Who is your biggest creative influence?

Friends, family, strangers, enemies, teachers, other artists. There are so many people who inspire artists—and sometimes without consciously realizing it. For this edition of #WhatInspiresMe, we asked Minted artists Naomi Ernest, Melissa Egan of pistols, and Alexandra Dzh to tell us who inspires them most.

Naomi Ernest
Ann Arbor, Michigan

My main sources of inspiration begin with my family. Growing up, my parents were both artists-on-the-side. By example, they instilled in me the idea that art is an everyday part of life. These days, my five kids are daily reminders of the importance of the creative process; their blithe, uninhibited approach is evident every time I watch them.

Recently I’ve also been reconnecting to my family history, creating work as homage to my copper mining ancestors and their life in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. And, of course, a passion for my local environment is always evident—the lakes, landscapes, and resources of my home state of Michigan provide constant connection and inspiration for colors, textures, and themes in my work.

Drift” by Naomi Ernest

December – Turquoise” by Naomi Ernest


Melissa Egan of Pistols
Portland, Oregon

One of my biggest creative influences is my husband, John. He’s a brilliant painter, curator, and craftsman who makes everything from furniture to movie props. He’s taught me so much about the importance of taking your time to make something right, paying attention to details, and staying true to your personal aesthetic instead of only following trends.

Gilded Trees” by pistols

Dipped Feathers” by pistols


Alexandra Dzh
Vienna, Austria

There are a lot of people who inspire me, but one of the biggest creative influences is Austrian illustrator Lisbeth Zwerger. In my opinion, the charm of her illustrations lies in her delicate watercolor style, the diversity and strength of her colors, her great perception for detail. Lisbeth’s delightful and lyrical pictures always serve me as powerful source of inspiration.

Flowers Everywhere” by Alexandra Dzh

Bouquet” by Alexandra Dzh


Who is your biggest creative influence? Share your answer in Comments below and on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter with the hashtag #WhatInspiresMe. We feature some of our favorite social shares in our Minted Fine Arts newsletter.

Need a quick creative pick-me-up? Read Minted artists’ solutions here.

Published September 28, 2015 • Learn how to become a Minted artist here.

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Meet a Minted Artist: Marta Spendowska

A series where we highlight a member of our Minted artist community. Featured this month: artist and illustrator Marta Spendowska, who is from Poland and currently lives in Green Bay, WI.

Growing up in communist Poland, Marta Spendowska loved the arts but never imagined an artistic career would be possible. After moving to the United States in 2005, however, her dream became reality—she was able to study and work in design, illustration, and fine art. Here, Marta shares a glimpse into her life as a working artist.

Marta Spendowska (VERYMARTA) Artist Profile

How did you end up doing what you’re doing now?
Actually, I really thought I’d be a writer but after living in the States for some time, I started to feel like an island—my Polish was useless here and my English was OK but not perfect at all. I grew up with an amateur painter (my father) and have painted all my life, and after moving here, I specifically made a commitment to communicate visually. I think the decision came from a point of sadness about losing that special gift of eloquence. If I think about it now, I almost feel that I came back to painting out of unhappiness. But it was my best decision. I studied design and worked at few agencies as a designer and art director, then eventually started my own design business. Two years later, I transitioned into illustration and, finally, fine art.

Where do you currently reside?
I’m in Green Bay, Wisconsin, right now due to my husband’s business, but we’re moving to South Carolina (hopefully Charleston) or North Carolina very soon.

Can you share the schedule of a typical day in the life?
I love my routines, actually. I get up and work out (HIIT—high intensity interval training) or skip rope for 20 minutes (to sweat off the dreams). Then I drink 20 ounces of water, set my podcasts, boil an egg, boil water and brew organic coffee, eat the egg (with onion, cucumber, and salt), feed my chipmunks, light two incenses, drink coffee while scrolling through Instagram, and I’m all set to go. I check my email and agenda, and divide my work into commission-based and a fine-art time slots. I like to bike for 45 minutes at least every other day and I read a lot to relax in-between working. Dinner at 6 p.m., in bed at midnight. My husband also has his own business so we both have very solitary jobs until 6–7 p.m.

What are some of your own “rules” for living and working?
I’ve always loved Björk, whose life, for me, is a perfect blend of incorporating art and work. I’m sure if I were a banker I would be miserable and I’d suffer being separated from my passions. My work spills into my life, my life spills into my work. There is no real life (or at least a fulfilling one) without my work and there is no work without my life—conscious, mindful, sometimes crazy, sometimes melancholic, but always interesting. I craft my life through working: painting, thinking, observing, feeling.

What does art mean to you?
Art is everything to me. I hope every piece I paint makes my collectors feel joyful and inspired every time they see it on their wall. This is the best job in the whole world.

What medium(s) do you most enjoy working with?
I’ve loved watercolor all my life. Oil paint in Poland used to be expensive and hard to get so I reached for watercolors. I’ve always enjoyed it’s fluid nature. I’m currently working in mixed media, making my own pigments and mediums, so my fine art is moving beyond watercolors.

When did you begin painting?
When I was a toddler. I don’t remember ever not painting and drawing. My mom always said she was very glad to have given birth to a girl who was never bored or moody—all I needed was a set of watercolors.

Is there a movement in art history that speaks to you?
It has to be Fauvism for Matisse and Abstract Expressionism for Lee Krasner and few others.

If you could sit down with any artist past or present, who would it be?
Virginia Woolf, Björk, Ewa Kuryluk.

What objects have been most significant to you lately?
I have a table at my home with old family pictures, notes from psychics or tarot readings, crystals, old Polish books. It’s a sacred corner.

Please describe your last month in one word.
Salt. (P.S. I’m writing these answers from Baltyk Sea in Poland where I’m staying until the end of September.)

