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Old 12-07-2008, 03:36 PM   #1
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Default How to get better designing cards? cc please!

I spent a couple hours this afternoon making a couple of masculine birthday cards. They seemed like they were coming together OK and now that they are finished, I don't LOVE them. It seems like after spending so much time making something that I should really like it when I am done. I know the recipients will like them - they now just expect a homemade card. I will post this particular card tomorrow since (I think) Sunday's are still no upload days.

So, my question to you is how do you get better? I have a friend who only cases cards (using exact stamps, papers, etc.), but I try to use cards in the gallery as inspiration and come up with my own thing. I do love the card sketches, but still find it difficult to choose the right paper, stamp and embellishments. Any advice would be appreciated.

I would also love any constructive criticism you have on the cards that are in my gallery. I haven't posted near all of the cards I've created since there are so many that I don't really like when they are complete.

TIA for the advice!
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Old 12-07-2008, 03:46 PM   #2
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Keep it up Suzanne!!

I start with sketches (lots of weekly challenges out there), cause I CAN'T come up with a layout on my own. My brain just doesn't work that way.

Once I know the layout, I chose a stamp/image that fits the sketch. Then I go to my paper packs (Basic Grey mostly) and start pulling out papers I like with ribbons to match. I then chose cardstock to match.

Then I trim the image to the sketch and color it to match the DP I chose. Then I begin to lay things out and see what looks good. I have been known to have 6 different ribbons strewn around, primas, paper -just a mess!

After I get done and if I don't like it or it needs 'something', I look to see if I can add simple things like stickles, piercing, sponging, a small flower or star punched out or something.

Everybody creates differently. Hopefully someone will post something that will just CLICK with you and your style!!

Oh, one tip. I often use Hermafix dotto dots (temporary, not permanent) to place things down on my card -like image panels, punched stars, etc. That way I can easily move things around to find the right balance. I then glue down with permanent after I like how things are arranged!
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Old 12-07-2008, 04:01 PM   #3
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I agree with Michelle on pulling colors from DP that you like and going from there.

I took a look at your gallery, and I can't say that I could give you any advice...you do a great job with your cards. As for you LOVING them when you get done...maybe just do a few cards for yourself and see how it goes. Pick and image you LOVE, colors you LOVE...and go from there. You might find that your cards are turning out great, they just are made for someone else in mind, so it's not exactly your style when it's done.

I do it all the time....I get done with a card I worked hard on, but it's just not ME....yet someone else LOVES it. So when I feel like I'm in a rut, I go to my favorite colors and images and I feel very satisfied with the finished project.
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Old 12-07-2008, 04:07 PM   #4
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Hi Suzanne,

I still fell like my cards leave something to desire. However, my friends think they are awesome. LOL I participate in the color and design challenges when I get a chance. I think that helps me some.

My husband thinks the Christmas card that I designed on yesterday is very nice. I think it is missing something. Or, am I being too hard on myself?
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Old 12-07-2008, 04:08 PM   #5
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Bobby,

Well, I can sympathise. I have tons of supplies, and lots of creative ideas in my head, but after they actually come to fruition, well, it ain't workin out so well for me. But so far here is what I have learned

The internet is an abundant resource, but if I am inundated with too many samples, too many techniques..... I freeze up. Frozen with indecision. So I have invested in a few good books. I read them over and over. After about the 3rd reading, I will have an " ahh ha" moment. I will take that book to my work area and use it as a side by side reference.

I also will spend days trying to perfect a certain technique. I learned a long time ago when I was just learning to sew, that if would make a few sample buttonholes, practice on a few zippers, play with the invisible hem setting on my sewing machine.......it would save me hours of frustration when it came time to make something. The same holds true with card design. I will have my techniques down pat before I need them.

Finally, I have come to realize that I have a particular style. You do too. You already know there are certain "flavors" of stamps you prefer ( whimsical, artsy, realistic..) and there are certain color schemes you prefer over others. For example, I LOVE browns, greens and all the "earthy" colors. I LOVE landscape and realistic natural element stamps. If I would try to do some sort of cartoonish looking bunny rabbit or mouse (ugh) in pastel colors (ugh) I know I will never like the finished product. So develope a signature style. You are almost certain to be more satisfied with the final product.

Lastly, think about the type of card that always catches your eye when you are browsing the gallery. Are you drawn to very simple understated cards, or are you drawn to all the bells and whistles? You know which one's you like best. Again, a personal signature card. Until we're ready, there's no point in trying to cover the whole spectrum of styles just because we have decorated paper.

So -

Find a few good resources and study them.

Discover the techniques you like the most and spend as much time as you need to perfect them. Until they are second nature to you.

