Meet a Minted Artist: Sarah Brown

As an “M”-level artist in Minted’s CMYK program, Sarah Brown has 125 winning designs on, but her success didn’t happen overnight. When she entered her first challenge, the 2009 Seasonal Save the Date Challenge, she submitted what she describes “a few terrible designs” and says she was mortified by the scores. “That experience really motivated me to become a better designer and to improve my skills,” she says, in hindsight. “Continuing to enter the design challenges is also a great incentive to keep your work fresh and try new things.”

Here, the designer from St. Joseph, Michigan, shares insights about her experience as a typography-driven designer, and her a-ha! moments along the way.

You’re a self-proclaimed typography enthusiast. When and how did this happen?
I’ve never considered myself a traditional artist—my drawing skills are pretty limited, and I’m generally too impatient for painting. Because of this, I struggled for a while as a designer to find my niche—there’s only so much you can do when you don’t paint or draw. After my first Minted winning design, “A Very Merry Christmas,” in 2010, it clicked with me that beautiful typography is an art form in itself. I received such a great response from that design from the community and consumers, and I began to focus on type-driven designs. I’ve tried to learn all I can about typography from books, online resources, and lots of trial and error.

Merry First Christmas” by Sarah Brown


Q and A: Ever Thought About Your Creative Turnoffs?

For this edition of #WhatInspiresMe, we’re taking a bit of a departure from our usual process of spotlighting artists’ sources of inspiration. Today we’re talking about inspiration killers. Minted artists Elliot Whalen and Christian Bennin share both sides of the coin—what does and doesn’t inspire them—so, really, this is a “double issue” edition.

Elliot Whalen
San Francisco
Elliot’s Minted Artist Store

I prefer not to dwell on things that drain my inspiration, but while we’re on the subject, I can list a few. To start, I’m not saying I’m Superman, but I do take up all my vitality from the sun, absorbing its energies and converting them to creative inspiration. I love natural light and fresh air. In fact, I just assumed a one-minute power pose in the morning sun to write this feature.

IceSCREAM” custom art print by WHALEN

In a similar vein, cramped and cluttered spaces make me claustrophobic. Not literally, but in a creative sense. I get cabin fever easily. Growing up in Southern California near the beach, I spent a lot of time outside, which became a major inspiration in my art. I drew waves, surfboard designs, and beach landscapes in my school notebooks. And a few years ago I moved to San Francisco, which has the perfect blend of bustling city, creativity, and all the outdoor adventures you could want just 20 minutes away.

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Meet a Minted Artist: Phrosne Ras

You’ll need more than a handful of words to describe Phrosné Ras’ aesthetic, but to summarize in three, we’ll go with beautiful, feminine, and detailed. Finely detailed. Her absolute focus on creating intricate details and—as she states on Instagram—of “making everything around me beautiful”—is core to her success as a leading Minted artist. But that’s not to suggest that her creative process is all roses and rainbows.

Hand Drawn Picture Frame” foil-pressed holiday card by Phrosné Ras

As she explains in this email interview, precision is part of the work ethic that drives everything she does, including freelance work and her Minted stationery, art, and home decor. “The last 2.5 years, I worked no less than 14 hours, six to seven days a week. Some days, more,” says the artist from Cape Town, South Africa. “I’m making more time for myself now, but I will always be someone who works tirelessly if need be.”

You have a beautiful name. Is there a story behind it?
I always tell people it’s made up, because it’s such a mouthful and mostly too extravagant! There is an original version, Euphrosyne. In Greek mythology, Euphrosyne was one of the “Three Graces”—goddesses of charm, beauty, nature, human creativity. She was the Goddess of Joy or Mirth, a daughter of Zeus and Eurynome, and the incarnation of grace and beauty. A beautiful, undeserving meaning to my name.


Meet a Minted Artist: Maja Cunningham

A series where we highlight a member of our Minted artist community. Featured this month: illustrator (and trained architect!) Maja Cunningham, who is currently based in Fort Worth, Texas.

