Q&A: What advice was hard to stomach but you now appreciate?

Why is it that you don’t recognize a “blessing in disguise” until you’ve had some distance from it?

We’ve been thinking about taking a step back to reflect on challenging situations that, while bittersweet in the moment, we’re thankful for in the long run. And that’s the impetus for the second edition of #ArtistAdvice. Here, Minted artists Kelly Ventura and Olivia Raufman answer the question What advice was hard to stomach at first but now you’re thankful for?

Kelly Ventura
Milford, Michigan
Kelly’s Minted Artist Store • kellyventura.com • Instagram @KellyVenturaDesign

Learn to accept hearing no and saying no.

When I was laid off from my full-time job in 2011, it was a blessing in disguise, though it stung to the core. I was seven-plus months pregnant with my second child and wondering what would come next. Once the baby was born, I split my time enjoying those first few months in newborn bliss and slowly building my freelance business.

I submitted my portfolio to several dream companies in hopes of a collaboration and repeatedly heard the word, “No.” Rather than wallow in the rejection, I pushed forward and worked hard to develop my style. I knew that’s what was missing in my submission—my voice, style, a certain unique perspective that those retailers were craving. A year later, after painting and patterning my heart out, I showed at Surtex, landed several of those dream clients that rejected me previously, and now feel more confident about my place in this big sea of artists.

I have also found it immensely helpful to make sure that projects and collaborations line up with my vision as an artist-designer. At one time, I was saying yes to everything that came my way, and I noticed a decline in my happiness and quality of work. Now that I have a more defined style and brand identity, it’s easier for me to say no to the projects that don’t strengthen my brand and say yes to the right ones.

Hushed” limited-edition print by Kelly Ventura

Soma” limited-edition print by Kelly Ventura

Click through to read Minted artist Olivia Raufman’s response to the question

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Meet a Minted Artist: Susie Allen

“Nothing is too pedestrian or too weird to experiment with,” says Susie Allen, the Eastman, Georgia, designer and illustrator who uses a variety of materials and a mashup approach to creating her playful, eclectic stationery and art.

A graphic designer for a small printing company by day and a freelance illustrator by night, Allen shares how watercolors, list-making, and even vegetables inspire her work.

Newspaper Sailboat” is Susie Allen’s first-place winner on Minted. “I really love combining type and illustration, and I’m happy with the way this one integrated the two,” she says.

Portraits of Susie Allen by Stephanie Shadden

When did you begin painting and drawing?
I’ve been drawing for as long as I can remember, and I had a creative mom who supported me from the start. As a kid, I didn’t know what graphic design was, but I often gravitated toward projects that combined visual art and lettering. I made my own illustrated books and elaborate, crayon greeting cards for family members, with my own “logo” on the back with my initials, “LSA Greetings.”

Click through to learn more about Minted artist Susie Allen

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Does routine inspire or stifle your creativity?

When it comes to cultivating creative inspiration, it seems like there are two schools of thought: One, freeing the mind to let creativity happen when it happens, and two, scheduling yourself “creative thinking time” in order to make it happen.

Of course, there’s no “right” way to inspire creativity—it’s different for everyone—but there may be a best route for you. For this edition of #WhatInspiresMe, busy Minted artists Alexandra Nazari and Sarah Curry share how scheduling works for them.

Alexandra Nazari
Los Angeles
Minted Artist Store • alexnazari.xyz • Instagram: @AlexandraNazari

I think it’s a very romantic idea to think that artists don’t need some sort of routine. In practice, however, I’ve found that scheduling blocks of time is the best way for me to develop my work. I try to spend at least a few hours every other day at my studio. If I can’t make it there because I’m tired or unmotivated after a long day at my day job, I try to at least tackle some retouching or printing tasks. It’s sort of like working out—even if you can’t make it to the gym every day, there are still ample little ways to maintain your fitness.

