Tuesday, October 23rd

Ness Nordberg, Design Challenge Winner, September 2018

Ness Nordberg, Design Challenge Winner, September 2018
Please list any of your professional social media sites.

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

I wanted to create a card for mothers to honour my own mother and to all the mother’s out there who make Christmas so special for us by tireless cooking, cleaning, organising presents etc.  For this card, I started with the typography and then worked on the illustration for the wreath.  I wanted a simple and modern card that would could be sent to all mothers. 


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

I love art as it allows me to express myself creatively.  I started when I was young with drawing horses and using graphite.  I stopped for a while to focus on my studies and career but picked it up again 5 years ago.    


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

I am self-taught.


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

I do a bit of both.  I love to experiment with different techniques and materials.  Sometimes I work with gouache/watercolor and then scan my work, other times I use Procreate and iPad/Adobe Photoshop/Adobe Illustrator to create my work.


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

I currently work in IT Finance full time and am an artist on the side.  One day, I would love to be a full time artist.


What GCU artist(s) do you admire?

Carol Kearns – I love her whimsical and sweet illustrations especially the Christmas ones!


Ron Magnes –  I love how his cards are very original and modern


Mindy Pierce – I love diversity of her cards and her combination of typography and illustrations

Looking at your storefront, typography seems to be a vital element in your designs.  Can you share your thoughts on the importance of typography in your designs?

The balance of illustrations and typography is very important to me especially when creating cards.  To me, sending a card to someone is very personal.  I have learnt to create my own typography to compliment my card designs because I want to provide something extra special and personal to the person receiving the card.

What would we be surprised to learn about you?

My other passion is plants! I have an Instagram account @theoaksprout that documents my indoor plant growing passion.

Monday, September 24th

Tammy Moody — August 2018 Design Challenge Winner

Tammy Moody, Design Challenge Winner, August 2018
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.
Honestly, I wasn’t going to enter the contest until Corrie shared a link to the Nuts and Bolts post with various red, white, and blue color schemes. When I saw the colors on her blog post, I really liked the rustic color schemes. They reminded me of Americana or folk themed art. Since July is really the month to be designing for Christmas, I decided to shoot two cans off the fence with one shot. I just love snowmen and thought it would be fun to try to do a caroling snowman and put him in Americana themed clothing. I knew I wanted to do Christmas trees in the background, and since the theme was red, white, and blue, I thought I could top the trees with red white and blue stars. I had a hard time thinking of the perfect connection between my Christmas theme and the red white and blue theme or stars theme, so I went to You Tube and started listening to Christmas carols while I was designing the card to see if I could find connections because my little snowman was singing caroling. It was a good idea! When O Holy Night began to play and I heard the second line, “The stars were brightly shining,” I knew I had found a perfect connection for my card design. Listening to Christmas carols when I design Christmas cards out of season is not out of the ordinary for me though because it is about the only way I can get into the ‘Christmas spirit’ when it is 95 degrees outside. I know my husband and kids think I am nuts when they walk in and hear me playing Christmas music in the middle of July, but, hey, it works for me. 
You offer many different cards featuring snowmen in your GCU storefront.  What are the key makings of a good snowman and what is your favorite part about making them?
I love snowmen! When I was a kid, I used to love making snowmen outside. I grew up in northwest Ohio, so when you see snow for six months out of the year, you learn to enjoy it and be creative. Really, when designing a snowman, most of mine are pretty similar in that they usually have three sections with carrots for a nose and they usually wear a hat, coat, and mittens, or a scarf and I give them stick arms. I go for more of a traditional, or old fashioned snowman because that is what I grew up seeing. One time I did do a smiling snowman card and put some of my Dad’s and my own facial features on it just to see what he would look like and it turned out kind of cool, so I made him into a card and it is available in my first GCU store under the title Jolly Smiling Snowman.
One of the rewards to being a Design Challenge winner is being able to use the winning design, should the artist choose, in a new series and using Fast Track review for all cards in the new series.  Will you leverage this design for more cards and if yes, what other occasions / categories?
I like having the American theme Christmas cards available for people to send to loved ones who may be in the service or far away from home and who would appreciate having a little piece of home with them during the holiday season. That is really what I had in mind when I designed this card. Also I like offering designs for people who just like to send a patriotic themed Christmas cards for the holidays, so I may add a custom front design that people can personalize to send to friends and family. Also, I would adjust it for custom design requests.
We know you start early in the year, Christmas in July, creating winter holiday cards.  After Christmas, what is the next major holiday that you will start design cards for?
After Christmas, I usually end up designing for Valentine’s Day or Easter. Sometimes I will consider designing a New Year’s card, but more than likely it will be Valentine’s Day.
Ok, now for the fast five, fun questions …  
What’s your dream occupation– the one job you’d love to have if you weren’t doing what you’re doing now?
I always wanted to make greeting cards, so I am getting to enjoy that at GCU.
What one accomplishment are you most proud of?
Aside from my kids, I think I was most proud of being invited to the Grand National Rodeo Championship Art show in California in 2008. It was by invitation only and only 500 artists worldwide were invited to show there. So I was honored to be a part of it and be able to show my horse and southwest themed paintings.
Which is your favorite, puppies or kittens?
They are both adorable and entertaining, but kittens are much less maintenance. lol
List something that is on your bucket list.
I’d like to visit Ireland.
If your clothes had to be one color forever, what color would you pick?
Navy blue.
Monday, August 6th

