Minted artist Lea Delaveris spent a decade working tough hours in the newspaper business and loved just about every minute of it — tight deadlines and all. Now that she’s a mom of two boys and the news industry has changed substantially, she’s designed a career for herself as an independent stationery designer. “Most of my day is spent in ‘mom mode,” the Columbus, Ohio, artist says of her freelance lifestyle. “The line is quite blurry between work and play for me. I honestly don’t think I can quantify the hours I work, but I know I spend quite a bit of time at my computer. Lea says she enjoys being able to work from home and be with her kiddos. “I just wish I were better at resisting the lure of my desk, though.”
In the past six years, Lea has made a name for herself on Minted as a designer who creates clean, simple, type-drive designs. “I really like when I can incorporate a bit of humor or playfulness, too.” In this interview, the Ohio artist talks about her love of visual communication, being “Mintie spotted” by a teenage boy, and what she hopes 2017 has in store for her.
Did you study art or design formally in school?
Yes, I majored in publication design and informational graphics at Ohio University. It was sort of a journalism and graphic design hybrid that felt like it was created just for me. In high school, I was really involved in the journalism department, but I didn’t love the writing part — layout and design was my area. So when I was looking at colleges and majors and found OU’s School of Visual Communication, I knew that’s where I had to be. It was exactly what I wanted to be doing.
“Give Glory” by Lea Delaveris
Before life as a wife, mom, and stationery designer, you spent 10 years working in newspaper design. Why and how did you make the transition into stationery design?
I interned at a few newspapers in college and was surprised by how much I enjoyed it. I liked the fast pace, quick turnaround, and the behind-the-scenes aspect of it. I admired the work of The Columbus Dispatch while I was at Ohio University and jumped at a job opportunity there just a few months out of school. I got to work with such an amazingly talented staff of artists, designers, writers, photojournalists, and editors. I have such an appreciation for the way words and images work together — and the importance of good journalism in general.
But I got in as the news industry was really beginning to change dramatically, so I had a few years of getting to do a lot of really fun creative stuff (my absolute favorite work was for an irreverent humor page), but as more and more cutbacks happened, the more scarce the fun stuff became. Between that and the hours — which were not very conducive to having a family; typically working 4 p.m. to midnight and having to be on duty some holidays and weekends — I opted to stay home when my oldest was born and start a freelance design business. I stayed on staff a few more years as a weekend fill-in, but it was too hard after that late night Sunday sports design shift, from 5 p.m. to 1 a.m., to snap back into mom mode bright and early Monday morning. I do miss it sometimes — especially the people I worked with — but the newspaper world is just so different now even from when I left for good three years ago.
“Colorful New Year Wishes” by Lea Delaveris
Can you tell us about your family?
My husband and I have been married for 10 years. We were set up in college by mutual friends because we were both Greek — and our names are Lea and Lee — and we ended up hitting it off right away and finding out all sorts of crazy small-world connections. We now have two boys — Steven, who is almost 7, and Dean, who is 4.
Can you share the schedule of a typical day in the life?
Most of my day is “mom mode.” I try at least a few days a week to get to the gym crazy early and then get ready for the day before anyone else is up. Even though I’d never call myself a morning person, I do cherish the peace and quiet of that time. The house gets hopping around 8 as we do breakfast, pack lunches, and then walk my oldest to school. My youngest is in afternoon preschool, so a few mornings a week we have something going on for him, and then once I get him off to school, I’ll either spend some time working or running errands until I go pick both of them up. Their school is close, but they have staggered times, so I’m back and forth four times and log about 3.75 miles of walking a day. It helps me feel better about the time I spend parked at my desk. I pop into my office here and there throughout the day, but I usually don’t get to sit down and get any real work done until after dinner or after their bedtime.
“Joyful and Noisy” by Lea Delaveris
How do you balance family life with work?
Not well! I used to have my desk in a corner of the basement playroom so I could try to be somewhat productive while keeping an eye on the kids. Since they require a little less supervision these days and I grew a little tired of my desk becoming the time-out spot for toys, I relocated my working space upstairs. Now that it’s so much more easier access, I tend to pop in there a lot more and tinker.
What has been the best thing about 2016 for you, and what do you look forward to in 2017?
This year has been very, very good to me Minted-wise. I had my first top-10 finish in the New Year’s card challenge, so that was huge! I’m so proud of the work I have created — especially for Holiday cards. In 2017 I hope to feel that way about some wedding design submissions. So far, I only have one save the date, so my goal is to invest more time in that category and hopefully have at least a wee bit more of a wedding presence.
What’s an interesting thing about you that most people don’t know?
