Saturday, November 14, 2009


by Marian Cates

Some artists are drawn to vintage artwork and base some or all of their own creations on vintage illustrations and photographs. Others show the vintage images to the public, with or without restoration, clearly labeling them as "vintage." And some do a little of each.


One thing that vintage artists, photographers, and restorers have in common: they love the nostalgia evoked by vintage art.


I recently discovered the artist, Ingrid Pomeroy, who has a shop on Etsy called "An Original By Ingrid" (see her "French La Mode Illustrations Collage" above).She says of herself in her Etsy profile, "I am a mixed-media collage artist who loves to work with anything old and beautiful.  I incorporate my passion for vintage photos, postcards, lace, buttons, ephemera, and more into my art." I purchased from Ingrid the digital version of this collage, and will definitely be drawing on it for inspiration.


On Zazzle, you will find Scott Buel's "Scenes From The Past" Shop. Scott's vintage photographs are set much closer to the present day than Ingrid's.


Scott describes his artistic interests as "vintage image restoration and digital photography." His goal: "preserving and educating [others to] Michigan and Great Lakes history, by sharing my grandfather's photo collection."


One of the funniest restored photographs in his collection is below:


It is aptly titled, "Play Golf Free, While Having Your Suit Pressed." I challenge anyone to come up with a more hilarious vintage photograph.


Vintage art calls forth a longing for days gone by. Sometimes in a romantic way. Sometimes in a humorous way. But however vintage art is expressed, it celebrates days that will never come around again. An apt subject for art, don't you think.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009


by Marian Cates  
Updated 11-14-2010

Zazzle used to have "product lines." It ditched this classification, replacing it with "categories." (In October 2010, the name was changed to "topics.")

The change is broader than just a name change. For one thing, categories include images. Your categories, by default, still appear in text, in a left- or right-hand column of your shop. But they appear as images in the main area of the shop. (Mid-2010, Zazzle improved this feature by allowing shopkeepers to have the names of the categories, now called topics, appear under the images.)

Recently, my neighborhood lost electricity two or three times during one night. During the first of these outages, I was on the last screen of "Quick Create." So when my computer suddenly went dark, I cried aloud, "Oh, no!"

However, when the electricity was restored, I found that these products had been moved to "in-progress products," and, to my delight, they were still "live." I had to go product-by-product to complete the final creation process. But I did not lose my products. Hats off to Zazzle!

Zazzle has added some new products. These are
  • stationery 
  • letterhead stationery 
  • invitations 
  • flyers 
  • rack cards 
  • photo cards
  • binders
(Zazzle products are added on an ongoing basis. To check what is available now, just click on the words "Check out Zazzle" under the Zazzle logo at the end of this story.) 

It's always great to have new products to work with. With all these new paper products, a stand-alone stationery stop becomes a desirable option.

    Now that categories have images, the shop can be set up to display the category images in a horizontal scroll on the home page of the shop. Another option is to show all the category images in a group on the home page.

    "Featured products" has been replaced by "top picks." The "featured-products" option showcased three products on the home page of the shop. In contrast, "top picks" are displayed as a 3-image slide show on the home page. This is a great improvement, as it adds visual interest to catch visitors' interest, making your shop "stickier," i.e., more likely to hold visitors' attention long enough for them to spend some time on your site.

    Zazzle has improved to a dramatic extent in the past month. This is encouraging to Zazzle shopkeepers, aka designers. Who knows what other improvements Zazzle shopkeepers will see in the coming months!

    Tuesday, September 22, 2009


    by Marian Cates

    I discovered WiseStamp last month, when I was updating a Firefox addon. I looked through a list of recommended new addons, and WiseStamp was on that list. Their signature is a free product, but you have the option to donate.

    WiseStamp provides links to your social networks—blogs, facebook, Twitter, Live Space, etc. You can have icons or text. Or you can have both. These links allow your email recipients to see you in all those contexts.
    You can also add a picture to your signature.

    They have a lot of features I didn't use. But you might love to have a photo of Einstein, with his tongue stuck out, as part of your signature.

    (design by Marian Cates)
    with permission of WiseStamp

    Monday, September 21, 2009


    A Beginner's Tutorial
    by Marian Cates 
    (updated 10-1-2010)

    See Create Shoe Designs on Zazzle for an article with screenshots.

    Designing Ked's shoes on Zazzle is a lot of fun,once you get the hang of it. In this beginner's tutorial, we'll create a simple, one-image Women's Mini Slip On.