Can you share an as-of-yet unrealized project with us?
A lot of my illustration work will finally see the light very soon—I work with many companies on their product lines and it always takes a long time to be released into the world. It’s mainly beauty brands hiring me for watercolor work. I’m also taking part in a three-person show this November at a Sacramento gallery, which excites me beyond belief.

What are you serious about?
My fine art career. Part of my focus is commercial illustration (I consider Minted one of my commercial illustration clients) and I love working on commissions for products and marketing campaigns, so this is important for sure. But I’m growing my fine art career right now, painting big and working on a noncommissioned-based work for galleries. I’m happy to say that my trajectory is rising fast.

How did you first hear about Minted? And when did you join?
I’m a Minted newbie. I joined during the last Domino challenge in October. I saw the call for submissions and noticed that a few of my colleagues were a part of Minted. Because Domino has always been one of my favorite magazines, I knew it was a perfect opportunity.

What do you enjoy most about being part of the Minted community?
The community! Since I joined I’ve connected with a lot of artists with similar careers, and we’ve created a sort of advisory group where we can discuss work with and outside of Minted. We share the ups and downs of the artistic career and it’s been amazingly fun and helpful.

Artist Profile: Marta Spendowska of VERYMARTA
Marta’s Favorite Things
We asked Marta to share her current favorite art, style, home décor inspirations.

Inspiration
Who inspires you: Currently Katarzyna Kobro (I’m reading her biography right now)
Favorite recent discovery: That I’m blessed—it’s a daily discovery.
Favorite city: Hopefully soon Charleston, SC  [ 1 ]
Favorite charity: Room to Read
Favorite movie: The sad and dark film The Hours directed by Stephen Daldry
Favorite colors: Fluorescent pink and orange. Maybe violet. But then also black and white.
Fashion idol: After watching the documentary Advanced Style, Debra Rapoport and Sarah-Jane Adams  [ 2 ]
Favorite place in the world: Baltyk Sea/Poland  [ 3 ]
Daily website read: I think it’s Instagram
Song in your head: Sia’s “Chandelier”
Favorite Instagram account: @themuseumofmodernart

Art
Favorite art supply store: Jerry’s Artarama
Favorite watercolor paints: Winsor & Newton or M. Grahams
Favorite brushes: From Poland  [ 4 ]
Favorite artist: Henri Matisse and Jenny Saville
Favorite works of art: Right before my trip to Poland I saw Modern Rebels exhibition at the Milwaukee Art Museum and I loved seeing Lee Krasner’s “Milkweed” [ 5 ]. I have to say, nothing compares to seeing works in a museum instead of on a laptop screen.

Home
Favorite pieces of art in your home: Old Catholic crosses from Lwòw—my grandfather gave them to my father, who gave them to me.
Stationery: I create my own line of greeting cards and I must say—I love them!  [ 6 ]
Pets: My dachshund Tapsiu and very soon my father’s Maltese CoCo
Favorite flowers: Wild plants
Favorite gadgets: My iPhone. Always and forever.
Favorite neighborhood restaurant: Z Harvest Cafe in Green Bay
Favorite drink: Chocolate smoothies made by my husband or red wine
Coffee-table book: My own—I made a book interspersed family pictures with my illustrations and gave them to family members as gifts.
Favorite snack: 1 chopped tomato, 1 chopped onion, 1 chopped avocado, olive oil, lots of balsamic vinegar, salt, and cracked pepper.
What’s in your Netflix queue? I cannot wait for the new season of Bates Motel! Also, these are awaiting me in my queue: The Grand Budapest Hotel, Still Alice, and a lot of old French movies.

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When you need a quick creative pick-me-up, what do you do?

Creative funks happen to the best of us, but overcoming them oftentimes inspires a whole new direction. Here, Minted artists Joni Tyrrell, Andi Pahl, and Jennifer Postorino share their most reliable creative pick-me-ups.

Joni Tyrrell with her son, Kingston

Joni Tyrrell
North Liberty, Iowa

Take a break! It’s so easy as a creative business owner to get caught up in working all the time and forgetting to find balance between work and family life. I’m just starting to figure out a balance, and I find that when I turn to the two most important people in my life—my husband and son—that downtime can really trigger a creative thought or idea and I can come back to “work” feeling refreshed and excited about new things.

Joni with her dog, Maverick (“A female with a boy name,” she says.)

Pining for Pineapple by Joni Tyrrell


Andi Pahl
Columbus, Ohio

Music—from show tunes to ’80s pop to Jenny Lewis and everything in between—is a great creative pick-me-up. I also enjoy taking ballet classes, so whether it’s an hour-long class or a short plié relevé combination in my living room to get the blood pumping, working out can be very helpful.

One of my favorite creative pick-me-ups is coffee and collaborating with a creative friend, like Alaina from Cheer Up Press. Since inspiration seems to hit me at the most random times, I keep several journals. When I’m at a total loss for ideas, I consult one of my journals for creative inspiration. There’s always a surprising idea that I wrote down at some earlier point and forgot about later. When all else fails, I just start painting or sketching without any prior plan or expectations.

I’m Frond Of You No. 2” by Andi Pahl

Reflections Watercolor by Andi Pahl


Jenny Postorino and her daughter, Quinn. Photo by Ashley Mauro Photography

Jennifer Postorino
Dayton, Ohio

It’s pretty simple for me. I just walk away from whatever I am doing and see what’s going on in the world around me. I’ll run to grab an iced coffee from Starbucks or a sweet treat from our local bakery—I’m a total sucker for iced sugar cookies and cupcakes! Lately I’ve been hitting the gym for a butt-kicking crossfit session every day (which is my newest obsession, or necessity, based on my love of cookies).

