Minted Artists Pay It Forward

It takes a community to thrive as an independent artist.

To celebrate Minted’s extraordinary community spirit, we bring you Pay It Forward, our campaign to help Minted artists connect, collaborate, and succeed during the 2016 Holiday Stationery Design Challenge season. Because artists tell us that peer critique is one of the most valuable aspects of the Minted community, we’ve compiled these resources to help you give and receive quality feedback, stay inspired, and get the most out of the Minted challenge process. Stay tuned for updates.

Julep Features

Critiquing Advice
7 Ways to Master Art and Design Critiques (insights from Parsons School of Design faculty)
10 Tips for Critiquing Minted Art and Designs (insights from the community)

Thrive During the Holiday Challenge Season
5 Ways to Connect With the Minted Artist Community
6 Tips for Success in Minted Challenges
4 Mantras for Being Boss in Work and Life
How to Thrive During Minted’s Holiday Challenge Season

Creative Inspiration
7 Podcasts for Inspiring Your Creativity
Minted’s 20 First-Place Challenge Winners of 2015

Coming Soon
Your Guide to Asking Questions During the Feedback Period
Remember the Winners from Past Minted Holiday Challenges?


Critique Awards

Top holiday challenge critiquers will win a feedback session with Mariam Naficy

To recognize constructive feedback, we award top critiquers in every Minted Design challenge.

Just for the 2016 holiday design challenges—which are some of our biggest competitions of the year—we’re increasing the award amount from $50 to $150 in Minted credit to the top critiquers in the four holiday challenges. This will be based on the Feedback leaderboard for each challenge, and we will combine results from the foil and non-foil version of each challenge. Remember, this is not a numbers game. We’re looking for quality, constructive feedback that will help fellow artists grow and thrive in challenges. Use the “mark as constructive” button to reward quality feedback.

For the main holiday photo cards challenge, we’re increasing the winners’ count from the top five to the top 10. 

Special first-place prize for each challenge! 

  • The first-place winner of the holiday photo cards challenge will win a one-on-one feedback session (later in 2016) with Minted Founder and CEO Mariam Naficy.

Community Connections

Join our Facebook group
The Minted Community Facebook Group is open to all Minted artists who have submitted to at least one design challenge. Connect, share resources, and ask questions in this active global group. Learn how to join here.

Call in, meet up, get involved
The Minted team hosts weekly office hours, quarterly calls, meetups, and other community events. View and subscribe to our events calendar here. Are you interested in hosting a Minted meetup in your area? Fill out this form.

Join the Buddy Program
The Minted Buddy Program is an opportunity for you to make a deeper connection with one to two other artists. We pair people based on personality, experience, and category (art, stationery, etc.). Learn more here.


How the Minted Artist Community
Pays It Forward

Jennifer Postorino
Eight-time Minted Critique Award winner

“Taking time to critique designers is important to me, not only for their growth, but for mine as well. It keeps my current skills in check and allows me to continue learning as a designer. I’ve learned so much from so many designers. I honestly can’t believe where I am at today. Not only do I feel like I have gained some real friendships simply by reaching out to people, but my design skills have gotten so much better.”

Christian Bennin
from in “Ever Thought About Your Creative Turnoffs?” on Julep

“I get over creative blocks faster as I get critiques from other designers, and the creative briefs for each project really help me focus my thoughts. The story of my first Minted design challenge illustrates my point perfectly. The first competition I entered was the grad challenge. I was a bit over-eager and posted a quickly created design that hadn’t been thought through very well. Once I submitted my design, I saw how the critique process worked and got really inspired by it. I decided to sit down and really do this. I sketched and designed two versions of a new design and used the community polling feature to narrow down to the option that eventually won me my first award! It was a great eye-opener to me and example of how the process can work.”

Julie Green of Up Up Creative
from “Meet a Minted Artist” on Julep

“I once left a comment on one of Jen Wick’s designs with a few minor-detail suggestions about sizing this up, rotating that, and moving it all over or something like that, and she commented back to me privately that I’d make a good art director. Ever since her comment, I think I approach my work very differently. Having a designer who I like and admire point out this strength just changed me. It has added a whole new layer to my interaction with my own work, and it has helped me better understand what I like and don’t like about stuff out in the world. I think the work I’ve produced in the time since Jen’s comment is more confident, more purposeful, more polished, and more wholly mine.”

Susan Brown

“When I was a newbie and saw Karly Depew‘s save the date design ‘Timeless’ in the Jan 2012 challenge, I went to her page and asked her advice. She sent me an email where she presented my design in three different type styles and explained the importance of typography. So special.”


