Tuesday, March 21st

February Design Challenge Winner — Michelle Lanoue

GCU February Challenge Winner Michelle Lanoue

Please list any awards or contests you’ve won outside of GCU.

I was thrilled to have my children’s books published a few years ago after going the self-publishing route. But sadly, the publisher, Crafty Canuck, closed shop.  I am back to self-publishing although I have been putting more energy into my GCU greeting cards as of lately.  I am always on the lookout for another publisher. You just never know! This is a page from my book, The Dinosaur and Ladybug in Heels Christmas Nativity Story. I have a few more in the series and a few different books other than the series. I have also illustrated a few children’s books for other authors.

Please list the URLs of your 3 favorite cards in your storefront and why they are your favorites.

I think Christmas cards have always been my favorite card to illustrate. I have such wonderful memories of my children and Christmas, plus my own childhood memories of Christmas. So, this card, Peace to all with Santa at the mailbox, is a bit of whimsy, along with realistic. It shows a lot of the style I love to paint with. A lot of color and texture.

Another card which I would pick would be Father’s Day card, boy fishing on beach.  This card was inspired by my grandson:)  I actually get a lot of inspiration from my two grandchildren.  They are the ones who inspired me to write the children’s books I have written and illustrated.

This card was all about color.  This card was sketched in color pencil and then finished on the computer. Again, whimsy with color and a bit of realistic style.

Please list any of your professional social media sites.

The Amazon Author Central site shows all the children’s books I have written and illustrated. I also have a web site

What were your inspirations for both of your winning cards? Please walk us through the process of how these cards went from ideas to greeting cards.

The Christmas Season’s Greetings card was inspired by the Christmas song Walking in a Winter Wonderland.  I was humming the lyrics to myself  and a lot of it came out onto paper.  Like I said, Christmas cards are my favorite:)

 The second card was more about whimsical and cute! I was aiming for an Easter card without the traditional Easter symbols such as eggs, bunnies, etc. I added tulips and a white picket fence for a spring like Easter feel along with the mainly green and pink colors.

What sparked your interest in art? Did you start as a young child?

Oh yes. I was drawing from an early age. I loved doodling and portraits with pencils and charcoal mostly in the beginning stages of my artwork. I progressed to painting with mostly acrylic paints during my teen years. I didn’t paint too much while raising a family but now that my children are all adults I am back to illustrating. I went on to buy a computer art program within the last 4 years and now 99 percent of my work is painted digitally.

Do you have formal training or are you self-taught?

I did take a few college courses but did not major in art.  A lot of my training was self-taught.

Is your work done by hand and then scanned or do you work entirely on the computer?

As I mentioned before, most of my work is now done digitally. I find for the artist without a lot of time, digital is the way to go. I will be painting along and discover I don’t like what I have done and it isn’t much of a problem because I can delete it and start fresh.

Have you ever/do you currently have a job other than as an artist?

I do. I actually work two jobs. I work at a local furniture shop as a sales aid coordinator and then as a  waitress at a local restaurant. I always look forward to coming home as to get creative and paint!

What GCU artist(s) do you admire?

Oh gosh, there are so many.  I must admit I first fell in love with Carol Kearns and Christie Black. When I first started on GCU I thought to myself that I wanted my cards to look as professional as theirs did.

I was in the midst of learning my digital art program and although I am still learning, I have become more comfortable and am able to create cards much more proficiently.

Looking at your storefront, all of your designs incorporate such lovely colors.  Can you share how you choose your color palettes?

Well thank you for that. I guess when I look at a color, I don’t see a flat color. To me there are many blended colors in that  one color. I think that is where learning to paint with acrylics paid off. To make a desired color, I would incorporate many colors to bring life to the painting. I am still looking at different textures and digital paintbrushes to get desired effects with my computer program to simulate the lovely colors one can get on paper like with acrylic.

What would we be surprised to learn about you?

I am actually quite shy!  Once I warm up I am fine:)

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Wednesday, March 1st

Julia Bryant – January Design Challenge Winner

BallettElephant with Music Notes and Tutu for Dance Teacher Birthday by Greeting Card Universe artist Julia Bryant

Please list the URLs of your 3 favorite cards in your storefront and why they are your favorites.

Being ex-military, I wanted a card that would be encouraging to someone about to begin the most exciting and scary part of their life.

 

I just love this card. I love the retro look and colors.