Only buy/use the stamps you totally love. Don't buy just because they're on sale. Conversely be willing to spend for whole sheets with themes that appeal to you.

Define your style. Frilly or simple. That includes colors, stamps and embellishments.

And one tip I learned from sewing.....when it ain't fun anymore, walk away for the day or week or month. It'll come back. Downtime is very very necessary sometimes.
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Old 12-07-2008, 04:12 PM   #6
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Quote:

Originally Posted by bobby18View Post
I spent a couple hours this afternoon making a couple of masculine birthday cards. They seemed like they were coming together OK and now that they are finished, I don't LOVE them. It seems like after spending so much time making something that I should really like it when I am done. I know the recipients will like them - they now just expect a homemade card. I will post this particular card tomorrow since (I think) Sunday's are still no upload days.

So, my question to you is how do you get better? I have a friend who only cases cards (using exact stamps, papers, etc.), but I try to use cards in the gallery as inspiration and come up with my own thing. I do love the card sketches, but still find it difficult to choose the right paper, stamp and embellishments. Any advice would be appreciated.

I would also love any constructive criticism you have on the cards that are in my gallery. I haven't posted near all of the cards I've created since there are so many that I don't really like when they are complete.

TIA for the advice!
Suzanne
I agree with Michelle, sketch challenges are a great way to start. There are plenty out there: My Favorite Things has one on Thursdays in their forum, SCS has theirs on Wednesdays, plus various sketches can be found on people's blogs.

Another thing to do is all the other daily challenges. You'll be swimming in cards (if you could see my desk right now...) but practice makes perfect. If you're having trouble with colors, do the color challenge or the inspiration challenge.

Keep creating. Most of us have times when the "stamping mojo" seems to dry up - it's easier just to plow right on through.
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Old 12-07-2008, 05:41 PM   #7
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I often feel that way about my cards, that they are "ok" but not great. I think part of my problem is that I find myself comparing my work to that of others and I end up feeling inferior.
Sometimes I feel like I have all these great and creative ides floating around in my head and I just can't get them to translate onto paper.
Other times I just can't get the creative juices flowing. When that happens, I like to browse the gallery here and see what other folks are up too. I have also tried my hand at a couple card sketch and inspiration challenges and that seems to help me. I also just joined my first two card swaps ever (see those in my signature) and my excitement about that has helped me come up with some cards I am really proud of.
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Old 12-07-2008, 06:38 PM   #8
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Hi Suzanne! First of all your cards are LOVELY and there is NOTHING wrong with them! You are absolutely wonderful at coloring your images. I do have a couple humble suggestions that are only offered bc you asked:

-Try to match the colors in your images as closely as possible to the colors in your DP. For example, you did this really well on your Bella Birthday card. Sometimes that 's hard, I know I get stuck trying to color the image as I think it should look instead of going with the colors of the paper. Like in your last post, you could have used the more subtle hues of the paper to color the little boy. Forget about what color "jeans" usually are and go with a deep color from the paper.

-You also may want to layer a bit more. I'm a layer freak and I know it, some stampers can get away without it, but I can't. Again, really use the colors repeatedly. Someone on this board once talked about the rule of 3. Use 3 colors and repeat them throughout the card, both images and layers.

-Lastly, I think your designs would love to have just a little more metal or scalloped action. Just a bit more bling or maybe a ticket corner punch would pop up the design. (all used judiciously, of course!)

In the meantime! Give yourself credit! You are reeeeealy good and will only get better and better!
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Old 12-07-2008, 06:40 PM   #9
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I also have a friend that I have taken card classes with. We are in a craft group at the church that meets once a month to exchange cards or any hand/paper craft you would like to share. This friend also 'has to have the exact same paper, embellishments, etc.' that a card we made in a class for her exchange. I like to take the class card to use as a starting point and then 'tweak' it to my taste. The other members of the group seem to enjoy my offerings.

I think, like others have suggested, use a sketch or a card you have seen then go to your supplies. The paper, embellisments, punches, etc. you have reflect you and your tastes so then the card should look like something you would like to receive. Does that make sense? I think your cards show that you have a sense of color, texture, combinations of elements that make your cards interesting and appropriate for the sentiment your have stamped on the card.

Sometimes I look at a finished card I thought would look great and think it 'needs' something so I put it aside and come back to it later. Also, sometimes I look at the card and realize I need to go back to the drawing board because 'it' didn't work!

