Meet a Minted Artist: Leah Bisch

Leah Bisch certainly is a talented graphic designer – especially for someone who majored in physical geography and originally intended to be a meteorologist. As she tells the story, Leah was always dropping in and out of art classes in elementary and high school, “but it never occurred to me that I could make a career out of it.”

Here, the Los Angeles Minted artist talks more about life as a part-time happy-go-lucky designer and part-time crazed-toddler-mommy.

Where did you go to school?
While I loved art and illustration, I ended up earning my BA from UC Santa Barbara in physical geography. I know—what? My studies focused on the planet and its processes, like weather and natural disasters. I’ve always had a strange fascination with weather—I’m actually irrationally terrified of thunderstorms, so I guess it’s a good thing I live in sunny Southern California. When I was a child, my dad owned a roofing company and he was always watching the weather channel to keep an eye out for rain in the forecast. I remember being interested in watching how weather patterns form and it seemed like a cool career.

So how did you go from geography student to artist?
After college, I eventually found myself working in marketing for a winery in Malibu. We didn’t have the budget to hire designers to create promotional items, so it was on my shoulders to create email blasts, event invitations, and flyers for the company. I found that I got swept up in that kind of work—in a good way. However, I soon felt limited in my design capabilities and wanted to get a formal education to enhance my skills. I enrolled in evening design classes at Otis College of Art and Design. The more classes I took, the more I wanted to learn, and I eventually left my job and enrolled in classes full time at Santa Monica College (SMC). The program at SMC gave me a solid foundation in the fundamentals of design like typography, layout and color theory. I also committed myself to reading every design book I could get my hands on.

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Meet a Minted Artist: Denise Wong

After working in a variety of art-based professions—art-exhibition planning and design as well as practicing art law—New York City-based painter Denise Wong decided to quit in order to pursue her own art practice full time. Here, Denise shares her artistic journey, where she finds inspiration, and what Minted means to her as a working artist.

Meet a Minted Artist Denise Wong Denise Wong was photographed at the Minted Local store in San Francisco alongside her limited edition art prints “California” and “Highway One.”

Have you always wanted to be an artist?
I’ve always wanted to be an artist, ever since I was a child. I have very early memories of drawing, it was my favorite activity to do. When I was younger, I treasured my art supplies and I’m happy now to have finally integrated my childhood visions into my adult life and to have made art a full-time career. I think the things we truly enjoy should be the stuff of our everyday lives.

Tell us about your art.
My specialty is painting, particularly acrylic painting, but I also work with mixed-media works on paper. Painting is a wonderful, expressive form—it’s a very visceral form and I really love getting my hands into the paint. I started out drawing, like many artists do, and eventually transitioned into painting, starting with figurative painting. Later, I transitioned from figurative painting to more abstract works.

What did you do before pursuing art full time?
I’ve dabbled in many things over the course of my life—I’ve worked at the Art Institute of Chicago and the Columbia University Department of Art History in their Modern Art and Curatorial Studies department—but my own art practice is the thing that keeps pulling me back. Whenever I would veer off course, I would continue making art. I went to law school to study art law; prior to that, I was in graduate school for social science, focused on anthropology. I studied museum-exhibition design to make art more accessible to the public in an approachable way. While doing that I became interested in issues on cultural property and repatriation of stolen art; so I went to law school and studied art law, worked for an art-law journal, and became a lawyer. The legal work was very detail-oriented and I found that the more detail-oriented my work became, the art I was making—which initially was figurative in nature—started to come more abstract. Painting was a great outlet for me because I could balance the details of my work with the free-flowing nature of abstract painting.

How did you transition into a full-time art career?
It was slow and gradual. I took a number of art classes on the side as I pursued a variety of career opportunities. I was always making art but I just needed the right opportunity to begin selling art. While I was a student, I was interested in making art accessible to a wide variety of audiences and was always interested in innovative models of art exhibition and art sales. Companies like Minted are very forward-thinking and when I saw that Minted had expanded to the art world, it was a perfect match.

Meet a Minted Artist: Denise Wong

How did you discover Minted?
I was extremely busy with my day job and my art practice was getting pushed to the side. I was trying to think of ways to get back into making art and spending more time with my art practice. One day, I discovered through a blog post an ad for Minted and I checked out the website. Once work calmed down a bit, one day I opened up a magazine to a full-page ad for Minted. I went back to the website again and saw they were launching an art competition in a couple of weeks—I applied and the rest is history.

