Nearly 200 artists lit a ‘collective fire’ at Camp Minted

Photos by Stephanie Rapp (Kelly Hird and Easter Kim contributed to this story)

Minted artists from Buenos Aires to Paris were abuzz with excitement, inspired energy, and hugs galore as they arrived at Camp Minted in Las Vegas for three days of rejuvenation, creative inspiration, community connections—and even a bit of relaxation.

As the largest gathering for Minted artists to date, nearly 200 Minted artists traveled from around the world to attend the retreat at the JW Marriott Resort and Spa, August 6–8. With a series of art and design workshops, insightful panels, a community awards ceremony—including a gleefully tearful surprise—many attendees viewed Camp Minted as an action-packed way to celebrate Minted’s 10-year anniversary.

For many Minted artists who have developed tight-knit relationships with fellow community members via Minted’s online platform, Camp Minted was the first time they met in person. “The energy was palpable upon arrival—so many faces from around the globe, some familiar but most new, all vibrant,” says Minted artist Marcia Biasiello. “Sitting in sessions and sharing meals with so many focused and inspiring creatives lit a collective fire.”

Chicago Minted artist Mary Gaspar echoed a similar sentiment, saying that meeting artists who have the same hopes, dreams, and fears as her makes her feel “not so alone.” “It feels like we’re part of this niche time in history where being an artist is no longer defined as ‘struggling’ or ‘isolating,’ but rather, ‘entrepreneurial’ and ‘connecting’,” she says.

Lauren Rogoff, a New York painter known for her pet portraits in Minted’s Commissioned Original Art program, experienced an a-ha! moment that helped her realize that Minted values everyone in the community. While talking with another artist, she mentioned that she felt like “a bit of a fraud” attending the retreat, because she’d won just a handful of Minted Challenges. “I have no experience with graphic design, and only do fine art,” Lauren continued to explain. “Then, the other artist mentioned that she also felt like a fraud, because she only did graphic design, and another artist piped in that she felt the same because her focus was lettering! As artists, we’re alone with our doubts so often that being surrounded by genuine support really boosted my confidence and made me feel like I belonged.” 

Shortly after Camp Minted, attendees began reflecting on and posting their feedback on the Community Facebook Group and Instagram (hashtag #campminted2018). One such artist is Eric Beckett of GeekInk Design, longtime community leader from Redlands, California. My fellow Minties… I have been trying to write something that could adequately describe the way I feel. But nothing has ever sounded like enough. And I think it’s because nothing has existed that’s quite as unique as this community. A community where our biggest competitors are also our best friends. How CAN you thank a community and a company for completely changing your life? How do you tell a person you’ve never met in real life that a comment they left you 7 years ago made you the designer you are today? How do you thank a CEO for creating a company that has become your family? What words could possibly describe the love you feel when a friend wins Designer of the Year? Or how happy you are for someone who was so terrified to teach a class, but ended up teaching the best class. There will never be enough words that could possibly express the love I have in my heart for each and every one of you. I am so grateful and honored to be a part of this community, and these past 3 days I will forever hold in my heart.”

While we’re still coming down from the creative high of Camp Minted, we hope you’ll enjoy a handful of the highlights …

Day 1: August 6, 2018

Row 1 from top left: The Camp Minted mainstage; the Minted Artist Relations team (from left: Emily Heaton, Kelly Hird, and Amy Schroeder) welcome Minted artist Nam Bourassa of Coco and Ellie to the conference. Row 2 from left: Minted Founder and CEO Mariam Naficy, SVP of Artists and Partnerships Brady Wood, and Director of Artist Relations Easter Kim welcome attendees during lunch; Alaina Cherup of Cheerup Press plays the Minted Artist Scavenger Hunt; Row 3 from left: Maria Murphy of Lulaloo and Jackie Mangiolino have a good laugh; Erin Wilson and Jackie Crawford.

Top photo: Minted artist Amy Carroll takes a snap of Dana Beckwith, Lisa Samartino, and Shelby Johnson  of Saltwater Designs. Bottom row from left: Susan Asbill, Stacey Meacham, Karidy Walker, and Heather Francisco; Mariam Naficy kicks off Camp Minted sessions by introducing keynote speaker Hiroki Asai.

Hiroki Asai gave a riveting keynote called Lessons from Apple’s Creative Process. Hiroki now serves as a member of the Board of Directors at Minted and formerly worked as the Vice President of Global Marketing Communications and Executive Creative Director at Apple, where he oversaw the work of a team of hundreds of art directors, writers, motion-graphic designers, and developers and graphic designers.

Marcia Biasiello was inspired by hearing Hiroki speak about Apple’s intention to create a negative space between the everyday world and the opening of the box that holds an Apple product. “Learning of Apple’s desire to create a ceremony for receiving something of value, a product that moves with you and ‘augments magic moments’ gave me a deep sense of how the creative process changes the culture,” she says.

Hiroki Asai and Minted Founder and CEO Mariam Naficy gave a talk called Small Brands That Get It Right.