Maja Cunningham grew up in former Yugoslavia and moved to the United States in 2000 as a war refugee. Here, she studied architecture, then recently began to create her own art while working as a full-time mother to her two-year-old son Jack. We chatted with Maja and asked her to share with us a glimpse into her art, work, and family life.

Maja Cunningham Artist Interview

How did you end up doing what you’re doing now?
My husband and I bought a house three months after our two-year-old son Jack was born, and as we were getting settled in, I realized we didn’t have any artwork for his room. My husband and I almost exclusively decorate with photographs and art from our travels. Jack was new and didn’t have any stamps in his passport yet so I decided to make something for him. “That’s One Fast Bike, Said The Cloud” was the very first framed piece in his room.

Did you study art formally in school?
I considered it briefly but architecture has always been my passion and calling, so art took a back seat. It was just biding its time though, of course.

Where do you currently reside? And why do you like living there?
We live outside Fort Worth, next door to my family. I came to United States as a refugee in summer of 2000 and stayed with my cousin’s family in Texas for several years. We have always lived either together or very close by. So when my husband and I decided to have a baby, I was finishing graduate school in Portland, Oregon. As much as we loved the Pacific Northwest we were missing two things: sunshine and family. Texas has always been good to us and there is something here that gives me the feeling of home. As only a refugee knows, when you find that feeling again, you hold on to it and never let go.

Meet a Minted Artist: Maja Cunningham Maja and Jack go over print proofs before nap time.

Can you share the schedule of a typical day in the life?
Breakfast is a big deal, always has been. My husband’s schedule changes but he’s with us most mornings. After that, Jack and I go out: to the park, zoo, botanical garden, our backyard, museums, Target (on rainy days!). My cousin joins us most of the time. When we get back home we eat lunch and then we nap. Sometimes it’s just Jack but a lot of times I sneak in a nap, too. Running around with a toddler all morning is a workout because I wouldn’t otherwise. Other times I use nap time to work. Afternoons usually go by fast and they vary in location and activity as well. We spend a lot of time outside. I think that childhood surrounded by nature is the best way to grow up. And I find that my best art pieces are inspired by those moments or memories created during those times.

What are some of your own “rules” for living and working?
Family and health come first, the rest always finds a way of flowing in between and around it. My husband works a lot so that I don’t have to until Jack is ready for school. But we always find time for each other. There was a time when I thought I could never give up architecture, but motherhood changes pretty much everything and you adjust. It’s a kind of adjustment that makes living and working a brand-new experience. Also, naps are a priority. Dishes, laundry, showers—not so much. Work happens when inspiration strikes and if that’s during, say, a playdate, then ideas might get scribbled on a chalkboard. All this to say, there are no more rules. We go with the flow and make happiness instead of to-do lists.

Please describe your last month in a word.

Can you share an as-of-yet unrealized project with us?
I am working on a storybook for Jack. All my art work is essentially a painted story, so I’m very excited about this.

What are you serious about?
Keeping priorities in check. One can easily get carried away with distractions, but our family will always come first.

What things will you never take seriously?
Material things.

Meet a Minted Artist: Maja Cunningham

What medium(s) do you most enjoy working with?
I’ve been sketching with pencil, ink, and markers for a very long time, they’re what I’m most comfortable with. But lately I’ve been going back to my school days where experimenting with materials was a daily exercise. So I’ve been trying watercolors, gouache, charcoal, collage—I love trying different textures. I know exactly what the end result is supposed to look like, so I experiment a lot until I reach my goal.

When did you begin painting and drawing?
I’ve enjoyed art for as long as I can remember. But I’ve only recently started producing actual art pieces. Before, it was always a part of a design process or just a sketch exercise. My subject matter was architecture or interior design, so the end result was quite different.

Is there a movement in art history that speaks to you?
Without thinking too much about it and getting lost I’d say Impressionism has always evoked my deepest appreciation for art. I could sit in front of a Monet, Degas, or Pissarro for days. The beauty and tranquility of those works is immeasurable.

