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.

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Melissa Egan finds design success by diving in, asking questions, and learning by doing

Portraits by Ashley Poskin

When I met Melissa Egan of Pistols in 2016 at a Minted artist paint-and-sip meetup in Chicago, I immediately sensed her creativity, down-to-earth spirit, and ability to laugh off the small stuff. She had recently relocated to the Windy City from Portland, and was settling into a pretty packed life that included a full-time job as an art director, freelance design work, and a burgeoning body of work on Minted.

Fast-forward to now to 2018, and Melissa has recently added another piece to the the brimming pot of life: her first child, Henry, whom she can’t wait to see every night after work. “One smile from him, and I’m dead,” she says, attributing much of the hustle and bustle to the support of her husband, John, her son’s primary caretaker. “I’m trying my hardest to enjoy Henry while he’s so little, and not worry too much if I’m not able to do it all,” she says.

When we dug into how Melissa learned her craft, she described landing on design after dabbling in a few other fields (Maybe business? Why not try enironmentalism?). Her try-and-see career approach also extends to her view of the design discipline. “In my opinion, there really isn’t a ‘right’ way to do design,” she says. “I try to design around an idea, rather than a particular style. My designs are most successful when they come from a concept I’m really excited about.” She loves illustration and most enjoys creating characters with personalities, like “Cakeasaurus Dinosaur” or her award-winning “Party Sloth.”

In this interview, Melissa talks about her experiments in environmental activism, creating Anthropologie store displays, and how cool dads don’t get the credit they deserve.

In 2017, Melissa Egan won a prestigious Louie Award for her “Party Sloth” children’s birthday party invitation. Melissa’s stationery designs are fun, attention-grabbing, often including winks of humor and whimsy.

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Minted celebrates 10 years of innovation and community spirit at NSS and ICFF 2018

Photos by Charlie Juliet Photography

Minted has come a very long way since Mariam Naficy first walked the Javits Center’s pink-carpeted floors of the National Stationery Show (NSS) in 2007. As she pushed her baby daughter in a stroller, Minted was a budding, disruptive idea in the entrepreneur’s mind, one that she knew had extraordinary potential but would take time to develop.

The next year, Minted launched its first Design Challenge, a save-the-date card competition that attracted 66 entries. Fast-forward to now, 10 years later, and Minted has grown to become a booming international business, attracting thousands of Challenge submissions from its talented community of independent artists who create the designs of everything Minted produces. The Minted artist community now lives in all 50 states and more than 60 countries, and Minted products have grown from its initial offering of custom stationery to also include limited edition art, home decor, and so much more.

As the company and community have grown, so too has Minted’s presence at the National Stationery Show. This year, Minted also exhibited at ICFF, a major home furnishings show that took place simultaneously with NSS at the Javits Center.

Minted artists traveled near and far to attend the National Stationery Show and ICFF. Tanya Peng Lee of Frooted Design, a Minted artist who joined the community nine and a half years ago, traveled to New York as part of cross-country roadtrip from her home in Orange County, California, with her husband and son. “I always enjoy walking the show, but I mostly go to hang out with other Minties,” Tanya says of her fourth trip to NSS.

During the Minted Community Cocktail party on May 21, Mariam shared several monumental announcements with the community, including a forthcoming Minted artist retreat and conference in Las Vegas. “We’ve been talking about a mega Minted meetup for so long, it was almost surreal to hear Mariam’s announcement about Vegas,” Tanya says. “All the announcements were a reminder to me of how much Minted takes the community’s feedback to heart.”

Here’s a recap of four action-packed days of exhibiting new Minted designs at three booths, the annual Community Cocktail party, and the MYK artist breakfast.

The Minted Booth at NSS

The “Black Sheep” Minted Art Mural by Rose Lindo of Edmond, Oklahoma, took center stage at Minted the NSS booth, alongside displays of Minted Greeting Cards.

A handful of examples of Minted’s evolution in innovating new products over the last decade.

The Minted gallery wall—placed atop Minted’s signature reversed books—attracted NSS show attendees seeking an up-close view of Minted Art and framing. We also debuted a glimpse of “collective,” a new art project in development.