If I’m on deadline and creatively stuck, I like to go for a long drive to clear my head. Also, turning off my cell phone is another great way to stay on task.

California Dreams” by Alexandra Nazari

Upside” by Alexandra Naziri


Sarah Curry
Santa Cruz, California
Minted Artist Store • Instagram: @sarahcurrydesign • Twitter: @pinksuitcase
Portraits of Sarah Curry by Blue Lace Photography 

I work full time as an art director, so I have to block out chunks of time during evenings and weekends to design stationery and work on other creative projects. My routine really depends on my available time and deadlines I have to meet.

On weekday evenings, after spending a good part of the day working on a computer, it really helps me to get outside to refocus and refuel my creative energy. On weekends when I have a little more time, I love experimenting with painting and photography, or grabbing my sketchbook and heading to the beach or a coffee shop. I feel like I get more ideas when I work on art that is tactile and exercises different parts of the brain. My Stamped Seashells fabric was the result of an experiment with seashells, sumi ink and kraft paper. Other experiments haven’t turned out as well but I always learn something in the process.

When time is limited or I’m trying to meet a deadline, it’s not uncommon for me to go straight to the computer to start designing or to work late into the night. These times can make for long days and lost sleep, but in the end I think it’s all worth it to do something I love.

Gilded Brush” Foil-Pressed Holiday Card by Sarah Curry

Stamped Seashell” Table Runner by Sarah Curry


How about you—does a scheduled routine inspire or stifle your creativity? Share your answer in Comments below and on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter with the hashtag #WhatInspiresMe. We feature some of our favorite social shares in our Minted Fine Arts newsletter.

READ MORE #WHATINSPIRESME
Has anything ever scared you so much it’s inspired you?
Who’s your biggest creative influence?
When you need a quick creative pick-me-up, what do you do?

Published November 9, 2015 • Learn how to become a Minted artist here.

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Has anything ever scared you so much it inspired you?

Sometimes fear can be a good thing—in the sense that it can inspire you to take a risk or move in a new direction. For this edition of #WhatInspiresMe, we asked Lehan Veenker, Natalie Groves, and Annie Seaton to answer the question Has anything ever scared you so much it inspired you?

Lehan Veenker
Plainfield, Illinois

As strange as it may sound, the thought of not being able to stay at home with my kids scared me. My husband and I always knew that having one of us stay home with our kids was important to us. In order to make that happen, I needed to find a career that would allow me to work at home with kids, and neither of my former professions would allow the time and flexibility to make that a reality.

I have always been fond of art and design and stumbled upon Minted in 2008 when it was just starting. I decided to enter a couple of challenges and didn’t have any winning designs. In my mind, I completely failed to enter anything close to the caliber of designs already present at Minted. I was scared of failing again and missing this amazing opportunity to work at home with our then-future-now-present children, so I took a break to learn. I taught myself about Adobe Illustrator, Adobe Photoshop, textures, typography—anything design-related that I could get my hands on. This self-teaching hiatus lasted about two years. In September 2010, I decided to give Minted another shot and actually had some winning designs in the wedding challenge that year.

From then on out, I continued to build my collection on Minted, which enabled me to stay at home with my kids. Even before they were born, my children were the catalyst of my graphic design career, and they continue to inspire me every day, as seen in works like my “Heritage Children” art print and my “Enjoy The Little Things” holiday design.

Heritage Children” by Lehan Veenker

Enjoy the Little Things” by Lehan Veenker


Natalie Groves
Exira, Iowa

One day my family and I were checking on our pumpkins, and we came across a giant garden spider! He had intricate yellow designs on his big black body. He was so spooky that we were in awe, and instead of smashing him, we let him be and visited him every time we entered the pumpkin patch (mostly because we didn’t want him to surprise us in a different location). His web became one of the “homes” featured in my latest painting for the A is for Art Challenge.

Our daughter Navine (rhymes with “pine”) loves to investigate new things with her little pointer finger. It’s so fun to teach her about the world, and I love that I can do that through illustration.