Tammy Moody — Design Challenge Winner, June 2018

Tammy Moody, Design Challenge Winner, June 2018
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 was growing up, the phrase, ” I’m singing your praises” was often heard whenever people wanted to thank you for something you did. When I saw this month’s design challenge theme, that phrase instantly popped into my mind. I had never done one of the stock card challenges, so I thought I would give it a try. I looked for animals playing instruments and found this wonderful bull strumming his little guitar and I thought it would be perfect for the sentiment. We have lots of beef and dairy farmers in Missouri and I wanted something that might speak to cattle ranchers in general because they make up such a large demographic here in America and I wanted something that might speak to them and I wanted the design to be a little comical as well because most of the farmers and ranchers I know have a really great sense of humor. So that is how this design came to be.
The Design Challenge was Music Themed Thank You.  Are you musical or play any instruments?
No, I’m not very musical. but I like to sing from time to time when I am by myself.
This was a Stock Card Creation (BigStock) only challenge.  Any tips on finding the perfect stock image?
I think it helps to have a general idea about the message you’d like to deliver and who your target audience will be and when searching for images just be open-minded because you may run across something unexpected that might be exactly what you didn’t know you were looking for.
There are many rewards for the Design Challenge Winner.  Which is your favorite and why?
My favorite part of the Design Challenge is just creating something with a theme and seeing what all the artists do with that same theme. I am constantly amazed at how many different things people create with the same theme. If you win that is just icing on the cake really. I like it when the design is featured on Facebook or gets a spotlight on GCU as Design of the Day because it helps spotlight an artist or a particular design.
Mid-year is a good time to start design cards for the Winter holidays.  What are your plans?
Actually, I already have a jump-start on designing for the holiday season. Christmas in July is sort of a great rule-of-thumb for artists who want to get holiday designs submitted. I used the July Design Challenge of Red White and Blue to take an opportunity to design a Christmas card. I like to do a few Patriotic Christmas cards for customers to send to friends or loved ones who might be far away or in the Armed Services and appreciate something from home. I go to Youtube and play Christmas carols to help get myself in the Christmas spirit, so I get a few strange looks from my husband or kids because I play Christmas carols during the hottest month of the year. lol
Ok, now for the fast five, fun questions …
  1. If you had to be allergic to something, what would it be? 
    I’d be allergic to sweets, so I wouldn’t gain weight. lol
  1. What makes a good friend?
    A good friend sticks by your side no matter what. They listen when you need someone to talk to, they pick you up when you are feeling down. And they tell you the truth even when it isn’t what you want to hear. They are someone you can count on and laugh with. They care about you and let you be yourself. They also let you be there for them.
  1. Would you rather be a giant rodent or a tiny elephant?
    I would be a tiny elephant because I think baby elephants are adorable as can be.
  1. Are you sunrise or sunset? Explain why. 
    Sunrise because I think each new day is a brand new beginning with new opportunities to do something new, different or better than before.
  1. If you woke up as a flower one day, what flower would you be?
    I would be a daisy because they are the happiest flower. 
Note: Other interviews of Tam Moody here and here.