How do you approach your art?
It all starts with a story, a memory, or even a silly tune I sing to Jack. The characters emerge from our outdoor adventures, a cartoon, or favorite toy. From there, I sketch an idea. Composition. Colors. Textures. It’s a kind of dance. All these elements move until everything is just right.

Meet a Minted Artist: Maja Cunningham  A storyboard for “Mrs. Edith Plans a Trip”

A great artist gets inspiration from anywhere—what are some of the most unusual sources of inspiration for you?
Mrs. Edith” emerged from a sewing box and a string of yarn. Literally. I see ideas in patterns, textures and colors—they are everywhere to me, I just need to open my eyes to them.

How would your describe your artistic style?

What do you do when you encounter artist’s block?
I move on. I have at least three projects I’m working on at any given time. If one is stalling, I give it time and air to breathe until it’s ready and I work on something else.

What are you working on now?
A moon series. Jack is obsessed with the moon. We go out almost every night to look at the moon and say goodnight, of course.

What color palettes have you been into lately?
Cool blues, greys, and browns.

What are some of your favorite Minted pieces?
Mornings Away” by Emily Jeffords will soon finds its way on my freshly painted wall! As well as Whitney Deal’sGoing for a Swim.” They both evoke a happy feeling, of freedom and serenity.

How do you encourage creativity in your own little one?
I believe that at an early age kids learn most from observing and trying things on their own. Under supervision, of course, but letting children be children. They have an innate ability to invent and create, and giving them time and space to experiment is the key. Providing a safe and diverse environment. Taking them out into the world rather than keeping them inside a classroom. There will be plenty time for that later.

Meet a Minted Artist: Maja CunninghamLittle Jack, paintbrush in hand, photobombs his mama’s portrait.

What do you enjoy most about being part of the Minted community?
I love comments and feedback. Since I work from home I miss that interaction I had in the architecture studio. The Minted community is my studio surrogate.

What does Minted mean to you as a working artist?
Minted gave me a platform to become one! I never thought I could reach as many people with my art as I do now. It makes me so very happy to know that my art stories are finding a home all over the world and that children are waking up and growing up with them. There is no greater work satisfaction than that!

Please tell me more behind your Minted artist name “Llinella.
Llinella was a mistake, really. I was having a conversation with my husband about favorite cartoons. I grew up in former Yugoslavia and, later when the war started, in Germany. I watched a lot of European cartoons—French, Polish, Italian, there was a lot of Disney ones, too. But one of my most favorite ones was an Italian one called La Linea (“The Line”), with very simple animations of a man drawn as a white-outline silhouette on a blue background, walking on an infinite line of which he is a part. Facing obstacles and going around them. I found it so entertaining as a child. Decades later, when I attempted to remember the name of it, I called it falsely Llinella. It’s a made-up word but it comes with a story.

Maja’s Favorite Things
We asked Maja to share her current favorite art, style, fashion, and home décor inspirations.

What inspires you: Nature
Favorite recent discovery: Inside Out  (Pixar movie)
Favorite place in the world: Home
Favorite charity: SOS Children’s Villages
Favorite movie: Gone With the Wind
Favorite colors: Black and white—not really colors but let’s not get too technical!
Fashion idol: Kate Moss
Favorite city: Rovinj, Croatia
Last stamp on your passport: Madrid, Spain
Song in your head: “Slow Motion” by PHOX
Favorite Instagrammer: @Meg_Nlo

Favorite pieces of art in your home: Photographs taken when Jack was born
China: Broken!
Stationery: Oblation Paper & Press in Portland, OR
Pets: None yet but according to Jack, very soon
Favorite flowers: Tulips
Favorite gadgets: iPhone
Favorite drink: Mojito
Favorite dessert: Swiss or Belgian chocolate
Coffee-table book: The Sea Ranch by Donlyn Lyndon and Jim Alinder
Favorite snack: Sunflower seeds
What’s in your Netflix queue: Inside Out, Cars, and Despicable Me

