talent. This is fun, and I really appreciate being able to get great advice along the way!

      • March 17, 2012 3:07 am

        You are welcome Sharon and you never know what can be saved until you play, so kudos for the great attitude! I don’t know what software you are using, but if you have the ability, also consider combining bits and pieces of these flowers shots you took. You may find a combination does the trick and if you’ve never combined photos before, that too would be a fun learning experience 🙂

        Good luck!

      • March 21, 2012 2:37 am

        Hi, Doreen! Had a chance this evening to mess around with that flower photo card. Not sure if you will see this post, but if you do, and have a minute, could you let me know if you think it is any better?



        I value and appreciate your input. Thanks! 🙂

      • March 21, 2012 2:44 pm

        Hi Sharon – I do find your new composition to be more pleasing. It allows the eye to wander in to the image, though it and back out, so that definitely is an improvement 🙂


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