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 gcoxphoto.com

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

Inspiration
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.

Home
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.

Art
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
Smudgedesignco.com
• Instagram: @SmudgeDesignCo

San Francisco” by Smudge Design

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DIY: Watermelon Piñatas

Written by Olivia Kanaley

Savor the final days of August with these sweet slices. Watermelon-shaped piñatas come together easily from that ubiquitous summer-serving staple: the paper plate. Dessert-sized plates make watermelon slices sized just right for place settings or favors.

DIY Watermelon Pinatas DIY Watermelon Pinatas

Keep reading for the step-by-step instructions

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Three Cheers! Minted x West Elm: Special Prize Winners

We’re excited to announce the special prize winners for our Three Cheers! Minted x West Elm Challenge! We love collaborating with West Elm—they share our passion for discovering and celebrating work by talented independent artists. For this challenge, we asked our Minted Community to create art and photography pieces that would delight customers and bring a fresh style to the collection. A huge congratulations to all the winners!

Curator’s Choice Award for the art print that most captures
the attention of Minted’s Curatorial Team
Snowscape 1”  by Megan Kelley


Curator’s Choice Photography Award for the photograph that most captures
the attention of Minted’s Curatorial Team
Lakeside”  by Lisa Cersovsky


Black and White Art Award for the most interesting
black and white art print
Kansas”  by Stephanie Nowotarski

Click through to see more special prize winners from our invitation challenge

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Design to Dish: Crumb-Topped Blueberry Cheesecake Bars

Blueberries are a summer staple at our house—my kids love to shove fistfuls of fresh ones into their mouths in July and August, when they’re the sweetest, and I love freezing them so we can use them September through June in smoothies, pies, muffins, and more. These blueberry cheesecake bars are a great way to showcase fresh blueberries, but you can also use frozen berries and get a burst of bright, summery blueberry flavor even in the depths of winter. And these bars are so easy to make, which is always a bonus when it comes to sweets. Sometimes I see “cheesecake” and think that means tons of work, but this recipe is ridiculously simple.

blueberry cheesecake cookie bars I was inspired to create a blueberry recipe after spotting these beautiful “Watercolor
Wreath
” wedding invites by Yao Cheng, one of my favorite Minted artists (left).
Crumb-Topped Blueberry Cheesecake Bars (right; recipe below)

blueberry cheesecake cookie bars minted

Keep reading for this easy and delicious cookie recipe…

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Meet a Minted Artist: Christine Llewellyn

A monthly series where we highlight a member of our talented Minted artist community. Featured this month: surface pattern and product designer Christine Joy Llewellyn, who lives in Brooklyn.

After getting her MBA, Christine Llewellyn worked as a marketing manager while taking creative classes on the side—everything from ceramics and printmaking to architectural drafting. She decided to pursue a creative career full-time and got her masters in industrial design, and launched her design studio Christine Joy Design in 2014.

Meet a Minted Artist: Christine Llewellyn

Please tell us more about yourself!
I’m originally from Flushing, NY, and attended college in Connecticut at Wesleyan University. After a few years of financial consulting, I went on to get my MBA from the University of Michigan. After business school, I worked as a marketing manager at a large financial services company; while I loved marketing, I found myself constantly searching for creative outlets. I spent hours after work taking continuing education courses—in ceramics, architectural drafting, space planning, printmaking. Basically, if a creative class was being offered nearby, I was signed up! Soon after, I decided to get a Masters of Industrial Design from Pratt Institute and, in 2014, established Christine Joy Design.

Did you study art formally in school?
I took a few studio arts classes in college but felt pressure to major in something that might pave the way to a traditional career path. After college, I took advantage of being close to some wonderful New York City art schools and made it a point to enroll in as many creative continuing education classes as possible. When I decided to pursue my creative career full-time, I enrolled in the masters program at Pratt.

When did you begin painting and drawing?
I have very early memories of passing the time indoors with just a pencil and paper. I remember feeling complete happiness with crayons and paper, and being left alone to create things that came to my mind. I’ve always felt happiest and most at ease when I am creating.

What medium(s) do you most enjoy working with?
I use many different ones, including pens, pencils, markers, and stamps. I’ve recently fallen in love with watercolor. It requires you to relinquish control—you have to go with the flow and let the pigment do what it wants on the paper. There’s something very liberating about that.

