15 Questions to Inspire Quality Art Critiques

By Nathan Bond & Amy Schroeder

Many Minted artists say peer critique is one of the most valuable aspects of our community and challenge process. After submitting your work to a challenge, Minted artists are encouraged to share feedback on other artists’ work and invite fellow community members to critique their own work.

We’ve found that when artists ask specific questions about their work, they are more likely to generate quality feedback. Armed with this constructive feedback, many Minted artists iterate their submissions or put the feedback in their back pocket for future projects.

We asked Nathan Bond, an art instructor at Parsons School of Design, to create the following list of prompts to inspire quality critiques. We recommend that you copy and paste the questions that resonate with you into the “Ask for Feedback” pop-up field after submitting your work.

Fossilized Rock” by Frooted Design

With more than 20 years of experience, Nathan said he created this list for a wide range of artwork, including paintings, drawings, and photography. “These questions focus on the fundamental elements of all works of art, regardless of genre or style,” he said. “I organized them in an order that develops similarly to how you would develop a formal critique, starting with the basic foundations of the image and developing toward the more interpretive aspects.”

15 Art Critique Prompt Questions

1. Does the composition effectively move the viewer’s eye around the image?

2. My intent with this composition is to take the viewer to ____________ location. Did your eye go there?

3. Are there any classic compositional errors? For example, is the subject matter too centered or too far off to one side? Are things cropped in an effective way? Is anything “kissing” the edge?

4. Is there good positive-negative space, and is it balanced and harmonious?

“Skyward Angles” limited edition print by Gabrial Reising


Printable: Father’s Day Beer Labels

Written by Sara Albers and Melissa Fenlon of  Alice & Lois

Celebrate Dad this Father’s Day by surprising him with his favorite brew repackaged with these festive “World’s Greatest” labels. It’s the perfect way to make your pops feel extra special this Father’s Day. Looking for more easy Father’s Day ideas? Check out our homemade salsa recipe with label printable and BBQ sauce printable.

Free Printable Father's Day Beer Label Free Printable Father's Day Beer Bottle Label

Click through for the free printable beer labels…


New Minted Artists Talk Picasso, Pizza, and Mentors

Every month we welcome some of our newer Minted artists to the community in the Welcome Wagon series. Hop on and learn some fun facts about Belia Simm, Seth Smith, and Stephanie Strouse.

Belia Simm
Fishkill, New York

Personal website: beliasimm.com
Instagram: @beliasimm
First winning design: “Name Initials” during the A is for Art challenge in August 2015.

Name Initials,” Belia’s first winning design for Minted

Which artist or designer would you like to invite to your home for dinner?
Pablo Picasso, since he was such well-rounded artist. He is famous for his paintings but he also did sculptures, sketching, printmaking, and even stage design. As an artist, my goal is to also have an extensive portfolio of quality, diverse work like he had.

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Minted Artists Critique Holiday Designs at Atlanta Meetup

Story and photos by Kristen Smith

In late April, I had the pleasure of organizing an incredible live holiday stationery design critique session with six fellow Atlanta area Minted artists. The meetup was especially exciting because it was the very first in a series of gatherings we’ve planned this year as part of the pilot Minted Ambassador program.

In addition to Kristen Smith, the six artists who attended the Atlanta meetup were Stacey Meacham, Ashley Ottinger, Kelli Hall, Camilla Acosta, Zanne Bedore, and Susie Stern.

We all gathered at the lovely home of Kelli Hall, who was so very gracious to host us, and we each brought print-outs of designs we were currently working on. Because the “Making Spirits Bright” Holiday Photo Card Challenge is one of Minted’s biggest and most competitive challenges of the year, sharing live critiques was absolutely invaluable. Being able to take a break from our computer monitors and interact with the printed, tangible work was a much needed, fresh perspective. We scheduled our critiquing meetup about a week before the day final submissions were due, so it was the perfect little boost to motivate us and carry us weary and cross-eyed through the finish line.