Homes” by Natalie Groves

Name Bearers” by Natalie Groves


Annie Seaton with two Two Venice Beach longboarders. (Photo by Sonja Schenk)

Annie Seaton
Sherman Oaks, California

That would be pretty much everything. Let’s start with my decision to get pregnant and have two kids. I was scared to let go of my career and allow myself to become a mother. I always tell my children they are my best creative project. I never anticipated they’d become my best muses.

One of the reasons I named my daughter Violet was after a favorite oil color “Quinachridone Violet.” I felt her name reflected my creative values. Now, some of my bestselling artworks and paintings are of Zac and Violet. I would have never guessed I would paint them, and documented their entire childhood through my lens and paintings.

Secondly, I took a risk and decided to be a full-time artist after raising them. I moved into my own art studio and exhibited in the U.S. and Canada. It was a scary risk to not go back to a traditional job, and years later my artworks are selling in my Minted Artist Store.

Lastly, I did return to work and ran a brand-new photo gallery from the ground up as its director. I was scared, because I didn’t know if I could handle it and be a mom at the same time. I built up its program from zero, curated bi-monthly exhibitions, threw major special events, and grew to a very significant place in the L.A. photo scene. I was scared but I told myself,  “Don’t think Annie—just do it.” And it was one of the best projects I ever did and I’m proud of every exhibition and all the artist friendships I’ve made there.

Zachary And Violet Oxnard I” by Annie Seaton  

Zach and Violet Intertube” by Annie Seaton


How about you—has anything ever scared you so much it inspired you? Share your answer in Comments below and on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter with the hashtag #WhatInspiresMe. We feature some of our favorite social shares in our Minted Fine Arts newsletter.

READ MORE #WHATINSPIRESME

Who’s your biggest creative influence?
When you need a quick creative pick-me-up, what do you do?
How has education inspired your creativity?

Published October 26, 2015 • Learn how to become a Minted artist here.

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What’s the best career advice you’ve ever received?

Advice is like a train. You can take it or leave it.

For the launch of our #ArtistAdvice series, we asked Minted artists Tanya Lee of Frooted Design and Eric Beckett of GeekInk to share the best career advice they’ve ever received. Luckily, it shaped their paths for the better.

Stay tuned to the Community>Resources section of Julep. For upcoming editions of #ArtistAdvice, we’ll take a deeper dive into advice ranging from artistic techniques, personal branding, and life-changing insights.

Tanya Lee of Frooted Design
Orange County, California

Think of your computer as just another tool. If you always begin there, then what you can or cannot do on the computer limits your full creative potential.

Practically speaking, this means I usually begin a project by writing word lists, sketching, or experimenting with new mediums. Sometimes it means taking a step back and just hanging out with my family, who often proves to be my best inspiration. For example, “Splash-o-saurus” was inspired by spending the summer swimming with my dino-loving 5-year-old son).

(Right) “Splash-0-Saurus” Art Print by Frooted Design

Peace on Earth’s Globe” Business Holiday Card by Frooted Design


Eric Beckett of GeekInk
Los Angeles

In the middle designing an invitation for a Minted wedding Design Challenge, my wife walked in and saw that I was working on a floral-themed wedding invite. In a confused voice, she asked, “Why are you trying to do florals? That’s not your style.”

That one small question made me stop and really think about what I was doing. My florals were horrible, and I realized that the key to me being a successful designer wasn’t in trying to do what other successful designers were doing, but to find what I could do better. It freed me from the stigma that “florals always win,” and I was able to think outside the box and design what I thought looked cool. Sometimes the best advice isn’t advice at all, but simply asking the right questions. The next day, I started working on my Antique Lines design, and to this day, it’s still one of my favorite creations.