My first card to win something and I love the message.

What were your inspirations for both of your winning cards? Please walk us through the process of how these cards went from ideas to greeting cards.

I wanted the dance teacher birthday card to be whimsical. I imagined a little girl or boy wanting to give a special birthday card to their dance teacher. Elephants are my favorite animal and ballet is my favorite dance, so I think the natural progression would be a dancing elephant that was simple and cute.

For the Dream Big Little One card, I had the same idea of keeping it whimsical and cute. I imagined being young again and getting a card that I would be able to relate to. I wanted it to be positive and reinforce her creativity and imagination. Show her that her dreams are very possible and she can do or be anything she imagined.

What sparked your interest in art? Did you start as a young child?

I did study art in middle school and high school, but I actually didn’t participate in art for the longest time. Right out of high school, I joined the military and then after I ended up in an IT career, which is furthest from an artistic life. I started doing greeting cards using public domain and shared images from around the internet. But after reading an entry by Corrie on GGU Community Blog about Adobe Illustrator, I took the initiative and learned the product and started refocusing on what I learned in school so many years ago.

Do you have formal training or are you self-taught?

I don’t know if middle school and high school art classes are considered formal training, but it definitely gave me the basics I needed to create designs.

Is your work done by hand and then scanned or do you work entirely on the computer?

I create all my designs using Adobe products, Illustrator and Photoshop.

Have you ever/do you currently have a job other than as an artist?

I work in IT and have been doing that for over 20 years.

What GCU artist(s) do you admire?

Sue Nollmeyer/ SueShine Studios. Sue is so motivational and a cheerleader for me since I first started in GCU. She never fails to send a note or leave positive feedback in my store or Facebook for any of my achievements. She also is one of the most talented artists I’ve seen and her designs are inspirational. I appreciate all that she’s done for me.

Looking at your storefront, your font choices are wonderfully fitting for each design.  Can you share how you choose a font?

Choosing a font is one of the most difficult processes in designing a card. You can have a lovely card and if you choose the wrong font, you can really setback the design. Usually, I will open the image in Photoshop and get an idea of the type of font will fit the design. I open my font viewer program that previews fonts by category and then choose several that fit. I will then try each one in the design until I find one that gives the ‘wow’ factor. Placing the font should also provide balance and be pleasing to the eye.

What would we be surprised to learn about you?

I’m a very technical person and engineer. But, I think being literal sometimes helps with the creative process.

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Monday, October 31st

September Design Challenge Winner – Carol Kearns

Design Challenge Winner Carol Kearns

Which of your cards are your favorites and why?

My favourite cards change all the time but in the kiddies categories I can get very attached to some of the characters I design.

One in particular is My Cupcake Princess. She is one of my most popular kids cards and I took time out from designing cards earlier this year and wrote a children’s picture book based on her.

I called her and the book, Marcy Pam.

Also this year I wrote a Christmas picture book based on my Christmas storybook card, and called it I’ve an Idea.

Both these books are in rhyme.

And finally The Snowbies I’ve written a third picture book this year based on these characters too, but not in rhyme.

So at the moment, because of all the work I’ve put in adding additional characters and illustrating these books, I’ve grown very attached to these three cards.

I’m currently looking for an agent and publisher. Will keep you posted on how that works out. :)

What was your inspiration for your winning card? Please walk us through the process of how this card went from an idea to a greeting card.

When the September design challenge was posted I was working on Christmas card ideas. One of these was Santa juggling presents. I replaced the presents with sleigh bells and it seemed to work. Santa looked a bit lonely, so for extra fun I added Rudolph on a sleigh ringing a bell. I wanted to tie in a verse to suit the card and it was about a week after I had the artwork finished, when the old saying about ‘Juggling too many balls in the air’ came to mind. As Christmas can be a stressful time for a lot of people (including Santa) I thought, switch balls for bells and see how that goes. That’s usually the way a lot of designs come about. They can start out one way and go in a different direction entirely. Every month I plan to enter the design challenge and never get around to it. First time lucky!!

What sparked your interest in art? Did you start as a young child?

I’ve been drawing since I could hold a pencil. I can’t imagine what it would be like not been able to draw. It’s just a natural part of me, like walking and talking.

Do you have formal training or are you self-taught?

I’m self-taught. A few weeks before I was due to attend the College of Art, Dublin, I gave up my place to work in a gallery and design house in London.

