For Minted artist and former gymnast Jennifer Postorino, a PTSD anxiety attack led her back to a healthier path

Talk about fearless. As a former professional gymnast, Jennifer Postorino is strong and determined. And as a largely self-taught designer, Jen has continually pushed herself to improve her craft, combining hand-drawn sketches with design technology. But perhaps the most fearless thing she’s done is to help herself overcome the Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and resulting anxiety she didn’t realize she suffered from for years.

And talk about passionate. Jen’s on a mission to design with her whole heart, wide-eyed excitement, and clear purpose. “I have adopted the philosophy of laying things out on the table — the good, the bad, and the ugly,” she says. “If you put your whole heart into whatever you’re doing, regardless of the outcome, you will come away with a sense of accomplishment. You will be able to take something away from that experience and apply it to whatever lies ahead. I try to be grateful for my failures and my successes, because you can’t have one without the other.”

Jennifer Postorino stumbled upon Minted by accident in 2008 after having her first child. At the time, her husband was a new college basketball coach at Clemson University and was gone most of the time. With no family close by, she was looking for a creative outlet while staying at home with her son. She entered her first Minted Challenge, and the rest is history. Although, she says, she got off to a clunky start. “It took me forever to figure out how to submit. After failing to upload my first file submission numerous times, I worked up the courage to call the Minted office and asked if someone could walk me through the process! Yep, I was that girl,” she says. “Someone emailed me step-by-step instructions and eventually I figured it out.” (Photo by Ashley Mauro Photography)

In this interview, the Ohio graphic designer and parent of two talks about about building her career as an artist, her incredible work ethic, and surviving the scariest day of her life that ultimately led to a new chapter.

MINTED: Did you go to school for graphic design or art?
JENNIFER POSTORINO: I went to school for graphic design at Ball State University, but had no clue what I wanted to do. I was a student-athlete, and after I received my degree, I had to make a decision. Either move home to Dayton, Ohio, where I had an offer to be a head gymnastics coach at a private club, or train with Cirque De Soleil with the hopes of maybe making it into one of their shows. My body was incredibly beat up from years of intense training — I’ve had 12 orthopedic surgeries due to gymnastics. Though the decision was hard, it made more sense to take time off to let my body heal and accept the coaching position. I figured it was a good way to be part of the sport I loved since age 4, and I could always find a “day job” doing something related to design.

Minted artist Jennifer Postorino’s former career as a gymnast soared as an undergrad at Ball State University. During her junior year, she was ranked second in the United States for floor gymnastics. In high school, she was also offered athletic scholarships to Auburn, Kentucky, North Carolina State, Ohio State University, and LSU.

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How Design Helped Michelle Taylor Move Through Grief — and Build a Business that Works for Her Family

Minted Artist interview

Minted artist Michelle Taylor at home in her studio in Saint Paul, Minnesota. Photo by Gina Zeidler

Written by Daryl Lindsey

Michelle Taylor discovered design — and entrepreneurship — by accident. An art class she never expected to love put her on the path to make a career out of art and design. “It was the first class that I truly loved. I knew then that I found my calling,” Taylor explained.

But the pursuit of that calling did not come without its trials, and years later, her accidental passion became the outlet that helped her wade through a dark time, providing inspiration and support as she navigated the grief of losing a child.

We sat down with Michelle to discuss how her relationship to design has changed over the years, how she’s grown as an entrepreneur, and how a Minted Design Challenge helped her feel inspired again after loss.

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Meet 2 Writers Behind Minted Greeting Cards

Minted has become known for its renowned international community of designers and fine artists, and we’re happy to welcome a new group of creatives to the mix: writers. Read on to learn about two of the many talented writers who initially joined the community in 2017 during the Better Together Minted Greeting Card Challenge.

Elke Mermis of Kansas City, Missouri

Elke Mermis is a full-time advertising agency writer producing lines of copy for big-name brands, but she’d never tried her hand at greeting card writing. Then, after ordering her wedding invitations from Minted, she discovered the Better Together Greeting Card Challenge. “I thought it would be a fun, creative exercise—and a good way to procrastinate during wedding planning!” she says.

Good thing she took her sweet time—her “Ugly Cry” card is a big hit. What was it like for Elke to see her card at a Target store in her hometown of Kansas City, Missouri? Holding a real-life, tangible copy of something I helped create is always an amazing feeling,” she says. “Especially when you can tell your friends to go buy it, too!”