A wall of Minted Greeting Cards available for Minted Wholesale orders.

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How to safely package framed and unframed original art

Bubble-wrapping framed original art.

Bubble-wrapping unframed original art.

We’re thrilled to partner with Scale Up Art, a renowned San Francisco company that works with some of the world’s biggest names in art and photography to enlarge original works. With more than 12 years experience, the company’s founders, JP Jespersen and Dylan Ozanich, have mastered museum-quality artwork capture.  

About the scanning process: Scale Up Art uses a proprietary Gigapixel Artwork Scanning System to digitize artworks up to sizes larger than 3 gigabytes. Scale Up Art produces the most color-accurate and highest-resolution artwork reproductions available.

The importance of careful packaging

We cannot stress enough the importance of carefully packaging your original artwork before shipping. Even with the most trusted delivery partners, it’s difficult to control factors such as weather and shifting during transit. Keep in mind that the corners of your shipping box are most susceptible to damage. To help prevent damage and wear and tear, we worked with Scale Up Art to assemble these tips and the following step-by-step packaging process.

Top 5 “don’ts” for packaging art

1. Don’t ship wet art.
Make sure your painting or artworkis completely dry before shipping, and don’t add a protective varnish. If you’ve already varnished your artwork before you read this article, wait a few days beyond the recommended drying time before shipping. If you ship the art before it’s completely dry, you risk the varnish sticking to packing materials, and it’s nearly impossible to repair the damage.

2. Don’t use cardboard as a protective barrier on the face of your artwork.
Cardboard is not acid-free and could damage your artwork. Instead of cardboard, we recommend placing acid-free archival paper or glassine on top of the painting in addition to placing the artwork inside a clear plastic bag, which you could order from clearbags.com or purchase at your local art store.

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Sandra Picco attributes success to creative risk-taking, the Minted community, and evolving with the Digital Age

With a graphic design degree from Montclair State University in hand, Sandra Picco ignited her career on the production side of things and spent many hours in press rooms before actually focusing on design. She even walked the famous halls of Vogue magazine, working as a production manager for a spell. “It was humbling but also made me question every fashion choice I ever made,” the New Jersey Minted designer says with a smirk.

Sandra Picco works on her Minted designs at home in Barnegat, New Jersey, a small shore town located on the Barnegat inlet off the coast of New Jersey. “My husband and I just built our home here and moved in about six months ago,” she says. “The best thing about this area of New Jersey is that we can be at the beach in minutes or get in the car and be in New York City or Philadelphia in under two hours.” Portraits by Born Rival Cinema.

In addition to those humbling moments, Sandra attributes much of what she learned in her early production days to her refined skills as a designer and typographer. Ultimately, I discovered I was not cut out for magazine publishing and chose to pursue design over continuing in print production,” she says. “I did learn a lot about the inner workings of magazine publishing—and maybe a thing or two about what not to wear.”

Sandra also attributes her growth as a designer to Minted. She joined the Minted artist community of independent artists in 2010, when the company was only two years old. Eight years later, Sandra says she looks to Minted to provide room for creativity that her day job as a corporate designer doesn’t always provide. “Stationery design and being a part of the Minted community have given me reasons to push myself to take more risks and try new things creatively,” she says. “The support of the community cheering me on has also saved me from design burnout on a few occasions. It’s been pretty amazing to watch other designers, who I now call friends, grow alongside me as well.”

“Subtle Statement” save the date card by Sandra Picco

Though Sandra can’t quite put her finger on her design style, we call it “cheerful classics with a twist.” “I tend to have ‘shiny object syndrome’ when it comes to sticking to one look, but I usually favor a clean, modern aesthetic, and I love using type as the main focal point in my work,” she says.  

Here Sandra talks about her creative evolution, the art of being receptive to constructive criticism, and more.

“Burst of Happy” holiday photo card by Sandra Picco

How have you continued to learn about graphic design since college?
I’m going to date myself big time here, but I studied graphic design before computers were commonplace. It’s hard to even imagine that now. I was taught how to “copy and paste” the old-fashioned way—with a blade and adhesive! I didn’t really learn how to design via the computer until I started my first job after graduation, and with the pace of technology, I feel like I’ve been learning ever since. Needless to say, a lot has changed over the years, but I’m happy that I entered the field when I did because it gave me valuable insight into both worlds.

