How Minted artists around the world express their creative independence

Minted celebrates the strength, vision and resiliency of independent artists around the world, and the vast majority of our artists are women. They are business owners and stay-at-home moms, lifelong artists, and those just discovering their creative identity for the first time. Our artists live in all 50 states and more than 90 countries. They share a deep love for creative expression, personal growth, risk-taking, and most importantly, paying it forward by helping each other.

In celebration of International Women’s Day—and the empowerment of women every day—we’re honored to share some of the stories of the many remarkable women in our global community of artists.

Lauren Packard of New York City
After overcoming brain cancer, the teacher rediscovers her passion for abstract art

I used to come home from elementary school, play my record player, and make art. From then on, art has been a love affair. After college, I drifted away from art because of the demands of being a new teacher and the constraints of New York City apartment spaces. Then, in February 2014, I unexpectedly had brain surgery to remove a large tumor. During recovery, word communication was difficult, and I suddenly had this urge to make art—I had to paint. I think for some reason that part of my brain felt more “alive”—it was my form of communication. Painting is what made sense at a time when a lot of things didn’t. My surgery also put a lot of things in perspective for me, and I knew there would never be a perfect time to start making art again. If I wanted to make art, I just needed to do it, so I made it a priority. I was no longer inhibited or insecure as I was in my younger years. It was just something I needed to do for myself, by myself. In a lot of ways, I feel lucky for that brain surgery.

How Minted fuels my independence
My work celebrates an independent way of seeing and thinking, which I hope to engage the viewer in. Creating work for Minted also has helped fuel financial independence, allowing me greater freedom to create art. Minted Design Challenges encourage me to keep pushing myself as an artist to create unique work.

Read more of Lauren’s story

Zhi Ling Lee of London, England
The IT consultant strikes a balance between the financial world and the arts

If you had told my younger self that I would have tens of thousands of my cards sold around the world, I wouldn’t have believed you. But that’s exactly what’s happened since I began designing for Minted in 2014. Minted has been the biggest driver for me to improve my skills and experiment with new approaches and techniques.

While I’ve always had an interest in art, I took a more traditional path, majoring in software engineering. After graduating university, I started a corporate IT career, and I now work in the financial services industry in London. I’m glad I took some time to learn design, and my mantra is “Never stop learning.” I’m always trying new techniques by following online tutorials, and if I’m participating in a Minted challenge, I set out specific hours after work to research, sketch, and complete my designs.

How Minted fuels my sense of independence in life
Minted gives me the freedom to pursue design while keeping my day job. So many of us have varied interests, and Minted has allowed me the opportunity to celebrate my creative side. Independence for me is living without the constraint of pursuing only one path, as having two tracks to run in life is much more interesting and fun.

Angel Walker of Richfield, Minnesota
The stay-at-home mom grabs moments to create whenever she can

I’ve enjoyed drawing since I was a child and have always loved creating, but didn’t fully realize it until recently. Two years ago, I came across a blog where the author showcased her beautiful work and creative projects. I was so inspired that I researched what I needed to do to get started on my own creative journey and realized that surface pattern design was something that I could do too. I have no formal training, but have learned a lot through online tutorials and plenty of practice.

Being a stay-at-home mom of two wonderful kids takes a lot of my time, but when the kids are busy playing or sleeping, I use those moments to plan, research, and create my designs.

How Minted fuels my independence
Minted allows me to share my work with the world and provides a stream of income to help me pursue a creative career.

Sweta Modi of Mumbai, India
The former airline worker quit her corporate career to flex her creative muscles

As a child, I was the happiest while doing something with my hands—drawing, painting, scrapbook making, stitching, knitting, arts and crafts—but I never considered making a career out of it. I majored in Hospitality and worked with airlines like SWISS and Emirates for over a decade. By the end of it, I was feeling more and more anxious of losing myself to the corporate world, having no time for myself and my forgotten creative pursuits. I decided to quit my job and took up a summer program in graphic design at Rhode Island School of Design. That was the best decision I made, as it taught me the basics that would help me freelance back home in Mumbai, India. When I stumbled upon Minted, I discovered some of the most beautiful stationery designs by independent artists. When I entered my first Minted Challenge in 2016—the prestigious Holiday Photo Card Challenge—I didn’t get any picks. Disappointment led me to work harder, and when I finally won my first pick in another challenge, I was ecstatic and hooked.

