My Favorite Card of the Year: From the Sewer Repairman!

We had our sewer line repaired by a local business called "Pipe Spy." They sent us this great New Year's card.  Their design is exciting, playful and humorous.

Front of Card

I love this contradiction of a man in a tuxedo -- because you don't expect him to be carrying a wrench!  It makes you want to open up the card to understand what this image means.  The colors are so simple yet effective.

Inside Card

Note the bolt in the martini.  
The Inside has reflective silver ink.  
The font has a grunge effect as if it was hand-stamped -- by a spy of course.

Back of Card

Their logo and theme is a wonderful concept.  
They make sewer repair feel mysterious, with a dash of "underground" intrigue!

This card was made with a high quality, classic crest, heavy weight recycled paper. 

Their marketing materials are a great way to approach dealing with what could be an unpleasantly sounding business.This is one the best examples I've ever seen of a business that uses greeting cards to market their service. 

Also, having the blue Pipe Spy truck parked in front of the house is more fun and eye-catching that "Joe the plumber" or "Roto-rooter!" 



How to Enjoy the Season

This card by Hiromitsu Yokata is a good visual representation of a magical Christmas.  It brings us into a dreamlike world and lets us imagine what is possible.

Artist Information:

Hiromitsu Yokata represented by LeJarie Noguchi
323 742-1005



The Pet Who Wanted to Go Home With Santa

Here is a card Allison Chesnutt that is about a pet who wants to go home with santa.  I think that is a great concept and sentiment.  It's so like a pet to want to do that.

Artist Information:
Allison Chesnutt
AJ's Pastime



How to Resize Multiple Images via Batch Processing

Another great how-to article by Joan Beiriger's Blog on Art Licensing.  Check it out.  Here's an excerpt:

There are times an artist needs to change the file size, file format, add a signature, logo or watermark on multiple images for the following purposes:
• e-mail attachments to manufacturers for licensing consideration
• a manufacturer request for presentation to their client(s)
• low resolution standard size images for websites
• a marketing slide show for youtube.com
• iPhoto library that will be transferred to iPad
• photo/image-sharing websites like drop box
• sent to printing services
• sent to a publication for a press release or an advertisement
• auction/sale websites such as eBay and Etsy

Doing these tasks one file at a time is boring and time consuming. However, using batch processing software that allows multiple steps to be applied to many files at once is fast and easy.

Adobe Photoshop allows a person to do custom batch processing by using the Action and Batch commands to program exactly what is needed. Turnkey software (pre-built software for immediate use) performs certain tasks such as resizing images and reformatting files.  Article continued...


How to make a successful one-color holiday card.

Here's a very creative holiday card by Robyn Short of "Speak Life Greetings".  What a great concept.  She honors the tradition of calligraphy with an angel design and also does this by using one color.  That is very difficult to do. I could easily see this card in red, green or blue versions or by using the same calligraphy concept for other holidays like Valentine's or St. Patrick's.

For more information contact:
Robyn Short
Speak Life Greetings
Encourage someone today.


Mechanics Are Artists Too.

You might wonder why you haven't seen a post on this blog for the last 11 days -- well, I've been in Indiana with family.

One thing I learned from being there is that mechanics are artists too.

My uncle Tom Allis built this specialty truck that tows semi-trailers (when they break down). He took an old Walmart truck and cut it in half and added a towing attachment.  I call that creative! 

Notice the mix of red and green colors in these pictures.  Using images like this can be a great way to personalize a holiday card. You can print the picture and add your own text, or you could design a card with an open blank space where someone else can add their own photo.

(Bennett's Garage and Towing Inc , Earl Park, Indiana)
Photo Credit: Peter Mui


Meet the Master of Greeting Card Writing


While I was on Linkedin, I met Karen Moore, the author of You Can Write Greeting Cards. Karen has an extensive background in card writing, including 8 years writing for American Greetings. I asked her to do an interview for this blog.

