Q&A: How does food inspire your creativity?

At Minted, we believe inspiration is everywhere—you just have to look for it. With Thanksgiving a few days away, we’ve been thinking not only about challenging situations we’re thankful for but also, well, food.

For this edition of #WhatInspiresMe, artists Rebecca Bowen, Ariel Rutland, and Ann Gardner share stories of how the simple act of enjoying food inspires them.

Rebecca Bowen
Dallas, Texas

I have a strong affinity for food. I mean, I really love food.

Food has shaped all of my favorite vacations, childhood memories, holidays, family meals, and every party I’ve ever hosted or attended. The Food Channel is always on in my house, and my children and I are glued to it.

I’m never without a snack and a tasty beverage at arm’s reach. I cannot say that I am great at cooking, but I do love dreaming up my own creations. My mother just so happens to be the best cook on earth, meshing together her Italian heritage and my father’s Arabic side—we never had a bad meal.

My favorite pastime, aside from designing, is seeking out new restaurants. The whole experience of eating is exciting to me. It’s about eclectic atmospheres and well designed menus, colorful cocktails, and a wonderful aroma in the air. I especially love places that put a lot of creativity into their menu. Pairing unusual food groups in unique ways. I love spicy cocktails, and bacon hidden in my desserts.

Glamour” notebook by Rebecca Bowen

I tend to approach food as I do designs—there must always be something different or unusual thrown in. It must be true to itself yet somehow be set apart from the rest and it does not need to be clouded up with unnecessary ingredients. And like design, the food must be visually interesting. It must be beautiful enough to take a photo of and share it with the world.

Wine-Thirty” Cocktail Party Online Invitation by Rebecca Bowen

All About That Joy” holiday photo card by Rebecca Bowen

Ariel Rutland
Princeton, New Jersey

During the holiday season, I love to make lemon yogurt cake. It’s an old standby that gets me into the wintry spiritespecially when it’s time to dust the top with snowy powdered sugar, which is the perfect opportunity to turn out a festive sugary design.

For this powdered-sugar design, I took the wreath illustration I created for “Winter Joy Wreath” in Illustrator and printed it large on a standard printer paper. Then I painstakingly cut it out with an Exacto knife, and voila! It became a stencil. I laid the stencil over the cake and dusted the sugar on top then lifted off the stencil to reveal the design.

Winter Joy Wreath” self-launch A2 card by Ariel Rutland

Clockwise from top: “Merrily Christmas mini card” gift tag; “Winter Merry Bright” self-launch A2 card; “Geo New Year” self-launch A2 card; “Hanukkah paper cutout card

Ann Gardner
Irving, Texas

When I was young, the aroma of fresh-baked bread filled the house around the holidays. It was a signal that it was officially the holiday season. The time I spent with my mom in the kitchen brought out a love of creating from scratch. From homemade bread and cinnamon rolls to decorating holiday cookies, making things with my hands inspired me to create—and of course, enjoy the fruits of my labor.

A must-have baked good with my family during the holidays is fruitcake. I know what you’re thinking…fruitcake? But my mom’s is so good, chock-full of fruit and just enough batter to hold everything together. And so fresh and moist. Not your typical store-bought fruitcake. As I was working on holiday designs this year, her fruitcake popped into my head, and I saw that great photo of two kids making faces. It seemed like a perfect combination for a fun holiday design.

Holiday Fruitcakes” Christmas photo card by Ann Gardner

The Night Before” holiday photo cards by Ann Gardner

How does food, drink, or a particular meal inspire your creativity? Share your answer in Comments below and on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter with the hashtag #WhatInspiresMe. We feature some of our favorite social shares in our Minted Fine Arts newsletter.

Does routine inspire or stifle your creativity?
Has anything ever scared you so much it’s inspired you?
Who’s your biggest creative influence?

Published November 23, 2015 • Learn how to become a Minted artist here.


Contest: Minted Holiday “Pin Your Gift List” ($1,000 Prize)

12/11/15 UPDATE: Congratulations to Amber Barkley, the winner of Minted’s Gift List giveaway!


The holidays are Minted’s favorite time of year, so let us help you celebrate the season and make your holiday shopping a little easier with a $1,000 Minted gift card. To enter our giveaway, all you need to do is recreate your #MintedHoliday Gift List on Pinterest.

How to Enter:

1. Follow @Minted on Pinterest for lots of creative holiday gift ideas and inspiration.

2. Create your own Pinterest board titled “My Minted Holiday Gift List.”

3. Pin at least 10 Minted items you’d love to give your loved ones (or yourself!), including the official Minted Holiday Gift List pin.

4. Confirm your entry by emailing pintowin@minted.com with a link to your board.

This contest ends on Sunday, December 6, 2015. We’ll announce the winner with a special pin on the “Minted Holiday Gift List” Pinterest board by December 9. Official contest rules are hereMerry Pinning!


