For this edition of #WhatInspiresMe, we’re taking a bit of a departure from our usual process of spotlighting artists’ sources of inspiration. Today we’re talking about inspiration killers. Minted artists Elliot Whalen and Christian Bennin share both sides of the coin—what does and doesn’t inspire them—so, really, this is a “double issue” edition.
Elliot’s Minted Artist Store
I prefer not to dwell on things that drain my inspiration, but while we’re on the subject, I can list a few. To start, I’m not saying I’m Superman, but I do take up all my vitality from the sun, absorbing its energies and converting them to creative inspiration. I love natural light and fresh air. In fact, I just assumed a one-minute power pose in the morning sun to write this feature.
“IceSCREAM” custom art print by WHALEN
In a similar vein, cramped and cluttered spaces make me claustrophobic. Not literally, but in a creative sense. I get cabin fever easily. Growing up in Southern California near the beach, I spent a lot of time outside, which became a major inspiration in my art. I drew waves, surfboard designs, and beach landscapes in my school notebooks. And a few years ago I moved to San Francisco, which has the perfect blend of bustling city, creativity, and all the outdoor adventures you could want just 20 minutes away.
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You’ll need more than a handful of words to describe Phrosné Ras’ aesthetic, but to summarize in three, we’ll go with beautiful, feminine, and detailed. Finely detailed. Her absolute focus on creating intricate details and—as she states on Instagram—of “making everything around me beautiful”—is core to her success as a leading Minted artist. But that’s not to suggest that her creative process is all roses and rainbows.
“Hand Drawn Picture Frame” foil-pressed holiday card by Phrosné Ras
As she explains in this email interview, precision is part of the work ethic that drives everything she does, including freelance work and her Minted stationery, art, and home decor. “The last 2.5 years, I worked no less than 14 hours, six to seven days a week. Some days, more,” says the artist from Cape Town, South Africa. “I’m making more time for myself now, but I will always be someone who works tirelessly if need be.”
You have a beautiful name. Is there a story behind it?
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I always tell people it’s made up, because it’s such a mouthful and mostly too extravagant! There is an original version, Euphrosyne. In Greek mythology, Euphrosyne was one of the “Three Graces”—goddesses of charm, beauty, nature, human creativity. She was the Goddess of Joy or Mirth, a daughter of Zeus and Eurynome, and the incarnation of grace and beauty. A beautiful, undeserving meaning to my name.
We often hear Minted artists talk about the concept of work-life balance—and how to be better at it. When we looked up “work-life” balance in the dictionary, the definition is a concept including proper prioritizing between “work” (career and ambition) and “lifestyle” (health, pleasure, leisure, family and spiritual development/meditation).
And so, I guess the larger question is: Is work-life balance possible? After talking with Minted artists Dave Douglass and Lena Barakat—both of whom are busy parents of three and who work from home—our answer is possibly maybe. It’s likely less about striking some sort of perfection and more about living life based on your own definition of balance and happiness. And, just want to add that Lena graciously wrote her answer during her 40th week of pregnancy.
As a freelance designer with three young children, balancing work and life can be a real challenge. I’ve found that dividing my attention and trying to “multitask,” as they say, leaves my work unfocused and everyone in tears—including me. Setting aside blocks of dedicated time where I am either 100% Dad or 100% designer is the only way I can be the best at both. With the help of my incredible wife (currently a full-time PhD student), we are both able to strike a balance.
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“Critiques are an extremely important part of the artistic process,” says Nathan Bond, a New York artist and Parsons School of Design faculty member with more than 20 years of critiquing experience. And because Minted artists say that peer critique is one of the most valuable aspects of the Minted community, we encourage artists to communicate with the community during the submission phase and critique period of Minted challenges.
One of the critical elements of successful critiquing is an environment of respect, trust, and honesty, says Nathan, and thanks to a global community of artists, Minted has built a supportive framework. To better understand the art of creative criticism, we’ve compiled the following expert advice on both giving and receiving criticism.
“The Grand Canyon” by Elena Kulikova
1. Empathy Is the Best Policy
Before sharing a critique, Lara McCormick, Head of Design Education at CreativeLive, recommends putting yourself in the artist’s shoes to understand his or her experience and perspective.
“Empathy is known to increase prosocial, helping behaviors,” she says. “Are they just starting their career? New to this medium? Or maybe the artist is colorblind? From a different cultural background? All these things inform our work.”
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We’re far from the first to hype the benefits of stepping out of the your comfort zone. Whether it’s shaking up the status quo with a slightly different routine, taking a hike just a few miles away, or traveling to the other side of the world, new places and new experiences do wonders for creative inspiration.
For this edition of #WhatInspiresMe, when we asked Minted artists Susan Brown and Ana Sharpe how travel inspires their creativity, they sung the graces of their recent vacations.
The Wisconsinite finds inspiration in Florida every winter
My husband and I spend January and February each year living in a pink house on the Florida Emerald Coast. To say that the vibrant Florida colors provide inspiration is almost an understatement. The sun is so bright and clear that it makes me, a Northerner obsessed with black and navy blue, fall in love with pastels— shutters, furniture, art, clothing, even pastel cars all look chic and sophisticated in this friendly climate. Primary colors are equally compelling: true, pure, saturated, happy.
