How to Thrive During Minted’s Holiday Challenge Season

We’ve heard from Minted artists that some of you are a little stressed right now, because we’re in the thick of Minted’s annual holiday design challenge season. To provide insights about staying cool, calm, and creatively collected, the best sources of advice often come from leaders in the community. Here, Minted artists Amy Ehmann of Design Lotus and Lea Delaveris answer this question: What’s your best advice for avoiding burnout and staying motivated, especially during the holiday design challenge season?

Amy Ehmann
Denver, Colorado
Design Lotus Minted Artist Store

Pray before I work. I once read an interview where Megan Gonzalez of Mae Mae & Co. said this is her motto: “People Before Paper. Prayer Before Productivity.” It stuck with me. So I try to pray before each workday that I would do my very best to honor God with my work and time.

Participate in community. I’ve been participating in the Minted holiday challenges since 2008. There were years when I was very heavily involved in community and years where I was not. I’ve found that I do better the years when I am involved and active in the community. I think the process is much more enjoyable and the real-time feedback is invaluable. It’s like having a team of design experts eager to help you grow and improve.

Try something new. It’s easy to get bored if you’re doing the same thing over and over again. I’m a creature of habit, and many of you probably see my work as nothing groundbreaking. For me, “new” may be using a new font, trying a new technique, or learning a new software. I am trying really hard to stick to my brand and style, and that is new for me…

Keep my eye on the prize. I try my very best to block out time for the Minted holiday challenge each year. This is my bread and butter, so I need to give it as much undivided attention as I can, without neglecting my family too much. I am blessed to have a husband who is incredibly supportive and not only helps pick up my slack, but reminds me to keep focused.

Perfect Harmony” foil-pressed wedding invitation by Design Lotus

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Birth Announcements Challenge: Special Prize Winners

New parents come to Minted in search for a birth announcement that is just as unique and special as their newborn baby. We looked to you, our talented Minted community, to deliver the most creative and fresh designs our customers have ever seen! We looked for a wide range of styles, from traditional and classic to modern and contemporary. We were blown away with the submissions we received in this challenge. Congratulations to all the winners and runners-up!

We’re thrilled to share the guest judge for this challenge, Jacqui Saldana from Baby Boy Bakery, selected Susan Brown’s And More design for our Guest Judge Award.


For the most design-forward, innovative birth announcement 
that you would only find at Minted
Gilded Baby by Petra Kern

Runners-up: Pretty Pinwheels by Kristie Kern | meadows by Jennifer Wick
Party Time by Fig and Cotton Paperie


For the best design featuring multiple photos
Refreshing Gallery by Carolyn MacLaren

Runners-up: Nonpareil by Sarah Brown | Heart by peony papeterie
Measures of Love by Hooray Creative


For the best classic design that will appeal to more traditional parents
Petite Elephant by toast & laurel

Runners-up: Classic Name by Stacey Meacham | Classic Monogram by Fig and Cotton Paperie
Delicate by Jessica Williams


For the most differentiated and unique full bleed photo design
Baby Stats by Christina Novak

Runners-up: Intersect by Lauren Chism | softly brushed by Angela Marzuki
hello little love by Frooted Design


For the best design announcing twins or multiples
double delight by Cheer Up Press

Runners-up: Instant Family by 24th and Dune | Simple Sophistication by Jessica Williams
Plus by Olivia Raufman

Click through for more special prize winners

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Winners: Become the Face of Minted Weddings

We asked our wonderful customers and fans to submit their favorite engagement and save-the-date photos for a chance to be featured in Minted’s newest wedding stationery collections. Amazingly, we received a whopping 3,630 submissions (way to make our jobs difficult!) and are so pleased to announce the winning shots. Check them out below, along with notes from our editors on how they selected the winners. Congratulations to all!

Minted Weddings Model Winners“Adorable! We loved this playful-yet-candid moment captured
in this stylish couple’s engagement photo.”

