Meet a Minted Artist: Whitney Deal

A series where we highlight a member of our Minted artist community. Featured this month: designer and photographer Whitney Deal, who lives and works in Wilkesboro, NC.

Whitney Deal interned at Martha Stewart Living magazine and studied fashion design at Parsons before moving into photography. Here, the multidisciplinary artist and maker shares a peek at her creative life in rural Wilkesboro, North Carolina.

Meet a Minted Artist: Whitney Deal

How did you end up doing what you’re doing now?
Years of making and experimenting. I started out as a graphic designer, moved into photography, took a few years to learn the craft of garment design, and now my creative life is a mash of all those things. My husband and I ran a successful photography business for several years until we had children. We opted for a less transient lifestyle after that, so now I’m solo, blending my passions of photography, sewing, painting, quilting, and simply making all together, with a touch of freelance design on the side. Most recently, my second daughter had heart surgery as a newborn in 2014 which has led me to pursue an interest in medicine. My life and work is a blend of past experiences and a range of interests, and that’s the way I like it.

Did you study photography formally in school?
I have two undergraduate degrees, one in graphic design, the other fashion design. I started a grad program in photography but skipped out after a year because it wasn’t the right time for me.

Where do you currently reside?
A small town in western North Carolina where I was raised. I’ve had the opportunity to live in different types of places (Savannah, NYC, Raleigh) but now that I have a young family, the slow pace and familiarity—you just can’t beat that.

Can you share the schedule of a typical day in the life?
Along with all of my creative endeavors, I also stay home with my two young daughters, so most days are structured around them. I maintain an Etsy shop with PDF sewing patterns, so I’m often found sewing up new designs or managing that store. I paint to relax, so when I have a few minutes to myself, you can find me with my watercolors. And of course my photography, which on a typical day means snapping memories of my girls.

Please tell us about your studio space.
I keep my sewing machine out, a table to spread out on, and a pin-up board beside me. And light, lots of light.

What are some of your own “rules” for living + working?
I get pretty excited and energized by productivity and it has taken me a long time to understand that unfortunately I can’t add more hours into a day; so learning to accept that sometimes you just have to surrender to the day and start again tomorrow is a rule I try to live by when balancing life and work.

What objects have been most significant to you lately?
It’s always been a sewing machine and my camera.

What is your creative process like?
I typically start with an idea and then it’s GO time. When the juices are flowing, I’m making. I have to remind myself to slow down and reflect.

When did you take up photography?
After college I interned with Martha Stewart Living magazine in the art department. I enjoyed what I did with that department but I was most intrigued with the photo shoots and what the photographer was doing. As soon as I finished up that internship, I bought a camera and took a few photography classes at a local art center.

What are your favorite subject matters?
I’ve always had a thing for still life. Give me a bowl of fruit on a table any day!

Do you primarily shoot digitally or with film?
Now I shoot digitally, mostly because of the expense of film, but every now and again I’ll pull out the film cameras and take it slow.

Meet a Minted Artist: Whitney Deal

Click through to read more about Minted artist Whitney Deal and her work

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Kristen Smith Serves as Minted’s Community Ambassador

Minted artist Kristen Smith was at the top of the list of candidates for the first Minted ambassador, a pilot program we created to help artists connect with each other in their local regions of the world. Minted artists are constantly connecting with each other online, and routinely share with us how much they enjoy meeting and interacting with other community members in person. As the Minted Artist Ambassador, Kristen volunteers to organize a number of events for existing community members and prospectives in and around her hometown of Atlanta, Georgia.

“Kristen is a passionate advocate for the Minted community, excellent at coming up with fun ideas, has good relationships with the creative community in Atlanta and has an infectious enthusiasm,” says Anthea Tjuanakis Cox, Minted’s Director of Artist Relations. “You can’t help but feel better after chatting with Kristen.”

Here, Kristen shares a few thoughts about the ambassador program.

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Meet a Minted Artist: Derek Overfield

A series where we highlight a member of our Minted artist community. Featured this month: artist and designer Derek Overfield, who is currently based in Fairmont, West Virginia.

Derek Overfield studied fine arts and graphic design at Fairmont State University alongside his wife and fellow painter (and Minted artist!) Lauren Adams. Working with charcoal and pastel on paper, as well as latex and acrylic paint on canvas, his bold pieces focus on the human figure. Here, Derek discusses life as a working artist, including overcoming artist’s block and challenging himself to create at least one drawing a day.

