Meet a Mintie: Andrea Snaza

It’s hard to believe that its been 2 years since Minted launched its first design challenge. As a company and as a design community, we have grown a whole lot, but one thing (or shall I say person) has always stayed constant, and that’s Andrea Snaza. She participated in our very first competition, a Save The Date Challenge that received just 66 submissions, and has been an active contributor since.  She has a nice, restrained style and a knack for type composition, though what really sets her apart is her enthusiasm and friendliness. A quick survey of a few staff members produced the same response – Andrea always has friendly, helpful feedback for other designers, and she’s been a real joy to watch grow and evolve as a designer.

Andrea Snaza

How did you get your start in graphic design?

I’ve loved art and creating since I was little but there was this one day in my high school advanced biology class when I decided that I was going to be an art major. I didn’t really have any idea about a career in design at the time, but within a year of college I had declared graphic design as my concentration and dove in to communication design, typography, color studies and art and design histories. At this point I was thrilled that things were beginning to make sense – and I was realizing the meaning and substance behind the stacks of magazines, shopping bags, greeting cards and various other printed materials I had collected from a young age – silly behaviors that I like to justify now as links to the graphic or communication design field.

My love for stationery design definitely developed more with these contests! I’ve always loved stationery but randomly entered the first contest 2 years ago – and needless to say I have been hooked since. I‘m not afraid to admit that I’ve learned so much, it’s funny to look back on early designs now. I didn’t know a thing about stationery design then, but I have developed some great dreams for my future and goals towards a career in this particular area of design.

What’s it like living in St. Cloud, MN?

My desire to pursue a career in art and design brought me here to Minnesota where I got my B.F.A with a concentration in graphic design. I grew up in Aberdeen, South Dakota, which was is a great close-knit community with lots of support and friendly faces. After graduating last year I got my current job as a contract graphic designer for a scrap booking company based in the area. It’s been a lot of fun to learn and explore with patterns, color, and typography in this industry. Living close to the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and Saint Paul is a great benefit of living here because there is such a great art and design community offering unlimited inspiration and resources for artists. There are tons of great shops, thrift stores and art centers!

Where do you find inspiration?

I find inspiration all around me, it can be in the littlest things. I find myself getting most involved in the details of art and design and I think that often comes through in my design work. I love textiles, patterns, interesting color combinations, all things letterpress, old wood type, a whole list of typefaces I am currently coveting, photography, vintage packaging and postcards and of course beautifully set typography! I peruse various wedding and design blogs daily — which I am still trying to figure out a good way to categorize and site my endless folders of “inspiration” on my desktop. I am open to suggestions! I am also very inspired and humbly motivated by the entire minted design community.

Many designers are juggling jobs, families, regular life.  I’m wondering about your every day, and how design fits into it.

Right now I am really enjoying my independent daily routine that mainly includes my day job. I do lots of wedding invitations and announcements also and that keeps my evening busy. Other than that I really just enjoy taking advantage of the art and design resources in the area and finding inspiration wherever I can.

Can you describe your creative process?

I’d say most times my process is very random — I generally go right to the computer. These days the majority of any sketching I do is just small thumbnails on random pieces of paper when an idea pops into my head. When I’m designing I really like to get all my initial thoughts down so whatever is at my fingertips is what I use to get my ideas down before they are lost forever! Sometimes a design completely develops on its own, but I often do some general research online for my stationery work, getting inspiration from colors, patterns or compositions I come across.

What is your workspace like?

Well, I’m in between apartment moves, so my personal workspace tends to be wherever I can concentrate most at the time. At the moment it is at a little table in the corner of a local coffee shop. Although I don’t even like coffee, I’ve recently started coming here more often for the change of scenery, atmosphere and occasionally a refreshing Izze! Plus, wireless access always makes venturing out of my apartment with my laptop more fun! So here it is, my completely ordinary, so not glamorous workspace… boy do I have plans for my future workspace though.

Andrea's work space

What are your favorite tunes for designing?

A Fine Frenzy continues to be my favorite! If I can’t concentrate, she’s my default for sure. I’m also loving more instrumental music like Explosions in the Sky and Sigor Ros right now… and the likes of Ingrid Michaelson, Adele, Rachel Yamagata and Priscilla Ahn also keep me pretty content on a daily basis. I usually have a Pandora station with this sort of variety on all day at work. There are those times when I need something a bit more upbeat and of course, a playlist or two full of good old country music for the days when I need it!

This might be kind of odd, but I secretly love seeing what people carry in their bags/purses because I think it can highlight people in interesting ways…

Well that is a great question—let’s see, right now I might consider it more of a duffle bag!