Editor’s Award: Best Photo
The couple: Tennessee Gist & Collin Hauser
Based in: Dallas, TX
Photographer: Ellen Wildhagen


Minted Weddings Model Winners“This shot feels like a magical stolen moment. The city lights, her chic jacket, the bustling background—no wonder this was the top-voted photo!”

The Award: Top Voted
The couple: Pedro Pacheco & Bruna Camargo
Based in: Novi, MI
Photographer: Remy Roman


Minted Weddings Model Winners“These sweet lovebirds are so dapper! Their elegant outfits combined
with those rich, fall colors are perfection.”

Editor’s Award: Black Tie Couple
For the couple with the best engagement photos with a formal feel
The couple: Anh Do & Vu Nguyen
Photographer: Christine Farah


Minted Weddings Model Winners“We loved the contrast between their crisp, stylish outfits and the soft, hazy
Eiffel Tower behind them. So evocative and romantic.”

Editor’s Award: Best Destination
The couple with the most breathtaking destination engagement photos (from beaches to mountains to getaways abroad)
The couple: Keith Barry & Paul Vouriot
Photographer: Brian Wright of French Grey Photography


Minted Weddings Model Winners“Smoke bombs?! Such a genius way to add some color and drama to your engagement photos.”

Editor’s Award: Most Creative Couple
The couple with the most unique engagement photos, like we’ve never seen before
The couple: Sarah Mohammadi & Ryan Platt
Photographer: Brogen Jessup


Minted Weddings Model Winners“This sweet shot feels very natural and in-the-moment, and made us feel all warm and cozy!” 

Editor’s Award: Baby It’s Cold Outside
The couple with beautiful engagement photos set in the fall or winter to complement our latest autumnal and wintry designs
The couple: Molly Horn & Johann Lepasana
Photographer: Jessica Mernin of Jessica Lindy Photography


More from Minted:
• Wedding Invitations
• Save the Date Cards
• Wedding Websites

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Expert Tips for Self-Launching Minted Home Decor

Minted’s Self-launch Home Decor is an industry game-changer. When Minted artists self-launch one fabric design to their Artist Store, they will automatically be able to sell eight products using that fabric: fabric by the yard, pillows, curtains, drum lampshades, chandelier lampshades, placemats, napkins, and table runners.

“Watercolor Dots” Home Decor by Erin Niehenke

If you recently opened your Minted Artist Store and want to learn about the self-launch process, read these FAQs. Download self-launch templates here.

Kirby Lee Smith, a Minted artist who works by day as a home decor and fabric designer for a leading fashion designer—and who formerly created home decor for Target—shares these seven insights about the intricate details and the bigger picture of home decor design.

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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 the Minted Judge: Haskell Harris of Garden and Gun

As Style Director of Garden & Gun Magazine, Haskell Harris knows a thing or two about good design, which is why we asked her to be a guest judge in Minted’s first religious Christmas photo card challenge. Along with Summer Bellessa and Brooke White from The Girls with Glasses, Haskell will select one of her favorite designs in the “Oh Come, All Ye Faithful” Quickfire Challenge to feature on her Instagram, @haskellharris.

In the following interview, Haskell talks about the power of storytelling and the journey of honing personal style. Read about more Minted Design Challenge guest judges here. Read Haskell’s Garden & Gun blog posts here.

Minted: As style director of Garden & Gun, you oversee fashion, entertaining, interior design, architecture, gardens, and Southern artisans—which is a lot! What is your philosophy about directing style for all these topics?

Haskell Harris: From day one at G&G, I wanted the style content to reflect the same soulfulness and great storytelling that the rest of the magazine is known for. Yes, we feature houses and gardens, beautiful clothes, artisans, and entertaining, but unlike a lot of other titles covering similar content, G&G doesn’t just run pretty photos and leave it at that. We show you the people and the craftsmanship behind the things that would otherwise just be things, and the history and pride of places that make those things compelling.

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Font Award Roundup: Special Prize Winners

Announcing the special prize winners for our Font Awards! This award is for the design that introduces the best font that we purchase and add to the Minted Font List. We’re always looking to the community to help us surface fresh new fonts to add to our Minted Font List. If you have a vision for an amazing design that uses a font not in our font library, feel free to use it in your submission. You can read more about Minted fonts here. A huge congrats to all the winners and runners-up!