Favorite artist: Edgar Degas
Favorite works of art: “A Carriage at the Races,”, Degas; “Soleil Levant,” Claude Monet
Favorite art supply store: Utrecht
Favorite watercolor paints: Winsor & Newton
Favorite brushes: Raphael Kolinsky

More from Maja Cunningham:
• Maja’s Minted Store
• “Moon Balloon” Art Print
• “How About Jupiter” Art Print

More from Minted:
• Art Prints
Kids Wall Art
• Photography Prints

Photos: Courtesy of Maja Cunningham


How Minted Artists Find Inspiration in Faraway Places

We’re far from the first to hype the benefits of stepping out of the your comfort zone. Whether it’s shaking up the status quo with a slightly different routine, taking a hike just a few miles away, or traveling to the other side of the world, new places and new experiences do wonders for creative inspiration.

For this edition of #WhatInspiresMe, when we asked Minted artists Susan Brown and Ana Sharpe how travel inspires their creativity, they sung the graces of their recent vacations.

Susan Brown
The Wisconsinite finds inspiration in Florida every winter

My husband and I spend January and February each year living in a pink house on the Florida Emerald Coast. To say that the vibrant Florida colors provide inspiration is almost an understatement. The sun is so bright and clear that it makes me, a Northerner obsessed with black and navy blue, fall in love with pastels— shutters, furniture, art, clothing, even pastel cars all look chic and sophisticated in this friendly climate. Primary colors are equally compelling: true, pure, saturated, happy.


Meet a Minted Artist: Lindsay Megahed

For a Chicago-area artist, Lindsay Megahed’s paintings emit quite the California vibe. From the beach scenes of “Weekending” and “Sea Wall” to the bright, dreamy colors in many of her other limited-edition prints, she’s got a lot of West Coast going on. But the Cali energy isn’t all that Lindsay has to offer. She’s a multi-talented artist-designer who’s won 109 awards across Minted categories: holiday cards, Valentine’s Day stationery, fabric, and, of course, art. Here, Lindsay talks about raising two boys, developing her career, and her insightful advice for up-and-coming artists.

What’s it like to be a work-from-home artist?
Very messy! Inspiration can strike at any time, so usually my studio is covered with works in progress—paper scraps, canvases, paint tubes, and palettes (I can’t throw anything away.) My studio is right off my main living space, so I don’t really have consistent start-and-stop working hours, and there are a lot of distractions. But being able to be so flexible with my time makes the haphazard work environment worth it. I can volunteer at my boys’ elementary school and attend all their events and activities, which is my main entertainment these days. Being home a lot, I do miss talking to grown-ups, so it’s always nice to hop online to see what’s happening in the Minted community.

Your work is so colorful. Do you have a favorite color combination?
I always start out trying to freshen up my palette a bit, but blue/green and orange/pink always seem to take over in the end.

Big Sur” by Lindsay Megahed

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Meet a Minted Artist: Naomi Ernest

A self-described “artist, photographer, and clandestine writer,” Naomi Ernest has carved out a unique niche for herself on Minted. Her paintings, drawings, and photographs are at once minimalist, personal, and whimsically mysterious. “I am very process-oriented, letting the various effects of tools, mediums, and techniques be integral to each piece,” she says. “I like my work to be uncomplicated at first glance, but the more you look at it, the more complexities you discover. Overall simplicity with interesting details.”

Here, the Ann Arbor, Michigan artist shares details behind the scenes of her life–from her five children to the ongoing project of rehabbing her farmhouse.

When did you know you were an artist?
Growing up, my parents were both artists-on-the-side; as a very young child, I wanted to be an artist and a writer. I remember thinking these things specifically at maybe 3 or 4 years old—well before I could write more than a word or two, when my paintings were unsteady brush marks in blue and red and yellow. Somewhere along the uncertainty of growing up, I lost these early convictions, and it took me decades of searching to rediscover and to implement them.

