2016 Religious Christmas Holiday Challenge: Top Winners

By Mariam Naficy

For the past several months, many Minted Artists have been heads-down, focused on creating the most beautiful, unique holiday card designs in the world. They’ve also been anxiously awaiting this blog post — the kickoff of our annual winner announcements for some of our most anticipated and celebrated Minted Design Challenges of the year.

The voters have spoken. Our guest judges — including Joanna and Chip Gaines of HGTV’s Fixer Upper, Paul “Sweet Paul” Lowe, and The Girls With Glasses — have made their picks. We’ll begin spilling the candy canes in just a moment.

For our ninth annual holiday card challenge season, we created something new: the “Oh Come, All Ye Faithful” Religious Christmas Card Quickfire Challenge, our very first faith-based design challenge. We developed this challenge for people who are specifically looking for religious or spiritual Christmas greetings and designs. We’re excited to share your cards with this growing market of Minted customers.

I’m thrilled yet again by the quality and beauty of this year’s submissions. If you’ve read our winner announcements in previous years, you’ve heard me say this before, and I want to reiterate: the Minted Artist community continues to surpass our expectations in design for the most unique, cutting-edge holiday cards.

As always, I want to thank every artist who submitted a design, gave a critique, voted in a design poll, and shared festive posts in the Minted Community Facebook group to help fellow community members get in the holiday spirit. At the end of the day, the heart and soul of Minted centers around our global community of independent artists and how they treat each other. We are a community that thrives on kindness and helping each other grow and learn with constructive criticism, and we appreciate all of us maintaining that spirit.

Here are the top winners, as determined by voters, for the “Oh Come, All Ye Faithful” Religious Christmas Photo Card Quickfire Challenge. Stay tuned for the start of the “Making Spirits Bright” Holiday Photo Card Challenge winners countdown tomorrow. Huge congrats to our first group of holiday winners!

MORE AFTER THE JUMP... 4   COMMENTS

Perfect Match Award Roundup: Special Prizes

Announcing the special prize winners for our Perfect Match Awards! Our customers love that they can choose matching Minted Envelope designs that carry the theme of the invitation through to the envelope. These awards are for the most creative envelope designs that add something extra special to the invitations they accompany. A huge congrats to all the winners and runners-up!

The Most Wonderful Time 2015 Holiday Card Challenge
Merrily Matching Award


Everlasting Love Save the Date Challenge
Perfect Match Award

Suite Love Wedding Invitation Challenge
Perfect Match Award

Great Expectations Baby Shower Invitation Challenge
Perfect Match Award

Sweet Celebrations Kids’ Birthday Party Invitation Challenge
Perfect Match Award

Imagery created by Leah Conroy
Perfect Match Awards will be announced as a roundup twice a year. 
MORE AFTER THE JUMP... Comments Off on Perfect Match Award Roundup: Special Prizes

15 Questions to Inspire Quality Art Critiques

By Nathan Bond & Amy Schroeder

Many Minted artists say peer critique is one of the most valuable aspects of our community and challenge process. After submitting your work to a challenge, Minted artists are encouraged to share feedback on other artists’ work and invite fellow community members to critique their own work.

We’ve found that when artists ask specific questions about their work, they are more likely to generate quality feedback. Armed with this constructive feedback, many Minted artists iterate their submissions or put the feedback in their back pocket for future projects.

We asked Nathan Bond, an art instructor at Parsons School of Design, to create the following list of prompts to inspire quality critiques. We recommend that you copy and paste the questions that resonate with you into the “Ask for Feedback” pop-up field after submitting your work.

Fossilized Rock” by Frooted Design

With more than 20 years of experience, Nathan said he created this list for a wide range of artwork, including paintings, drawings, and photography. “These questions focus on the fundamental elements of all works of art, regardless of genre or style,” he said. “I organized them in an order that develops similarly to how you would develop a formal critique, starting with the basic foundations of the image and developing toward the more interpretive aspects.”

15 Art Critique Prompt Questions

1. Does the composition effectively move the viewer’s eye around the image?

2. My intent with this composition is to take the viewer to ____________ location. Did your eye go there?

3. Are there any classic compositional errors? For example, is the subject matter too centered or too far off to one side? Are things cropped in an effective way? Is anything “kissing” the edge?