Antique Lines” Foil-Pressed Wedding Invitation by GeekInkDesign

Merry Little Lines” Holiday Card by GeekInk Design


What’s the best career advice you’ve received? Share your answer in Comments below and on social media with the hashtag #ArtistAdvice.
This is the first edition of Minted’s #ArtistAdvice series. Get a glimpse into more Minted artists’ lives in our #WhatInspiresMe series:
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Who is your biggest creative influence?

Friends, family, strangers, enemies, teachers, other artists. There are so many people who inspire artists—and sometimes without consciously realizing it. For this edition of #WhatInspiresMe, we asked Minted artists Naomi Ernest, Melissa Egan of pistols, and Alexandra Dzh to tell us who inspires them most.

Naomi Ernest
Ann Arbor, Michigan

My main sources of inspiration begin with my family. Growing up, my parents were both artists-on-the-side. By example, they instilled in me the idea that art is an everyday part of life. These days, my five kids are daily reminders of the importance of the creative process; their blithe, uninhibited approach is evident every time I watch them.

Recently I’ve also been reconnecting to my family history, creating work as homage to my copper mining ancestors and their life in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. And, of course, a passion for my local environment is always evident—the lakes, landscapes, and resources of my home state of Michigan provide constant connection and inspiration for colors, textures, and themes in my work.

Drift” by Naomi Ernest

December – Turquoise” by Naomi Ernest


Melissa Egan of Pistols
Portland, Oregon

One of my biggest creative influences is my husband, John. He’s a brilliant painter, curator, and craftsman who makes everything from furniture to movie props. He’s taught me so much about the importance of taking your time to make something right, paying attention to details, and staying true to your personal aesthetic instead of only following trends.

Gilded Trees” by pistols

Dipped Feathers” by pistols


Alexandra Dzh
Vienna, Austria

There are a lot of people who inspire me, but one of the biggest creative influences is Austrian illustrator Lisbeth Zwerger. In my opinion, the charm of her illustrations lies in her delicate watercolor style, the diversity and strength of her colors, her great perception for detail. Lisbeth’s delightful and lyrical pictures always serve me as powerful source of inspiration.

Flowers Everywhere” by Alexandra Dzh

Bouquet” by Alexandra Dzh


Who is your biggest creative influence? Share your answer in Comments below and on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter with the hashtag #WhatInspiresMe. We feature some of our favorite social shares in our Minted Fine Arts newsletter.

Need a quick creative pick-me-up? Read Minted artists’ solutions here.

Published September 28, 2015 • Learn how to become a Minted artist here.

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Top 10 Tips for Curating Your Minted Artist Store

There’s an art to curation, and it’s about more than merely placing art and designs where they look best.

When it comes to successfully organizing an online storefront, one of the most important things you can do is put yourself in the consumer’s shoes. Ask yourself, “What are consumers looking for?” “How can I make a good first impression?” and “What’s the best way for me to position my product offerings?”

Minted Artist Store Merchandising Tools allow artists to fully curate their Minted Artist Stores. You can spotlight Featured Products, create custom sections, and mix and match products by changing the order in which they’re displayed.

If you’re ready for curation advice and strategy, you’ve come to the right place. For technical instructions on using Merchandising Tools, read our “How can I curate my Store?” FAQ and watch this instructional video.

1. Identify Your Goals
Defining your goals will help you develop a business and marketing strategy—and asking yourself questions is a good way to get your thoughts on paper (or, on screen). For example, do you want to position your top-selling products front and center? Would you like consumers to view your Christmas and Hannukah products during the holiday shopping season? Do you want to rebrand yourself with a new creative direction via your self-launch products? Or perhaps you’d like to draw attention to your latest Minted Design Challenge–winning designs?

Whatever your goals are, we recommend writing them down. Keep your objectives at the forefront of your mind as you’re curating your Store—they’ll help inform your decisions for all of our following advice.

2. Focus on Featured Products
Think of Featured Products as your premium real estate—it’s one of the first things consumers will see when they visit your Store Home. Positioned up top, Featured Products are the first row of four products, within a carousel of up to 12 products.