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The Pros and Cons of Working From Home

Don’t you love it when a planned, routine project turns a corner, changes form, and, ultimately, becomes more interesting? That’s the case with this story. What started as the January edition of our #ArtistAdvice series (featuring Minted artists sharing their advice about work and creativity), evolved into this: an e-conversation between Jessica Williams and Rebecca Turner. Both are longtime artists in the Minted community. Both work from home. Both said, “Hey, wait a minute, I have more to say about this than just my advice.” And both want to hear your thoughts, so we’ll get to that at the end.

So, here we go. This is the start of what we hope becomes an ongoing discussion with the Minted artist community about what it means to work from home—the pros and cons and all the insights in-between.

Rebecca Turner burns midnight oil in South Bend, Indiana.

Amy Schroeder: How long have you worked from home, and why?
I’ve worked from home for almost three years. I previously worked full time in visual merchandising for Johnston & Murphy, and my freelance work built up to a point where I wasn’t able to do both. It was a scary leap to make, but completely worth it.

Rebecca: I’ve been working exclusively from home since 2010 and the birth of my first child. Before then, I worked full time at various “designy” jobs and freelanced on the side.


Day in the Life of Meg Gleason of Moglea

By Meg Gleason

Meg Gleason is not your average Minted artist, but then again, there’s no such thing as “an average Minted artist.” The self-described designer, illustrator, and farm wife leads her fully staffed print shop, Moglea, in Audubon, Iowa, and somehow manages to raise two children and help run a family farm, raising cattle, hogs, corn, and soybeans. “The farm has been in the family for four generations,” she says.

Fiesta Turtleneck” limited edition print by Moglea

Meg joined the Minted community in 2009 and has 70 wins to her name. Designing for Minted challenges was how she got her career start and helped her gain confidence to launch her own letterpress stationery line. “The community provided me with invaluable feedback and encouragement at a pivotal moment in my career and they continue to do so,” she says. “Minted continually helps support and promote Moglea and I’m forever grateful for the opportunities I’ve had from Minted.”

Here she shares her day in the life. —Amy Schroeder


Meet a Minted Artist: Kaitlin Rebesco

A series where we highlight a member of our Minted artist community. Featured this month: photographer Kaitlin Rebesco, who is currently based in Austin, Texas.

Fine art photographer (and newly certified yoga teacher!) Kaitlin Rebesco shares her current inspirations, how she overcomes artist’s block, and a glimpse into her daily life as a working artist.

Meet a Minted Artist: Kaitlin Rebesco

Quick! Tell us…
Digital or Film? Digital. But one of my goals for 2016 is to start shooting film!
Modern or Vintage? Both. Contrast is key.
Portraits or Nature? Nature
Landscapes or Still Life? Landscapes
Summer or Winter? Summer
City or Country? Both. I need to split my time between both types of environments in order to feel balanced.

How did you end up doing what you’re doing now?
After college I spent a year working and traveling in Australia. I took photos obsessively during this time, wanting to document every new sight and experience. Upon returning to the States, I decided to pursue photography as more than a hobby. I took classes, built a portfolio, and applied to a professional photography program at a school in Paris. I studied photojournalism but, in the time since graduation, I’ve gravitated towards fine art photography. I enjoy that it allows for more creativity and abstract representation.

Did you study art formally in school?
I studied photojournalism at Spéos Photographic Institute in Paris. I have also taken many continuing education courses at the International Center of Photography and the School of Visual Arts in New York.

Where do you currently reside?
I am currently in Austin, TX. The warm weather was a huge draw for me; I couldn’t do another winter in New York! I also like that there are many state parks not too far outside of the city. It’s the best of both worlds. I often gather inspiration from my environment though, so, above all, I value change and I enjoy moving around. I will be leaving Austin at the end of January to spend two months in Costa Rica.