One important lesson I got out of this interview is how one little thing, like a phone call, can impact your writing career. It doesn't take much to open a door for yourself.

QUESTION: You have a long history in the gift industry. Can you give us a brief description of your journey into this profession and why you were drawn towards it?

KAREN: I have a Master’s in Education and was teaching 5th through 8th grades Reading and English. Every summer, I would be laid off and then brought back a day or two before school started. The third year that happened, I decided to see what else I might be able to do and settled down with the yellow pages in Cleveland, Ohio.

Turning randomly to the greeting card manufacturers, I’d never considered that option until seeing the phone number for American Greetings. I decided to call and find out what might be needed to be a writer there since I had been writing poems and stories all my life.
That phone call miraculously opened the door to my whole new life.
I spent almost eight years at American Greetings, being tutored by some of the best in the industry, learning everything from how to handle licensed properties to writing calendars. I went from there to other positions at Gibson Greetings, Current, Inc., DaySpring and a variety of freelance contracts.

QUESTION: Your book covers about every question I can think of on the topic of card writing, but for people who haven't read your book, give me a list of things a new card writer should do, to increase their odds of getting their work published.

KAREN: It’s always important to know two things: 1. What ways the market is responding to new trends and 2. What each company considers to be their bread & butter lines.

If you can tap into either of those areas, your chances improve of getting on board with them as a freelancer and potentially a contract writer.

Doing your homework and showing them you know something about their consumers or showing them that you’re on top of a trend they are interested in can pay the dividends.

QUESTION: While a writer can follow all the guidelines perfectly, what is the best way to make our work stand out among all the other submissions?

KAREN: Of course, these days, not all companies are open to freelance, so for those that are, I recommend going the distance on your initial submissions so they know you’re a serious contender. That means offering ideas for a specific audience, let’s say novelty cards for kids, or birthday cards for teens. Go after something that isn’t easily answered by the publisher, but something they will love if you do it right, and you’ll increase your chances to become part of their stable of writers.

Also, be sure to take any follow-up suggestions they might have for you and do them carefully. If they open the door a little bit, it’s up to you to keep the relationship going. They have a lot of people vying for attention and those people are directly competing with you.

QUESTION: What topics and subject matter do you think are going to be more popular down the road?

KAREN: I’m not particularly clairvoyant about what topics might meet the future most directly, but I always recommend that writers read the current greeting card racks and try to discover what is missing, where the needs are that aren’t addressed adequately. If there’s bigger emphasis culturally on things like job loss, reinventing yourself, facing an uncertain future, or finding ways to laugh at any of those things, then it’s worth developing ideas for that market segment.

I also suggest that writers go to bookstores and see what the best sellers are in terms of topics. Those interests are the same ones that can translate well into new greeting card line opportunities.

QUESTION: For you personally, what it is like to be a writer in the gift industry? Do you have a story that might be inspiring to others?

KAREN: First of all, I love the greeting card industry. For me, it is a kind of ministry that works to connect people at every significant moment of life.
It also works to simply say that you’re important to me that you exist and that we can share this one moment in the day and offer each other a hand or a smile.
In my early years, I loved working with Tom Wilson and getting to create new ideas around Ziggy and the Care Bears lines and Strawberry Shortcake. Later, I got to work with Mike Peters, Jim Davis, and the Kersten Brothers and I learned to appreciate those genius’ cartoonists of the industry.

As I evolved into a more inspirational writer, I enjoyed writing whole greeting card lines for Chicken Soup for the Soul and Hugs and Women of Faith. All of these opportunities enriched my experience.

Finally, consulting here in Costa Rica with a cute bumblebee character called Pechi and helping him find his wings has brought more color and texture to my writing life. It’s been a gift to me to keep finding new opportunities to grow in this business and now mentoring others, makes me feel like I can give back part of the gift that was given me along the way.