How Minted fuels my independence
Minted provides freedom to take creative risks and pushes me to think out of the box, wrestle my creative cells, get out of my comfort zone, and be a better designer and happier human. The Minted community of talented artists helps with constructive feedback and constant support, making Design Challenges much more fun and positively competitive. 

Caryn Owen of Santa Cruz, California
The former marine biologist blends her love of the ocean into her art

As a passionate artist and scientist, I’ve devoted my life to studying marine biology and artistic expression. Although these topics may seem mutually exclusive, I’ve spent years blending both. Over the past decade, I created abstract art for fun while simultaneously balancing motherhood and my career as a marine biology professor.

In 2014, I chose to leave marine biology to focus on my art. As an emerging artist in Santa Cruz, my vibrant abstract landscapes evoke the lovely shades of Northern California seascapes and beaches. In 2017, I was inspired to create paintings of the beautiful botanicals of my travels. I currently have two abstract series reflecting these two inspirations.

How Minted fuels my independence
I entered my first Minted challenge in the 2016, not long after I left my job in marine biology, to sell my art full time, and that’s when my career of selling art truly began. Minted has afforded me the opportunity to sell prints of my paintings around the world, reaching customers I could not access on my own.

Maja Cunningham of Fort Worth, Texas
The war refugee-turned-artist says Minted opened a new door for her

I grew up in former Yugoslavia, where celebrating International Day of Women is a big deal. I moved to the United States in 2000, as a war refugee, and studied architecture and worked in the field for 20 years, before having my son, Jack.

When I started decorating my son’s room, I couldn’t find art that felt personal to me, so I made my own. I created “That’s one fast bike, said the cloud” based on my honeymoon adventure I took with my husband, entered the painting into a Minted art challenge, and the rest is history—sort of. After working for nearly two decades in architecture, I realized that my heart just wasn’t in it. Now I’m a full-time parent and artist and couldn’t be happier.

I don’t regret anything because it leads me to where I am now. Because I’ve been through so much in the first three decades of my life, I really want to live a stress-free life now. Things that matter to me are health and my family’s happiness. I know it could all be taken away in a second.

How Minted fuels my independence
Striking the right balance between family and work is my ultimate goal, and Minted opened that door for me. Freedom to work as much or as little as your life situation changes is the kind of independence that I’ve been searching my whole adult life. Working with Minted gives me that freedom and opportunity that if I work more and produce quality work, the rewards will follow. But not only that, the opportunity to use my artistry in a variety of ways, from art prints to stationery to gift wrap to fabric, to learn something new and take a leap of faith.

Read more of Maja’s story here.

Jennifer Daily of Alameda, California
Painting helps the artist realize she’s ‘more than just a mom’

I’ve loved drawing, painting, and experimenting with mixed media since high school. I took classes in college while pursuing a “real” degree in graphic design. After the birth of my two children and some rough years dealing with my own health issues, I decided that life was too short to spend in front of a computer all day. So in between wrangling my kids all over town, I now teach pilates and paint, a practice that balances the solitude and inward focus of art making with the connection and physical nature of helping people move better in their bodies.

How Minted fuels my independence
For the past decade, my role in our family has been as the primary caregiver. It’s a role that I feel lucky to have, but it also means giving up a fair amount of independence both financially and emotionally. When I started submitting art to Minted, it sparked something in me. I realized that I could be with my kids and have this wonderful thing on the side just for myself. Being a Minted artist has helped me to see that I am, and have always been, more than just a mom. I have gifts to share with the wider world, and opportunities ahead. Minted has given me an income stream that I can invest in my future, and a community of other strong women to draw support from when I need it.