Keep of the good work and don't be so hard on yourself. I think your cards are great.
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Old 12-07-2008, 07:21 PM   #10
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Suzanne, I have been stamping for about four years now and didn't have a clue about techniques when I started. I have learned everything I know about stamping from playing all the daily challenges here on SCS. It is something different everyday and you will be stretched. You will try color combinations that you never thought you would ever use and end up loving them. You will try some techniques that you can say you tried but do not like enough to do again. By trying different things you build skill and become a far more talented stamper. It is really like practicing your piano lessons as a kid.....repitition and practice builds your skills.

One of my favorite and most used tools in my stamping area is my Stampin' Up! Color Coach. It is always on my desk. It helps me know what colors work together and make my projects pop more.
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Old 12-07-2008, 07:40 PM   #11
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This is probably weird, but I am among stampers, so I will throw it out there...I take the card and put it on my nightstand. I take a few looks at it before I go to bed, then pick it up the next morning and try to imagine if I would do anything different. My cards have also been known to travel with me to work to sit on my desk to be viewed from time to time. Sometimes I think of just the thing that is missing. Sometimes I leave it alone.

Inspiration can hit all at once or in bits and pieces. I just posted a thread about a card that I gave a "face lift". I liked the idea of it but the initial design needed some tweaking. I am hoping that others will post some of their works in progress.

http:////www.splitcoaststampers.com/...d.php?t=402924
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Old 12-07-2008, 08:05 PM   #12
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Default I took a look!

Your cards in your gallery are very nice. You do a wonderful job coloring your images. Keep it up the good work.

Take care!

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Old 12-07-2008, 08:58 PM   #13
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Quote:

Originally Posted by bobby18View Post
I spent a couple hours this afternoon making a couple of masculine birthday cards. They seemed like they were coming together OK and now that they are finished, I don't LOVE them. It seems like after spending so much time making something that I should really like it when I am done. I know the recipients will like them - they now just expect a homemade card. I will post this particular card tomorrow since (I think) Sunday's are still no upload days.

So, my question to you is how do you get better? I have a friend who only cases cards (using exact stamps, papers, etc.), but I try to use cards in the gallery as inspiration and come up with my own thing. I do love the card sketches, but still find it difficult to choose the right paper, stamp and embellishments. Any advice would be appreciated.

I would also love any constructive criticism you have on the cards that are in my gallery. I haven't posted near all of the cards I've created since there are so many that I don't really like when they are complete.

TIA for the advice!
Suzanne
I feel the same as you, I have been at this for almost a year, I am still trying to get better, I too find that by doing challenges it helps the creative juices to flow. I usually dislike most of my cards, but they are getting better and better with more practice, and more challenges.
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Old 12-08-2008, 07:34 AM   #14
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Speaking as someone who is fairly new at this, one of the things that really make me love a card I make is using paper from a paper pack (or a coordinated line) instead of individual pieces. Just having all the colors/patterns coordinate exactly helps me a lot. (I am in love with American Crafts since they have coordinting cardstock on the back)

Also, as someone else mentioned, show them to someone who doesn't stamp--I have made many cards that I'm "meh" about, I show it to my friend, and she's all, "you need to sell these!!!".
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Old 12-08-2008, 07:14 PM   #15
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Wow, thanks for all of the great responses - I really appreciate it. Any other advice/thoughts would be greatly appreciated, but I wanted to respond to some of the comments. As well, I just posted the card that resulted in my posing this question as well as my Christmas card from last year. I'm not sure why I hadn't posted it as I did really like it.

I will definitely start playing more with the challenges here at SCS. Time is generally my problem - it seems like I am always struggling to get cards done so they are mailed in time to make it for the event. I really need to start making a couple of each card so that I have an extra just in case!

Lynn, thanks for your specific examples. I will definitely be using more layers in my cards. This is definitely one of the things that I tend to like as most of my favorites include many layers.

Michelle and Lynn, thanks for the advice on coloring images. I guess I have been doing things backwards. I would generally color an image and then try to find paper to match. It will be so much easier picking the paper first and then coloring the image to match. I guess i never really thought the process through.

And, sewnmachine, your comment to "Define your style" really stuck with me. I guess I have spent too much time researching and seeing what I like that others are doing that I haven't really spent a lot of time thinking about what I really like about the cards. What do they have in common? What is their style? I will be looking at the gallery with a whole new point of view - thanks!

