2016 Holiday Photo Card Challenge: 21-40 Non-Foil; 7-10 Foil

By Brady Wood

On April 4, we kicked off “Making Spirits Bright,” our ninth annual Holiday Photo Card Challenge. We asked the Minted community to create fresh, visionary designs that stand out on the mantel. And they did. We said, “There are no restrictions; we encourage you to be creative, take risks, and design cards that you and your friends would be proud to send.” As usual, our community surpassed our expectations.

This year, more than 500 artists submitted just over 5,000 designs, and their designs received a whopping 2,021,054 votes.

In our fine tradition, we’ll count down the top-ranked winners, as determined by voters. We’ll celebrate the winners from both the foil and non-foil categories of this challenge. Now, please help me congratulate the following artists on their remarkable work!

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2016 Religious Christmas Holiday Challenge: Top Winners

By Mariam Naficy

For the past several months, many Minted Artists have been heads-down, focused on creating the most beautiful, unique holiday card designs in the world. They’ve also been anxiously awaiting this blog post — the kickoff of our annual winner announcements for some of our most anticipated and celebrated Minted Design Challenges of the year.

The voters have spoken. Our guest judges — including Joanna and Chip Gaines of HGTV’s Fixer Upper, Paul “Sweet Paul” Lowe, and The Girls With Glasses — have made their picks. We’ll begin spilling the candy canes in just a moment.

For our ninth annual holiday card challenge season, we created something new: the “Oh Come, All Ye Faithful” Religious Christmas Card Quickfire Challenge, our very first faith-based design challenge. We developed this challenge for people who are specifically looking for religious or spiritual Christmas greetings and designs. We’re excited to share your cards with this growing market of Minted customers.

I’m thrilled yet again by the quality and beauty of this year’s submissions. If you’ve read our winner announcements in previous years, you’ve heard me say this before, and I want to reiterate: the Minted Artist community continues to surpass our expectations in design for the most unique, cutting-edge holiday cards.

As always, I want to thank every artist who submitted a design, gave a critique, voted in a design poll, and shared festive posts in the Minted Community Facebook group to help fellow community members get in the holiday spirit. At the end of the day, the heart and soul of Minted centers around our global community of independent artists and how they treat each other. We are a community that thrives on kindness and helping each other grow and learn with constructive criticism, and we appreciate all of us maintaining that spirit.

Here are the top winners, as determined by voters, for the “Oh Come, All Ye Faithful” Religious Christmas Photo Card Quickfire Challenge. Stay tuned for the start of the “Making Spirits Bright” Holiday Photo Card Challenge winners countdown tomorrow. Huge congrats to our first group of holiday winners!

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4 Minted Artists Headline Minted’s First Live Art Night

On August 25, we hosted the first Live Art Night at Minted Local, our new pop-up store in the heart of San Francisco. Featuring Amy Hall, Monica Loos, Katja Ollendorff, and Laura Rodil, more than 100 attendees watched as the four Minted artists brought their paintings and drawings to life in real time.

All four artists said they were initially nervous about painting in public, but their nerves were quickly put at ease. “The store was so warm and inviting,” Amy said. “The whole experience was beyond anything that I had imagined, and was super fun.” Laura added that she loved talking to people about her artwork and process and received great feedback.

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Meet a Minted Artist: Lauren Adams

Lauren Adams studied visual and studio art at Fairmont State University, painted en plein air for many years, and has since transitioned to abstract, large-scale works by rolling out raw canvas and painting directly onto the surface with acrylics. The West Virginia-based painter took some time to discuss her work, creative process, and a typical day in the life of a working artist.

Meet a Minted Artist Lauren Adams

How did you end up doing what you’re doing now?
It’s been a long, winding path that started in college. My work has been through several phases over the last 15 years. The changes have been quite a process, but what I am always most interested in reflecting on is how the work is still connected. I spent most of my time in college studying the figure through live model gesture drawing/painting (met my future husband—Minted artist Derek Overfield in a figure-drawing course!). Upon graduating university, I worked for years on plein air painting, directly observing the landscape as opposed to the figure. In 2011, I began doing small, more expressive studies on paper and then decided I wanted to translate them to canvas. I wanted to grow the scale of my work plus emphasize the expression of the landscape and experiences felt (versus on-location observation), so I moved back into the studio and utilized one of the methods that I had touched on in school, but hadn’t spent much time with—stained canvas painting, only on a primed substrate. The possibilities felt limitless and I’ve loved it ever since! All of these phases involve embracing the physical work of painting: the gesture of your entire body, your engagement with the process. A celebration of life.

Did you study art formally in school?
Yes, I hold a BA Interdisciplinary Degree in Studio Art and French along with a BFA in Visual Art.

Where do you currently reside?
I live in North-Central West Virginia, in the Allegheny Plateau. It’s great because we have quick access to many beautiful lakes and rivers along with gorgeous views of ancient mountains, yet are still within a day trip to cities like Pittsburgh and Washington D.C.

