Browsing Tag

Design Challenges


Everyone’s Talking About our Art Contest

April 13, 2012

If you haven’t entered our Wall Art Design Challenge yet, there’s still 2 more weeks to enter!

Chris Olson of Momathon Blog says, “Now is the perfect time to enter your original artwork.”

The Shillington Design School thinks it’s a great opportunity for students.

The Harlem Arts Alliance encourages New Yorkers to apply.

Megan Patrick from How Design did a round up of her favorite art and encouraged all creative types to enter.

And our guest judge, James Gulliver Hancock tweeted, feel like making some wall art? enter here – and I’ll decide if it’s good enough 🙂

So what are you waiting for? We’re accepting any work you already have in your portfolio, and you could win $500, see your work sold as a limited edition print at UncommonGoods, get a one-on-one critique with our guest judges and more.

We can’t wait to see your artwork!


Summer Picnic Design Challenge

February 29, 2012

It might be cold outside but we have summertime on the brain at UncommonGoods! We are dreaming of backyard cookouts, sandy beach blankets, frisbee in the park, driving with the windows down and picnics with friends. We can almost smell the barbecue sauce.

Why are we so summer crazy? We are very excited for our first design challenge of 2012. We have teamed up with SustyParty and Recyclebank to search for the cutest, funnest, most delicious graphic that will be stamped onto sustainable plates and cups to furnish your summertime meals. Designs will be selected by UncommonGoods merchants, our Voting Tool community and an impressive panel of guest judges, including Diana Yen, of The Jewels of NY.

The winning designer will receive $500. Find out contest rules and how to enter here.


Designs that Shine: Uncommon Design Challenge Winners

February 20, 2012

There’s only one more week before our 2012 design challenges begin. Before we announce the next big call for entries, we’re taking a moment to share a few of the success stories from our 2011 challenges!

Although we could only award the grand prize to one winner in each challenge, many finalists also became uncommon goods. The Uncommon Jewelry Design Challenge help us discover some fantastic designers.

Wesla Bay Weller’s Cymbal of Love Pendant received more votes from our community than any other entry and was chosen by our judges to receive the grand prize. Made from recycled cymbals and guitar strings, and hung from a gold-plated bronze chain, the pendant is a great gift for music lovers and musicians.

Voters–and our judges–loved the recycled materials story, the combination of textures, and simple but meaningful design. Now available for purchase, Wesla’s piece is a hit. One reviewer told us, “I am a drummer and received this necklace as a gift. It’s very well-made with adequate length and can be worn with a variety of outfits. I get many compliments every time I wear it.”

The necklace is on it’s way to becoming a best seller. In fact, Wesla’s design has been such a hit, a whole page of our latest catalog is devoted to her story!

And the jewelry design challenge runners up that became uncommon goods? Maryann Dolzani’s Custom I Am…Pendant is inspiring women to be true to themselves (we also recently decided to feature additional charms, since customers pointed out that “I am” often more than one thing), Deb Soromenho’s Heart and Arrow Lariat makes a great gift for someone you love, Tina Tang’s Customized Name Necklace and Bracelet let you celebrate your name or a word with special meaning to you, and Irene Cheung’s Teardrop Stacking Rings are a unique take on the double-band look.

Lee from NH loves her I Am necklace so much she told us, “I absolutely love it! I haven’t taken it off since. I like the sound it makes when it jingles…Came really fast and in a little brown sack. I think it’s beautiful and very meaningful. I bought a couple extra charms to put on it.”

Our first design challenge winner from 2011 is also getting some great feedback. We teamed up with City Harvest, a non-profit organization that helps to feed New York City’s hungry and asked illustrators to help us create a new Plate with a Purpose.

Graphic designer Michael White’s winning plate design was called a “Very cool design. Great gift for charitable minded and design minded people who like to entertain,”by Dinah in Atlanta. Mo in Washington, DC said, “Great design, lovely color and it makes a great gift.”

Michael’s modern skyline design is a warm depiction of city living. His clean lines, creativity, and message won over our community and our judges. Now $5 of every City Harvest Plate with a Purpose directly benefits New York’s hungry men, women, and children and Michael’s design continues to get five star reviews.

Our Ceramics Design Challenge winner is also getting some wonderful feedback.

Tasha McKelvey’s petite stoneware Birdie Mini Dish was chosen to win for its functionality, unique design, and craftsmanship. To create the little bowls, Tasha presses the clay against a century-old barn door to give it a texture imitating the grain of aged wood.

This dish makes a great gift for many occasions. And it’s not just limited to a jewelry holder. The little tray can also be used as a spoon holder after stirring coffee or tea.

“My wife could not believe that her husband could find something so neat for her,” a customer told us. “Great find!”

We loved the Birdie Dish so much we also decided to carry Tasha’s Tiny Mushroom Ring Dish.

Tasha wasn’t the only designer to find success through the pottery challenge,either. Semi-finalist Mitzi Davis’ Bird and Cloud Dinnerware Set was chosen for the unique shape, imaginative imagery, and off-beat practicality of the bowl and plate.

Another set, Kathy Gorg’s Calla Lily Pitcher and Cups also entered our assortment. We love the symbolism of the calla lily (purity and innocence), and that the set makes a great wedding gift.