By day, Sandra works full time as a graphic designer for a small design and print company in New Jersey, where she designs everything from logos and brochures for small businesses to banners hanging in professional sports arenas. “It’s never the same from one day to the next, which keeps things interesting,” she says. “Stationery is my ‘side hustle.’”

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From retailer to designer: How Bethan Lumb built her career through hard work and Minted Challenges

Bethan Lumb sits in the ‘Basket of Dreams’ in Queenstown, New Zealand.

When you look at Minted artist Bethan Lumb’s body of work—clean, minimal stationery designs with carefully crafted typography—you might assume she’s been working as a graphic designer for many years. In actuality, the English artist has been a self-described steady “work in progress” who’s designed her own path.

“Golden Pines” wedding invitation by Bethan Lumb

At 18, Bethan went to Manchester School of Art to study Embroidery—which she describes as “more like fine arts and textiles”—followed by a stint at Bergen Academy of Art and Design in Bergen, Norway. “I thought maybe I wanted to pursue a career that had something to do with printed textiles or interiors, but I wasn’t really sure,” she says in retrospect. Upon graduation in 2012, Bethan landed a job in retail. “I worked for a few different companies but most recently L’Occitane, helping to manage one of their boutiques. It’s a great company with lovely products, but I was keen to do something more creative again,” she says.

Examples of Bethan Lumb’s work while studying Embroidery (aka “fine arts and textiles”) at Manchester School of Art, and briefly at the Bergen Academy of Art and Design in Bergen, Norway.

With that “keen” thought in mind, she coincidentally discovered Minted in 2014, and even with a lack of knowledge about design programs such as Adobe Illustrator, Bethan dove head-first into entering Minted’s competitions, learning as she went along. After achieving 98 wins with Minted—and with a growing creative itch needing to be scratched—Bethan decided to go back to school in 2016—this time to design school. She registered for classes at Shillington, a graphic design college with campuses around the globe.

I’ve always enjoyed being creative, but feel like I only really started to understand design properly after going back to college,” she explains. “I love that design consists of so much more than making things look nice; it challenges you to think creatively to solve problems, consider the end user, and learn from your mistakes.”

Long story short, after graduating from design school in 2017, Bethan is now following her dream of working full time as an agency graphic designer by day in Manchester, and moonlighting as a designer for Minted by night.

Here, she shares more about her story and what she’s learning along the way.

Of all her Minted designs, Bethan’s “Watercolour Stripe” wedding invitation is the most meaningful to her because she originally designed it for her sister’s wedding. “The feeling of knowing that someone has chosen this invitation for their special day never gets old,” Bethan says.

How did you discover Minted?
I honestly can’t remember where I discovered Minted—I think through a design blog. I remember seeing the design challenges and thinking, “This would be a great way to learn to use Adobe software.” I remember my first pick was in the Holiday cards, and I was so slow in Illustrator, the file prep took days! But seeing my card for sale on minted.com, and seeing people choose it as their holiday card amongst so many amazing designs was worth all the hours of work.

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15 questions to prompt stationery design critiques on Minted

When asking for constructive criticism from Minted artists, there are varying schools of thought. Some artists prefer to ask broad questions, while other artists prefer to drill down to a specific point.

Longtime Minted artist Phrosné Ras shared her advice on generating critiques. “If you feel something is not working in your design, you should have some idea where the problem is,” says the artist known for hand-drawn elements. Same goes for providing feedback to others—aim to be the opposite of ambiguous. Thoughtful observations and pointed suggestions for improvement are more helpful than saying, “I don’t love it.”

This is an example of how Minted artist Melissa Casey asked for feedback on her submission to the What a Bright Time Foil-Pressed Holiday Photo Card Quickfire Challenge in April 2018. She created a poll to share several versions of the design and asked the question, “My thought with this one was to make it more of an art piece and not so much of a card. I therefore blended the text into the design. Do you think it works or should I make the text more obvious?” Her approach generated a significant number of critiques from fellow Minted artists.

