Meet a Mintie: Paper Plains

Paper Plains aka Sarah Lenger designs with the daring, self-assured hand of someone who embraces a diversity of inspirations and isn’t afraid of a good challenge. At her best, she captures different moods with each design and appeals to a variety of tastes and occasions. She was most recently featured on this blog as the winner of the best religious design prize in the Holiday Spectacular Challenge, and as you can see from her winning design, she really knows how to work the “wow” factor. Let’s get to know Sarah a little bit better in this week’s Meet a Mintie.

Paper Plains aka Sarah Lenger

How did your design career begin?

I originally went to college wanting to study photography. I found out about the graphic design program and decided


Meet a Mintie: Sydney Newsom

Our Meet a Mintie today hails from Alabama and is known for her Southern charm, wonderfully sarcastic sense of humor and the lightness she injects into forum conversations, as well as her design style, which ranges from whimsical to preppy.  It’s no surprise then that Sydney has been overwhelmingly nominated by her fellow designers as our next Minted Mentor, a role she’ll share with Design Lotus. This is our way of giving Sydney a cyber-high five to recognize her leadership, friendliness, and overall awesomeness.  Congratulations Sydney!

How did your design career begin?

I began the job I have now as the marketing coordinator for an architecture and engineering firm (given to me with a giant leap of faith that my creativity would teach me everything I needed to know


2010 Holiday Spectacular Countdown: No. 24

Sometimes it’s simply too hard to decide on just one photo for your family holiday cards, so why not select 6? “Bow Tie,” a stunning design by Design Lotus comes in at no. 24 on our 2010 Holiday Spectacular countdown for its fresh take on the multi-photo card layout. We adored how “Bow Tie” allows customers to showcase so many photos in a chic and elegant way. We also adored how Amy added a touch of warmth and humor with a tiny cardinal illustration. The simplicity of the type and bow-tie detail balance the design, while letting the stars (your family photos) really shine through.  Congratulations Amy!

Please comment and let us know what you think. We’ll be announcing no. 23 tomorrow…


Meet a Mintie: Gakemi Art + Design

Nam of Gakemi Art + Design broke out onto the Minted scene in December 2008, and has since then, been a steady presence in design challenges and the forum, offering her fellow designers constructive feedback and warm wishes. We’ve long been admirers of her too-cute-for words children’s designs and delicate, pretty flower illustrations and thought it’d be fun to reach out, and take a peak into the life of one of our designers in the great white north (hi, Canada!).

Nam and Gabriel

How did you get your start in graphic design?

When I was in grade 3, I remember drawing people, flowers and objects from encyclopedias. I was always interested in art, and people who knew me, knew me for my art. Growing up, our family didn’t have much and asking my parents for things like art supplies was unheard of so I drew and doodled on any surface, covering the inside covers of books and pages in those encyclopedias. I took visual arts throughout high school and sold my first two drawings: a picture of goats and one of a house – all for $200.  Not bad when you consider it paid for all the paper and pencils I needed for art classes. I didn’t really consider design as a career until I returned to college and graduated from architectural technology which gave me tremendous exposure to AutoCAD, 3-D Viz and Photoshop. From there I taught myself Illustrator with the hope of grasping typography and creating my own fonts.

I’m curious to know about how you taught yourself Illustrator and how you have developed your typography skills.

The first time I used Illustrator was to convert architectural floor plans from AutoCAD into marketing materials in Illustrator and InDesign.  Most of the learning was through reading user guides as I go, and practicing through trial and error.  Soon after discovering the Minted Design Challenges, I taught myself by reading website illustrator tutorials, Adobe Creative Suite WOW books and watching video tutorials.  When I’m confident with the skills, one of my goals is to design my own fonts.  Unfortunately I haven’t been able to find the time to create them, but when I do, I would love to use it for the Minted Design Challenges.


Meet a Mintie: Design Lotus

With her trademark smile and effervescent energy, creativity, and passion, this designer is known by many. Some people call her Design Lotus, while others refer to her as the mayor of the Minted forum who coined the term “Minties.” We simply know her as Amy, the rock star designer and mom of three who has shown over and over again that she is a force to be reckoned with. Fair warning: As if it weren’t enough that she is tirelessly enthusiastic, generous with her knowledge and opinions, and always hilarious, her kids are really, really adorable. Keep reading to see for yourself.