Get a behind-the-scenes look at Christine Llewellyn at work
in her studio in this West Elm x Minted video.

What do you love about living in Brooklyn?
I currently live on the border of two vibrant Brooklyn neighborhoods: Fort Greene and Clinton Hill. They’re both relatively small and have a wonderful community feel to them. The neighborhoods are home to renowned educational and cultural institutions such as Pratt Institute and the Brooklyn Academy of Music, which gives it a wonderful, artistic vibe and energy. Though there were many more artists residing in these neighborhoods in the past, there is still a good number of artists and other people in creative fields. And being a mother of two young kids, there are tons of parks and playgrounds, which makes it an awesome place to raise children.

Please tell us more about your family.
I have two sweet, curious, and rambunctious toddlers: 3 years old and 19 months old. I also have an amazingly supportive husband who has always encouraged me to find and pursue my passion and is a huge reason behind my establishing Christine Joy Design.

How do you encourage creativity in your own children?
I’d say they encourage creativity in me! I’m amazed by the level of creativity my kids display on a daily basis. It’s so refreshing to see the wonderful things that happen when you aren’t bogged down by expectations, societal pressures, and other creativity-stifling constructs and do what you truly are drawn to do. By watching them construct, deconstruct, make messes, and just have loads of fun is a huge inspiration for me.

Meet a Minted Artist: Christine Llewellyn  Christine Llewellyn of Christine Joy Design in her studio.

How did you first hear about Minted?
After deciding to launch Christine Joy Design in 2014, I decided to exhibit at Surtex, an art licensing trade show at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York City. I had sort of a “go big or go home” mindset and the fact that it took place right here in New York City made exhibiting there a no-brainer for me. A few people from Minted approached my booth and encouraged me to submit to an upcoming art challenge. Thankfully I did and won an Editor’s Pick.

What do you enjoy most about being part of the Minted community?
I am amazed daily by the spirit of generosity present in this community. There are so many talented artists at various levels in their career who share their unique perspective and knowledge. We all value each other’s opinions and make it a point to support each other in any way we can. It’s amazing that Minted has created such a wonderful platform for so many artists from around the globe to connect and form both professional and personal bonds.

What does Minted mean to you as a working artist?
As an independent artist, it’s really hard to get your name out there and get exposure. Minted has given me the platform to reach a much wider audience than I would have ever thought of reaching on my own. I never dreamt that I would have prints for sale at West Elm just a year after launching my business, but Minted made it possible. I definitely would’ve told you you were crazy if you told me this was going to happen so quickly.

What are you inspired by?
I’m inspired by my kids and their unabashed sense of wonder and excitement at things most adults either ignore or take for granted. I am inspired by my time living abroad in The Republic of Congo, Denmark, and Greece. I love beautifully and thoughtfully designed objects. I am constantly on the look out for interesting textiles, colors, and patterns that might inform my next work.

How would your describe your artistic style?
My style is bold, elegant, playful, and globally inspired. There are rhythmic elements in my work and there is a fair amount of pattern repetition and various repeated geometric shapes.

What do you do when you encounter artist’s block?
Going for a walk usually helps. In New York City there’s just so much to be inspired by that it’s hard to go out and not find inspiration. I also find my level of creativity is directly related to how much I am connecting with the music I am listening to. If I find I’m having a block, I try to find “new” music that might motivate to create and come up with something different and interesting.

Meet a Minted Artist: Christine Llewellyn
Christine’s Favorite Things
We asked Christine to share her current favorite art, style, and home décor inspirations.

Inspiration
Who inspires you: My mom. Being a working mother of four, she is a superhero to me. I have my hands full and only have two!
Favorite place in the world: Antigua, West Indies [ 1 ]
Favorite charity: Make-a-Wish Foundation
Favorite colors: Pink and teal
Favorite city: Copenhagen [ 6 ]
Last stamp on your passport: Antigua, West Indies
Daily website read: I love reading about architecture and real estate and make it a point to check out Curbed and Brownstoner daily.
Song in your head: “Afro Blue” by Robert Glasper
Favorite Instagrammer: @satsukishibuya