But, honestly, most of the time I find myself just hanging out with my two kiddos, being a typical mom. The things that come out of their little mouths crack me up, and I find inspiration in them every day. It could be anything from hearing my 3-year-old sing Pharrell Williams’ “Happy” in the car at the top of her lungs to playing outside and listening to my son ramble on about how he thinks he has a huge head while shooting hoops. Oddly enough, it’s in those little moments when creativity strikes, and I feel recharged again and ready to work.

Glimmer” by Jennifer Postorino

Bundle of Joy” by Jennifer Postorino


What do you do when you need a quick creative pick-me-up? Share your answer in Comments below and on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter with the hashtag #WhatInspiresMe.

How does education—formal and informal—shape your creative work? Read about Minted artists’ experiences here.

Learn how to become a Minted artist here.

Published September 14, 2015

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How Has Education Inspired Your Creativity?

Back-to-school season has got us thinking about how education inspires creativity. For this edition of #WhatInspiresMe, Minted artists Taleen Bedikian, Lori James, and Kaydi Bishop think back to their college days.

Taleen Bedikian
Torrance, California

“I love being surrounded by creative thinkers and even non-creatives who question the whole. When I was first majoring in Fine Art, my professor opened my eyes to the idea of gestalt, reminding me to step back and really look at what I am seeing. It’s the whole that we see that really moves us. Having learned this, I like to test myself when tackling projects, which usually means tilting my head, squinting, or backing up to assure that my work feels good as a whole. It’s just something that has stuck with me through the years, and I like to think it helps.”

Lounge-1” by TRB Design

There’s Always Hope” by TRB Design


Lori James of guess what?
Honolulu, Hawaii

“At Honolulu Community College, I had a very inspiring professor named Harrison ‘Bud’ Brooks who really spurred my passion for design. He stressed the importance of knowing the basics and instilled an ethic of discipline and hard work. He challenged us to seek out good design and analyze the underlying elements—composition, layout, typography, etc.—to understand what made it successful. He also taught us never to be complacent, but to continue to learn and grow and evolve as artists. Mr. Brooks definitely had a huge impact on who I am as a designer, and I’m so thankful to have had him as a mentor.”

Petit Monsieur” by guess what?

Snow Time Like the Holidays” by guess what?


Kaydi Bishop
San Francisco

“With a background in interior design and architecture, I find myself inevitably inspired by everything from the uncommon moulding detail to ancient tile patterns. In college, I had the opportunity to study in Florence, Italy, consequently studying many of these details first hand. After college, I was fortunate to travel throughout Asia and the Mid East for my job. Everywhere I turned, I found myself photographing inspiring patterns, materials, color combinations, etc. The education I receive from traveling continues to serve as my main source of inspiration to this day.”

Brushed Casablanca” pillow by Kaydi Bishop

The Half Shell” by Kaydi Bishop


How has—or does—learning and education inspire your creativity? Share your answer in Comments below and on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter with the hashtag #WhatInspiresMe.

#WhatInspiresMe is published every other Monday. This is the fourth edition; read the third edition here.

Published August 31, 2015 • Learn how to become a Minted artist here.

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Meet a Minted Artist: Kristie Kern

Violin major-turned-graphic designer. History professor’s wife and awesome 10-year-old’s mom. Robust coffee lover and ambitious home cook. These are just some of the words Kristie Kern uses to describe herself.

With 130 Minted awards under her belt, it’s no wonder she also calls herself an “exuberant Minted artist.” Here she shares her story—as an independent graphic designer who works from a beautiful home in Akron, Ohio.

How did you hear about Minted?
I first happened upon Minted while doing some research for a client, and was blown away by what I found. Though I often visited Minted after this to admire the amazing designs and designers, I didn’t enter a challenge myself until almost a year later; I was busy with my design studio and young son.

During the summer of 2011, my workload slowed quite a bit. Instead of immediately pursuing more work and clients, I decided to take advantage of the down time to finally enter a Minted challenge. I submitted one design for a gift tag challenge, and then received two file requests for my next challenge, which was for weddings. I was instantly hooked! Seeing my excitement as I jumped up and down at the news, my then 6-year-old son yelled, “We’re rich! We’re rich!”

I still get excited with each new file request, but what has become much more exciting to me over time is the way that Minted has reinvigorated my passion for design.

(Left) Kenton Kern, Kristie’s son | (Right) Minted works: “You and Me” by paper rose, “Numbers Elephant” by Kristie Kern, “A Very Happy Day” by Kristie Kern

What is a typical day like for you?
I often begin my day running with a group of amazing neighborhood moms, then aim to be in my office on the third floor of our 1919 Craftsman cottage by 8 a.m. First, I sort through email, then list my intentions for the day (on Post-Its!), which include work deadlines as well as personal goals. By far, my best time for creative work is early morning, so I try to make that happen as often as possible. Evening is spent enjoying family dinner and helping with my son’s piano and violin practice.

Criss Cross” by Annie Clark

How do you describe your style?
As an independent designer for nearly 11 years, I’ve been fortunate to work with a variety of clients; many of them long-term, ongoing relationships. However, much of the work I do involves designing within an established brand. The wonderful thing about designing for Minted is that I get to explore my own aesthetic—and it is still evolving. I love so many styles, from chic modern to whimsical, feminine, and urban. I love to experiment, and it’s so interesting to see what sells well—it may not necessarily be a design that was a big stand-out in a challenge.

Tell me about one of your designs for sale on Minted and how it came together.
I like the way my notebook and stationery set “English Countryside” turned out. It actually began its life as an art print submission that just wasn’t feeling right. I ended up taking that art print out of the challenge I’d submitted it to, but kept the basic design in my back pocket. When the time came to re-envision it as a notebook, it came together easily.

I also still feel good about my wedding invitation suite “Bliss.” This design evolved as I moved various elements around my Illustrator file rapidly—this often helps me see things that I wouldn’t otherwise.