4. Is there good positive-negative space, and is it balanced and harmonious?

“Skyward Angles” limited edition print by Gabrial Reising

MORE AFTER THE JUMP... 1  COMMENT

Minted Artists Critique Holiday Designs at Atlanta Meetup

Story and photos by Kristen Smith

In late April, I had the pleasure of organizing an incredible live holiday stationery design critique session with six fellow Atlanta area Minted artists. The meetup was especially exciting because it was the very first in a series of gatherings we’ve planned this year as part of the pilot Minted Ambassador program.

In addition to Kristen Smith, the six artists who attended the Atlanta meetup were Stacey Meacham, Ashley Ottinger, Kelli Hall, Camilla Acosta, Zanne Bedore, and Susie Stern.

We all gathered at the lovely home of Kelli Hall, who was so very gracious to host us, and we each brought print-outs of designs we were currently working on. Because the “Making Spirits Bright” Holiday Photo Card Challenge is one of Minted’s biggest and most competitive challenges of the year, sharing live critiques was absolutely invaluable. Being able to take a break from our computer monitors and interact with the printed, tangible work was a much needed, fresh perspective. We scheduled our critiquing meetup about a week before the day final submissions were due, so it was the perfect little boost to motivate us and carry us weary and cross-eyed through the finish line.

As there are quite a few Minted artists in the Atlanta area, we were fortunate to have veteran community members like Stacey Meacham (pictured above) as well as a few first-timers and recent first-challenge participants. Our hope is to see many new faces at future meetups as our talented community of independent artists and designers continues to grow.

Stacey said she enjoyed the holiday critique because it gave her the confidence to move forward with submissions that she was questioning. “I often have designs that linger on my artboards that I know have something but am unsure if they are finished or good enough,” she said. “Having in-person feedback from respected designers, friends, and artists is invaluable. Even if there are not changes that need to be made, just getting the confirmation that ‘yes, this is good—you should definitely submit’ is so helpful.”
MORE AFTER THE JUMP... Comments Off on Minted Artists Critique Holiday Designs at Atlanta Meetup

Minted Artists Pay It Forward

It takes a community to thrive as an independent artist.

To celebrate Minted’s extraordinary community spirit, we bring you Pay It Forward, our campaign to help Minted artists connect, collaborate, and succeed during the 2016 Holiday Stationery Design Challenge season. Because artists tell us that peer critique is one of the most valuable aspects of the Minted community, we’ve compiled these resources to help you give and receive quality feedback, stay inspired, and get the most out of the Minted challenge process. Stay tuned for updates.

Julep Features

Critiquing Advice
7 Ways to Master Art and Design Critiques (insights from Parsons School of Design faculty)
15 Questions to Inspire Quality Art Critiques
10 Tips for Critiquing Minted Art and Designs (insights from the community)

Thrive During the Holiday Challenge Season
5 Ways to Connect With the Minted Artist Community
6 Tips for Success in Minted Challenges
4 Mantras for Being Boss in Work and Life
How to Thrive During Minted’s Holiday Challenge Season

Creative Inspiration
7 Podcasts for Inspiring Your Creativity
Minted’s 20 First-Place Challenge Winners of 2015


Critique Awards

Chance to win a Minted feedback session

To recognize constructive feedback, we award critiquers in every Minted Design challenge.

Give fifteen or more constructive comments in the New Year’s Challenge by the time voting opens and you’ll be automatically entered in a random drawing to win a one-on-one feedback session with a Minted merchant of your choice! Remember, this is not a numbers game — quality feedback is much more valuable than quantity of feedback. Make sure to use the “Mark as Constructive” button to reward great feedback when you see it.This will be based on the Feedback leaderboard for each challenge, and we will combine results from the foil and non-foil version of each challenge.


Community Connections

Join our Facebook group
The Minted Community Facebook Group is open to all Minted artists who have submitted to at least one design challenge. Connect, share resources, and ask questions in this active global group. Learn how to join here.

Call in, meet up, get involved
The Minted team hosts weekly office hours, quarterly calls, meetups, and other community events. View and subscribe to our events calendar here. Are you interested in hosting a Minted meetup in your area? Fill out this form.