Is your work done by hand and then scanned or do you work entirely on the computer?

Most of my work is sketched, drawn and scanned on to my computer, then painted in Photoshop. Sometimes I paint a background in watercolour or mixed media and scan that in too. I’ve a folder on my Mac of watercolour backgrounds that I’ve painted over time, and I dip into them when needed.

Have you ever/do you currently have a job other than as an artist?

I’ve really always worked at art. From working in London, to restoring old books, working as an animator and teaching animation. Art in one form or other has always been my job. Though I did work as a nanny in New Jersey for a very, very, very short time when I was around 23.

What GCU artist(s) do you admire?

Gosh, there’s so many GCU artists I admire, too many to mention here. There is just so many art styles to choose from.

I do love Molly Harrison, Diane Duda, Christie Black, Teri Nelson Kuster, Annie Lang and of course Doreen Erhardt and Corrie Kuipers.

What is the story behind your storefront name, Wilbi designs?

A few years ago my mum passed away. She was a huge supporter of my art. I decided to name my store after her and my dad, (who, I’m happy to say is alive and kicking at 86). My mums name was Bridget, but we affectionately called her Bibi. My dad’s name is William. So putting the two names together Will, an Bi, became Wilbi. My mum would have loved GCU and my store.

We understand you’re a coffee lover.  Where is your favorite coffee shop and why?

I don’t have a favourite coffee shop. As I’m still single, and work from home, it can be very quiet in my apartment all day, so I like to work outside for a few hours.

I try to vary it from day to day as I do spend so much time in each one. When I’m not in the coffee shops I fill two flasks of coffee at home, and keep refilling them all day long. I’m addicted.

What would we be surprised to learn about you?

Something surprising about me?  Oh, nothing really. I did live in a hotel for a year in Australia. That was 5 years ago, and no, I’m not rich. It’s a long story – maybe for another time.  :)

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Monday, October 3rd

August Challenge Winner – Christi Madden

August Challenge Winner

Madden Art

Please list the URLs of your 3 favorite cards in your storefront and why they are your favorites.

My choice of favorite cards tends to be a bit, shall we say, elastic, being influenced by mood and season and who knows what else.  These are my current choices.

Tuxedo Cat on a Blanket Next to Sunny Window – Tuxedo Cat Birthday Card

The original painting for this one is casein on board; I caught a photo of Belle in one of her favorite spots as the afternoon sun created shadows on the wall, and used that as reference for the painting.  So, a favorite photo of a totally awesome cat became a favorite painting, which became a favorite card.

Happy Birthday Black Cat with Feathers Mr. P Card

This is one of my very first cards on Greeting Card Universe, and was inspired by Poussifri’s tendency to talk to me (okay, fine, meow at me).  I always liked the design, and loved having Mr. P. on it, but became less than thrilled with the digital painting of him, so I painted a new one (Wacom + Rebelle app) and replaced it (same design, new painting).  That’s when this card became one of my faves.

Cat with Teddy Bear Sleeping Under Christmas Tree  Card

The kitty sleeping on Santa Bear’s lap part is pastel on paper, scanned in; the rest are elements I bought or constructed digitally.  Putting this one together was sort of like doing a puzzle, both challenging and fun.

What was your inspiration for your winning card? Please walk us through the process of how this card went from an idea to a greeting card.

When I first read the theme for the challenge, “in your new home” immediately became “in your new haunt” for me.  I knew I needed a spooky setting, a house, and a ghost, and found a house on a public domain site, but still wasn’t sure how it would all go together.  So I started painting the background and erasing the windows in the house so that I could get light in them.  Somewhere along here, I knew what the ghost should say, and that’s when I realized I needed two proper looking ghosts from a bygone era.  At this point, I had the basic design, but getting the background right and placing the house and ghosts really took some time – lots of working and reworking to get the scene to feel right.  And then I realized that the inside verse should be a poem pulling the whole thing together:  new home, moving in, and ghostly haunts – three or four drafts later, voila!

What sparked your interest in art? Did you start as a young child?

Art became an integral part of my life at a fairly young age.  I was friends with a girl living a few doors down, and she and I would draw together.  The biggest influence, though, was my mother’s appreciation of art, and the encouragement and support she offered.

Do you have formal training or are you self-taught?

