Meet a Mintie: Griffinbell Studio

Happy Halloween Minties! Today we interrupt your celebrations to get to now Lynn Knipe and her Griffinbell Studio a little better. Lynn has been a prominent member in the minted community for the past two years and we’re very lucky to have her; she has such a broad range of talent and has really excelled in every genre–no easy feat. Enjoy this sweet treat!

First things first: how did you come up with the name Griffinbell Studio?
Griffinbell Studio is named for my two children, Griffin and Bella.

When did you first realize you wanted to be a designer?
After graduating from UCSB with an economics degree, I worked in the media department of a big ad agency. My job was very dull, but I was exposed to the creative side of advertising, and something inside of me just clicked. I knew I wanted to design and create. Number crunching was not for me!

Do you have any formal design training?
I studied graphic design for two years through UCLA’s extension program.

How would you describe your style?
I’m definitely still evolving and experimenting. I’m really attracted to folk art and vintage patterns, but also have a contemporary minimalist asthetic.

What is your normal workflow or process like?
There is no consistency or “normal” in my work process. It’s different every time. It depends on what the inspiration is for each particular design. I may have run across a style or technique that I want to try, or I may just want to evoke a certain feeling or mood. Sometimes I’ll start by drawing a vector image in Illustrator, but other times, I’ll dig into the typography first. Throughout the process, my husband and one of my close girlfriends will offer their insights and critiques. That’s invaluable.

How many iterations does it take for a design to become final?
Tons and tons. On two occasions, I’ve had over thirty submission revisions for wedding invitation entries. I’m pretty sure that’s some kind of record! I’m very stubborn. I won’t let a design rest until I think it’s realized it’s full potential.

What are the easiest and the most difficult aspects of the design process?
Every design is different. Sometimes the typography is the easy part and sometimes it’s the illustration. But other times I labor over one or the other or both. I almost always struggle with getting the color right. The fact that there are inconsistencies between the monitor, the printer and the final digital piece just drives me nuts!

Do you have a favorite font?
Archive Antique Extended, Archer, Business Penmanship, Futura, Adobe Caslon, La Portencia, Mrs. Eaves and Mr. Sheffield.

Favorite pen?
Fine point Sharpie.

Favorite notebook?
I have the cutest Chronicle notebook with a bear illustration. It’s my current favorite.

Favorite design tool?
My Macbook. Love it to death. It’s on it’s last leg though. I dropped it and cracked the case, so it’s literally held together by bull clips.

What was your wedding invitation like?
Oh they were dreadful. I was married in 1989. There was not a lot to choose from back then!

Perfectly understandable. The brides you design for today are lucky indeed. Did you send out a family Christmas card? If so, what was it like?
For several years in a row, I did handmade Christmas cards. They were very simple, though. I used some nice deep red uncoated stock, attached a black and white photo of my kids and then wrote a message with a silver metallic gel pen.

You have such great custom work up on your site… Tell us about your favorite custom project and why you enjoyed working on it.
My most memorable project was a donor book for the San Diego Opera. I had a generous budget to work with, so was able to do a gold foil stamped seal and a background pattern in clear varnish on a beautiful felt-like colored stock.

Tell us about one of your favorite cards offered for sale on Minted and how you came up with the design.
My favorite card is Seascape. I was originally inspired by our local San Diego beaches, but after the design was all said and done, it actually reminds me more of the east coast shoreline. It always fascinates me when a design takes on a life of its own and morphs into something entirely different from my original intent.

Seascape is fantastic! It really is so stunning it could be fine art. How did you make this beauty?
I used to paint in oils quite a bit. Seascape is like the color blocking that is the base of a landscape painting. I have to give credit to Sydney Newsom for helping me through several type iterations. Without her generous guidance, that particular card would not have reached its full potential.

Isn’t it amazing how supportive our community is!? What design trends do you think will emerge this fall/winter?
Oh gosh, my powers of prediction are less than stellar. When skinny jeans came onto the scene 4 or 5 years ago, I predicted that they would only last a season! Though, I do think that hand drawn type and textural patterns will continue to be a strong trend.

Your ‘Rosh Hashanah’ first prize was well-deserved! It really is true to the Jewish roots of the holiday, but not in a cheesy or obvious way. Tell us about how you created this design?
I was watching the movie, Tangled, with my daughter and was inspired by the gorgeous wall murals in Rapunzel’s castle. Even though I drew it as vector art, I wanted it to have a painterly feel, so used a gazillion colors in the palette. That was quite a project to prep the files before sending it off to Minted.

What was your favorite Minted design challenge and why?
I think the wedding invitation challenge was my favorite. I had been participating in challenges for about 6 months by then, and it was during that competition that I started to feel a connection to the community.