Wednesday, July 25th

Liz Van Steenburgh of Starstock Greetings, Design Challenge Winner, May 2018

Liz Van Steenburgh of Starstock Greetings, Design Challenge Winner, May 2018 

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 this challenge was announced, I knew I’d want to create something that I actually had some experience in myself.  “Back in the day”, they actually had sewing classes throughout high school and it was something I always enjoyed.  I also love graphics, especially vintage graphics, so I went through my extensive graphic arsenal and came up with the dress form as the base for the design.  When I found the needle and thread, I knew it would make a great tail for the Congratulations text and a place to hang a vintage wooden hanger to fill the negative space on the card.  Sewing classes may be a thing of the past, but hopefully this card will end up in the mailbox of a future fashion designer one day. 

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

This card is one of my favorite designs.  I took both photos on a trip to Washington D.C.  The flag was taken at the NASA Space Museum and the eagle from the National Zoo.  I then combined them in Photoshop and added the border.  It seems a fitting way to thank our veterans by using images that are truly symbolic and also shot in our nation’s capital.

Since I use mostly licensed graphics for my card designs, whenever I can use one of my own photographs for a card, I love to do so.  This Mother’s Day card is simple image, toned in sepia with selective coloring on the flower.

I can’t draw a straight line, but I “drew” this Kwanzaa greeting, so I’m a little proud of that accomplishment :-)

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

I have always had an interest in art, design and photography.  My Dad would dabble with oil painting and, while I had no real interest in that, it planted that creative seed in me.  I have been shooting, creating and crafting most of my adult life.

What would we be surprised to learn about you?

I have worked for Bigstock for the last 12 years.  I entered the stock photography craze as a contributor when it first began and continue to hone my photography skills, as well as my design skills.  I particularly enjoy food photography, but there aren’t too many greeting card categories that fit what I shoot.  I also try to take a yearly photography trip so I can shoot out in nature, plus see a bit of the world.

Thank you for choosing my design as the winner of the May challenge.  GCU has been a blessing to me in many ways, and I hope to hang my hat here for many years to come.

Monday, June 18th

Julia Bryant of JJBDesigns, Design Challenge Winner,  April 2018

Julia Bryant of JJBDesigns, Design Challenge Winner,  April 2018

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 wanted the card to be funny. I searched for ‘funny parrot’ in the Big Stock images and this one caught my attention because I thought it would be cute to have him ‘squawking’ about a birthday. It really did just come together.

We’ve talked before about how choosing the perfect stock image is challenging due to so many choices.  What about this image did it for you?

I thought he was hilarious and there are several images from this artist with this particular bird and they are all funny. I chose this one because I thought of a cute text to go with the image.

Any tips on choosing the best font color for your designs? 

I choose font color by finding the most vibrant or dark color in my image and then choosing 2 or 3 shades darker for the font color. If it still doesn’t look nice, I then choose black or white based on the image background. I find that if you keep the color of the font in the same color family, it enhances the card’s cohesiveness.

What’s on the drawing board for new card designs?  Anything you’re really excited about?

With work and travel right now, I find I don’t have much time for design. I am excited for the Christmas cards I hope to get out in the next month.

Your Happy Birthday retro ladies are adorable.  Tell us more about the making and inspiration of these gals.

I do enjoy doing women themed cards. I wanted these ladies to represent the diverse types of women and styles. I gave them sassy outfits and hair to really give them an eccentric flair.  

Do you tend to design collections of cards leveraging the same or similar design or onsies?