I usually start a design without much more than a glimmer of inspiration, and just let things flow organically. One thing I’ve learned is that the creative process can be a strange and very personal thing, and can take on a life of its own. Sometimes you just have to follow where it leads and be “in the zone” while it’s happening. Being in this zone is where I do my best work, but it can be so elusive. I wish I could bottle it!

Who are your favorite designers?
I love the simple forms and bright, unexpected color combinations in the work of children’s book author and illustrator, Ezra Jack Keats. I also adore the rhythms of color New York painter Juri Morioka creates in her abstract art. In the stationery world (aside from the many crushes I have on the work of fellow Minted artists), I really enjoy the work of Ingrid Reithaug and Tonje Holand, the Norwegian duo who make up the design studio Darling Clementine.

Leaf Study” by Kristie Kern

What’s your advice for new designers?
Make a non-negotiable appointment with yourself each day to practice your passion, preferably during the hours that you are at your best. If you have to break this routine, try not to let too many days go by before you get back to it. I’ve found that the more time I spend outside the creative zone, the longer it takes to find that oh-so-happy place again.

In terms of design, these are some of the things I keep working on myself: When you realize you’ve stopped designing and have started “decorating,” take a break. Come back with fresh eyes, shift a few things around and take a few things away. Try to look at the overall composition rather than fussing with tiny details in the beginning. Find the focal point, then pare back on anything that competes with it (or decorates it rather than enhances it). Then refine: Check kerning, leading, and for a pleasing amount of space between text and graphic elements. Detailed attention to typography can really make a design.

Designing for Minted has brought amazing opportunities. The added visibility has helped potential clients find me and has generated additional work. More important to me, though, is the strong sense of support that I’ve received from being part of the Minted community. Especially for anyone in a solo career, feeling connected to a group of peers is so important, and I’ve found my fellow Minted Artists to be not only wildly talented designers, but also incredibly smart, funny, generous and good people.

Hello World” by Kristie Kern

More from Kristie Kern:
• Minted Store
• KristieKernCreative.com

Photography by Stephanie Miller and Angie Arthur

Published August 28, 2015 • Learn how to become a Minted artist here.

 

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Minted’s 7 Tips for Creating a Unique Artist Brand

One of the coolest aspects of personal branding is that it’s entirely up to you. “Artist branding is a very personal thing and should be a true reflection of you as an artist, which really is a reflection of yourself,” says Melanie Severin, a Minted artist from Alberta, Canada.

The digital world (and even traditional sources) is your oyster when it comes to sharing and experimenting with your brand identity. Instagram, Facebook, Tumblr in addition to business cards and event promo materials are great channels for telling your story and connecting with a local or global audience.

If you have a Minted Artist Store, you have a number of ways to curate your persona—via your product assortment, cover image, and the “About Yourself” bio and carousel of up to five 1420 pixel x 640 pixel photographs.

Before you dive into updating your Artist Store and other marketing content, consider our advice for developing your brand identity.

1. Define Your Brand
If you had to describe the meaning and style of your work in a handful of words and visuals, what comes to mind? Think about these words and visual references as you’re developing copy and photos that best represent you.

Like many artists, Melanie says she’s constantly evolving and growing, but a mix of sophistication and whimsy is the consistent theme in her work. Part of Melanie’s brand includes her personal life—her rural home-based studio, being a mom of three young children (who raise chickens!). “And the fact that I live in Canada and am heavily inspired by nature,” she says.

Melanie’s artistic style varies widely in terms of the different media, color palettes, and disciplines she works in, so it doesn’t make sense for her to show only a limited palette or style in her branding imagery. “But for some, that works very well, and in fact I’ve seen some absolutely stunning Instagram feeds built on a very limited palette or style,” she says.

2. Get the Lighting Just Right
“Great lighting is everything,” Melanie says, and we couldn’t agree more. But this doesn’t necessarily mean you have to overspend on lighting equipment.

Perhaps you want your photos to be shot primarily indoors with natural light, or maybe a cloudy outdoor setting perfectly captures your mood and style. Like we said—it’s up to you! Read our DIY photography tips in “10 Tips for Taking Great Photos for Your Artist Store.”

3. Shoot For the Appropriate Format
The 1420 pixel x 640 pixel dimensions of the Minted Store “About Yourself” photo carousel are long and lean—the opposite of, say, Instagram’s square photos. When planning and styling your photographs, take a step back and leave space to crop in a way that will look best in the long landscape format.

4. Focus on Quality Over Quantity
If you don’t have five great images for your About You Carousel, don’t upload five images. In other words, focus on quality over quantity. Because photography reflects consumers’ impressions of your work, Melanie says, “definitely don’t feature any photos that are poor quality, grainy, or out of focus.”

If you’re taking your own photos, we recommend investing in or borrowing a decent camera. You could also do a “trade” with another Minted artist or photographer—you take his or her portraits in exchange for him or her taking your portraits.

Melanie takes most of her own brand photographs, but a fellow Minted artist, Ardell McLennan, also has taken some of the photos in Melanie’s Minted carousel and Instagram feed. “I recommend working with a photographer occasionally for portraits,” she says. “It’s pretty difficult to get good photos of yourself, in your workspace, and in the process of creating.”


5. Mix It Up
What’s unique about you as an artist? Convey your personality and what makes you stand out with a variety of shots. “Consider what it is about your style and process that might be really interesting and different from others and think of creative ways to capture that in a photograph,” Melanie says.

For the Minted Store About You carousel, we recommend artists show at least one portrait in their creative environment or places that represent their “artist brand,” in addition to at least one photo that depicts their creative process, and styled product shots.

6. Tell Your Story
“People want to know what inspires you, what your typical workday is like, how and where you create. All of these things become part of your ‘brand,’ in addition to the overall style of the products you create,” Melanie says.

