Top 10 File Prep Tips for Minted Artists

By Olivia Goree

If you’ve won a Minted Challenge, congratulations! While you’re still basking in winner’s glow, you’ll receive a file request email from files@minted.com. We understand that there are a lot of elements to keep track of when setting up your customizable art and stationery files. Here’s a list of what we consider the Top 10 File Preparation Tips to help you clean up your files and get your designs launched as quickly and seamlessly as possible.

1. Use Provided Template Layers

The layers in your provided Minted templates are not only there to help us with our production process, but also to help you organize your artwork. These layers mimic how a customer is able to customize your design on our site, so placing elements in the correct layers is very important. The foil layer, for example, is placed on top, as this is the last piece printed on top of all other digital elements.

For more information on how to utilize these layers, read the File Prep Instructions PDF included in your request email or check out the Templates & Layers FAQ.

2. Tackle Tricky Text Boxes

When formatting text boxes, it’s important to put yourself in the customer’s shoes. Text in each text box should consist of the same font and character settings in order to work in our customizer. For example, in “Safari Party Animals” by Snow and Ivy, you’ll notice that each text treatment is separated out in the design file, which allows a customer to change text in each area while keeping the same styling. Important reminder: Avoid using glyphs in any editable text, if possible.

To learn more about setting up text in your files, see our Text Settings FAQ Page.

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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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Child’s Play Fabric Challenge: Special Prize Winners

Announcing the special prize winners from our Child’s Play Fabric Challenge! For this category, we want to help parents create beautiful, playful, and fun spaces for their children by offering a larger collection of fabric designs geared towards kids of all ages. In this challenge we looked to you, our talented community, to deliver unique, differentiated designs that are truly kid-worthy! We received so many incredible fabric designs that will surely infuse style and personality into any child’s room or nursery. Congratulations to all the winners and runners-up!

Mix it Up Award
For the designer with the best collection of three complementary
designs that cohesively mix and match together
Woodland Wonder” by Karidy Walker

Runner-up: Pretty Florals” by Lori Wemple


Boy Wonder Award
For the best design with a boy in mind
Planet Dots” by Baumbirdy

Runners-up: Treasure Map” by Alethea and Ruth | “Traffic Jam” by Mel Armstrong


Totally Teen Award
For the best design geared towards teens
Jamba” by chocomocacino

Runners-up: Catch a Wave” by Lorent and Leif | “Spring Meadow” by Frooted Design


Newborn Award
For the design that is best suited for a newborn nursery
Wild Things” by Emily Hein

Bunny Party” by Heidy Garay

Click through to check out more Fabric Challenge winners

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How to Build Your Creative Brand on Instagram

The current social media landscape exists in an attention-deficit economy. Since the advent of social media networking, the one-time novice user has matured into a seasoned consumer, fine-tuning their preferences according to only the most pertinent themes relevant to their universe. Nowadays, brands (and artists) looking to capture attention must also fine-tune their messaging with their own unique creative spin, topped with promotional tactics that support the social ecosystem.

How do you, as an artist and small-business owner, keep up? Simply put, the more perspective and visual cohesion you create through your social channels, the more value you’ll provide for your community, and the more you’ll succeed in marketing your brand.

Here are three steps to setting up a successful Instagram strategy…

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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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Artists Say Work-Life Balance is Possible – With Boundaries

We often hear Minted artists talk about the concept of work-life balance—and how to be better at it. When we looked up “work-life” balance in the dictionary, the definition is a concept including proper prioritizing between “work” (career and ambition) and “lifestyle” (health, pleasure, leisure, family and spiritual development/meditation).

And so, I guess the larger question is: Is work-life balance possible? After talking with Minted artists Dave Douglass and Lena Barakat—both of whom are busy parents of three and who work from home—our answer is possibly maybe. It’s likely less about striking some sort of perfection and more about living life based on your own definition of balance and happiness. And, just want to add that Lena graciously wrote her answer during her 40th week of pregnancy.

Dave Douglass
Madison, Wisconsin
dave-douglass.com

As a freelance designer with three young children, balancing work and life can be a real challenge. I’ve found that dividing my attention and trying to “multitask,” as they say, leaves my work unfocused and everyone in tears—including me. Setting aside blocks of dedicated time where I am either 100% Dad or 100% designer is the only way I can be the best at both. With the help of my incredible wife (currently a full-time PhD student), we are both able to strike a balance.

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7 Ways to Master Art and Design Critiques

“Critiques are an extremely important part of the artistic process,” says Nathan Bond, a New York artist and Parsons School of Design faculty member with more than 20 years of critiquing experience. And because Minted artists say that peer critique is one of the most valuable aspects of the Minted community, we encourage artists to communicate with the community during the submission phase and critique period of Minted challenges.

One of the critical elements of successful critiquing is an environment of respect, trust, and honesty, says Nathan, and thanks to a global community of artists, Minted has built a supportive framework. To better understand the art of creative criticism, we’ve compiled the following expert advice on both giving and receiving criticism.

The Grand Canyon” by Elena Kulikova

1. Empathy Is the Best Policy

Before sharing a critique, Lara McCormick, Head of Design Education at CreativeLive, recommends putting yourself in the artist’s shoes to understand his or her experience and perspective.

“Empathy is known to increase prosocial, helping behaviors,” she says. “Are they just starting their career? New to this medium? Or maybe the artist is colorblind? From a different cultural background? All these things inform our work.”

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Graduation Challenge: Special Prize Winners

Announcing the special prize winners from our Head of the Class Graduation Challenge! Students and their loved ones will soon be searching for the perfect announcement or party invitation to celebrate one of life’s greatest milestones: graduation. Graduation is a large, important event in our customers’ lives and we looked to you, our talented Minted community, to help us freshen up our collection with the most original graduation designs our customers have ever seen. A huge congrats to all the winners and runners-up!


For the most design-forward, innovative graduation announcement 
Mixed Media” by Alethea and Ruth

Runners-up: Painterly” by Chryssi Tsoupanarias | “Colorful Future” by Simona Cavallaro


For the best design featuring multiple photos
Eight Up” by Hooray Creative

Runners-up: “Calendar Year” by Ashley Hegarty | “Boldly Stated Grad” by Jennifer Wick


For the best design that appeals to the male grad
Ombre Grad” by pandercraft

Runners-up: On Campus” by Bonjour Berry | “The Classic” by Keen Peachy


For the best simple, modern design
Bright Grad” by Bonjour Berry

Runner-up: Hip Type” by Carolyn MacLaren

Click through to check out more Graduation Challenge winners

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5 Ways to Connect With the Minted Artist Community

One of the things that makes Minted such a valuable place for artists is our strong and supportive community. There are many benefits of being part of Minted, but we’ve heard over and over from artists that the friends they make and the advice they receive within the community brings them lifelong connections and pushes them to improve their craft.

“Generosity is the word that sums up the most special thing about the Minted community,” says Laura Bolter, who’s been designing with Minted since 2011. “The artists and designers freely share their resources, support, and most importantly their feedback with each other—their competitors.”

If you’re new to Minted and wondering how to become part of this amazing group, we’ve gathered some tips so you can jump right in and start making meaningful connections.

See Me Go Wee Wee!” wall art print by Maja Cunningham

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