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If there was ever a person who embodies the philosophy of learning (and succeeding) by doing, it’s probably Jessica Hische. The renowned graphic designer is a doer to the max. The self-employed artist got an early start working for Louise Fili Ltd., designs for clients ranging from Tiffany & Co. to Target, and recently published her first book, the aptly titled In Progress.
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On January 28, Minted CEO Mariam Naficy hosted a fireside chat at Minted’s San Francisco office, asking a number of questions provided by Minted’s global community of artists. Here, we highlight some of Jessica’s insights for creative success. Watch the video of the fireside chat with Jessica here.
Minted CEO Mariam Naficy (left) hosted a fireside chat with Jessica Hische on January 28, 2016.
1. Present Life as Truth
Now that Jessica has an established career, she’s able to negotiate her terms with clients—moreso than as a rookie designer. “But it has to do more with your confidence,” she said.
Jessica explained that some creatives are compelled to enter into negotiations apologetically, instead of just putting reality on the table. “Parents need to present their lives as a truth,” she said. “Don’t think of your life as an inconvenience for your client. They have to understand the realities. Everybody has their thing, and I think we whitewash our humanness. We should be honest and say, for instance, If I get less than eight hours of sleep, I’m a wreck.”
For a Chicago-area artist, Lindsay Megahed’s paintings emit quite the California vibe. From the beach scenes of “Weekending” and “Sea Wall” to the bright, dreamy colors in many of her other limited-edition prints, she’s got a lot of West Coast going on. But the Cali energy isn’t all that Lindsay has to offer. She’s a multi-talented artist-designer who’s won 109 awards across Minted categories: holiday cards, Valentine’s Day stationery, fabric, and, of course, art. Here, Lindsay talks about raising two boys, developing her career, and her insightful advice for up-and-coming artists.
What’s it like to be a work-from-home artist?
Very messy! Inspiration can strike at any time, so usually my studio is covered with works in progress—paper scraps, canvases, paint tubes, and palettes (I can’t throw anything away.) My studio is right off my main living space, so I don’t really have consistent start-and-stop working hours, and there are a lot of distractions. But being able to be so flexible with my time makes the haphazard work environment worth it. I can volunteer at my boys’ elementary school and attend all their events and activities, which is my main entertainment these days. Being home a lot, I do miss talking to grown-ups, so it’s always nice to hop online to see what’s happening in the Minted community.
Your work is so colorful. Do you have a favorite color combination?
I always start out trying to freshen up my palette a bit, but blue/green and orange/pink always seem to take over in the end.
“Big Sur” by Lindsay Megahed
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A self-described “artist, photographer, and clandestine writer,” Naomi Ernest has carved out a unique niche for herself on Minted. Her paintings, drawings, and photographs are at once minimalist, personal, and whimsically mysterious. “I am very process-oriented, letting the various effects of tools, mediums, and techniques be integral to each piece,” she says. “I like my work to be uncomplicated at first glance, but the more you look at it, the more complexities you discover. Overall simplicity with interesting details.”
Here, the Ann Arbor, Michigan artist shares details behind the scenes of her life–from her five children to the ongoing project of rehabbing her farmhouse.
When did you know you were an artist?
Growing up, my parents were both artists-on-the-side; as a very young child, I wanted to be an artist and a writer. I remember thinking these things specifically at maybe 3 or 4 years old—well before I could write more than a word or two, when my paintings were unsteady brush marks in blue and red and yellow. Somewhere along the uncertainty of growing up, I lost these early convictions, and it took me decades of searching to rediscover and to implement them.
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Don’t you love it when a planned, routine project turns a corner, changes form, and, ultimately, becomes more interesting? That’s the case with this story. What started as the January edition of our #ArtistAdvice series (featuring Minted artists sharing their advice about work and creativity), evolved into this: an e-conversation between Jessica Williams and Rebecca Turner. Both are longtime artists in the Minted community. Both work from home. Both said, “Hey, wait a minute, I have more to say about this than just my advice.” And both want to hear your thoughts, so we’ll get to that at the end.
So, here we go. This is the start of what we hope becomes an ongoing discussion with the Minted artist community about what it means to work from home—the pros and cons and all the insights in-between.
Rebecca Turner burns midnight oil in South Bend, Indiana.
Amy Schroeder: How long have you worked from home, and why?
Jessica: I’ve worked from home for almost three years. I previously worked full time in visual merchandising for Johnston & Murphy, and my freelance work built up to a point where I wasn’t able to do both. It was a scary leap to make, but completely worth it.
Rebecca: I’ve been working exclusively from home since 2010 and the birth of my first child. Before then, I worked full time at various “designy” jobs and freelanced on the side.
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“Will knock your socks off” was a spot-on description for today’s opening keynote at Alt Summit Winter 2016. Minted Founder and CEO Mariam Naficy was in good creative company with her fellow keynote speakers in Salt Lake City, Utah—all of whom are Internet powerhouses: Sarah Michelle Gellar of Food Stirs, Jihan Zencirli of Geronimo Balloons, and Luvvie Ajayi of Awesomely Luvvi.
Mariam Naficy gives her keynote speech at Alt Summit on January 21, 2016.
Photo by Troy Williams of @SimplyTroy
Alt Summit is the most influential conference for lifestyle and design bloggers, small business owners, and social media personalities. The four-day summit features panels and workshops about creative problem-solving and empowerment, where up-and-comers can rub elbows with stars like Justina Blakeney of The Jungalow and artist Elle Luna.
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