Leah Ragain’s start in design is very Pinteresting

Talk to creative types, designers, artists—heck, anyone who loves pictures—and they’ll likely tell you it’s nearly impossible not to get sucked into the eye-candy rabbit hole that is Pinterest.

Leah Ragain, a 37-year-old Minneapolis mom of four, was no exception. Every day during her kids’ naptime, she got into the routine of holing up on the couch and Pinning her favorite photos of food, home decor, and fashion, including those from her faves Smitten Kitchen and The Fauxmartha. But with the thought of earning supplemental income at the front of her mind, one day in 2015 her outlook completely changed. “I distinctly remember thinking, ‘I don’t want to spend my life just pinning other people’s ideas. I want to be the one creating something beautiful and have people Pin my work!’” Three years later, the rest has become history for hers in the making.

“It was like the light clicked and started a shift in my thinking,” Leah explains. From there, she purchased fonts, learned Adobe Illustrator, starting dreaming, and began entering Minted Design Challenges. “I decided to really go for it,” she says. And though Leah still loves Pinterest, she now uses it as a tool instead of an obsession. Here she tells more of how her life and creative path are evolving.

Love to You” Valentine’s Day card by Leah Ragain

Minted: Did you tell anyone about your a-ha! moment to become a designer, or did you keep it a secret to yourself?
Leah Ragain: I talked to my husband and a couple friends—it wasn’t really something I wanted to announce to the world in case I wasn’t good at it. My husband has been so great from the very beginning and has always encouraged me to keep moving forward. I don’t think he realized how much of his life would be listening to me talk about fonts, color palettes, and Christmas cards! I’ve also had a few friends cheering me on and have encouraged me every step of the way.

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How Minted artists around the world express their creative independence

Minted celebrates the strength, vision and resiliency of independent artists around the world, and the vast majority of our artists are women. They are business owners and stay-at-home moms, lifelong artists, and those just discovering their creative identity for the first time. Our artists live in all 50 states and more than 90 countries. They share a deep love for creative expression, personal growth, risk-taking, and most importantly, paying it forward by helping each other.

In celebration of International Women’s Day—and the empowerment of women every day—we’re honored to share some of the stories of the many remarkable women in our global community of artists.

Lauren Packard of New York City
After overcoming brain cancer, the teacher rediscovers her passion for abstract art

I used to come home from elementary school, play my record player, and make art. From then on, art has been a love affair. After college, I drifted away from art because of the demands of being a new teacher and the constraints of New York City apartment spaces. Then, in February 2014, I unexpectedly had brain surgery to remove a large tumor. During recovery, word communication was difficult, and I suddenly had this urge to make art—I had to paint. I think for some reason that part of my brain felt more “alive”—it was my form of communication. Painting is what made sense at a time when a lot of things didn’t. My surgery also put a lot of things in perspective for me, and I knew there would never be a perfect time to start making art again. If I wanted to make art, I just needed to do it, so I made it a priority. I was no longer inhibited or insecure as I was in my younger years. It was just something I needed to do for myself, by myself. In a lot of ways, I feel lucky for that brain surgery.

How Minted fuels my independence
My work celebrates an independent way of seeing and thinking, which I hope to engage the viewer in. Creating work for Minted also has helped fuel financial independence, allowing me greater freedom to create art. Minted Design Challenges encourage me to keep pushing myself as an artist to create unique work.

Read more of Lauren’s story



Zhi Ling Lee of London, England
The IT consultant strikes a balance between the financial world and the arts

If you had told my younger self that I would have tens of thousands of my cards sold around the world, I wouldn’t have believed you. But that’s exactly what’s happened since I began designing for Minted in 2014. Minted has been the biggest driver for me to improve my skills and experiment with new approaches and techniques.

While I’ve always had an interest in art, I took a more traditional path, majoring in software engineering. After graduating university, I started a corporate IT career, and I now work in the financial services industry in London. I’m glad I took some time to learn design, and my mantra is “Never stop learning.” I’m always trying new techniques by following online tutorials, and if I’m participating in a Minted challenge, I set out specific hours after work to research, sketch, and complete my designs.