    • upper
    • inside quarter
    • outside quarter
    • insole
    • heel

    • Customize
    • Keds Shoe Options 
    Rather than letting yourself be overwhelmed by all the options (as I was at first), let's create a very simple design, with only one image on the shoe.

    Go to and click on "CREATE" at the top left of the screen and select from the dropdown menu "See More." This takes you to a page with all of Zazzle's products. Shoes are located on the second line down on the far right. Under the image of a Men's Low Lace Up shoe, click on "Create shoes now."

    FOR ZAZZLE SHOPKEEPERS ONLY: Be sure to sign in to your shop first.

    This takes you to a page full of photos of all Zazzle's products. Keds shoes are on the second row down, on the far right. Click on "Create shoes now," located under the picture of a shoe.

    This takes you to a screen that says, at the top of the page, "Custom Shoes, Custom Made Shoes and Personalized shoes."
      On the right of the screen are the shoe types from which you can choose.

      The Women's Mini Slip On is one of the easiest to design, so let's use that as our example.

      Click on the words "Women's Mini Slip On." The first thing you must do is to choose the shoe size -- for yourself or, if you're a shopkeeper, for your customers.
      You cannot proceed without choosing the shoe size. The default for women's shoes is 7.

      There are two ways to work on your shoe design. You will find the choices at the top, over the large-photo shoe, on the left. One of them is the design view and the other the product view. We will work only with the product view for this workshop. Later you can experiment and see which view works better for you.

      Once you've chosen the shoe size, click on the words "Customize it!" You'll see one large photo of the shoe; the default is "outside quarter." Under this large photo are small photos of the shoes from various viewpoints. You have a choice at this point. That choice is between:
      • "Add images"
      • "Add text" 
      For the purposes of this tutorial, we will be adding only an image, so "Add images" is the bar we'll be clicking on. And we will be putting this image on the Upper.

      From the small photos, showing seven views of the shoe, click on upper. A red check mark appears, to confirm your choice. Now the upper part of the shoe moves into the large photo position.

      Click on "Add images." Browse to the image you want to highlight in your design. Fit the image into the space by using the re-size tools, as well as the move tools (arrows).**

      For the rest of the design, we'll use the Keds Shoe Options. Click on the bar containing the words "Choose colors, prints and details." (It is below the Customize section.)

      Once again, you see the large photo with your chosen image and below it the small photos.

      We start with "1. Colors and prints," which is the section that is open by default. By clicking on a little arrow next to the name of the shoe part, you will see the various colors and patterns that you can place on different areas of your shoe. For the main shoe areas, they have a good array from which you can choose.

      If your image did not fill the entire upper area, select a background color that goes well with your image and creates a harmonious design for the upper. Then go around the areas of the shoe, choosing colors and patterns. After that, choose the insole color or pattern.

      Once you're happy with those selections, Click on "2. Trims & details" just to the right of the "Colors & prints" bar. The "Trims & details" section appears.

      You follow the same procedure with the "Trims & details" as you did with the "Colors & prints."

      Start with the upper and top bindings. The upper binding, you will see, is the binding for the shoe upper, whereas the top binding is for the sides of the shoe.

      Next choose a color for the gore, which is the elastic part of the shoe. You will see that you have far fewer color choices. This is true for the remaining "Trims & details." As the number of "Trims & details" color choices diminishes, you may find that you need to rethink your design. That's fine, because you can easily navigate back and forth between the
      "Colors & prints" section and the "Trims & details" section, since they are right next to each other on your screen.

      Your design can go in whatever direction your creative impulse takes you. You can choose whatever mix of colors and prints appeals to you. If you're a shopkeeper, however, you will naturally be making decisions based on what you think your customers will prefer.

      It's a good idea to look at the magnified view of each part of your shoe. To do so, you click on the magnifying-glass icon, located on the right side, over the large-photo shoe. By doing this, you ensure that every area of the shoe is covered properly and that all areas of the shoe flow nicely into each other.

      For your final step, go back to the customize screen.

      Select the Upper. Then click on the bar that has the name of your design on it.

      There is an icon, above and to the right of that bar, that looks like two gears -- one larger in front and one smaller behind it. Click on that icon.

      A small pop-up screen appears. At the top are the words,  "How do you want this image to appear on the left shoe?" The options are "Mirrored" and "Not mirrored." To the right of those choices, you will see the words "view left shoe." Click on those words. An enlarged view of the left shoe will appear.