When it comes to curating your Featured Products, keep your goals and business strategy in mind. You can change the assortment for the appropriate season or promote products that complement each other stylistically—it’s up to you.

Rachel Nanfelt of Alethea and Ruth thinks of the Featured Products section as a sort of mini collection. “There are so many possibilities—a seasonal collection, a specific product collection, a type of art technique,” she says.

“Featured Products” is merely the default language. You may rename the Featured Products title to describe the contents—for example, “My Top Sellers,” “Holiday Gift Ideas,” or in the case of Alethea and Ruth’s Store shown above (at publishing time), “painterly brush strokes.” Keep in mind that the “Featured Products” title must be less than 35 characters, so short and compelling is the name of the game.

The mission of the description located just below your Featured Products title is to provide additional context for the title. “I’ve been doing a lot of painted work lately, so my description highlights a group of pieces that feature brush strokes and painted textures,” Rachel says.

We recommend describing why you’ve chosen to feature these products in your descriptions, and include a maximum of one to two product type keywords where possible. For example:

My photography art collection is inspired by the natural beauty of Mendocino’s beaches and the surrounding redwoods.

3. Keep Your Language Simple
We always encourage creativity at Minted, but we also recommend being simple and straightforward when it comes to communication. Put yourself in the shopper’s shoes as you’re writing language in your “About Yourself” carousel as well as your Featured Products and category titles and descriptions.

When naming your self-launch products, use descriptive and short product names. Minted will then append the product name with the product kind. For example “Coastal Breeze” becomes “Coastal Breeze Photography Art.” Keep in mind that you cannot change the name of your product after it launches.

4. Create Visual Interest
As an artist, you specialize in creating visual interest—it’s the essence of your work, right? The same approach applies for curating your Store. Although your individual creations are super important, so too is the look of your products as a group.

As you’re creating Featured Products and positioning the placement of Other Products, take a step back to look at the products side-by-side. Think about how your colors, styles, and product types complement each other to create an overall look and feel.

What are your visual goals? Are you aiming to show variety? Do you want to create a cohesive look, or do you want a particular product to pop?

5. Curate for the Season
As you’re curating your Store and positioning your work in Featured Products, Other Products, and your various Sections (you can create up to 10 active Sections), optimize for the season. For example, feature Halloween designs and autumn colors in the fall, and winter holidays and themes in November and December.

You can also hide off-season designs when they’re not optimal—for example, Christmas or Hanukkah cards in July.

6. Self-Launch Products
One of the best ways to direct the creative vision of your Store is to self-launch products. If you’re new to Minted and haven’t won a number of design challenges, self-launching products is a great way to increase your product offerings. For that matter, you can also self-launch your non-winning submissions to Design Challenges.

We welcome you to self-launch art, stationery, notebooks, fabric, wrapping paper, and more. Like all Minted products, we take care of manufacturing, order fulfillment, customer service, and shipping. Read our Designer FAQs for more details.

7. Keep Your “Shelves” Fully Stocked
Artist Stores are similar to physical boutiques—they’re most inviting and appealing when their shelves are full. Remember this as you’re creating sections for your various products. We recommend stocking at least four or five products to warrant a section; any less than that appears a bit empty.

If you have only one or two products of a particular category, wait to create a section for them when you have more items to round things out. For example, in Alethea and Ruth’s “holiday” section, she includes a combination of Stationery and Art.

8. Promote Your Specialized Links
Once you’ve created a section, you can create your own marketing campaigns and direct fans to your specialized URL. This is not an actual URL, but to give you an idea, the format would look something like: minted.com/store/artistname/number/whateveryouwant

For example, if you have a “holiday” section, you could promote the products via social media, an e-newsletter, or your personal website or blog.

9. Get a Second (or Third) Opinion
Invite someone who represents your “target market” to test-drive your Store and provide feedback.

