Some artists have a hard time putting their style of their work into words, but not Francesca Iannaccone. The London artist and illustrator easily sums it up in a sentence. It’s about bright color palettes, layered textures, and sharp, clean graphics with a Mid-Century influence—breaking down the detail into shape, color, and pattern. Her process is distinctive as well—she usually creates by hand and colors digitally, although recently she’s been drawn to traditional methods, including paint and paper collage to create abstract works.No comments
“If you would have told me 10 years ago that I would be a professional artist, I would have said, ‘shut the front door.’”
That’s how Mary Gaspar responded when we asked how she became an artist, as she recalled the twists and turns that preceded her current career path. The Minted painter—whose popular “Plant Cell” series has made an impact in the design blogosphere and led to commissioned work for The Property Brothers—used to work as an actor.
In a nutshell, Mary landed her first acting gig at age 13 by singing in the choir in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat at the Chicago Theatre. In high school, she was immersed in both theater and fine art, and grappled with deciding which one to focus on in college. Although she worked diligently on her art portfolio as a teenager, Mary never submitted it to universities and decided instead to study theater at the University of Illinois.
After college, Mary moved to Los Angeles for a few years to pursue acting and worked doing commercials while maintaining a long-distance relationship with her then-boyfriend, Derek, a fellow actor who stayed in Chicago. He later joined Mary in L.A., but long story short, after marrying Derek, getting pregnant with their first daughter, Mary and her young family returned to the Chicago area to be near family in 2008. Fast-forward 10 years, and their family has expanded to three daughters (ages 2, 7, and 9); both Mary and Derek are on the up and up with newfound career paths—she as an artist and he as a restaurateur. But it didn’t happen overnight.
“After I had my girls, my husband was busy with work and school, and I was working for my father doing legal research while being at home all day with the kids,” she explains. “I felt like I needed to make something.” She naturally scratched the itch to paint once again, following her childhood passion for art.
In this interview she tells how the rest is history in the making.
Mary holds the original of “Blue Hearts” painting, which Minted repurposed into a fabric for home decor, such as the “Blue Hearts” table runner below.
When Parisian artist Gwen Bedat made plans to travel with her husband from France to California in January, the first person she contacted was Holly Whitcomb, a fellow Minted artist who lives in Omaha, Nebraska. Although the two had never met face to face, Gwen and Holly have become close friends through Minted.
Holly Whitcomb (left) flew from her home in Omaha, Nebraska, and Gwen Bedat flew from Paris to meet for the first time in San Francisco in January 2018. Gwen Bedat (right) thinks she’s likely to find a Minted artist just about anywhere in the world, which is almost—but not quite—true, considering the community stretches to 90 countries. “You only live once, so I figure I should try to meet Minted artists in every city or country I visit,” the Parisian designer says.
Gwen and Holly were connected through the Minted Buddy program in 2014, and began corresponding a few times a week via email and Facebook Messenger. Over time, they began messaging daily about everything from design to day jobs to family life. During Minted Challenges, they shared screenshots of their works in progress to spark feedback and critiques. “We’re always bouncing stuff back and forth,” Holly says. “But we’d never talked on the phone or face to face.”
After communicating online for three and a half years, they finally met in the flesh in mid-January. Four months pregnant with her third child, Holly flew to San Francisco for three days to hang out with Gwen. What was it like to meet in person after years corresponding on the Internet? “It felt like seeing a familiar face in an unknown city,” Gwen said, after explaining that Holly met Gwen and her husband at their Airbnb in Haight-Ashbury. Jet lag and swollen feet aside, the two explored Fog City and hit up tourist attractions like the Golden Gate Bridge, Coit Tower, and Alcatraz. They also stopped by the Minted offices to meet employees and try their hand at watercoloring.
The Minted Buddy program strives to connect experienced Minted artists with newer artists, and when Holly signed up, she assumed she’d be matched with a more experienced artist. But as a longtime member of the community (she joined in 2010), Holly played the role of veteran to Gwen’s somewhat newbie status, considering she’d just joined a few months earlier in 2014.
When we asked the Minted artist community to share their favorite holiday traditions, we knew we’d be in for some good tales, but we had no idea how creative and interesting some of them would be. Whether you’re looking for light reading to get into the holiday spirit or exploring ideas for your own traditions, we’ve got 39 of them. Ranging in theme from plaid pants to nontraditional holiday meals, and spanning the globe from sunny California to the Land Down Under, sit down, cozy up, and enjoy.No comments
Kristy Kapturowski was short on inspiration and time when she first heard about The Better Together Minted Greeting Card Challenge, but as she puts it, once she buckled down and brainstormed ideas, she had a lot of fun with the creative process. Good thing she made time to work on greeting card designs.