5, 4, 3, 2, 1…Happy New Year’s Challenge: Special Prize Winners

5, 4, 3, 2, 1…let’s get ready to toast to 2016! Each year we see New Year’s cards become a bigger trend among customers who are too busy having fun over the holidays. We asked you, our talented Minted community, to really wow the world with original designs that ring in 2016 with a bang! We’re raising our glasses to all the winners and runners-up – congratulations everyone!

For the most unconventional, unique design 
that you wouldn’t find on any other site

Diamond New Year” by Chica Design

For the best way of displaying the numbers “2016 
2016” by Cass Loh

Runners-Up: Bubbly” by Leah Bisch | “Glass of Bubbly” by GeekInk Design
Mid Century New Year” by Pistols

For the best clever, witty or funny card 
Bubbly Birth” by Lori Wemple

Runner-Up: So Last Year” by Carolyn MacLaren

For the card that uses clever wording to 
reinvent the typical new year’s greeting 
Countdown to 2016!” by Lily Metcalf

 For the most elegant, timeless new year’s design  
New Year Wishes” by Erica Krystek

Runners-Up: Deco” by Fine and Dandy Paperie | “Classic Type” by Kelly Schmidt

For the best design that celebrates what’s
 new and exciting in someone’s life  
New Year, New View” by Bethany Anderson

Runners-Up: From the Crib, No.9” by Frooted Design | “New Story” by GeekInk Design
Ringing” by Lauren Chism

For the best design that showcases multiple photos  
Intertwined” by Ann Gardner

Runners-Up: Engraved Numerals” by Jennifer Wick | “Thatched” by Fig and Cotton Paperie

For the best full-bleed photo card 
Confetti Toss” by Lehan Veenker

Runner-Up: Festive Flourish” by Kristie Kern

For the best design with elements
that would truly shine in foil
Gold Etched” by Erica Krystek

Runners-Up: Gilded Pointillism” by Aspacia Kusulas | Jewel Frame” by Ana Sharpe
a-MAZE-ing” by Kissyfish

For the best design that puts personalizable details on a curvilinear path 
2016 New Year Swash” by fatfatin

Runners-Up: Golden Cheers 2016” by Helen H Wu | Party Hats” by Hanna McShan

For the best design from a first-time entrant  
MMXVI” by Tina Kuczaj

Images created by Leah Conroy

Celebrate Innovation Award – will be announced at a later date

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Q&A: What advice was hard to stomach but you now appreciate?

Why is it that you don’t recognize a “blessing in disguise” until you’ve had some distance from it?

We’ve been thinking about taking a step back to reflect on challenging situations that, while bittersweet in the moment, we’re thankful for in the long run. And that’s the impetus for the second edition of #ArtistAdvice. Here, Minted artists Kelly Ventura and Olivia Raufman answer the question What advice was hard to stomach at first but now you’re thankful for?

Kelly Ventura
Milford, Michigan
Kelly’s Minted Artist Store • kellyventura.com • Instagram @KellyVenturaDesign

Learn to accept hearing no and saying no.

When I was laid off from my full-time job in 2011, it was a blessing in disguise, though it stung to the core. I was seven-plus months pregnant with my second child and wondering what would come next. Once the baby was born, I split my time enjoying those first few months in newborn bliss and slowly building my freelance business.

I submitted my portfolio to several dream companies in hopes of a collaboration and repeatedly heard the word, “No.” Rather than wallow in the rejection, I pushed forward and worked hard to develop my style. I knew that’s what was missing in my submission—my voice, style, a certain unique perspective that those retailers were craving. A year later, after painting and patterning my heart out, I showed at Surtex, landed several of those dream clients that rejected me previously, and now feel more confident about my place in this big sea of artists.

I have also found it immensely helpful to make sure that projects and collaborations line up with my vision as an artist-designer. At one time, I was saying yes to everything that came my way, and I noticed a decline in my happiness and quality of work. Now that I have a more defined style and brand identity, it’s easier for me to say no to the projects that don’t strengthen my brand and say yes to the right ones.

Hushed” limited-edition print by Kelly Ventura

Soma” limited-edition print by Kelly Ventura

Click through to read Minted artist Olivia Raufman’s response to the question


“Gift of Art” Challenge: Special Prize Winners

We have found that Minted customers love to give the gift of art! In this challenge we looked to you, our talented Minted artists, to create the most original and unique artwork that would make the perfect gift. Thanks to all of you, the Minted site is now filled with beautiful custom artwork you can’t find anywhere else . Congratulations to all the winners!

