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

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

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.

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.

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
• Instagram: @SmudgeDesignCo

San Francisco” by Smudge Design


Three Cheers! Minted x West Elm: Special Prize Winners

We’re excited to announce the special prize winners for our Three Cheers! Minted x West Elm Challenge! We love collaborating with West Elm—they share our passion for discovering and celebrating work by talented independent artists. For this challenge, we asked our Minted Community to create art and photography pieces that would delight customers and bring a fresh style to the collection. A huge congratulations to all the winners!

Curator’s Choice Award for the art print that most captures
the attention of Minted’s Curatorial Team
Snowscape 1”  by Megan Kelley

Curator’s Choice Photography Award for the photograph that most captures
the attention of Minted’s Curatorial Team
Lakeside”  by Lisa Cersovsky

Black and White Art Award for the most interesting
black and white art print
Kansas”  by Stephanie Nowotarski

Click through to see more special prize winners from our invitation challenge


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.

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

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

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.


How do your surroundings inspire your creativity?

The launch of Minted Home got us thinking about how our surroundings inspire creativity, so for this edition of #WhatInspiresMe, we asked three Californians to talk about how their workspace and play space affects their creative process.

Kayla King
Arroyo Grande, California

I’ve always had a deep love for reading, and to this day I often feel like a big kid at heart. I collect vintage children’s books, my favorites being from the 1950s and 1960s. I love the bright colors, the simple shapes, and the sense of wonder they still bring me when I read them again and again. My workspace is filled with mini collections that bring me joy—out-of-print magazines, photos with my husband, train tickets from a recent trip, simple color studies, and my two little dachshund buddies, Indy and Fritz, who never leave my side when I’m home working.

Cycling Sausage” by Kayla King

12 Days” wrapping paper by Kayla King

Aspacia Kusulas
Los Angeles, California

My creativity is fueled by memories, travel experiences, and everyday life. To preserve these moments, I collect objects, pieces of paper, and photos that inspire me and remind me of the remarkable places I’ve visited or things I’ve seen that have left a strong impression. I like to gather these objects in a clean, organized space and sketch out anything that comes to mind.

Eventually that clean space becomes a bit disorganized—actually, a mess—but the confusion of memories sparks my imagination, and my ideas take on a more cohesive form. I use my sketch book, pencils, and markers to explore my ideas and test concepts, but when I finally hit on something that resonates, my Wacom tablet is essential in helping me shape it into a final product. It’s important for me to have all my tools easily accessible and in one place. I also find it fundamental to create a soothing ambiance through muted lighting and my essential playlists.

I’d rather wear flowers” by Aspacia Kusulas

Abstracciones Vol. 3” by Aspacia Kusulas

Shannon Chen of Four Wet Feet Studio
Sacramento, California

I keep an inspiration board above my desk to help spark my imagination. I like to put anything related to what I’m working on up on the broad, such as watercolor doodles, postcards, and photos for ideas.

Part of my creative space is the outdoors. To me, traveling, hiking, and immersing myself in nature is a great way to get away from the computer and find inspiration. I usually take photos of the scenery and plants for reference for my work. I also like to burn incense in my studio—I find the smell relaxing and calming while refreshing the energy of the room. There are usually piles of sketches and watercolor doodles on my desk. Sometimes, when I get stuck, I paint a bunch of random sketches that I might revisit later. Once I have something that I think is worth developing, I paint more sketches to refine the idea.

Birchwoods in Winter” by Four Wet Feet Studio

Blue Blossoms” by Four Wet Feet Studio

How about you—how do your surroundings 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 third edition; read the second edition here.

Learn how to become a Minted artist here.


What is your most memorable creative moment or epiphany?

Have you experienced a creative a-ha! moment—an instance when your artistic lightbulb turns on? That’s exactly what happened to these three Minted artists. For Eric Comstock, Megan Kelley, and Laura Bolter, trusting instinct, letting go, or taking a risk triggered an epiphany.