Join the Buddy Program
The Minted Buddy Program is an opportunity for you to make a deeper connection with one to two other artists. We pair people based on personality, experience, and category (art, stationery, etc.). Learn more here.


How the Minted Artist Community
Pays It Forward

Jennifer Postorino
Eight-time Minted Critique Award winner

“Taking time to critique designers is important to me, not only for their growth, but for mine as well. It keeps my current skills in check and allows me to continue learning as a designer. I’ve learned so much from so many designers. I honestly can’t believe where I am at today. Not only do I feel like I have gained some real friendships simply by reaching out to people, but my design skills have gotten so much better.”

Christian Bennin
from in “Ever Thought About Your Creative Turnoffs?” on Julep

“I get over creative blocks faster as I get critiques from other designers, and the creative briefs for each project really help me focus my thoughts. The story of my first Minted design challenge illustrates my point perfectly. The first competition I entered was the grad challenge. I was a bit over-eager and posted a quickly created design that hadn’t been thought through very well. Once I submitted my design, I saw how the critique process worked and got really inspired by it. I decided to sit down and really do this. I sketched and designed two versions of a new design and used the community polling feature to narrow down to the option that eventually won me my first award! It was a great eye-opener to me and example of how the process can work.”

Julie Green of Up Up Creative
from “Meet a Minted Artist” on Julep

“I once left a comment on one of Jen Wick’s designs with a few minor-detail suggestions about sizing this up, rotating that, and moving it all over or something like that, and she commented back to me privately that I’d make a good art director. Ever since her comment, I think I approach my work very differently. Having a designer who I like and admire point out this strength just changed me. It has added a whole new layer to my interaction with my own work, and it has helped me better understand what I like and don’t like about stuff out in the world. I think the work I’ve produced in the time since Jen’s comment is more confident, more purposeful, more polished, and more wholly mine.”

Susan Brown

“When I was a newbie and saw Karly Depew‘s save the date design ‘Timeless’ in the Jan 2012 challenge, I went to her page and asked her advice. She sent me an email where she presented my design in three different type styles and explained the importance of typography. So special.”


Published March 24, 2016 • Want to join the Minted Artist Community? Submit to a Challenge here.

MORE AFTER THE JUMP... Comments Off on Minted Artists Pay It Forward

How to Photograph Your 2-D Art

Written by Marlo Miyashiro

You’ve spent hours, days, weeks—perhaps even months—on your latest masterpiece, and now it’s ready for its close-up. We’re here with tips to help you take high-quality photographs of your 2-D artwork in preparation for digital production. Before we begin, we want to emphasize that it’s always best and worth the expense to work with a professional photographer to capture images of your work for fine art prints and other applications. However, if hiring a pro is out of reach or you want to learn a new skill, we encourage you to give these tips a try.

Choose Your Background

The ideal background is a flat-white or neutral color wall with minimal texture. If you don’t have a naked wall, designate an area that you can clear of furniture and other items that might reflect unwanted colors into your photos.

Set Up Your Artwork

The best way to set up your artwork is to hang it on the wall at eye level or vertically on an easel. This will allow you to take accurate distance measurements from the floor to the center of your piece and match that distance to your camera lens in order to make your photo as distortion-free as possible. If you can’t hang art from a wall, you can prop your work up against the wall, taking note of the angle of the face of your piece so you can match that as well.

MORE AFTER THE JUMP... Comments Off on How to Photograph Your 2-D Art

4 Mantras for Being Boss in Work and Life

By Kathleen Shannon

Whether you’re a full-time creative entrepreneur paying the bills by doing what you love or hustling to build your dream job on the side, you have to get in the right mindset to really be boss in work and life. Because the truth is this: Blending work and life—doing what you love for a living—isn’t always easy. At times it can be downright scary, hard, and lonely. And getting in the right mindset can be tricky when you feel like a fraud (surely we’re not the only ones who feel like we’re faking it sometimes, right?) or close down shop and crawl under a rock. We use mantras, phrases, or affirmations we repeat to ourselves over and over again, to literally carve out neural pathways in our brains that keep us positive and productive. We’d like to share four of our favorites with you.