Out of the Box Award
For the most creative giftable piece
Botanical Letter Series J” by Grace Kreinbrink

Custom Photo Award: For the most artistic custom
photo piece that displays one photo
Metallic Dash” by Makewells

Series Award
For the most unique idea for a series of art pieces
“Inked Typography – Mount Ranier” by Linda Misiura

Cartography Award
For the most creative take on a map
Golden Cities 3” by Amy Payne

Click through to see more special prize-winning gifts to give this holiday season


DIY: Fabric Coasters

Get creative this holiday season and pair your holiday cocktails with these simple no-sew fabric coasters. They’re a festive and budget-friendly way to add some personality to your party (they make great hostess gifts and stocking stuffers, too). Choose your favorite pattern from Minted’s collection of fabrics and then whip up these fun coasters in 10 minutes, flat (I promise!).

Click through for the step-by-step instructions

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Throw a Hot Cocoa-Themed Party this Holiday Season

Whether you’re planning to host a holiday tree-trimming party, kid’s birthday celebration, or even a wintry-themed bridal or baby shower, we love the idea of a cozy hot cocoa theme. The party-throwing geniuses over at Happy Wish Company were so inspired by Minted’s “Hot Cocoa Bar” holiday invitation that they created this very merry hot chocolate party. Keep reading for their tips on how to recreate it at home.

Holiday Party Idea: Hot Cocoa


DIY: Thanksgiving Pie Topper

Written by Kathleen Ballos of  Snowdrop & Co

Whenever I bake a cake or pie, I can’t help but want to top it with some cute decorations. Since Thanksgiving dinner is all about the pie (well, for me it is!) I thought this simple laurel-wreath topper would be just perfect. Use whatever color crepe paper you like, or use neutrals to keep the look simple and modern.

Thanksgiving Pie Topper

Click through for the step-by-step instructions …


Meet a Minted Artist: Natalie Groves

A series where we highlight a member of our Minted artist community. Featured this month: painter Natalie Groves, who lives with her husband and daughter in Exira, Iowa. 

Self-taught artist Natalie Groves (who got her start as a chalk artist at Trader Joe’s!) began painting with watercolors after she moved from Southern California to the rolling countryside of Exira, Iowa. Here, she shares a glimpse into her life in the country and opens up about juggling art, life, and motherhood.

Meet a Minted Artist: Natalie Groves

How did you end up doing what you’re doing now?
I have loved drawing since childhood. When I was in my early 20s I worked for Trader Joe’s as their chalk artist. I received incredibly valuable on-the-job training: how to find my own personal style, how to consistently meet deadlines, how to listen, catch vision, and crank out artwork. When I moved from Santa Barbara, CA to Exira, IA with my husband, I started experimenting with watercolor. Eventually I met Meg Gleason of Moglea and started working in her letterpress studio. She encouraged me to enter a Minted art challenge! I am so glad she did.

Did you study art formally in school?
I am self taught, but I would love to study children’s book illustration someday.

Where do you currently reside? 
I live in the rolling countryside of Exira, IA. The city is an hour from us, but I love almost everything about living in the middle of nowhere. Beautiful views, lots of space, quiet, gardening, horses in the pasture, kittens on the deck, deer in the timber, simplicity. It’s quite perfect out here!

Meet a Minted Artist: Natalie Groves

Can you share the schedule of a typical day in the life?
I am a new mother—our daughter Navine (rhymes with ‘pine’) is 11 months old—so my day consists of caring for my family, home, and property. I think the only constant is that my husband and I always go to bed at the same time together, and he reads Scandinavian folk and fairytales to me until I fall asleep.

What are some of your own “rules” for living + working?
I only paint when the house is clean and my daughter is sleeping… so not very often!

What was the best recent conversation you’ve had?
Any conversation with my little sister. She is a wise and incredibly funny young lady.

Please describe your last month in a word.

Can you share an as-of-yet unrealized project with us?
I just started painting pet portraits! (Ed. note: See a recent cat portrait in the collage above.)  You can watch the process unfold on Instagram (@meadowtogrove).

What are you serious about?
Loving my husband and daughter.

How do you balance work and family time?
I am still experiencing the new struggle of self-sacrifice for my daughter. There are days when I get overwhelmed because I want to accomplish something, but we do baby stuff all day instead. When she snuggles me or I get to see her do something new I forget about my crashing art career. That is a dramatic way of saying I am so grateful to stay home with her. She tips the balancing scale.

How do you encourage creativity in your own child?
Navine already enjoys making noise on several different instruments. We read piles of books, explore outside and share new experiences. I can’t wait for her to be able to hold a crayon! Then we can make art together.

Meet a Minted Artist: Natalie Groves

What medium(s) do you most enjoy working with?
A micron pen, a brown color pencil, and watercolor on hotpress watercolor paper. I also love working with Nupastel chalk.

When did you begin drawing and painting?
As soon as I could hold a pencil.

