Meet a Minted Artist: Marta Spendowska

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

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

Marta Spendowska (VERYMARTA) Artist Profile

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MORE AFTER THE JUMP... 4   COMMENTS

“For Art’s Sake” Challenge: Special Prize Winners

We are continuously impressed with the high quality of artwork and photography that our Minted community has created. As our art business continues to grow, we can’t wait to launch a more diverse and unique assortment of art. We turned to you to submit your most interesting and creative pieces. You wowed us once again! Congratulations to all the winners!

Curator’s Choice Award: For the artwork that most captures
the attention of the Minted curatorial team
The Mountains Before Us” by Mande


Newbie Award: For the best work of art by a first-time entrant
Sable Song” by Juniper Briggs


Color Award: For the best bold and colorful art piece
Green Garden” by Tae Lee


Nursery award: For the most charming print for a little one
Blue Fish Wish” by Maja Cunningham


Avant-Garde Award: For the best edgy print that pushes boundaries
Star Child” by Tolani Lightfoot


Abstract Award: For the best abstract painting, illustration, or graphic
Melt” by Adrienne Jackson


 Photography Award: For the best photographic art print
Red Rock and Sky” by Compass Rose Photography


 Seasonal Award: For the best piece of artwork inspired by the fall or winter months
Blue Mountain” by Jenny Partrite


Landscape Orientation Award: For the art piece that best utilizes the landscape orientation
Linger Longer III” by Lindsay Megahed


Square Award: For the most interesting square-shaped composition
Sombras” by Lulaloo

MORE AFTER THE JUMP... Comments Off on “For Art’s Sake” Challenge: Special Prize Winners

“Joy to the Work” Holiday Challenge: Special Prize Winners

This holiday season, businesses across the country will search for the perfect card to send customers and partners. We asked you, our talented Minted community, to significantly update our corporate holiday card assortment with fresh, original designs. We were overjoyed with the incredible submissions to this challenge. A huge congrats to all the winners and runners-up!

For the most innovative corporate holiday card
that you wouldn’t find on other sites
Abstract Tree” by Erica Krystek

Runners-Up: Stateside” by Jessie Steury | “Christmas Birds” by Ana de Sousa


For the best simple (but still interesting!), masculine design
Holidays Stamp” by Erin L. Wilson

Runners-Up: “Big Joy” by iamtanya | “Joy All Around” by Alston Wise


For the card that best communicates gratitude to customers
lettered thanks”  by Dawn Jasper

Runners-Up: “Thanks for being Awesome” by Genna Cowsert  | “Shimmering Snow” by
Pistols | “Simple Script” by Misa


For the best design incorporating stats & 
data from the year in a fun way
Infographic Joy” by Bonjour Berry

Runners-Up: Holiday Pie Chart” by Hooray Creative | Watercolor Stats” by Smudge Design


For the best design that incorporates a company logo
From Our City” by Frooted Design

Runners-Up: Delivering Holiday Cheer” by Itsy Belle Studio 
Winter in our City” by Shelly Gerritsma


For the most clever, witty card that makes you smile
Loading” by Elly

Runner-Up: Tools of the Trade” by Cheer Up Press


For the best design showcasing the company’s office location
nickname city” by Aspacia Kusulas

Runners-Up: Joy From Our State” by Sarah Brown | “West Coast Greetings” by Erica Krystek | “Location Location” by Hooray Creative


For the best new year’s corporate card design
A Complete 2016” by fatfatin

Runners-Up: Bright New Year” by Kaydi Bishop | “Bright Ideas” by Elly


For the design that best showcases one of Minted’s die-cut shapes
Wreath of Prosperity” by Qing Ji

Runners-Up:  Joyful Garland” by Katherine Moynagh | “Watercolor Laurel” by Baumbirdy


For the best design that puts text on a curvilinear path
Watercolor Pine Wreath” by Gakemi Art + Design

Runners-Up: holiday streamers” by peetie design 
Good Cheer is Good Business” by Chelsey Scott


For the best design from a first-time entrant:
Vintage Snow Globe” by Lisa Assenmacher

Runners-Up: Winter Sprigs”  by Claudia Bianchi | “Merry & Bright, You Were the Highlight” by Chelsea Voorhees

Images: Leah Conroy
Ed. note: “The Most Wonderful Type Award” will be announced at a later date.

