Minted’s Top 9 Design Tips for Creating Irresistible Greeting Cards

Now that Minted Greeting Cards are gracing the shelves of our national retail partners, we’ve learned a thing or two about what makes a design stand out. Because every card needs to pull its own weight, we keep a close eye on sales of every Minted design and have identified common characteristics among top-sellers. From broad appeal to content positioning, we’re excited to share some of our top learnings and merchandising tips with you.

1. Use eye-catching colors and design elements.

Bold color palettes, striking fonts, and visually appealing design elements definitely help a card stand out. Keeping in mind that much of our advice stems from putting yourself in the card-buyers’ shoes, we do encourage a bit of experimentation. For example, some designers might assume that all cards given to men should employ darker, masculine colors, but that’s not always the case. We welcome thinking outside the “color standards” box.

“Wild Prairie Rose” Minted Greeting Card by Holly Whitcomb is an example of a bold, bright design.

Minted Greeting Card Display photo by Erin Wilson

2. Think carefully about the top third of the card.

The top one-third portion of a greeting card is valuable real estate because it’s the most visible area of cards when they’re placed on displays with overlapping rows. For that reason, we recommend taking advantage of the entire front of a greeting card. Even if a design element is only partially visible at the top of the card, it still helps improve sales potential. Please take this advice with a grain of salt—we’re not necessarily saying “don’t be minimalist” or “you must fill every pica of space,” but we are saying that small visual elements tend to go unnoticed.

In the above example of a Minted Greeting Card, we increased the size of and shifted up the artwork to hit the top one-third of the card titled “Lucky Us” by Carrie O’Neal.

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What’s it like to be a Minted artist for 10 years vs. 10 months?

Minted has come a long way since the company’s humble beginnings in 2008. What started as a bud of an idea—and Founder Mariam Naficy’s quest to unearth hidden creative talent everywhere—has blossomed into a marketplace that now surfaces the world’s best emerging artists.

We invited two Minted artists with similar—and yet, distinctly different—paths to interview one another.

First up is Amy Ehmann of Design Lotus, a pioneering Minted artist who joined the community 10 years ago during the dawn of the company’s crowdsourced design competitions. The Colorado artist ignited her freelance design business with fellow stay-at-home mom and best friend Tina Furjanic.

The second artist is Stacey McCarney, a newer community member who entered her first Minted design competition only 10 months ago. Stacey is an Irish designer, mom (who’s seven months pregnant with her second child), and lifestyle blogger. She worked in business for years before becoming inspired in a fabric store to teach herself design.

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One artist lives in Paris, the other in Omaha. And they’re like two peas in a pod

When Parisian artist Gwen Bedat made plans to travel with her husband from France to California in January, the first person she contacted was Holly Whitcomb, a fellow Minted artist who lives in Omaha, Nebraska. Although the two had never met face to face, Gwen and Holly have become close friends through Minted.

Holly Whitcomb (left) flew from her home in Omaha, Nebraska, and Gwen Bedat flew from Paris to meet for the first time in San Francisco in January 2018. Gwen Bedat (right) thinks she’s likely to find a Minted artist just about anywhere in the world, which is almost—but not quite—true, considering the community stretches to 90 countries. “You only live once, so I figure I should try to meet Minted artists in every city or country I visit,” the Parisian designer says.

Gwen and Holly were connected through the Minted Buddy program in 2014, and began corresponding a few times a week via email and Facebook Messenger. Over time, they began messaging daily about everything from design to day jobs to family life. During Minted Challenges, they shared screenshots of their works in progress to spark feedback and critiques. “We’re always bouncing stuff back and forth,” Holly says. “But we’d never talked on the phone or face to face.”

Until now.

After communicating online for three and a half years, they finally met in the flesh in mid-January. Four months pregnant with her third child, Holly flew to San Francisco for three days to hang out with Gwen. What was it like to meet in person after years corresponding on the Internet? “It felt like seeing a familiar face in an unknown city,” Gwen said, after explaining that Holly met Gwen and her husband at their Airbnb in Haight-Ashbury. Jet lag and swollen feet aside, the two explored Fog City and hit up tourist attractions like the Golden Gate Bridge, Coit Tower, and Alcatraz. They also stopped by the Minted offices to meet employees and try their hand at watercoloring.

The Minted Buddy program strives to connect experienced Minted artists with newer artists, and when Holly signed up, she assumed she’d be matched with a more experienced artist. But as a longtime member of the community (she joined in 2010), Holly played the role of veteran to Gwen’s somewhat newbie status, considering she’d just joined a few months earlier in 2014.

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9 Tips for Recent Grads Seeking Creative Careers

When we asked Minted artists to share their advice for recent college graduates aiming for a creative or artistic career, we received a range of insights. Here you’ll find common themes and differing opinions alike — in other words, there is no one-size, fits-all approach. 

“Palm Reader” notebook by Baumbirdy

Be open but also tenacious
Carol Fazio of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

There are so many facets to the design industry, but there are also many candidates vying for the same positions. Be open to possibilities in other areas. I’ve designed everything from trade-show environments to wine labels. Create a good LinkedIn profile, a clean portfolio site that’s easy to navigate, and strong branding for yourself. Join the AIGA or other organizations where you can meet other creatives and find leads — networking is still a great way to find work!

Keep your skill set up to date and make yourself available to freelance for temp agencies that often recruit temp-to-hire designers, which means you have to become a good business person too. Most of all, do not design in a vacuum. Get out to galleries, museums, local First Fridays, or even design-forward boutiques and see what’s on-trend. Subscribe to industry publications like Print, How, Communication Arts, and Ad Age to stay on top of what’s hot in design. The more marketable you are, the more work you will get. And stay positive. There is a lot of feast or famine in this business.