10. Experiment and Make Changes
Together we’re just getting started with the new Store design and merchandising tools. And together, we’ll learn about what works well and what doesn’t. As part of the learning process, we recommend experimentation and refreshing your Store sections, Featured Products, and Other Products to see what works best for you.

Rachel says she considers her initial Store creation just the beginning and will likely change her approach often, especially in the featured product section. “I can’t wait to do a Holiday feature section with wrapping paper and gift tags,” she says. “I think it can be a good place to feature some of the smaller coordinating pieces that are for sale but not always in the forefront, like thank-you cards or stickers. I also might use it as a place to feature my newest work for sale on the site—there are so many possibilities.”

What are your thoughts, questions, and advice for curating a Minted Artist Store? Share your feedback in Comments below.


MORE RESOURCES
Designer FAQs: How can I merchandise my Store?
Minted’s 7 Tips for Creating a Unique Artist Brand” featuring advice from artist Melanie Severin
The Essential Checklist for Minted Artist Stores

ABOUT MINTED ARTIST STORES
Ready to grow to the next level? Once you’ve won a Minted Design Challenge, you’re invited to create your own branded Store. Artist Stores allow you to use Minted’s world-class manufacturing and fulfillment platform to run your business. You can self-launch non-custom products to your Store, and we handle the printing, shipping, and customer service. Learn more here.

Published September 24, 2015 • Learn how to become a Minted artist here.

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When you need a quick creative pick-me-up, what do you do?

Creative funks happen to the best of us, but overcoming them oftentimes inspires a whole new direction. Here, Minted artists Joni Tyrrell, Andi Pahl, and Jennifer Postorino share their most reliable creative pick-me-ups.

Joni Tyrrell with her son, Kingston

Joni Tyrrell
North Liberty, Iowa

Take a break! It’s so easy as a creative business owner to get caught up in working all the time and forgetting to find balance between work and family life. I’m just starting to figure out a balance, and I find that when I turn to the two most important people in my life—my husband and son—that downtime can really trigger a creative thought or idea and I can come back to “work” feeling refreshed and excited about new things.

Joni with her dog, Maverick (“A female with a boy name,” she says.)

Pining for Pineapple by Joni Tyrrell


Andi Pahl
Columbus, Ohio

Music—from show tunes to ’80s pop to Jenny Lewis and everything in between—is a great creative pick-me-up. I also enjoy taking ballet classes, so whether it’s an hour-long class or a short plié relevé combination in my living room to get the blood pumping, working out can be very helpful.

One of my favorite creative pick-me-ups is coffee and collaborating with a creative friend, like Alaina from Cheer Up Press. Since inspiration seems to hit me at the most random times, I keep several journals. When I’m at a total loss for ideas, I consult one of my journals for creative inspiration. There’s always a surprising idea that I wrote down at some earlier point and forgot about later. When all else fails, I just start painting or sketching without any prior plan or expectations.

I’m Frond Of You No. 2” by Andi Pahl

Reflections Watercolor by Andi Pahl


Jenny Postorino and her daughter, Quinn. Photo by Ashley Mauro Photography

Jennifer Postorino
Dayton, Ohio

It’s pretty simple for me. I just walk away from whatever I am doing and see what’s going on in the world around me. I’ll run to grab an iced coffee from Starbucks or a sweet treat from our local bakery—I’m a total sucker for iced sugar cookies and cupcakes! Lately I’ve been hitting the gym for a butt-kicking crossfit session every day (which is my newest obsession, or necessity, based on my love of cookies).

But, honestly, most of the time I find myself just hanging out with my two kiddos, being a typical mom. The things that come out of their little mouths crack me up, and I find inspiration in them every day. It could be anything from hearing my 3-year-old sing Pharrell Williams’ “Happy” in the car at the top of her lungs to playing outside and listening to my son ramble on about how he thinks he has a huge head while shooting hoops. Oddly enough, it’s in those little moments when creativity strikes, and I feel recharged again and ready to work.