For sketching, drawing, and pastels, I’m largely self-taught.  Painting, and the use of color, really opened up for me when I took painting and design classes at Laguna Gloria in Austin (Austin Museum of Art was there at the time, but later moved), and Austin Community College.

Is your work done by hand and then scanned or do you work entirely on the computer?

I have done work by hand and then photographed or scanned them, and I also do some entirely on the computer.  Or, like the Cat and Teddy Bear card, sometimes a mixture of both.

What GCU artist(s) do you admire?

I love Mary Sparrow Smith and her wonderful Westies, especially her White Shadows sympathy card.  Rachel McNaughton’s watercolors are amazing.  Bill Martin creates abstracts with a superb use of color and brush strokes.  Ramelle Richardson has breathtaking Chinese New Year designs.  There are so many more!  GCU is incredibly lucky to have the array of talent it does on this site.

What is your favorite holiday and why?

Christmas is my favorite holiday.  It has all the cozy trappings and bright, pretty lights; Christmas carols and cards; trees and ornaments; and memories of Christmases past, like visiting the Tower of the Americas each Christmas Eve for a number of years in childhood.

What makes you a self-proclaimed crazy cat lady?

Well, I have it on good authority (husband, siblings, …) that I am a little crazy, and I am a cat lady (never met a cat I didn’t like, though I have met one or two who weren’t so fond of me).  Then there’s the barista who made a point of speaking to me when she needed a home for a cat she’d found and couldn’t adopt, as she was already one pet over the allowed number in her apartment.  Or the cashier at a grocery store who said she wanted to come back as one of my cats, because they were so spoiled.

What would we be surprised to learn about you?

Well, I was once called “the LUST lady.”  I was working at the Northwest Regional Office of the Washington State Department of Ecology in the Toxics Cleanup Program’s Leaking Underground Storage Tank unit ;-)

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Tuesday, August 23rd

Christie Black — GCU June Challenge Winner

Christie Black’s Creations from the Heart

Please add any awards or contests you’ve won outside of GCU.

I really hadn’t entered many contests, but when I was in 7th grade, I won 2nd Place in a contest held by the city with my drawing of a historic building on our Main Street.

In 2001, my design was chosen in a logo contest for a program the city was doing.

I had many of my designs chosen as “Today’s Best Awards” on Zazzle.

Please add the URLs of your favorite cards in your storefront.

My three favorites for now are very recent cards.  I think they represent what I like to do as an artist.  Be silly, draw animals, inspire and motivate.

Please list any of your professional social media sites:

Facebook

Twitter

Linkedin

Instagram

What was your inspiration for your winning card?  Please walk us through the process of how this card went from an idea to a greeting card.

My inspiration was that as a native Texan there is so much I love about Texas.  The word cloud pattern seen in the background covers the many things you will discover in Texas.  I have stacks and stacks of papers with my sketches on them and I just knew I had some longhorns and armadillos somewhere. I found the two that I liked and gave them sad faces, placed them in a patch of bluebonnets (because us Texans are known for stopping along the highways to snap a picture of ourselves in the bluebonnets!) and added the rustic TX flag in the background.  The inside of the card features some TX slang and the mention of friendship as this is the Friendship State!

You’ve taken 1st and 2nd place in prior GCU’s Design Challenges, what advice would you give to other artists who are hesitant to enter?

I say give it a go, you might be inspired to create something that is out of your element.  For someone who has a hard time coming up with ideas, this will give you some guidance.  Or,  like in my case, I was able to use ideas I already had but give them a purpose.

Clearly you are an animal lover, do you have pets and if so tell us about them and how they inspire your work?

 You would be right!  I have enjoyed pets for as long as I can remember … dogs, cats, birds, fish, ferrets, gerbils, hamster and guinea pig.  Today we have Tigger, our yellow tabby cat;  our Cocker Spaniel ,Sassie; our mouse, Mitzi and some fish.  I call Tigger my art buddy as he was usually sharing my chair as I worked on my drawings.  He can be found in a lot of my work.  Now at nearly 18 years old, his health is slowly deteriorating. A few weeks ago, I wasn’t sure if he would make it through the weekend so I quickly drew a fond memory of him as he lay on my desk beside me … that’s him in the card above with the waffle because he would attack you for a waffle!  The town I live in has the hippo as a mascot, so you will find lots of hippos in my works as well.

What sparked your interest in art? Did you start as a young child?

