Holiday Photo Card Challenge: 1st Place Winner

By Mariam Naficy

At Minted, we celebrate independent creatives. They are the heart and soul of what we do as a company. We know that creativity comes from unexpected places, and we cherish the serendipity and surprise that result from this. We strive to create a marketplace for independent creatives—a marketplace that rewards them for the quality of their work and provides customers with a direct connection to find art and design that expresses their unique style.

Minted’s annual Holiday Photo Card Challenge is the biggest stationery design event of the year. This year artists submitted a total of 4,661 designs. We have a very diverse group of winners who truly embody independence of thought.

I’m thrilled to announce that the first-place winner of the 2015 Holiday Photo Card Challenge is Karly Depew of Oscar & Emma for her design “Embellished.” The Columbus, Ohio, artist has won $9,000 and a forthcoming VIP trip to San Francisco along with second-place winner Phrosné Ras of Cape Town, South Africa, and third-place winner Kristie Kern of Akron, Ohio. All winners also earn commission on the sales of their winning designs. See Karly’s winning design and a video of me surprising her below.

Having known Karly as a dedicated Minted community member since the very first year Minted launched (in 2008), I’m thrilled for Karly and her holiday win. A self-taught designer, Karly has embodied the Minted community spirit from the beginning, repeatedly giving advice and help to new designers along the way.

Embellished” is a refreshing new take on a full-bleed design. I love the delicate, elegant, circular lockup, which still lets a customer’s photo shine. What I’ve always admired about Karly is that she studies her work so carefully and that her typography is so carefully considered. Karly revealed to us that she edited “Embellished” nearly 20 times to achieve perfection. The use of holly and the color red convey holiday festivity without compromising the card’s elegance and simplicity.

The Depew Family from left: Karly’s husband Judd, Ollie, Maeve, Parker, and Karly.
Photo by Christa Kimble

Karly’s design was a favorite among both consumers and our community of independent artists—a very difficult feat. Congratulations on this well-deserved accomplishment, Karly. We couldn’t be happier for you!

Each year we surprise the first-place winner, and each time we aim to get a little sneakier. I traveled this year to Columbus to surprise Karly, and even enlisted the help of a special accomplice and fellow Minted artist, Carrie O’Neal, who created a cover story and drove all the way from Cincinnati to help get Karly to the right cafe at the right time. I emerged from a broom closet at the cafe, trying to cover my face with giant red balloons. Watch the video to see how it all went down.


“Are you kidding me?”

That was Karly’s response when she saw me walk out with balloons at The Fox in the Snow Cafe in Columbus, Ohio.

Was she surprised? In a word, yes. “I had no idea,” Karly said, covering her face in surprise.  Here is a photo I snapped of Karly afterward—I love how delighted she is.

With 142 design challenge awards to her name, Karly has participated in Minted challenges since 2008 and knows that the holiday photo card challenge first place is a truly coveted prize. “It sounds cliché, but winning this challenge is a dream come true,” she said. “We [in the Minted community] all spend countless hours trying to create the one unique design that will stand out from the rest, and we anxiously await for someone to ‘like’ it and validate our hard work.”

What does Karly plan to do with her prize money? Though she wishes she could go on a shopping spree or an extravagant vacation, she wants to invest the money into building her artist brand. “I will most likely use some of the money to redesign my website and buy some beautiful new Minted artwork for my home,” she said.

Karly wants to thank fellow Minties, Minted customers, family, and friends who took the time to “like,” comment, and vote on her designs. “There is no greater reward than knowing there is someone out there who appreciates your work and celebrates you for it,” she said.

The Artist Relations Team at Minted Headquarters in San Francisco have this to add: “We’re still celebrating Karly’s win at the Minted headquarters in San Francisco, and we’re thrilled about the quality of all of this year’s winners. It was so much fun planning Karly’s surprise with Carrie, and it was wonderful to witness Karly’s heartfelt reaction. Congratulations, Karly.”

From left: Minted artist community member Carrie O’Neal, 2015 Holiday Card Challenge Winner Karly Depew, and Minted CEO and Founder Mariam Naficy.

Special thanks to Short North Piece of Cake, the whole Fox in the Snow crew, Yoni Mizrachi who held down the table, Matt Downey for producing the video, and Leah Conroy for creating the adorable shirts.

Want more Holiday Card Challenge surprise fun? Find out how we surprised the holiday winners in 20142013, and 2012.

More Winning Designs from our 2015 Holiday Photo Card Challenge:
2nd Place Winner
• 3rd Place Winner
• 4th Place Winner
• 5th & 6th Place Winners
• 7th & 8th Place Winners
• 9th & 10th Place Winners
• Top 11–15 Winners
• Top 16-20 Winners
• Top 21–30 Winners
• Top 31–40 Winners
• Top 41–50 Winners 

Published September 11, 2015

  1. Jenna

    Happy tears!! Congrats Karly!!

  2. Sandy

    Congratulations, Karly!! Such beautiful work and what a fun surprise!!

  3. Meg

    What a joy to see you win this year, Karly. You are crazy talented with such a lovely heart too. I’m so proud of you!! xoxo, m

  4. Yolanda

    LOVE this video… so much fun to watch! Congratulations Karly! You are so incredibly talented! Woo Hoo!

  5. Ekaterina Romanova

    Congratulations on your big win, Karly! Great work!

  6. lori

    Awwww!! That was such a sweet video!! Great job Mariam + Minted Team and great job Carrie – that was an awesome surprise!! And huge congrats, Karly!!! I absolutely LOVE that design!!! Sooooo happy for you (and your adorable family)!!! 🙂

  7. Diana

    The photo on your winning entry is of my grandson, Wesley, and his dog, Gertie. This photo was taken by my daughter and was used for her Christmas card last year! One of her blog readers sent her this link when she recognized Wesley. I see you’ve removed her script and added your own. With your design and her exceptional photo you’ve won a wonderful prize! Congratulations.