Jinhee Park of New York City
The New Yorker’s art career has blossomed in a big way since her childhood drawing days

I started drawing at a young age, but so much has happened since I won my first award for “Birch Story” in a Minted Art Challenge in 2016. I got back on the right track by experimenting, creating, and presenting eclectic style of my artworks, and I joined Minted’s Commissioned Original Art program, focusing on furry friends and family. I’m currently working on my 124th commission, and my work has been featured in HGTV magazine, Dwell, and the Minted catalog—a bona fide serendipity!

How Minted fuels my independence
Being a Minted artist is a wonderful springboard to recover my confidence and boost self-motivation. Minted offers rich educational resources and valuable social events for fellow Minted artists to build strong bonds. When it comes to achieving financial independence, as an emerging artist, I’m in the early stages, but I’m convinced Minted ceaselessly supports independent artists and share clear roadmap to the next chapter.

Read more of Jinhee’s story.

Lindsay Megahed of Schaumburg, Illinois
The artist’s marketing experience informs her art and design work

My degree is in advertising, but after graduating college, I mostly worked in web programming and design. When my first son was born, we moved and I had to quit a great web job. I had always enjoyed painting as a hobby, and decided to start selling art so I could stay at home with my son. My marketing, web design, and programming skills came in handy when I started selling online. I learned to listen carefully to my customers and take their feedback to heart because they were essentially telling me what the market wanted. I started making personalizable art and turning it into prints and photo cards at a time when custom design was fairly new.

How Minted fuels my independence
I feel independent mostly in how I spend my days. Not being confined to a set schedule or to a certain space allows me the freedom to work at my own pace where and when it flows more naturally. I am more creative in the late afternoon through night, so I use my free hours in the day to go for walks, browse magazines at the library, gather fresh air and inspiration. 

Read more of Lindsay’s story.

Chryssi Tsoupanarias of Montreal
The Canadian art director carved out her niche through Minted

I began my design education studying architecture at McGill University. While I knew that I enjoyed designing, after graduating I wasn’t sure if I wanted to pursue a career as an architect. I happened to stumble upon a great art school in Toronto, OCAD University, which offered a range of design programs; I moved to Toronto to complete a degree there in graphic design, which I absolutely loved. In graphic design, I had found my true passion. After graduating, I moved back to Montreal, where I now live with my husband and our two adorable cats.

Now, I work as an art director for an eyewear retailer by day, and during the evenings and on weekends, I work freelance, helping my clients with their branding and marketing needs. I also try as much as possible to participate in Minted challenges.

How Minted fuels my independence
Finding the Minted community and participating in challenges has been as valuable as my formal design education. Minted has given me a creative outlet that I wouldn’t have necessarily found otherwise; through Minted I’ve been able to cultivate a personal design and artistic style that is independent of client work. I truly believe that working with Minted has elevated my design skills and my confidence in those skills to a level that I never would have achieved had I not found Minted. 

Kristin Doversberger (Lorent and Leif) of Holland, Michigan
Minted’s partnership programs help boosts her confidence

I’ve always loved art. I volunteered at an art museum when I was younger and helped set up traveling exhibitions. I have a formal education in fine arts and graphic design. I’ve painted murals for nursing homes, worked at local wedding shops designing custom invitations, and also worked for large manufacturers with their design needs. Recently moving to Western Michigan, I’m excited to join the local art scene and the many great communities. I’m a lucky to be a self-employed artist and designer, which allows me to spend as much time with my kids as I can.

How Minted fuels my independence
I love seeing my work being ordered by customers around the world and visiting a major city and seeing my Minted art featured in stores like West Elm. Minted has really helped extend my reach as an artist—with that comes a lot of confidence and also many experiences. I never know where my work will end up, and the possibilities seem endless.

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, Pitchfork, and NYLON. Connect on Instagram @thevenuslady.

Published March 7, 2018

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