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Critique Clinic – March 30-April 1, 2012

March 30, 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!

18 Comments leave one →
  1. March 30, 2012 7:54 am

    This is a design I just submitted to GCU. It’s still pending approval. It’s in my Facebook album set for public viewing so I hope you all will be able to see it. I just want some feedback on the illustration, front and inside verse, and if you all think it has potential to sell. Here’s the link:

    Thanks, John

    • March 30, 2012 8:22 am

      Love the illustration, John. The dragon is really cute and child-friendly. The proposed inner verse is good. I’d tweak the front of card text a little to simplify to something like, Time’s been dragon without you. And yes, I believe it will sell. Don’t forget to do a personalized card also, where the shopper can add their own text – such as a name – on top of the front of card text.


    • March 30, 2012 11:48 pm

      I love the illustration, John. I agree with corrie about the verse.. Simplify…and I love the white background… I tend to do that too.. Just a simple drawing… Love it John….

      Donna Collins

  2. March 30, 2012 10:17 am

    Hi John, I agree with Corrie all the way. Love your dragon, he’s adorable. I am sorry to bring this up here but thought it was the perfect opportunity. I just did a child get well a couple of weeks ago, and asked in the forum for a child specific in the get well category and didn’t get any response. Just asking John, what category did you use for your child card?

    • March 30, 2012 10:48 am

      Thanks Corrie and Betsy! Corrie, I like your change to the front verse, it would read better that way! Betsy, I put it under the get well general catagory. I also was looking for a child specific get well catogory and couldn’t believe they didn’t have one yet. They really do need to add one! Thanks again!


  3. March 30, 2012 11:05 am

    Thanks for echoing the need for this category John. Maybe we will see it soon.
    I figured since I am in the neighborhood I would enter this design into the clinic. I have made many versions for couple, Mom and Dad, etc. and would like some feedback before I go ahead and enter more than the two I already have pending approval.

  4. March 30, 2012 11:35 am

    To be honest, Betsy, I’m unsure what the graphics are supposed to represent, and they seem to have a sort of computer generated quality that probably won’t look great printed. Have you done a test print to see how it comes out?


  5. March 30, 2012 11:46 am

    No Corrie I haven’t. My printer is on the fritz. Thanks so much for your help. I will see if I can send this to a friend to print for me. I started with a flower I made and experimented with a couple of filters in Inkscape. I thought it was pretty neat and knew it probably was a bit different (for lack of a better word)! I am so grateful for your experienced eye! You have saved me alot of time! Happy Friday!

  6. March 30, 2012 12:11 pm

    Hi again, I just want to thank you Corrie for steering me in the right direction. After much work my husband got my printer to print, and I found that this came out way too light. The flowers look ok and crisp but the background not so much. I may darken it up a bit and put it in my private gallery and order one just because I do like it. In the meantime I say again, you saved me alot of time and also the reviewers time. Thanks for having the clinic. It is invaluable!

  7. March 30, 2012 1:58 pm

    Hi, again! Here is another card that I have submitted and is pending approval.

    I read your article on how to speed up the review process, and it left me confused and unsure of what may or may not be applying to me. I signed up on March 7th, so cards are taking more than days or even a week, and I think now that the 12 cards pending are maybe not good enough quality. I would rather be told that, then sit and wonder, losing hope each day. It is discouraging.

    Since the only feedback I have is here, I will risk your getting tired of me showing up each week, and try to get some idea of whether or not I should keep submitting cards.

    Sorry, but I think you should know that the process can really break a new person’s confidence. I wonder if I am just supposed to get the message that the designs are not good enough. It is hard to look each day with hope, and week after week, have nothing looked at yet.

    I think a problem with this card is that I drew it too small, so in scanning it, it lost crispness and looks fuzzy. Also, wondering if Happy Easter does not show up well enough in white against the pastel aqua.

    Thanks again for your care in taking the time to help us out here.
    Sharon McKee

  8. March 30, 2012 2:15 pm

    Hi Sharon!

    GCU receives literally a thousand or more card submissions per day. Each card has to be vetted by a reviewer before it is approved or declined. Many times, a card takes longer because the reviewer wants a second opinion, needs to research something, or has some other issue that must be resolved. The gist of the Nuts & Bolts article is that if artists are more careful on their side by checking their cards for common mistakes *before* they submit them, the reviewers will not have to spend so much time scrutinizing cards, and we’ll all benefit from faster review times.

    Strive to get the design right first, don’t submit a card and wait to find out if it’s okay.

    Now on to your card… I like the eggs and chicks, but you’re right, the drawing isn’t as crisp as it could be, and the “Happy Easter” message is too light to really see. If you darken the aqua or change it to a different color, such as a nice blue, that might work better.

    And you’re welcome to submit to the Clinic anytime, even every week.


    • March 30, 2012 3:05 pm

      Thanks, Corrie! Revised image, with the blue upper portion of card:

      • March 30, 2012 3:19 pm

        HI Sharon – What a wonderful idea you had for these little TulipyEgg Chicks! So cute! I like your modifications and I think you have a winner 🙂 Don’t be discouraged by the process, there is a tremendous amount of help offered at GCU all you have to do is reach for it!

        Also, don’t be discouraged if this adorable card doesn’t sell this Easter, it will be a winner next Easter. We designers should be working at least 3 to 4 months ahead of a holiday and 6-months is better.


  9. March 30, 2012 3:16 pm

    If you’re changing the upper part, I’d change the bottom border to match if I were you. You might also want to consider whether that particular shade of blue might be too heavy (dark) for the graphics in the middle which are kind of small, fuzzy, and not centered.

    As an alternative, you could try eliminating the upper and lower borders altogether and doing Happy Easter in a colored text.

    I’m sure other artists will have some other ideas for you. Tinker around with it a while.


    • March 31, 2012 11:19 pm

      Corrie, thanks for the good advice, and also the encouragement. I will keep tinkering with this card. Being creative is good for the soul! 😀


  10. March 30, 2012 8:20 pm

    Hi Sharon, cute card! I have been getting into making patterns and textures alot lately so my first thought for your card is to add a texture to the background to make your adorable little chicks pop!

    • March 31, 2012 11:14 pm

      Thanks, Betsy, for that idea! I think you are right; a texture or pattern would add something to the card. I just downloaded gimp for digital manipulation of my images, and once I learn how to use it, I will experiment with adding those. Up until now, I have had very limited capabilities for that kind of stuff with my current program.

      Thanks again, and happy designing! It’s fun, isn’t it?

      Sharon 🙂

  11. April 1, 2012 2:16 pm

    You’re welcome, Sharon. Have fun with gimp, I love it. There are tons of tutorials out there with a quick google. There is also this site which offers oodles of plugins and scripts you can add to gimp. Sometimes they are too strong for my computer to handle, but their are many I have been able to use. Here is the link. Happy Sunday.

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