From gorgeous handmade jewelry, to fun plates for a good cause, to creative ceramics, we found some great new products through our 2011 design challenges. We’re also thrilled to welcome such talented designers into our family of artists!

Will your unique design be our next uncommon good? Stay tuned for our next call for entries!


The Search Is Over

December 1, 2011

In November we put out the call for hand-printed holiday cards, and of the dozens that entered, we picked 14 beautifully letterpressed and silk-screened cards we thought would be perfect for holiday shoppers. By Cyber Monday, these 14 finalists had received almost 4,000 votes and it was time for the judges to pick a winner from the top five.

The moment guest judge Melinda Morris picked up Dolce Press’ Word Search Holiday Cards, she knew the search was over.

Senior Graphic Designer Rebecca Paull Marshall agreed.

Melinda, co-owner of Lion in the Sun, a custom card and paper shop in Park Slope, Brooklyn, loved the Word Search cards for their broad appeal. Who doesn’t love puzzles?

And voters agreed, saying these cards would be perfect for all ages and all holiday celebrations. One voter said, “WOW these cards are awesome! It’s always really hard for me and my wife to find cards that work for Hanukkah and Christmas, these ones definitely do the trick.”

Rebecca, who studied letterpress at the San Francisco Center for the Book, was impressed by their technique. She liked how you could feel the grooves of the letterpress in each card, because it’s a great reminder of the skill and art that goes into making them. “The letterpress added a level of sophistication to the simplicity of the game,” Rebecca added.

Alex of Dolce Press told us, “We like to keep things simple.” And it’s true! We love the clean and modern look of the Word Search cards.

But don’t let that fool you. Each card is hand printed on a Vandercook Cylinder Proof Press and each color is printed one at a time using hand-mixed inks, that allow Alex and her colleagues to achieve colors that don’t exist in the Pantone spectrum. Plus the cards come in an cleverly hand-printed box.

If you can’t wait to share these cards with friends and family, they are now available! Don’t worry, each set comes with an answer key, so your friends and family won’t be stumped for too long!


Comments of the Week: Holiday Card Design Challenge!

November 25, 2011

We’ve been getting into the holiday spirit, and our Holiday Card Design Challenge is helping to make the season bright! We selected our favorite screen printed and letterpress designs and now our semi-finalists are up for voting. There’s still time to leave your feedback and cast your votes for your favorite messages of holiday cheer, but first, check out what our community is saying about these festive greeting cards!

Semi-finalist Laurie Okamura’s Porcupine and Reindeer cards, for example, are getting some great feedback.

While Lisa and Mary Margaret love the designs, they see these cards working better for another holiday.

Clara, however, thinks they’re perfect for a special couple on Christmas.

Rebecca also expresses love for the designs in our voting app this week, but isn’t a fan of the estimated prices.

After seeing this comment on her Fa La La La La & Pa Rum Pum Pum cards, artist Katie Daniels stepped in to say a few words about her process.

Many voters, such as Elinore, agree that handmade cards are worth spending a little extra.

Barbara expressed a similar sentiment for for Blackbird Letterpress’ Yuletide Yeti.

We totally agree, and can’t wait to find out which design wins! Would you send these little pieces of art to your loved ones this year? Visit our community voting app before Monday, November 28 at Midnight to help us pick which designs will go on to the final round. The top five cards with the most votes will be presented to our judges for the opportunity to win $500 and a vendor contract with UncommonGoods.

Happy voting!

The Uncommon Life

Why Letterpress?

October 26, 2011

If you haven’t heard yet, we’re hosting a holiday card challenge this year! Entries are due November 11, and you lucky shoppers, will be able to pick up fabulous handmade holiday cards this December to go along with your holiday orders.

Why handmade?

Today, everything’s going digital, but in the world of cards and print, we’re seeing a resurgence in traditional print techniques like letterpress, offset lithography and screen printing.

We want to celebrate this revival of one-of-a-kind handmade cards, and offer you the chance to send a really special season’s greetings to the folks you love. Printing cards on a letterpress, or using any traditional printmaking technique, is labor intensive. But when you hold a one-of-a-kind card in your hands, you know the work has paid off.

Toronto based Trip Print Press was featured on NOTCOT last week. Here’s a bit more about what they do.

Trip Print Press & The Making Of FreshSox from Brought To You By … on Vimeo.

Know a printmaking enthusiast? Spread the word, and tell everyone you know: holiday card entries are due November 11!

Maker Stories

Udon Noodles and Buddha Bowls

September 30, 2011

Our first ever Uncommon Ceramics Design Challenge is underway! You can enter your unique creations by Oct. 31 for a chance to win $500 and a vendor contract with UncommonGoods.

Since we’re so excited to see all of your entries, we couldn’t wait to start talking ceramics! Copywriter Nina Mozes got the conversation going with Élan McPherson to learn more about how the designer develops her sleek, functional pieces.

It’s immediately apparent to anyone who encounters Élan McPherson that she is an inspired artist who looks at lemons and sees lemonade. And if you’ve ever held one of her bowls and felt how perfectly it fits in your hands, you know that Élan’s artistic goal is to take ordinary objects and bring out the beauty and utility in them.

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