Glimmer” by Jennifer Postorino

Bundle of Joy” by Jennifer Postorino


What do you do when you need a quick creative pick-me-up? Share your answer in Comments below and on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter with the hashtag #WhatInspiresMe.

How does education—formal and informal—shape your creative work? Read about Minted artists’ experiences here.

Learn how to become a Minted artist here.

Published September 14, 2015

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How Has Education Inspired Your Creativity?

Back-to-school season has got us thinking about how education inspires creativity. For this edition of #WhatInspiresMe, Minted artists Taleen Bedikian, Lori James, and Kaydi Bishop think back to their college days.

Taleen Bedikian
Torrance, California

“I love being surrounded by creative thinkers and even non-creatives who question the whole. When I was first majoring in Fine Art, my professor opened my eyes to the idea of gestalt, reminding me to step back and really look at what I am seeing. It’s the whole that we see that really moves us. Having learned this, I like to test myself when tackling projects, which usually means tilting my head, squinting, or backing up to assure that my work feels good as a whole. It’s just something that has stuck with me through the years, and I like to think it helps.”

Lounge-1” by TRB Design

There’s Always Hope” by TRB Design


Lori James of guess what?
Honolulu, Hawaii

“At Honolulu Community College, I had a very inspiring professor named Harrison ‘Bud’ Brooks who really spurred my passion for design. He stressed the importance of knowing the basics and instilled an ethic of discipline and hard work. He challenged us to seek out good design and analyze the underlying elements—composition, layout, typography, etc.—to understand what made it successful. He also taught us never to be complacent, but to continue to learn and grow and evolve as artists. Mr. Brooks definitely had a huge impact on who I am as a designer, and I’m so thankful to have had him as a mentor.”

Petit Monsieur” by guess what?

Snow Time Like the Holidays” by guess what?


Kaydi Bishop
San Francisco

“With a background in interior design and architecture, I find myself inevitably inspired by everything from the uncommon moulding detail to ancient tile patterns. In college, I had the opportunity to study in Florence, Italy, consequently studying many of these details first hand. After college, I was fortunate to travel throughout Asia and the Mid East for my job. Everywhere I turned, I found myself photographing inspiring patterns, materials, color combinations, etc. The education I receive from traveling continues to serve as my main source of inspiration to this day.”

Brushed Casablanca” pillow by Kaydi Bishop

The Half Shell” by Kaydi Bishop


How has—or does—learning and education inspire your creativity? Share your answer in Comments below and on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter with the hashtag #WhatInspiresMe.

#WhatInspiresMe is published every other Monday. This is the fourth edition; read the third edition here.

Published August 31, 2015 • Learn how to become a Minted artist here.

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Meet a Minted Artist: Kristie Kern

Violin major-turned-graphic designer. History professor’s wife and awesome 10-year-old’s mom. Robust coffee lover and ambitious home cook. These are just some of the words Kristie Kern uses to describe herself.

With 130 Minted awards under her belt, it’s no wonder she also calls herself an “exuberant Minted artist.” Here she shares her story—as an independent graphic designer who works from a beautiful home in Akron, Ohio.

How did you hear about Minted?
I first happened upon Minted while doing some research for a client, and was blown away by what I found. Though I often visited Minted after this to admire the amazing designs and designers, I didn’t enter a challenge myself until almost a year later; I was busy with my design studio and young son.

During the summer of 2011, my workload slowed quite a bit. Instead of immediately pursuing more work and clients, I decided to take advantage of the down time to finally enter a Minted challenge. I submitted one design for a gift tag challenge, and then received two file requests for my next challenge, which was for weddings. I was instantly hooked! Seeing my excitement as I jumped up and down at the news, my then 6-year-old son yelled, “We’re rich! We’re rich!”

