When I started my Cats of Etsy project, I had in mind a few things. I wanted, obviously, to make everyone smile, but I also wanted to learn a few things for my products, brand, and shop. I decided I’d write a how-to post for each thing I learned along the way.

I knew making something in bulk would force me to:

  1. Develop an efficient process for producing in quantity
  2. Learn to schedule my time appropriately, and
  3. Turn handmade labels into something I could make quickly


Last year, when I was getting ready for my first craft fair, I needed to bring more than just original drawings. I wanted, however, to bring something original, personal, and handmade, the qualities that I pride in my pet portraits.

I decided to make my first cat magnets. I didn’t print out a label for the packaging. I actually handmade each label individually. I think I was able to make about 50 magnets for the fair, which meant 50 handmade labels. Whoa.

So for the Cats of Etsy project, I needed to do things differently.

The first thing I did was take Jon Contino‘s skillshare class, Illustration and Lettering: A Hands-on Approach to Label Design. I love skillshare classes. They are super cheap and motivate me to get going. Jon’s class, though, was one of the best. His presentations have hands-on demonstrations of his process. I love watching other artists at work.

Here’s how I made my labels.

Determine the size of your label

Set your cardboard backing and cello bag on top of a piece of white paper. Outline in pencil the size of the label that you want. Use the cello envelope to judge the size.


Sketch out your ideas

Draw a bunch of rectangles of that size and sketch out a few ideas. This will help you determine what looks best with your product.

cat label sketch

Ink the label

Once you’ve figured out a general design, sketch the out what you want in pencil. If you’ve gotten it down in pencil, use your pen to trace all of the lines. Check the size against your product.


Scan your label

Before scanning your label, use your eraser to erase all of the pencil lines. Don’t worry about getting it perfect. After you scan it, you can clean it up more. Set your scanner to at least 300 dpi.

Create print file

Open a new document in photoshop for the size of the paper you plan to print on.  Next open the scan of your label. Drop the label onto your blank new document. Hit command J to copy the label layer and add as many as you want or can on the print paper size. Be sure to remember that your labels will be folded and have a back side.

photoshop labels

Print labels

I printed mine at a local Staples on blue cardstock paper.  The print job turned out surprisingly well.


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