I always enjoyed being creative and was usually found writing and illustrating my own stories.  I had a grandmother that adored my drawings and was my inspiration to keep at it.  My husband has happily taken over that role.  I am rarely seen without paper and pencil; drawing is my happy addiction!

Do you have formal training or are you self-taught?

 Self-taught, I only took one year of art in high school.

Is your work done by hand and then scanned or do you work entirely on the computer?

 All of my older work was drawn and colored by hand and scanned.  These days, with my Wacom, I tend to scan in my sketches and do a lot of my coloring on the computer, but I enjoy both.

Have you ever/do you currently have a job other than as an artist?

I have a degree in electrical engineering (what was I thinking?) and I worked for Motorola for 10 years.  Chronic pain issues made it difficult to work a regular job, so after I had my first child I became a  stay-at-home mom.  When the internet came about, it opened the door for me to make money with my art.

What GCU artist(s) do you admire?

I really like Gerda Steiner, but I admire anyone who draws animals, or does mixed media and whimsical works!

What would we be surprised to learn about you?

Well, I live in a house full of dyslexics! It is kind of a topsy-turvy world.  Even though there are many struggles, I think the best thing about it is the creativity that flows through our family.   We’ll be working on book apps to produce the stories I have written and illustrated and the games my son has ideas for.  We do woodworking to produce my whimsical characters and mixed media art which we sell on Etsy and local fairs. My older daughter is really becoming a wonderful artist and my youngest daughter draws and has desires to go into the culinary arts. Art has proved to be a much needed outlet for all of us!

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Friday, June 17th

Betsy Bush — GCU May Challenge Winner

GCU May 2016 Challenge Winning Card by Betsy Bush

GCU May 2016 Challenge Winning Card by Betsy Bush

 

Visit Betsy Bush’s store Dragonfire Graphics

Please add the URLs of your 3 favorite cards in your storefront.

Please list any of your professional social media sites:
I have a few social media sites but must confess I don’t pay attention to them the way I should.

What was your inspiration for your winning card?  Please walk us through the process of how this card went from an idea to a greeting card.

I browsed all of the available June International/National days and 2 jumped out at me, National Nature Photography Day and National Cancer Survivors Day. I wrote them both down and had them in front of me for a couple of weeks before I began designing. I did a Nature Photography Day design because I had tons of photographs I had taken over the years to use. That one was ultimately declined for a few photography issues and I am so glad as I initially wanted to address the Cancer Survivors Day because I feel that the people that have been through such a battle deserve to be recognized. I didn’t tackle that one first as I was in the process of planning my daughter’s wedding shower, it was getting very close and I just didn’t feel as if I could do the subject justice at the time. I dove in anyway.

I wanted to create a card that was suitable for men or women to receive, so I chose a pale grey as the background. I went through my graphic design resources to find imagery to convey what I thought would be inspirational and also modern. I love the trendy watercolor look and when I came across the feathers I knew they were going to be the main focus of the design.

When it came time for the words I was brought back to the time spent with a very close friend who sadly lost his battle with cancer. His strength during his illness, his sense of humor and kindness that never faded stuck with me. He was my inspiration.

You’ve won many GCU’s Design Challenges, what advice would you give to other artists who are hesitant to enter?

I would love to see every artist on GCU enter the challenges! It is such a wonderful way to learn new things due to the research you may have to do to address the subject of the challenge. I love seeing the other designers take on the subject of the month. And not to mention, of the 14 design challenges I have entered, I have had sales of 11 of those designs! Designs that would have never seen the light of day had the GCU Design Challenge not spurred me to create them!

What sparked your interest in art? Did you start as a young child?

This is an easy question to answer! When I was a little girl my mom went to a weekly craft night with friends and always took me along! I loved it so much. I know this is what made me want to create art. My favorite time of day in school was art class. I still remember the first drawing I ever did that wowed my family. I was 7 and did a drawing of Donald Duck from a Walt Disney magazine.

Do you have formal training or are you self-taught?

I never had formal training. I started to take a cartooning class in junior high school, but the teacher was not even remotely interested in the subject

matter, I don’t even remember him teaching anything that related to drawing! After 3 classes I gave it up. As for the digital art I discovered 6 years ago, I am entirely self-taught. I can’t say how many YouTube videos I have watched over the years trying to learn Gimp, Photoshop, and other programs.

