When Parisian artist Gwen Bedat made plans to travel with her husband from France to California in January, the first person she contacted was Holly Whitcomb, a fellow Minted artist who lives in Omaha, Nebraska. Although the two had never met face to face, Gwen and Holly have become close friends through Minted.
Holly Whitcomb (left) flew from her home in Omaha, Nebraska, and Gwen Bedat flew from Paris to meet for the first time in San Francisco in January 2018. Gwen Bedat (right) thinks she’s likely to find a Minted artist just about anywhere in the world, which is almost—but not quite—true, considering the community stretches to 90 countries. “You only live once, so I figure I should try to meet Minted artists in every city or country I visit,” the Parisian designer says.
Gwen and Holly were connected through the Minted Buddy program in 2014, and began corresponding a few times a week via email and Facebook Messenger. Over time, they began messaging daily about everything from design to day jobs to family life. During Minted Challenges, they shared screenshots of their works in progress to spark feedback and critiques. “We’re always bouncing stuff back and forth,” Holly says. “But we’d never talked on the phone or face to face.”
After communicating online for three and a half years, they finally met in the flesh in mid-January. Four months pregnant with her third child, Holly flew to San Francisco for three days to hang out with Gwen. What was it like to meet in person after years corresponding on the Internet? “It felt like seeing a familiar face in an unknown city,” Gwen said, after explaining that Holly met Gwen and her husband at their Airbnb in Haight-Ashbury. Jet lag and swollen feet aside, the two explored Fog City and hit up tourist attractions like the Golden Gate Bridge, Coit Tower, and Alcatraz. They also stopped by the Minted offices to meet employees and try their hand at watercoloring.
The Minted Buddy program strives to connect experienced Minted artists with newer artists, and when Holly signed up, she assumed she’d be matched with a more experienced artist. But as a longtime member of the community (she joined in 2010), Holly played the role of veteran to Gwen’s somewhat newbie status, considering she’d just joined a few months earlier in 2014.