Social media and the Artist Store photo carousel are great ways to share not only beautiful styled images of your products, but also your day-to-day adventures. Melanie’s biggest goal is to “be herself” and give followers and customers a glimpse into her life and inspirations—and sometimes that’s portrayed with a sense of humor.

“One of my absolute favorite photos in my Instagram feed is of our daughter when she came into my studio dressed as Darth Vader,” Melanie says. “It was a priceless moment that embodies what it’s like for creatives who work from home with children. Sharing these real-life moments with your followers helps connect you with them and makes your work that much more meaningful.”

7. Write in First-Person Voice
Let the world know it’s you behind your messaging by writing in first-person voice. For example, in your About You bio on your Minted Store, you could write something like, “I’ve traveled and surfed the world over, and my work reflects my adventures.”


Curious about Minted Stores? Artists who win Minted Design Challenges are invited to open their own store. Read more in our FAQs.

About the Author: Amy Schroeder, Minted’s Community Content Manager, founded Venus, the magazine about women in the arts and DIY culture, and has written for Etsy, West Elm, and NYLON. Connect on Instagram @thevenuslady.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

Published August 28, 2015 • Learn how to become a Minted artist here.

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Meet a Minted Artist: Renee Pulve of Smudge Design

You could say Renee Pulve of Smudge Design is living the artist’s dream. As a self-employed, full-time graphic designer and artist based in Westlake Village, California, Renee works from home and wherever she can take her laptop.

But her career isn’t all rainbows and unicorns. When we asked her how she balances life and work she responded, “I don’t!” Here she shares her inspiration, creative process, and more.

Photos of Renee Pulve at home by George Cox of gcoxphoto.com

How do you approach self-employment?
Working from home, I find it very challenging to sit down at my computer and get creative during the day. To help stimulate productivity, I take regular yoga classes and find that some of my best ideas come after I’ve given my mind a creative rest. I rescued my pug Suki from Pug Rescue of Korea six years ago and became involved with their efforts to find homes for unwanted pugs.

As a night owl, I’ve discovered my most productive time is after 6 p.m. There’s something about the calming effect of the evening that seems to settle me in. For organization, I’m obsessed with the “Stickies” app for day-to-day lists, and my iPhone calendar is a must for setting appointment reminders.

Where do you go for design inspiration?
Most—if not all of my design inspiration—comes from travel. There’s just something about being out of your element and looking at things from a “vacation” point of view that opens my creative eye a little brighter than usual.

My first Minted art submission, “My Favorite Things,” came from the desire to typographically document some of my favorite travel destinations along with activities I enjoy. This particular piece is very personal to me and one of my most treasured art prints. I still remember the art challenge emails encouraging us to create art that we ourselves would want to buy—not just what we think the customer wants. I try to take that advice to heart in every challenge. The print also resonates very well with Minted customers—which is always a plus.

What artists do you admire?
In college, I drew inspiration from artists such as Henri Matisse and Vincent van Gogh. Today I find most of the artist/designers I admire are fellow Minties. Taleen Bedikian (TRB Design) created this continuous line drawing of my beloved pug Smudge (who I named my design company after). I also have works of art from Kerry Doyle of Paper Dahlia, Emily Jeffords, and Jane Wilder of Wilder California.

Tell us about one of your designs for sale on Minted and how you created it.
Anchored” is my favorite invitation and inspired by attending a friend’s wedding in Chesapeake Bay, Maryland. After returning home and reviewing all the memorable details (such as the anchor swag bag and maritime placecards), I found myself immersed in all things nautical. One by one, the pieces started coming together in my mind and the design finally took shape. I was thrilled that Minted honored it with the “Shapely Award” (a design that best uses one of Minted’s die-cut shapes). Being from California, the nautical theme isn’t all that unusual, so let’s just say I didn’t have to dig very deep.

Anchored” by Smudge Design

What’s the goal of your Tumblr, Theme Party Ideas?
To provide simple and affordable ideas for planning an entire party based on a theme. All of the party ideas coincide with invitations I’ve designed, so when you purchase one of my invitations you’re not just getting the invite, you’re getting the complete party idea! The blog offers photos and decorating tips along with Pinterest boards to help visualize each event.

Renee Pulve’s Favorite Things

Inspiration
Favorite design sites and blogs: Over the past year, I’ve increasingly moved toward Instagram since it gives me the instant gratification I’m looking for. Some of my favorites to follow are @Scarletandgoldshop, @britandco, @glitterguide, @thedailytype, @urbanic, @Designlovefest, and @Domino.

Fashion idol: I’m a fan of Tory Burch and her sophisticated style. She also recently launched the Tory Burch Foundation to help engage and empower female entrepreneurs. Her website provides access to advice, tools, and words of wisdom from industry leaders.

Ideal vacation spot: Costa Rica is probably one of my all-time favorite spots to visit with its vast terrain including beaches, rainforests, and volcanoes. My favorite is of course the plentiful wildlife. I recently visited the Osa Peninsula for a yoga retreat and was able to capture a photo of the very elusive sloth.

Home
Coffee, tea, or soda?: Cappuccino!
Ultimate indulgence: A chocolate soufflé or warm molten lava cake
Netflix or HBO?: HBO
Something surprising about you: I volunteered at a lion sanctuary in South Africa.

Art
Oils or Watercolor? Both, but I recently started indulging in watercolors. In college, I focused primarily in oil and acrylic paintings, but recently re-discovered watercolors and incorporate them into my designs whenever possible.
When did you begin creating art? I started drawing during elementary school in art class.
What did you study in school? Fine Art at California Lutheran University, BFA

More from Renee Pulve:
Minted Store
Smudgedesignco.com
• Instagram: @SmudgeDesignCo

San Francisco” by Smudge Design

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Meet a Minted Artist: Christine Llewellyn

A monthly series where we highlight a member of our talented Minted artist community. Featured this month: surface pattern and product designer Christine Joy Llewellyn, who lives in Brooklyn.