What makes Minted’s artist community unique?
What I love about the Minted community is that it’s extremely friendly, it’s almost like being in art school with family. It’s a very personal community and is a great way to get feedback in an honest and friendly way—I love it.

What’s inspiring you these days?
Inspiration is everywhere. I live in New York City and it’s very diverse and vibrant. I find inspiration around every corner—I love where I live and it’s a great place to get inspiration daily for the variety of pieces I’m working on.

How would your friends and family describe you?
They’d probably describe me as creative, with many interests, and very dedicated to pursuing them all.

What does your future look like?
When I think about the future, I’m very excited about the many opportunities I have in mind. One of those is Minted’s recently launched commissioned art program. It enables me to connect with art enthusiasts from all over the United States. I love working on commissioned pieces because it’s a way to connect with a customer in a personal way to create a piece that suits them.

Click through for more from Minted artist Denise Wong…

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Meet a Minted Artist: Mya Bessette

Meet a Minted Artist Mya Bessette

How did you end up doing what you’re doing now?
I worked for over a decade in the oil fields of Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, where I met my husband, Cody. When we found out we were having a baby, I left that career (because babies and oil fields don’t mix). I found myself finally able to decide what I really wanted to be when I grew up. So I revisited my life-long love of painting. Initially, I was painting for my daughter, Nevi—I wanted her world to be full of color and uplifting art. As I began honing my skills and my personal style, my little sister encouraged me to begin selling on Etsy, which I then did for about seven years. Eventually, my paintings began to filter out into galleries and I launched my website and began selling directly from my site.

Did you study art formally in school?
Nope. I’m self-taught.

Where do you currently reside?
Bigfork, Montana. My home overlooks Flathead Lake. The towering Mission Mountains are to the east, Glacier Park is a 30-minute drive away, and the village of Bigfork is an artistic little hamlet tucked beside the Swan River and behind a marina that spills out into the lake. I can’t figure out why everyone on the planet isn’t living here. It’s a dreamy place with a slow and peaceful pace.

Meet a Minted Artist: Mya Bessette

Can you share the schedule of a typical day in the life?
Wake up before the kids, sip Mainline coffee while I reply to customer emails, and formulate my “to-do” list (so I’ll have something to laugh at later in the day). Wake the kids for school, make a bagel with cream cheese for one, slightly “burny” toast with thin pats of cold butter for the other, tend to all special requests for lunches, pack ‘em, dress ‘em, hug ‘em, and put them on the bus. Breathe. Spend every possible moment creating without interruption. I go into a bit of a trance when I paint—texts are ignored, usually phone calls are as well, and time passes so quickly; I’m almost always surprised by the roar of the bus coming up the hill. Then, I get to hear all about kindergarten and first grade from the two sweetest little kiddos and start the evening routine. After I put the kids to bed, I try to reflect on the day and take time to catch up on all of the correspondence I missed while creating.

What are some of your own “rules” for living + working?
I try not to put too many restrictions on how I work. It seems that the more flexible I am with my process, the more genuine my paintings are. However, since my studio is in my living room, I do try to paint when I have that space to myself. I’m not very good at starting and stopping; when I’m in my creative zone, I like to stay there!

Meet a Minted Artist Mya Bessette

What objects have been most significant to you lately?
I never would have thought that I’d ever say this: flowers and botanicals. I’ve always meandered between abstract works and landscapes. Creating my latest abstract florals has been such a unique and organic journey. I’m also pretty obsessed with geometric shapes right now.

Please describe your last month in a word.
Rejuvenating

Can you share an as-of-yet unrealized project with us?
Yes! In the spring, I plan to team up with children’s clothing company, Couture Flower, to release a line of children’s swing dresses created with fabric from my original art.

What are you serious about?
Teaching my kids to be kind and honest. Being punctual. Following through with commitments.

What things will you never take seriously?
Anti-aging serums, Web MD, shabby chic, people who tell me their kids love broccoli, salmon, and kale.

What are some keys to balancing work and life?
It’s all such a big jumble of chaotic fabulousness that’s it’s difficult to even separate the two. An artist’s eye rarely rests so when I’m out and about enjoying the day with family, I’m the one stopping to investigate the leaves on a fern or photographing a cluster of clouds. When I’m in the studio, I love to involve my family and it’s not unheard of for all of us, my very creative husband included, to sit down for an art session together. When your job is to be creative and innovative, I think life and work naturally blend into one another.

Click through for more from Minted artist Mya Bessette

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How to Overcome a Total Creative Void

Written by Amy Fontes

In my dreams, I am a designer with never-ending creativity and one who has the artistic chops to whip out amazing designs one after another. In reality, I am a mom to two active elementary-age kids, a wife to a busy surgeon who works long hours and weekends, and a daughter to a terminally ill mother.