How Minted fuels my sense of independence in life
Minted gives me the freedom to pursue design while keeping my day job. So many of us have varied interests, and Minted has allowed me the opportunity to celebrate my creative side. Independence for me is living without the constraint of pursuing only one path, as having two tracks to run in life is much more interesting and fun.

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Mariam Naficy Talks Venture Capital with Harry Stebbings on The Twenty Minute VC

Whether you’re a budding entrepreneur or a seasoned professional, there’s always something new to learn in the world of business.

This week, Minted Founder and CEO, Mariam Naficy joins Harry Stebbings on The Twenty Minute VC podcast to share her learnings navigating venture capital, capital efficiency, scaling your business, and more. Learn about Mariam’s experiences by downloading this information packaged episode on iTunes HERE.

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Behind the Design: ‘Urban Sophisticate’ wedding invitation

Minted artist Carol Fazio, who’s based in Philadelphia, shares the vision and creative process behind her bold and modern brushstroke wedding invitation “Urban Sophisticate.”

Minted: What was the inspiration behind “Urban Sophisticate”?
Carol Fazio: I always say, “You never know where a doodle will end up,” and that’s exactly where this design began. The original drawing was pink! I knew the feelings I wanted to convey: energized, painterly, abstract. I also had some tear sheets on my inspiration wall that influenced me. The juxtaposition of the hand-painted artwork with very clean typography appealed to me. It felt organic and sophisticated at the same time.

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Adventure Awaits Graduation Challenge: Special Prizes

Announcing the Special Prize winners of our Adventure Awaits Graduation Challenge! Students and their loved ones will soon start looking for the perfect announcement or party invitation. Graduation is a momentous event in our customers’ lives, and a Minted category that has grown tremendously over the past few years. We were so impressed by these stunning designs – hats off to the winners!

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London artist Francesca Iannaccone credits her style to details and the ‘10,000 hours thing’

They Flew At Night” and “Lined Abstract” by Francesca Iannaccone

Some artists have a hard time putting their style of their work into words, but not Francesca Iannaccone. The London artist and illustrator easily sums it up in a sentence. It’s about bright color palettes, layered textures, and sharp, clean graphics with a Mid-Century influence—breaking down the detail into shape, color, and pattern. Her process is distinctive as well—she usually creates by hand and colors digitally, although recently she’s been drawn to traditional methods, including paint and paper collage to create abstract works. 

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Former actor Mary Gaspar revisits her childhood dream of making art

“If you would have told me 10 years ago that I would be a professional artist, I would have said, ‘shut the front door.’”

That’s how Mary Gaspar responded when we asked how she became an artist, as she recalled the twists and turns that preceded her current career path. The Minted painter—whose popular “Plant Cell” series has made an impact in the design blogosphere and led to commissioned work for The Property Brothers—used to work as an actor.

Of “Plant Cell 1” (shown above) and the other prints in the series, Mary calls them the “little plant cells that could” because they’ve been featured on a number of blogs.

In a nutshell, Mary landed her first acting gig at age 13 by singing in the choir in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat at the Chicago Theatre. In high school, she was immersed in both theater and fine art, and grappled with deciding which one to focus on in college. Although she worked diligently on her art portfolio as a teenager, Mary never submitted it to universities and decided instead to study theater at the University of Illinois.

After college, Mary moved to Los Angeles for a few years to pursue acting and worked doing commercials while maintaining a long-distance relationship with her then-boyfriend, Derek, a fellow actor who stayed in Chicago. He later joined Mary in L.A., but long story short, after marrying Derek, getting pregnant with their first daughter, Mary and her young family returned to the Chicago area to be near family in 2008. Fast-forward 10 years, and their family has expanded to three daughters (ages 2, 7, and 9); both Mary and Derek are on the up and up with newfound career paths—she as an artist and he as a restaurateur. But it didn’t happen overnight.

“After I had my girls, my husband was busy with work and school, and I was working for my father doing legal research while being at home all day with the kids,” she explains. “I felt like I needed to make something.” She naturally scratched the itch to paint once again, following her childhood passion for art.

In this interview she tells how the rest is history in the making.


Mary holds the original of “Blue Hearts” painting, which Minted repurposed into a fabric for home decor, such as the “Blue Hearts” table runner below.

