Christmas Card Winning Scholarship Design Turns from Doodle to Dazzling! An Inside Look at the Process – Part 1

How exactly do we take the simple line drawing submitted by Lauren Ondreko, winner of our 3rd annual Create-A-Greeting-Card $10,000 Scholarship contest, and turn it into a potential best seller in our Christmas cards line? You are about to get a rare glimpse inside the process of how a leading publisher of business Christmas cards (yes, that would be us) works some holiday magic!

The contest was a very exciting one this year; with so many talented student artists and photographers submitting their work, the decision was a difficult one. After much deliberation, we finally chose the design submitted by Lauren Ondreko from Friendswood High School in Friendswood, Texas.

Lauren’s artwork, a beautiful line drawing filled with symbols of the holiday season, turned out to prove a somewhat controversial choice as our winner of the $10,000 prize. It was a truly fine piece of art that just so happened to be submitted on a sheet of loose leaf paper! The submission style of the art work caused a bit of a stir, but in the end it was the design that won, and not the medium on which it was received.

Here at the Gallery Collection there is a wonderful creative team who, year after year, successfully turns out some of the most beautiful and original Christmas cards in the greeting cards market today. So just what did they do to this winning doodle to make it into one of our holiday cards that people everywhere will want to purchase?

It all started with the design itself. The original design received a Hi-Res scanning into our system. Once the image had been scanned, it was cleaned up with a graphics program. This takes all of the fine line work and makes it smooth and neat for reproduction.

Here is the original artwork submitted by Lauren for the scholarship contest.

CAGC Scholarship Contest Original Artwork

This is what Lauren’s drawing looked like after it had been scanned into the system, but before the image had been cleaned up.

CAGC Scholarship Contest Scanned Artwork

The artwork cleaning process is an important one. Sharpening the image makes the art suitable for reproduction, which in turn makes a beautiful holiday card. Without this process the image could appear rough or blurry, and would be unfit for use. Once the image had been properly taken care of the production person, or Imager, got to work their own magic on the design!

The next step of the process will follow the design as it moved through the Imager’s hands. Lauren’s art was ready to begin the creative journey of colors, spacing, and everything else that would make it the dazzling Christmas card it was destined to become. Stay tuned for Part 2 and Part 3, where we will give you the inside scoop on just how that happened!

3rd Annual Create-a-Greeting-Card Scholarship Winner Sends Artistic Thanks

When our 3rd Annual Create-a-Greeting-Card Scholarship winner Lauren Ondreko was announced, it was met with much celebration and a little bit of controversy as well. Lauren created a beautiful line drawing that features all the things that make the Christmas season great – snowmen, presents, ornaments, holly, and even stars. The drawing will make a perfect personalized Christmas cards design, but it was submitted on a piece of loose-leaf. That fact caused quite a buzz after the winner was announced. However, her design was graceful and truly in the spirit of the season. Lauren’s artwork really knocked it out of the park.

Lauren is a senior at Friendswood High School in Friendswood, Texas. She is the first high school student to win the scholarship contest. Past winners have all been college students, so Lauren is breaking new ground! Her Christmas card creation made her a winner, but she also is planning on pursuing a degree in Elementary Education/Special Needs, so it looks like her future students are going to be winners as well!

Lauren isn’t just a wonderful artist; she is also incredibly gracious. When Lauren discovered that she had won the scholarship, she created handmade, customized thank you cards. She sent these lovely pieces of art to our company, and everyone was thrilled by just how talented Lauren truly is. These thank you cards feature the same type of beautiful line work that won her the scholarship in the first place. They also showcase what a thoughtful and determined young woman Lauren is. Getting the chance to see some of her designs on those thank you cards also made everyone very excited for the Christmas card she designed.

Lauren Ondreko, the 3rd annual greeting card scholarship winner, designed this thank you note.
Lauren Ondreko, the 3rd annual greeting card scholarship winner, designed this thank you note.
Lauren also wrote a gracious personalized message on the inside of her thank you card.
Lauren also wrote a gracious personalized message on the inside of her thank you card.