QUESTION: What are some things a writer can do today, to get started in a career of card writing? KAREN: Many things can be done and no one has a handle on what exactly will get you in the door, but these are some things to keep in mind.

1-Once you’ve done the homework and created ideas, you need to make sure those ideas are the best you can possibly make them. You have to believe in them because if you don’t, it’s tough to convince others to believe.

2-Secondly, you have to be willing to learn from the feedback you receive, refine your work and persist in your effort.

3-You have to find your voice. What you have to say is important and no one else can say it more effectively than you can as long as you’re authentic. Yes, you’ll find yourself listening and writing for other voices too if you work with licensed properties, but for your work to make a difference, it needs to have your signature.
Not everyone has your gift for words. Be confident and the world will receive you.

Website: www.karen-ann-moore.com

Favorites Trade Shows: New York Stationery Show, Book Expo America

Side job ideas for writers: Write articles, blogs, newsletters, anything that keeps you researching a bit and current with the market

Favorite Quote: It never serves the world if we hide our gifts under a bushel.


Books on Writing Card Sentiments ~

You Can Write Greeting Cards This hands-on guide features practical instruction and exercises that teach beginners how to survey the market, find their niche, and write greetings cards that say just the right thing.

A Guide to Greeting Card Writing All forms are discussed in detail: conventional verse and prose, personal relationship cards, humor, juvenile, inspirational, etc. Detailed info on how to submit and sell your work to greeting card markets. All the nuts and bolts of both the creative art and the publishing market.

Write Greeting Cards Like a Pro Moore knows the ins and outs of the greeting card business. In this hands-on guide, she offers practical instruction, idea joggers, and exercises that will teach you how to survey the market, find your niche, and write greeting cards that say just the right thing. From humor to inspirational writing, Moore profiles the special needs of each greeting card category and also shows you how to spot new trends, so you can write the cards publishers are seeking today.

The Freelance Writing for Greeting Card Companies This book targets important areas a writer needs to know in regards to being self-employed, as well as, how to own a small greeting card business. It covers Internet to explore the technology which has opened the door for freelance writers and artists. You will find web sites that will offer a variety of freelance writers opportunities never before known or unreachable outside the Internet world such as: chat rooms, bulletin boards, or forums so writers can communicate with other writers. This type of networking is ideal for finding answers or obtaining valuable information about a company, organizations, writing groups, and available resources.

How to Write and Sell Greeting Cards, Bumper Stickers, T-Shirts and Other Fun Stuff A successful freelancer shares her years of experience and advice in writing for the "social expression market".

Thinking of You: A Card Greeting for Every Occasion This little books helps to jump start your thinking to make messages for cards.

Finding the Right Words: Perfect Phrases to Personalize Your Greeting Cards More than three dozen ways to say "Happy Birthday” for new family members...even pets. Includes thoughtful condolences for personalizing sympathy cards and congratulatory wishes for weddings and anniversaries. There are helpful hints to simplify card-sending and a monthly calendar for birthdays and anniversaries. This is a book of phrases for all occasions.

Ebook by Kate Harper

You can support this blog by ordering Kate's e-Booklets starting at only .99 cents! They can be read on your kindle, ipad, ipod, cellphone, or your computer. Free samples and lending options available. 

7 Mistakes Greeting Card Writers is a booklet that explains what to avoid when submitting greeting card verse to publishers. Learn how to create a trendy card that reflects the contemporary world we live in, and how to use your own personal experience to create card verse. Topics include: how to avoid limiting your market, when to use adjectives, not creating card for enemies, write like people talk and a list of why card sentiment submissions are often rejected. You can increase your odds of success by 60% just by doing a few simple things. Includes a list of card publishers and their guidelines, links to writer interviews, and writing exercises for how to create good verse.