And while I mark down “graphic designer” as my occupation, in any given day I could be handling the management of my husband’s practice, running soccer practice for my son, discussing medical options with my mom, or just plain doing the things to keep our lives going. Nothing that is really unique or different from others, but things that have me wearing many hats with limited time for design.

So as much as I love design, truth be told, the creative process is often a struggle, and inspiration doesn’t always come easily for me. Sure, ideas would pop into my head here and there and was enough to keep me designing, but for all of 2015, I found myself in a complete and total creative void. The stress of life became so great that, in short, all creativity and inspiration just stopped.

While I was happy to focus on my helping my family, I was quietly growing more and more frustrated during this creative void because, in a way, design had been my therapy. This was the one thing that was mine and mine alone. I needed it. It was my place where I could escape for a while, forget about everything, and hopefully create something that brought me (and others) happiness. It was my balance. But the more I forced creativity, the larger the void seemed. I had to figure this out.

How To Move Forward

TURN OFF THE NOISE
The first thing I did was walk away from design. It might seem counterintuitive, but I was putting so much pressure on myself to “be creative and produce” that it only made things worse. I turned off my computer, stopped participating in challenges, tucked away my pens and sketch pads. I stopped “pinning,” swiping, scrolling, and following blogs and just left design behind. I needed to wipe my mind clean from what I thought I should be designing or what I thought would be the next big design trend.

Above the Las Vegas desert on one of my hikes

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Meet a Minted Artist: Lauren Adams

Lauren Adams studied visual and studio art at Fairmont State University, painted en plein air for many years, and has since transitioned to abstract, large-scale works by rolling out raw canvas and painting directly onto the surface with acrylics. The West Virginia-based painter took some time to discuss her work, creative process, and a typical day in the life of a working artist.

Meet a Minted Artist Lauren Adams

How did you end up doing what you’re doing now?
It’s been a long, winding path that started in college. My work has been through several phases over the last 15 years. The changes have been quite a process, but what I am always most interested in reflecting on is how the work is still connected. I spent most of my time in college studying the figure through live model gesture drawing/painting (met my future husband—Minted artist Derek Overfield in a figure-drawing course!). Upon graduating university, I worked for years on plein air painting, directly observing the landscape as opposed to the figure. In 2011, I began doing small, more expressive studies on paper and then decided I wanted to translate them to canvas. I wanted to grow the scale of my work plus emphasize the expression of the landscape and experiences felt (versus on-location observation), so I moved back into the studio and utilized one of the methods that I had touched on in school, but hadn’t spent much time with—stained canvas painting, only on a primed substrate. The possibilities felt limitless and I’ve loved it ever since! All of these phases involve embracing the physical work of painting: the gesture of your entire body, your engagement with the process. A celebration of life.

Did you study art formally in school?
Yes, I hold a BA Interdisciplinary Degree in Studio Art and French along with a BFA in Visual Art.

Where do you currently reside?
I live in North-Central West Virginia, in the Allegheny Plateau. It’s great because we have quick access to many beautiful lakes and rivers along with gorgeous views of ancient mountains, yet are still within a day trip to cities like Pittsburgh and Washington D.C.

Can you share the schedule of a typical day in the life?
A typical day starts with coffee and a small breakfast, a bit of morning reading, and reviewing my plan for the day. If there are urgent emails or client questions, I will get to those first. Personally, I find that once those most pressing things are completed, I can then focus easier on my work, without distractions. I will spend the rest of the day painting, either inside (accompanied by my cat) or outside if the weather is decent enough (not too much rain in the forecast). Then dinner with my husband and some exercise. The evenings will be packing any orders, answering other emails that have come through, ordering supplies we have run out of, or sometimes an additional painting session in the summer when it stays light out later. Then it’s time for some rest, with Netflix or reading.

What are some of your own “rules” for living and working?
I don’t know if it qualifies as a rule, but I attempt to keep my daily focus on gratitude. It seems to help with everything else.

Please describe your last month in a word.
Exploration

What are you serious about?
Painting

What are some keys to balancing work and life?
I think sometimes you have to understand that there is no perfect balance—certainly not every day. And maybe that’s okay. I’m guilty of over-planning and it took me awhile to come to terms with the fact that I will never be able to schedule that “perfect balance” in my life. Shifts will happen and certain seasons will come and go. I personally try to watch out for self-care, making sure I am getting fairly consistent exercise, eating healthy foods (for the most part!), and working on maintaining a positive attitude.