I do. I have different backgrounds I use over again and change the color to match the card design I’m trying to achieve. I want to spend more time creating better main images.

On GCU artists set the default finish on cards.  Are you a glossy or matte fan or does it depend on the design?

I’m a matte girl.

Ok, now for the fast five, fun questions …  

1.     What was the first concert you ever went to? When I was stationed on Guam, a rock band called Winger came to the island. Looking back, it was one of the best I ever attended.

2.     If you were a vegetable, what vegetable would you be? Rhubarb – I want to be one that people don’t like to eat.

3.     What Disney/cartoon character were you inexplicably afraid of as a kid? When I was a kid, the Disney character that freaked me out was Medusa from The Rescuers. She was intense and so mean to Penny. However, this question does show my age.

4.     What sport would you compete in if you were in the Olympics? Curling, because it doesn’t look like it has a lot of physical excursion. I’m sure that’s wrong though.

5.     Are you a traveler or a homebody? Homebody… I traveled a lot when I was younger. I’m more about staying home now.

Note: other interviews of Julia Bryant here and here.

Monday, May 7th

Mindy Pierce Design Challenge Winner,  March 2018


Please list the URLs of your 3 favorite cards in your storefront and why they are your favorites.
This was one of my very first attempts at doing my own hand lettering and writing so you might say it has sentimental value because it was a turning point in how I approach card ideas.
So many of my cards are crammed full of imagery so I am fond of this one because of it’s simplicity. It feels good to get out of your comfort zone occasionally.
I think that greeting cards help people express themselves and connect with those they care about. I like this one because it becomes a collaboration with the customer. Not only does this card relay a sentiment but it also gives the sender a chance to share personal moments, tell a story with their own images and contribute to the design. If they are willing to take the time to input 6 photographs they really care about the person they are sending to. Every time I sell one of these it sends me to my happy place.


What were your inspirations for your winning card? Please walk us through the process of how this card went from idea to greeting card.
So when GCU announced the challenge was “beach” I do what I always do and did a mental estimate of what parts do I have that I could build on to fit this category. All I could come up with was a turtle, some water, a few fish and some sea shells. Since I am currently past the bathing suit phase in my life I really haven’t developed much imagery that relates to beach. So I decided I might sit this one out. Then, a couple of weeks later there was something in the news about the water levels rising and Easter Island was sinking. That made me sad which made me think of my kids who told me a couple of years ago that they had been irritated with me way back when they figured out that the Easter Bunny and Santa weren’t real. They wondered why did I proliferate this myth only to disappoint them (hence the “just enjoy the mystery” on the inside of the card). Then I remembered, “oh crap! it’s almost my daughter’s birthday on April 1st which was also Easter and I haven’t even thought about it!”  At that point I did a reassessment of my visual library and realized I had a bunny and some eggs to use when I realized that Easter island might have a beach.
What sparked your interest in art? Did you start as a young child?
When I was a kid and we went to church there were really only two things that I did regularly and that was fall asleep or get into trouble. I did fall asleep some but mostly I got into trouble because I couldn’t sit still. One Sunday I was close to getting another spanking when my mom found one of those cheap white notepads in her purse, a little more digging for a pencil and wah-lah….NIRVANA. I wish I could say that it solved all of my problems but it did greatly reduce the number of spankings. Let’s just say I had a lot of incentive to practice my craft.
Do you have formal training or are you self-taught?
When it came time to choose a career after high school I had many many hours of practice drawing so I decided to go to school for graphic design and illustration thinking maybe I wouldn’t be starting from ground zero.


Is your work done by hand and then scanned or do you work entirely on the computer?
I usually use both hand done scanned art and computer generated images in combination. I tap all kinds of mediums from watercolor, pastels to oil paints. I paint or draw most of the time in black and white. Then scan, assemble and colorize in photoshop.
What GCU artist(s) do you admire?
It’s really hard to mention individuals because I think there is a wonderful pool of talent at GCU but these two stand out because I keep running across their art and admiring them repeatedly.
When I was looking for cards for my daughter who is away at school without realizing it I kept selecting ones from Sue Nollmeyer. Then I noticed I had picked 2 of hers for my favorites. So that tells me she definitely knows and understands how I would feel most comfortable communicating.
Fun fact: I finally settled on the card above for her valentine card. We have a favorite Japanese restaurant that we go to just for their miso soup when she is home on breaks.
I also love Kathleen Johnson. Her cards are well designed, well written and beautifully executed consistently.