The Create-a-Greeting-Card Scholarship Contest has many rewards. Lauren received a $10,000 scholarship, and Friendswood High School also received $1,000. But more than that, Lauren’s artwork will be made into gorgeous Christmas cards that people all over the world will be sending to their friends and family. The chance to have your artwork produced for people across the globe to see is a thrill for any artist. Lauren’s holiday cards will spread cheer to everyone, and that prize is just as important and exciting as the scholarship itself.

The Create-a-Greeting-Card Scholarship Contest gives young artists the chance to have their artwork produced on beautiful, finely crafted greeting cards as well as a chance to further their education. Lauren Ondreko’s design will be made into stunning personalized Christmas cards, and some of the burden of paying for college will be lifted. We couldn’t be more pleased with our choice, and Lauren couldn’t be more pleased either. So if you are thinking about entering the scholarship contest, go for it! Lauren is certainly happy that she did.

An Insider’s Look at the Judging of our Annual Create-A-Greeting-Card $10,000 Scholarship Contest

Well it didn’t take too long after we announced this year’s winner of our 3rd Annual Create-A-Greeting Card $10,000 Scholarship Contest to start hearing from some folks who found our choice a bit perplexing or found some other little nuance in the design that they took issue with.

That’s ok. We get it. We realized when we pick this year’s winner that there might be a few lifted eye brows given some of the other excellent finalists also in the running. In the infamous words of Ricky Ricardo do we have some “splainin’ to do?”

Well, yes and no. 🙂 You see, ultimately it is up to our judging panel, and believe us, they spend many hours behind closed doors, drinking way too much coffee and Diet Coke trying to whittle down the choices while taking many different things into consideration during the process.

So just what are those factors that lurk in the minds of our astute judges? Well…it turns out there are some obvious things that are considered and perhaps some not so obvious things. So if you are one of the people thinking of entering our next scholarship contest and you are smart enough to be reading this, you just might learn something that will be of value to you.

The Judging Criteria (not limited to the following):

1)  Does the design concept seem to “fit” in our existing line of Christmas, Birthday or other All-Occasion designs?

2)  We look for a spark of creativity, something fresh in the card design.

3)  We don’t judge a greeting card design by its cover. Kind of ironic isn’t it? Meaning, we don’t just look at what was submitted to us “as is”. We look at it to see what a design is capable of becoming once in the hands of our expert team who will apply the techniques and treatments we are renowned for such as embossing, bright colored or refractory foils, and maybe a dash of glitter.

4)  The genre in which design is made whether it be a painting, a hand drawn sketch, a photograph…how ever it was created does not play a big factor in the decision making process as proven by this year’s pick. Yes, a simple yet appealing doodle can actually win because we believe we can turn it into a top selling card.

5)  Now, here is the one thing virtually no one might think of that we absolutely must consider! How will this design look in the media in which we advertise? You see, our cards are not sold in stores, so we must rely on our print catalogs and web pages to illustrate the beauty of our greeting cards designs. Even if we think a design is breathtaking, if we don’t think it will translate well into that media then it is likely ruled out.

6)  Last but not least, and this should come as no surprise folks, the design must be original. Not only must it be original but the winner needs to be able to provide us with the final art. So if we find out that a design was a gift from the clip art fairy or somehow created out of some other less than original means, well please understand we simply cannot use it!

Hopefully this will shed some light on how we go about picking the winner of our Create-A-Greeting Card $10,000 Scholarship Contest. So take out a paintbrush, a pencil, a pen or your favorite digital camera and get busy on your chance to design the next top selling Christmas card or All-Occasion design. Good luck to all and thank you to everyone who put the time and effort into our past contests.

*Disclaimer: This blog post is a reflection of the writer’s interpretation of the judging process and in no way changes or amends the scholarship rules. Furthermore, the writer is not a part of the judging panel.

Congratulations to the Winner!