Eric Comstock of ERAY
Austin, Texas

About four or five years ago, I was sitting at my desk and drew these little rectangular shapes. I added pie chart–shape things and little bowties and clouds with fun shapes falling from them. I looked at all the drawings and thought, Hey, this could turn into a pretty cool illustration. So I considered color and composition, and the result was not just one illustration but two—Glink Glunk and Globetrotter. Funnily enough, the pie-chart idea from Glink Glunk and Globetrotter has found its way into my first children’s book, Charlie Piechart, and the Case of the Missing Pizza Slice (HarperCollins, September 1, 2015). I worked with Marilyn Sadler, a wonderfully talented author and creator of very successful children’s books and children’s television.

Globetrotters” by ERAY

From left: “The illustration of Triangle Man represents me mainly because it represents my curiosity of shape and color,” Eric says. | The cover of Charlie Piechart, Eric’s September 2015 book | Glink Glunk

Megan Kelley
Midland, Texas

My work is continually evolving as I try new techniques and materials, but I feel like I experienced my biggest creative moment seven months ago. I received a devastating diagnosis for my unborn son, and I needed an outlet for all my emotions. I put brush to canvas and just tried to let my strokes flow without too much interference from the controlling side of my brain. I tend to overthink and overwork my pieces, but the result I got from this experience was beautiful, simple, and raw. I knew this was the direction in which I wanted my art to go.

 “Concord II” by Megan Kelley

After Loss” by Megan Kelley

Laura Bolter
Lenexa, Kansas

I had been doing freelance graphic design work for many years when I decided to stretch myself creatively and start painting, beginning with very symbolic types of imagery. After some time, I enrolled in an abstract mixed-media workshop taught by a talented painter and teacher. I learned how to paint in a very layered, freestyle manner, reacting to each previous mark, but still using the concepts of balance, composition, line, and color that I had been using in my design work for so long. This was my creative epiphany—realizing I could continue to paint the same meaningful themes but with a more expressive and interesting approach. Ultimately, the class inspired a painting technique that resulted in a broader audience for my work.

Landscape Study III” by Laura Bolter

City Approach” by Laura Bolter

This is the second edition of #WhatInspiresMe. Read the first edition here.

How about you—what is your most memorable creative moment or epiphany? Share your answer in Comments below and in Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter with the hashtag #WhatInspiresMe.

Learn how to become a Minted artist here.

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Moving Announcement Challenge: Special Prize Winners

Moving to a new home is one of the most exciting events in someone’s life, whether it’s a newly married couple settling into their first apartment together, or a growing family moving into a bigger house. Minted customers love fresh, original moving announcements to notify family and friends about their new address. One in six Americans moves every year, and mailing a change-of-address card is a popular tradition. Moving announcements are a large and growing business for Minted, and we were “wowed!” with all of the creative and out-of-the-box designs! Congratulations to all the winners and runner-ups!

For the most out-of-the-box moving announcement 
Have Moved” by Qing Ji

Runners-Up: Where in the world” by Kristen Smith | “We Mooved” by Kissyfish
Scripted” by Bethany Anderson

For the best design incorporating one or more photos
New Nest” by Linda Alam

Runners-Up: love is key” by Leah Bisch | “A sweeter lot” by Pandercraft

For the best moving announcement showcasing a particular location
Gone South” by Lisa Cersovsky

Runners-Up: Back to Cali” by Erica Krystek | “Long Haul” by Ann Gardner
Flying from one airport to the next” by Kissyfish

For the best traditional, elegant moving announcement design
Beautiful Home” by Kimberly FitzSimons

Runners-Up: Sweet new home” by Laura Bolter Design | “Presidential” by Pad and Paper
Floral placard” by SunnyJuly

Click through to see more special prize winners from our invitation challenge

MORE AFTER THE JUMP... Comments Off on Moving Announcement Challenge: Special Prize Winners

Top tips for designing self-launch notebooks

Bold Statement Notebook by Sandra Picco Design

“No one can own too many notebooks,” says Minted artist Jennifer Pace, and we couldn’t agree more. That’s one of the reasons why we invite Design Challenge–winning artists to self-launch non-customizable notebooks in their Stores.