Meet a Minted Artist: Derek Overfield

How did you end up doing what you’re doing now?
Making and studying figurative art has always been a big part of my life. As a child I studied very closely the dynamic figures of comic book art, learning what I feel is the unique and expressive language of the body. That study of the figure continued into college where I was introduced to so many amazing examples of the human form in art history. This is also when I began to work from life models and from my own image. I set a goal as a student to complete a large-scale figure drawing every day, which I have stuck to as closely as possible since. I continue to be amazed at the potential of the figure in art.

Did you study art formally in school?
Yes, I have a degree in Fine Arts and Graphic Design from Fairmont State, where I studied with acclaimed painter Lynn Boggess and met my future wife (and also a Minted artist), Lauren Adams.

Where do you currently reside?
I live in a small town in West Virginia and have always been proud to call this state my home. It has remarkable beauty and my family’s roots here go back to the 1700s.

Meet a Minted Artist: Derek Overfield

Can you share the schedule of a typical day in the life?
I work on at least one drawing a day. On top of that, I usually work on canvases or do the not-so-fun stuff of  building our stretchers, stretching and priming canvas, etc. There’s always other work like photographing pieces, answering customer’s emails, updating my website, and social media.

What are some of your own “rules” for living and working?
I feel that art should come from a place of love. It’s difficult to explain, but I feel the artist should be moved by the subject matter first, before they can ever hope to move their audience.

How would you describe your artistic style?
Expressive, simple and bold, classic and modern.

What painting techniques have you been working with lately?
My works on paper could be characterized as a sustained gestural technique. They take elements from both classical drawing and expressive work. My works on canvas have a similar approach, and I’ve developed a technique of painting that feels very much like drawing.

Meet a Minted Artist: Derek Overfield

Please tell us about your studio space.
We have converted part of our 1935 two-story house into a studio space. We’ve renovated two rooms into one studio space, large enough to accommodate both of our needs!

When did you begin painting?
I began painting in college, watercolor landscapes on location.

What medium(s) do you most enjoy working with?
On paper, charcoal and/or pastel. On canvas, latex and/or acrylic paint.

What is your creative process like?
I use my works on paper as a way of preparing for and experimenting with themes for my larger canvas works.

Meet a Minted Artist: Derek Overfield

What are your favorite subject matters?
The human figure, usually in reference to a heroic or tragic theme.

Your work primarily focuses on the human form, almost always with the male figure. How did you arrive at this?
I’ve done figurative work of both genders, but the stylistic approach I’m currently employing has a very masculine feel to it. I feel it works best with the male figure at the moment.

Is there a movement in art history that speaks to you?
That’s a great question. So many movements have embraced figurative art, so they usually always speak to me. I would say that the most essential would be the late classical period of Greece/Rome and the High Renaissance of Italy, with their humanistic focus on the figure as the epitome of artistic expression. I respond to non-figurative work as well, and really admire the work of the Abstract Expressionists. Their embrace of the artist’s personal touch and view of art-making as an event, very much influences my approach to art.

If you could sit down with any artist past or present, who would it be and where?
Couldn’t pass up the chance to witness Michelangelo at work, or anywhere, really. I don’t think I’d have the guts to speak to him though!

Click through to read more about Minted artist Derek Overfield and his work

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A Day in the Life of Amy Carroll

Animals are the heart and soul of many of Amy Carroll’s photographs, including “Staredown,” a portrait of a bull that is one of Minted’s most popular limited edition prints. The Michigan photographer has weaved a life centered around family, animals, and creativity. As she shows in this video and in her own words on her Minted Artist Store, you can find Amy traveling abroad or exploring her backyard. “Beauty abounds,” she says. “Take time to see it.”

Portraits of Amy Carroll by Sam Vanderlist

“Staredown” limited edition print by Amy Carroll

8 AM-ish: We start our day roughly between 7:30 or 8 am each day. We co-sleep with our two-year-old son Mayer, so when he’s ready to get up, we get up and all start our day by fixing breakfast together. Our recent favorite is banana pancakes, which Mayer loves to help me make. I’ve been trying to be more cognitive of my time with my family and instead of hopping immediately on my phone or computer, spending quality time with Jeff and Mayer and enjoying a slower and more mindful start to our day.

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Meet a Minted Artist: Sarah Brown

As an “M”-level artist in Minted’s CMYK program, Sarah Brown has 125 winning designs on minted.com, 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

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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.

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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.
Sunshine

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?
Playful

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.

Inspiration
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

Home
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

Art
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

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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.

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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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