Click through to read more from Minted artist Lauren Adams

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Brain Surgery and Equal Love Inspired Lauren Packard’s Art

You don’t often hear people say they’re grateful for brain surgery, but for Lauren Packard, this life-threatening experience served as inspiration to pursue her childhood passion of creating art. By day, she works as a New York City art teacher, and in her free time, she is a mixed-media artist in Brooklyn.

A member of the Minted Artist community since 2014, her painting “Lina y Challie” is featured in the August 2016 West Elm catalog. In this interview, the New York City artist and school teacher talks about the urge to create, encouraging her students’ individuality, and the celebration of gay marriage — the impetus for her prize-winning art print in the Minted X West Elm Challenge.

Lauren Packard’s painting “Lina y Challie” (shown above on the easel) is featured in the August 2016 West Elm catalog. Fellow winning art prints in the Minted X West Elm Art Challenge are featured clockwise from top left: “Aperature + Cellular” by Jennifer Morehead, “Malachite Reinterpreted” by Leslie M. Ward, and “Autumn” by Jennifer Morehead.

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Minted CEO Mariam Naficy Hosts Artist Meetup in London

Photos by Jess Henderson of Jess-on-Thames

Pictured above from left: Gwen Bédat, Annie Montgomery, Zhi Ling Lee, Mariam Naficy, Bethan Lumb, Viktoria Rodek, Pooja Pittie, and Jan Shepherd.

What was it like to attend a London meetup with Minted Founder and CEO Mariam Naficy? In the words of Minted Artist Pooja Pittie, “It was like an evening out with your girlfriends — if they were all artists! We sipped rosè, alfresco, in an historic bar in London. Everyone was so warm and friendly — I didn’t feel like I was meeting them for the first time.”

Pooja traveled a long way from her hometown of Chicago to visit family in London and attend the first U.K. meetup for Minted artists on July 27 at The American Bar inside the Stafford Hotel. Mariam was on holiday in the U.K. with her family, and as always, was thrilled to talk with some of Minted’s global community of artists.

“It was an honor to meet the CEO of Minted — a lovely lady with a calm aura,” said Jan Shepherd, pictured above left. Pooja Pittie, seated at right, organized an artist meetup in her hometown of Chicago in April 2016.

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Meet a Minted Artist: Jinhee Park

Artist and illustrator Jinhee Park studied fine art in South Korea and Japan before settling in Brooklyn. We caught up with her to find out her latest inspirations and exciting projects in the works (including a children’s book!).

Meet a Minted Artist: Jinhee Park

How did you end up doing what you’re doing now?
I vividly remember the day my journey to becoming an artist began. I was in 4th grade and stopped by my mother’s art school to meet her for dinner. She had a meeting, so she gave me a Tombow 4B pencil and asked me to draw an empty beverage can while I waited. That drawing really triggered everything and was the catalyst for my mother’s decision later to send me to an art college prep school. Since then, I’ve had a constant hunger to create things by drawing, painting, and designing.

Did you study art formally in school?
I graduated from Ewha Womans University in South Korea with a BFA and also studied interactive art at Tsukuba University in Japan. Before college, I studied drawing, watercolor, and oil painting for about eight years.

Where do you currently reside?
In 2015, I moved from Northern California to New York City for my husband’s work. I’ve enjoyed the hustle and bustle of urban life, but sometimes I miss laid-back, sunny California.

Meet a Minted Artist: Jinhee Park

Can you share the schedule of a typical day in the life?
My daily routine begins with grinding beans for my coffee and watching NY1 News. While drinking coffee, I check email and my social media accounts, as well as Minted. At around 10 a.m., I usually listen to podcasts while I begin my work—usually “This American Life,” “Note to Self,” or “Fresh Air” as I draw and paint. After lunch, if it’s sunny, I photograph recent art pieces using natural light. And if I’m feeling like I need to get out of the house, I’ll grab my art supplies and head to Carl Schurz Park on the East River, Central Park, or a cafe. At night, I primarily work on my digital pieces.

What are some of your own “rules” for living + working?
Make as many mistakes as you can, learn from them, repeat.

Meet a Minted Artist: Jinhee Park

Please describe your last month in a word.

Serendipity

Can you share an as-of-yet unrealized project with us?
I have two ongoing personal projects: the first is updating my website (jinseikou.com) and the other is creating illustrations for a children’s book.

Meet a Minted Artist: Jinhee Park

When did you begin painting and drawing?
I began drawing more seriously when I was 10 years old.

