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Dash of Inspiration: Card Review at GCU

November 18, 2013

A Dash of Inspiration, A Cup of Creativity by Doreen

Card Review at GCU

The complaints continue to flood the forum about the lengthy review time and the demands for GCU to improve the process, yet it seems we (the artists) are still failing to take responsibility for how we can help the review cycle. I’ve heard many times over the years an artist say in their complaint; “Isn’t that what the reviewers are there for, to catch our mistakes?”, or “It wouldn’t hurt for the reviewers to show us some respect by not being rude.”

The reviewers at GCU should be looked at as a Quality Control / Quality Assurance department in any other company. The reviewers are there to enforce the quality levels GCU has put into place, both for imagery and for the fields we fill out for placement of our cards, BEFORE those ‘products’ are placed into the public marketplace … ultimately ending up in a customer’s mailbox.

Quality Control is not, in any company, a department that is there to fix your mistakes, nor are they there to be sweet to you or to loosen up the quality standards. Quality departments in any company which delivers a final ‘product’ to a customer consists  of a fairly small group of people who handle hundreds, if not thousands of ‘products’ every day. Carefully inspecting those products against standards set forth by the company, in our case GCU’s Submission Guidelines.

When ‘products’ (our cards) are not approved, this is done more often than not with a long list of preset responses, so the ‘inspector’ (the reviewer) can return or decline quickly rather than having to write out long-winded ‘love notes’ to the person responsible (the artist). This is why some artists may feel that the reviewer was rude to them, when in actuality, the reviewer most likely clicked on an option which simply sent the artist a standard response, therefore saving the reviewer’s time.

I was in Aerospace for 15-years and the Quality department worked very much like GCU. Before an item we deemed ‘ready’ made it’s way to the final destination, it went into the Quality Assurance queue and waited for review and ultimately approval, before it was released into production. If there was anything wrong with the item, it was kicked back and sometimes that meant it was kicked all the way back to the engineer’s drawing board … sound familiar?

So, here is the bottom line. The review time will never improve if we artists do not change our behavior and improve the quality of what we submit for review.  If you have been actively involved at GCU for six-months to a year, and by actively involved I mean that you’ve submitted cards regularly, read the blog tips and all the great info there, and have taken the time to learn all you can from the forums, Wiki, and GCU University; you should now be considered enough of a veteran artist to not get ANY declines and only the occasional return.

If you still get many returns and/or many declines, then shame on you. GCU, Corrie and I have put in thousands of hours to create step by step tutorials, tips and visual aides to help you. There really is no excuse and if you are still on the receiving end of continuous declines and returns, then the fault lies with you not GCU or the review team.

Are any of these you?

  • I’ve heard people post on the forum that they have 800 cards in the queue awaiting approval and another 300 to upload. I create cards just about every day and that adds up to about 1000 high-quality cards a year. So, if you are pumping out 800 cards at a time … slow down. There is almost a 100% chance that the majority of those 800+ cards have issues which the reviewers will need to return and returned cards mean you are now taking twice the reviewer time, not to mention your own by having to correct them.
  • Check, recheck, and check again. If you are getting cards returned for something other than imagery such as;  grammar, spelling, wrong keywords, wrong category choice and the like … then again, shame on you. We all make the occasional mistake, but if the majority of your cards are getting returned for things you missed, then SLOW DOWN. Use the Card Submissions101 document to check each field for accuracy and completeness.
  • If you are not 100% sure that your imagery meets the submission guidelines, then shame on you for not seeking input before submitting it to the reviewers. The Critique Clinic is up Friday through Sunday, it’s free and is handled by a group of your peers, each and every week. Yet more often than not goes underutilized. There are a few artists who have used it with successful results and they now create better cards which fly through the review cycle.  Not to mention all the visual examples and details given in each category of the Submission Guidelines.
  • If you are not keeping track of the URL information on where you’ve obtained elements used within your design so that you can add that required information to the Note to Reviewer field, then shame on you. As a designer it is your responsibility to establish a method which works for you. Whine all you want, but Mindy has informed us many times over the years that there are too many people who call themselves ‘artists’ and take elements/images from the internet which they have no right to use.  Providing this information is mandatory and you should consider it a benefit of GCU’s quality department to be ensuring all of our intellectual property rights are upheld.
  • If you take imagery from sites which require credit and/or allow use under Creative Commons, meaning you need to create a derivative work not just added text to an image created by someone else, and you do not give credit and/or do not make a derivative work, therefore your card is declined; then again shame on you. If you wish to be in the business as a designer, you need to follow the ethical and legal rules of the business.
  • If you are complaining about GCU’s weeding process – where they are going through each of our stores and declining cards which no longer meet the Submission Guidelines – then shame on you.  This was announced nearly two-years ago and if you have not taken the time to rework your designs or clean your own store of cards which no longer meet the standards, then just sit back and quietly accept that you had an opportunity to save those cards, yet made the decision to leave your store in the hands of the review team.

Mindy has stated that the review team at GCU does afford new artists ample time to get up to speed and the reviewers will continue to share detailed suggestions and tips with newbies; however for the rest of us, we should know better. If we have a problem with the review process at GCU not getting faster, then it’s us not them. We are clogging up the queue with cards that either do not meet the submission guidelines or cards which must be returned for errors which should have been caught by us.

So, until next week … Learn … Create … Inspire!

5 Comments leave one →
  1. November 18, 2013 8:53 am

    Couldn’t have put it better myself. Well said!



  2. November 18, 2013 2:30 pm

    Thank you for this to the point article, Doreen. GCU is amazing at providing the tools and training to create professional greeting cards. These resources have proved invaluable to me, and because of it I find the review process swift and painless. I hope everyone will take advantage of the training and support GCU has to offer. They are truly one of a kind in the POD world.

  3. November 18, 2013 3:56 pm

    Thank Rosanne and Tracie for stopping by and sharing your comments!


  4. November 18, 2013 8:57 pm

    Doreen, I send my thanks to you as well. And to Corrie and to GCU for offering all of us your experience and expertise to help us grow as artists so we can have successful stores!

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