After getting her MBA, Christine Llewellyn worked as a marketing manager while taking creative classes on the side—everything from ceramics and printmaking to architectural drafting. She decided to pursue a creative career full-time and got her masters in industrial design, and launched her design studio Christine Joy Design in 2014.

Meet a Minted Artist: Christine Llewellyn

Please tell us more about yourself!
I’m originally from Flushing, NY, and attended college in Connecticut at Wesleyan University. After a few years of financial consulting, I went on to get my MBA from the University of Michigan. After business school, I worked as a marketing manager at a large financial services company; while I loved marketing, I found myself constantly searching for creative outlets. I spent hours after work taking continuing education courses—in ceramics, architectural drafting, space planning, printmaking. Basically, if a creative class was being offered nearby, I was signed up! Soon after, I decided to get a Masters of Industrial Design from Pratt Institute and, in 2014, established Christine Joy Design.

Did you study art formally in school?
I took a few studio arts classes in college but felt pressure to major in something that might pave the way to a traditional career path. After college, I took advantage of being close to some wonderful New York City art schools and made it a point to enroll in as many creative continuing education classes as possible. When I decided to pursue my creative career full-time, I enrolled in the masters program at Pratt.

When did you begin painting and drawing?
I have very early memories of passing the time indoors with just a pencil and paper. I remember feeling complete happiness with crayons and paper, and being left alone to create things that came to my mind. I’ve always felt happiest and most at ease when I am creating.

What medium(s) do you most enjoy working with?
I use many different ones, including pens, pencils, markers, and stamps. I’ve recently fallen in love with watercolor. It requires you to relinquish control—you have to go with the flow and let the pigment do what it wants on the paper. There’s something very liberating about that.

Get a behind-the-scenes look at Christine Llewellyn at work
in her studio in this West Elm x Minted video.

What do you love about living in Brooklyn?
I currently live on the border of two vibrant Brooklyn neighborhoods: Fort Greene and Clinton Hill. They’re both relatively small and have a wonderful community feel to them. The neighborhoods are home to renowned educational and cultural institutions such as Pratt Institute and the Brooklyn Academy of Music, which gives it a wonderful, artistic vibe and energy. Though there were many more artists residing in these neighborhoods in the past, there is still a good number of artists and other people in creative fields. And being a mother of two young kids, there are tons of parks and playgrounds, which makes it an awesome place to raise children.

Please tell us more about your family.
I have two sweet, curious, and rambunctious toddlers: 3 years old and 19 months old. I also have an amazingly supportive husband who has always encouraged me to find and pursue my passion and is a huge reason behind my establishing Christine Joy Design.

How do you encourage creativity in your own children?
I’d say they encourage creativity in me! I’m amazed by the level of creativity my kids display on a daily basis. It’s so refreshing to see the wonderful things that happen when you aren’t bogged down by expectations, societal pressures, and other creativity-stifling constructs and do what you truly are drawn to do. By watching them construct, deconstruct, make messes, and just have loads of fun is a huge inspiration for me.

Meet a Minted Artist: Christine Llewellyn  Christine Llewellyn of Christine Joy Design in her studio.

How did you first hear about Minted?
After deciding to launch Christine Joy Design in 2014, I decided to exhibit at Surtex, an art licensing trade show at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York City. I had sort of a “go big or go home” mindset and the fact that it took place right here in New York City made exhibiting there a no-brainer for me. A few people from Minted approached my booth and encouraged me to submit to an upcoming art challenge. Thankfully I did and won an Editor’s Pick.

What do you enjoy most about being part of the Minted community?
I am amazed daily by the spirit of generosity present in this community. There are so many talented artists at various levels in their career who share their unique perspective and knowledge. We all value each other’s opinions and make it a point to support each other in any way we can. It’s amazing that Minted has created such a wonderful platform for so many artists from around the globe to connect and form both professional and personal bonds.

What does Minted mean to you as a working artist?
As an independent artist, it’s really hard to get your name out there and get exposure. Minted has given me the platform to reach a much wider audience than I would have ever thought of reaching on my own. I never dreamt that I would have prints for sale at West Elm just a year after launching my business, but Minted made it possible. I definitely would’ve told you you were crazy if you told me this was going to happen so quickly.

What are you inspired by?
I’m inspired by my kids and their unabashed sense of wonder and excitement at things most adults either ignore or take for granted. I am inspired by my time living abroad in The Republic of Congo, Denmark, and Greece. I love beautifully and thoughtfully designed objects. I am constantly on the look out for interesting textiles, colors, and patterns that might inform my next work.

How would your describe your artistic style?
My style is bold, elegant, playful, and globally inspired. There are rhythmic elements in my work and there is a fair amount of pattern repetition and various repeated geometric shapes.

What do you do when you encounter artist’s block?
Going for a walk usually helps. In New York City there’s just so much to be inspired by that it’s hard to go out and not find inspiration. I also find my level of creativity is directly related to how much I am connecting with the music I am listening to. If I find I’m having a block, I try to find “new” music that might motivate to create and come up with something different and interesting.

Meet a Minted Artist: Christine Llewellyn
Christine’s Favorite Things
We asked Christine to share her current favorite art, style, and home décor inspirations.

