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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Minted’s 7 Tips for Creating a Unique Artist Brand

One of the coolest aspects of personal branding is that it’s entirely up to you. “Artist branding is a very personal thing and should be a true reflection of you as an artist, which really is a reflection of yourself,” says Melanie Severin, a Minted artist from Alberta, Canada.

The digital world (and even traditional sources) is your oyster when it comes to sharing and experimenting with your brand identity. Instagram, Facebook, Tumblr in addition to business cards and event promo materials are great channels for telling your story and connecting with a local or global audience.

If you have a Minted Artist Store, you have a number of ways to curate your persona—via your product assortment, cover image, and the “About Yourself” bio and carousel of up to five 1420 pixel x 640 pixel photographs.

Before you dive into updating your Artist Store and other marketing content, consider our advice for developing your brand identity.

1. Define Your Brand
If you had to describe the meaning and style of your work in a handful of words and visuals, what comes to mind? Think about these words and visual references as you’re developing copy and photos that best represent you.

Like many artists, Melanie says she’s constantly evolving and growing, but a mix of sophistication and whimsy is the consistent theme in her work. Part of Melanie’s brand includes her personal life—her rural home-based studio, being a mom of three young children (who raise chickens!). “And the fact that I live in Canada and am heavily inspired by nature,” she says.

Melanie’s artistic style varies widely in terms of the different media, color palettes, and disciplines she works in, so it doesn’t make sense for her to show only a limited palette or style in her branding imagery. “But for some, that works very well, and in fact I’ve seen some absolutely stunning Instagram feeds built on a very limited palette or style,” she says.

2. Get the Lighting Just Right
“Great lighting is everything,” Melanie says, and we couldn’t agree more. But this doesn’t necessarily mean you have to overspend on lighting equipment.

Perhaps you want your photos to be shot primarily indoors with natural light, or maybe a cloudy outdoor setting perfectly captures your mood and style. Like we said—it’s up to you! Read our DIY photography tips in “10 Tips for Taking Great Photos for Your Artist Store.”

3. Shoot For the Appropriate Format
The 1420 pixel x 640 pixel dimensions of the Minted Store “About Yourself” photo carousel are long and lean—the opposite of, say, Instagram’s square photos. When planning and styling your photographs, take a step back and leave space to crop in a way that will look best in the long landscape format.

4. Focus on Quality Over Quantity
If you don’t have five great images for your About You Carousel, don’t upload five images. In other words, focus on quality over quantity. Because photography reflects consumers’ impressions of your work, Melanie says, “definitely don’t feature any photos that are poor quality, grainy, or out of focus.”

If you’re taking your own photos, we recommend investing in or borrowing a decent camera. You could also do a “trade” with another Minted artist or photographer—you take his or her portraits in exchange for him or her taking your portraits.

Melanie takes most of her own brand photographs, but a fellow Minted artist, Ardell McLennan, also has taken some of the photos in Melanie’s Minted carousel and Instagram feed. “I recommend working with a photographer occasionally for portraits,” she says. “It’s pretty difficult to get good photos of yourself, in your workspace, and in the process of creating.”


5. Mix It Up
What’s unique about you as an artist? Convey your personality and what makes you stand out with a variety of shots. “Consider what it is about your style and process that might be really interesting and different from others and think of creative ways to capture that in a photograph,” Melanie says.

For the Minted Store About You carousel, we recommend artists show at least one portrait in their creative environment or places that represent their “artist brand,” in addition to at least one photo that depicts their creative process, and styled product shots.

6. Tell Your Story
“People want to know what inspires you, what your typical workday is like, how and where you create. All of these things become part of your ‘brand,’ in addition to the overall style of the products you create,” Melanie says.

Social media and the Artist Store photo carousel are great ways to share not only beautiful styled images of your products, but also your day-to-day adventures. Melanie’s biggest goal is to “be herself” and give followers and customers a glimpse into her life and inspirations—and sometimes that’s portrayed with a sense of humor.