Is your work done by hand and then scanned or do you work entirely on the computer?

I work entirely on the computer. In the beginning of this adventure I used all of my own digital art, photographs, and some doodles scanned.

Now, I love to scour the design sites for the wonderful offerings I can purchase or even get for free to create with. I always loved jigsaw puzzles and to me finding a way to use these resources to create something new is like putting a puzzle together!

Have you ever/do you currently have a job other than as an artist?

I have two other jobs besides my greeting card and design work. I have been a waitress since I graduated high school 37 years ago and I am also a lunch lady at our local intermediate school. I have been doing that for the past 18 years. My dream is to retire from waitressing and focus more on designing. Maybe one day!

What GCU artist(s) do you admire?

Of course I love Corrie Kuiper‘s fun take on the world with her fabulous illustrations. Doreen Erhardt‘s elegant and classy designs are always a favorite. Other artists I admire are Micklyn Le Feuvre for her amazing mandalas, Sharon Fernleaf for her adorable animals, and Sue Nollmeyer for her spectacular sentiments.

What would we be surprised to learn about you?

I don’t feel very surprising, but a few facts about me are, I have been married for 35 years, have 2 wonderful daughters (29 and 27), have lived in 5 states (NJ, NY, PA, CA, CO), have horribly frizzy hair, went to school with Jason Alexander (George Constanza on Seinfeld), (disclaimer: we were not closely acquainted), fell out of a moving pickup truck (at only 5 miles an hour fortunately) when I was 20, (never lean on your car door!), and when I was a chambermaid in Aspen, CO in 1986, I cleaned the rooms of Hunter S. Thompson and the whole entourage of the Prince of Saudi Arabia.

 

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Wednesday, May 18th

Barbara Schreiber — April Challenge Winner

Happy Golden Anniversary, Celebrating 50 Years of Love, Gold Champagne card

Barbara Schreiber, Greeting Card Universe April Challenge winner

What awards or contests have you won outside of GCU?

I’ve never entered anything anywhere outside of GCU as I never had the time or the ambition and am too lazy ….

What are your 3 favorite cards in your storefront?

My favorite design is always the one I’m currently working on.

Happy Wedding Anniversary, Cats card

Happy 1st Wedding Anniversary, Two Vintage Birds, card

Happy Birthday, Illustration, grinning Cat in a Bag card

Please list any of your professional social media sites:

I’ve got two blogs, but never find the time to post something.

http://barbara-schreiber.blogspot.de/

http://etoilesandfernweh.blogspot.de/

What was your inspiration for your winning card?  Please walk us through the process of how this card went from an idea to a greeting card.

I pondered on the design challenge subject “GOLD” for some time. (I thought about “you have a heart of gold” friendship card – rejected it) and then decided to do a Golden Anniversary design.

I wanted the gold to be subtly prominent (not as a gold background) and a design that would be elegant (as befits the gold) and more neutral, mainstream, as befits the age group. I did not want an overly romantic card. (That would be better suited for a younger age group).

Two hearts or love birds in gold did not appeal to me as this card is for a more mature age group. As it is a celebration, I chose two champagne glasses instead (more neutral) and I could fill the glasses with “golden” champagne. Besides being the “gold” element, champagne glasses do say: It’s celebration time!

As I’m not a good photographer, I wanted to do illustrations.

I needed a lot of space for two text blocks – one on the top and one on the left of the card – so I placed the glasses and flowers to the right, using a composition form that resembles a J, to give it a more dynamic shape, as I did not want an overly fussy, cluttered design. I wanted the “gold” to pop, so I chose a neutral gray background, keeping in mind that a couple who has been married for 50 years would prefer something romantic, but not overly romantic … (just my thoughts :-) and the design would be more classical and fresh, so I did not chose red (color symbolizing love) as a background. I knew the flowers would be pink (did not want the standard red) and I love the combination of gray and pink.

To counterbalance the strict gray background and in order to give it a more playful appearance, I added a big white frame around the gray and more “gold” in the form of circles – the fizzy champagne bubbles, and also so that there would be a bit more of “gold” somewhere else in the design, not only in the glasses.

Since celebrations go together with flowers (and I did want something romantic included, as befits a wedding anniversary), I added some watercolor roses and hearts, as watercolor florals are very trendy at the moment.