Thanks again,
Suzanne
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Old 12-08-2008, 08:53 PM   #16
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we all had to start sometime right...my first ones were not that great and maybe still are not..but practice, practice, practice....that is what will help.
good luck and blessings.
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Old 12-08-2008, 09:03 PM   #17
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Great advice from all these stamp artists! You are right about finding your style. I think I am just learning my stlye too. I started stamping May of this year. Stamping is so much fun, but the learning process is even more fun as we watch ourselves try new techniques and are pleasantly surprised how well they turn out. I have all males in my family (three teenage/young adult males) and DH. One day I tried a Zindorf technique from one of her tutorials (Freedom in Creating--Michelle Zindorf) and it turned out surprisingly well. I ran downstairs and showed the male household what I just did. By the looks on their faces even they were impressed. I learned from SCS and the amazing --let me say that again: AMAZING!! artists here at splitcoast! I lurk in the galleries all the time and just love what so many stampers can do! I have favorite stampers I look at weekly and study what they came up with. I love the sketch challenges and copy them all the time. I think my best cards come when I use a sketch as a guide. I am learning about stamps too, finding the ones that really reach out to you really helps!
I am still investing in colors, pencils and markers. Copics are great but sooooo expensive. I am debating or deciding which set (Copics or Prismamarkers) to put on my Christmas list! The fun of it is experimenting--and finding the tools that work best for you! I have to say Thanks to Splitcoast and all the wonderful artists that give such great ideas, advice and wonderful comments. It's a very positive place to learn about the craft you love!!
Great posts!!!
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Old 12-08-2008, 10:05 PM   #18
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First of all, I think your gallery is nice. I can't color and so you got a lot more going on there than I do

The style is what makes you unique. I can look at a few cards... lets just say cards of people I like... and can match which card goes to which person. A few times I can get thrown away, maybe the person got bored and wants to try something new, but for the most part, there's something in each card that screams that person's name.

Even though I can't name it... except maybe clean design, I think I've found my style and that's what I stick with since it's what I'm comfortable with. Are my cards great? I don't know but what I know is that 90% (I have off days too hee...) of the time I like them because they represent me.

Doing a lot of challenged does help. When I'm in a rut I'll try to do a sketch. The SCS ones are fun but I have a few other favorites like 2sketches4u for example. 2S4U makes me feel more whimsical and creative so when I do one of their sketches my card always comes out way different than my day-to-day stuff.

Try adding dimensions too... those dimensionals are NICE!

Also, have fun. My cards come out horrible when I think too much
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Old 12-09-2008, 04:47 AM   #19
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The only way to get better is to keep at it. Challenges are a great way to get started. I'd suggest picking out your paper first and color the image to match. Its so much easier this way. No scrambling trying to find the right paper-been there, done that. Start simple and have fun.
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Old 12-09-2008, 05:05 AM   #20
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Struggling with this issue for years. Here is a summary of what I've learned/figured out.

1. there is a difference between creativity and craftsmanship. I am not very creative and I don't think I can "learn" to be creative. I can, however, improve my products by practicising and focusing on my craftsmanship -- making everything well done. Straight lines, straight corners, no ragged edges, neat and crisp. To do this, I've learned to throw a lot of stuff out or save to use as scraps. I've been working on one card for over a week, trying to get the look I want. In the past I would have settled, and posted it on my blog. Now I go back to it and won't finish it until I am happy with it (even if no one else is.)

2. I study what I like and learn from it. Just because it is in a sketch or is a popular look or has 7 layers with 25 embellishments doesn't necessarily make it good design. Similarly, a clean, simple design can be very hard to pull off well.

I have a handful of stampers whose work I study, looking at every detail. Again, I rarely have a lightbulb moment, but I have studied where certain elements are placed, the type and size and amount of embellishments, etc.

3. After I take a photo of my stuff, I look at the photo and amazingly, I can "see" things that I couldn't see looking straight at it.

4. I practice the stuff that I'm not good at, but can improve -- like shading and watercoloring. IMHO it is harder than it looks!