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In the thick of a global journey, Minted artist Shari Margolin feels braver, inspired, and slightly homesick

Minted artist Shari Margolin floats in the geothermal mineral water of the Blue Lagoon in Reykjavik, Iceland. (Photo by Josh Meister)

“We have no clue where we’re going next or how long we’ll be in Colombia—we’re flying by the seat of our pants,” says Shari Margolin, a Minted artist who’s on a stopover in Los Angeles for a few days before embarking on the final leg of a global trek culminating in Latin America. The graphic designer and her husband, photographer Josh Meister, have concrete plans to meet up with Shari’s sister and brother-in-law in Nicaragua in a few weeks, but the rest is sort of up in the air.

After spending eight months trotting around Europe and Asia as part of a “year-long experiment,” the couple’s not too concerned about the unknowns of Latin America. Which isn’t to imply that they embarked on this journey with a completely laissez-faire attitude. They began “loosely planning” and daydreaming five years before they set sail in June 2017 from their home base in Atlanta, Georgia. Shari and Josh saved money, minimized their stuff, found tenants to rent their home, researched the heck out of everywhere they wanted to go, and launched SocietyofEverywhere to document the trip. The impetus? “We’re both slightly obsessed with travel and, technically, we can work from anywhere in the world,” says Shari. She’s a self-employed graphic designer, and Josh is a photographer.

With three months left to go, here’s the story of what they’ve seen, how they’re feeling, and what they’ve eaten so far.

Skógafoss, a waterfall in Iceland that Josh Meister shot at midnight. “We had light almost 24 hours a day when we were there during the summer of 2017,” Shari says. (Photo by Josh Meister)

Minted: You just spent about four months in Europe, four months in Asia, and now you’re about to explore Latin America for the next four months. If you could do it again, would you do anything differently?
Shari Margolin: I’m glad we started with Europe because it eased us in to full-time travel—a lot of people spoke English, and it felt comfortable because we’ve traveled there before. But it was the most expensive region, and if we were to plan the trip again, I’d spend a little less time there and also visit more of Eastern Europe, for the cost savings and to get off the beaten path a bit more.

I’ve heard super good things about Sri Lanka and am bummed we didn’t make it there. A year seems like a crazy long time to travel, but somehow it’s just not long enough, and inevitably, we’re going to miss some good places.

A view from above of a section of falls at the stunning Plitvice Lakes National Park in Croatia. (Photo by Josh Meister)

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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.

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Leah Ragain’s start in design is very Pinteresting

Talk to creative types, designers, artists—heck, anyone who loves pictures—and they’ll likely tell you it’s nearly impossible not to get sucked into the eye-candy rabbit hole that is Pinterest.

Leah Ragain, a 37-year-old Minneapolis mom of four, was no exception. Every day during her kids’ naptime, she got into the routine of holing up on the couch and Pinning her favorite photos of food, home decor, and fashion, including those from her faves Smitten Kitchen and The Fauxmartha. But with the thought of earning supplemental income at the front of her mind, one day in 2015 her outlook completely changed. “I distinctly remember thinking, ‘I don’t want to spend my life just pinning other people’s ideas. I want to be the one creating something beautiful and have people Pin my work!’” Three years later, the rest has become history for hers in the making.

“It was like the light clicked and started a shift in my thinking,” Leah explains. From there, she purchased fonts, learned Adobe Illustrator, starting dreaming, and began entering Minted Design Challenges. “I decided to really go for it,” she says. And though Leah still loves Pinterest, she now uses it as a tool instead of an obsession. Here she tells more of how her life and creative path are evolving.

Love to You” Valentine’s Day card by Leah Ragain

Minted: Did you tell anyone about your a-ha! moment to become a designer, or did you keep it a secret to yourself?
Leah Ragain: I talked to my husband and a couple friends—it wasn’t really something I wanted to announce to the world in case I wasn’t good at it. My husband has been so great from the very beginning and has always encouraged me to keep moving forward. I don’t think he realized how much of his life would be listening to me talk about fonts, color palettes, and Christmas cards! I’ve also had a few friends cheering me on and have encouraged me every step of the way.

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