MORE AFTER THE JUMP... Comments Off on “Joy to the Work” Holiday Challenge: Special Prize Winners

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

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

Joni Tyrrell with her son, Kingston

Joni Tyrrell
North Liberty, Iowa

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

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

Pining for Pineapple by Joni Tyrrell


Andi Pahl
Columbus, Ohio

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

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

I’m Frond Of You No. 2” by Andi Pahl

Reflections Watercolor by Andi Pahl


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

Jennifer Postorino
Dayton, Ohio

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

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

Glimmer” by Jennifer Postorino

Bundle of Joy” by Jennifer Postorino


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

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

Learn how to become a Minted artist here.

Published September 14, 2015

MORE AFTER THE JUMP... 2   COMMENTS

Holiday Photo Card Challenge: 1st Place Winner

By Mariam Naficy

At Minted, we celebrate independent creatives. They are the heart and soul of what we do as a company. We know that creativity comes from unexpected places, and we cherish the serendipity and surprise that result from this. We strive to create a marketplace for independent creatives—a marketplace that rewards them for the quality of their work and provides customers with a direct connection to find art and design that expresses their unique style.

Minted’s annual Holiday Photo Card Challenge is the biggest stationery design event of the year. This year artists submitted a total of 4,661 designs. We have a very diverse group of winners who truly embody independence of thought.

I’m thrilled to announce that the first-place winner of the 2015 Holiday Photo Card Challenge is Karly Depew of Oscar & Emma for her design “Embellished.” The Columbus, Ohio, artist has won $9,000 and a forthcoming VIP trip to San Francisco along with second-place winner Phrosné Ras of Cape Town, South Africa, and third-place winner Kristie Kern of Akron, Ohio. All winners also earn commission on the sales of their winning designs. See Karly’s winning design and a video of me surprising her below.

Having known Karly as a dedicated Minted community member since the very first year Minted launched (in 2008), I’m thrilled for Karly and her holiday win. A self-taught designer, Karly has embodied the Minted community spirit from the beginning, repeatedly giving advice and help to new designers along the way.

Embellished” is a refreshing new take on a full-bleed design. I love the delicate, elegant, circular lockup, which still lets a customer’s photo shine. What I’ve always admired about Karly is that she studies her work so carefully and that her typography is so carefully considered. Karly revealed to us that she edited “Embellished” nearly 20 times to achieve perfection. The use of holly and the color red convey holiday festivity without compromising the card’s elegance and simplicity.

The Depew Family from left: Karly’s husband Judd, Ollie, Maeve, Parker, and Karly.
Photo by Christa Kimble

Karly’s design was a favorite among both consumers and our community of independent artists—a very difficult feat. Congratulations on this well-deserved accomplishment, Karly. We couldn’t be happier for you!

Each year we surprise the first-place winner, and each time we aim to get a little sneakier. I traveled this year to Columbus to surprise Karly, and even enlisted the help of a special accomplice and fellow Minted artist, Carrie O’Neal, who created a cover story and drove all the way from Cincinnati to help get Karly to the right cafe at the right time. I emerged from a broom closet at the cafe, trying to cover my face with giant red balloons. Watch the video to see how it all went down.

MORE AFTER THE JUMP... 7   COMMENTS

Holiday Photo Card Challenge: 2nd Place Winner

Each year Minted hosts our highly anticipated holiday photo card competition in search of the best and freshest holiday card designs. This year Minted’s community of independent designers produced breathtaking and exceptionally creative designs — we received an incredible 4,661 submissions. The votes have been tallied and the Top 50 winners have been chosen, see them all right here.

Elegant gold branches adorned with delicate dots and leaves come together to perfectly frame the photo in Phrosne’s stunning design. Her artistry is on full display in this card. The thin clean stroke of her line brings a lightness while the use of gold adds just enough luxe to make this holiday card truly shine.