As the first-place winner in the challenge, Kristy won $5,000, and her birthday card will be carried in a leading U.S. retail chain (to be announced). She also earned Editors’ Picks for 14 other card designs. “Greeting cards turned out to be one of my favorite products to design,” says the Philadelphia artist who goes by the moniker Hooray Creative. “I really enjoyed the chance to write copy and develop concepts for the front and inside of the card, combining illustration with my love of typography.”1 COMMENT
When there was talk of war in Bosnia in the summer of 1992, Maja Cunningham (née Pavlić), then 12 years old, took a bus trip through war-torn Croatia to stay with her aunt for two weeks until things “settled down.”
“No one thought the war would last long—but my short trip turned into eight years,” says Maja, now 37. When Maja became a war refugee as a pre-teen in Mainz, Germany, all she had was a bag of clothes and her homework. Maja’s mother stayed in Bosnia, and they didn’t see each other for the remainder of the war. Maja felt like a stranger in Germany, but gradually built a new life there, learned the language, and began studying architecture as an apprentice at age 16.
Then at age 20, Maja moved to Texas—once again with just one bag of belongings—to live with her cousin who had immigrated there. “When I moved to the U.S., I was basically a mute for the first six months, and my cousin spoke for me,” Maja explains. “After six months, she said, ‘I’m so over this.’” Out of necessity, Maja quickly taught herself English and became fluent within a year. That’s when Maya started studying architectural design at University of Texas at Arlington. Upon graduation, she landed a job as an architect for a prestigious firm and enjoyed learning the field.
“That’s one fast bike, said the cloud” by Maja Cunningham
Fast-forward several years and Maja married a Texan, had her son Jack in 2014, and started decorating her son’s room. When she couldn’t find art that felt personal to her, she made her own. She created “That’s one fast bike, said the cloud” based on her honeymoon adventure she’d taken with her husband, entered the painting into a Minted art challenge, and the rest is history—sort of. After working for nearly 20 years in architecture, Maja realized that her heart just wasn’t in it. Now Maja is a full-time parent and artist and couldn’t be happier. “I don’t regret anything because it leads me to where I am now,” she says. “Because I’ve been through so much in the first three decades of my life, I really want to live a stress-free life now. Things that matter to me are health and my family’s happiness. I know it could all be taken away in a second.”
Andrew McClintock is a big guy who makes big art for a big world. “But I also have a passion for little trees.” His words—not ours.
At 6 foot 7, Andrew’s definitely tall, and because he creates illustrations and photographs intended to be viewed in an oversize art print format, Andrew holds true to his claim. As for his interest in small trees, Andrew’s newfound hobby is bonsai. “Maybe I was inspired by The Karate Kid in the ’90s,” he says.Comments Off on Texas Minted Artists to Watch
Elizabeth Sanchez of Alex Isaacs Design
Sunny watercolor hues, mid-century modern curves, and la piña are some of the elements you’ll find in Elizabeth Sanchez’s work, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you can summarize her work as “Floridian art.” Instead, Elizabeth describes her work as a “melting pot of various cultural influences.” The Minted artist who goes by the moniker Alex Isaacs Designs (named for her brothers), lives in Estero, Florida, an area known for white sandy beaches and lush fauna and flora.
“My art is heavily influenced by the places where I’ve lived: Colombia, Palm Beach Florida, and Southwest Florida,” Elizabeth says. “From Colombia, I bring on a tropical color palette and Caribbean flair. From my years living in Palm Beach, I get my affinity for all things Palm Beach Chic: Chinoiserie, the revival of Hollywood Regency glamour, and the quintessential preppy chic.”
“Semicolon” by Alex Isaacs Design
A full-time artist who lives in something akin to tropical paradise, it’s hard not for Elizabeth to be inspired by the lush beauty that surrounds her. Her work is also influenced by some of her earliest memories, which are marked by family trips to the Sierra Nevada of Santa Marta and the Tayrona National Par, a unique area of Colombia with a large mountain and gorgeous beaches. Elizabeth’s father loved traveling to wild, uninhabited locales and exotic locations. “We never had an ordinary childhood vacation,” she recalls. “These strong childhood memories marked my love of color.”
On Elizabeth’s Minted Artist Store, you’ll find art prints that evoke magical realism—a combination of abstract watercolor paintings, illustrations, and digital paintings. “My creative process is ongoing. I always keep a small notepad with me so I can jot down creative sparks that I come upon in unexpected places: A striking color combination while waiting in line, a captivating word that would be perfect for a title for painting. I take snapshots wherever I go.”
“Finding the emotional climate and capturing the feeling of a scene.”