      If you use text in your design, you will need, for obvious reasons, to choose "not mirrored" for the section where the text appears. Otherwise, the choice is up to you.

      To see the pair of shoes together, click on "View pair" at the top right, next to the magnifying-glass icon and over the large-photo shoe.

      View, as a pair, each area of the shoe. You may find that you want to make adjustments to your design, to get a harmonious balance between the left and right shoe and also a good flow from area to area.

      FOR SHOPKEEPERS ONLY: When choosing "mirrored" or "not mirrored," you are also given the option to select between "Lock object" and "Make this a template object." When you choose to make a template of any part of the shoe, you allow your customers to change that part of the shoe. This gives your customers free rein in their shoe designs. However, if you are uncomfortable with that idea, you can choose to lock any part of the shoe. Customers cannot change any area that is locked.

      When you are satisfied with your design, click on either the "Add to cart" orange button or, if you are a shopkeeper, the words "Post for sale," found at the bottom of the screen and two lines down from the number 2.

      FOR SHOPKEEPERS ONLY: This takes you to the final screen. Fill out the fields in this screen. Then hit the orange "Post it!" button.


      AND VOILA!
      There you have it! You've created a pair of Ked's Women's Mini Slip On Shoes, for yourself or your Zazzle shop. Give yourself a "pat on the back" and then eagerly await the arrival of your new "designer shoes!"

      FOR SHOPKEEPERS ONLY: Before your shoe creation appears in your shop, it will be reviewed by the Content-Review Team. This is to your benefit, as the review team will catch any technical errors you've made and give you the opportunity to correct them before your shoes appear in your shop. Until approved, your shoes can be found in your "Private Products," which you can access on the Products Screen (the My Account Products tab).

      ** Tool tip: If you hold down the Control key (or the Mac equivalent) when you click on one the tools, such as the move (arrows) tool, it will allow you to adjust images in smaller increments. If, on the other hand, you hold down the shift key, it allows you to make larger adjustments. 

      Sunday, August 30, 2009

      Using Zazzle's "Quick Create"

      A Tutorial for the Beginner
      by Marian Cates 

      Used with permission of
      Zazzle shopkeepers have two ways of creating products with their artwork and designs on them. The first is to create one item at a time. The other is to use "Quick Create."

      The idea with "Quick Create" is that you can create "100s" of products, with one piece of artwork or design on them, all in one process. I don't know about 100s, but you can certainly produce quite a few.

      The "Quick Create" button is on the upper left-hand side of the Products screen. When you click on that button, you're taken to a screen that says "Get Started" on the top left and "Next" on the top right. Just wait a second and a pop-up screen will greet you shortly. It's on this pop-up screen that you will select which products you want to put your artwork on.

      Since you are new to "Quick Create," I suggest that you use the Zazzle defaults. On this pop-up screen, you have a choice, from a drop-down menu, of what you want to create, for instance "All Products" or "Non-Apparel" or "Light Apparel Only," and more categories.

      Once you've made this choice, you select your artwork or design by clicking inside the little box in the center of the screen. This little box says "YOUR IMAGE HERE." When you click on it, you will be taken to you your Zazzle Images page. You can either select one of your previously uploaded images or upload, from your computer, the image you want to place on the Zazzle products you've chosen.

      At the bottom of the little box, you have the choice of whether to use "fit" or "fill" formatting. I won't address these options, as they are choices for an experienced user. You can just skip over them and hit "Create."

      The next screen that comes up (see below) will show all the products you just chose on the pop-up screen. The products will have your artwork or design on them.  At this point, you can delete any of the products that you do not wish to create.

      The words "customize" and "options" are above the image of each product.

      CUSTOMIZE: If you choose customize first, you will be able to adjust the artwork on the product. You may decide to put the artwork on the back of the tee, rather than on its front. You may need to move the placement of the artwork on the product. You may want or need to re-size the artwork. Then, if you want to pick a new style and/or color, you click the options tab on this same screen.

      OPTIONS: If you choose options first, you go to the options screen first, where you can select product style and color. Once you've chosen your color/style of product, you can click on the word "customize." Then you are taken to customization, where you can customize your product (as described above).
      When you have all the products as you want them, you hit the "next" button (you will find a next button at both the top right and bottom right of the screen). Now you go to the final screen where you name your group of products, describe them, and add your tags. Then you select categories that fit your artwork, and add your markup.