As there are quite a few Minted artists in the Atlanta area, we were fortunate to have veteran community members like Stacey Meacham (pictured above) as well as a few first-timers and recent first-challenge participants. Our hope is to see many new faces at future meetups as our talented community of independent artists and designers continues to grow.

Stacey said she enjoyed the holiday critique because it gave her the confidence to move forward with submissions that she was questioning. “I often have designs that linger on my artboards that I know have something but am unsure if they are finished or good enough,” she said. “Having in-person feedback from respected designers, friends, and artists is invaluable. Even if there are not changes that need to be made, just getting the confirmation that ‘yes, this is good—you should definitely submit’ is so helpful.”
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How To: Decorate a Store-Bought Cake

Sometimes there just isn’t any time to bake a cake from scratch. And sometimes your attempt at a homemade cake completely flops. And sometimes all the birthday kid really wants is bakery frosting. Whatever the reason, there’s no shame in a store-bought cake. And all it takes is a few minutes to make it look good, no skill required.

easy ways to decorate a cake

Click through to see the “before” cake and two other decorating ideas below…


First Minted Artist Paris Meetup Full of ‘Pinch-Me’ Moments

In mid-May, London-based Minted Artist Annie Montgomery organized the very first Minted artist meetup in Paris, bringing together one Parisian, as well as a German, French, American, and Italian. “It was absolutely lovely! An evening filled with inspiration and new friends…all set on a rooftop overlooking the rooftops of Paris,” Annie said.

Cheers! (From left) Annie Montgomery (London), Cécile Kotsch of Bonjour Paper (Germany), Liz Conley (U.S.), Gwen Bedat (Paris), and Gerrie Magnani of chocomocacino (Italy).

The five artists met at 43 Up on the Roof, dined at Fish La Boissonnerie, and finished the evening at Grom for gelato—”trying to make the night linger for as long as possible,” Annie said. “There were lots of bubbles and cheers involved because we had so much to celebrate, including the end of the big Minted holiday design challenge.”

Despite being from various parts of the world, Annie said the artists had so many things in common, from travels and expatriatism to designer role models and friends and families humming Christmas music in March. “We laughed and nodded and bonded over so many similarities,” she said.

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2 PBteen x Kids Challenge Artists Share ‘Winner Stories’

“An absolute blast!” “Delighted and astounded!” “We were oohing and ahhing.”

These are just a handful of the comments from the Pottery Barn Kids and PBteen merchants during the Minted community winners’ announcement call on May 25. An obvious statement—but we’ll say it anyway—the merchants were beyond excited. “This has been an unbelievable partnership,” said Mary Harrington, Vice President, Merchandising, Pottery Barn Kids. “The amount of work that artists put into the entries was amazing. The work is whimsical, creative, and beautiful—everything we like to stand for.”

Mr. Giraffe” by Makewells, 19th place winner (also Pottery Barn Kids Editors’ Pick)

Hey Mr. Dog” by Makewells, PBteen Editor’s Pick

With more than 7,000 submissions and over 600,000 artist and consumer votes, the Minted X Pottery Barn Kids X PBteen Wall Art Challenge is the largest in Minted’s history. We look forward to seeing the winners’ work in Pottery Barn Kids and PBteen stores in July 2016. View a list of all winners here.

Here, two of the many winners—Megan Wells of Makewells, and Hannah Williams—share the inspirations and stories behind their winning submissions.

Megan Wells of Makewells
Makewells Minted Artist Store

Minted: Word on the street is that there’s an interesting story behind your two winning designs—can you share?
Megan Wells: A few of the pieces I entered in the Minted X Pottery Barn Kids X PBteen Wall Art Challenge were from my 365 Sketchbook Project. In May 2015, I decided to create in my sketchbook every single day for 365 days. The only rule was I had to fill up a page, and post it to Instagram (@makewells). When I started this project, my main objective was to simply complete it and accomplish my goal. I had started twice before and didn’t last a month.