Looking at your storefront, many of your designs use bright and bold colors.  What is your favorite color?


I generally equate color with emotion and since I can be very moody it is very nearly impossible to chose just one. All colors on the color wheel are indispensable, but if I’m picking a color to wear it’s usually black, not because it’s my favorite but because it matches everything. Then I can spend less time picking clothes and spend more time making art.


What would we be surprised to learn about you?
I love science fiction. It’s my go to for reading escapism and entertainment. If you give me a choice between a love story or an alien I’m going to pick the alien every time.


Wednesday, February 28th

Design Challenge Winner, January 2018, Ultra Violet – Tammy Moody

Design Challenge Winner, January 2018, Ultra Violet – Tammy Moody 

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 hate to admit it, but the inspiration for this design began when I was flipping through TV channels and heard a girl say, “He was totally checking me out”.  At the time, I was sitting there petting my cat, Meeko. Anyhow, I kept flipping through the channels and what that girl said stuck in my head for some reason Then, I looked down at my cat and he was staring at me, so I jokingly asked him, “Meeko, are you checking me out?” Then, as the words left my mouth, the light switch flipped on, and I made the connection between “Checking me out, and checkin’ meoowwwt. Then, as much as I hate to admit it, I repeated it to Meeko like a cat would say it. I laughed, and I could just see this little cartoon cat saying, “Oh yeah, baby, I saw you checkin’ meoowwwt,” and strutting around like he was totally hot. Then I thought of Peppy Le Pew and how he tried to be such a lady killer with that poor little cat. LOL Valentine’s Day was already on my mind anyhow because it was the next big card buying holiday and I thought I could create kind of a Peppy Le Pew type cat character and do a card for Valentine’s day for guys to give to their wives and girlfriends. I set about working on the cat and then realized I didn’t really have an inside verse that was fitting. The idea for the inside came much later when my husband and I were watching TV and he was petting Meeko and when Meeko started purring and my husband asked him if his motor was running. Then I knew I finally had the purrfect inside for my card.

Your winning card perfectly captures a cat’s sassy attitude. What cat experience did you draw from?

I have had cats for the last twenty years. Cats pretty much have a high opinion of themselves anyhow and anyone who has ever owned cats know they sort of have that attitude about them. I currently have five outside cats and two inside cats. One of my inside cats is a male (Meeko) and he frequently goes out to visit the females outside and he has that little strut about him that he uses when he goes outside- like he owns the place and like he thinks he is the greatest thing in the world. I think that is sort why it was so easy for me to envision that little cartoon cat with that, “Oh yeah baby,” attitude. Between that and the thought of Peppy Le Pew, it was pretty easy to envision my sassy little cat character.

You’ve won a prior GCU Design Challenge, what advice would you give to other artists who are hesitant to enter?

My best advice would be don’t worry about winning, just look at the theme and see what you can come up with. I like to participate because I like to see what so many different people do with the same theme. I have been in online art groups before though and we always had monthly themes, so I’ve always enjoyed participating in the theme events. Even if you don’t win, you still have a design that you would not have had otherwise. The rest of my advice would be whatever you design, put a lot of thought into it. Make sure the outside and the inside make sense. If it doesn’t then keep brainstorming. Sometimes, I write a word out and then see how many different words or things I can associate to that main word. And then I can usually find something to get my creative ideas flowing. Each one of us has a different personality – that little inner voice as well as our own sense of humor, etc. Just tap into your brain and ask what can I design that stays true to my voice, my sense of humor, etc.

You often feature animals in your designs.  Which is your favorite animal to design and why?