I put all the bits and pieces together in Photoshop and played around with positioning and overall look. Thanks to the help of a nice reviewer, I changed the text “golden” in “golden anniversary”, so that it looks nicer and is better readable.

You’ve won many GCU’s Design Challenges What advice would you give to other artists who are hesitant to enter?

Don’t be hesitant. Just do it. It’s learning by doing. Don’t let fear hold you back. You have nothing to lose and a lot to gain. A lot of platitudes, I know, but true never the less. The design challenges make you leave your comfort zone, try out new things, techniques, colors, subjects, categories  … Even if you don’t win, you have tried out something new, which is great! I always enter the challenge because  it takes me into directions I otherwise would not have taken. I often make mistakes and not every painting or image turns out well, but in the process, I’ve learnt a lot.

 

What sparked your interest in art? Did you start as a young child?

Yes, I started as a child. In our family, we had two professional ballet dancers, one artist,and one opera singer. I didn’t inherit the musical traits, but I did inherit the love for creating and art.

I love flowers, nature, animals, so those were the main subjects I did as a child. I experimented a lot and tried drawing with candle wax drippings on a paper (burnt my fingers quite a few times) and rubbing burnt newspaper ash over the image and scratching away the bits of wax that did not look nice. This was done all in black and white and had a sort of dreamlike feeling to it, due to the scratched out parts. That was one of the first paintings I sold – an image of a dove with outspread wings done in that manner.

I started with pencils, charcoal, and over the years moved on to acrylic, silk painting, pottery, pastel chalks, watercolors, mixed media, oil paint and lately digital art.

Do you have formal training or are you self-taught?

I went to art school for one year. The rest is self-taught, especially Photoshop. Before I started creating for a POD site, I just painted and sold my paintings or hung them up on my walls. When there was no more empty space on my walls I started eying the ceilings and thinking about hanging up paintings there and the technical difficulties of doing so, I decided it was time to move on and I discovered GCU. I soon found out that designing a painting is something completely different than designing a card.

I used free photo editors in the beginning (did not even know what pixels, resolution, dpi and layers etc meant in those days), slowly moving on till one day I bought my first Photoshop software. It took me quite some time to learn the ins and outs, and am still learning something new every day. I now use Photoshop CS6. I have a huge library of books on all sorts of art techniques or anything that has to do with art. Every new technique or style fascinates me.

Is your work done by hand and then scanned or do you work entirely on the computer?

Most of it is done by hand and then scanned (the illustrations and paintings). I love using my fingers to rub the paint around. I’ve got Adobe Illustrator, but never really took to it, as I like the smell of paint, the feel of actual paint and for watercolor paintings, I need the real thing as I love the way different colors flow together, mingle, create blooms and granulate.

The collages (vintage elements/photos and other things) are done on the computer. But regardless of which work I do, I give it a make-over in Photoshop, adjusting all possible things, using filters. I just love to fiddle around in Photoshop, try things out, see where it takes me.

Have you ever/do you currently have a job other than as an artist?

I used to be a hostess on two ships (one in the Mediterranean Sea, the other on the Rhine). I worked for travel agencies, then as a foreign language correspondent for several companies, mostly translating or doing secretarial work. I worked in the Netherlands, Monaco, Cyprus and in Germany. I stopped working full time after I got my kids due to health reasons. I taught watercolor and pottery classes. I now teach senior citizens, but only work part time, two half-days a week.

What GCU artist(s) do you admire?

Frankly, there are so many GCU artists I admire – I often look at the “Just sold” carousel and sigh: I wish I had made that card … what a clever idea, color combo, technical skills, imagery, touching text, humor, wit  …  I do want to say a big Thank You to Doreen Erhardt and Corrie Kuipers for sharing valuable tips and information, and to the Reviewers, who are so helpful and whose advice has always made a card/design better!

What would we be surprised to learn about you?

I’m a lousy housekeeper but like to cook (Indonesian, Vietnamese, French, Italian, Chinese). I love to read. History fascinates me and I wanted to study archeology, but unfortunately couldn’t because of financial reasons. I wish I had a time travel machine, so I could go back and forth. I’m very curious what things will be like in 300 years also. I like surreal and quirky things/images. I procrastinate a lot. I spent sixteen years of my childhood in Africa and India and traveled extensively in past days. I love making my own jewelry (wire wrapping, preferably copper, ethno/boho style and when I will have the time, I want to try out metal clay). I often have artist’s block and a white canvas can still scare me.

