What’s it like to be a Minted artist for 10 years vs. 10 months?

Minted has come a long way since the company’s humble beginnings in 2008. What started as a bud of an idea—and Founder Mariam Naficy’s quest to unearth hidden creative talent everywhere—has blossomed into a marketplace that now surfaces the world’s best emerging artists.

We invited two Minted artists with similar—and yet, distinctly different—paths to interview one another.

First up is Amy Ehmann of Design Lotus, a pioneering Minted artist who joined the community 10 years ago during the dawn of the company’s crowdsourced design competitions. The Colorado artist ignited her freelance design business with fellow stay-at-home mom and best friend Tina Furjanic.

The second artist is Stacey McCarney, a newer community member who entered her first Minted design competition only 10 months ago. Stacey is an Irish designer, mom (who’s seven months pregnant with her second child), and lifestyle blogger. She worked in business for years before becoming inspired in a fabric store to teach herself design.

Stacey Mc Carney: How did you become a Minted artist, Amy?
Amy Ehmann: I discovered Minted in the early years of my freelance design business with my best friend, Tina. We were both new moms who had quit our full-time jobs to stay home with our babies. I was researching the crowdsource model for designers and an article came up about Minted. I stumbled across Minted Design Challenges and was in awe of the quality of the entries even back then.

I jumped in on the The Fabulous Thank You Card Design Challenge 2008, and I was hooked! No, seriously, hooked—the whole peer review thing was so refreshing and encouraging. It was something I had never experienced before. I was uber competitive back then and loved a challenge, so it was a natural fit. To this day, my first Minted Challenge was my best challenge.

Amy: How did you become a Minted artist?
Stacey: I found Minted while searching for invitations in 2017, and when I discovered Minted Design Challenges, I knew I wanted to try one. The Fabric Frenzy Challenge seemed the perfect place for me to start, as I had been making repeating patterns already and loving it. I’m so thrilled to win an Editors’ Pick for my design, “Twigs and Sprigs,” and I look forward to pushing my design skills further with stationery challenges. I have limited experience in typography, and it’s on my list to practice and try my hand at this year. Minted artists’ beautiful designs are so inspiring.

Stacey: What was Minted like when you became an artist in the early days?
Amy: Back in the Wild West of Minted 2008, there was no community yet. We were just communicating through comments on each other’s designs. There was a lot of refreshing going on. A Minted Flickr page was started, but it wasn’t conducive to community building. I was a Minted addict looking for other addicts, and then the Minted Forum was born. We all found each other—it’s really hard to describe what it’s like to find people who get you on a creative level. It was magical and rather weird because we were also in competition with each other. It shouldn’t have worked, but it did.  

Amy: What’s your story in a nutshell?
Stacey: From a young age, art was always my favorite pastime, all the way up until the end of my school days. However, I never knew where that path would take me and how I could create for a career, so I ended up completing my further education in Business and Administration and spending many working years in this field. Feeling discontented and craving a more creative life, two years ago, I happened to be browsing a lovely fabric store, and the realization finally hit me that someone actually gets to create these beautiful designs every day. It was such an exciting revelation, and I couldn’t believe that I had not thought of it before. I went on a mission from that day to start from scratch and absorb everything I could about the industry and have thoroughly loved every minute so far.

Stacey: In your decade as a Minted artist, what are the most important things you’ve learned along the way?
Amy: I learned that I could actually make a great living doing what I love, which just so happens to be stationery design. I still don’t believe it sometimes. I learned I have a knack for giving constructive critiques, and it gives me great joy to see new designers blossom into incredibly talented creatives.

Stacey: How have you grown and evolved as a Minted artist over the years?
Amy: It took many years, but I discovered my own personal style and how to play to my strengths. Failure has been one of my greatest teachers. It’s easy to get caught up in comparison and try to change your style. But I discovered it only made me miserable. It’s so easy to look at other people’s talent for illustration, painting, and hand-lettering and be discouraged. But today I am able to appreciate others’ work and still be confident in my own skills as a designer.

Amy: What is one of the most interesting things you’ve learned as a Minted artist so far?
Stacey: Since joining Minted and submitting to the challenges, I’ve been inspired to learn Adobe Illustrator more, where before I was mainly working within Photoshop. I have grown in confidence with both programs and have increased my skill set massively. Although I have loads more to learn, I can create illustrations and patterns within both programs now, giving me more freedom in how I design. I’ve also received such kind and useful feedback, which has really helped me get over the fear of putting my work out there.

Stacey: What’s your advice to new Minted artists?
Amy: I would approach the challenges today with a learning attitude and with a goal to have fun. I know it’s super intimidating and it always will be—even after 10 years—because of the caliber of talent Minted attracts. You have to have passion for your creative work or it will be easy to get overwhelmed. As far as winning goes, I still hold to this: Expect nothing but hope for the best.

Amy: How do you hope to grow as a Minted artist?
Stacey: I’d like to keep improving on illustrating and pattern design, hone in on my personal design style, and build my brand with a strong body of work. Moving from our home in Ireland to Australia and back to Ireland, and starting a family in the last two years also has forced me to take a slower path to my creative career so far. But the sheer amount I have learned and continue to improve on every day makes me proud. I feel lucky that I have the opportunity to follow my dream, pursue this passion, and I’m excited for all that lies ahead.

Stacey: What does Minted mean to you?
Amy: Minted in the beginning meant learning new things and building confidence. Today Minted means freedom to me. It’s being my own boss. Working from anywhere and making my own hours. It frees me up to spend time with my family. It’s provided financial freedom. Minted is creative freedom with little to no parameters or restraints. Minted is a blessing in so many ways beyond what I imagined and what I deserve.

Amy: What does Minted mean to you?
Stacey: Minted, for me, is a strong, supportive community full of inspiration and opportunity. I love designing for real briefs and striving to improve my work and grow my skills with each new challenge. Getting feedback from other designers is really helpful and encouraging.

Amy Ehmann of Design Lotus’ Minted Artist Store
Stacey McCarney’s Minted Artist Store

About the Blogger: 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 26, 2018

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