Believe in yourself and your passion
Belia Simm of Fishkill, New York

This is a very competitive and subjective career where you need to showcase your skill set and passion as best as possible. One key step to achieve this is building your portfolio, preferably an online version or website, making sure to pick your best six to 10 pieces. It can include pieces that you’ve produced during internships, school projects, commission work, or personal projects. This will be the base of your career and the door to many opportunities to come.

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New Minted Artists Talk Design Trends + Changing Careers

Every month we welcome some of our newer Minted artists to the community in the Welcome Wagon series. Hop on and learn some fun facts about Christina OertelRobert Deem, and Sweta Modi.

Christina Oertel
Stratford, Wisconsin
Christina’s Website and Instagram @setandseries 

My first winning design for Minted: “San Fran Series

Day job: Graphic designer

My favorite part of the Minted experience so far: The optimism and encouragement the Minted community brings. The positive, meaningful feedback encourages me to keep pushing myself. The frequent challenges also are inspirational and allow me to experiment more as an artist.

Sources of inspiration: Traveling is my biggest inspiration. Trying new things and having my eyes opened to different places and people makes my heart soar. My day-to-day inspiration can be found in everything from fashion and makeup design to TED talks. And when all else fails, Pinterest always comes through with plenty of gorgeous visuals.

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New Minted Artists Talk Swimming and Nordic Design

Every month we welcome some of our newer Minted artists to the community in the Welcome Wagon series. Hop on and learn some fun facts about Roberta Pinna, Thuy DoAlice Galeotti, and Chloe Chung.

Roberta Pinna
New York and Milano, Italy

Website and Instagram: www.robertapinna.com, @robertapinnaart

My first winning design for Minted: “Duet

What’s been your favorite part of the Minted experience so far?
As a professional artist, I find Minted an excellent and unique platform to share my deep love for art and design with other artists and designers. We find exposure and support in the same environment. Everything is so fresh and joyful and, at the same time, exciting and challenging. Also, and most important, professionalism is a keyword in this context. I really feel part of an artist community. It is definitely real life and not only a mere digital experience.

If you could have dinner with any artist living or dead, who would you invite and why?
Robert Ryman. His use of white color for me represents perfection. His paintings are masterpieces of perfection.

A lot of your work features divers, what is the inspiration and story behind that subject for you?
I was born on an island called Sardegna, the second largest in the Mediterranean sea. I learned how to swim before I could walk. My passion for divers is related to my passion for water. In my works all swimming performances synthesize life—we all can do our best by turning a fall into a flight.

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8 Tips for Getting Started in the Design World

If you’re a recent college graduate on the hunt for design work, good news. Not only is there demand for traditional full-time jobs, but opportunities are on the rise for becoming your own boss. “There are so many resources for independent designers, platforms to sell your work, and opportunities to create passive income streams,” says Hailey Myziuk, who works full time for her company Snow and Ivy. The 31-year-old Detroit artist joined the Minted community in 2010 and says now is “such an exciting and fun time to be a designer.”

To help you curate your career, Hailey and Genna Cowsert — a fellow Detroit area designer and Minted artist — share these right tips for getting your digital foot in the door and developing your career.

The Sky Is the Limit” by Genna Cowsert

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New Minted Artists Talk Picasso, Pizza, and Mentors

Every month we welcome some of our newer Minted artists to the community in the Welcome Wagon series. Hop on and learn some fun facts about Belia Simm, Seth Smith, and Stephanie Strouse.

Belia Simm
Fishkill, New York

Personal website: beliasimm.com
Instagram: @beliasimm
First winning design: “Name Initials” during the A is for Art challenge in August 2015.

Name Initials,” Belia’s first winning design for Minted

Which artist or designer would you like to invite to your home for dinner?
Pablo Picasso, since he was such well-rounded artist. He is famous for his paintings but he also did sculptures, sketching, printmaking, and even stage design. As an artist, my goal is to also have an extensive portfolio of quality, diverse work like he had.

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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.”
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New Minted Artists Talk Prince, Day Jobs, And Creativity

Introducing the first edition of the Minted Welcome Wagon, where we spotlight a handful of new members of the community—and find out what makes our talented designers tick.

Zhay Smith
New York Metro Area

My first winning design: “Where Creativity Soars” for the Art On Your Sleeve Challenge

My Instagram:
 @zhaystyle 

The highlight of my Minted experience so far:
You want me to name just one? Now that’s a challenge! How about three?

1. I like that Minted is not just your run-of-the mill crowdsourcing experience. The people in the community are really present and willing to give advice that will move you forward when you need it.

2. The challenges are fun!

3. I like that we artists are encouraged to innovate, be ourselves, and bring our uniqueness to the table. As an artist, you get to hone your craft and expand your skill set. Minted has a true commitment to meritocracy, respects artists, and champions art and design. Wait, that’s beyond three, isn’t it?

Where Creativity Soars” by Zhay Smith

The most interesting thing about me: I’ve been told the most interesting thing about me is my perspective. I tend to see things through four lenses: fashion, history, craft, and culture. I always have my eyes open for things that intrigue me. Anyone who knows me, knows that I am constantly taking pictures of things that inspire my creativity. Whether it’s street fashion, a random oil slick, or it could just be noticing the way the leaves or flower petals fell on the ground that day. I appreciate latent beauty.

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