Published March 24, 2016 • Want to join the Minted Artist Community? Submit to a Challenge here.

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How to Photograph Your 2-D Art

Written by Marlo Miyashiro

You’ve spent hours, days, weeks—perhaps even months—on your latest masterpiece, and now it’s ready for its close-up. We’re here with tips to help you take high-quality photographs of your 2-D artwork in preparation for digital production. Before we begin, we want to emphasize that it’s always best and worth the expense to work with a professional photographer to capture images of your work for fine art prints and other applications. However, if hiring a pro is out of reach or you want to learn a new skill, we encourage you to give these tips a try.

Choose Your Background

The ideal background is a flat-white or neutral color wall with minimal texture. If you don’t have a naked wall, designate an area that you can clear of furniture and other items that might reflect unwanted colors into your photos.

Set Up Your Artwork

The best way to set up your artwork is to hang it on the wall at eye level or vertically on an easel. This will allow you to take accurate distance measurements from the floor to the center of your piece and match that distance to your camera lens in order to make your photo as distortion-free as possible. If you can’t hang art from a wall, you can prop your work up against the wall, taking note of the angle of the face of your piece so you can match that as well.

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4 Mantras for Being Boss in Work and Life

By Kathleen Shannon

Whether you’re a full-time creative entrepreneur paying the bills by doing what you love or hustling to build your dream job on the side, you have to get in the right mindset to really be boss in work and life. Because the truth is this: Blending work and life—doing what you love for a living—isn’t always easy. At times it can be downright scary, hard, and lonely. And getting in the right mindset can be tricky when you feel like a fraud (surely we’re not the only ones who feel like we’re faking it sometimes, right?) or close down shop and crawl under a rock. We use mantras, phrases, or affirmations we repeat to ourselves over and over again, to literally carve out neural pathways in our brains that keep us positive and productive. We’d like to share four of our favorites with you.

Don’t Quit Your Day Dream” limited edition print by Matthew Taylor Wilson

1. “I Chose This”

When we interviewed Lisa Congdon and her wife Clay Walsh on our Being Boss podcast, the full-time artist told us she gets through the roller-coaster ups and downs that come with self-employment by remembering that she chose her path. She reminds herself with every pressing deadline that she chose to live the life of an artist. It can be so easy to get wrapped up in your own daily grind that you forget you’re living the dream—and if you’re not, you get to make different choices.

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Top 10 File Prep Tips for Minted Artists

By Olivia Goree

If you’ve won a Minted Challenge, congratulations! While you’re still basking in winner’s glow, you’ll receive a file request email from my team, Minted Files. We understand that there are a lot of elements to keep track of when setting up your customizable art and stationery files. In light of our file submission policy for customizable art and stationery, we’re here to help you. Here’s a list of what we consider the Top 10 File Preparation Tips to help you clean up your files and get your designs launched as quickly and seamlessly as possible.

1. Use Provided Template Layers

The layers in your provided Minted templates are not only there to help us with our production process, but also to help you organize your artwork. These layers mimic how a customer is able to customize your design on our site, so placing elements in the correct layers is very important. The foil layer, for example, is placed on top, as this is the last piece printed on top of all other digital elements.

For more information on how to utilize these layers, read the File Prep Instructions PDF included in your request email or check out our Template Tutorial Videos.

2. Tackle Tricky Text Boxes

When formatting text boxes, it’s important to put yourself in the customer’s shoes. Text in each text box should consist of the same font and character settings in order to work in our customizer. For example, in “Safari Party Animals” by Snow and Ivy, you’ll notice that each text treatment is separated out in the design file, which allows a customer to change text in each area while keeping the same styling. Important reminder: Avoid using glyphs in any editable text, if possible.

To learn more about setting up text in your files, watch our Text Best Practices video.

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Day in the Life of Meg Gleason of Moglea

By Meg Gleason

Meg Gleason is not your average Minted artist, but then again, there’s no such thing as “an average Minted artist.” The self-described designer, illustrator, and farm wife leads her fully staffed print shop, Moglea, in Audubon, Iowa, and somehow manages to raise two children and help run a family farm, raising cattle, hogs, corn, and soybeans. “The farm has been in the family for four generations,” she says.

Fiesta Turtleneck” limited edition print by Moglea

Meg joined the Minted community in 2009 and has 70 wins to her name. Designing for Minted challenges was how she got her career start and helped her gain confidence to launch her own letterpress stationery line. “The community provided me with invaluable feedback and encouragement at a pivotal moment in my career and they continue to do so,” she says. “Minted continually helps support and promote Moglea and I’m forever grateful for the opportunities I’ve had from Minted.”

