One artist lives in Paris, the other in Omaha. And they’re like two peas in a pod

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.”

Until now.

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.

About Gwen and Holly

By day, Gwen works for a French television company, producing TV documentaries. “I do many things—researching archive footage, motion design, and creating opening titles. I’m also a camera person,” she explains. “Minted has been a big help even with my TV career—the design skills I’ve learned as a Minted artist compliment my work.”  

When Gwen joined the Minted artist community nearly four years ago, she thought she would “just give it a try” and had a hard time finding her niche. Gwen studied film in university, and has been teaching herself graphic design. After meeting Holly through the Minted Buddy program, Gwen began experimenting with new techniques like painting patterns and creating watercolor textures. “When I first started on Minted, I couldn’t see the flaws in my work,” she said. “Over time, I started to see where I could improve, and I realized I was making progress. … Holly helped me a lot. Last year, she sent me a Sensu brush for my iPad Pro, which enables me to paint digitally.”


Candy Store” children’s birthday party invitation by Gwen Bedat

Holly currently describes herself as a full-time artist and parent who works from home and weaves together art and design while raising her children. She formerly worked as a graphic designer in higher education, but quit her job to stay home with her first child. “I’m focused on Minted more now that I quit my day job; Minted helps me keep my design skills sharp,” she says.

Holly’s education and interests reflect her Minted design style. In college she majored in graphic design but also loved painting, and her Minted work combines both. Last year, she joined Minted’s Commissioned Original Art program and stays busy painting pet portraits.

When we asked Holly and Gwen if they noticed any cultural differences in their friendship as a Parisian and American Midwesterner, Holly said she sees the French architectural influences in Gwen’s illustrations for Minted designs. Gwen said she loves Holly’s “American positive attitude,” which she calls a defining characteristic of the Minted community as a whole, which is less American and more global at this point. “When Minted artists give each other feedback, it’s always positive, like, ‘Your work is lovely, but maybe you should improve [fill-in-the-blank],’” Gwen explained. “I wish we had these kinds of compliment sandwiches in France.”

Floral Gem” save the date by Holly Whitcomb

A Critiquing Example

What’s next for these gals? After hanging out together for three days in San Francisco, Gwen continued on to Los Angeles with her husband, and then they headed back to Paris, which at the time experienced flooding. Luckily, Gwen lives in a fifth-floor apartment and didn’t experience any issues.

“We’ll go back to messaging each other until someday when I can visit her in Paris,” Holly said. They’re also thinking about reuniting at the National Stationery Show in New York. “We need excuses to be in the same place at the same time.”

Pictured here with the Minted Artist Relations Team, Gwen and Holly visited the Minted offices in San Francisco and met a number of employees for the first time, save for Founder Mariam Naficy, whom Gwen met in London for a Minted meetup. “The office is gorgeous, and it was really interesting to see how things work,” Gwen said. “We didn’t realize there were so many conference rooms, and we got to see the Engineering game room, which was cool.”

More About the Artists
Holly Whitcomb on Minted
Gwen Bedat on Minted

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

Published January 30, 2018

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