When one ridiculous thing leads to another

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I recently took a class in Skillshare about how to use print-on-demand services to publish art. I was familiar with RedBubble but the instructor brough up several other services that I wasn't familiar with such as Society6 and TeePublic. In going through the class, I realized that I probably should have researched the audiences for all of these services more as each had it's own unique following. Indeed, I had posted many of my photographic works on RedBubble but after taking this class, came to realize that RedBubble caters to a much younger audience than one that might appreciate fine art. Society6, on the other hand, really catered more to the fine art community. So, off I went to open a Society6 account. In uploading my photographs to their site, I started to think that I really hadn't used any of these services as much as I could have been. What led me to this conclusion was candy corn. 

Okay, so maybe I should back up a step. About a week ago, I decided to send Halloween cards to our nephew and nieces. To our youngest nieces, I wanted to send a batch of resin jewels made from leftover resin projects. Of course, I couldn't just end it there. There had to be a compelling story that went along with these jewels. So, I wrote a story about a ghost cat that rewarded kind families with gems. After writing the story, I felt that it just wasn't Halloween enough. It needed special stationary. Off I went to the craft store to pick up some specialty paper. Believe it or not, finding something that specific was much more difficult than I expected. Point in case, I found nothing that would work. Everything that was Halloween-themed was fully patterned without a blank area in the middle for printable text. So, after that frustrating experience, my maker brain jumped into overdrive and suggested, "Why don't you just make your own? After all, you are paying for Adobe Illustrator." And I mentally responded, "Right on, maker brain! I should make my own."  The only thing was, my AI skills were not even close to graphic designer level yet. Could I actually pull this off?

I had to learn a few things about creating repeating patterns and the like but thankfully, Adobe had a pretty decent tutorial section on their website. Between that and a couple of YouTube videos, I was able to achieve the look I was going for. A little character design here and there and the addition of some stock photo bats and pretty soon, I had something rather cute. By the way, if you'd like a copy of this for your own Halloween fun, here's a free PDF! Long story short, the girls loved the jewels. They totally didn't buy my ghost cat story, though. 

Candy Corn FTW!

I then started to think about the characters decorating my stationary. Since Halloween was fast approaching, maybe I could turn my original candy corn cartoons into stickers or something. Turns out that not only can you sell stickers on RedBubble but you can also combine multiple designs into a sticker pack. Rock on! It sounded so simple that I immediately had to try it. Looking at the sticker sizes that were offered on the site, I scaled my candy corn designs to what I thought was the perfect size and uploaded away. It turns out, it wasn't that simple. Is it ever, though? I had forgotten about a little thing called image resolution. Because my designs were so tiny (I mean, they were candy corn, after all) they weren't scaling properly for all the sticker sizes offered on the site. In the end, I wound up having to scale the design up to 70" x 70" in order to enable all the sticker pack sizes. It made sense because if you try to take an image that is tiny to begin with, it will inevitably go all pixelly and weird when enlarged. That's exactly what was happening here and RedBubble's system worked that out on its own, automatically eliminating those larger sticker options. Additionally, after uploading all of my candy corn designs, I noticed that their gently rounded off corners were now back to being more pointy and triangular. Here's where my lack of design knowledge in AI really started to show. I wasn't sure if there was some setting that would allow me to change all of the candy corn triangles simultaneously so I wound up going back and rounding off each corner individually on all of the englarged designs, one at a time. I more or less had to eyeball this so I know that they are probably a bit inconsistent. If someone knows what I'm talking about here, I'd love to hear what I should have done instead so please leave me a comment below. That out of the way, I then had to re-upload every design, five in total, and re-check all of their settings. But, the hard work paid off because now I had a small army of adorable candy corns in my store. Of course, this then spiraled into even more design mischief.

My attention then turned to Maker Comet's cat mascots, Panther and Precious. I couldn't resist. I mean, who doesn't like cat memes? Plus, I got to dust off my old friend, the drawing tablet.

Huion HS64, Chips Edition

Some clever photo editing later and I had a bunch of new RedBubble products that made me absolutely giggly.   

Say what?!
Just say no!
Sorry, were you talking to me?

I honestly don't mind too much if these don't sell. The process of putting them together was 100% amusing to my inner five-year-old. I mean, who wouldn't want a shower curtain with a giant picture of my grumpy cat's face on it? The moral of this story is make because it brings you joy and it might lead you to some truly unexpected results. 

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