Meet a Minted Artist: Erica Krystek

Triathlon magazine creative director. Former competitive tennis player. Journalism major. Mom and wife. These are a handful of the words we can use to describe Erica Krystek, who like many of her fellow community members, enters Minted challenges by night. With more than 200 Minted awards to her name, Erica’s work spans from exuberant holiday cards to humorous baby and kids designs, and a little bit of customizable art for good measure. If you look a little closer at Erica’s work on her Minted Artist Store, you’ll likely find yourself smirking at her usage of clever puns: “Let’s Taco ‘Bout How Awesome You Are” and “You’re Tool Cool” among them. It goes without saying that she’s not only a talented designer, but she’s also got a way with words.

Here the San Diego artist talks about her “plannerly” creative process, how she’s evolved as a Minted artist, and how quality mommy time and a good work-life balance makes her heart happy.

Sleepy Fox” baby shower invitation by Erica Krystek

Minted: Did you study art or design formally in school?
Erica Krystek: I grew up in San Diego and, other than college, have lived here my whole life. I did not formally study graphic design, and instead received a B.S. in journalism at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo in 2002. My intention was to be an editor or writer; however, my senior year while working as an editor at Cal Poly’s daily newspaper, I realized I enjoyed the design aspect of journalism more than the editorial side. At the time, the paper was a very low-budget operation, and as an editor, you were also tasked with designing your editorial section. So I quickly taught myself Quark and found that I kind of had a knack for it. After I graduated, I was fortunate to get a wonderful job working for a firefighting magazine, where I honed my design skills, eventually working my way up the ladder to Art Director.

Erica’s dog Sherman likes to stick his nose into Erica’s work.

What’s it like to work as the Creative Director of LAVA magazine?
I grew up heavily involved in many sports and received an athletic scholarship to college, so working for any sports-oriented publication piqued my interest. When I had the opportunity to work as the Creative Director for LAVA, it seemed like a perfect fit. LAVA is a newsstand, coffee-table-style triathlon magazine, published nine times a year. Our content caters to more serious and seasoned triathletes, versus beginners, and takes its name from the lava landscape of Kona, Hawaii, where the Ironman World Championship (the premier event for most triathletes) has been held each year since the early ’80s. We have a very small operation of eight people, so I do the majority of the design work for print and web as well as create our marketing materials and direct our cover shoots.

Erica Krystek is the Creative Director of LAVA Magazine.

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Jessica Hische’s Guest Judge Pick!

Back in October, we invited Jessica Hische to be the Guest Judge for our biggest Wedding Challenge of the year, the Wedding Bells are Ringing: 2016 Wedding Invitation Challenge. Jessica Hische is a lettering artist, illustrator, author, and self-described “avid internetter” working in San Francisco and Brooklyn. Jessica has become as well known for her side projects as she has for her client work. She’s created several educational micro-sites including Mom This is How Twitter Works, Should I Work for Free? and Don’t Fear the Internet

Out of 2,848 submissions, Jessica selected Beloved by Design Lotus! When asked specifically why she chose this design, Jessica said, “It was incredibly hard to choose a winner because there were so many outstanding submissions this year, but I kept coming back to this design. I love how it combines classic elegant components (the use of gold engraving illustrations and beautiful clean typefaces) in a modern asymmetrical layout. It almost feels like the design could double as a high-end wine label. I think it’s really difficult to design in a way that feels understated and elegant but not minimalistic. I could see this design working for a wide range of weddings—from a big elaborate affair in a gilded ballroom to a small outdoor ceremony in an overgrown garden.” Congratulations Design Lotus!

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Win a Trip to Haiti with Every Mother Counts

Minted is thrilled to launch the Every Mother Counts Prize for 2017. Read below for more information on how to enter.

THE CAUSE
Every Mother Counts is a non-profit organization dedicated to making pregnancy and childbirth safe for every mother, everywhere. EMC is Minted’s charitable partner. Learn more about this amazing organization and how it helps women around the world here.

THE PRIZE
Two Minted artists will be selected to join Minted Founder and CEO Mariam Naficy and Every Mother Counts Founder Christy Turlington Burns with members of their teams on a trip to Haiti in early 2018. On the trip, the winning artists will meet with one of Every Mother Counts’ grantees and experience first-hand the work that they are doing to provide skilled and compassionate care to Haitian mothers throughout their pregnancies.

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Joy Cho’s Lucky in Love Save the Date Pick

Back in August, we announced that Joy Cho would be the Guest Judge for our Lucky in Love Save the Date Challenge. Joy Cho is the founder and creative director of Oh Joy!, a lifestyle brand that includes a product line at Target, lifestyle videos, and a daily blog. She has also authored three books and has consulted for hundreds of creative businesses around the world.