Is there a movement in art history that speaks to you?
Golden Age illustration. The line work is remarkable!

If you could sit down with any artist past or present, who would it be and where?
Beatrix Potter, in her home.

How do you approach your art?
Very quietly with a paintbrush. I like to sneak up on it.

How would your describe your artistic style?
Illustrative, scientific.

What do you do when you encounter artist’s block?
Clean the house or weed the garden.

What are you working on now?
Drawing the Belgian draft horse that currently resides in our pasture.

What are some of your favorite Minted pieces?
“All is Quiet” by Jenni Kupelian: I love the color palette and the subject. The Icelandic pony is so sweet and the landscape is serene.

“Landscape of Triangles and Dots” by Yao Cheng: I like the texture of Yao’s painting. To me, it looks like a forest of triangles. Every person who visits our home comments on how much they like her piece.

What does Minted mean to you as a working artist?
I am so thankful that Minted allows me to make a small living so that I can stay at home with our daughter and take care of our home and property. I spend about four hours a week painting! Barely anything! But because Minted does all the hard work, promotion, printing, shipping, and record keeping, I am able to paint and then sit back and enjoy my family and responsibilities.

Meet a Minted Artist: Natalie Groves

Natalie’s Favorite Things
We asked Natalie’s to share her current favorite art, style, home décor inspirations.

Who inspires you: My husband
Favorite place in the world: Home
Favorite color: Light ochre
Fashion idol: I wish I knew how to dress!
Favorite city: Santa Barbara, CA
Last stamp on your passport: Italy
Song in your head: “White Foxes” by Susanne Sundfør

Favorite pieces of art in your home: “Cetti Warbler” and “The Night Bird Sings His Lullaby,” both commissioned pieces by UK-based artist Natasha Newton.
Stationery: Moglea
Pets: Cat
Favorite flowers: Hollyhocks, dahlias, zinnias, lilacs, peonies, and ranunculus
Favorite neighborhood restaurant: Chad and Meg Gleason’s house
Favorite drink: Mulled wine
Favorite snack: Frozen banana, peanut butter, milk smoothie

More from Natalie Groves:
• Natalie’s Minted Store
• Natalie’s Blog
Natalie’s Instagram
• Recent Julep post featuring Natalie: “Has anything ever scared you so much it inspired you?”

Photos: Some Kinda Golden; cat portrait is courtesy of Natalie Groves


6 Festive Minted Self-Launch Holiday Cards

Written by Christina Loff

The self-launch celebration continues! This week we’re putting the spotlight on six Minted artists who have created beautiful greeting cards.

Several people in my life always answer the question, “What do you want for Christmas?” with “peace and love,” and they’ll be receiving this lovely card designed by Melissa O’Connor-Arena of Gray Star Design from me this year. Melissa’s striking photos also make great gifts.

How bold and beautiful is this Hanukkah card designed by Ariel Rutland? The paper cutout effect works so well with this design, and I love how she carried the details to the back of the card.

Sharon Orgad of Stylisti has a Minted Artist Store full of beautiful custom and non-custom holiday cards. But there’s something so cozy and calm about this illustrated “Peaceful Holidays” Card that draws me in. Be sure to check out all of Sharon’s holiday designs right here.

This “Mid-Century Modern Holiday Card” designed by Melanie Biehle brings the perfect pop of color to holiday greetings. We love the retro vibe and the pink and black. And how amazing would a pile of presents look wrapped in the matching wrapping paper?

This joyful card brings holiday cheer to any mailbox. “Celebrate the Curve” is a festive and fun card designed by Margaret Williams who has filled her Store with some lovely holiday designs this season.

Sure, our focus is on holiday cards, but we couldn’t help but include Liz Conley’sNovember Chrysanthemums” birthday card in our roundup. Don’t miss Liz’s entire “Birth Flowers Series” featuring beautifully painted flowers for each month—these framed prints would make a great birthday or holiday gift.

Christina Loff is an Artist Relations Manager at Minted, focusing on outreach and onboarding. She relishes every opportunity to collaborate with creative people and bring communities together around original products and ideas. She’s been lucky enough to work with the talented and innovative teams at ReadyMade magazine (RIP), Creativebug, Hello!Lucky, and Chronicle Books, where she worked as a publicist and marketer for six years, developing and promoting their lifestyle and craft category. Christina has also written for various websites and magazines including CraftStylish and SFist. Follow Christina on Instagram and Twitter @tweetsweet.

6 of our Favorite Self-launch Gift Tags & Wrapping Paper”
Minted Self-Launch Templates
Minted Artist Stores Merchandising Tools Tutorial Video
How to Merchandise Your Minted Artist Store for the Holidays

Published November 17, 2015 • Learn how to become a Minted artist here.

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