25 Amazing Photoshop Tutorials

Here's a good article on Umagazine.  Check it out: http://urdu-mag.com/blog/2012/11/25-amazing-photoshop-photo-manipulation-tutorials/

Here are 2 of the 25:

How To Design Freestyle Human Portrait Manipulation in Photoshop with Brush Painting and Layer Masking

photoshop tutorials - 8

 How To Design Vintage Artwork with Old Newspaper and Watercolor Brush in Photoshop

 photoshop tutorials - 9


Happy Thanksgiving

Hope your Thanksgiving is full of peace, simplicity and hearty laughs.  Here's a thanksgiving card from Joan Beiriger.  Check out her great art licensing blog.


Free Book Today: How to Sell Crafts Online.

This looks like a great book in the TOC and it's usually $9.99.  I'm hoping it's free for more than one day today (Tuesday).  Very applicable for any artist trying to sell online.


Free Greeting Card Booklet Today (Also Thursday and Friday)

Free on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday! (November 14,15, and 16th)

7 Mistakes Greeting Card Writers Make

A booklet on common mistakes greeting card writers make and what to avoid when submitting greeting card verse to publishers. Today, greeting card publishers are shying away from traditional stereotypes, and may even include pets as family members. This article talks about how to create a trendy card that reflects the contemporary world we live in, and how to use our own personal experiences to create great card verse. Topics include: how to avoid limiting the market of who could buy your card, when to use adjectives, how not to creating card for enemies, how to write like people talk and a list of why card sentiment submissions are often rejected. The good news is you can increase your odds of success by 60% by doing a few simple things.

BONUS: Includes a list of card publishers and their guidelines, links to writer interviews, and exercises for creating good verse (4,000 words and 9 Card Sample images).

Don't have an eReader? You can still read this booklet on any smartphone, mobile device or your computer. For more information on how to do this, download any of these free apps.



Homemade Postage Stamp Art

I met an artist at the Papergirl Art Show who makes her own postage stamps.  She uses a sewing machine to create the ridges and there is glue adhesive on the back just like the old fashioned stamps.  I like her humor. She has some pretty amazing art on her flickr page.

GinaVisione works and plays in San Francisco, CA., a re-transplanted native.  Her primary work is focused on maximizing the available rehabilitation service and independence options to all persons with visual impairments and blindness, however, this often spills over into her artwork.  She is a printmaker with linoleum carvings and monotype image techniques, but she is also very active in the MailArt (including arti-stamps!) and letter writing networks around the world (SF Correspondence Co-op, Letter Writers Alliance, PostCrossing, to name a few).  Gina really enjoys the amazing levels of creativity that artists share in her mailbox daily! Check her out on Flickr:  http://www.flickr.com/photos/ginavisione/



Follow Me Through the Papergirl Art Show (1 minute)

Follow me through the Papergirl art show at the Incline Gallery in San Francisco (I'm in the green jacket with backpack).

This will give you a sense walking through three stories of art held up with clothespins on inclined walls amidst fans who like to ride bicycles (1 minute).


Papergirl Art Show Expresses Wit and Humor

Many of you may have read my prior blog post about two friends and I participating in Papergirl, a community project that distributes art by bicycle, freely and at random, to people in the streets of San Francisco.

Well, before our ride next week, we had the opportunity to participate in the show at Incline Art Gallery in the Mission district of San Francisco. Here's a taste of the unusual, humorous and subversive art on display. The event was sponsored by the local de Young art Museum and bicycle stores.

The sidewalk entrance to the Incline Gallery:

3 Stories of art hanging by clothespins.

Words on these three say "Ex-Girlfriend #1" , Ex-Girlfriend #2", Ex-Girlfriend #3."  
Wonder what the story behind this?

I like this mysterious clock!

These made me smile.



 I say this to myself too much!

Cool Keypad.

I'm chatting with the lady who made the cookies and cakes for the opening.

 Lots of art on each floor.

Here's my piece.

Here's Marie Jensen's piece:

Lesli Zephr's pieces:


 They even made the envelopes as part of the exhibit (the art was mailed in).

1 minute video of what it was like to walk through the 3 story Incline Gallery Show