What's in Andrea's bag

What are your favorite blogs, books, magazines?

Magazine

• Martha Stewart Weddings Mag— hands down. I’m not married yet, but I will definitely be prepared when the day comes ;) I also love this great collection of old home and gardening magazines my dad has – they’re a great source of inspiration and entertainment for me.

• Print Magazine is another fave, their site is great if you don’t pick up a copy.

Books

I don’t read too much but I would say that my History of Graphic Design textbook would be right at the top of my list if I had one.

Blogs

There’s a bunch! Lots of my favorites have been mentioned by other minties, here are a few:

Style Me Pretty is one of my favorites for wedding inspirations, lots of oohs and ahhs.

• and I’m really loving 100 Layer Cake as well so it is great to see those awesome blogs getting involved with Minted!

Design Sponge is just great all around.

The Die Line has great packaging features.

Designer Daily for random enjoyment

• Veer’s Idea blogs – The Fat & the Skinny.

plus a really long list of letterpress studios’ blogs….

Do you have any design pet peeves?

Hmm, most of my design pet peeves start with bad typefaces (in my opinion) especially Papyrus.. but I hate to pick on just one overused font. It’s not always the typeface’s fault, it’s the way designers are using/abusing it. Maybe this one has just received a bad rap lately, but there is a whole list of other fonts that I could do without.

I think most designers would agree that stylized, theme type fonts have their place. I really love typography and admire designers that use type flawlessly, so specifically in stationery design– I dislike designs where the typography feels like an afterthought or if it has no relationship with the other design elements present. I am always about simple, clean design and type, but a very simple design is hard when done right and those are the ones that really make me go “ahhh.” And there are a lot of those on Minted : )

What tips or advice do you have for designers who are new to Minted’s design challenges?

In relation to these challenges I would just stress being original in your design work because it is easy to see trends and commonalities in winning designs for different contests — and to feel like you have to create a certain style of work to do well in the challenges. I think true success comes when you are doing your own thing and you get recognized for that, after all, I believe we have unique skills as creative and independent thinkers — otherwise anyone could “learn” to be a “designer.”

The most valuable part of the community is the help and critique you can get if you want it and want to grow as a designer. And of course the support when you do get it right and you have this great group of designers cheering you on. It’s really unique.

Oh and one more thing, I touched on it before, but typography really does make or break your design, don’t just interchange your typesetting into all of your designs!

Which of the designs you have for sale on Minted is your favorite and what was the inspiration for it?

Well my all time favorite will always be French Flair because I loved using my actual photographs to do the illustration for the border to make the perfect edge. I love Paris and most French things so this one was fun to do.

"French Flair"

But, more recently, my True Love Wedding Invitation Suite.

"True Love"

I really enjoyed finishing the suite for this design because it had the bold contrast that I am drawn to but also some sweet, whimsical touches with the doodle and hand-written elements. I enjoy clean, modern designs and I am always trying to push myself to do something new but yet have it still feel like “me.” And that is where Minted keeps me stimulated outside my everyday job, and encourages me to grow as a designer!

And finally, please fill in these blanks: The best part about entering Minted design challenges is____

The anticipation!

I’ll explain this because it’s both good and bad! I know I can’t be the only Mintie that nearly goes crazy with anticipation waiting for either results or comments on a new design you just posted. But this feeling is also really good because it’s one of those things that makes me feel alive and gives me confidence that I am truly loving what I am doing!

Find more of Katherine on her blog.

9   COMMENTS
  1. I just stopped by your blog and thought I would say hello. I like your site design. Looking forward to reading more down the road.

  2. Maria Estigoy

    I will have to second about Andrea’s friendly and helpful feedback. Glad to get a glimpse of your life as a designer, Andrea. Xo

  3. Wonderful to hear about the other desingers. Great job Andrea and nice blog Minted!

  4. annie

    great interview! its been so much fun to watch you grow as a designer through the challenges!

  5. Alison

    I am so happy to hear about Andrea. She leaves such wonderfully sweet and helpful comments during design challenges and is an inspiration to the community by creating such unique and adorable designs.

  6. Jess Tree

    Always love seeing what you’re going to do next. Isn’t Minneapolis an amazing city? I miss it.

  7. Karen Glenn

    Fun to read your story, Andrea! Thanks for sharing :) Your designs are terrific!

  8. Andrea S.

    Thanks so much everyone for leaving such sweet comments, it means a lot to me :D I’m glad to hear that such feedback is appreciated, I know it has helped me out a lot from other designers!
    Jess T.- Minneapolis is amazing, there is so much to do there!

  9. Sounds like an inspired, impressive designer living in a great town.