As an “M”-level artist in Minted’s CMYK program, Sarah Brown has 125 winning designs on minted.com, but her success didn’t happen overnight. When she entered her first challenge, the 2009 Seasonal Save the Date Challenge, she submitted what she describes “a few terrible designs” and says she was mortified by the scores. “That experience really motivated me to become a better designer and to improve my skills,” she says, in hindsight. “Continuing to enter the design challenges is also a great incentive to keep your work fresh and try new things.”
Here, the designer from St. Joseph, Michigan, shares insights about her experience as a typography-driven designer, and her a-ha! moments along the way.
You’re a self-proclaimed typography enthusiast. When and how did this happen?
I’ve never considered myself a traditional artist—my drawing skills are pretty limited, and I’m generally too impatient for painting. Because of this, I struggled for a while as a designer to find my niche—there’s only so much you can do when you don’t paint or draw. After my first Minted winning design, “A Very Merry Christmas,” in 2010, it clicked with me that beautiful typography is an art form in itself. I received such a great response from that design from the community and consumers, and I began to focus on type-driven designs. I’ve tried to learn all I can about typography from books, online resources, and lots of trial and error.
“Merry First Christmas” by Sarah Brown
Combining Fonts by H&FJ
Beginner’s Guide to Open Type by Magnet Studio
Jessica Hische has a great list of resources on her site: http://jessicahische.is/heretohelp
I’m a big fan of Lynda.com: http://www.lynda.com/search?q=typography
This is a fun game to work on your kerning skills: http://type.method.ac/
How many hours per week do you work—and when and where?
Ideally, I would work on and off all day, every day—and I used to. I’m most productive when I can work a few hours, then move on to something else. But since having my daughter last January, things have changed quite a bit. Now I have three afternoons a week while she’s at daycare where I scramble to do all my client work. The rest of the time, I work in my home office while she naps, or my husband babysits so I can sneak off to a coffee shop with my laptop.
What do you like and dislike about working from home?
I love working from home! I’m very self-motivated, so I don’t have trouble getting things done. The flexibility means I can spend time with my daughter and still work full time, something I wouldn’t be able to do in a traditional office setting.
What’s your best advice to up-and-coming graphic designers?
Be patient and never stop trying new things.
What’s the most important thing you’ve learned in your career?
Don’t compare yourself or your work to others. No good will come of it, and you’re better off focusing on what you can do to improve yourself than worrying about what anyone else is doing.
“Soiree” letterpress wedding invitation by Sarah Brown
What can you tell us about your family?
My husband Jake and I have been married for seven years. We have a one year old daughter, Abigail, and she is pretty much our whole world right now.
SARAH’S MINTED EXPERIENCE
What do you enjoy most about being part of the Minted community?
When I first started entering contests, I was blown away that so many designers were willing to give honest advice and feedback to people they were competing against. I still see this in contests today, and I especially love how designers are genuinely happy for the winners. I am also so grateful for the friendships I’ve made because of the Minted community. Being a self-employed, work at home designer can get lonely, so it’s nice to have a group of people you can vent to or bounce ideas off of.
What’s your favorite Minted design that you created?
It’s been retired, but hands down, my favorite design was “A Very Merry Christmas.” It was my first win on Minted, and it laid the foundation for the type driven work I create today.
What’s your favorite Minted design or art that someone else created and why?
This “Heaven” art print by J.Bartyn—it’s hanging above my computer, and every time I look at it I smile, because it’s so so true.
“Heaven” by J.Bartyn is Sarah Brown’s favorite design by a Minted artist.
Favorite typefaces: Mrs. Eaves. It’s my go-to for everything.
Favorite color: Gray
Who or what inspires me: Lately I’m finding that my own life is inspiring my work. This past holiday was my daughter’s first Christmas, so naturally I submitted quite a few “Baby’s First Christmas” designs to The Most Wonderful Time holiday challenge.
What doesn’t inspire me: For me, there is nothing worse than staring at an empty art board.
Favorite recent discovery: Adobe Muse. I’m using it to give my website an overhaul, and so far I love it!
“Joyful Type” foil-pressed holiday card by Sarah Brown
QUICK! TELL US…
Photoshop or Illustrator? Illustrator
Movies or TV? TV
Modern or vintage? Both!
Morning or night? Night
Summer or winter? Summer
Junk food or healthy? Chocolate and wine
Car or public transportation? Car
Order in or dine out? Dine out
Published March 4, 2016 • Want to join the Minted Artist Community? Submit to a Challenge here.