Name: Paige Rothhaar
Location: Columbus, Ohio
Years with Minted: 4
Expertise: Layers of detail and inspired whimsy.
Occupation: Graphic Design Professional at Fahlgren Mortine, Mintie, Mother to two.
When did you first realize you wanted to be a designer?
I went into college with the notion of becoming a nutritionist but as soon as I realized how much chemistry was involved, I quickly changed my major to art education. It wasn’t until I had finished a study abroad in Italy that I realized that my future might be in graphic design. We had to keep a sketchbook/journal to receive credit for the course. We were expected to do studies of famous architecture and works by the great masters, but I was more fascinated by the details that usually go unnoticed in the art history world. I sketched intricate patterns that were hammered into Roman armor, geometric shapes on Etruscan vases, even patterns found on the coffins of Egyptian mummies. I also drew various coats of arms you’d see on buildings around Florence, which were basically an early form of branding for wealthy families. When I turned in my sketchbook at the end of the trip, my professor thought that I might really enjoy graphic arts and suggested I make it my concentration. Her instincts were right and that’s exactly what I did the following semester.
How did you hear about minted?
The short version is that in 2010 I saw a banner on Karly Depew’s website (Oscar & Emma) that said “I’ve been Minted.” I clicked on it, entered the wedding challenge, and the rest is history. Minted has made a huge impact on my life in the past few years and I’m incredibly thankful for stumbling upon that banner.
The long version: I was just starting to get my feet wet in my design career at an ad agency in Columbus when I lost both of my parents at different times in my mid 20’s. I started questioning my place in the world and especially the use of my time. Anyone that has lost someone close can attest to the sudden pressures of life is short. For me, that pressure was how I spent my 9-5 each day because I didn’t want to spend so much of my life doing something I didn’t love. I knew I was good at design but any success I had didn’t come easy to me. And for some reason I thought if I was meant to be a great designer, not just good, it would come a lot easier. (We all know that great designers make it look effortless.) I was extremely unsure of myself and the self-doubt took away any joy I had with my job. With my husbands support, I left the ad agency to figure out what I really wanted to do with my time and explored many other possibilities from photography, to floral design, to finishing my teaching degree. But none of these things felt right either so I continued freelancing for a former client. It was almost a year later that I came across Minted and entered my first contest with my “fireflies” submission. It was a rush of excitement – the whole process. I remember searching the web for mason jar wedding invitations and nothing came up and I thought “I just might have a good idea here.” So I drew some jars, scanned them, added fireflies, the couples names, etc. Then the community feedback came pouring in to steer my design in the right direction. It was months before I knew I had won anything but I continued to enter challenges and got to know community members through the forum.
The world of stationery design was completely new to me and I was learning so much through these amazing people in the community. Topics were posted about design trends, tutorials, illustration tricks, fonts, etc. I was hooked and I knew deep down that design was in my blood. I continued freelancing and picked up more clients along the way. I became very active in the community and even had success with an Etsy shop too. I finally felt confident in what I was doing and truly enjoyed it. So here I am five years later and working at an ad agency again, something I would have never predicted. But I love my job and I love that design is ever evolving. There are endless creative outlets to explore and that it self keeps me motivated. I have Minted to thank for breathing new life into my career and for making me realize that I’m exactly where I should be. I honestly can’t imagine doing anything else right now.
Fireflies has certainly been a runaway hit! Thanks for telling us how it came to be. Do you have another story up your sleeve about one of your other designs for sale on Minted ?
I sketched this sled the day before my daughter was born. It was Mother’s Day, 2011 and a holiday card challenge was taking place. I completely underestimated the time and attention a newborn would need so this sketch hung on a board in my office for an entire year before another holiday challenge opened again. Talk about letting a design marinate. I keep it on my board to this day to remind me that sometimes you have to walk away from an idea before it works. It’s also a nice reminder of a very special time in my life.