Here she shares her day in the life. —Amy Schroeder

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How to Create Repeating Patterns in Illustrator

By Liz Conley

5 Fabric Design Tips

1. Place design elements on the sides to create a natural rhythm to your repeating pattern.

2. When filling the fabric art board with a pattern, make sure there’s no stroke on the rectangle. Strokes will cause an error on the finished file.

3. Make sure the size of your pattern is divisible by 36 inches. All Minted fabrics repeat exactly at the 36-inch mark.

4. For designs with a white background, easily add a pop of color to your alternate colorways by layering your pattern over a colored background. Customers love having options—especially for home decor.

5. Think outside the Illustrator window. Some of Minted’s most popular fabrics started as painting or drawings that were scanned in to tweak inside Illustrator.


Liz Conley, a former Production Designer, now works as a Public Relations Designer for Minted. Originally trained as a fine art printer and bookbinder, she now helps the Production Team translate Minted artists’ visions into real products. She’s also a Minted community member with a passion for watercolors and learning to push Illustrator to its limits in new ways. Visit Liz’s Minted Artist Store, and follow Liz on Instagram @lizconley.

Published January 15, 2016 • Learn how to become a Minted artist here.

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How I Holiday: Dark-Chocolate Cookie-Butter Cups

Today we’re sharing a holiday-themed guest post from Minted artist Kerry Doyle, a graphic designer based in San Francisco.

Recipe: Dark Chocolate Cookie Butter CupsRecipe: Dark Chocolate Cookie Butter Cups

Name: Kerry Doyle of Paper Dahlia
Where you’re based: San Francisco
How long you’ve been with Minted: Since 2008
Download: Click here to download Kerry’s free printable holiday-treat labels (pictured above)

From Kerry:  Every year I make two or three different dark-chocolate confections to give as gifts to family and friends. I love making homemade holiday presents—they’re guaranteed to be one of a kind and make people feel special, and isn’t that what holiday giving is all about? This has been my tradition for the past 15 years and now I enjoy sharing this with my daughter. One of the more recent additions to my candy repertoire is a dark-chocolate cookie-butter cup sprinkled with sea salt. There is something so amazing about the combination of chocolate, lightly sweet cookie butter, and a sprinkling of sea salt. Better still, it is super easy to make (translation: It’s really hard to mess this one up!). Since the holidays can be stressful enough, why make it more so with complicated and time-consuming projects? That’s my philosophy, at least. I hope you enjoy this recipe and maybe even your friends and family will, too!

Click through for the whole post...

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How I Holiday: Warm Coffee Cocktails

Today we’re sharing a holiday-themed guest post from Minted artist Shannon Chen, a graphic designer based in Sacramento, CA.

Warm Cocktails: Irish Coffee & Grand Marnier Recipes
Free Printable: Holiday Recipe Card

Name: Shannon Chen of Four Wet Feet Studio
Where you’re based: Sacramento, CA
How long you’ve been with Minted: Since 2010
Download: Click here to download Shannon’s free printable holiday-recipe card (pictured above)

From Shannon:  I love drinking warm coffee cocktails in the wintertime. My favorite is an Irish Coffee—so warm and comforting on a chilly Christmas morning, sipping it by the fireplace. I’m sharing two of my favorite coffee-cocktail recipes below: The first is for my favorite Irish Coffee, as well as another warm coffee drink spiked with Grand Marnier. They’ll warm you right up and both go well with any holiday cookies or treats you might have around! Hope you enjoy these, as well as the printable holiday-recipe card (above) that I created just for you.

Click through for the whole post...

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How I Holiday: Handmade Gifts With Kids

Today we’re sharing a holiday-themed guest post from Minted artist Carolyn MacLaren, a graphic designer based in Encinitas, CA.

DIY Kids Pottery Painting

Name: Carolyn MacLaren
Where you’re based: Encinitas, CA
How long you’ve been with Minted: Since 2011

From Carolyn:  For the past three years, we’ve made it a tradition in our family to create handmade gifts for friends and family members. The first year, my daughter, who was two years old at the time, painted with watercolors; I chose a small section of the painting and framed it with a large matte. Framing a small portion of the painting made it feel more artistic, special, and versatile. The next year, we made handmade soaps and jams: We found an amazing soap recipe on Pinterest which included grapefruit, mint, poppy seeds, and shea butter—they turned out fantastic and were perfect for the kids. We gave everyone the soaps paired with homemade lemon curd and jams.