Amy + Gavin

Everyone who encounters your energy and spirit must wonder: How on earth do you juggle three children and a bustling design career?

Bustling design career?  Are you talking to me?  Distractions are my life right now and Minted is my joyous outlet.  When everyone is finally fed, clothed, and happy… it’s mommy’s time to “play!”  It’s usually not until after the kids are fast asleep that I am REALLY able to think and/or brainstorm.

"Melonball" from the Be Mine Valentine Challenge

"Chef's Notes" from the Keep In Touch Good Housekeeping Challenge

How did you get your start in graphic design?

I stumbled into it while I was working as a training/event coordinator. I took some initiative to create some name badges, table tents, and signage for several training events. They were a hit with the client, and hence, launched my career in the design field.  I discovered Lynda Weinman’s H.O.T. books, which were fantastic, and I’ve been hooked on her training material ever since.  In fact, I have learned every software I know through

Where did the name “design lotus” come from?

The lotus flower has many layers and petals as do my design aesthetics. Also lotus tattoos are meant to represent life, new beginnings and the possibility of people growing to change into something of beauty. I would like to believe I can do the same for my clients through design – by taking something from a murky/chaotic start and transforming it into something to celebrate.


Meet a Mintie: Andrea Snaza

It’s hard to believe that its been 2 years since Minted launched its first design challenge. As a company and as a design community, we have grown a whole lot, but one thing (or shall I say person) has always stayed constant, and that’s Andrea Snaza. She participated in our very first competition, a Save The Date Challenge that received just 66 submissions, and has been an active contributor since.  She has a nice, restrained style and a knack for type composition, though what really sets her apart is her enthusiasm and friendliness. A quick survey of a few staff members produced the same response – Andrea always has friendly, helpful feedback for other designers, and she’s been a real joy to watch grow and evolve as a designer.

Andrea Snaza

How did you get your start in graphic design?

I’ve loved art and creating since I was little but there was this one day in my high school advanced biology class when I decided that I was going to be an art major. I didn’t really have any idea about a career in design at the time, but within a year of college I had declared graphic design as my concentration and dove in to communication design, typography, color studies and art and design histories. At this point I was thrilled that things were beginning to make sense – and I was realizing the meaning and substance behind the stacks of magazines, shopping bags, greeting cards and various other printed materials I had collected from a young age – silly behaviors that I like to justify now as links to the graphic or communication design field.

My love for stationery design definitely developed more with these contests! I’ve always loved stationery but randomly entered the first contest 2 years ago – and needless to say I have been hooked since. I‘m not afraid to admit that I’ve learned so much, it’s funny to look back on early designs now. I didn’t know a thing about stationery design then, but I have developed some great dreams for my future and goals towards a career in this particular area of design.


Kiss me, I’m a Mintie

As a company, a lot of mail comes our way, and it ranges from the quotidian (office supply catalogs) to the fun and surprising (anything from designers). We recently received the fun kind of mail from Alison and Jessie of Sweet Street Gals, who sent us a care package containing a few essential items for getting in the St. Patrick’s Day spirit. In a word: awesome.

Boutonniere Kit

St. Patrick's Day-ready

Not pictured: the deliciously minty oreos that came with the boutonnieres. Those were pretty much eaten up on the spot.

Thanks Sweet Street Gals!


“You know you’re addicted to Minted when…”

The other day, I kicked off my morning with a steaming cup of coffee and a leisurely browse through the Minted design forums. For the uninitiated, the forums are pretty bare bones message boards with all sorts of design-y discussions about what fonts to use in upcoming design challenges, stories of how stationery entrepreneurs got their start, and ideas for upcoming design challenges. For the initiated — that is, the designers who participate in Minted Design Challenges and have grown to become fans and friends of Minted and each other — the forums have evolved into a sounding board for ideas, inspirations, constructive feedback, and wry confessions. This fact hit home especially hard when I stumbled across a touchingly sweet and hilarious forum discussion, started by mom and designer extraordinaire Nam Bourassa, also known as Gakemi Art + Design. Designers, we <3 you. And Nam, a big thanks for starting this discussion and graciously allowing us to re-post it here:

Minted design moms, you know you’re addicted to Minted when…

1. During the challenge, you check the critique design page every hour to see what designers have submitted.

2. You spend hours looking through design magazines, bookstores, the library and the internet for ideas.

3. You can’t wait to get your kids to sleep, and when you finally get the chance, you will design ’til dawn.

4. You get so excited when you get an e-mail from Minted notifying you that “a new comment has been left for you.”

5. The house is a mess, with toys everywhere and dirty dishes.

6. You breastfeed your infant while working on your laptop/computer.

7. The TV and DVD Player are your best friends.

8. An hour before the hubby gets home from work, you quickly jump up to do dishes, prep dinner, tidy up the toys, vacuum and do laundry — just to make it look like you’ve been slaving away all day instead of creating designs for Minted.