Home
Favorite pieces of art in your home: My daughter’s crayon drawings in our living room. I love that she is SO proud of her work and aptly calls that portion of the room her “exhibition area.”
Coffee-table book: Remix by Jeanine Hayes and Bryan Mason of AphroChic [ 2 ]
Pets: Bobby! He’s our 5 year old chihuahua, spaniel, Pekingese mix.
Favorite drink: A glass of red wine after a long day of toddler chasing  [ 3 ]
Favorite snack: Chocolate-covered pretzels  [ 4 ]
Favorite flowers: Orchids [ 7 ]
Stationery: Moglea  [ 8 ]
Favorite gadgets: My Wacom Cintiq tablet
Favorite neighborhood restaurant: Madiba in Fort Greene, Brooklyn
Favorite dessert: Malva pudding

Art
Favorite artist: I love the illustration work of local Brooklyn artist Sean Qualls [ 5 ]
Favorite art supply store: Blick
Favorite watercolor paints: Winsor & Newton professional watercolor tubes  [ 9 ]
Favorite brushes: Princeton Artist Brush Co.  [ 10 ]
Other art-related favorites: I love a good nice quality watercolor paper. My favorite is Arches cold press.

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DIY: Fabric Locker Magnets

Decorating your locker is one of the most fun parts about kicking off a new school year. This year, turn your favorite patterned fabrics into cute magnets to display photos, notes from friends, or your school schedule.

Supplies:
Button making kit
Magnets
Fabric
Strong glue

Steps:

1. Use the stencil that comes with your button-making kit to choose what you want on the front of your magnet. Trace the outside of the stencil and cut out the circle.

2. Place the button mold on your work surface (the clear plastic piece included in the kit), open end up; center the fabric over the mold with the printed side face down. Take the button shell (the rounded metal piece included in the kit) and center it on the circle-shaped piece of fabric; it should be directly above the mold. Using your fingers, gently push the button back down into the mold; the fabric should gather up around the button shell like a little pouch.

3. Tuck the fabric into the button shell and cover it with the flat-sided button back (also included in the kit). Place the pusher (the blue piece in the kit) on top of the button back; firmly push the button back into place (the entire unit needs to be pushed down into the mold). Listen for a small snap when the button back is firmly in place.

4. Remove the button by pressing up on the bottom of the mold; glue a magnet to the back. Let it dry completely and you’re ready to decorate!

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How do your surroundings inspire your creativity?

The launch of Minted Home got us thinking about how our surroundings inspire creativity, so for this edition of #WhatInspiresMe, we asked three Californians to talk about how their workspace and play space affects their creative process.

Kayla King
Arroyo Grande, California

I’ve always had a deep love for reading, and to this day I often feel like a big kid at heart. I collect vintage children’s books, my favorites being from the 1950s and 1960s. I love the bright colors, the simple shapes, and the sense of wonder they still bring me when I read them again and again. My workspace is filled with mini collections that bring me joy—out-of-print magazines, photos with my husband, train tickets from a recent trip, simple color studies, and my two little dachshund buddies, Indy and Fritz, who never leave my side when I’m home working.

Cycling Sausage” by Kayla King

12 Days” wrapping paper by Kayla King


Aspacia Kusulas
Los Angeles, California

My creativity is fueled by memories, travel experiences, and everyday life. To preserve these moments, I collect objects, pieces of paper, and photos that inspire me and remind me of the remarkable places I’ve visited or things I’ve seen that have left a strong impression. I like to gather these objects in a clean, organized space and sketch out anything that comes to mind.

Eventually that clean space becomes a bit disorganized—actually, a mess—but the confusion of memories sparks my imagination, and my ideas take on a more cohesive form. I use my sketch book, pencils, and markers to explore my ideas and test concepts, but when I finally hit on something that resonates, my Wacom tablet is essential in helping me shape it into a final product. It’s important for me to have all my tools easily accessible and in one place. I also find it fundamental to create a soothing ambiance through muted lighting and my essential playlists.

I’d rather wear flowers” by Aspacia Kusulas

Abstracciones Vol. 3” by Aspacia Kusulas


Shannon Chen of Four Wet Feet Studio
Sacramento, California

I keep an inspiration board above my desk to help spark my imagination. I like to put anything related to what I’m working on up on the broad, such as watercolor doodles, postcards, and photos for ideas.

Part of my creative space is the outdoors. To me, traveling, hiking, and immersing myself in nature is a great way to get away from the computer and find inspiration. I usually take photos of the scenery and plants for reference for my work. I also like to burn incense in my studio—I find the smell relaxing and calming while refreshing the energy of the room. There are usually piles of sketches and watercolor doodles on my desk. Sometimes, when I get stuck, I paint a bunch of random sketches that I might revisit later. Once I have something that I think is worth developing, I paint more sketches to refine the idea.