I love animals. My Mom was an animal person and it rubbed off. I like designing animals because most people can relate to them. I mean I personally have seven cats, three dogs, and thirty cows out in my field. Plus, I live in the country, so I see lots of wildlife as well. I like designing any kind of animal really, but cartoon animals are my favorite because I can give them human characteristics and features. I like to animate things and give them their own personality.

With the new year in full swing, did you make any resolutions?  If so, how are you doing with them so far? 

I did make a few resolutions, one was to dedicate more time to making greeting cards and trying to be a little wittier while designing. I want my cards to be a little more focused on a specific occasion and I want to create an inside verse that speaks to the occasion as well as match the front of the design. So I am trying to put lots of thought into the cards and verses I am creating before I design and upload anything. Competition is tough, so you really need to do your homework and put a lot of thought into it to stand out, be noticed, and speak to consumers. Sometimes it may take twenty tries, but when you get it right, it is exciting, and it usually pays off. I think it is off to a great start so far because my goofy little cat design has gotten a great response.

Ok, now for the fast five, fun questions …

Fun Facts / Ice Breaker Questions:

What is one thing you miss about being a kid?

One thing I miss about being a kid is that that unlimited sense of adventure and fearlessness that comes with being a carefree kid.

What is your favorite ice cream flavor?

My favorite ice cream is Bunny Tracks by Breyers.

If you had to eat a worm, how would you cook it?

If I had to eat a worm, forget cooking- I’d buy gummies.

Would you rather have 3 wishes in 10 years or 1 wish today?

I would go for 3 wishes in 10 years.

What is your favorite scent / smell?

Wild Honeysuckle.

Tuesday, January 30th

Lisa Crisafi Design Challenge Winner, November 2017

Congratulations to Lisa Crisafi of Nest to Nest Greetings, Design Challenge Winner, November 2017

Please add any awards or contests you’ve won outside of GCU.
My love for creating greeting cards began when I started entering Hallmark Card contests. Contest entries consisted of uploading a photo and submitting a verse fitting the contest category. More often than not, the contests required a sense of humor and a love for puns. I quickly learned what the contest team was looking for and went on to win 12 of those card contests and a video commercial contest.  It was great fun and I met an amazing group of artists and writers from all over the country who also entered the contests. Many of us have met in person and are now life long friends.  Many of these artists also have work on GCU.

Please add the URLs of your favorite card in your storefront (Besides the winning card).

This Veterans Day card is among one of my favorites that feature this flag image. This image was created from two elements. I drew the American flag in Illustrator then overlaid a photo of my weathered deck boards in Photoshop.

My Thanksgiving word collage is another favorite. It quickly became popular among customers, and that inspired me to create more word collage cards.


I love the image on this card. It’s the hydrangea bush in my front yard which has been edited to give it a dreamy, romantic feel. I’ve used this image in a huge series for birthday, Mother’s Day and Sympathy. 

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

South Hound Outfitters

Designing for GCU inspired me to create a website for dog lovers. One day I was playing around with card ideas and added my American flag image to a dog paw silhouette. It was like a Reese’s, when chocolate met peanut butter. Patterns and Pups just went together beautifully, and I created an extensive line of apparel featuring over 30 dog breeds with holiday patterns.

I also have a Facebook page to showcase most of my GCU cards at

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

Funny thing. I came up with the verse just a month before, but hadn’t yet started to design the card. When I saw this contest, I knew this verse would be a great fit.
What sparked your interest in art? Did you start as a young child?
 I was always drawing, even as a very young child. I don’t consider myself a great artist, and I don’t have a specific style. If you look at my store, you would think that 10 different artists have their work posted there. I’m always trying something new.  I absolutely love Illustrator and Photoshop and 99% of my work is from scratch.
Do you have formal training or are you self-taught?
I went to Paier College of Art in CT for only a semester. I saw a job posted for an entry level desktop publisher at Pilot Pen, and I needed money to pay for the rest of my education, so I applied for the job and they took a chance on me. I learned everything I know about graphic design at Pilot. I never went back to school that next semester, but I am eternally grateful for all I learned in my 8 years at Pilot Pen.
Is your work done by hand and then scanned or do you work entirely on the computer?