      Next is the verification process with letters and numbers that you must enter, to prove that you are an actual human being and not a machine.

      Finally, click "Post It." Your products go automatically into your shop, although they will pass through "in-progress" products. You don't need to do anything else to your products while they are "in-progress." The duration of the "in-progress" status varies from minutes to days, so be patient.

      When you are creating in "Quick Create," DO NOT, UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES, HIT ANY OF THE BROWSER BUTTONS, like "stop" or "refresh."

      If you do hit a browser button, you will temporarily lose all the products that you just created. 

      However, don't despair. Those "lost" products can be found in your "in-progress" products (look for "in-progress" in the left-hand column of the Product screen). At this point, you will need to complete each product on an individual basis.

      Using Zazzle's "Quick Create" is a great way to create many products at once. Just be careful not to use the browser buttons while you are in "Quick Create."

      Sunday, August 9, 2009

      A Basic Cafepress Shop

      Design by Marian Cates
      by Marian Cates

      BASIC vs. PREMIUM offers two types of shops: basic and premium. The basic shop is free, while there's a fee for the premium shop. 

      Other than cost, the big difference between the two types of shop is: 
      • a basic shop can carry only one of each product offered by Cafepress. For example, only one white long-sleeved tee, only one teddy bear, etc.
      • a premium shop may carry multiples of each product.
      At first blush, it seems as if the shopkeeper/designer should use one design for the whole shop. And you can certainly go that way, if you wish. Shopkeepers have succeeded with one-design shops.

      However, you can choose to go in another direction. You can create several-to-many designs for your basic shop. Then you sprinkle your designs over your products.

      Some products cry out for specially designed variations. These include:
      • framed prints
      • greeting and note cards 
      • black apparel
      • clocks
      • hats and caps
      Design by Marian Cates

      For those just starting out with a basic Cafepress shop, here are some ideas for simple designs that can be combined to offer variety in a basic shop:
      • text with a strong design
      • text in a design that includes simple attractive elements (like butterflies)
      • text that will show up well on black apparel
      • text that runs in various directions (on a diagonal, vertical, etc.)
      These creative variations add spice to your shop. They make it more fun for visitors.

      With a one-design shop, your shop is saying, in effect, "One design. Love it or leave it." And unless it's a cut above the rest (a goodly cut), visitors will usually skip ahead with their shopping. In contrast, variations in design catch visitors' attention, so that they pause to look more closely.

      Design by Marian Cates

      You can use your shop introduction to expand your offerings. By stating in the intro that you will gladly put any of the shop designs onto any of the Cafepress products in the shop, you expand your shop further. As visitors check out your products, they know that they can customize at no extra cost. You can say, for instance, in the intro,

      "You'll find a variety of designs in this shop. We are glad to CUSTOMIZE for you by placing your favorite design(s) on the product(s) you want to purchase."

      Design by Marian Cates

      You can further increase customization by offering to include:
      • someone's name
      • someone's initials
      • a date that is significant to someone
      • someone's favorite quote 
      And, voila!, simply through offering design variations, you've transformed your basic shop into a visually interesting, more complex shop. The more variations, the more creative juice for thirsty visitors, drawing them into your shop to get a taste of your artwork.

      Sunday, July 26, 2009

      Imagekind's New Storefront

      An Update
      by Marian Cates

      The online gallery,, has added greatly to their visual appeal. They're calling their new features a "storefront."

      All paying Imagekind artists have the option to use one of three templates (or use their coding knowledge to create something  they like better). These templates can be modified. They also added Google Analytics and Google Adsense.

      The new features of Imagekind's "storefront" add more zest to an artist's site. They have three templates from which you can choose. Plus, you can customize the templates, selecting different colors, fonts, etc. 

      If you're knowledgeable about html and CSS, you have more options open to you. However, for non-coders like myself, it may be wise to use the templates "as is." 

      The next time you go to Imagekind, take the option, on the artist's profile page, to "Shop My Store."

      Bulldog by Marian Cates

      Bulldog by Marian Cates
      Click for prints, canvases & various products

      Burrowing Owl by Marian Cates

      Burrowing Owl by Marian Cates
      Click for prints and canvases & products

      Jack Sprat Mother Goose Rhyme by Marian Cates, from a vintage illustration

      Jack Sprat Mother Goose Rhyme by Marian Cates, from a vintage illustration
      Click for prints, canvases & products

      Robin Hood by Marian Cates, from a vintage illustration