Don’t Quit Your Day Dream” limited edition print by Matthew Taylor Wilson

1. “I Chose This”

When we interviewed Lisa Congdon and her wife Clay Walsh on our Being Boss podcast, the full-time artist told us she gets through the roller-coaster ups and downs that come with self-employment by remembering that she chose her path. She reminds herself with every pressing deadline that she chose to live the life of an artist. It can be so easy to get wrapped up in your own daily grind that you forget you’re living the dream—and if you’re not, you get to make different choices.

MORE AFTER THE JUMP... Comments Off on 4 Mantras for Being Boss in Work and Life

Top 10 File Prep Tips for Minted Artists

By Olivia Goree

If you’ve won a Minted Challenge, congratulations! While you’re still basking in winner’s glow, you’ll receive a file request email from files@minted.com. We understand that there are a lot of elements to keep track of when setting up your customizable art and stationery files. Here’s a list of what we consider the Top 10 File Preparation Tips to help you clean up your files and get your designs launched as quickly and seamlessly as possible.

1. Use Provided Template Layers

The layers in your provided Minted templates are not only there to help us with our production process, but also to help you organize your artwork. These layers mimic how a customer is able to customize your design on our site, so placing elements in the correct layers is very important. The foil layer, for example, is placed on top, as this is the last piece printed on top of all other digital elements.

For more information on how to utilize these layers, read the File Prep Instructions PDF included in your request email or check out the Templates & Layers FAQ.

2. Tackle Tricky Text Boxes

When formatting text boxes, it’s important to put yourself in the customer’s shoes. Text in each text box should consist of the same font and character settings in order to work in our customizer. For example, in “Safari Party Animals” by Snow and Ivy, you’ll notice that each text treatment is separated out in the design file, which allows a customer to change text in each area while keeping the same styling. Important reminder: Avoid using glyphs in any editable text, if possible.

To learn more about setting up text in your files, see our Text Settings FAQ Page.

MORE AFTER THE JUMP... Comments Off on Top 10 File Prep Tips for Minted Artists

Day in the Life of Meg Gleason of Moglea

By Meg Gleason

Meg Gleason is not your average Minted artist, but then again, there’s no such thing as “an average Minted artist.” The self-described designer, illustrator, and farm wife leads her fully staffed print shop, Moglea, in Audubon, Iowa, and somehow manages to raise two children and help run a family farm, raising cattle, hogs, corn, and soybeans. “The farm has been in the family for four generations,” she says.

Fiesta Turtleneck” limited edition print by Moglea

Meg joined the Minted community in 2009 and has 70 wins to her name. Designing for Minted challenges was how she got her career start and helped her gain confidence to launch her own letterpress stationery line. “The community provided me with invaluable feedback and encouragement at a pivotal moment in my career and they continue to do so,” she says. “Minted continually helps support and promote Moglea and I’m forever grateful for the opportunities I’ve had from Minted.”

Here she shares her day in the life. —Amy Schroeder

MORE AFTER THE JUMP... 6   COMMENTS

How to Create Repeating Patterns in Illustrator

By Liz Conley

5 Fabric Design Tips

1. Place design elements on the sides to create a natural rhythm to your repeating pattern.

2. When filling the fabric art board with a pattern, make sure there’s no stroke on the rectangle. Strokes will cause an error on the finished file.

3. Make sure the size of your pattern is divisible by 36 inches. All Minted fabrics repeat exactly at the 36-inch mark.

4. For designs with a white background, easily add a pop of color to your alternate colorways by layering your pattern over a colored background. Customers love having options—especially for home decor.

5. Think outside the Illustrator window. Some of Minted’s most popular fabrics started as painting or drawings that were scanned in to tweak inside Illustrator.


Liz Conley, a former Production Designer, now works as a Public Relations Designer for Minted. Originally trained as a fine art printer and bookbinder, she now helps the Production Team translate Minted artists’ visions into real products. She’s also a Minted community member with a passion for watercolors and learning to push Illustrator to its limits in new ways. Visit Liz’s Minted Artist Store, and follow Liz on Instagram @lizconley.

Published January 15, 2016 • Learn how to become a Minted artist here.

MORE AFTER THE JUMP... Comments Off on How to Create Repeating Patterns in Illustrator