How does living in California influence your design?
California is so diverse. We have the beach, the mountains, the desert, the rolling hills in central California and of course, the fabulous city, San Francisco. I’m inspired by it all. I live in a beach community, so it’s probably the strongest influence on my design. Much like the ocean, I like my designs to have a sense of openess and visual peace.

What are the places in your hometown that you would recommend a visitor check out?
Well the beaches of course. Encinitas also has a very vibrant and quaint old downtown area. There are lots of wonderful little unique shops and restaurants. Also, we have one of the largest YMCA’s in the country. I’ve been teaching group fitness classes there for forever.

You wear a lot of hats: part-time stationery designer, part-time freelance graphic designer, part-time fitness instructor, and full-time mom! Is it hard balancing it all?
Yes. One of my New Year’s resolutions this year was to find a better work/family balance. When the kids are home from school, it’s tough for me to pull away from the computer since it’s sitting in the corner of my living room. Even though I work a lot of hours, unless we’re out late with baseball or soccer games, I try to cook a good, healthy dinner every night. I think that’s important.

Lynn and her daughter at the San Diego harbor.

Where do you go for design inspiration?
I get a lot of inspiration from books and magazines. I love HOW, Vogue, and Lucky. My favorite magazine is the now defunct Domino. I have almost a complete collection of back issues. I just ordered four new books for my library, Handmade Type Workshop, Color Inspirations, Naive: Modernism and Folklore in Contemporary Design and New Vintage Type. But my favorite place to get inpsired is wandering around San Franciso! Each neighborhood has it’s own distinct personality. Love the colorful vibrancy of China Town, the bustle of Union Square and best of all, the fabulous, farm to table food in the Ferry Building marketplace.

Where do you like to shop? What are your favorite stores?
My favorite stores are Sur la Table, (LOVE cooking and entertaining);, (to die for vintage-inspired tableware and home accessories); Ikea (clean lines, great prices); Urban Outfitters, (diaphonous girly blouses);, (according to my husband I have way too many shoes, but I can always find another pair to add to my collection).

What are your favorite online design sites and blogs?,,, Loads of information and inspiration on each of these sites.

What designers do you really admire?
I think Jessica Hische’s typography is wonderfully whimsical. I also love Lotta Jansdotter’s block printed, Scandanavian patterns. As far as Minted designers, I could literally go on for pages and pages. The pool of talent at Minted is staggering.

What advice would you give a new designer?
When you think your design is ready to submit, sit on it for a day. You’ll come back to it with fresh eyes and most likely find something that can be honed and improved.

What do you like best about being a part of minted?
Definitely the community. There are so many talented, generous and supportive contributers to the Minted site. I feel very fortunate to be in the company of all these phenomenal designers.

Thank you so much Lynn! Enjoy trick-or-treating all.

Find more of Natasha on her blog.

  1. lori (guess what?)

    Great interview, Lynn – so nice to “meet” you! Love your work! 🙂

  2. Kim Dietrich Elam

    Enjoyed your interview, Lynn. Your work is always amazing!

  3. That was great! So nice to get to know you a little more, Lynn. I’m a huge fan of your work!

  4. Jessica Y

    Great interview Lynn. Love your work and always look forward to seeing it!

  5. Hailey

    So lovely to ‘meet’ you Lynn!! Your type-tree style holiday design is one of my absolute favorites. Your wide range of work is so inspiring!! I also thought skinny jeans would never last… and swore I would never wear them. Oh well 😉

  6. alston

    great to learn more about you, Lynn!

  7. Ashley

    Love your interview and getting to learn more about you, Lynn!

  8. Was great to get to know you and your story, Lynn! Your work is so diverse and beautiful. I was in love with Domino and Blueprint and saved them too! I sleep on my designs too-they always look different in the morning.

  9. gerrie@chocomocacino

    great interview.. Nice to know you more.. and would love to visit your quaint old downtown.. I also like beach community!!

  10. Melanie Severin

    It’s so great to get to know a bit more about you, Lynn – I absolutely LOVE your work!!!

  11. Nam

    Great interview, Lynn! So nice to hear a little bit more about you. Love all your diverse and gorgeous collection.

  12. Cecile

    Lynn, I am so glad to finally “meet” you :))
    I absolutely adore your “rosh hashanah” design, it´s my absolute favorite from you 🙂 You are super talented and I LOVE your work !

  13. Jen Wick

    Lynn, I LOVED learning more about you and am so impressed by your diverse talents in addition to you fabulous design style here at Minted!!

  14. Britt Clendenen

    Great story – so inspiring to a newbie like me! Love your work Lynn and the stories you have to share.

  15. Sandra Pons

    Great interview! You’re such a talented lady Lynn, so nice to know more about you!

  16. Meg G.

    loved hearing more about you lynn! and I adore your illustration style.

  17. Great interview! Happy to know more about you, Lynn 🙂