With self-launch notebooks, artists are able to easily create products with production options and construction that are ordinarily reserved only for those with access to specialized machinery. Self-launch notebooks come in three formats: day planners, address books, and notebooks, and customers have two binding options (spiral or grommet). Unlike Minted’s fully customizable products, notebooks only come with lined paper.

Overall, self-launch notebooks are similar to Minted’s other self-launch products, but the primary difference is that you upload four files per colorway—a front of the notebook, inside front cover, inside back cover, and back of the notebook.

With two successful notebook designs in Minted’s collection, Jennifer is eager to create a line of new self-launch notebook designs for her Store. Here, we share the Arizona artist’s design tips along with insights from Minted’s Product Development team.

Chalkboard Dreams Notebook and School’s In Notebook by Jennifer Pace | Photography by Rachel Solomon Photography

Jennifer starts the notebook design process like she does all of her projects—with a moodboard. She begins with one inspirational component, such as a color or photo. “That inspires the moodboard, and then I sketch multiple rounds of ideas,” she says. For example, for her School’s In notebook, she was inspired by retro illustration and colors.

Photos of Jennifer Pace by Rachel Solomon Photography

While it’s important to study what’s on trend in the stationery world, it’s equally important to find ways to flip the trends and put a new spin on them. “Minted customers love the variety of notebook designs, so make sure your concept stands out as unique,” she says. Ask yourself, Is there a specific niche that’s missing from the collection?

To generate fresh ideas, Jennifer recommends combining different forms of art with traditional design concepts. “Don’t be afraid to launch an idea—you never know what’s going to be the next big design,” she says.

Beyond selecting colorways, customers cannot personalize self-launch notebooks, so we recommend excluding fictional dates, names, and personal photos in designs. That said, non-custom design doesn’t necessarily mean it can’t be personalizable. For example, you may want to consider including elements that allow customers to pencil in their personal details via a book plate element or fill-in-the-blank start and end dates on the front inside cover.

Keep in mind that the product images show the front, inside front cover and back covers, so the inside artwork can be just as important as the outside.

As marked in these templates, some areas of the files will be obscured if a customer chooses a grommet-bound notebook. This is an option that will be available for all notebooks, so keep this in mind while creating your design.

Because self-launch products are not reviewed by the Minted Production Team, we suggest making your own test prints.

Ready to dive in? If you’ve won a Minted Design Challenge and therefore have created a Minted Store, log into your Minted artist account and navigate to your “My Projects” page. Then create a “Self-Launch Notebooks” project. Be sure to use these self-launch notebook templates.

Download our Notebook Self-launch Guide.pdf
The Self-Launch Process
Store Basics

What are your insights and advice about notebook design and self-launch products? Share your thoughts in Comments.

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 with Amy on Instagram @thevenuslady.

Published July 30, 2015 | Learn how to become a Minted artist here.


Minted Artists Visit West Elm Stores to View Winning Work

For our third collaboration with West Elm, the home decor company selected 106 of their favorite Minted prints from more than 5,000 submissions. Now that the winning art is appearing in West Elm locations around the U.S., Minted artists are stopping by to see their work on display.

Here, four Minted artists share photographs of their work at West Elm locations, along with their thoughts about the experience.

West Elm in Denver, Colorado (Photos by Holly Royval)

Holly Royval of Denver, Colorado | “Fire Grass

“The original is only a 5” x 7,” so it’s really cool to see it blown up so much larger. West Elm is my favorite store, and the first West Elm + Minted collaboration is what made me aware of Minted and got me involved. To see my art hanging in the store is a dream come true.”