Tuesday, March 15th

Stephanie Laird – February Challenge Winner

 

Customizable Race Horse Long Shot Wins Big Encouragement card

 

In February, Greeting Card Universe artists were issued a challenge. One of the artists to rise to that challenge was Stephanie Laird, whose card won first place!

The name of the challenge was: The Race is On! The card front image and message had to speak to that theme.

Please provide us with any social media sites you’re on.

All Pet Cards Facebook

Equine Photos and Links Facebook

Stephanie on Pinterest

Which of your favorite card in your storefront are your favorite? (Besides the winning card).

 

 

 

What was your inspiration for your winning card? Please walk us through the process of how this card went from an idea to a greeting card.

Actually, the inspiration for the card was the challenge.  To make it an encouragement card, that inspiration came from my son, who is following his dreams after serving in the Marines.  Well, that and spending too much time at the racetrack and knowing all the terminology.  :) .

What sparked your interest in art? Did you start as a young child?

I always loved art.  Ah, if only I could draw or paint!  That is where photography came in.  I have been taking pictures since probably seven years old, my oldest sister was quite a shutterbug.  We’re talking film and black and white, back in the early 70s.   It was my limited way to produce art.  When digital came out and I could shoot unlimited pictures, that was awesome!  I started to enter online photo contests and, umm,  pretty much sucked in the competitions.  My pictures were, well, ordinary, boring and not technically very good.  I hate reading directions (I am sure the poor reviewers at GCU can attest to that) and dislike taking classes even more, which was always suggested to me.  Then on one birthday, my husband gave me Adobe Photoshop Elements (which btw sat in the box for a couple of years, because, hey I would have to read directions).  After reluctantly loading this software and opening the oh so intimidating instructions, a whole new world opened for me. I could make the art that I envisioned with my photos.

Do you have formal training or are you self-taught?

Mostly self-taught.  I did take an online Photoshop class, which I used Photoshop Elements for (the only one using elements). I got voted best in class,  which, for me was a first! Heck, taking a class was a first, too!   I really didn’t like the class much though.  The people in it were awesome, the instructor was fine, but it felt like I was learning to produce what he envisioned, hence was graded on his subjective views.  I was conforming to what was expected.  I kind of like thinking outside of the box, not conforming to the norm, which is why Greeting Card Universe is such a great site for me.  The unusual is encouraged.

Have you ever/do you currently have a job other than as an artist?

Yes, bookkeeping.  I was a construction bookkeeper.  Sounds boring, right? Well, you would think, but I found that construction people have wicked senses of humor!  I really enjoyed the people I worked for.  A bunch of characters.

What GCU artist(s) do you admire?

I don’t think you have enough room on this blog for all the artist I admire on this site!  It is a pleasure to be part of such a talented group.  I am probably just as good of a customer as I am an artist on the site as I love the creativity and unique cards.   I will mention a few though.  Doreen Erhardt and Corrie Kuipers, they always amaze me with the quantity and quality of cards they can produce. Amazing artists and writers!  Tom Rent and Noble Works, for their clever humor, LJ Maxx for her beautiful art, and Moonlake Designs for her creativity and art.  But seriously, I could go on for pages.

What awards outside of GCU have you won?

Best of Show 4 times California Midstate Fair

First Equine Photographers Network for Professional Artistic

First at Betterphoto for Digital Darkroom

First at the National Photo Awards

Monday, August 3rd

Design Challenge Winner July 2015

Each month, Greeting Card Universe hosts a Design Challenge for our artist community. Cards may be in any category and are designed around a specific theme. Winners are selected by a panel of judges.

Winning cards may also be found at our special Pinterest board or by liking us on Facebook.

In June 2015, the winners of the challenge are:

First Place: Barbara Schreiber

 

Second Place: Julia Bryant

 

Congratulations to our winners and thanks to all artists who participated

Monday, July 6th

Design Challenge Winner: June 2015

Each month, Greeting Card Universe hosts a Design Challenge for our artist community. Cards may be in any category and are designed around a specific theme. Winners are selected by a panel of judges.

Winning cards may also be found at our special Pinterest board or by liking us on Facebook.

In June 2015, the winners of the challenge are:

First Place: Barbara Schreiber

Second Place: Liz Van Steenburgh

 

Congratulations to our winners and thanks to all artists who participated!

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