I still get excited with each new file request, but what has become much more exciting to me over time is the way that Minted has reinvigorated my passion for design.

(Left) Kenton Kern, Kristie’s son | (Right) Minted works: “You and Me” by paper rose, “Numbers Elephant” by Kristie Kern, “A Very Happy Day” by Kristie Kern

What is a typical day like for you?
I often begin my day running with a group of amazing neighborhood moms, then aim to be in my office on the third floor of our 1919 Craftsman cottage by 8 a.m. First, I sort through email, then list my intentions for the day (on Post-Its!), which include work deadlines as well as personal goals. By far, my best time for creative work is early morning, so I try to make that happen as often as possible. Evening is spent enjoying family dinner and helping with my son’s piano and violin practice.

Criss Cross” by Annie Clark

How do you describe your style?
As an independent designer for nearly 11 years, I’ve been fortunate to work with a variety of clients; many of them long-term, ongoing relationships. However, much of the work I do involves designing within an established brand. The wonderful thing about designing for Minted is that I get to explore my own aesthetic—and it is still evolving. I love so many styles, from chic modern to whimsical, feminine, and urban. I love to experiment, and it’s so interesting to see what sells well—it may not necessarily be a design that was a big stand-out in a challenge.

Tell me about one of your designs for sale on Minted and how it came together.
I like the way my notebook and stationery set “English Countryside” turned out. It actually began its life as an art print submission that just wasn’t feeling right. I ended up taking that art print out of the challenge I’d submitted it to, but kept the basic design in my back pocket. When the time came to re-envision it as a notebook, it came together easily.

I also still feel good about my wedding invitation suite “Bliss.” This design evolved as I moved various elements around my Illustrator file rapidly—this often helps me see things that I wouldn’t otherwise.

I usually start a design without much more than a glimmer of inspiration, and just let things flow organically. One thing I’ve learned is that the creative process can be a strange and very personal thing, and can take on a life of its own. Sometimes you just have to follow where it leads and be “in the zone” while it’s happening. Being in this zone is where I do my best work, but it can be so elusive. I wish I could bottle it!

Who are your favorite designers?
I love the simple forms and bright, unexpected color combinations in the work of children’s book author and illustrator, Ezra Jack Keats. I also adore the rhythms of color New York painter Juri Morioka creates in her abstract art. In the stationery world (aside from the many crushes I have on the work of fellow Minted artists), I really enjoy the work of Ingrid Reithaug and Tonje Holand, the Norwegian duo who make up the design studio Darling Clementine.

Leaf Study” by Kristie Kern

What’s your advice for new designers?
Make a non-negotiable appointment with yourself each day to practice your passion, preferably during the hours that you are at your best. If you have to break this routine, try not to let too many days go by before you get back to it. I’ve found that the more time I spend outside the creative zone, the longer it takes to find that oh-so-happy place again.

In terms of design, these are some of the things I keep working on myself: When you realize you’ve stopped designing and have started “decorating,” take a break. Come back with fresh eyes, shift a few things around and take a few things away. Try to look at the overall composition rather than fussing with tiny details in the beginning. Find the focal point, then pare back on anything that competes with it (or decorates it rather than enhances it). Then refine: Check kerning, leading, and for a pleasing amount of space between text and graphic elements. Detailed attention to typography can really make a design.

Designing for Minted has brought amazing opportunities. The added visibility has helped potential clients find me and has generated additional work. More important to me, though, is the strong sense of support that I’ve received from being part of the Minted community. Especially for anyone in a solo career, feeling connected to a group of peers is so important, and I’ve found my fellow Minted Artists to be not only wildly talented designers, but also incredibly smart, funny, generous and good people.

Hello World” by Kristie Kern

More from Kristie Kern:
• Minted Store
• KristieKernCreative.com

Photography by Stephanie Miller and Angie Arthur

Published August 28, 2015 • Learn how to become a Minted artist here.

 

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