I guess I’m a bit of a writer, even though I’ve never really billed myself as such. I’m a contributor for the Columbus Moms Blog, and before that I got to write some really fun and silly stuff for the irreverent humor page that we had at The Columbus Dispatch called “The Flip Side.”
LEA’S MINTED EXPERIENCE
Which of your Minted designs are you most proud of and why?
“Retro Worded Tree.” It started as something so totally different and went through an evolution that isn’t typical of how I work. I spoke at a middle school career day last year, and I was showing the process of creating the design — how I knew I had the seed of something but it took a lot of trial and error to get to where it wound up. When I showed the final version, a kid in the back blurted out, “We got that card!” To have something that I did recognized and remembered — by a 13-year-old boy, no less! — was really a highlight for me.
“Retro Worded Tree” by Lea Delaveris
You joined Minted in late 2010. How did you discover Minted?
So random — I saw a Facebook post from a blogger about free skinnywrap labels! I went to the site and fell in love. I never did end up taking advantage of the offer, but I signed up right away. I lurked for a few challenges before jumping in.
When you joined the community, what were your initial thoughts about Minted, and what were your goals at the time?
I came across an old Facebook post from May 2010 where I was gushing about how much I enjoyed designing my son’s baptism invitations and programs and wished I could be doing stuff like that all the time. And it was a month later that I found and signed up for Minted. I guess my goal at the time was just to be doing something that I enjoyed and making money if I could. When I left my full-time job to stay home after my oldest was born, my intention was to start a freelance business, and I did, but Minted started as my fun, casual creative outlet.
What do you enjoy most about being part of the Minted community?
I was struck immediately by how nice everyone is. All the critiques were so polite and helpful! And as I’ve gotten more involved with the community and gotten to know people, I’ve learned just how genuine that is. It’s a competitive environment for sure, but it really is a beautiful thing how much people celebrate others’ successes. Everyone has such a love and appreciation for amazing design. I’ve also made some fantastic friendships that go beyond just design buddies – real, true, legit friends.
What kind of connection do you have with other Ohio Minted artists?
Jen Postorino and I have become really good friends. We met at a meetup a few years ago and have chatted ever since. We recently hit the road and met with Kim Dietrich Elam in Nashville and had a blast at the Mintie meetup there. I’ve seen Karly Depew more in New York than here in town. We keep saying we all need to meet up more – it’s amazing the caliber of designers we have here.
What have you learned from being part of the Minted community?
It’s really living, breathing proof that you can celebrate others’ successes and your own without diminishing anyone else’s accomplishments.
“Soma” by Kelly Ventura
What’s your favorite Minted design or art (that someone else created) and why?
Just one? Oh man. I swoon over pretty much everything Kelly Ventura creates. I have “Soma” on my mantle. I guess that would be my favorite. And Amanda Ngur’s (of Keen Peachy)’s “Yule Haul” — just so cute and clever and perfectly executed.
What’s your most memorable Minted community experience?
The first year I went to the National Stationery Show totally solo in 2015 – I’d only ever met Kim Dietrich Elam before – and just felt right at home. It was like, “These are my people!”
What’s your advice to up-and-coming artists and designers?
I feel like I’m still very much up-and-coming myself. I’ve been around a long time, but I feel like 2015 was really my “welcome to Minted!” year. I’m trying to find that balance of being true to what I do well and pushing myself to try new things. I feel like it’s a delicate balance. I guess that’s what I’d advise others, too – do you, enjoy what you do and create, and don’t try to do what others are doing just because you like it or it fares well.
WHAT INSPIRES LEA DELAVERIS
Who inspires me: Mary Blair. Absolutely love her work, and it’s nothing like anything I could ever even begin to create, but I just am so inspired by it and her.
Favorite recent discovery: This is kind of funny but I have to say The Vince Guaraldi Trio’s A Charlie Brown Christmas soundtrack. I mean, I’ve heard it my entire life, but this year during the holiday challenges and file prep, I discovered that nothing calms me like nothing else.
Favorite place in the world: I just went to Maui for the first time this summer and absolutely fell in love. I’ve never been anywhere more beautiful.
Favorite blog or website: I’d be lying if I didn’t say Facebook. I mean, it’s a love-hate relationship for sure but most of the love now with it is the way I’m able to connect with fellow Minties.
QUICK! TELL US…
Photoshop or Illustrator? Illustrator
Movies or TV? TV
Modern or Vintage? Vintage
Morning or Night? Night
Summer or Winter? Summer. I can’t handle January.
City or Country? Suburbia
Trees or Flowers? Trees
Mountains or Ocean? I’m a West Virginia girl, so I have to say mountains.