Can you share the schedule of a typical day in the life?
A typical day starts with coffee and a small breakfast, a bit of morning reading, and reviewing my plan for the day. If there are urgent emails or client questions, I will get to those first. Personally, I find that once those most pressing things are completed, I can then focus easier on my work, without distractions. I will spend the rest of the day painting, either inside (accompanied by my cat) or outside if the weather is decent enough (not too much rain in the forecast). Then dinner with my husband and some exercise. The evenings will be packing any orders, answering other emails that have come through, ordering supplies we have run out of, or sometimes an additional painting session in the summer when it stays light out later. Then it’s time for some rest, with Netflix or reading.

What are some of your own “rules” for living and working?
I don’t know if it qualifies as a rule, but I attempt to keep my daily focus on gratitude. It seems to help with everything else.

Please describe your last month in a word.
Exploration

What are you serious about?
Painting

What are some keys to balancing work and life?
I think sometimes you have to understand that there is no perfect balance—certainly not every day. And maybe that’s okay. I’m guilty of over-planning and it took me awhile to come to terms with the fact that I will never be able to schedule that “perfect balance” in my life. Shifts will happen and certain seasons will come and go. I personally try to watch out for self-care, making sure I am getting fairly consistent exercise, eating healthy foods (for the most part!), and working on maintaining a positive attitude.

Click through to read more from Minted artist Lauren Adams

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Brain Surgery and Equal Love Inspired Lauren Packard’s Art

You don’t often hear people say they’re grateful for brain surgery, but for Lauren Packard, this life-threatening experience served as inspiration to pursue her childhood passion of creating art. By day, she works as a New York City art teacher, and in her free time, she is a mixed-media artist in Brooklyn.

A member of the Minted Artist community since 2014, her painting “Lina y Challie” is featured in the August 2016 West Elm catalog. In this interview, the New York City artist and school teacher talks about the urge to create, encouraging her students’ individuality, and the celebration of gay marriage — the impetus for her prize-winning art print in the Minted X West Elm Challenge.

Lauren Packard’s painting “Lina y Challie” (shown above on the easel) is featured in the August 2016 West Elm catalog. Fellow winning art prints in the Minted X West Elm Art Challenge are featured clockwise from top left: “Aperature + Cellular” by Jennifer Morehead, “Malachite Reinterpreted” by Leslie M. Ward, and “Autumn” by Jennifer Morehead.

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New Minted Artists Talk Design Trends + Changing Careers

Every month we welcome some of our newer Minted artists to the community in the Welcome Wagon series. Hop on and learn some fun facts about Christina OertelRobert Deem, and Sweta Modi.

Christina Oertel
Stratford, Wisconsin
Christina’s Website and Instagram @setandseries 

My first winning design for Minted: ”San Fran Series

Day job: Graphic designer

My favorite part of the Minted experience so far: The optimism and encouragement the Minted community brings. The positive, meaningful feedback encourages me to keep pushing myself. The frequent challenges also are inspirational and allow me to experiment more as an artist.

Sources of inspiration: Traveling is my biggest inspiration. Trying new things and having my eyes opened to different places and people makes my heart soar. My day-to-day inspiration can be found in everything from fashion and makeup design to TED talks. And when all else fails, Pinterest always comes through with plenty of gorgeous visuals.

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Minted Artists Connect Over Art and Community in Seattle

Photos by Lela Wulson

On August 11, Minted artists from around the Seattle area and as far away as Vancouver, Canada (Kelly Schmidt) met with CEO Mariam Naficy to connect in person with the people they’ve come to know well in the global creative online community.

Organized by Jan Kessel, the Minted Artist Seattle Meetup was one of Minted’s largest to date, bringing together nearly 20 artists. The artists met in the early evening at General Porpoise Doughnuts, a Capitol Hill coffee and doughnuts shop that moonlights by evening as an event space. Over conversation ranging from Minted Design Challenges to creative passion, they enjoyed wine and hors d’oeuvres catered by Bar Melusine, part of the Renee Erickson collection of restaurants.

Pictured from left: Catherine Hubert, Melanie Biehle, Minted CEO Mariam Naficy, Kelly Schmidt, Bri Davey, Sara Johnson, Allison Kincaid, Kelly Johnston, and Rachel Nanfelt of Alethea and Ruth. Rachel gave birth to a baby boy a few days after the meetup!

Jan said that although some of the artists were a bit nervous upon arrival, that feeling quickly evaporated. “Everyone shared details about their lives, both inside and outside of art and Minted,” the Bellingham, Washington, photographer said. “It was really interesting to hear everyone’s stories, what else they did in life, work, motherhood, and how participating in Minted was a priority.”