Minted “Ugly Cry” greeting card copy by Elke Mermis; design by Christie Kelly

MINTED: What’s your story in a nutshell?
ELKE MERMIS: I was born and raised in Kansas and left to go to school at Vassar College in upstate New York. Eventually I moved back to Kansas City, where I live in a century-old house with my husband and a very spoiled cat and dog.

How did you become a writer?
I’ve been writing ever since I was a little kid; and I made it “official” in college when I started reviewing concerts for music journalism outlets. Eventually I was hired as a Music Editor and parlayed that writing and editing experience into a career in advertising.

What’s your top tip for writing compelling greeting card copy?
Talk like real people talk. No one wants to give a card that doesn’t sound anything like what they’d say in real life!

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Minted artist Kristin Doversberger weaves together industrial design influences with fine arts training

Written by Jenny Griffin

Minted artist Kristin Doversberger of Lorent & Leif dances a fine line, deftly balancing between the realms of fine art and graphic design. Take a look at her work and you’ll see exceptional examples of both disciplines. West Elm selected her ethereal pastel abstract landscape “Rise” to be sold in their stores as part of the Minted + West Elm collaboration and both her fine art and graphic design work have secured numerous Minted awards.

The pink-hued abstract art print “Rise” by Lorent + Leif featured in a West Elm catalog. “It was a huge thrill to see ‘Rise’ displayed in a West Elm Chicago store, says Kristin Doversberger.

Kristin grew up in Indiana and earned her BFA from Indiana University, with a minor in graphic design. She studied painting, drawing, and printmaking, all influences you can see in her Minted work in her playful mixes of color and texture. More recently, she’s experimented with a more illustrative style.

Kristin and her family—husband Mike and sons Thomas and Brooks—recently moved to Holland, Michigan, right on the shores of Lake Macatawa and not far from Lake Michigan. Her new community excites her, and she’s eager to get more involved with the local art museums, historical society, and architectural preservation efforts.

“Tomah” Minted art print by Lorent and Leif

Kristin’s balancing act started early. In college, drawn by her interest in fine art, she interned with a local art museum, learning about art history and working on community education, art preservation, art shipment, and acquisitions. After college she delved into the world of industrial style design, creating advertisements for an array of manufacturing companies. She found she enjoyed translating messages, ideas, and company visions into tangible art and design. It was gratifying and linked her training with her work.

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Minted artist Bethany Anderson shares top tips for success after reaching 100th win milestone

Minted artist Bethany Anderson says that when it comes to design, less is more. “But it took getting involved in Minted to learn this,” she says.

You know what they say about goals: If you write it down, it’s more likely to happen. Such was the case for Minted artist Bethany Anderson, who recently celebrated her 100th Minted Challenge win. Every January, the West Virginia graphic designer sets specific design goals, and “make it to 100” was at the top of her 2018 list. “I was so excited to not only find out I hit that mark, but that one of my Children’s Birthday invitations placed 8th in the Blow Out the Candles Kids’ Birthday Party Challenge,” she says. “The kids’ birthday challenge has always been my favorite, as well as the first I ever entered, so it was bittersweet.”

Bethany Anderson’s “Gone Fishin’” won 8th place in Minted’s 2018 Blow Out the Candles Kids’ Birthday Party Challenge.

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Minted artist Alexandra Dzh fuels her creativity by living and learning abroad in Vienna

Minted artist Alexandra Dzh

Written by Jenny Griffin

Vienna-based Minted artist Alexandra Dzhiganskaya grew up in a historic city bordering the Danube River called Izmail in the Odessa region in southwestern Ukraine, a vibrant and multiculturally rich stretch of cities and towns along 300 kilometers of the northwest coastline of the Black Sea. The maritime, transportation, and tourism industries fuel the area, and people flock from far and wide to relish the sun, food, and locally produced wine. It’s an environment that has indelibly made its mark on Alexandra. “It has the starriest nights I have ever seen. The sky is so black and deep, and the stars are like diamonds. I think this is reflected in my work, because I love the space theme and painting night skies,” she says.

“Solar System” art print by Alexandra Dzh is part of the 2016 Minted x Pottery Barn collaboration. Minted teamed up with Pottery Barn Kids and Pottery Barn Teen to introduce a new collection of artwork created by independent artists around the world. This piece is currently exclusive to Pottery Barn.