Winter Wonderland Non-Photo Holiday Card Challenge
The Most Wonderful Type Award


 The Most Wonderful Time 2015 Holiday Card Challenge
Fa La La La Font Award

Runners-up: Unleash the Joy by Sandra Picco Design | Sweet Merriest by Melanie Severin


Fall & Winter Digital Invitations Challenge
 Top Type Award


All You Need is Love Valentine’s Day Challenge
 Font Award


 Everlasting Love Save the Date Challenge
 Font Award

Runner-up: Hepburn by toast & laurel


Font Awards will be announced as a roundup three times a year. We also update our Minted Font List regularly, and include new fonts in our Community Newsletter.

You can purchase all of these fonts by using the links below:

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Minted Artists Pay It Forward

It takes a community to thrive as an independent artist.

To celebrate Minted’s extraordinary community spirit, we bring you Pay It Forward, our campaign to help Minted artists connect, collaborate, and succeed during the 2016 Holiday Stationery Design Challenge season. Because artists tell us that peer critique is one of the most valuable aspects of the Minted community, we’ve compiled these resources to help you give and receive quality feedback, stay inspired, and get the most out of the Minted challenge process. Stay tuned for updates.

Julep Features

Critiquing Advice
7 Ways to Master Art and Design Critiques (insights from Parsons School of Design faculty)
15 Questions to Inspire Quality Art Critiques
10 Tips for Critiquing Minted Art and Designs (insights from the community)

Thrive During the Holiday Challenge Season
5 Ways to Connect With the Minted Artist Community
6 Tips for Success in Minted Challenges
4 Mantras for Being Boss in Work and Life
How to Thrive During Minted’s Holiday Challenge Season

Creative Inspiration
7 Podcasts for Inspiring Your Creativity
Minted’s 20 First-Place Challenge Winners of 2015


Critique Awards

Chance to win a Minted feedback session

To recognize constructive feedback, we award critiquers in every Minted Design challenge.

Give fifteen or more constructive comments in the New Year’s Challenge by the time voting opens and you’ll be automatically entered in a random drawing to win a one-on-one feedback session with a Minted merchant of your choice! Remember, this is not a numbers game — quality feedback is much more valuable than quantity of feedback. Make sure to use the “Mark as Constructive” button to reward great feedback when you see it.This will be based on the Feedback leaderboard for each challenge, and we will combine results from the foil and non-foil version of each challenge.


Community Connections

Join our Facebook group
The Minted Community Facebook Group is open to all Minted artists who have submitted to at least one design challenge. Connect, share resources, and ask questions in this active global group. Learn how to join here.

Call in, meet up, get involved
The Minted team hosts weekly office hours, quarterly calls, meetups, and other community events. View and subscribe to our events calendar here. Are you interested in hosting a Minted meetup in your area? Fill out this form.

Join the Buddy Program
The Minted Buddy Program is an opportunity for you to make a deeper connection with one to two other artists. We pair people based on personality, experience, and category (art, stationery, etc.). Learn more here.


How the Minted Artist Community
Pays It Forward

Jennifer Postorino
Eight-time Minted Critique Award winner

“Taking time to critique designers is important to me, not only for their growth, but for mine as well. It keeps my current skills in check and allows me to continue learning as a designer. I’ve learned so much from so many designers. I honestly can’t believe where I am at today. Not only do I feel like I have gained some real friendships simply by reaching out to people, but my design skills have gotten so much better.”

Christian Bennin
from in “Ever Thought About Your Creative Turnoffs?” on Julep

“I get over creative blocks faster as I get critiques from other designers, and the creative briefs for each project really help me focus my thoughts. The story of my first Minted design challenge illustrates my point perfectly. The first competition I entered was the grad challenge. I was a bit over-eager and posted a quickly created design that hadn’t been thought through very well. Once I submitted my design, I saw how the critique process worked and got really inspired by it. I decided to sit down and really do this. I sketched and designed two versions of a new design and used the community polling feature to narrow down to the option that eventually won me my first award! It was a great eye-opener to me and example of how the process can work.”

