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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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.

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7 Ways to Master Art and Design Critiques

“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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5 Ways to Connect With the Minted Artist Community

One of the things that makes Minted such a valuable place for artists is our strong and supportive community. There are many benefits of being part of Minted, but we’ve heard over and over from artists that the friends they make and the advice they receive within the community brings them lifelong connections and pushes them to improve their craft.

“Generosity is the word that sums up the most special thing about the Minted community,” says Laura Bolter, who’s been designing with Minted since 2011. “The artists and designers freely share their resources, support, and most importantly their feedback with each other—their competitors.”

If you’re new to Minted and wondering how to become part of this amazing group, we’ve gathered some tips so you can jump right in and start making meaningful connections.

See Me Go Wee Wee!” wall art print by Maja Cunningham

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6 Tips for Success in Minted Challenges

You’ve set up your artist profile and you’re ready to enter your first Minted Design Challenge. This is an exciting and scary time. Where do you start? How do you stand out? What are you supposed to do after you submit your design? We have answers.

1. Read the Challenge Kit Closely

Every challenge has a submission kit with prize information, details about the type of work we’re looking for, creative notes, templates, submission and file guidelines. “Read the challenge notes—all of them—and then use those to help guide your design decisions,” says Julie Green, who joined the Minted community in 2010 and has 116 wins under her belt.

Within challenge notes, Minted’s merchandising team provides clues about what they’re looking for, and the files team includes info about the things you can and can’t do from a technical standpoint. “The more attention you pay to the challenge notes, the better your chances are of getting an editor’s pick,” Julie says.

Minted artist Kamala Nahas agrees. “I know it’s not always exciting, but there’s lots of useful information in the challenge kit. It tells you everything from how to set up files for submission to the special prizes Minted will be awarding.”

Julie Green of Up Up Creative’s Paper Crane wedding invitation

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10 Tips for Critiquing Minted Art and Designs

The Minted community is about paying it forward in more ways than one, and because feedback is so critical to the creative process, we award Critique Awards to artists who provide quality feedback on other artists’ submissions.

Curious about what’s considered the best way to provide and receive helpful feedback? We’ve compiled the following tips, with the help of seasoned Minted artists.

Mad About Pencils by Olive and Me Studios

Mad About Pencils by Olive and Me Studios

1. Be Specific
When asking for feedback on your submission page, don’t be vague by asking questions such as “Do you like this?” or “What do you think?” Instead, focus on specific points such as color, style and fonts. “If you feel something is not working in your design, you should have some idea where the problem is,” says longtime Minted artist Phrosné Ras. “For example, ask something like, ‘Do you think the script font is working as the heading or should I use sans serif?’”

Same goes for providing feedback to others—aim to be the opposite of ambiguous. Thoughtful observations and pointed suggestions for improvement are more helpful than saying, “I don’t love it.” And keep in mind that basic pointers mean a lot to new designers.

2. Start a Poll
Minted artists are busy during challenges, so a quick way to give and get feedback is to start a Design Poll, which allows artists to upload up to four versions of a design, and invite others to rate each version. You’ll receive the feedback below your design in the Comments section.

“Giving someone a broad critique of their work takes a lot of time,” says Jill Ellis. “But helping them choose one typeface over the other or vertical vs. landscape or red vs. green in a poll—that’s much more manageable.”

In the above poll comments, Kelly Schmidt shares her poll pick and critique of Simona Cavallaro’s award-winning “Bold Dots” design. “While the feedback is all positive, I like that Kelly explained the reasons why she chose this,” Simona says. “The fact that she pointed out ‘hey baby’ is more unique than ‘oh baby’ solidified my decision to use it. I like to do things differently than the crowd, so this feedback helped me feel more confident about that.”

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