Everything I do is computer generated, though I have been challenged recently to break out of my shell and do some watercolor work.  Remember those wonderful Hallmark contest friends I mentioned above? They’ve inspired me to step away from the computer and pick up a paintbrush.   

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

Like I said before, I love trying something new so, right now,  I am working with elementary age students teaching science in the lab every other week. I absolutely love it, and my schedule allows me to still be creative on my weeks off.

What GCU artist(s) do you admire?

Corrie Kuipers. I just love her style!  I have to say, I’m a little jealous. She has a very specific style. You can stumble across one of her cards and you just KNOW it’s hers.

We think you have a great sense of humor.  What does your family think?

I do have a sense of humor. I love to laugh  and my family loves my sense of humor… most of the time.

Wednesday, December 13th

Design Challenge Winner, Julia Bryant October 2017

Congratulations to Julia Bryant, Design Challenge Winner, October 2017

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 was thinking of what to do for this challenge, I wanted it to be humorous and capture a cat’s attitude. I enjoy cat memes and other stories about cats and their attitudes. I wanted the cat to express his displeasure with its owner for making him wait. I think the frown on the cat says it all.

Your winning card perfectly captures a cat’s sassy attitude.  What cat experience did you draw from?

My friend posts about her cat on Facebook. He’s really feisty and I think it’s so funny. Honestly, I’m a dog person but I do enjoy reading and watching videos about cats and their attitudes.

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

Get out of your comfort zone for the challenges. I think they are great for drawing out one’s creativity and making you think outside the box. Really assess what the challenge is about and then add your flare to it. The more challenging the better, in my opinion.

You have created quite a few cards using GCU’s Stock Card Creations. There are so many images to choose from.  Can you share how you go about choosing an image?

I usually look for something very specific when I start my searches on BigStock. I always add adjectives to the searches, so instead of ‘Santa’, I add ‘funny Santa or humor Santa’. And, I always choose the type of image I’m looking for like ‘Photo’, ‘Illustration’, or ‘Vector Art’. This gives you more results in that medium.

Which card is your favorite of your Stock Card Creations cards and why?

Bailey the Dog Balancing a Cake on her Nose for Birthday card is so funny to me. The other dog looks he’s waiting for the cake to drop really sums up that whole image.

The holidays are coming!  Tell the truth, do you send holiday cards and if so do you send one of your own cards or send a design by a different artist?

I do send them and usually choose from my own collection. When I design cards, I have my friends and family in mind, so it usually pertains to them and something they can enjoy.

Ok, now for the fast five, fun questions …

Fun Facts / Ice Breaker Questions:

What is your favorite ice cream flavor? Rocky Road. Having all those textures and flavors in one ice cream is heaven.

Whom would you call for bail money? Nobody, most people I know would leave me in jail.

What is your hidden talent? I can watch two TV shows at the same time and not miss a beat.

If you had to eat a worm, how would you cook it? Grill it for a good flavor.

What is your favorite scent / smell? Vanilla. I love vanilla for everything.

Monday, June 26th

May Challenge Winner — PamJArt

May Challenge Winner by PamJArts

Congratulations to our May Design Challenge winner, Pamela Jorgensen from PamJArts. Her winning card appears above.

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

I did win best victoria sandwich cake at a village flower show in England when I was 12 years old. That was a worthy accomplishment in my small village, unrelated to my artistic leanings but totally worth a mention. I previously belonged to a local art society and earned some minor awards for oil paintings and pencil drawings but generally I have not participated in contests.

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

Cold Get Well Soon Trapped Bug in Medicine Cups Humor card

I chose this card because it was fun to imagine and create a nasty little bug. I made various versions for a few of the common illnesses, and this series was inspired by a co-worker who came down with a case of laryngitis. At the time our own household had seen a round of colds and it seemed the little medicine cups were constantly out in the bathroom. I am very picky about cleaning them out well and that led to the idea of a nasty bug trapped in two medicine cups. I also had fun with the verse because I feel laughter is the best medicine.