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Kids’ Birthday Party Challenge: Special Prize Winners

Announcing the special prize winners from our Sweet Celebration Quickfire Kids’ Birthday Party Invitation Challenge! It’s time to party! Each year, parents come to Minted to find the perfect invitation celebrate another year in their child’s life. We invited you, our talented Minted community, to design fun and unique invitations that would inspire parents and set the tone for a party that their children will remember for years to come. Congratulations to all the winners and runners-up!

For the most design-forward, innovative kid’s birthday party 
invitation that you would only find at Minted
Cherry on Top by Oscar & Emma

Runners-up: Party Sloth by Pistols | Dotted by roxy | Tutti Frutti by Karidy Walker

For the best design for a boy
Pirate’s Map by Alethea and Ruth

Runners-up: SK8 by robin ott design | Captain Laser by Bob Daly | Truck Time by Oodles of Color

For the best party invite featuring one or more
 photos of the birthday boy or girl 
Birthday Shades by Baumbirdy

Runners-up: Patterned Fun by Maria Hilas Louie | Let’s Celebrate a Birthday by Christine Taylor
Space Cadet by Jennifer Lew

For the best party invitation for a 1 year old girl or boy
feather wild one by Baumbirdy

Runners-up: and the clock struck 1 by Frooted Design | Wild by Jessie Steury
Dotted One by Jennifer Wick

For the best design specifically created for one
 of the unique shapes Minted offers 
Tri Birthday by Itsy Belle Studio

Runners-up: Birthday Brunch by Kelly Nasuta
Grrreat Lion by Katie Zimpel | Game night by Anupama

For the best design that celebrates a fall or winter birthday
Ice Castle by Jessica Ogden

Runners-up: Scout by Marabou Design | Snow Much Fun for Everyone by Laura Bolter Design

For the best design that puts customizable text on a curvilinear path
Banner Takeoff by Haley Warner

Runners-up: Joyful Rainbow by Hooray Creative
Roger That by 24th and Dune | Truck Party by Alethea and Ruth

For the best design from a designer winning for the first time
Timber! by Paper Sun Studio


Images created by Leah Conroy

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2 Minted Artists Win Top Honors in 2016 Louie Awards

Often described as the “Oscars of the stationery world,” the annual Louie Awards are kind of a big deal—especially for the winners. This year, we’re proud to say that the awards’ parent organization, Greeting Card Association, named two Minted designs as winners: Laura Hankins for “Baby Brewing” and Kristie Kern for “Sparkling Frame.” In addition, Minted artist Paul Berthelot received a nomination for “Coal.”

The Louie Awards display of stationery nominees took center stage at the National Stationery Show in mid-May, inside the entryway of the Javits Center in New York.

Sparkling Frame” photo announcement by Kristie Kern

“Grateful is the word I’d use to describe the way I feel about winning a Louie,” Kristie said. “Grateful to Minted for the many amazing opportunities, and for choosing one of my designs to enter for consideration — such an honor in itself. I am grateful to all the talented Minties whose beautiful work sets the bar and inspires me to challenge myself. And especially grateful and honored to have won this award alongside the incredible Laura Hankins.”


Art on Your Sleeve T-shirt Challenge Special Prizes

For our first fun quickfire challenge of the year, we resurrected a community tradition from the Minted days of yore. We held our last Minted T-shirt design challenge in 2012 and we looked to our community to design fresh new t-shirts for us! We gifted these t-shirts to our community at the 2016 National Stationery Show. We’re looking forward to giving out more shirts to our community at some of the upcoming meetups this year!

Congratulations to our special prize winners! These designs will be repurposed as desktop wallpapers.

Employees’ Choice Award
For the design that captures the hearts of our Minted employees and of Minted’s founder, Mariam Naficy
Artsy by Stacy Kron

Out of the Box Award
For the most design-forward, innovative T-shirt design
Where Creativity Soars by Zhay Smith

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