Renown artist and designer Molly Jacques taught iPad Procreate Lettering & Tips.

Bottom left photo: Minted artist Carrie O’Neal of Cincinnati, Ohio, uses her iPad Pro to create letters; bottom right: Molly Jacques led two workshops, one for beginners and another for advanced-level.

Minted and Target are both known as design leaders, but take different approaches to spotting trends and surfacing the Next Big Things. During the Target and Minted Talk Trendspotting panel, Anna Kornmann, Sr. Director of Product Design, Seasonal and Stationery, at Target and Annie Clark, Minted’s Creative Director (and one of Minted’s very first artists), gave a behind-the-scenes look at how each company brings fresh colors, styles, and ideas to market.

Top photo: Debra Prukowski, Farida Zaman, and Alicia Youngken talk between sessions. Second row from left: Minted artists diligently took notes, and bottom right: Jennifer Morehead and Paul Berthelot listen in. Paul is a Canadian cake designer and model by day, artist by night.

Minted artists Lissa Anglin and Patricia Vargas take a quick chat break between sessions. “I am still in a happy daze!” says Lisa, reflecting on her Camp Minted experience. “It was clear that Minted is an innovative, thoughtful company with a special appreciation for artists and their work. It hit me over and over how much research and planning goes into every challenge and opportunity that Minted gives us. I love that I get to just create while Minted takes care of all other aspects of getting my work to consumers. I loved how approachable Mariam and her staff were—always open to new ideas and full of knowledge about the industry.”

The Minted Photo Studio

Lights, camera, action! The Minted Brand team constructed a photo and video studio to capture artists’ creative processes.

Minted artist Amy Carroll of Grand Rapids, Michigan, gets ready for her video session. She also spoke on a panel called Succeeding as a Fine Artist with fellow Minted artists Deborah Velasquez, Julia Contacessi, and Patricia Vargas.

Brianne Larsen of Peony Papeterie, a Minted artist from Cheyenne, Wyoming, prepares for her video shoot.

Chicago Minted artist Melanie Kosuge sits for the portrait photographer.

Row one above (left) An artist gets her headshot taken; (right) a studio assistant gathered art supplies. Bottom row, right: Eric Beckett draws on his iPad. 

Day 2: August 7, 2018

We kicked off day two with a one-hour panel Defining and Developing Your Unique Personal Brand. Moderated by Minted Creative Director Lindsay Stetson Thompson, Megan Gonzalez of MaeMae Co., Jesi Haack and Hallie Slade SLAACK Productions kept it real with hilarious and entertaining stories of how they’ve built their businesses. SLAACK Productions built the Camp Minted sets, but started their careers in the wedding planning business.
Megan Gonzalez of MaeMae Co. talked about the twists and turns of evolving her business from a one-person stationery design operation to her current styling business. Her clients include Oh Joy!, Vogue, and Rachel Zoe.

Jesi Haack and Hallie Slade of SLAACK Productions walk the halls of the Palms Tower at JW Marriott in Las Vegas.

Minted artist and surface pattern designer Juliet Meeks taught two sessions of Intro to Watercolor Florals. “These were my largest workshops to date, and this experience has been a huge turning point for me and my career,” says the New Orleans artist. “It was truly a pleasure working with fellow Minted artists who are so open-minded, creatively brave, and kind.”

Minted artists create their own interpretations of watercolor florals in Juliet Meeks’ class. Bottom left: Focusing in Molly Jacques’ workshop.

Minted’s 10th Anniversary Awards Ceremony

On Camp Minted’s culminating Tuesday evening, we hosted an Awards Ceremony to recognize exceptional artists for embodying important community values and pushing the boundaries of art and design. We live-broadcasted the event for remote Minted artists to tune in from home.

Nazia Hyder, a San Diego designer and illustrator who didn’t attend the conference, said she was ecstatic when she heard she’d won the Critique Award. “I am truly truly humbled by this love and honor,” she said later, via email.

When we asked Nazia how she approaches constructive criticism, she said she begins by applauding the positives and gradually moves onto the negatives. “Be honest with your advice and say it from the heart as if it’s your own work. Every individual likes to be appreciated and it’s the best way to grow, by appreciating, honoring the amount of time each individual puts into their design,” Nazia writes.

She also recommends choosing words wisely. “Living in a digital age—where majority of our interaction is through social media or the Internet—words get lost in translation very quickly,” Nazia adds. “For example, if you don’t like a particular font or color that does not resonate with the style the artist is trying to portray, just state, ‘In my opinion a sans serif font could be a better substitute rather a serif or a display…’ or ‘If this were mine, I would change the color or work with a serif font.’”

Twinsies! Minted artists Erin Wilson of Baltimore, Maryland, and Amy Kross of Birmingham, Alabama.

Cheers! Minted artists say salud at the start of the 10th Anniversary Dinner + Awards Ceremony.
Top row from left: Kimberly Morgan, Maddy Nye, Jill Means, Lehan Veenker, and Kristen SmithBottom row from left: Julie Green of Up Up Creative and Lena Barakat.

