Creating Ms. Deal

When I create artwork to be placed on Zazzle products, usually it is simply that: I draw a picture, scan it, tweak it ever-so-slightly, and begin placing it on a range of products. When I came up with the idea of Ms. Deal though, it all became a true project, with evolving concepts and multiple parts required for completion. What started as an idea for a can / bottle cooler only, eventually became several distinct drawings, mixed-and-matched on a small collection of products, and even a “backstory” for the products in question! Even my Star Back Playing Cards Set, which took a lot of thought and effort to bring to completion, was not nearly as expansive as the Ms. Deal project.

Ms. Deal - Assembled, colored pencil drawings by Darren Olsen at The Draw

“Ms. Deal” – Assembled
© 2016 Darren Olsen

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“Moonlit Dreams” and Product Inspirations

One basic approach to selling on Zazzle, is simply to put a drawing or other work on as many products as possible. That way, the effort of producing a design is maximized in terms of the number of items added to one’s store, and, hence, to the Zazzle market place at large. Not everyone does this (for instance, some Zazzlers specialize in one product type only), but many do, including, usually, myself. And when a given design truly works fine on many different product types, it is not simply about adding more items at once; it is about offering people what one hopes are all good and worthy products.

Sometimes though, certain products in particular inspire a design, leading to “product inspired” designing in contrast to the “design first” way. This can be just one product in particular, and in fact, I have a “Few of a Kinds” category collection in my store for this very reason (well, more precisely, because I want to occasionally design for very specific items). Other times, this can rather be a subset of products, because the underlying inspiration, perhaps, is an intended use or purpose, one for which only certain products apply.

Moonlit Dreams, colored pencil drawing by Darren Olsen at The Draw

“Moonlit Dreams”
© 2015 Darren Olsen

It was for such a “purpose / product inspiration” that I drew, for instance, “Moonlit Dreams”. I was thinking of something to go on a nightlight in particular, and as nightlights are often useful to kids and babies, I decided on something suitable for a nursery. From there though, with a design so “baby” in nature, I soon saw how nice “Moonlit Dreams” could be on certain other products suited to nurseries, or, even, to some suitable for baby showers as well.

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Tricky Designing with “Star Back” Playing Cards

Most of my drawings to date have been fairly straightforward to complete, including the finalized, digital images they ultimately become. Not counting any thought given to a design beforehand, usually I just sit down and work on a drawing–really figuring out then and there precisely what it is that I want to do–and, I complete it, sometimes trying out particular techniques along the way. Perhaps then I end up spending, say, three to five hours on a drawing, or maybe more if I have to work on it into a second day. Then I just have to scan it and crop the resulting digital image, after which I go about posting products and writing descriptions and such. (The latter of which, granted, can be a time-consuming and even tedious process.)

When I decided to design a playing card back though, things got substantially more difficult (particularly for a first time around with such a project), and I needed to rely a bit more both on my image editing program, GIMP, but also on my ability to think up alternate methods for achieving my objectives. Whether it was how to ensure symmetry across halves or how to draw such fine and finely detailed lines, or, simply confronting unforeseen issues, creating my Star Back Playing Cards became a really long, but instructive, experience.

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