Kids Pottery Painting

This year, my daughter wanted to paint pottery, so we went to a nearby children’s pottery painting studio and spent an evening painting small bowls. I chose bowls because they’re easy for the kids to paint—they make great gifts that have so many uses (keys, jewelry, food, etc.). I limited our color palette to blues and greens to keep all of pieces unique yet cohesive; the kids could paint any design they wanted, and since it was in a single color palette, I knew it would look fresh, modern, and fun. I love how they turned out! The energy of the kids’ designs is so carefree and whimsical—something that as an adult is hard to do. We painted the pottery, left it at the studio to kiln fire, then picked it up a few days later. Ben and Reese are so proud of their gifts!

Thank you for sharing your family’s wonderful holiday tradition, Carolyn!


More Holiday Ideas:
DIY Holiday Luminarias
• Free Printable: Modern Black-and-White Holiday Gift Tags
• Three of the Cutest Ways to Wrap Your Holiday Gifts
• How To: Tie the Perfect Bow

More From Minted:
• Shop Carolyn MacLaren’s Minted Store
• Gift Tags
Foil-Pressed Art Gifts

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10 Art Prints to Get You into the Holiday Spirit

Written by Christina Loff

This week we’ve rounded up original self-launched art prints from Minted’s talented community of artists.

Eric Beckett of Geekink Designs is inspired by vintage art and typography, and this holiday-themed art print showcases his inspiration and talent. We love how the intricate lines, holly leaves, and snowflakes playfully dance around the cheerful phrase. “Eat, Drink, and be Merry Colorful” is also available in foil.

Lyna Ti’s delicate hand-lettered “Hope Wreath” looks just right on a mantle this season. Pull this beautiful piece out for the holiday and leave it up all year long. She can stand alone or be paired with with her matching “Faith Wreath.”

We love this rock n’ roll take on Christmas by Jessie Steury. What a great print to hang in a child’s room to get into the holiday spirit (and maybe remind him or her to be more nice than naughty!) Check out all of Jessie’s holiday designs right here.

Another beautiful holiday-inspired hand-lettered piece to add to your collection. This one is from Heather Buchma and is a lovely way to celebrate Christmas. Get it for yourself or gift it to friends, family, or teachers.

This print sums up pretty much all we ever want for the holidays. Katie Craig’s “Good Words” print is a great reminder to focus on the positive when things get stressful this season. Another piece to hang over the mantle and leave up all year long.
Kamala Nahas describes “Insomnia” as depicting the feeling of being farther away from things than you actually are. We think it also captures that wistful feeling of winter, which is often a time of deep reflection before the new year begins. Kamala has recently self-launched a dozen journals featuring her evocative photos, check them all out right here—they make perfect stocking stuffers.
Leslie Le Coq’s piece Open Window perfectly showcases the mood of winter. This photo manages to be warm and inviting despite the blizzard it’s capturing. Be sure to check out all of Leslie’s stunning photographs in her Artist Store.

Melinda Denison took this photo on a perfect, snowy afternoon in Bavaria. We love how she captured so much in one shot, from the snow laden village to the snow-capped alps. “Snowy Village in Bavaria” is a lovely way to celebrate the beauty of winter.

Bring the outdoors inside with Catherine Hubert’s intricate Snowflake Series. Pictured here is “Snowflake No. 3.” Catherine is interested in the intersection where art and design meet and particularly fascinated by radial symmetry. She designed this series to be displayed individually or in multiples as a grid.

If you’re looking for something brighter, Kanika Mathur’s “December Fruits” is a cheerful addition to any home. This art print is part of a series of seasonal fruits created using pastels and crayons. It’s a perfect addition to any kitchen or dining room. It also makes a great host or hostess gift for the holidays. Check out the entire series of seasonal fruits in her Store.

Christina Loff is an Artist Relations Manager at Minted, focusing on outreach and onboarding. She relishes every opportunity to collaborate with creative people and bring communities together around original products and ideas. She’s been lucky enough to work with the talented and innovative teams at ReadyMade magazine (RIP), Creativebug, Hello!Lucky, and Chronicle Books, where she worked as a publicist and marketer for six years, developing and promoting their lifestyle and craft category. Christina has also written for various websites and magazines including CraftStylish and SFist. Follow Christina on Instagram and Twitter @tweetsweet.


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Minted Self-Launch Templates
Minted Artist Stores Merchandising Tools Tutorial Video
How to Merchandise Your Minted Artist Store for the Holidays

Published November 24, 2015 • Learn how to become a Minted artist here.

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