Joy selected The Adventure Begins by Kelly Schmidt. When asked why she chose this design, Joy said, “I love The Adventure Begins because it is truly a representation of the new chapter of life that marriage brings—adventures together, both big and small. Visually, I love how the typography is beautiful yet simple. It allows the photo to be the focus while also making it easy to find a photo that fits with the placement of the typography. I love everything about it!” Congratulations, Kelly!

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Meet a Minted Artist: Jessie Steury

Scroll through Jessie Steury’s Minted Artist Store, and you can see that she is a prolific illustrator. Since joining Minted in 2011, she’s built a strong reputation for her signature style of perky, colorful illustrations of animals, maps, trucks, and more. Hers is the kind of art that transforms a child’s room into a gallery of rainbow-colored wonders. Jessie’s illustration style is a mix of modern and vintage influences, a direct reflection of the things she loves in real life. “I love clean modern spaces, but I also like to spend my spare time searching thrift stores for silly old knick-knacks,” she says.

Funny thing is that Jessie never planned a career in illustration. “I’ve always loved drawing, but never thought I could actually do it for a living,” says the Indiana artist and mom of three. “This is where I owe another big thanks to Minted. Entering all these design challenges have really helped me grow and find my own style.”

In this interview, Jessie talks about her original career plan, life as a “farmer’s wife,” and how she developed her successful path on Minted.

Animal World Map” by Jessie Steury

Minted: Did you study art or design formally in school?
Jessie Steury: I did! I attended the Illinois Institute of Art in Chicago, with a focus on graphic design. It was such a great experience — both the formal education and what I learned while living in the city.

Animals of the World” fabric by Jessie Steury

Illustration comprises a lot of your work now. What were your “original” career plans?
Graphic design was the original plan. It seemed like a more realistic career choice — something I could do and get a job anywhere, even in an Indiana small town. I worked for a marketing company in Fort Wayne, Indiana, on projects like RV brochures and outdoor furniture catalogs. It wasn’t terrible, it just wasn’t a good fit for me. Looking back, I realize that before I left for college, I had no idea that the Internet would allow me to work with companies all over the country.

Can you share the schedule of a typical day in the life now, as a Minted artist?
I’m happy to say there is no “typical” day, although, they are all probably pretty similar. It’s a mix of normal mom duties and designing on my computer. I really do enjoy the flexibility of working for myself. I don’t force myself to sit at a desk for a certain amount of time every day, and I probably never will. If I sit down to work and I’m not feeling it, I do something else — just until that creativity comes back. Usually a few minutes of housework, and I’ll quickly feel like getting back to designing.

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Save the Date Challenges: Special Prize Winners

Announcing the Special Prizes for our Lucky in Love Save the Date Challenge and our We Belong Together Photo + Letterpress Save the Date Challenge. Your beautiful designs are sure to inspire soon-to-weds for a day filled with matrimonial bliss. Congratulations to all the winners!

We Belong Together Photo + Letterpress Save the Date Challenge

For the best design featuring chunky text or design elements that show off letterpress best
DESPINA by Melanie Kosuge

Runners-up: Candy Striped by Shirley Lin Schneider, Impressed by AK Graphicsaccentuated by Kimberly Chow,


For the most unique, original take on a Letterpress + Photo Save the Date that we’ve ever seen
Written by Annie Montgomery

Runner-up: sparrows in flight by Morgan Kendall


For a design that incorporates edgy design elements, bold colors, or other designs that are not typically seen in letterpress
Love Lines by Belia Simm

Runner-up: Modernist by Amber Barkley


For the design that best gives the impression of a full bleed photo (even though it’s not)
Refined by Sarah Brown


For the design that best lays the groundwork for a sophisticated, classic wedding
sacher by chocomocacino

Runner-up: Timelesss by Sarah Brown


For the best design that puts the couples’ names or other customizable text on a curvilinear path
Sea you there by Gwen Bedat

Runner-up: Modern Romance by Nicole Barreto


Lucky in Love Save the Date Challenge

For the most daring, innovative take on a Save the Date that we’ve ever seen
wash of color by Karidy Walker

Runners-up: modern angles by Rebecca DurflingerCrossed Brushstrokes by Everett Paper Goods


For the best humorous or clever design that just makes you smile
In Tandem by Laura Moyer