How would you describe your style?
I don’t think I have a distinct style. For the longest time I wanted to be one of those designers that you immediately recognized by their work, but I’m not. And coming to this conclusion was actually liberating. Maybe the possibility is still in my future but for now I’m ok with having my own little medley of styles.
How does living in Ohio influence your design?
I grew up on a rural area outside of Pittsburgh so I think my country roots & vintage appeal started way before moving to Ohio. But none-the-less, I think living in a rural area still feeds my desire to add some charm to most of my pieces. And believe it or not, Columbus, OH was ranked #3 in the world of fashion design below NYC and LA. Who knew Columbus could be a force on the forefront of the fashion industry? The city is even planning a huge fashion & music-fused event this summer year called FMMF, Fashion Meets Music Festival. I’m expecting some exciting things to come of this city. A world art install for one of Paige’s clients.
What design trends do you think are coming down the pipeline?
I think hand lettering and hand-drawn elements aren’t going anywhere for quite a while. It’s funny to have seen this style slowly emerge in advertising over the past two years.
Some of the largest companies in the world want to give a sense of craft to their otherwise mass-produced products, adding both personality and sentimental value. I embrace every opportunity we get to create hand-drawn art because it allows me to step away from the computer and go back to the basics of sketching and doodling. Before I became involved in stationery design, I would have never thought I’d see trends emerge in stationery before advertising. Just another eye-opening lesson I’ve learned from the Minted community.
As for the next design trend, I think it may be a stark contrast to this hand-drawn movement. I’m predicting minimalism with lots of white space and simple eye-catching imagery. Definitely a “Less is more” approach. Some of Paige’s agency work.
What is the most difficult aspects of the design process?
For me it’s fleshing out an idea that’s my your head. A blank page can be so intimidating. An art director of mine taught me that placing a texture or color in the background can help ease that transition. I’d also say that simplifying a design is quite challenging for me too. I always need to step away for a day or two before I know what to eliminate or change. That’s why the community critique phase can be so helpful during a challenge.
What advice would you give a new designer?
For someone who is just starting to enter into these challenges, I would say to set Minted-focused goals for yourself for a period of over 6 months or more. Give yourself time to grow. Make a list of five to ten goals and post-it where you can see it. For example, “Place in the top 10” or “Submit 7 solid designs in one challenge” or “Be featured in an email.” Have fun with your goals and think big. Just don’t expect them to happen sequentially. I set several goals for myself when I started. There’s one ultimate goal I’m still reaching for and that’s having one of my designs printed in a magazine, preferably one with Martha in the title. Ha ha. Who knows if it will ever happen but at least it’s something to keep striving for. Paige’s playroom wall with a mix of minted and non-minted art.
How do you balance all the different parts of your life and work?
I had to accept that the perfect work-life-balance equation may not exist. And that there is no such thing as having it all, or at least having it all at one time. It’s mostly about prioritizing what’s most important at the moment. There are times when my house is clean but I have guilt about not spending enough time with my kids or vice versa. I think becoming a mom forces you to become extremely efficient with your time. Most of my lunch breaks are spent running errands or working on Minted files when needed. After the kids go down at night, I usually have an hour or two but lately that time is spent cleaning bottles or packing lunches for the next day. I know it will change over time so I try to not be too hard on myself right now. I’ve been going through Minted withdrawal lately but I’m hopeful that someday in the future when my son is a little older, I’ll get to participate more often. It would be great to even start working out again, but lets not get ahead of ourselves. Ha ha!
Do you have any fun party planning tips you can share with us?
I don’t really have any party planning tips but I could tell you that a CD with a mix of toddler tunes is the best children’s party favor I’ve ever received.
To you, what is the ultimate indulgence?
A Pizookie. It’s a basically a chocolate chip cookie baked in a cast iron skillet served warm with vanilla ice cream on top. I’ve only had it once but I haven’t stopped thinking about it since.
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