The Minted Guide to Creating Original Work

Written by Kelly Hird

With a growing number of Minted Design Challenges, now’s a great time to think about fresh ways to find inspiration and create work that showcases your personal strengths. Consistently generating innovative ideas can be difficult, especially if you’re designing for multiple product categories. To help provide tips for creating new work and defining your style as an artist, we turned to the experts: Minted’s talented artist community. “Create” art print by Jennifer Morehead

Set Your Creative Direction
With a flurry of excitement with the opening of each new Minted Challenge, here are some of the ways that Minted artists have embarked on their creative processes.

  • Study the Special Prizes section of the Challenge PDF
    The Special Prizes section in each Challenge PDF provides insight into what types of designs our Merchandising team want to add to the assortment. Use the list of Special Prizes to brainstorm the types of designs that are likely to be successful in a challenge.
  • Consider your audience
    Minted artist Karly Depew of Oscar and Emma makes a list of all the design styles that she wants to submit to a challenge. “I think about the consumer and what would appeal to them. For example, I always try to submit something classic, something modern, something bold, and something vintage.” 
  • Inspiration is everywhere—go find it
    Every artist’s background and experiences give them a unique perspective. Understanding what inspires you on a personal level can help you create work that’s truly authentic. Artist Naomi Ernest finds inspiration by creating work that honors her family history and environment. “A passion for my local environment is always evident—the lakes, landscapes, and resources of my home state of Michigan provide constant connection and inspiration for colors, textures, and themes in my work,” she says. 

    Aspacia Kusulas collects objects, pieces of paper, and photos from inspiring places she’s visited to remind her of inspiring experiences. “My creativity is fueled by memories, travel, and everyday life,” says the Greek artist who lives in L.A., by way of Mexico.Some artists swear by creating a collection of ideas ahead of time, and drawing from them when the appropriate Minted challenge launches.Andi Pahl consults her journals for creative inspiration. “There’s always a surprising idea that I wrote down at some earlier point.”

Find your voice and personal style
It’s all too easy to get swept up in looking through all of the beautiful work on Minted and other artists’ submissions, but always remember what makes your work unique: your personal style.

  • Be original
    Design trends and styles are constantly shifting and evolving and so are the tastes of Minted customers. With that in mind, “don’t copy trends,” says stationery designer Kimberly FitzSimons, who has more than 100 wins to her name since she began entering Minted challenges in 2009. “Florals may be huge, but if they aren’t your strength, don’t do them,” the New York artist says. “Try to find your core design strengths and apply them. Knowing what types of designs I produce best allows me to focus my efforts for Minted submissions.”
  • Think outside the winners’ box
    Although she thinks it may sound a little “weird,” longtime Minted artist Amy Ehmann of Design Lotus says she no longer designs to win. “My main objective is to design for Editors’ Picks,” the Denver artist says. “I design things that Minted wants and needs. The early years when I tried to design for the top spots, I felt really stressed out, and when I didn’t win, I was utterly heartbroken, and then the green-eyed monster would rear its ugly face. Ugh! I didn’t want to be in that place ever again. Now I try to play to my strengths and work smarter rather than harder.” 
  • Surface fresh ideas
    Minted is all about surfacing fresh, new designs, and we love to see artists take risks and create work that goes beyond what we currently offer. “Certain styles may be popular, but we may not be interested in selecting as many similar designs if the style is already well represented in the current assortment,” says Jodi Whalen, Minted’s Wedding Merchant. “We’re always on the lookout for new trends, and we look to our artist community to surface these new ideas.”While it’s often coincidental, sometimes a submission can be too similar to another artist’s work. If you ever see designs that you feel resemble another artist’s work too closely, please use this form to let us know. A Minted team evaluates all designs submitted through this form according to Minted’s policies and from a legal perspective. This internal review process ensures that all work is evaluated consistently and fairly, so please never contact other artists directly if you think that their submission is too similar to another artist’s work. It’s important to avoid any confrontation or conflicts between artists to maintain the supportive nature of the artist community. If you have a broader concern, please email artists@minted.com so that we can discuss the situation more thoroughly. Every artist has their own background and experiences to bring to the table, and we love to see the unique ways that novel ideas that you generate.

Connect with the Minted artist community
With so many talented artists at Minted, we highly encourage you to look to the community as a resource. We encourage artists to connect at all points during the creative process, from discussing the initial concepts behind your new designs to perfecting the typography.

Use the Critique Period 
The Critique Period, which begins right after the submission period for each challenge before voting opens, is a time for artists to focus on refining their work, which makes it ideal for giving and receiving feedback on your work. “Design is a constant learning process,” says Haley Myziuk of Snow and Ivy, who recommends asking for help and feedback, whether you’re a seasoned pro or a newbie. “Sometimes I’m really happy with something I created, but after receiving feedback from other designers, and revising the work, the end result is often so much stronger than the original version.”

Consider collaborating
While Minted Design Challenges are competitive by nature, being part of the Minted artist community provides a great opportunity to help each other grow as artists. “Openly communicating during the creative process will allow you to see things in a different light and recognize potential in areas you didn’t see before,” says Sarah Baumgardner and Carolyn Doogan of Baumbirdy. “When you honestly communicate about the good and the bad, likes and dislikes, visions and revisions, it doesn’t become work anymore—it becomes two people having fun doing what they love.”

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

Make friends!
While some artists form partnerships and submit work they create together, collaboration can be as simple as exchanging ideas with a friend in the community. Gwen Bedat and Holly Whitcomb met through Minted in 2014, and began connecting via Facebook and email (sometimes on a daily basis) to share new designs they’re working on and help each other improve. While they began by exchanging advice, their connection blossomed and they’re now close friends—they even visited San Francisco in 2018 to meet in person for the first time. There are so many amazing people in our Minted artist community and the connections you make can last for years to come.

Looking for more advice for succeeding as a Minted artist? Get tips here on the Minted Artist Education page.


About the Author: Kelly Hird is a Community Support Specialist on Minted’s Artist Relations team. She supports artists via email, the Community Facebook Group, and Office Hours, and handles communications around flagged designs and infringement. Kelly graduated from Mills College with a degree in Fine Art and a focus on Psychology, and has a background in both art and graphic design.

Published March 15, 2018

2   COMMENTS
  1. Kelly

    Thank you for all the great ideas in this blog post!

  2. Mireya

    I am wondering and looking for royalties information. How much will they be? I will obtain full rights to my designs right?

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