Runners-up: Chemistry Love by Coco and Ellie Design


For the best design featuring non-floral, yet organic elements of the earth
Coastal Lines by Grace Kreinbrink

Runners-up: Mod Palm by Fig and CottonMarbled by Pine and Lark


For the most inventive and unique copy that shows an alternative way to say “Save the Date”
Definitely by Jennifer Lew

Runners-up: Cake (and a Wedding) by Up Up CreativeToss the Dice by Little Words DesignForever We Do by Ana SharpeSimply Best by Jessica Williams


For the best gender-neutral design that will appeal to both men and women
Stacked Banner by Amy Kross

Runners-up: Watercolor Edged Border by BaumbirdyModern Rusticism by Jessica OgdenSimply bliss by Seven Swans


For the best design featuring multiple photos
maybe im amazed by Bella Carta Boutique

Runners-up: Sleek & Chic by jomoloLove Square by Michelle Taylor


For the best Save the Date that doubles as a holiday card
Winter Day by Michelle Taylor

Runner-up: merry and almost married by Sara Hicks Malone


For the foil design that best lays the groundwork for a sophisticated, classic wedding
Have and Hold by Kimberly FitzSimons

Runners-up: Winter Foil by Susan Brown, Simply Striking by Stacey Meacham


For the Save the Date design which uses bold typography
Numerals by Up Up Creative

Runners-up: the big classic by Sara Hicks Malone, Bold & Gold by Meg Chalmers


For the design that best showcases one of Minted’s unique die-cut shapes in an original way
poised by Sara Hicks Malone


For the best design that puts the couples’ names or other customizable text on a curvilinear path
Wildflower by Lehan Veenker

Runner-up: Fall Foliage by Lorent and Leif


For the best design from a first-time winner
Autumn Gold by Olivia Faye Design

Runner-up: Modern Landscape by seulghi


Collection Awards
The following 20 designs will each receive a guaranteed full wedding invitation suite collection, including a matching Wedding Invitation, Day Of pieces (wedding program, menu, place card, table number, favor tag (for non-foil), and favor sticker (for non-foil)).

Watercolor Edged Border by Baumbirdydistressed tile by Carolyn NicksOrnate by Nazia HyderElegant Monogram by Simona Cavallaro

Wildflower Floral by Katharine Watson, This Love by Eric CleggGemstones by Lori Wemplefloral vignette by Kristen Smith

wash of color by Karidy WalkerGilded Crest by Kelly Schmidt, Mod Palm by Fig and CottonCoastal Lines by Grace Kreinbrink

Marble Matrimony by AK GraphicsSweet Leaves by Ana de SousaGeo Chic by Hooray CreativeTropical Hibiscus by Smudge Design

Orange Blossoms by Susan MoyalParadise by GeekInk Designboho glam by Carolyn NicksOmbre by roxy

 

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For Minted, customer service is an Oscar-worthy performance

“Sir, I’m literally sitting on a bench with a gun on my lap. I’m calling you from a military phone in Iraq — regarding envelopes.”

That’s a slice of what an American soldier, a Minted customer, described to Donald Antoine, Minted’s customer service supervisor, in 2014. The calm-voiced soldier called Minted on behalf of his fiancée, who had ordered save the date cards for their forthcoming wedding ceremony back home in the States. They needed their return address corrected on their envelopes — and they needed it yesterday.

Enter Donald to the rescue. “Rest assured we’ll do everything we can,” Donald said to the soon-to-be husband. Donald corrected the address, reprocessed the order, and shipped the envelopes to the bride-to-be the same day. Three months later, Donald received an email from the Mrs., thanking Minted for its service.

Donald Antoine heads up Minted’s customer service team. Minted Customer Service not only benefits customers, but also our community of independent artists who produce the products you see on Minted. The Customer Service team helps “close the deal” with customers and retain them as loyal shoppers. By providing this service, we free up time for our community of artists to focus on their creative work and spend less time on administrative work.

This is just one of the stories Donald shared when we asked him to recall some of the most memorable customers he’s met on the job. Donald and his team of associates serve customers around the world, many of whom are celebrating life’s most memorable moments — weddings, births, graduations, birthdays, and anniversaries. “It’s amazing the people you come across,” Donald says, gleefully.