Monica Cheng of South Houston, Texas
Photo taken at West Elm in Dallas, Texas
Let Go and Soar” (orange balloon) | “Let Go and Hope” (blue balloon)

“When I received the announcement email, I scanned the winners’ list for my name, felt my heart leap, and then returned to changing a poopy diaper and putting my 2-year-old down for his nap. (Insert happy dance.) This pretty much sums up the overlapping worlds of a mommy artist, and I love it. It still feels pretty surreal and humbling to know my work is on display among those of beautifully talented artists. I feel super thankful for the opportunity that Minted has extended through this partnership.”

Hi Uan Kang Haaga of Washington, D.C.
Pink Moon” [ 1 ]  | “Blue Moon and Orange Sun” [ 4 ]  |  “Moonlight Rain”  [ 6 ]

“My husband and I took our three kids to the store on a Sunday afternoon, and the kids loved jumping around on the furniture and kept asking if it was really my work on the walls. I’m really pleased with the print quality of the work. Although the West Elm prints are larger than my original work, the colors are accurate and crisp, and look great in West Elm frames.”

Kelsey McNatt of Denver, Colorado
From top: “Directional Arrows” | “Native Bison” | “The Antler

“It was so exciting walking in the door and seeing my art front and center. I have a couple other personal pieces in the West Elm Denver local section, but I felt really proud to see these three pieces together. Knowing that they were handpicked is really special.”

Are you a West Elm + Minted collaboration winner? Share your experience in Comments below.
Published July 27, 2015 | Learn how to become a Minted artist here.



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.

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

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)

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!


What’s one of your surprising sources of inspiration?

Where does creative inspiration come from? In the eyes of Minted artists, it comes from everywhere. That’s the impetus of our new #WhatInspiresMe series—to spotlight the inspirational who, what, when, where, why, and how of the Minted artist community.

Every other Monday, we invite three Minted artists to answer a different question about the inspiration behind their work. To spark an ongoing dialogue, we invite you to share your own answers with the hashtag #WhatInspiresMe via Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

To kick off #WhatInspiresMe, we asked Erin Beutel, Oanh Tran, and Angela Simeone to answer this question: What’s one of your surprising sources of inspiration?

Erin Beutel
Mount Vernon, Ohio

The mundane moments of life. When I walk into the kitchen to make dinner and the sun is falling through the lace curtains just so, or the kids and I are heading to the car to run errands and find a fallen leaf covered with perfect water droplets. The more I notice these tiny moments, the easier it gets to find inspiration everywhere. Every day becomes pregnant with possibilities no matter how routine it may seem at first glance.

“After the Rain” | “Summer Bliss” by Erin Beutel

Fly With Me I” by Erin Beutel

Oanh Tran of lulu and isabelle
Zurich, Switzerland

I grew up in Vietnam’s largest city and went to university in Singapore, so I’m naturally interested in buildings and the urban environment. That’s why I chose architecture as my career. Since moving to Switzerland two years ago, I’ve found myself surprisingly drawn to and inspired by nature, especially the Swiss Alps. My husband’s family comes from a small village surrounded by mountains in Ticino, the Italian-speaking part of Switzerland, and every time we visit, I have the chance to immerse myself in this magnificent landscape. I hope my photos can inspire people the same way the landscape has inspired me.

winter in monochrome” by lulu and isabelle

“Almost Heaven” by lulu and isabelle

Angela Simeone
Nashville, Tennessee

I’m always surprised how my children bring ideas and concepts my way through materials that make it home in their backpacks. I’ve found materials and concepts through their textbooks, school-supply packaging, and art projects. My boys did a Chuck Close–style abstraction of their school portraits using overlay and grids. I also did a Sharpie art series using school folders after labeling all of theirs—I liked the flow of the pen off the surface, which allowed for a looser illustrative style.

The Definition Of Series 2 by Angela Simeone

How about you—what is one of the most surprising places you find inspiration? Share your answer in Comments below or via social media with the hashtag #WhatInspiresMe.

Learn how to become a Minted artist here.