How we surprised the top winner of Minted’s 2019 Holiday Photo Card Challenge

Written by the Minted Team

It was Wednesday, August 28 at 1:15pm when unsuspecting Minted employees and artists joined what they thought was a regular conference call. Fast forward thirteen and a half minutes to Canadian artist Eve Schultz surrounded by a life-size Elf on a Shelf, a giant check for $12,000, and nearly a hundred Minted employees applauding and waving Canadian flags. It wasn’t easy surprising the top prize winner of our 2019 Non-Foil-Pressed Holiday Photo Card Challenge, but we wouldn’t have had it any other way.

Minted team clapping Elf surprises winner

Minted Founder & CEO Mariam Naficy surprises Eve Schultz in front of the Minted team while our community of artists stream and chat in to the live broadcast. The first artist to congratulate Eve via chat? Last year’s winner, Slovenian artist Petra Kern.

Our original plans of surprising Eve at Camp Minted were thwarted when she declined our invitation because of a pre-planned family vacation. We then began plotting to unsuspiciously get Eve out to San Francisco. What was our cover story? We told Eve that we wanted to conduct a series of “in-person media interviews with Minted artists for local press opportunities.” Shortly after she agreed to participate, we cast a fake reporter and video crew, and organized a joint employee and community business meeting on the day of her arrival. Watch the video of Minted Founder & CEO Mariam Naficy surprising Eve in front of the entire Minted office below.

In the days leading up to the surprise, the Minted team readied for the big moment. Our first call to action? Obtaining a life-size Elf on a Shelf costume. What started as a way to bring a little fun to the Holiday Challenges this year, took on a life of its own. The Minted team sent a few 6-inch elves to artists, and asked them to pass them along to other community members to spread holiday cheer around the world. As artists passed the elf to each other, Scott Hsu (his community-given nomicker) traveled from San Francisco to Iceland to Australia to London and even to Tasmania, picking up sweaters, bowties, and new skills along the way. See Scott’s global journey in the video below.

The Elf on the Shelf came back full circle to San Francisco to help plan Eve’s surprise. Our life-size elf welcomed Eve and her husband at the airport, checked her into her hotel, joined for a quick drink at happy hour, cheered her on during her fake interview, and surprised her at the company-wide meeting.

The entire Minted team was so honored to celebrate Eve as the winner of our 12th annual Minted Holiday Non-Foil Card Challenge, our most anticipated competition of the year. This year, artists submitted a total of 5,474 entries to the So Very Merry Non-Foil-Pressed Holiday Photo Card Challenge, and our broader community of customers, fans, and artists cast a total of nearly 1.6 million votes. This Challenge continues to be one of the most competitive contests in design. Along with bragging-rights, Eve won $12,000, a Louie Award nomination, plus a Minted trip or trip to Adobe MAX conference.

Eve and Steve
Eve with her husband Steve, and her giant check.

During the surprise, we were amazed at how Eve remained so poised among it all — staying calm even when the dancing elf came out. This same natural elegance is seen in Eve’s first-place design, “Wonderland“.

 “Wonderland” by Eve Schultz is the 1st place winner of the 2019 So Very Merry Non-Foil-Pressed Holiday Photo Card Challenge.

For this design, Eve married her fine art roots with her graphic design background, creating a subtle, hand-painted frame of wintery botanicals that beautifully complements the photo. She was inspired by the simplicity and earthy colors in Japanese watercolor artwork, and tried to replicate the magical feeling of first snow during the holidays.

Eve at work Like many artists, Eve has often felt uncertainty in her creative work. This was the first year Eve entered our Holiday Photo Card Challenge, previously too intimidated to enter, she focused solely on Non-Photo Challenges. What made her change her mind? In addition to her desire to expand her Minted portfolio, Eve admitted the excitement in the community around ‘the big challenge’ drew her in. We’ve never been so grateful for FOMO.

In her interview following the surprise, Eve discusses what inspires her, finding a balance between graphic design and fine art, and how she built the confidence to move forward as an artist and designer. Hear from Eve in the interview below.

Minted: Tell us a little bit about yourself. What inspires your work?
Eve: I grew up in western Quebec. My parents were followers of the “unschooling” educational philosophy, so I had an unstructured childhood with a lot of free time. We lived in the country, and so there’s a lot of influence of nature in my work.

Art was always something I loved. I don’t really remember discovering it — it has always been my favourite thing. My work is mostly inspired by nature, but sometimes by other things as well. My children inspire me, and I particularly love Japanese art and design and vintage children’s illustrations from Eastern Europe.

Where did you learn to paint? Graphic design?
Once I finished homeschooling, I went to Art school. I did more traditional art — painting, drawing, sculpture, and photography — for three years. Then, I went to college for two years for graphic design. I really like computers. I like making stuff that people want to have.

When did you join the Minted community?
I joined Minted in 2013. We moved, so I ended up quitting the job I had. It was a moment I had that I wanted to do it differently I wanted to get back into doing more creative work. That’s when I heard of Minted. I had worked with big online companies before, and it hadn’t been a good fit for me. I didn’t know the people and they didn’t know me. Minted still has the feeling of a small community. It’s been a good experience throughout and helped me as an artist.

I think of 2016 as my “breakthrough” year – I entered the Non-Photo Christmas Challenge that year and something seemed to click for me, so I’ve been increasingly involved in Minted since then. I love the way the Minted Community makes the world a more beautiful place. My own home is full of prints, cards, and cushions, from other Minted artists.

Tell us more about your winning design.
“Wonderland” was inspired by the first snowfall of the year, which is always magical for me. Those first flakes feel peaceful, but hopeful and exciting too. I wanted my card to express those feelings. I painted the foliage by hand and then scanned and arranged all the branches in photoshop. The rest of the layout was completed in Illustrator, and I hand placed each snowflake in illustrator as well. It was also inspired by the idea of a Japanese watercolor — very clean and simple with not a lot of color. I wanted to do something that was pretty, but not necessarily traditional.

What is something you had to overcome?
It’s taken me a long time to find a comfortable place to be a creative person. I think a lot of people struggle with that. There’s been a lot of hurdles as a creative person with either not being sure what I wanted to do or not feeling confident in what I was doing. I think we set hurdles for ourselves as creative people. All of us are in a situation where we have to keep going out of our comfort zone.


For the Non-foil-pressed Challenge, our second-place winner, Lauren Chism won $8,000 for her design “Jubilantly,” and our third-place winner, Morgan Ramberg won $5,000 for her design “Winter Ice” and both artists won a trip to visit Minted in San Francisco (value of $2000). All top-voted winners and Editors’ Picks receive an upfront cash prize and earn ongoing commission on every sale of their winning designs. Learn more about the prizes and see all final results on the winners page.

View the countdown of winning designs.

View all results on our Challenge pages

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