Donald retells a number of stories from the front lines of customer service with vigor, but one is particularly close to his heart. In 2014, Donald “hit it off right away” with a customer who was also a nearly-wed — this time, a Golden Girl who needed help with the process of ordering her wedding invitations online. She loved the elegance of many of Minted’s designs and knew she wanted crisp black text — but was searching for something a little more simplistic. Like a trio in harmony, Donald, the customer, and her fiancée talked on the phone for nearly four hours, throughout the course of a day. Donald helped to personalize the couple’s invitation design and message, and the more they talked, the more they got to know each other. Donald got choked up when he learned the customer’s first name — which is the same as his sister’s middle name. “My sister passed away in 2012, and we were very close. Then when we realized the couple’s wedding date was the same day as my sister’s passing, they started crying,” Donald says. “We established a wonderful relationship, and they invited me to their wedding.” Although he wasn’t able to attend, he’ll never forget the experience.

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2016 Valentine’s Day Challenge: Special Prizes and Guest Judge’s Pick

Announcing the Special Prizes and Guest Judge’s pick for our Nothing but Love Valentine’s Day Quickfire Design Challenge. Your fresh, unique Valentine’s Day designs made our hearts skip a beat. Congratulations to all the winners!

 

Guest Judge’s Pick by Jenny Keller of Jenny Cookies 

Taco Truck by Itsy Belle Studio

Jenny Keller, a self taught baker, author, and stylist who is passionate for throwing over the top parties, is the creative mastermind behind Jenny Cookies.

When asked to pick her favorite design, Jenny said “I love the Taco Truck classroom Valentine card! The nostalgic valentine pun in text is funny and a theme I haven’t seen yet. The colors and design are fresh combined with genius placement of greeting. A perfect classroom Valentine card for boys or girls!”


For the most unique, innovative design that you would only find at Minted
iguana be yours by Lori Wemple

Runners-up: Love Brings You Home by 24th and Dune, Hedgehugs by Kelly Nasuta, Ornate Love by Mansi


For the classroom valentine design that best uses one of Minted’s die-cut shapes
Kiss Emoji by Jody Wody

Runners-up: Sweet Cookie by Lehan Veenker, Hoot by Shari Margolin, Over the Rainbow by Baumbirdy


For the best valentine photo card design that offers those customers who didn’t end up sending holiday cards a fun, creative way to send out belated greetings
HO HO XO by Lauren Chism

Runners-up: Love for the Year by Erica Krystek, Late Merry by Heidi Lee Miller, Love Brings You Home by 24th and Dune


For the best sports-themed classroom valentine design
Baseball Hit by Allison Kizer

Runners-up: You’re a Catch by Anna Elizabeth Whinnery, Number One Foam Finger by Jackie Crawford


For the best design with elements that truly shine in foil
Spreading Our Love by Ana Sharpe

Runners-up: Magical Pegasus by peetie design, Nailing It by Laura Hankins, Heart of Gold by Karidy Walker


For the valentine photo card that uses clever wording to reinvent typical Valentine’s Day greetings
Hugs and Hearts by Laura Hankins

Runners-up: Spread Love by Lauren Chism, Love Struck by Sweta Modi


For the best valentine photo card design that is also a birth or pregnancy announcement
New Valentine by Ashley Rosenbaum

Runners-up: Love at First Sight by Shirley Lin Schneider, Our New Love by Melissa Casey, Valentine Baby by Mansi


For the classroom valentine design that best incorporates an activity that the recipient can engage in

We Connect! by Christina Novak

Runners-up: Heart Search by Oma N. Ramkhelawan, Fill My Heart with Joy by Mandy Porta, Wonderful Words by Jessie Steury


For the best valentine photo card design featuring multiple photos
Little Sweeties by Jennifer Lew

Runners-up: Elegant Valentine by Ana Sharpe, Glittered Hearts by Oma N. RamkhelawanHugs Upon Kisses by Lauren Chism


For the funniest classroom valentine design that is sure to make kids laugh out loud
Soda Pop by Guess What Design Studio

Runners-up: Whale Love by Laura Bolter Design, Kitten Around by Cara McGrady, Do Me a Flavor by Genna Cowsert


For the best classroom valentine design featuring one or more photos
Heart Glasses by Jessie Steury

Runner-up: Pretzel Lover by Grae Designs


For the most unique full bleed valentine photo card design
XO Side Note by Baumbirdy

Runners-up: xoxoxoxo by Melissa Casey, All Our Love by Sweetgrass Paper Company, xo fancy by Guess What Design Studio


For the best design that puts a name or other customizable text on a curvilinear path
Hanging Buddies by Gwen Bedat

Runners-up: Jean Jacket by Jody Wody, Thank You, My Friend by Rebekah Disch


For the best design from a designer winning for the first time
Love You Lots by Parrot Design Studio

 

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Meet a Minted Artist: Kimberly FitzSimons

Kimberly FitzSimons spent a decade working in investor relations and product management for leading Fortune 500 companies before becoming who she is today: a successful designer and parent of two girls. Like many of Minted artists’ success stories, Kimberly’s career transition didn’t happen overnight. As a self-taught designer, she built her creative path from the ground up and got her hands dirty with her own letterpress company before focusing solely on the design side of stationery. In this interview, Kimberly shares the wisdom she’s gained from working on Wall Street, connecting with the Minted artist community, and “learning how to fly” as a designer.