Congratulations to Lauren Ondreko of Friendswood, Texas! She is the winner of our 3rd Annual Create-A-Greeting-Card $10,000 Scholarship Contest! Lauren, a senior at Friendswood High School, created a fun and festive design that we’ll easily be able to convert into a beautiful holiday card. Even though Lauren submitted her work on lined loose-leaf paper, it was done exceptionally well and she submitted a design that is 100% original and unique. Our judges had a tough decision to make as there were so many outstanding entries in the finalist pool. There is a possibility that we may pick one or two additional entries to be converted into greeting cards, and the students who submitted these designs will be compensated for their work.

Here is the design Lauren submitted:

Lauren Ondreko's winning design for the 3rd Annual Create-a-Greeting-Card $10,000 Scholarship Contest
Lauren Ondreko's winning design
for the 3rd Annual
$10,000 Scholarship Contest

The 4th Annual Create-A-Greeting-Card $10,000 Scholarship Contest is officially underway. Be sure to visit the entry page to reacquaint yourself with the rules and guidelines. You may also check out our newly updated winners page to view the designs submitted by our previous winners and to get inspired.

The Finalists have been Chosen

After sorting through the 8,000+ entries received for the 3rd Annual Create-A-Greeting-Card $10,000 Scholarship Contest, our judges picked 143 designs to qualify as finalists. We’ve created a slideshow that displays all of the finalists’ designs, so please be sure to check it out.

If you are a finalist, we encourage you to share the good news with your family and friends. We’ve made each slide an individual link, so you can email the URL to your greatest fans. Link information is located in the white box below each slide. If you or someone you know has a blog or website, we’ve also provided some basic code to make linking to your slide as easy as pie!

After the slideshow was put up, our judges found out that a few of the designs were not original. Please note that those designs were disqualified from the finalist pool and removed from the slideshow. Originality is a key factor for this scholarship contest. Please keep this in mind when you submit your entry for the 4th Annual Create-A-Greeting-Card $10,000 Scholarship Contest.

Tips for Getting Your Greeting Card Entry Considered by our Judges

I am on the scholarship committee, and I have seen things that make me wonder why anyone would enter a contest when they have no chance of winning. Now, that is a very negative thought to have, but really people! Here are a few tips that will increase your chances of having your entry considered.

1) Know your subject matter. We are a business-oriented greeting cards company. We will not be putting your sexy, half-dressed girlfriend on the front of our corporate holiday cards or business birthday cards. We don’t make Valentine’s Day cards or Halloween cards. Do some preliminary research by going through the website, and get a feel for what we are all about.

2) Submit original artwork. We are not looking for photocopies of our greeting cards or our competitors’ cards. Be original. Be creative. And be unique!

3) Don’t wait until the last minute. Waiting until last minute will not increase your chances of winning; in fact, it is risky because you may miss the deadline. Also, you are putting yourself in a worse position by not giving the judges time to examine your work when there is a sea of other last minute entries…and there are many!

4) Read and follow the criteria for judging. The criteria is posted on the scholarship page of our site (, and they could not be clearer! Here’s the list for you to view:

  1. Overall aesthetic appeal
  2. Quality of execution
  3. Creativity and originality
  4. Successful incorporation of design elements
  5. Appropriateness for use as a greeting card
  6. Attractiveness to The Gallery Collection’s corporate and consumer customers
  7. Suitability as a design in Prudent’s Gallery Collection greeting cards line (see website for current designs)

And finally, good luck! I have seen some remarkable talent coming in. Please keep up the good work!!

Free Downloads of College Knowledge: 101 Tips by David Schoem

In association with and the University of Michigan Press, The Gallery Collection is sponsoring free downloads of the book, College Knowledge: 101 Tips, by David Schoem. The free downloads have been made possible by, a digital publisher that sends books to readers in installments via email or RSS feed.

