Cover Creator by Gartner Studios

Reported by Heather Strenzwilk

Founded in 1998, Gartner Studios has quickly grown into a respected source for wedding, baby, party and business stationary. Housed in a former post office, the Stillwater, MN based company has several lines of pre-printed and print-your-own products.

While shopping for school supplies last summer I discovered Cover Creator: Create Your Own Composition Book Cover at a local Staples store. While I loved the idea of creating a custom cover for a composition book (my favorite place to journal), I was a bit put off by the $4.95 price tag per kit. However, when I visited the same Staples store after Christmas and the kits were 50 cents I decided to splurge and buy one. Gartner Studios also offers similar kits for customizing pocket folders and spiral bound notebooks.

Each kit contains one college ruled composition notebook (or folder or spiral bound notebook), two laser ready peel-off labels and one test sheet. The illustrated product packaging describes the simple five step process to create your own custom covers. The creation process includes combining pre-made artwork with your own words and photos for a one of a kind design. Access to a computer, the internet and a color printer are required.

Step 1: Involves opening the package to remove the test and label sheets. (Got this one no problem.)

Step 2: Register on the website. You’ll need to provide your name, email address and create a password. (Very quick registration process- I used an old Yahoo account even though they have an opt-out for mailings and special offers.)

Step 3: This is the creative part where you can choose backgrounds, icons, borders and fonts. In the Actions Palette there are options to select backgrounds, add text or clip art or upload your own images. The target demographic is geared toward teens and includes lots of bold animal patterns, skateboarders and bright colors.

The various design elements can be layered by using the green arrows in the Layers Palette

After selecting a background pattern from the background picker, the graphic is added to your virtual cover. Some of the patterns are transparent and can be layered over one another for different effects. The layers are also slightly larger than than the cover and can be adjusted for placement. Like graphics programs such as Adobe PhotoShop or Paint, there is a layers palette which displays each layer and allows the user to move the order of the layers. Those who use graphics programs will find this program easy to maneuver; less experienced users might have a learning curve. (I have a good understanding of graphics programs but found it quite easy to unknowingly select a layer and move it accidentally. This happened to me a number of times and it got old fast.)

I learned the hard way to save every time I made a change I liked. I made a few oops and exited without saving, thinking my file would revert to the last (good) save. Unfortunately, sometimes the last undesired actions did get saved even when I didn’t save them. Another time the perfect cover I saved (twice) before exiting had vanished the next time I logged onto the website.

Once your desired cover has been created, it is time for a test print.

This is my first draftI layered a blue background and a pink/blue plaid background and added white clipart butterflies and some text. Unfortunately, I didn’t adjust the paper guide tight enough and it printed crooked.

Step 4: Insert the test print page into the printer according to your printers specs. The test sheet is double sided for front and back covers. (While I agree that a test print is a good thing, only one test sheet is provided. If you need a second test print you’ll need to use your own paper. If your test page goes through crooked like mine you’ll have to tilt your head to look at it or just tilt the paper!) Once you are happy with the test, print on the labels.

This is the front cover which has an aqua patterned layer, transparent polka dot layer, a white sunburst, butterfly clip art and some text.

Step 5: Apply the adhesive backed labels to the covers. The stickers for the comp books have rounded corners so there is no trimming required (unless you stick them on crooked- you only get one set of labels so you only have once chance to get it perfect. In the photo above you can see the white edge on the bottom where I was slightly off when I applied the sticker paper. )


  • Unique way to personalize notebooks and folders
  • Creator is able to save their designs on a password protected website
  • Designs geared toward teens/ students


  • Suggested retail price of $4.95 is a bit steep for a single customizable notebook or folder
  • Only one test sheet included with the kit
  • Requires access to the Internet and a color printer
Back Cover

The Cover Creator by Gartner Studios offers a unique approach to creating customized covers for notebooks and folders. I felt the suggested price of $4.95 is a bit expensive for their target teen market (plus additional expense for colored printer ink). While I wasn’t particularly inspired by their design gallery, I was happy to see something for everybody: contemporary masculine designs like skateboards and skulls contrasted with more classical designs like butterflies and polka dots. Bottom Line- I have been decorating composition books for years and I don’t need a kit or online graphics to express myself but this kit might be fun for a teen.

Have you tried the Cover Creator by Gartner Studios or a similar product to create customized covers for folders or notebooks? Please share your thoughts with our readers.

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One Response to Cover Creator by Gartner Studios

  1. Avatar
    Jodee March 12, 2011 at 12:18 am #

    I have not used this product so I don’t have an opinion on it. But, I did want to suggest that for the price and effort, you could just cover the composition book with patterned papers and stickers. At my LSS, we do that as a project with kids all the time. But, it’s a good project for adults too. I Love a beautiful and decorated journal too!