From left: Maria Estigoy of Arden Reed, Candice Leigh, and Jan Kessel

Jan said Mariam shared interesting stats about how Minted’s community critiquing system helps everyone achieve better designs and scores. The recent Spaces and Places Art Challenge was the first in which Jan actively participated in critiquing, both in asking for others’ help, and in offering my help to those who ask. “I found it deeply rewarding to help and be helped, and I really think my work is better for it. I learned from others who may see something slightly differently that I do,” she said.

“As the artist, you stare at something so long that it’s easy to lose perspective. The critique helps with fresh eyes, and a fresh point of view.”

Brandy Brown of Marabou Design and Melanie Biehle

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Minted CEO Mariam Naficy Hosts Artist Meetup in London

Photos by Jess Henderson of Jess-on-Thames

Pictured above from left: Gwen Bédat, Annie Montgomery, Zhi Ling Lee, Mariam Naficy, Bethan Lumb, Viktoria Rodek, Pooja Pittie, and Jan Shepherd.

What was it like to attend a London meetup with Minted Founder and CEO Mariam Naficy? In the words of Minted Artist Pooja Pittie, “It was like an evening out with your girlfriends — if they were all artists! We sipped rosè, alfresco, in an historic bar in London. Everyone was so warm and friendly — I didn’t feel like I was meeting them for the first time.”

Pooja traveled a long way from her hometown of Chicago to visit family in London and attend the first U.K. meetup for Minted artists on July 27 at The American Bar inside the Stafford Hotel. Mariam was on holiday in the U.K. with her family, and as always, was thrilled to talk with some of Minted’s global community of artists.

“It was an honor to meet the CEO of Minted — a lovely lady with a calm aura,” said Jan Shepherd, pictured above left. Pooja Pittie, seated at right, organized an artist meetup in her hometown of Chicago in April 2016.

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8 Tips for Pricing Your Commissioned Original Art for Minted

For customers seeking unique original art, photography, and design, we’ve launched Minted Commissioned Original Art (BETA), a new program that is limited to U.S. consumers and Minted artists during our initial beta period.

Minted believes in protecting the value of artists’ work and creating a marketplace that will help independent artists thrive. To prevent a pricing race to the bottom, we’ve set a minimum price of $75 per commission. Our independent community of artists create a variety of styles, mediums, formats, and with that comes varying prices. Artists set their own price for Commissioned Original Art (BETA) projects. Please keep in mind that artists keep 80% of the price quote and Minted retains 20%. Your price quotes must include shipping costs.

Pictured above: Lauren Rogoff is a Minted Artist who specializes in custom pet portraits. She posted this photo of herself on her Instagram, @wanderinglaur, during a Minted press event in New York in July 2016.

How Does Pricing Work in Commissioned Original Art?
Minted artists will set an estimated price or price range for various sizes (S-L) and complexities (Simple-Complex) of projects you will have available for commission. You will not set a final price for a project until you discuss the project with the client and agree on the scope. By this time, you’ll also know the estimated size/weight of the finished product and the shipping address, so you’ll be able to accurately estimate and account for the insured shipping costs. You may also need to include any sales tax in the price depending on the state where you live, and the location of the customer.

Based on the photo she received of her client’s French bulldogs above, Lauren Rogoff created this pet portrait.

What’s the Right Price for My Work?
If you’re looking for a one-size-fits-all formula for pricing commissioned work, you might not find one. But after interviewing several experienced commissioned artists, we’ve identified common threads for best practices. Here are eight tips to help you find your pricing sweet spot.

1. Do Your Research to Get a Ballpark Figure
When initially thinking about your price range for commissioned work, it’s helpful to get a sense of the market on other sites, especially for your particular style and medium. “You don’t want to charge $10 or $1,000 when your competitors are at $500,” says Lauren Rogoff, a Minted artist who specializes in animal and pet portraits. “Even if your work is distinct stylistically, it helps to know what customers are spending.”

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How to Ship Commissioned Original Art

When it comes to best practices for shipping Commissioned Original Art (BETA), we knew exactly who to contact for advice: Rich Baiardi. As Minted’s Vice President of Manufacturing Supply Chain, he’s an expert in shipping all of Minted’s assortment products in the safest way possible.

Before we dive into the Q&A with Rich, please keep in mind that during the beta period, we are limiting Commissioned Original Art to U.S. customers, so our tips are based on domestic shipping methods. Also remember that you must insure Commissioned Original Art and require the customer’s signature upon delivery. We highly recommend that you confirm the customer’s shipping address and message the tracking number to the customer once you’ve shipped the order.

How can I protect small unframed art, design, and photography?

Rich Baiardi: For a initial layer of protection, I recommend placing art in a plastic bag, which you can order at clearbags.com.

Then sandwich with cardboard chip mailers (.03 thickness) — one piece on each side.

If the art is small (anything up to 11’ x 14’), the best thing to do is ship in a flat mailer, which you can purchase from ULINE. The cardboard makes the packaging stiffer and helps to prevent damage if it’s bent during the shipping process.

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