5. Being anxious stifles creativity. I took a class once on something and everything I made was terrible (even the instructor agreed!) while the rest of the class was humming. The instructor took me aside and told me that I was trying too hard. Apparently, it helps to relax (still working on that one!)
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Old 12-09-2008, 05:50 AM   #21
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Suzanne
Thanks for starting this thread!! Just what I needed! I have been stamping for maybe 6 yrs-not steadily I might add- but SCS has opened a whole new world for me! These people are awesome and so inspiring!! I have lurked other sites-and they don't come close to this! I am getting alot of great ideas from this thread-thanks again- BTW I think your coloring is great!
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Old 12-09-2008, 10:33 AM   #22
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WOW, I have already learned so much from reading the responses in this thread. Adding to the great ideas here, I want to encourage you to be patient with yourself as you keep working on designing. I think sometimes we are all most critical of our own work. I sometimes make a card and say, WOW! afterward, but there are quite a few I feel just Ok about, and some do end up in the trash. I felt much better when I realized this happens to everybody sometimes.The best thing about this thread is realizing that designing is a process.
It is also a skill, and we can improve at it! I agree that studying others' work that you love is a great place to start. A great challenge where you do just that is the Featured Stamper challenge. Also, designing is something that gets easier the more you do it, you build up speed and fluency. One designer I love did a stint of stamping one fifteen minute card a day as a warm-up.
I also find if I don't have an idea when I start to stamp, it's better to wait another day, otherwise I end up blogsurfing and getting frustrated. Keep it fun and it will come!
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Old 12-10-2008, 11:12 AM   #23
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Old 12-12-2008, 07:26 AM   #24
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I am really happy this thread has helped others like it has me. I think that sometimes I try to make things too simple when I am drawn to more embellished cards. I LOVE layers and need to start using more. I LOVE ribbon, but don't seem to use it very much. I LOVE all embellishments - brads, flowers, bling - but don't tend to use those either. I will really be focusing on adding these types of embellishments to my cards without overdoing it. I really want to get to a stage that my cards still appear clean, but are embellished appropriately.

Thanks so much for all of the great responses. I have learned a lot from each of you and from looking at the various galleries!

If anyone else has anything to add, please do. I think this thread has become a great resource.

Thanks again,
Suzanne
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Old 12-12-2008, 07:42 AM   #25
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Dont you think that maybe we all critisise our own work sometimes? I know i do...I search blogs love their ideas and wonder why i cant come up with same kind of cards..but yes i agree sketches are best to get you into full swing of making cards etc xxxx
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Old 12-12-2008, 07:45 AM   #26
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Quote:

Originally Posted by pixiehouse1View Post
Dont you think that maybe we all critisise our own work sometimes? I know i do...I search blogs love their ideas and wonder why i cant come up with same kind of cards..but yes i agree sketches are best to get you into full swing of making cards etc xxxx
Yes! There is a difference between legitimately wanting to improve at a hobby we love and making ourselves crazy comparing ourselves to top notch artists.

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Old 12-13-2008, 07:17 AM   #27
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I felt the same way when I started. But I can see how far I've come thanks to all the challenges that are out there and all the blog-surfing I do. It comes with experience and time. You'll get there and we'll all probably be jealous of how good you'd have gotten!

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Old 12-13-2008, 10:20 AM   #28
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Struggling with this issue for years. Here is a summary of what I've learned/figured out.

1. there is a difference between creativity and craftsmanship. I am not very creative and I don't think I can "learn" to be creative. I can, however, improve my products by practicising and focusing on my craftsmanship -- making everything well done. Straight lines, straight corners, no ragged edges, neat and crisp. To do this, I've learned to throw a lot of stuff out or save to use as scraps. I've been working on one card for over a week, trying to get the look I want. In the past I would have settled, and posted it on my blog. Now I go back to it and won't finish it until I am happy with it (even if no one else is.)

2. I study what I like and learn from it. Just because it is in a sketch or is a popular look or has 7 layers with 25 embellishments doesn't necessarily make it good design. Similarly, a clean, simple design can be very hard to pull off well.

I have a handful of stampers whose work I study, looking at every detail. Again, I rarely have a lightbulb moment, but I have studied where certain elements are placed, the type and size and amount of embellishments, etc.

3. After I take a photo of my stuff, I look at the photo and amazingly, I can "see" things that I couldn't see looking straight at it.

4. I practice the stuff that I'm not good at, but can improve -- like shading and watercoloring. IMHO it is harder than it looks!

5. Being anxious stifles creativity. I took a class once on something and everything I made was terrible (even the instructor agreed!) while the rest of the class was humming. The instructor took me aside and told me that I was trying too hard. Apparently, it helps to relax (still working on that one!)
Joan's pointers are great!

I just wanted to add that:
  • You eventually learn when the design isn't going anywhere and better to start over.
  • Sometimes you won't know until you see it all the way through to the end if it's gonna work or not. If it didn't, it's just paper, so don't fret.
  • Sometimes, things go in an entirely different direction than what you originally planned, and sometimes, you'll like what you end up with even better!

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Old 12-13-2008, 10:38 AM   #29
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subscribing! this is really interesting! thanks to all!
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Old 12-16-2008, 07:40 AM   #30
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Thanks again for all the great advice. After reading all of the responses, I ended up making some changes to my Christmas card this year and am really happy with the results. I had been putting off mass producing them since I wasn't happy with my prototype, but am really happy with the results. Here is my gallery post with my 2008 Christmas cards - I also posted a close up of the Baja Breeze one (it's in my gallery).

Thanks again!
Suzanne
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