“One of my absolute favorite photos in my Instagram feed is of our daughter when she came into my studio dressed as Darth Vader,” Melanie says. “It was a priceless moment that embodies what it’s like for creatives who work from home with children. Sharing these real-life moments with your followers helps connect you with them and makes your work that much more meaningful.”

7. Write in First-Person Voice
Let the world know it’s you behind your messaging by writing in first-person voice. For example, in your About You bio on your Minted Store, you could write something like, “I’ve traveled and surfed the world over, and my work reflects my adventures.”


Curious about Minted Stores? Artists who win Minted Design Challenges are invited to open their own store. Read more in our FAQs.

About the Author: Amy Schroeder, Minted’s Community Content Manager, founded Venus, the magazine about women in the arts and DIY culture, and has written for Etsy, West Elm, and NYLON. Connect on Instagram @thevenuslady.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

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

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August L.A. Minted Meetup: A Two-Way Learning Experience

We always walk away from Minted Meetups newly inspired and full of ideas—and the August 21, 2015, L.A. Meetup was no exception. On an idyllic Southern California evening, more than 20 artists met at a restaurant called Primitivo in Venice Beach.

Conversation topics included the Minted Home launch, the challenges of managing a busy schedule, and artists’ desires to develop their personal brands.

Meetup attendees, top row from left: Dustin Miller, Maria Mordvintseva-Keeler,
Aeryn Donnelly-Terrey, Renee Pulve, Simone Klein, Erica Krystek, Eric Beckett,
Aspacia Kusulas, Karen Leung, Dariana Cruz, and Amy Hall.
Bottom row from left: Shirley Lin Schneider, Jessica Nugent, Patty Vargas, Aporn Khananusit-Hama, Jessica Miller, Jessica Druxman, Lynn Knipe, Tanya Peng Lee, Anthea Tjuanakis Cox,
Sara Berrenson, Jeanetta Gonzales.
Not pictured: Annie Seaton, Leah Bisch, Jennifer Thorp Morehead.

Dariana Cruz of Dari Design Studio said the event was a refreshing break from her working-from-home routine, and her takeaway was realizing Minted’s interest in learning from the community.

“It felt really good to feel Minted’s sincere intention to connect with and listen to us,” said the L.A. artist who collaborates with her sister, Dariela. “By paying attention to that connection, we can create new systems, products, ideas, and projects that benefit the artists, the company, and the consumer as well. Not many companies allow for that openness to happen.”

Anthea Tjuanakis Cox, Director of Artist Relations, flew to L.A. from Minted’s San Francisco office and enjoyed the open dialogue. “I loved learning how Minted fits into different people’s lives and seeing just how diverse it is. During nap time, between jobs, a place to have full creative control after a day job,” she said.

One of Anthea’s takeaways centered around Minted’s growth and the need for creating a strategy to help artists manage the large number of design challenges. She also encouraged artists to enter new challenge categories. “Amazing things happen when artists bring their influences to a new canvas,” she said.

We gave L.A. Minted Meetup attendees totes and California-themed Minted prints,
like “San O Daydream.” This photo was created by husband-wife duo Jessica and Dustin Miller of Owl and Toad, who attended the event.

The next Los Angeles Minted event is a Maker’s Night in October 2015.

Published August 25, 2015

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Meet a Minted Artist: Renee Pulve of Smudge Design

You could say Renee Pulve of Smudge Design is living the artist’s dream. As a self-employed, full-time graphic designer and artist based in Westlake Village, California, Renee works from home and wherever she can take her laptop.

But her career isn’t all rainbows and unicorns. When we asked her how she balances life and work she responded, “I don’t!” Here she shares her inspiration, creative process, and more.

Photos of Renee Pulve at home by George Cox of gcoxphoto.com

How do you approach self-employment?
Working from home, I find it very challenging to sit down at my computer and get creative during the day. To help stimulate productivity, I take regular yoga classes and find that some of my best ideas come after I’ve given my mind a creative rest. I rescued my pug Suki from Pug Rescue of Korea six years ago and became involved with their efforts to find homes for unwanted pugs.

