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Nuts and Bolts: Annual Traditions in Design.

December 8, 2017

Nuts & Bolts – Annual Tradition in Design
Holiday Traditions in a Card Series

Today’s guest post comes from GCU artist Barbara Schreiber of BarbaraSchreiberCardstore and BarbarasWatercolorsCardstore.  Barbara has created a new holiday card design featuring a bird or birds just about every year since she joined in 2008 . Such a wonderful tradition she has started for herself (and GCU).  Shoppers tend to like a particular artist’s style and come back year after year to see what’s new, so adding fresh content for the same holiday is a great idea.  Barbara sure isn’t resting on her laurels, she’s decking the halls with them!

From Barbara:

Creating a Christmas card with a bird each year was not planned. I have always loved birds and their fuzzy, delicate feathers (when they huff and puff and inflate their chests in the cold in order to remain warm) so in the beginning it was just a nice Christmas subject. Then the next year when I pondered about the upcoming Christmas designs, I thought – why not another bird? Since then I try to add one bird a year and it has become a tradition with me.

Has this become a seasonal tradition that you look forward to?  Or is the pressure on if you’re not feeling inspired?

I still love birds and look forward to making my yearly Christmas design. If I am not feeling inspired, I browse the net, look at birds in the nature and inspiration then comes.  I try to paint what I love, or what appeals to me. Birds are always great subjects, they range from cute-overload to serious subjects.

How early in the year do you start working on the next christmas bird?

I start working on Christmas designs during the summer holidays. I don’t like pressure and like to take my time thinking about designs and then painting them.

Any comments on the makings / inspiration in general or on any of the other specific christmas bird cards?

Being a German I love the traditional German Christmas, which is more muted than the American one. So nature, snow, quiet winter landscapes appeal to me as a Christmas design. I love vintage images, the feeling of how Christmas was a long time ago. I also like to try out something new – a new color, or technique, or point of view, so it never gets boring. The most important thing is that I create a design that appeals to me and that I enjoy making. If a design is halfhearted, it ends in the wastebasket.

Are the bird cards the only Christmas cards you create for the year or do you create different Christmas designs?

No, I create different Christmas designs. This year I also did a series of a flying angel with trumpet over Bethlehem, a chalkboard series, a traditional vintage nativity scene and a wreath.

How do you decide which variations (relation, name, languages, etc) to create in a like image series?  About how many cards in a like image series to you create?

It depends on the design, but I make about 10 to over 100 cards in a like image series. Especially the Christmas designs. It becomes very tedious and boring uploading all those cards that look alike (and I stopped trying to be original in the card description and artists notes for each and every card, I just do not have the patience for that) but Christmas is an important holiday with many sales. Depending on the design and space available for text, I check which categories would be fitting. As Christmas is family time, I try to have as many family relationships as possible.

Your submissions seem to be somewhat methodical, meaning they come in organized batches so you seem to be quite organized and focused.  Any tricks on staying organized in your creation & submission process?

I stay focused and work on one design alone, even if there are several other designs floating around in my head waiting to be put to paper. I stick to that design and only start working on another design once the first card series is completed. I try to work on my cards daily, even if sometimes I can only manage 3 or 4 uploads a day. Otherwise, I am not very organized, my work space is a chaotic mess.

Which is your favorite and why?

My favorite card is always the one I am currently working on. My tastes and preferences change over the years, colors and styles that appealed to me 10 years ago do not necessarily appeal in the same way to me now. That’s what makes it so interesting: the process of creating does not remain constant but changes.


The difference is made in the details!


GCU Community Manager
3 Comments leave one →
  1. December 10, 2017 12:34 pm

    Lovely article!

  2. December 10, 2017 12:36 pm

    I really enjoyed reading your article. I admire your ability to finish a series before going to another! Your work is so beautiful. I love the fact that you have the tradition of making a bird design every year! Happy Holidays!

  3. December 12, 2017 6:01 pm

    Thank you, Stacia and Dragonfire Graphics, for your kind comments. Wishing you and yours a wonderful, peaceful and joyful Christmas!

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