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Brianne Larsen carves her own fluid path toward a life in design

Written by Jenny Griffin

Flashback to 2012. Brianne Schipman was going to school by day at Southeast Community College in Lincoln, Nebraska, and working at a local pizza place on nights and weekends. The day after she graduated with an associate’s degree in Visual Publications, she married her college sweetheart Caleb Larsen, then an ROTC cadet at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Busy week. Brianne wasn’t sure what was coming next, or how to use her newly minted degree. She thought she might be able to land a full-time job in graphic design, but that didn’t happen.

Flash forward to 2018. Brianne Larsen is happily moving 442 miles east on I-80 from Cheyenne, Wyoming. She’s heading back home to Lincoln, Nebraska, with Caleb, their extroverted daughter Sylvee Ruth, age 17 months, and their photogenic Italian greyhound Indigo, age 3. Adding to the excitement is the impending arrival of a new baby to their growing family. A whole new chapter is soon to begin.

Brianne Larsen Minted card designs, clockwise from top center: “Tall Love,” “Elegant Angles,” “Simply Abstract,” and “The Highest.”

A whole lot of cool stuff happened in between those years, including Brianne finding her designing rhythm with Minted and the realization of her capacity to carve out a designing life for herself independent of location, well suited to the peripatetic nature of the Air Force family lifestyle. Brianne and Caleb began married life in Lincoln while Caleb finished up his two remaining years at UNL. A five-month stint in Lompoc, California, for Caleb’s Air Force training came next, followed by four years in Cheyenne. Caleb is currently a captain in the Air Force, but is transitioning out of military life into a civilian computer programming job. He’s considering joining the Reserves in Omaha, an hour or so from Lincoln.

Brianne’s fluid, flexible trajectory was launched, ironically, by not getting a full-time graphic design gig. Instead, she landed a part-time photography job with a local clothing boutique. This turned out to be a surprise boon, as her part-time hours allowed her to embark on a path as an independent artist with Minted. She submitted her first design to a Minted Stationery Gifts Challenge in July 2012 after first hearing about Minted through a friend. “Looking back, I’m so thankful I didn’t get a full-time job,” Brianne says. “I really believe everything happens for a reason.” Underscoring her retrospection and her embrace of her path is her faith. “My faith is really important to me and shapes every part of my life, including my love for art,” Brianne says.

Success didn’t come instantly; it took nine months for Brianne to get a design pick. Her work developed as she continued to submit designs. She’s now secured 74 awards through her Minted Store: Peony Papeterie. We asked Brianne some questions about being part of an Air Force family, her creative approach, and what might surprise people about her.

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Fashion. Bass Playing. World Travel. Kelly Schmidt Weaves an Adventurous Path to Career Independence.

Written by Jenny Griffin

When Minted artist Kelly Schmidt was a kid, she painted murals on all four walls of her bedroom. One year she painted another big mural in the kitchen for her mom for Mother’s Day, inspired by artwork she’d seen in a design magazine. All this creativity was highly encouraged by her Canadian parents who even gave artistic license to Kelly’s and her sister Karen’s friends. While most of her friends lived in homes with white walls, Kelly’s house had a special wall where not only she, but all of her friends were welcome to draw freely. Talk about setting the stage for a life in design.

Kelly would grow up to become a graphic designer at both an animation studio and a special effects studio; a creative director at a renowned fashion, makeup, and esthetics school; an aspiring potter; and an amateur bass player in a band with the Attorney General of British Columbia. Along the way she married a museum educator who curates exhibits for the Jewish Museum and Archives of British Columbia and for the expanding Canadian coffee and tea cafe, Kafka’s. When she’s not busy making art, looking at art, or talking about art, she and husband Michael Schwartz are out exploring the scenic wilderness surrounding Vancouver. Whew!

Oh, and as of March 2018, she’s struck out on her own as an independent graphic artist, thanks in large part to what she discovered was possible with Minted. She’s having a good run and just recently won the Best File Prep Award at Camp Minted in Las Vegas.

We talked to Kelly about her work, her endless interest in trying new things, and the influences along the way.

“Clean and Modern” wedding invitation by Kelly Schmidt

Minted: You had some really influential teachers in high school. How did they help you?
Kelly Schmidt: I was planning to study interior design after high school, but my art teacher gave me some key direction. He had looked through my art projects and had discussed them with the graphic design and photography teacher. What they noticed was that a lot of my collage work revolved around communicating a message. They encouraged me to pursue graphic design instead. That meant dropping the drafting class I’d signed up for and switching directions to graphic design and photography. I loved it. If I could have dropped all my other courses and spent all my time in the photography studio or on the school’s ancient Apple computer, I would have been so happy. I didn’t even know graphic design existed until it was introduced to me.