Birchwoods in Winter” by Four Wet Feet Studio

Blue Blossoms” by Four Wet Feet Studio


How about you—how do your surroundings inspire your creativity? Share your answer in Comments below and on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter with the hashtag #WhatInspiresMe.

#WhatInspiresMe is published every other Monday. This is the third edition; read the second edition here.

Learn how to become a Minted artist here.

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DIY: Ruler Clip Frame

By Sara Albers and Melissa Fenlon of Alice & Lois

With school back in session, we’re starting to think about ways to showcase our kiddos’ latest artwork. These DIY ruler clip frames are an easy way to show off their mini masterpieces—they’d look great on your desk at work or on your mantel, don’t you think? This project is super-simple to make; all you need are wooden rulers and binder clips and you’re all set.

Make this cute and simple DIY ruler frame.

Click through for the project instructions

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Minted Real Wedding: Emily & David in Annapolis, MD

A Southern belle and her Marine Corps fiancé met through mutual friends in the fall of 2012 but it wasn’t until a year later—after their pals convinced them to reconnect via Skype—that their relationship took off. After getting engaged in 2014, the couple exchanged vows in the chapel at the Naval Academy, followed by dinner and dancing at their waterside reception venue.

Are you a Minted bride? If you’d like to submit your wedding for consideration, please email a brief description of your celebration and a link to your wedding photos to heather@minted.com.

Minted Real Wedding: Emily & David in Annapolis, MD

Bride and groom: Emily White and David Piekut
Occupations: Advocacy Manager for Fight Colorectal Cancer (Emily); Second Lieutenant, United States Marine Corps (David)
Based in: Pensacola, FL
Wedding date: May 02, 2015
Ceremony location: United States Naval Academy, Annapolis, MD
Reception location: Chesapeake Bay Foundation, Annapolis, MD
Number of guests: 130
Minted wedding invitation: “Modern Classic” by Annie Clark
Wedding gown: Allure Couture
Wedding planner: Roxanne Ladd, Behind the Scenes Events
Florist: Rhonda Kaplan
Catering & cake: The Main Ingredient Catering
Photographer: Krista A. Jones Photography

Minted Real Wedding: Emily & David in Annapolis, MD

How did you and David meet?
We love the look on people’s faces when they ask us where we’re from and we answer separately, “New York City” and “A really small town in South Carolina.” Meeting each other and falling in love must have been destiny because so many things had to fall into place just right for it to happen. Luckily, my best friend (and maid of honor!) knew what she was doing when she introduced us. Her (then-) boyfriend attended the Naval Academy and David accompanied him to South Carolina for the USC vs. Navy football game in September 2012. They stayed at our apartment for the weekend and David and I spent hours talking in the kitchen. A year later, our friends convinced us to catch up via Sykpe and the next thing I knew, I was buying a plane ticket to visit him in Annapolis.

Minted Real Wedding: Emily & David in Annapolis, MD

Click through to read more of Emily and David’s wedding story…

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DIY: Pressed Flower Serving Dish

Pressed flowers are a wonderful way to savor the beauty of summer and this simple DIY project is the perfect way to display your favorite blooms. And if you’re tying the knot this summer, save a few favorite flowers from your bouquet to incorporate into this project.

Supplies:
• Dried/pressed flowers and greenery
• Dishes (select ones with enough depth; I used candle dishes from IKEA’s IDEAL collection)
Clear epoxy
• Craft glue
• Small paintbrush

Steps:

1. Wipe the dishes clean; next, position your pressed flowers and greenery on the various dishes.

2. Once you’re happy with your composition, using a tiny dab of glue on a small paintbrush, adhere the flowers and greenery to the dish. Allow glue to dry before continuing. I found it helpful to place something flat and heavy like a book on top to weigh the pieces down.

3. Mix the epoxy according to the instructions. Carefully pour the epoxy evenly into the dish, submerging the florals. You may see some little bubbles floating around; get rid of them by lightly blowing on them. Larger bubbles can be popped using a toothpick or a pin.

4. Let the epoxy dry according to the instructions. Once it’s completely dry, enjoy your pressed flower display!

 

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