Meet a Minted Artist: Kaitlin Rebesco

Can you share the schedule of a typical day in the life?
This is something that I struggle with! I thrive within new environments and experiences, but keeping up with work and responsibilities can necessitate a schedule or routine. I try to mix up my routine as much as possible, but one constant that remains is a daily yoga practice. This has been life changing in many ways. But, as it relates to my creative work, I think it keeps me open and receptive to new ideas and inspiration. It’s funny, but photography and yoga are actually closely tied. While studying photojournalism, I realized that in order to be successful you have to be able to reach a sort of meditative state. As with yoga, the goal is to remain alert, aware, and present in the moment. If you let your mind wander, you can miss something.

What objects have been most significant to you lately?
Moving around so much has sort of made me an unintentional minimalist!

What are you serious about?
Finding meaningful work, feeling good about how I am spending my time, being grateful for what I have, not taking anyone or anything for granted, living thoughtfully/mindfully.

What things will you never take seriously?
That being said, I really don’t take anything too seriously.

Meet a Minted Artist: Kaitlin Rebesco

What medium(s) do you most enjoy working with?
Photography, mixed media/collage

When did you begin taking photos?
In my early 20s.

How do you approach your art?
I guess at the most basic level it is an outlet, a release of energy. I find a lot of satisfaction in being able to create something that represents the way I see things.

How would your describe your artistic style?
Clean, contemporary, minimalist

What is your creative process like?
Often I start by going out and just shooting. I photograph whatever catches my eye and resonates with how I am feeling. Later I will go back over my images and look for patterns, connections. This might spark an idea for a series or a concept to explore.

How has your work changed over time?
My work has become much cleaner, more in line with my vision. When I first started shooting there was this gap between the types of photos I was taking and the types of photos I would like to hang on my wall. As time goes on, that gap gets smaller. Although it has not yet closed!

What do you do when you encounter artist’s block?
I go in search of inspiration. Ideally this would involve travel or exploring a new place (even just a new neighborhood within my current city). Otherwise visiting a museum, gallery, or discovering new art and artists on the internet. I could spend hours looking at images on Pinterest, Instagram, and Flickr.

Meet a Minted Artist: Kaitlin Rebesco

What do you enjoy most about being part of the Minted community?
I really appreciate the open line of communication between Minted and the artists. It feels more personal and ongoing, and it’s clear that the company’s intent is to build a community.

What does Minted mean to you as a working artist?
It’s about partnership, and it also signifies how the internet is creating new possibilities for working artists in terms of exposure and reach.

What are some of your favorite Minted pieces?
There are so many great pieces to choose from! As you can probably tell from my selections I am attracted to abstract figures and forms, clean compositions, splashes of color…
“Form” by Lauren Packard
“Morning River” by Lauren Adams
“Drawing 264 – Gesturing Man” by Derek Overfield
“As You Are” by Karen Kaul
“Composed” by Amelie Conger
“Embrace” by R Studio
“Going for a Swim” by Whitney Deal

Meet a Minted Artist: Kaitlin Rebesco

Katlin’s Favorite Things
We asked Kaitlin’s to share her current favorite art and home inspirations.

Last stamp on your passport: Costa Rica
Favorite pieces of art in your home: A vintage photograph of the construction of the Sydney Opera House
Favorite gadget: iPad
Favorite neighborhood restaurant: Juiceland
Favorite drink: Water/juice/tea
Favorite artist: I have hundreds of favorite artists! Really, there are too many to count. Ranging from iconic artists to contemporary artists whose work I’ve mainly discovered via the internet. Nils Udo, Picasso, Matisse, Ellsworth Kelly, Saul Leiter, Marco Tirelli, Wyatt Kahn, Esther Ruiz, Gerhard Richter, John Baldessari, Andy Denzler, Henri Cartier-Bresson…
Favorite works of art: Again, too many too count.
Favorite camera gadget: Remote shutter release

More from Kaitlin Rebesco:
• Kaitlin’s Minted Store
• Kaitlin’s website
• Kaitlin’s Instagram

More from Minted:
• Art Prints
• Photography Prints
Maps & Landmarks Art Prints

Photos: Courtesy of Kaitlin Rebesco

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