Inspiration
Who inspires you: My mom. Being a working mother of four, she is a superhero to me. I have my hands full and only have two!
Favorite place in the world: Antigua, West Indies [ 1 ]
Favorite charity: Make-a-Wish Foundation
Favorite colors: Pink and teal
Favorite city: Copenhagen [ 6 ]
Last stamp on your passport: Antigua, West Indies
Daily website read: I love reading about architecture and real estate and make it a point to check out Curbed and Brownstoner daily.
Song in your head: “Afro Blue” by Robert Glasper
Favorite Instagrammer: @satsukishibuya

Home
Favorite pieces of art in your home: My daughter’s crayon drawings in our living room. I love that she is SO proud of her work and aptly calls that portion of the room her “exhibition area.”
Coffee-table book: Remix by Jeanine Hayes and Bryan Mason of AphroChic [ 2 ]
Pets: Bobby! He’s our 5 year old chihuahua, spaniel, Pekingese mix.
Favorite drink: A glass of red wine after a long day of toddler chasing  [ 3 ]
Favorite snack: Chocolate-covered pretzels  [ 4 ]
Favorite flowers: Orchids [ 7 ]
Stationery: Moglea  [ 8 ]
Favorite gadgets: My Wacom Cintiq tablet
Favorite neighborhood restaurant: Madiba in Fort Greene, Brooklyn
Favorite dessert: Malva pudding

Art
Favorite artist: I love the illustration work of local Brooklyn artist Sean Qualls [ 5 ]
Favorite art supply store: Blick
Favorite watercolor paints: Winsor & Newton professional watercolor tubes  [ 9 ]
Favorite brushes: Princeton Artist Brush Co.  [ 10 ]
Other art-related favorites: I love a good nice quality watercolor paper. My favorite is Arches cold press.

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Meet a Minted Artist: Julia Contacessi

A monthly series where we highlight a member of our talented Minted artist community. Featured this month: contemporary abstract artist Julia Contacessi, who lives in Norwalk, Conn.

After graduating from Brooklyn’s Pratt Institute in 2000, Julia Contacessi worked in marketing and branding as a graphic designer before deciding two years ago to quit and pursue painting full-time. Here, she shares a glimpse into her studio life.

Q&A: Minted Artist Julia Contacessi

Quick! Tell us…
Digital or Film: Film
Modern or Vintage? Modern Vintage!
Marfa or Oahu? Oahu
Morning or Night? Night
Stripes or Polka Dots? Both please!

How did you first hear about Minted?
I first discovered Minted years ago (BN—that would be “Before Neo,” before my son was born!), around 2007. I used to make custom candles that people could give as party or wedding favors, and I was always searching for other industry-related ideas and products. I remembering falling in love with Minted’s concept, and, of course, the designs were amazing. Then, more recently, when I started painting full-time and began to focus on other avenues to expand my reach, I joined the community and started to enter art print challenges. The Oh! Ovals challenge last year was the first one I participated in.

What mediums do you most enjoy working with?
As a painter, I focus primarily on acrylics. And because I love exploring the contrasting nature of things, I enjoy working with polymers and texture pastes along with pencil and paper. And, just recently, I started playing with fabric but not sure if that’s going anywhere.

If you could sit down with any artist past or present, who would it be and where?
Patricia Larsen in her studio
(Ed. note: See images of Patricia Larsen’s incredible studio in Mexico on Remodelista.)

What are you inspired by?
I’m a details person and usually find beauty in the simplest of things. I can fall madly in love with the sparkle from the edge of a gold glass vase or obsess over the texture of a stone found along a walk. I guess, as a way to hold on to these bits of beauty, I started creating art—trying to recreate the beauty I find in life in my work.

What color palettes have you been into lately?
I’m currently crushing big time on all shades of blush.

What are some recent inspirations?  
I’m often drawn to the sea as a source of inspiration—I’m fascinated by how the ocean provides an escape and can transport you to a meditative, dream-like place. My most recent work explores the water in abstracted forms to capture the fluidity of time. I see this recent series as a progression of my earlier landscape work—it’s almost as if I am trying to capture the same subject matter and inspiration in another form.

How do you approach your art?
For me, my work is how I problem-solve and find balance.

And how would you describe your style?
My style is single-minded and focused on the simplicity of beauty in the moment. My goal is to drown out the noise and clutter to find a sense of calm. The end result is clean, fresh and modern.

What does Minted mean to you as a working artist?
Minted is such a valuable business partner—the company connects artists with amazing, like-minded businesses that would typically be untouchable as an independent artist. That means relationship-building in ways I could never do on my own. Minted is also a peer-to-peer resource and, in the creative world, I NEED MY PEEPS!! That means working on my own doesn’t have to feel that way.

"Sand" by Julia Contacessi | Minted  “Sand” by Julia Contacessi for Minted

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

Inspiration
Who inspires you: Positive people doing good things
Favorite recent discovery: My new sneaks—Cloud. I can run all day in these babies.
Favorite place in the world: Home
Favorite charity: Everytown for Gun Safety
Favorite movie: The Birdcage
Favorite colors: A lot! Blush, gold, cream… and then navy, green, and gray. Plus, soft purple.
Fashion idol: Recently I’ve been exploring fluidity and discovered Rick Owens. Fashion as art, incredible! And I always love Eileen Fisher.
Daily website read: TheSkimm
Song in your head: Because of my six-year-old: “Lego Ninjago the Whip
Favorite Instagrammer: @interior_wish_list

Home
Favorite pieces of art in your home: I just recently added two original abstract figures by Kim McAninch to my bathroom: this one and this one. Every day they make me smile.
Stationery: Neenah or Mohawk
Pets: Just recovering from the loss of our beta, Bubbles. He was a good fish.
Favorite flowers: Hydrangeas
Favorite gadgets: My Jawbone UP
Favorite neighborhood restaurant: LeFarm or Bartaco (because I can never get a rez at LeFarm!)
Favorite drink: By day, a fresh juice made with my Breville; by night, Smart Cookie red wine
Favorite dessert: Yasso Frozen Greek Yogurt bars in coffee chocolate chip
Coffee-table book: Elements of Style by Erin Gates
Favorite snack: Lesser Evil Organic Popcorn in Himalayan Pink
Top 3 DVRed shows: Scandal, Girls and The Affair (oh, my)

Art
Favorite artist: My mom
Favorite works of art: Oh my… here’s a look at my Pinterest
Favorite art supply store: Jerry’s or Blick
Favorite paints: Charvin and Turner Acryl Gouache
Favorite brushes: Liquitex Freestyle Paddle
Other art-related favorites: A good quality mat and frame!