When in Vegas, how could we not invite The King to help celebrate Minted’s 10th anniversary? This Elvis Presley impersonator also helped us do the honors of surprising Petra Kern (below), the 2018 first-place winner of the prestigious annual Holiday Photo Card Challenge. Minted Founder and CEO Mariam Naficy elegantly presented the grand prize: a check for $10,000. Stay tuned for the full story of how we orchestrated the surprise.

Day 3: August 7, 2018

Building a Strong Minted Community was the final panel of Camp Minted. During this session, a panel of pioneering Minted artists shared their personal stories of how they forged meaningful relationships within the community. When asked how they make an impact on the community and what advice they have for others, the common theme was that a little goes a long way.

Building a Strong Minted Community panel, featuring, from left, Easter Kim, Minted’s Director of Artist Relations, and Minted artists Amy Ehmann of Design Lotus, Kristen Smith, Eric Beckett of GeekInk Design, and Melanie Severin.

“Over all the years, I most cherish when people have come up to me and told me that in a moment when they were down or didn’t think they could go on, I commented on their design and encouraged them. And because of that, they kept going and found success. Those are the moments that make me emotional about the Minted community and I want you guys to know that even if you don’t have a lot of wins, your voice and even “likes” matter to somebody. It’s a small, but a very impactful way you can participate. You may have a real talent of helping others and you should really use it.” —Amy Ehmann of Design Lotus

“The main thing is do what you can. Between voting on a design and leaving someone a comment, I would probably choose to comment. That’s what people are going to remember. Those comments and likes mean more to people in the long run. My advice is to just get involved. Just reach out. Do whatever you can. You never know what’s going to come of it. That’s how I made most of my friends at Minted over the years.” — Eric Beckett of GeekInk Design

As veterans, we need to pay it forward. I’m sure everyone on this stage would agree with me that Minted has completely changed our lives and the trajectory of our lives. I owe so much to this company that I want future generations of Minties to feel the same way we get to feel. With a larger community, it gets harder but there’s no reason to not invest time now that we did back then. Finding your tribe or group is important. In-person meetups have been invaluable for our Atlanta community. So if you are in a city where you can do that, you definitely should. My advice is to stay supportive and open-minded. Make new friends.” — Kristen Smith    

“Everyone has different ways of making connections within the community — some are more active on Facebook, others are more introverted and private message. If you see someone’s work on Instagram, let them know or tag them. The little things mean a lot. With the community being so big now, we have to make the effort to do these things, otherwise the sense of community will get lost. Give back to the community. I owe this much to the community and to Minted to help other people because they have helped me. It comes full circle. As a group, collectively we are so much more than just the individuals. What all of us can achieve as a group, when we grow together, is just unreal. ” — Melanie Severin

During the final farewell, Minted artist Laura Bolter of Lenexa, Kansas, thanked Mariam Naficy for the opportunities she’s provided for her and fellow independent artists. Laura called the experience and “unforgettable honor.” “Despite a lifelong fear of public speaking, I walked up onstage and was able to speak to Mariam and tell her what Minted has meant to me and how it’s has changed my life,” she says. “Seeing so many friends watching as I spoke was incredibly emotional, and I’m grateful for having had the opportunity.”

Laura more than overcame her fear of public speaking. On the second day of Camp Minted, she became a runaway hit when she taught a hands-on workshop called How to Produce Creative Process Videos for Social Media. “[The workshop] went so well—beyond my wildest expectations—and all of the feedback I heard was so positive that I floated all the way home,” Laura writes via email. “I’ve never really had friends who’ve understood the passion I have for my work. Being surrounded by so many talented people who get that makes me feel less alone and more connected than ever. Knowing that people can change in dramatic ways means the doors are open to infinite possibilities.”

“I will forever remember the farewell ceremony,” says Linda Poole, a designer from Central Point, Oregon. “If I could have hugged everyone, I would have. I had to hold back sobbing.”

A consistent message we heard from attending artists was that Camp Minted ignited a strong sense of camaraderie and renewed creative confidence. “Making art can be an isolating and lonely experience,” says Hadas Tal, a fine artist from California. “It’s important to reach out to fellow community members making art in order to feel connected, and part of something outside of myself. Having Minted as an additional outlet for my creativity is vital to me as a painter; it gives me a platform to showcase my work, opportunities to connect with other artists, and be part of an online community.”

About the author: Amy Schroeder, Minted’s Sr. Manager of Community Content, 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 August 17, 2018

  1. Oma N. Ramkhelawan

    Absolutely loved reading every bit of this . . . thank you so much for sharing so many of the highlights of Camp Minted.

  2. Amy Cuevas Schroeder

    Glad you enjoyed the story, Oma!

  3. Kim Dietrich Elam

    What an amazing experience – thank you to Mariam Naficy and Minted! Huge congratulations to all the winners – so well deserved, each and every one!