As a night owl, I’ve discovered my most productive time is after 6 p.m. There’s something about the calming effect of the evening that seems to settle me in. For organization, I’m obsessed with the “Stickies” app for day-to-day lists, and my iPhone calendar is a must for setting appointment reminders.

Where do you go for design inspiration?
Most—if not all of my design inspiration—comes from travel. There’s just something about being out of your element and looking at things from a “vacation” point of view that opens my creative eye a little brighter than usual.

My first Minted art submission, “My Favorite Things,” came from the desire to typographically document some of my favorite travel destinations along with activities I enjoy. This particular piece is very personal to me and one of my most treasured art prints. I still remember the art challenge emails encouraging us to create art that we ourselves would want to buy—not just what we think the customer wants. I try to take that advice to heart in every challenge. The print also resonates very well with Minted customers—which is always a plus.

What artists do you admire?
In college, I drew inspiration from artists such as Henri Matisse and Vincent van Gogh. Today I find most of the artist/designers I admire are fellow Minties. Taleen Bedikian (TRB Design) created this continuous line drawing of my beloved pug Smudge (who I named my design company after). I also have works of art from Kerry Doyle of Paper Dahlia, Emily Jeffords, and Jane Wilder of Wilder California.

Tell us about one of your designs for sale on Minted and how you created it.
Anchored” is my favorite invitation and inspired by attending a friend’s wedding in Chesapeake Bay, Maryland. After returning home and reviewing all the memorable details (such as the anchor swag bag and maritime placecards), I found myself immersed in all things nautical. One by one, the pieces started coming together in my mind and the design finally took shape. I was thrilled that Minted honored it with the “Shapely Award” (a design that best uses one of Minted’s die-cut shapes). Being from California, the nautical theme isn’t all that unusual, so let’s just say I didn’t have to dig very deep.

Anchored” by Smudge Design

What’s the goal of your Tumblr, Theme Party Ideas?
To provide simple and affordable ideas for planning an entire party based on a theme. All of the party ideas coincide with invitations I’ve designed, so when you purchase one of my invitations you’re not just getting the invite, you’re getting the complete party idea! The blog offers photos and decorating tips along with Pinterest boards to help visualize each event.

Renee Pulve’s Favorite Things

Inspiration
Favorite design sites and blogs: Over the past year, I’ve increasingly moved toward Instagram since it gives me the instant gratification I’m looking for. Some of my favorites to follow are @Scarletandgoldshop, @britandco, @glitterguide, @thedailytype, @urbanic, @Designlovefest, and @Domino.

Fashion idol: I’m a fan of Tory Burch and her sophisticated style. She also recently launched the Tory Burch Foundation to help engage and empower female entrepreneurs. Her website provides access to advice, tools, and words of wisdom from industry leaders.

Ideal vacation spot: Costa Rica is probably one of my all-time favorite spots to visit with its vast terrain including beaches, rainforests, and volcanoes. My favorite is of course the plentiful wildlife. I recently visited the Osa Peninsula for a yoga retreat and was able to capture a photo of the very elusive sloth.

Home
Coffee, tea, or soda?: Cappuccino!
Ultimate indulgence: A chocolate soufflé or warm molten lava cake
Netflix or HBO?: HBO
Something surprising about you: I volunteered at a lion sanctuary in South Africa.

Art
Oils or Watercolor? Both, but I recently started indulging in watercolors. In college, I focused primarily in oil and acrylic paintings, but recently re-discovered watercolors and incorporate them into my designs whenever possible.
When did you begin creating art? I started drawing during elementary school in art class.
What did you study in school? Fine Art at California Lutheran University, BFA

More from Renee Pulve:
Minted Store
Smudgedesignco.com
• Instagram: @SmudgeDesignCo

San Francisco” by Smudge Design

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