Kimberly’s style is timeless and refined with eye-catching type.

Minted: What did you study in school?
Kimberly FitzSimons:
Finance. I spent 10 years working as an investor relations consultant for several public companies and then led a product management team for a large financial technology company before giving it up to be a full-time mom and part-time graphic designer.

While I was planning my wedding in 2007, I fell in love with the letterpress printing method. Not long after my wedding, I enrolled in letterpress printing classes at the Center for Book and Paper Arts at Columbia College in Chicago. It was letterpress printing that ultimately jump-started my passion for design. I taught myself Illustrator so that I could have something to letterpress print in those classes. Eventually, in 2010, I bought a restored Vandercook (letterpress printing machine) and started a design and printing business for wedding stationery. My business grew very fast, and ultimately, I had to outsource the printing work to my commercial printing partner (Rohner Letterpress) and focus on design. My old Vandercook is still a workhorse and is now owned by Steel Petal Press in Chicago. I had a few very crazy but good years offering custom letterpress wedding stationery, but I closed my business in 2014 to focus on my family and concentrate on designs for Minted.

Fresh Christmas Wishes” holiday card by Kimberly FitzSimons

How has your former career in finance and tech shaped you as a designer?
All of my jobs within the finance and technology industries helped shape who I am today and how I think about my business. As an investor relations consultant, I worked with management teams of Fortune 500 companies and interacted with their large institutional shareholders. I learned so much about the financial markets and Wall Street, but I also learned very quickly how to ask questions, build relationships, and creatively spin a “story.” It was not always the easiest job, but it had it’s thrilling moments, like interacting with well-respected executives and helping companies plan their IPOs.

When I moved into product management for a financial technology company, I was able to use some of my previous market knowledge and relationship skills to help build and implement products for a web-based asset management and trading platform. One of my favorite parts of the job was brainstorming new product features with our engineering team in Silicon Valley (Sunnyvale, California). There is so much work that goes on behind the scenes to brainstorm, build, test, implement, and launch new products. It makes me truly appreciate all that the Minted Engineering and Product teams do for artists and their customers.

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2016 New Year’s Card Challenge: Special Prize Winners

We’re happy to announce the Special Prize winners of the The 2016 Cheers to a New Year! New Year Photo Card Challenge! Each year, more customers choose to send a New Year’s card to their loved ones to spread the holiday cheer in a festive way. We asked the Minted community to create fresh designs in celebration of the 2017 New Year ahead.

New Year, New Look Award

For the most unconventional, unique design in the challenge that you wouldn’t find on any other site.
Fireworks Frame by Iron Range Artery


Multi-Photo Award

For the best design that showcases multiple photos.
Staggered by Sara Hicks Malone


“2017” Award

For the best way of displaying the numbers “2017”.
A Bold New Year by fatfatin


Home is Where the Heart is Award

For the best design that showcases a specific state or location and could be used as a holiday card and/or moving announcement.
State of the Year by Sarah Brown


Funniest Award

For the best clever, witty or funny card.
Same Resolutions by Amy Payne


Copywriter Award

For the card that uses clever wording to reinvent the typical New Year’s greeting (e.g. not “Cheers” or “Happy New Years”).
Sunshine by Olivia Raufman


Classic Elegance Award

For the most elegant, timeless New Year’s design that will appeal to more traditional customers.
Elegant New Year by Amy Payne


Dress Up Your Envelope Award

This award is for the most creative envelope design that adds something extra special to the card.
naturally by Shannon


Festive Full-Bleed Award

For the best full-bleed photo card.
Modern Cheers by Kimberly FitzSimons


New Beginnings Award

For the best design that celebrates what’s new and exciting in someone’s life – whether they’re newly married or have a new baby, home or pet.
All Is New by Oscar & Emma


Get in Shape Award

For the design that best showcases one of Minted’s die-cut shapes in an original way.
bloom by Elly


Curvilinear Award

For the best design that puts a name on a curvilinear path.
Branched Border by Kelly Schmidt


Newbie Award

For the best design from a first-time entrant.
Party Banner by Julee London


Congratulations, winners!

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