More Winning Designs from our 2015 Holiday Photo Card Challenge:
3rd Place Winner
• 4th Place Winner
• 5th & 6th Place Winners
• 7th & 8th Place Winners
• 9th & 10th Place Winners
• Top 11–15 Winners
• Top 16-20 Winners
• Top 21–30 Winners
• Top 31–40 Winners
• Top 41-50 Winners 

MORE AFTER THE JUMP... 3   COMMENTS

Holiday Photo Card Challenge: 3rd Place Winner

Each year Minted hosts our highly anticipated holiday photo card competition in search of the best and freshest holiday card designs. This year Minted’s community of independent designers produced breathtaking and exceptionally creative designs — we received an incredible 4,661 submissions. The votes have been tallied and the Top 50 winners have been chosen, see them all right here.

Kristie takes two of the hottest aesthetic trends – foil texture and ambre watercolor – and brings them together to create a card that literally radiates joy. The ever-softening shades of red pull you into their soft glow. The tiny smattering of gold and vertical dashes burst onto the page like laughter or an uncontrollable smile. This card captures how the best of the holidays feel. Well done Kristie!

MORE AFTER THE JUMP... 2   COMMENTS

Holiday Photo Card Challenge: 4th Place Winner

Each year Minted hosts our highly anticipated holiday photo card competition in search of the best and freshest holiday card designs. This year Minted’s community of independent designers produced breathtaking and exceptionally creative designs — we received an incredible 4,661 submissions. The votes have been tallied and the Top 50 winners have been chosen, see them all right here.

There is so much to love about Eric’s card: the unexpected color, the illustrative complexity and control, the single moment when the pine needles pierce the border or the tiny bird you discover almost by surprise. What makes this design truly unique is how it is simultaneously modern and vintage, traditional and new – a card that everyone can love. Perfection!

MORE AFTER THE JUMP... 2   COMMENTS

Holiday Photo Card Challenge: 5th & 6th Place Winners

Each year Minted hosts our highly anticipated holiday photo card competition in search of the best and freshest holiday card designs. This year Minted’s community of independent designers produced breathtaking and exceptionally creative designs — we received an incredible 4,661 submissions. The votes have been tallied and the Top 50 winners have been chosen, see them all right here.

In this elegant design, Jen artfully crafts a silhouetted botanical that adds just enough dimensionality while the pops of red bring a festive touch. The striking use of white space adds a sense of wintry calm while the design as a whole still imbues the warm feeling of the holidays. Fabulous job!

The hand-lettering in this design is a stunning display of Lynn’s talent and skill. We love all the movement, the mix of type styles and the delicate use of flourishes that help bring everything together. The gold texture against the rich black background adds an elegant quality to this stunning design.

MORE AFTER THE JUMP... Comments Off on Holiday Photo Card Challenge: 5th & 6th Place Winners

Holiday Photo Card Challenge: 7th & 8th Place Winners

Each year Minted hosts our highly anticipated holiday photo card competition in search of the best and freshest holiday card designs. This year Minted’s community of independent designers produced breathtaking and exceptionally creative designs — we received an incredible 4,661 submissions. The votes have been tallied and the Top 50 winners have been chosen, see them all right here.

What makes Rachel’s hand-lettered greeting so spectacular is the incredible attention to detail. Each letter is unique and the intentional moments of imperfection are what we love most. The horizontal ombre effect feels like a fresh take on the ombre trend (which is hard to accomplish!), and elevates a simple card into a work of art. Bravo!

Stunningly hand-lettered, “A Beautiful and Wonderful Life” looks as though it were freshly penned by the artist herself. The letters have a fanciful flourish and effortless flow that is as uplifting as the phrase itself. We love how the olive green holly complements the red letters and the white berries provide a tiny pop. All in all a card that is as artistic as it is chic – well done!

MORE AFTER THE JUMP... Comments Off on Holiday Photo Card Challenge: 7th & 8th Place Winners