After high school I got a scholarship to attend the Graphics and Visual Design program at Kwantlen Polytechnic University. In college, I fell in love with typography and the marriage between communication and design, the way color and letterforms can shape the feel and mood of a pieceThe program switched from a three-year to a four-year granting program after I completed my third year. I could have returned, but instead traveled for a year in Australia. I’ve always been very driven and goal-oriented, and this was the first time in my life where I was cut loose of all schedules and plans and could really be in the moment. It was incredibly valuable.

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Art and design run through Minted artist Christine Taylor’s veins

Written by Jenny Griffin

Christine Taylor reads a story to her daughter, Isla, at home in Hagerstown, Indiana.

Minted artist Christine Taylor grew up in small town Indiana surrounded by artistic people. “As a kid, I remember my mom was always doing something creative,” says Christine. Her mother delighted in arts and crafts and calligraphy, always ready to help Christine and her younger sister Jessie make homemade Valentine cards, personalized greeting cards, and clever Halloween costumes. That early exposure to the pleasures of design stuck. Both Christine and her sister would grow up to become graphic designers.

The creative impulse spilled down and across generations with an array of artists on both sides of Christine’s family. A maternal great grandmother and great aunt shared their love of painting and the arts with Christine’s mother and her sisters. Various family members are engaged in music, writing, architecture, photography, and filmmaking. Art and creativity flow freely through this big family.

“Oh Baby!” baby shower invitation and “Let’s Party” by Christine Taylor

As a child, Christine loved holding and thumbing through the pages of picture books, novels, and magazines. She still does. “I loved to touch the pages, and to admire the colors, typography and layouts.” She relished the comforting smell of the paper, the residual scent of the ink, and the tangible sense of promise contained within. In high school, Christine scored a job working at her local public library. “I loved dealing with all the books, especially when new shipments would come in and I could flip through the books and delight in the cover designs and illustrations before they hit the shelves.”

Those early influences fueled a slowly developing desire to learn her craft. Years spent paging through publications (always wondering why things were placed where they were), admiring book and album covers, and scanning store aisles for just the right greeting card made her recognize design could be something even more. “I realized I wanted to create and package things that would communicate to other people,” Christine explains.

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Minted artist Eric Clegg navigates the changing landscape of graphic design

Written by Jenny Griffin

Really good music, chocolate, and a Coke. That magic combo gets the creative juices flowing for Minted artist Eric Clegg. Current Spotify favorites: The National, Natalie Prass, Washed Out, and Yumi Zuma. The Smiths are always in the mix. Eric clearly has a soft spot for independent artists. No surprise there.

Eric works at night at home after he’s put in a full day as an art director, managing the in-house creative team for the Utah-based company Chalk Couture. His limited time availability concentrates his focus. At the moment his work space is neat and spare, but it wasn’t always that way; it’s evolved as his family has. “I’ve shared the space with my wife’s and kids’ crafting supplies, and it’s doubled as a storage room at times,” Eric laughs. “We’ll see how long the grown-up look lasts before one of the kids comes home and asks if they can store a few boxes in my office for ‘a while.’”

Eric’s first exposure to graphic design came in high school. “I had the opportunity to take a commercial art class at a vocational center. “It was the first time I’d heard the term graphic designer. When I learned you could actually get a job being one, I knew that was what I wanted to do.”

That impulse drew the SoCal native to Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, where he had the good fortune to meet his wife Elissa. Eric graduated with an BFA in graphic design and was ready to hit the pavement. Or the beach as it turned out. Right out of school, Eric landed a sweet job working for the graphic design firm Clarence Lee Design in Honolulu, Hawaii. “My wife and I had the best 6-year honeymoon there!” Eric enthuses.

The birth of their son Palmer and the desire to be closer to their families drew them back the mainland. The trio returned to Utah, settling in Pleasant Grove near Salt Lake City. “The Wasatch Front has been an awesome place to raise our kids,” Eric says. “We can be up in the mountains within 15 minutes from our home with skiing and snowshoeing in the winter and hiking in the summer. It’s an all-around great outdoor environment.”

We asked Eric some questions about his creative approach, his influences, and his experience working within the Minted artist community.

“Aspen Ridge” wedding invitation by Eric Clegg

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