Customized Graduation Invitations

grad_invitesYour little one has reached a milestone in their life; they’re graduating. (I guess they’re not so little anymore). You’re a proud happy parent who wants to celebrate. That means a ceremony, party, food, family, friends, fun, music, and maybe even a disco ball. It also means that you need invitations. If your family is huge like mine, then you will need more than a few invites to cover everyone including friends. Several sites offer stellar options to showcase your graduate i.e. Tiny Prints (love their style choices), Shutterfly, or Zazzle. For my family though, we went a alternate less expensive route.

Both of my cousins are graduating from high school the same year, so as a gift to them I designed their invitations. I also took the pictures for them. We had our own little photo-shoot in a local park and raided the dollar store beforehand for quirky props. A large amount of invites were needed and the reason why it was cheaper was because I did everything myself and I used an online printing service, specifically Vistaprint. Instead of paying $1 or more per card, I was able to order my design in bulk paying around 22 cents per card. This price could vary depending on what specials Vistaprint has available. I also added envelope seals, using elements from my design.

Note: Vistaprint has their own section for graduation invitations. This is NOT what I’m referring to. I sized my invites according to their Rack Card specifications in Marketing Materials and uploaded my design. You could use their Post Card specs as well.

Do I recommend doing everything yourself?
If you are artistically inclined with a photographic eye, then I say go for it! Do you have to choose Vistaprint? No. Check out Printaholic’s Top Online Printing Services. However, I usually get great deals with Vistaprint (check for online coupons), excellent customer service, and quality results. We had so much fun together taking photographs for the invitations, that alone makes them extra special to me. If you do personally take the pictures, keep these basic tips in mind from PC Magazine and be a little adventurous. Don’t be afraid to attempt a weird position, prop, or pose. It could be a dud or photo gold, but you won’t know until you try.

Let’s face it though, not everyone enjoys taking pictures. Many parents will opt for a professional photographer. Consider hiring a Graphic Designer as well. He/she could provide you with an even more customized invitation. Depending on the amount you need and the designer’s fee, it could work out to cost around the same as using a site like Tiny Prints. If you decide to take pictures yourself and hire a designer, it is very important that you provide them with high resolution images. Make sure your camera is at it’s highest or second highest quality setting.

Whatever option you choose, Congrats to You and Your Grad!

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Vistaprint Design Challenge Entries

For those of you who don’t know, Vistaprint is like the business marketing company for small businesses. Their services include printed marketing materials, promotional products, copyrighting, websites/web-hosting, and postcard mailing. I like to think of it as your online one-stop-business-shop. They cater to many business types, so their design models are quite extensive, but even though they have their own creative staff they do recognize that there are other artists out there with ideas. That’s why they recently hosted a Design Challenge (August 4th, 2010 – October 4th, 2010).

You could submit as many original entries as you wanted for either business cards or t-shirt designs. Each accepted business card entry earns you $250 and each accepted t-shirt entry is $150.
“Once at least one design is accepted, you’ll also be eligible for $20,000 in additional bonus prizes:
* Grand Prize ($5,000) – 2 Winners
* Best of Theme Prize ($1,000) – 6 Winners
* Best “Freestyle” Prize ($1,000) – 4 Winners”

I chose to submit only business cards. Unfortunately, I didn’t leave myself much time so I created 5 entries in about 18 hours. The themes were Bold, Fashion & Accessories, Health & Wellness, and Other. I either used photographs that I had taken, graphics created by other artists free for commercial and personal use, or simple objects that I could create and modify in Photoshop. Each entry required a back, front, and accent image. The accent images were a challenge for me because when I originally started thinking about the designs, I only considered the front. Making the back relate to the front was easy, but then I had to make a usable logo that related too. Below are my submissions. They are slightly different than the original entries because in the competition the text had to be added on the Vistaprint site and they don’t give you a copy of the final image (or I can’t find it).

Here are my accent images.

Lessons learned for next time: start earlier and consider ALL parts of the design. Vistaprint has created a gallery on flick’r of the approved entries. Check it out!

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