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Get to Know: Kiana Mosley

Minted Artist Q&A: Kiana Mosley

To celebrate Mother’s Day, we chatted with Minted artist—and mother of three!—Kiana Mosley, who’s been a part of the Minted community since 2012. She currently lives in Eugene, Ore., but will be moving back to Hawaii (where she’s originally from) in June with her three children Mahlia (11), Khalil (7), and Ayanna (5) [ see photo 1 below ]. Here, Kiana shares her inspirations, what Minted has meant to her as an artist and working mother, and her idea of the perfect Mother’s Day (hint: it involves ice cream!).

How did you first hear about Minted?
I saw a gorgeous wedding invitation on Pinterest back in 2011 or 2012 and signed up for the Minted newsletter; later, I found out they were seeking fine artists, as well!

What mediums do you most enjoy working with?
I really love all mediums, as well as more experimental mediums and tools. Most prevalent in my current work is watercolors, but I also have a very deep affection for oils and acrylic.

Who are some of your favorite Minted artists?
I really love everything Kelly Ventura does—she is definitely my Minted idol! I own Kelly’s piece “Meena.” I’m also a fan of Emily Jeffords’ gorgeous landscapes; her pieces—like this one—remind me of breathtaking coastal sunsets. And Annie Seaton’s impressionistic surfers (like “Surfer Bae 1“) just sing to my ocean-loving heart.

What does Minted mean to you as a working mother and artist?
Minted has been instrumental in my career, especially in such a competitive and saturated new art market. And Minted’s support, marketing, and commitment to community reflect my personal values, as well. There are many other artists who share some of the same challenges I face, so being around people who “get it” is a big encouragement and relief. I’ve always felt very safe and encouraged in their care and platform.

How do you balance work and family time?
Um, sporadically! Well, my studio/office hours have to coincide with the children’s school hours, but I’m technically always in and out of the studio (which is easy since my studio is in my home!). The challenge is trying not to work sometimes.

How would you like to spend Mother’s Day?
I would love to spend Mother’s Day with my keiki outside, perhaps at the park having a delicious picnic, followed by a trip to get ice cream!

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received? 
My grandmother gave me the best advice, not so much through words, but through her constant encouragement and support to develop my skill in the visual and performing arts.

How do you encourage creativity in your own children?
I always have art supplies on hand, but if we run out (which isn’t very often!), we look for alternative or natural mediums to play with. We love designer Justina Blakeney’s “Face the Foliage” pieces
[ 2 ]
where she creates beautiful portraits out of leaves and flowers. Children are just so naturally creative, they don’t need much help—my kids’ abilities to role play or come up with unique and imaginative scenarios is just incredible and inspiring, and reminiscent of my own childhood! It creates a wellspring within myself as I watch them learn, grow, and create—they constantly inspire their mama and I tell them so! When we share encouragement, we all grow.

Do you get feedback from your kids before submitting art for design challenges?
Yes, sometimes! But they aren’t very critical, they just say they love everything, the little loves! So I really have to look as objectively as I can at a piece before entering.

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

Inspiration
Who inspires you: I’m inspired by people who help others with their gifts.
Favorite place in the world: Though I’ve never been, Thailand looks like heaven on earth.
Favorite charity: Waves for Water, Casa, ICAF, Boys & Girls Club
Favorite movie: The Princess Bride
Favorite colors: All the colors! But I do tend to gravitate toward muted tones and earthy pastels.
Fashion idol: Donna Karan
Daily website read: The Jealous Curator and The Jungalow. Does Pinterest count?
Song in your head: “Ain’t Nobody” by Chaka Khan
Favorite Instagrammer: Ooh, that’s a tough one! You have to check out photographers @john_hook and @masonrosephoto. Then, there’s also @happymundane and his visual treats! Gah, don’t make me choose!

Home
Where do you live: Soon, back where I was born, Hawaii.
Favorite pieces of art in your home: I have a few, but one true treasure is a painting by my father. He did it in the ’80s and was too poor to buy canvas, so he would stretch bed sheets over hand-built stretcher bars, and then gesso the crap out of it until he could pile on the textural oil paint!
China: Simple. White. Minimalist.
Stationery: Floral watercolor (of course!)
Pets: Soon! I plan to adopt a dog and a hedgehog.
Favorite gadgets: iPhone and my Mac computer
Favorite neighborhood restaurant: Currently Cafe 440 and Mame Sushi in Eugene
Favorite drink: Coconut mocha
Favorite dessert: Shave ice [ 3 ]. Macarons and ice cream. Chocolate.
Favorite snack: Candied ginger and black licorice
Favorite flowers: Tuberose [ 4 ], plumeria, and stargazer lilies
What’s in your Netflix queue? Umbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Once Upon a Time, The Goldbergs
Coffee-table book: Flower by Andrew Zuckerman [ 5 ], Creative Block, The Art Book

Art
Favorite artist: Henri Matisse, Helen Frankenthaler, Rothko
Favorite art supply store: Oregon Art Supply, Jerry’s, Michael’s
Favorite watercolor paints: Dr. Ph. Martin’s Hydrus Fine Art Watercolors  [ 6 ]
Favorite brushes: Various sumi brushes and artisan handmade brushes such as Rosemary & Co.
Favorite paper: Arches watercolor paper (cold and hot press)

More from Kiana Mosley:
Kiana’s Minted Store
Kiana’s Instagram
• “Spotlight – Fan Palm” art print
“Spotlight – Sago Palm” art print

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