9. When the design submission period is over, you make last minute changes right before it goes into voting.

10. Your blood pressure rises when the scores go public.

11. When the winners and Editor’s picks are announced, and designs that you think are not so great get picked, you wonder “Why? How? What???” and go through Minted withdrawal.

12. When you do get picked, you dread giving Minted the originals because you have spent hours editing the design until it’s perfect.

13. You’re back to the same routine until the next challenge is launched.

Design Moms and non-moms alike — please feel free to add to the list. You can see the original discussion and check out the forums here.


Valentine’s Day picks

When I was in elementary school, one of my favorite times of year was Valentine’s Day. Every year, I looked forward to sitting down in front of a stack of pink and red construction paper, safety scissors in one hand, Elmer’s glue in the other, my adolescent creativity positioned to unleash itself in the form of accordion hearts and puns. My classmates and I would spend an entire afternoon snipping, tracing, and folding. The result, in some shape or form, for each of my classmates: a meticulously personalized brown paper lunch bag, the perfect vessel for the sharing of Valentines, candy hearts, and lollipops.

With February 14 right around the corner, the Minted team is in a Valentine’s Day-frame of mind. Luckily, we have a freshly-debuted assortment of Valentines to feast our eyes on. There isn’t a piece of construction paper in sight, but when you see how refreshingly clever and adorable these cards are, you might agree that maybe that’s not a bad thing.

My Heart For You by Vickie C

My Heart For You by Vickie C

My Heart For You won over several team members, including Robert, one of our production designers. Expanding on his initial description of the design as giving him a “happy feeling,” he explained,  “I like artwork that gives you a view of things with a childlike innocence. Very simple and good memories.” Allison, the Design Associate you may have seen in this video, agreed, saying that she loved the design for its warmth and sweetness.

Natasha holds Erin Rau’s New Baby especially close to her heart: “My friend used it for her new baby Morgan, and I got a real, live copy of it in my mailbox last night. My friend lives in Burlingame just like Erin, the card’s designer, and I think it’s so nice when people support local artists in their communities.  It is such a classy card and the red heart really jumps from the most perfect beige color in the nicest, not overpowering way. My friend also chose a sleeping photo, which is always a great choice. The baby looks so happy and peaceful!”

New Baby by Erin Rau

New Baby by Erin Rau

Others adored Message from the Birds by Moglea. Alison (with one “l”), another designer at Minted, said, ” I love the ribbon and the pennants. The hand drawn elements and dreamy clouds really remind me of carefully crafting sweet cards in elementary school.”

Message from the Birds by Moglea

Message from the Birds by Moglea

Ellen, from our marketing team, had similarly school-minded thoughts and said Kate Sawyer’s Crayon Heart reminded her of when she and her classmates used to scribble notes to each other on their paper-bag-bound textbooks.

Crayon Heart by Kate Sawyer

Crayon Heart by Kate Sawyer

Prescilla, from our production team, snagged Let’s Chill by CBeeProject for her friends and family as soon as it launched. The “super cute!” factor of the card caught her eye, and the color scheme and illustrations sealed the deal.

Let's Chill by CBeeProject

Let's Chill by CBeeProject

Mariam, CEO and Founder of Minted, thought all of the designs were incredibly clever and adorable. She ended up picking You Amaze Me by .  Design Lotus .  for her son to take to school with him because she knew her son and his friends would love tracing their way through the maze.

You Amaze Me by . Design Lotus .

You Amaze Me by . Design Lotus .

Now it’s your turn. We’d love to hear which cards you love.


Season’s Greetings

This year has been a whirlwind. We’ll hold off on the year-end recap for now, but 2009 was such a remarkable year, it’s worth pausing and saying thanks to all of our incredibly supportive and enthusiastic customers and designers around the world. Wishing you and your loved ones much rest and happiness in the new year.

Season’s Greetings, Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year,

The Team at Minted

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