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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How Minted Artists Find Inspiration in Faraway Places

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

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

Susan Brown
The Wisconsinite finds inspiration in Florida every winter

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

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Wedding Invitation Challenge: Special Prize Winners

Announcing the special prize winners for our Suite Love Wedding Invitation Challenge! Couples who are soon to say “I do” come to Minted to find original, awe-inspiring wedding invitation designs that will help set the tone for their wedding. We looked to you, our talented community, to create designs that were fashion-forward and trending-setting. You all wowed us with the freshest risking taking designs we’ve seen yet. Congratulations to all the winners and runners-up!


Based on the strength of submissions to this challenge, we selected one designer to receive featured placement in email, catalog, and on-site placement on Minted’s website.
Congratulations Melanie Severin


For the design that best lays the groundwork for a sophisticated, classic wedding
Elegantly Lined” by Robin Ott Design

Runners-up: Darling and Dashing” by Alston Wise
Flourish” by Jennifer Postorino | “Valencay” by Chocomocacino


For the most creative and innovative take on a wedding invitation
Adagio” by Moglea

Runners-up: Prism” by Kelly Ventura
Anthropology Museum” by Amy Payne | “Steampunk” by Katie Zimpel


For the best gender-neutral design that will appeal to both men and women
NYC Style” by Jana Volfova

Runners-up: Bold As Love” by Design X Five
Gold Bars” by Fig and Cotton Paperie | “Simply Dapper” by Jessica Williams

Click through to see more special prize winners of our latest wedding invitation challenge

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Jessica Hische’s 7 Truths for Creative Success

If there was ever a person who embodies the philosophy of learning (and succeeding) by doing, it’s probably Jessica Hische. The renowned graphic designer is a doer to the max. The self-employed artist got an early start working for Louise Fili Ltd., designs for clients ranging from Tiffany & Co. to Target, and recently published her first book, the aptly titled In Progress.

On January 28, Minted CEO Mariam Naficy hosted a fireside chat at Minted’s San Francisco office, asking a number of questions provided by Minted’s global community of artists. Here, we highlight some of Jessica’s insights for creative success. Watch the video of the fireside chat with Jessica here.

Minted CEO Mariam Naficy (left) hosted a fireside chat with Jessica Hische on January 28, 2016.

1. Present Life as Truth

Now that Jessica has an established career, she’s able to negotiate her terms with clients—moreso than as a rookie designer. “But it has to do more with your confidence,” she said.

Jessica explained that some creatives are compelled to enter into negotiations apologetically, instead of just putting reality on the table. “Parents need to present their lives as a truth,” she said. “Don’t think of your life as an inconvenience for your client. They have to understand the realities. Everybody has their thing, and I think we whitewash our humanness. We should be honest and say, for instance, If I get less than eight hours of sleep, I’m a wreck.”

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Meet a Minted Artist: Lindsay Megahed

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

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

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

Big Sur” by Lindsay Megahed

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Behind the Design: “Adventure Awaits” Save the Date

Bangkok-based Minted designer Elly Liyana gives us the scoop on how her popular “Adventure Awaits” save-the-date came to be (so perfect for nature-loving couples!).

Woodland Save the Date Design Minted

What was the inspiration behind this design?
I was brainstorming ideas for a project I was working on and wanted to incorporate drawings of natural landscapes with some portrait illustrations. Then, since many couples are gravitating toward an outdoor or rustic wedding theme these days, I thought I might be able to also feature these landscapes in an upcoming wedding challenge.

Please describe your creative process, from initial idea to end result.
I visit wedding blogs to have a look at the kind of wedding styles that are trending at the moment. I immerse myself in the whole wedding vibe as if I am a bride-to-be! I look for what I would like and I write all my ideas on paper and then start playing around with watercolor.

What are some challenges you faced as you were designing?
I think the biggest challenge was trying to create something fresh yet still consistent with current trends. Also, I’m new to watercolor—I usually paint with oils so it took a lot of trial and error before I was truly happy with it. I wanted to get out of my comfort zone and try something new for the challenge.

What wedding trends do you love right now?
Nature never gets old. I’m also loving the modern abstract painting trend. I’m not an abstract painter but I appreciate the style because I know just how difficult it is to paint abstract art.

Woodland Save the Date Design Minted

Tell us about your workspace.
My workspace is small and messy most of the time. My desk is next to a balcony—I prefer to paint during the day when there’s a good amount of sunlight. I’ve got a clear view of the city and the skyline from that spot, it’s relaxing.

How did you start designing for Minted?
My sister told me about Minted in 2009 and encouraged me to participate in the challenges; my first submission was for a wedding invitation challenge. It’s great to see how Minted has come such a long way, and how many of the wonderful designers have grown in their work. They truly inspire me to design more.

How does it feel knowing that couples from around the world are incorporating your save-the-date into their wedding?
It’s incredible! I’ve gotten some really sweet emails from brides-to-be saying that they have been looking for something like it for a long time and were so happy to have found it for their wedding. I’ve always wanted my art to reach a variety of people and it’s such a great feeling that my work is part of such a special occasion.


More from Elly Liyana:
• Elly’s Minted Store
Elly’s Website
Elly’s Instagram

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

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Meet a Minted Artist: Naomi Ernest

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

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

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

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