Julie Green of Up Up Creative
from “Meet a Minted Artist” on Julep

“I once left a comment on one of Jen Wick’s designs with a few minor-detail suggestions about sizing this up, rotating that, and moving it all over or something like that, and she commented back to me privately that I’d make a good art director. Ever since her comment, I think I approach my work very differently. Having a designer who I like and admire point out this strength just changed me. It has added a whole new layer to my interaction with my own work, and it has helped me better understand what I like and don’t like about stuff out in the world. I think the work I’ve produced in the time since Jen’s comment is more confident, more purposeful, more polished, and more wholly mine.”

Susan Brown

“When I was a newbie and saw Karly Depew‘s save the date design ‘Timeless’ in the Jan 2012 challenge, I went to her page and asked her advice. She sent me an email where she presented my design in three different type styles and explained the importance of typography. So special.”


Published March 24, 2016 • Want to join the Minted Artist Community? Submit to a Challenge here.

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7 Podcasts For Inspiring Your Creativity

What inspires your best creative work—audio stimulation or the sound of silence? Some artists need absolute quiet; others, not so much. Jennifer Wick, a prolific artist with 283 Minted Design Challenge wins to her name, says she is unable to work in silence, so she fills the void with good music and talks. “I remember getting my first walkman in sixth grade and raiding my older sister’s mixed tapes, finding a whole new world of music that put me in such an inspired mood,” the Pennsylvania artist says. “From then on, I’ve always worked with music or the news in the background.”

Especially during Minted’s busy holiday stationery design challenge season each spring, Jennifer’s working ritual includes several podcasts per week, in addition to Pandora, HGTV, and the Food Network. If you’re looking for recommendations for podcasts to help stimulate creativity, you’ve come to the right place. With so, so many great podcasts to choose from, we’re limiting our list to seven, but we’d love to hear your ideas—share them in Comments below.

Podcasts About Art, Design, and Creativity

The Jealous Curator: Art for Your Ear

Danielle Krysa is the blogger behind The Jealous Curator, the author of Creative Block, and the host of Art for Your Ear, the podcast featuring “inside-scoop stories from the artsiest people” she knows. Minted artist Kelly Schmidt likes Art for Your Ear for its tips and tricks about artists’ technical aspects, creative process, and materials. “Danielle talks to artists about challenges they face and how they found success,” Kelly says. “There are common themes about artists who are parents, as well as comments about insecurities as artists, which I’m guessing many of us relate to.”

Kelly suggests listening to the episode featuring fellow Minted artist Jaime Derringer (“Design Milk by Day & Sketchbooks by Night”), and to inspire holiday spirit, Kelly likes “The Best Gift Ever,” in which 12 artists talk about the best gift they’ve ever received. She also loves: Xochi Solis: “Paper Nerds Unite“; Kiana Mosley “Late One Night“; and Maryann Moodie: “Textiles Treasures, and a New Tribe.”


The work of textile artist Maryanne Moodie

Design Matters

Design Matters is the world’s first podcast about design and an inquiry into the broader world of creative culture through wide-ranging conversations with designers, artists, curators, musicians, and other leaders of contemporary thought. Host Debbie Millman has interviewed more than 250 design luminaries and cultural commentators, including Massimo Vignelli, Malcolm Gladwell, Dan Pink, Barbara Kruger, and Seth Godin.

Creative Commoners

Creative Commoners explores a particular topic about the creative process, with each host bringing their own flavor and experience to the mix, and plenty of witty and tangential banter to keep things fun. Jennifer Wick recommends “Episode 140: How the Creative Mind Works” (skip to 15:35), in which the speakers talk about their creative processes and the mind exercises they do to help get ideas flowing. “For me, I’ll do whatever it takes to put myself in the holiday mindset,” Jennifer says.

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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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