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With This Ring Wedding Invitation Challenge: Special Prizes

Announcing the Special Prize winners of our With This Ring Wedding Invitation Challenge! Engaged couples come to Minted for trendsetting and unique designs they cannot find anywhere else. The Wedding Invitations category is the largest in wedding and showcases our freshest and most innovative designs. Congratulations winners!

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One artist lives in Paris, the other in Omaha. And they’re like two peas in a pod

When Parisian artist Gwen Bedat made plans to travel with her husband from France to California in January, the first person she contacted was Holly Whitcomb, a fellow Minted artist who lives in Omaha, Nebraska. Although the two had never met face to face, Gwen and Holly have become close friends through Minted.

Holly Whitcomb (left) flew from her home in Omaha, Nebraska, and Gwen Bedat flew from Paris to meet for the first time in San Francisco in January 2018. Gwen Bedat (right) thinks she’s likely to find a Minted artist just about anywhere in the world, which is almost—but not quite—true, considering the community stretches to 90 countries. “You only live once, so I figure I should try to meet Minted artists in every city or country I visit,” the Parisian designer says.

Gwen and Holly were connected through the Minted Buddy program in 2014, and began corresponding a few times a week via email and Facebook Messenger. Over time, they began messaging daily about everything from design to day jobs to family life. During Minted Challenges, they shared screenshots of their works in progress to spark feedback and critiques. “We’re always bouncing stuff back and forth,” Holly says. “But we’d never talked on the phone or face to face.”

Until now.

After communicating online for three and a half years, they finally met in the flesh in mid-January. Four months pregnant with her third child, Holly flew to San Francisco for three days to hang out with Gwen. What was it like to meet in person after years corresponding on the Internet? “It felt like seeing a familiar face in an unknown city,” Gwen said, after explaining that Holly met Gwen and her husband at their Airbnb in Haight-Ashbury. Jet lag and swollen feet aside, the two explored Fog City and hit up tourist attractions like the Golden Gate Bridge, Coit Tower, and Alcatraz. They also stopped by the Minted offices to meet employees and try their hand at watercoloring.

The Minted Buddy program strives to connect experienced Minted artists with newer artists, and when Holly signed up, she assumed she’d be matched with a more experienced artist. But as a longtime member of the community (she joined in 2010), Holly played the role of veteran to Gwen’s somewhat newbie status, considering she’d just joined a few months earlier in 2014.

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Announcing the winners of the Minted x Every Mother Counts Contest

Drumroll, please! We’re excited to announce the two winners of our Minted x Every Mother Counts Contest, who will join Mariam Naficy and Christy Turlington Burns in Haiti this fall.

Please join us in congratulating our two winners, Karly Depew of Oscar & Emma and Briana Nielson! Karly and Briana participated in at least two of Minted’s Baby & Kids Challenges in 2017 and also submitted a very thoughtful written and video application, respectively. Both artists demonstrated excitement and passion in supporting EMC’s mission through their own personal stories and experiences with pregnancy and maternal healthcare.

Every Mother Counts (EMC) is a non-profit organization dedicated to making pregnancy and childbirth safe for every mother, everywhere. At the beginning of 2017, we kicked off a year-long contest where two Minted artists would be selected to join Minted Founder and CEO, Mariam Naficy, and EMC Founder Christy Turlington Burns on a trip to Haiti in fall 2018. On the trip, the winning artists will meet with one of EMC’s grantees and experience first-hand the work that they are doing to provide skilled and compassionate care to Haitian mothers throughout their pregnancies.

Karly Depew of Oscar & Emma

Karly has been with Minted since nearly the very start of the company. She is a talented graphic designer from Columbus, Ohio—she has 200 wins on Minted, won first place in Minted’s very first Holiday Photo Card Challenge and struck gold again in the same challenge in 2015. She is an active community member who is very well-liked, down-to-earth, and always willing to help fellow community members.  (Karly Depew photo by Christa Kimble Photography)

In Karly’s Words

“While the road I have traveled in motherhood has had its bumps and curves, I am so thankful to have had proper care. I can’t imagine going through this journey without the support system I had. Every Mother Counts is an incredible organization and it would be an honor to be able to visit Haiti and see firsthand the impact it is making on the lives of those who truly need extra helping hands.”

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