College Knowledge: 101 Tips

David Schoem is Faculty Director of the Michigan Community Scholars Program at the University of Michigan. Through his years of experience as an educator, he has written this book with the hopes of providing guidance to students entering their first years of college. His book is filled with advice, success stories, and anecdotal tips on how to make the transition into college as seamless as possible.

If you’re interested in signing up for free digital installments of College Knowledge: 101 Tips, please visit

The Gallery Collection recognizes how important students are to the future of America, and we hope this book will be a beneficial resource to those who read it.

iPod Winners!!!!

Congratulations to the winners of the Apple 8GB iPod Nanos from the pool of scholarship finalists :

Bingjie Leng from Lutherville-Timonium, MD. Bingjie is 17 years old and attends Dulaney High School.

Sybil Lam from Pleasanton, CA. Sybil is 19 years old and attends New York University.

Andrea Binz from Ballwin, MO. Andrea is 15 years old and attends Visitation Academy.

Georgeta Ionescu from Panama City, FL. Georgeta is 18 years old and attends Bay High School.

Brittany Rugh from Carilisle, PA. Brittany is 18 years old and attends the Art Institute of York, PA.

We will be contacting the iPod winners shortly. And remember that the $10,000 winner will be announced on March 15th.

Holiday Card Aspirations

My friend Lisa is a fine arts student who dreams of becoming a Holiday card designer. I have been trying to find a way to help her use her skills, or maybe just learn how to get some recognition for her designs which could help her get a job after college. So when I heard of the Create-A-Greeting-Card Scholarship contest, I was really excited to tell her.

Lisa’s driving force is the support she receives from her family, friends, and professors, and she couldn’t wait to get started on her entry for the scholarship. Lisa designed a beautiful card depicting a Christmas inspired living room with a Christmas tree and stockings and greeting cards hanging from the mantle. It was a true work of art, and she told me that she felt like an actual artist and not just a student doing another assignment.

For Lisa, creating an entry for the scholarship contest validated her aspiration of becoming a greeting card designer. She submitted her design and now she just has to wait to see if her Christmas card is chosen as the winner of the $10,000 scholarship prize, which would help tremendously in paying for her college tuition. After all – it isn’t everyday that you find out about a scholarship such as this one.

Most Important Create A Greeting Card Contest Rule: Never Lose Faith in Yourself

The prospect of winning any scholarship contest, including a greeting card contest, is always an exhilarating notion…especially when the grand prize pertains to dollar signs. I’ll never forget a contest that I won when I was in middle school. My entire grade had to create an advertisement for a local restaurant. The winner would receive a $500 cash prize along with his or her ad featured in the community newspaper. $500 to a middle school student was a lot of money and I was set on winning that grand prize.

After receiving notice of the contest in school, I went straight home and began working diligently on my advertisement. I set up shop on my dining room table with construction paper, scissors, markers, colored pencils, and glue. After several hours of tracing, cutting, shading, and pasting, my masterpiece was complete. I was extremely proud of my creation and couldn’t wait to mail it in.

Over the next few weeks, I saw what some of my other classmates had created for the contest and I started losing faith in my design. My friend Josh took drawing lessons and his advertisement looked professionally done (and now that I think of it, it probably was). My other friend Dan drew cartoons in his free time and I thought his entry put mine to shame.

But low and behold, my name was announced as the grand prize winner! I spent so much time and energy doubting my work that I forgot about my own true creative potential. Sure enough, my advertisement was featured in the community newspaper and I received my $500 reward (only $50 of which I was allowed to keep because my mom made me put the rest in my savings account).

Often times with contests, it’s easy to think that you’re not going to win. So you doubt your own work or you don’t even bother entering the contest at all. But it’s crucial not to lose site of what’s really important – hard work pays off, so never lose faith in your intelligence or creativity.

So take my lesson to heart and go ahead and submit that entry to our 1st annual Create A Greeting Card Scholarship Contest because it is good enough! The entry can be as simple as a breath-taking photo of a winter scene or animals, or you can further showcase your creativeness with a more intricate original design for a particular occasion or the Holiday season.