If you could sit down with any artist past or present, who would it be and where?
Mark Ryden and his wife Marion Peck at their studio in California

How do you approach your art?
Imagine, research, and observe

Meet a Minted Artist: Jinhee Park

Please tell us about your studio space.
My small desk is right next to the window so that I can draw and paint under natural light. When my eyes need a break, I look out the window and have a nice view of Yorkville.

What is your creative process like?
Whenever an idea pops into my head, I write it down immediately or quickly draw a rough sketch. Then, once I’m done with a piece, I open my idea archive of notes and sketches and look for my next theme or series from there.

What do you do when you encounter artist’s block?
Work out at the gym, take a bath, or listen to Arcangelo Corelli’s  I-Grave

Click through for more from Minted artist Jinhee Park

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Minted 2015 Holiday Challenge Winners Visit San Francisco

When we asked the top three winners of Minted’s 2015 Holiday Challenge about the favorite part of their prize-winning trip to San Francisco, they shared similar sentiments about instant connection. “Being an independent designer can sometimes be a little lonely,” explained first-place winner Karly Depew. “So getting to be with Kristie [Kern] and Phrosné [Ras] and meeting the people who work hard at Minted to make our designs come to life was inspiring and invigorating.”

The 2015 holiday challenge winners outside Minted’s San Francisco office, from left: Karly Depew of Oscar & Emma; Phrosné Ras; Kristie Kern. “The trip was a whirlwind!” Kristie said. “The Minted team kept us on the go from the time we hit the ground, which was absolutely perfect for me. It was my first trip to San Francisco, and I wanted to take in as much as possible. The experience was a great combination of sightseeing, celebration, and opportunities to learn more about Minted.”    

The winning designs of The Most Wonderful Time 2015 Holiday Card Challenge, from left: “Embellished” by Karly Depew of Oscar & Emma; “Amazing Frame” by Phrosné Ras; “Sparkling Frame” by Kristie Kern.

After spending nearly three days with Karly, Phrosné, and Kristie, exploring the city’s restaurants and sites—including breakfast with CEO Mariam Naficy at The Battery—it’s an understatement to say that we at Minted learned a lot from the artists. We really got to know them and enjoyed hearing about everything from their families to the fact that they’re all self-taught designers to their tongue-in-cheek fears about earthquakes and “what if foil goes out of style?”

When we asked if the artists had any “a-ha!” moments after visiting the Minted office and meeting the other artists, Phrosné talked about feeling inspired to experience “the brain behind the brand.” “Minted employees are constantly working on new and exciting things,” she said. “I was also reminded that the three of us shared an uncertainty about our work and a desire to improve. We share and recognize in each other a healthy insecurity about our work, which I believe is a powerful thing, because you’ll never become complacent.”

We hope you enjoy our photo album of the trip.

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Meet a Minted Artist: Betty Hatchett

The Minted artist community consists of more than a handful of observant, thoughtful artists, and Betty Hatchett is definitely one of them. As she shares on her Minted Artist Store, the Cincinnati artist says she feels “more human when I make things, more aware of how strange and wonderful it is to be alive, more grateful.”

In this interview, Betty reflects on a number of those strange and wonderful things, including new motherhood, taking creative risks, and the art of lingering.

Portraits of Betty Hatchett by Julianna Boehm

You recently had your first baby—what is parenthood like for you?
Our son was born in October 2015, and life has been a magical blur ever since. I feel so grateful for the chance to watch his personality emerge, to see my love for him grow evermore specific as I get to know him, and to witness my husband’s devotion to him and to me on a whole new level. My heart feels more raw, stronger, and more vulnerable all at once. Being entrusted with his little life has been clarifying—I want to see him live heart-connected, with empathy and confidence and in pursuit of his calling. With that often on my mind, I’m seeing more and more opportunities to live from my own heart and different obstacles I’ve entertained that derail me from that path.

Parenthood so far has been both an unspeakable joy and incredible challenge. If I wasn’t so sleep-deprived, I’d wax poetic about this.

You live in Ohio, but there are elements of Florida in your work. Are you originally from Florida?
You can often find glimpses of the palette, wilderness, or kitsch of Florida’s gulf coast in my work, where I first fell in love with art making and the sun-kissed, gypsy Floridian artists I met at my neighborhood community center’s outdoor art fairs. I was enchanted as a child walking through booth after booth filled with snowy egrets, great blue herons, and gentle manatees, all the while serenaded by wafting Jimmy Buffett songs.

Float” limited edition art print by Betty Hatchett

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