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Dash of Inspiration: Big Stock ONLY Design Challenge February 2018

February 1, 2018


The first Big Stock ONLY challenge of the year is here! We hope to INSPIRE you to fight through the learning curve and enjoy this different creative outlet. Perfect for creating greetings with subject matter you may not have or simply to add something a bit different to your current card offerings.


Theme: First Mother’s Day


  • ONLY Big Stock cards will be accepted in this challenge.
  • New Mom is the focus of this challenge.
  • Write your own verse, be creative with a message that ties the image you choose, the recipient and the category together.
  • The judges will be looking for professional quality text layout, typography placement and font combinations in addition to a unique and captivating message that tells the story of the stock image you choose. Your added value needs to wow the judges!


Entry Deadline: Wednesday, February 28th


How to Enter: Post the PID (card number) and the URL (public storefront link – please WAIT for the card to be available in the public marketplace, please DO NOT post a link to your Manage Cards area) as a post in the challenge blog. We’ll forward your entry to the jury.

NOTE: Submissions will appear immediately in your Private gallery as they await review.  If approved, the reviewer will move them to the public gallery – they will then become ‘live’ in the marketplace within 24-hours or so just like regular submissions. Be patient and wait.

Category: Holidays > Mother’s Day Cards > 1st / First Mother’s Day

Note: Utilize the Notes to Reviewer field to include any helpful notes to the reviewer AND to indicate your intended category since you cannot select a category during submission.

Tip: Choose and work with an image that you feel a) fits with your vision and b) will meet GCU’s Submission Guidelines and c) is as good as or better than what’s being offered in the category of submission.



  • Submission must meet GCU’s Submission Guidelines and be Approved through the usual Review Cycle. Big Stock creations are automatically identified as Fast Track – please add in the Notes to Reviewer: September Design Challenge Submission here is the link to the blog post: (include THIS blog post URL)
  • Only ONE card per artist per challenge.
  • Submissions must be NEW, no existing designs.
  • Your entry must meet the Challenge Requirements and Theme or it will not be included in the challenge.
  • Big Stock Card Creations ONLY will be accepted.
  • Your designs should differ from those already offered in the categories above to offer shoppers a variety of choices, not more of the same.
  • No BLANK cards will be accepted.


BLIND Judging: We hope each of you enters every month! Entries are submitted anonymously for judging by the GCU Challenge Jury which means that before and during the challenge, judges do not have any way of knowing what artist is behind each entry. This eliminates any and all concerns with ‘favoritism’. Results will post on the Community Blog. The jury will judge the entries on the following criteria:

  • How well the card meets the Challenge Requirements and Theme.
  • How well the card speaks to the Category the artist chooses for the card submission.
  • Creativity, Execution and Marketability. Your overall ‘added value’ determines this.


Winners: 1st Place:

  • The winning designer’s card and store will be featured on the GCU Public Blog – the blog which customers view and follow.
  • As well as featured on the GCU Public Facebook Page – nearly 46,000 followers, now THAT’S exposure!
  • The winning card will be Design of the Day following the announcement of the winners (within 48-hours).
  • The winning card will be added to the Greeting Card Universe Design Challenge Winners Pinterest Board – currently GCU’s Pinterest Page followers: 2K!
  • Winning card will be included in a marketing email to over 100,000 customers!
  • GCU will create a Meet the Team board for the winning artist under the Pinterest GCU account where the winning artist will be able to pin and promote her own storefront and all that makes them a unique card designer and one of GCU’s artistic community team member.
  • Winning card will be posted on GCU’s Instagram with 2,000 followers and counting!

2nd Place:

  • Your submission will be Design of the Day the following week of announcing the Challenge winners (within 7-days).
  • Your card will be added to the Greeting Card Universe Design Challenge Winners Pinterest Board.
  • Winning card will be included in a marketing email to over 100,000 customers!
  • Winning card will be posted on GCU’s Instagram with 2,000 followers and counting!



Visit all the available tips, tricks and guidelines offered on the Big Stock Creation blog page!



Wanted New Cards: Away at College.

February 1, 2018

wanted new cards head


Wanted Cards – Birthday Away at College


There are many difficult times during a college students time away from home.  Missing siblings, parents, the family pet and the traditions at home. One particularly difficult time to be away from home is the student’s birthday.


Please consider creating cards for:


Birthday >> Away at College
>> General
>> For xyz relation …
>> From Pet
>> Other
>> Photo Card / Your Picture Here
>> Customize for any Name
>> Customize for any Relation


We’d like you to create at least one card for these categories using the Stock Cards function (Bigstock) or your own graphic designs.

Remember, when you’re submitting your new card, add a little note about the intended category in your Notes to Reviewers. Be inventive,  be clever, be creative. Go for it!

Freebie Wednesday: Spirited Font

January 31, 2018

Freebie Wednesday:

Spirited Font Set is a hand-drawn typeface set including six lovingly hand-made fonts. It was created by Sam Parrett from Set Sail Studios. Each font has been carefully designed to work in harmony with each other, allowing you to create beautiful and professional looking typography in a flash.


With a very distinct retro style, this font set is perfect for creating hand-lettered quotes, logos and printed designs with a rustic, personal touch. Also included is a bonus swash font, consisting of 10 various swashes and shapes designed to give your text that extra touch of detail & attention. The font set comes with free commerscial license.

Nuts and Bolts: Storewide Facelift

January 26, 2018

Nuts & Bolts – Storewide Facelift 


We are pleased to bring you a guest post by GCU artist Doreen Erhardt of Salon of Art and Exclusive Creations.  Doreen shares the daunting project she has completed in inspecting and improving EVERY card in her storefront.  Here she shares a great run down of her inspection process with some excellent tips.


