Meet a Minted Artist: Renee Pulve of Smudge Design

You could say Renee Pulve of Smudge Design is living the artist’s dream. As a self-employed, full-time graphic designer and artist based in Westlake Village, California, Renee works from home and wherever she can take her laptop.

But her career isn’t all rainbows and unicorns. When we asked her how she balances life and work she responded, “I don’t!” Here she shares her inspiration, creative process, and more.

Photos of Renee Pulve at home by George Cox of

How do you approach self-employment?
Working from home, I find it very challenging to sit down at my computer and get creative during the day. To help stimulate productivity, I take regular yoga classes and find that some of my best ideas come after I’ve given my mind a creative rest. I rescued my pug Suki from Pug Rescue of Korea six years ago and became involved with their efforts to find homes for unwanted pugs.

As a night owl, I’ve discovered my most productive time is after 6 p.m. There’s something about the calming effect of the evening that seems to settle me in. For organization, I’m obsessed with the “Stickies” app for day-to-day lists, and my iPhone calendar is a must for setting appointment reminders.

Where do you go for design inspiration?
Most—if not all of my design inspiration—comes from travel. There’s just something about being out of your element and looking at things from a “vacation” point of view that opens my creative eye a little brighter than usual.

My first Minted art submission, “My Favorite Things,” came from the desire to typographically document some of my favorite travel destinations along with activities I enjoy. This particular piece is very personal to me and one of my most treasured art prints. I still remember the art challenge emails encouraging us to create art that we ourselves would want to buy—not just what we think the customer wants. I try to take that advice to heart in every challenge. The print also resonates very well with Minted customers—which is always a plus.

What artists do you admire?
In college, I drew inspiration from artists such as Henri Matisse and Vincent van Gogh. Today I find most of the artist/designers I admire are fellow Minties. Taleen Bedikian (TRB Design) created this continuous line drawing of my beloved pug Smudge (who I named my design company after). I also have works of art from Kerry Doyle of Paper Dahlia, Emily Jeffords, and Jane Wilder of Wilder California.

Tell us about one of your designs for sale on Minted and how you created it.
Anchored” is my favorite invitation and inspired by attending a friend’s wedding in Chesapeake Bay, Maryland. After returning home and reviewing all the memorable details (such as the anchor swag bag and maritime placecards), I found myself immersed in all things nautical. One by one, the pieces started coming together in my mind and the design finally took shape. I was thrilled that Minted honored it with the “Shapely Award” (a design that best uses one of Minted’s die-cut shapes). Being from California, the nautical theme isn’t all that unusual, so let’s just say I didn’t have to dig very deep.

Anchored” by Smudge Design

What’s the goal of your Tumblr, Theme Party Ideas?
To provide simple and affordable ideas for planning an entire party based on a theme. All of the party ideas coincide with invitations I’ve designed, so when you purchase one of my invitations you’re not just getting the invite, you’re getting the complete party idea! The blog offers photos and decorating tips along with Pinterest boards to help visualize each event.

Renee Pulve’s Favorite Things

Favorite design sites and blogs: Over the past year, I’ve increasingly moved toward Instagram since it gives me the instant gratification I’m looking for. Some of my favorites to follow are @Scarletandgoldshop, @britandco, @glitterguide, @thedailytype, @urbanic, @Designlovefest, and @Domino.

Fashion idol: I’m a fan of Tory Burch and her sophisticated style. She also recently launched the Tory Burch Foundation to help engage and empower female entrepreneurs. Her website provides access to advice, tools, and words of wisdom from industry leaders.

Ideal vacation spot: Costa Rica is probably one of my all-time favorite spots to visit with its vast terrain including beaches, rainforests, and volcanoes. My favorite is of course the plentiful wildlife. I recently visited the Osa Peninsula for a yoga retreat and was able to capture a photo of the very elusive sloth.

Coffee, tea, or soda?: Cappuccino!
Ultimate indulgence: A chocolate soufflé or warm molten lava cake
Netflix or HBO?: HBO
Something surprising about you: I volunteered at a lion sanctuary in South Africa.

Oils or Watercolor? Both, but I recently started indulging in watercolors. In college, I focused primarily in oil and acrylic paintings, but recently re-discovered watercolors and incorporate them into my designs whenever possible.
When did you begin creating art? I started drawing during elementary school in art class.
What did you study in school? Fine Art at California Lutheran University, BFA

More from Renee Pulve:
Minted Store
• Instagram: @SmudgeDesignCo

San Francisco” by Smudge Design

  1. Melanie Severin

    Such a great read – loved getting to know more about you, Renee!

  2. This was a lovely post and you are lovely, Renee! I have really enjoyed following you on IG and it’s really great to get to know you more! I totally agree that most of the artists I admire are other Minties and you are one of them! =)

  3. Kim Dietrich Elam

    Great interview – loved getting to know more about you, Renee!

  4. I already knew you were amazing, Renee, but this confirms it! 🙂

  5. Alaina Cherup / Cheer Up Press

    This is a great piece on you, Renee and I enjoyed reading it. I never knew you volunteered at a lion sanctuary!

  6. Aww, thank you ladies! 🙂 And thank you to Minted for the opportunity to be featured and Amy Schroeder for putting it all together.

  7. Oma

    Thanks for sharing so much with us Renee! It’s always so great to find out more about my favorite Minties!

  8. Jojo Blondal

    Kudos Renee! Your design work is always inspiring! And I enjoyed learning of your inspirations and having a peek into your world and you method. 🙂

  9. lori

    Wonderful interview, Renee! You’re an amazing designer/artist, and I love your work! So great to learn more about you! 🙂