Natural disaster aside, Chasity Smith focuses on family + design

When we contacted Minted artist Chasity Smith nearly a year ago about featuring her for a “Meet a Minted Artist” story, she politely declined because she was in the midst of dealing with flooding in her hometown of Livingston, Louisiana, a rural area, between New Orleans and Baton Rouge. “It was a complete devastation and the worst natural disaster in my town,” she says of the Livingston Parish Flooding in August 2016. “Our normal flood stage is 13 feet, and it crested at 22.16 feet, a major record-breaker — 75% of our parish was underwater. So many people were stranded in homes and vehicles. No one was prepared for this flood. Schools were closed for over a month.”

As Chasity explains now in retrospect, her family was lucky and didn’t experience flooding as badly as many others in her town. “Thankfully, our whole community came together and helped each other as much as possible. It was scary and something I never want to experience again.”

When we asked her to share more details about the flooding, she steered the conversation away from doom and gloom, talking instead about the brighter side of life, her family, and the Minted community. As you’ll read in this interview, we discovered how the 34-year-old artist has taken an unconventional path to become a successful work-from-home designer and mom.

“Balloon” children’s birthday party invitation by Chasity Smith. She describes her design style as “mostly simple, but I love to try new things like bold, unique patterns and designs that are different.”

Minted: How and why did the flooding happen?
The flood happened because of a slow moving low-pressure weather system that dumped rain for 39 hours straight. We knew we had a lot of rain coming, but we were never warned what was about to happen. 

How long did it take to recover, and did you have to move into a new home?
So many people in my community are still recovering. It’s such a long process for everyone. I do still live in the same home. We had family that had to be rescued. Since we didn’t get it as bad as others, we had family come stay with us. At one time, we had 10 extra people staying in my house. After they came to my house, water started rising in my area. The hotels and shelters were full. My aunt just moved back home last month.

On a more positive note, on your Minted Artist Store, you state that you’ve always had a creative side, starting as a young child. You started designing stationery while in college, but you graduated with an MS in psychology. Did you ever work in psychology?
I have always had a passion for psychology and wanted to be a child advocate, particularly, a child welfare investigator. But, no, I have never worked in psychology. Toward the end of my last college year, I got really sick. I was diagnosed with Sjogren’s syndrome that led to heart arrhythmia issues. My Electophysiologist advised me not to work in any stress-related jobs. It was very disheartening. I wanted the best of both worlds, but it didn’t work out the way I had planned. Although with design I do feel complete — I absolutely love designing.

How does Sjogren’s syndrome affect you now?
In the beginning it was so frustrating and overwhelming. Sjorgren’s is a complicated disease that causes so many symptoms. Sjrogren’s is not curable, only treatable. I receive treatment from multiple specialists who help manage my symptoms. I have made major improvements since being first diagnosed. I still have days when I struggle with active flare-ups, but I have learned to stay positive and accept that this is my journey.

“Sparkling New” foil-pressed holiday card by Chasity Smith

How did you learn design, and how did you begin doing stationery design in college?
When I was a child, I loved creating things, and I taught myself everything. I started learning Photoshop when my daughter was a baby. I did not take any courses, but I did watch a lot of YouTube videos. I then started designing birthday invitations, logos, Christmas cards, and more for my friends and family. While I was in college, I started entering various design contests, and when I discovered Minted, I fell in love.

What is your design process like?
Ideas just come to me. I have a notebook full of ideas that I write down. When inspiration strikes, I try to take full advantage of it. I design the best when it’s quiet and free from distractions.  

“Abstract Baby” foil-pressed baby shower invitation by Chasity Smith

What’s a typical day in the life for you?
I generally start my day by getting my kids up and off to school. I check my email, and participate in any design challenges Minted has going. The evenings are generally dedicated to my family. Both of my kids play travel ball, so my evenings and weekends are at the ball field.

About how much time do you spend on Minted per week?
It fluctuates. It depends on how I’m feeling. Generally, I would say about 12 hours per week. I try to get on during the week and do as much as possible when I am feeling well.

You joined the Minted artist community in 2013. What was the first Design Challenge you entered?
It took me about a year after I discovered Minted to enter a challenge. I remember thinking there is no way I can compete with these amazing designers. The first challenge I entered was the On the Way! baby shower invitation challenge. My design, “Floral Bee,” placed 26 in the competition.

What are your personal goals for creative or business development with your Minted work, and how do you hope to achieve those goals?
I generally set my goals by what I want to learn more about. Right now it’s illustration and hand-lettering, so I’ve been entering illustrations and hand-lettering into challenges. Illustration and hand-lettering is something I have always wanted to become better at. I’ve always had a hard time with pens and scanning. The Apple Pencil and Procreate app on my iPad make illustration and hand-lettering so much easier. I doodle a lot on my iPad, and if an idea comes to mind, I draw it on my iPad and trace it in Illustrator.

“Floral Bee” baby shower invitation

What are one to three of the most important things you’ve learned about design?
To be yourself. I struggled so much in the beginning to find my own sense of style. Once I did I felt much more comfortable.

What’s your top tip for design success?
If you keep trying, you can only improve. The more you do, the better you become.

How did you get the inspiration for “Scalloped Frame,” which is your favorite design that you created for Minted?
I was actually looking at die-cut shape templates the challenge kit and came across one of the scalloped templates. When I saw it, I was curious how it would look with a photo in it on top of a regular template. I started playing with the corners for edges and it just came together.

“Scalloped Frame” holiday photo card is Chasity’s favorite Minted design that she created. “I love how different the design is and how everything flowed together,” she says.

How has Minted and the Minted community impacted your life?
Minted has impacted my life in so many ways. Every day I feel I’m growing and getting stronger as a designer. I am able to work from home and enjoy life.

CHASITY’S FAVORITE THINGS & INSPIRATION
Who inspires me: The Minted community and my kids
Favorite design tool: My Macbook, although I just got a new iPad and love the Apple Pencil.
Favorite font: I have so many, but I always use Brandon Grotesque.
Favorite color combination: Pink and gray
Favorite design resource: Skillshare
Favorite place in the world: Castaway Cay
Favorite fashion designer or brand: American Eagle
Artists and designers I admire: Jessica Hische. I love her unique fun bold lettering techniques. She is so creative and inspiring!

MORE ABOUT CHASITY SMITH
Chasity Smith’s Minted Artist Store
Chasity Smith on Facebook

About the Author: Amy Schroeder, Minted’s Community Content Manager, founded Venus, the magazine about women in the arts and DIY culture, and has written for Etsy, West Elm, NYLON, and Pitchfork. Connect on Instagram @thevenuslady.

Published May 30, 2017

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