Doreen shares …
Though I had been diligently working on updating the meta-tag data in my store since the internet-wide changes in Search Engine Optimization back in 2014, the light at the end of the tunnel still could not be seen and I felt guilty every time I created a new card instead of working on getting ALL my cards clean as a whistle. Sales of older designs were falling as cards stopped being found via external search engines and although I had made great progress with 5800-plus cards, it was time to set an end date for this project and December 31st 2017 was it for me. I am proud and relieved to say that EVERY card in my store has now gone through my own ‘Self-Weeding‘ process so that 2018 will be a guilt-free creation year for me!Here was my process …

The only way I had the confidence that EVERY card would be reviewed was to set the view to Tile in my Manage Cards areas and then work on them within each of the major categories: Announcements, Birthday, Business, Collections, Holidays, Invitations, Occasions – working in one section at a time and in order, so as to not miss a card. Each card was opened, checked and the following adjustments were made as needed:

Card Titles:

– Unique and descriptive without truncating to a second line when possible.

– No dashes, slashes or characters.

– Proper capitalization.

– Recipient(s) and Occasion was depicted with relationship specific identifier showing first.

– If blank “Blank All Occasion” text added.

– The word “CARD” was removed as GCU automatically adds this to all titles.

– If the card had a Photo area – “Custom Photo” text was added or Custom if only card front text was editable.


– Colors and descriptive words for the artwork were included.

– Recipient(s) and Occasion text included.

– Each keyword or keyword phrase separated by a comma and a space, avoiding repetitive wording.

Artist Notes (Card Description):

– Each written to register GREEN in the uniqueness factor. Remember this is key with the new SEO requirements. If your cards indicate RED “Not Unique: Not eligible for Google indexing.” This means your cards have most likely stop selling at the rate they used to due to no longer being indexed by Google; therefore your cards are not being found by shoppers when searched for outside of GCU. Green is the goal, sometimes with large series, I accepted yellow on a few.

-For those cards of mine where I wanted to offer credit to the 3rd party creative and it was a large enough series to cause this mention of credit to skew the uniqueness factor from improving, I placed the credit in the Image By field and removed it from the description.

Inside the Card:

The inside and/or Custom Tool areas were checked on every card as well.

– Ellipsis were checked to make sure they were a) needed, b) properly spaced and c) properly continued from card front to verse area.

– Font size, choice and color were re-reviewed for legibility and professionalism.

– Extra spacing was removed and replaced with proper Message Alignment, Vertical Alignment and Line Spacing choices.

– Looked for proper punctuation and capitalization in verses.

Custom Front Cards:

– Text boxes did not touch each other, fall on or over the yellow safety line and did not overlay elements in my design which may make the customer’s text illegible.

– Photo card areas were just a pinch outside the transparent area I created for the customer’s photo, were not on or over the yellow safety line and did not touch each other if there were more than one.

-Custom text did not truncate or have extenders touching the text box.

Imagery and Typography:

Considering I joined GCU in 2009 and it was my first time creating greeting cards, I had hundreds of old cards which in addition to all of the above, really needed face-lifts – so each card was reviewed and updated when necessary for the following:

– Poorly placed or illegible card front text and/or bad font choices.

– The awful out-dated beveling effects were removed on both text, framing, borders and elements.

– Edge allowances checked.

– Imagery was spot checked and had color/contrast/saturation improvements as needed.

– Then made the same image/typography updates to all cards of the series when applicable.

The results of my efforts have already proved to be amazing. Every day I see those old cards coming through in sales notifications shortly after adjustments were made, indicating not only were the cards looking more professional, but that my meta-tag data was working!

See some of the differences below.

PID 656976 – My Santa painting itself had more detail pulled out and was then framed in a window environment with ‘snow drifts’ for the text placement. Font choice improved and all the ugly beveling gone, gone, gone!

 PID 432473 – Created a place for the text, removed the horrid beveling effect and improved the photo’s punch in saturation.
PID 592359 – Redesign was required. Beveled everything removed. Ugly patterns replaced with better choices. Typography/message was the only selling point on this card, therefore strong updates to the card front text was needed.
PID 618004 – Beveling elements, text and borders replaced with soft shadow effects for a more modern look. Font choice changed. 

I hope this inspires other artists to do the same!

GCU NOTES:  these are all requirements, tips and tricks that have been shared on the blog, in the Submission Guidelines and in the review team’s toolkit as feedback for artists.

Here is a helpful read on Edit or New Submission and a related read about card editing by GCU artist Stephanie Laird.

Amazing job, Doreen!  Impressive work and fortitude. Certainly a labor of love.  Perhaps a good resolution for other artists to take on for 2018.



The difference is made in the details!


GCU Community Manager

Wanted New Cards: Welcome to our Parish.

January 25, 2018

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Wanted Cards – Welcome to our Parish
Please consider submitting new cards that address “our Parish”.

We’d like you to create at least one card for these categories using the Stock Cards function (Bigstock) or your own graphic designs.

Remember, when you’re submitting your new card, add a little note about the intended category in your Notes to Reviewers. Be inventive,  be clever, be creative. Go for it!

Freebie Wednesday: Arcanista Typeface

January 24, 2018

Freebie Wednesday:

The Hungry JPEG has a great freebie to add to your font collection. Arcanista by Victor Tramontin is a creative font and can be used in personal or commercial projects.


This font is of course free for commercial use.



Rainbow Connection: Yummy Color Schemes

January 23, 2018


Here are some particularly Yummy color schemes I collected from Design Seeds this week:

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