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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

How to Keep Art Fresh & New: Reworking Old Art for Today's Greeting Card Market

Reworking Sandi Gore Evans Original Art Keeps it Fresh and New.
by Suzanne Cruise

When I first started offering Sandi's work to potential licensees back in 1996, I really thought that it would be like shooting fish in a barrel, that every manufacturer would "get" her work and then want to license it. For the most part that was true. But I was surprised at the number of "art directors " who would review Sandi's work and then comment that while they liked it a lot they did not know how they would or could use it on their products. That alone was probably the single most important factor in telling our artists to prototype images on a variety of products so that we could better spell-things-out for the "creatively brain dead" art directors. Although we were not getting paid to do the work that manufacturers should have been doing, a situation that still galls me, it was well worth our time and effort to prototype the artwork ourselves.

Between 1996 and 2000 we signed over 35 licenses for Sandi's art on just about every product you can imagine. Many of these licenses were quite lucrative. When Sandi died in 2000, about half of them were not renewed (no new art to feed the licensing "beast"). To this day, the other half of those licensees continue to be active utilizing about 50 of Sandi's images each year. Because this core group of images sell well every single year, the manufacturers (and me too) consider Sandi's work to be "evergreen." But eventually we will be unable to continue to license her existing art unless the original work is substantially reworked to make it fresh and new. Below are two examples of Sandi's art showing how they have been reworked to blend with the current look in the greeting card market.

Example One: The original 1997 sunflowers were done on a white background and laid out as a simple, un-constructed bouquet. The two new versions were reformatted in 2008 using the popular trend of an offset perspective and a simple solid color background that highlighted the text (in this case, an inspirational message, so popular for the last couple of years). The second version is a variation of the first showing the inside of the card. It has a tighter close up of the flowers, brighter colors and was merged while in Photoshop with some berries and poppies from two other pieces of Sandi's art to make an entirely new card.

Version #1

Version #2

Example Two: The original 1997 image was done by Sandi for use as a print and it was licensed for many other products at that time. In 2008, it was reformatted as a card. The original tea stain coloring was eliminated as shown.

In the reworked art, the painting was vignetted for the inside of the card. The vignette has a fair amount of "white space" around it and the background of the area around the flowers and vase was "ghosted." The flower colors in the center of the painting were deepened a fair amount to really pull your eye right to them. The front of the card (not shown) is a solid color and die cut peak to show primarily only the flowers on the inside page.

In general, greeting cards should have a "me-to-you" sending situation. What this means when the buyer looks at the art, it almost immediately and subconsciously implies that this card is something that I (me) would send this card to you (to-you situation). This effect is accomplished in many ways. In this example, it is done with the use of the following:
1. There are two chairs.
2. There are two pillows that you see a part of.
3. There is the illusion of two food/tea items on the bench that two people would share or have just shared.

For some reason, all of these "pairs" unconsciously triggers a message in the buyers mind that there were two people in this scene at one point or will come into this scene, making this a perfect "me-to-you" situation.


  1. What a really inspiring post, to be able to "see" our archive work in a different setting offers so many new opportunities. Thanks so much for sharing.

  2. Enjoyed your article - very enlightening!!!