That’s the name of the creative game for Hadas Tal, who approaches her paintings with a designer’s eye. Whether she’s painting a California coastline or an abstract representation of high-rise windows, she carefully considers the composition, color, shapes, form, and cropping of everything she creates. “I like clean design, white, contemporary—The Guggenheim in New York, for example—expansive white walls,” she says.
Tal is a full-time artist in Emeryville, California, located about 10 miles northeast of San Francisco, but was born in Rishon Letzion, Israel. In 1980, her dad received a lucrative opportunity to work as a computer programmer for IBM, so her family moved to New Jersey, where Tal grew up. A new Minted artist, Tal earned a top-voted win for “Windows,” in the Minted + West Elm on the Big Stage Challenge. “Windows” was inspired by a gray, rainy day in Chinatown, San Francisco—more specifically, the haziness of the gray rainy day and how it affected the light surrounding the building. “Each window looked like an abstract painting,” Tal says.2 COMMENTS
You can take the girl out of graphic design, but you can’t take the graphic design out of the girl. This was the case for Karidy Walker, the Minted artist who knew as early as middle school that she wanted to pursue a career in design in some shape or form. She went to college to study design, until she dropped out during the second-half of her freshman year. Several years later, she returned to Western Washington University and finished her degree in 2008, but she didn’t actually consider herself a full-time graphic designer until she started entering and winning Minted Challenges in 2013. Her success on Minted has led to freelance design opportunities for various clients, and now Karidy is a full-time, self-employed graphic designer who works from home in Anacortes, a seaside town in Washington state.
In the last four years, Karidy, who recently turned 40, has become known for her light-hearted, fun, and often illustrative design aesthetic. “I definitely swing more toward the whimsical side of design, but I still like clean lines and modern typography,” she says.
Minted: How did you know that you wanted to be a graphic designer so early in life?
Karidy Walker: When I was in seventh grade, we had a career day at school where people came to share their jobs and life experiences. I always knew I wanted to do something art or design-related, but I never had a “term” to describe it. A graphic designer was there that day, and I knew immediately that’s what I wanted to be.
Are you originally from the Pacific Northwest?
I was born in Texas, and we moved to Washington when I was almost 6, but lived in west Texas (where my dad was born and raised) and Hawaii (where my mom was born and raised) before that. I definitely have heart strings to both Texas and Hawaii, and my upbringing between them is a big part of who I am today. I’d describe myself as a Northwest girl mixed with a bit of Southern charm and aloha spirit.
Karidy and her husband, Matt, in a tulip field in Mount Vernon, Washington. Her daughters, Kaileia and Aneka, are 4 and 3.
Why did you drop out of college but return later to complete your BA in graphic design?
I always knew I wanted to be a graphic designer and enrolled in college right after high school. I realized early on, however, that I wasn’t ready for the work involved to finish my degree. I returned to school in my late 20s with a renewed focus. The WWU design program was really competitive at the time, so earning my degree not only gave me the skills I needed, but also the confidence I needed to become the graphic designer I always wanted to be.
Some people say art and politics don’t mix, but for Erin Hodges, they do. Well, sort of. Under the moniker Fig + Cotton Paperie, the longtime Minted artist has established her niche for modern yet timeless stationery design. And as a senior advisor to the Governor of Texas, she tackles the Lone Star State’s politics head-on. How does she manage to do both with grace? As a full-time working parent, she says she’s “still in search of that unicorn they call ‘balance.’” “However, I am one of those people who needs—not wants—a creative outlet. Stationery design scratches that itch in the most rewarding way,” Erin says.
By day, the 38-year-old works on almost every major state policy issue, and focuses a lot of her time on issues related to public education and child welfare. And by night, she’s a self-taught graphic designer who’s figured out the complexities of Adobe Illustrator. If you asked Erin during her college days as a Communications major at Texas State University what she wanted to be when she grew up, she would have said Public Relations, but as she explains now, “the public policy/government bug bit me quickly.” Fast-forward to 2010, Erin entered her first Minted design challenge, the 2010 Holiday Card Spectacular and the rest is history.
One of Erin’s favorite Minted designs is her “Mod Palm” wedding invitation. “It just feels like ‘me,’ she says. “I feel like my style can be all over the place sometimes, but I am really feel like this wedding suite captures it.”
Minted: Have you worked in politics for a long time?
Erin Hodges: I’ve worked for the Abbott Administration for the majority of my career—from when he was running for Texas Attorney General in 2001 through a large portion of his tenure as Texas Attorney General, and now as he is in his second year as the Governor of Texas. I did take a four-year break to serve a Chief of Staff in the Texas House of Representatives…but I didn’t stay gone very long.
Erin Hodges at the Texas Capitol office in Austin. Photo by Molly Quirk