Quirky Hipster Retro Gal Valentine’s Day for Husband card

This is a very recent card inspired by playing with simple emojis that I call my hipster girl. She kept evolving as I added more details and took on a retro feel. I was very happy with how she turned out and I hope to adapt her for various other occasions. I did make her into a bride on a recent version, who knows what she will become next. I am not the most disciplined designer. I love the journey and seeing where it takes me.

Braces On Congratulations – Peace Sign Smile Enjoy Braces Girl card

Another card inspired by real life. We went through two rounds of braces on our two girls and it was braces, braces, braces for a long time. This was another design that kept evolving. I created one initial brace and wire and then went on to create various versions, making different colors, different presentation shapes, the possibilities were endless once I had done the groundwork. Thankfully, the braces days are behind us but I still remember the fun I had creating the braces for this design. My family thought I was a little obsessed.

Please list any of your professional social media sites.

I am not very active on social media but you can find PamJArts at PamJArts (pamjarts) on Pinterest

What were your inspirations for your winning card? Please walk us through the process of how this card went from idea to greeting card.

The moment that the challenge was posted it was instant inspiration. I have been living gluten free for around 6 years now. Additionally, one of my daughters has the same gluten sensitivity with the addition of dairy sensitivity. This severely limits our options for eating out and at birthday parties we usually just watch everyone else eat the cake. When I found this cat with its sassy expression I knew this was the image to use and the “ Do I look like I eat gluten?” question just popped into my head. I will add that we are not as sassy as this cat and more than happy to skip the cake. :-)

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

I was always drawing or making things. Growing up in the English countryside, I loved drawing mice in imaginary poses, mushrooms and toadstools, the horses that roamed free, the flowers and fauna. At school I used illustration in my schoolwork as much as possible, my notebooks had many colored drawings in between the pages of writing. As a child I was inspired by the art of Beatrix Potter and John Constable and in later years the Hudson River School artists. I have played with most mediums and my creativity was never limited to painting on conventional canvas or paper. I have painted on rocks, furniture, walls, fabric, etched in glass and now create digital art. Wherever the muse takes me, I create.

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

I have not had any formal training, I am self-taught but it has always been and remains simply something I love to do. I did take a couple of photography courses back in the days of film that included learning the darkroom process when I was in my early photography phase. Then came digital cameras and Photoshop and that opened up a whole new exciting process to master.

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

The work I have on GCU is created entirely in Photoshop.

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

I have never formally worked as an artist aside from a second job when I was a teenager fixing typos or errors on advertising posters for a local advertising representative. I have had many different jobs through the years and I have always enjoyed learning new skills. After moving to America I worked as an aircraft parts broker servicing worldwide accounts before marrying and settling into being a stay at home mom. Currently, I am chief operations officer of home and work on my PamJArts ventures.

What GCU artist(s) do you admire?

There are so many artists here who I admire and appreciate for many reasons. The artist community at GCU is like no other.

Doreen Erhardt for her professionalism across the board in creating and marketing her cards and for her generous and supportive work for the artists on GCU. Since we both joined GCU pretty early I was fortunate to get to know Doreen and she never ceases to inspire. I love Betsy Bush’s sense of humor and love the fresh look she brings to her cards and the artwork of Barbara Schreiber, she has so many classic and pretty cards with great sentiments. I have a soft spot for Bad Poetry Cards because I like the style of humor, Penny Cork always has great designs and Sue Nollmeyer of Sueshine Studio, and Gail Pepin, are the most thoughtful motivators for their kind card reviews.

Looking at your storefront, you feature some adorable little critters.  Are they part of your menagerie?

We have been pet free for a numbers of years now but in the past we did have hamsters. I have a love of rodents. My daughter just recently got a baby Dalmatian tortoise.

What would we be surprised to learn about you?

I love working on mechanical things and fix my own home appliances. I made the Barbie cake once with an actual Barbie in there. It is legendary at our house and one of my proudest achievements of domestic glory.


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