Meet a Minted Artist: Kristie Kern

Violin major-turned-graphic designer. History professor’s wife and awesome 10-year-old’s mom. Robust coffee lover and ambitious home cook. These are just some of the words Kristie Kern uses to describe herself.

With 130 Minted awards under her belt, it’s no wonder she also calls herself an “exuberant Minted artist.” Here she shares her story—as an independent graphic designer who works from a beautiful home in Akron, Ohio.

How did you hear about Minted?
I first happened upon Minted while doing some research for a client, and was blown away by what I found. Though I often visited Minted after this to admire the amazing designs and designers, I didn’t enter a challenge myself until almost a year later; I was busy with my design studio and young son.

During the summer of 2011, my workload slowed quite a bit. Instead of immediately pursuing more work and clients, I decided to take advantage of the down time to finally enter a Minted challenge. I submitted one design for a gift tag challenge, and then received two file requests for my next challenge, which was for weddings. I was instantly hooked! Seeing my excitement as I jumped up and down at the news, my then 6-year-old son yelled, “We’re rich! We’re rich!”

I still get excited with each new file request, but what has become much more exciting to me over time is the way that Minted has reinvigorated my passion for design.

(Left) Kenton Kern, Kristie’s son | (Right) Minted works: “You and Me” by paper rose, “Numbers Elephant” by Kristie Kern, “A Very Happy Day” by Kristie Kern

What is a typical day like for you?
I often begin my day running with a group of amazing neighborhood moms, then aim to be in my office on the third floor of our 1919 Craftsman cottage by 8 a.m. First, I sort through email, then list my intentions for the day (on Post-Its!), which include work deadlines as well as personal goals. By far, my best time for creative work is early morning, so I try to make that happen as often as possible. Evening is spent enjoying family dinner and helping with my son’s piano and violin practice.

Criss Cross” by Annie Clark

How do you describe your style?
As an independent designer for nearly 11 years, I’ve been fortunate to work with a variety of clients; many of them long-term, ongoing relationships. However, much of the work I do involves designing within an established brand. The wonderful thing about designing for Minted is that I get to explore my own aesthetic—and it is still evolving. I love so many styles, from chic modern to whimsical, feminine, and urban. I love to experiment, and it’s so interesting to see what sells well—it may not necessarily be a design that was a big stand-out in a challenge.

Tell me about one of your designs for sale on Minted and how it came together.
I like the way my notebook and stationery set “English Countryside” turned out. It actually began its life as an art print submission that just wasn’t feeling right. I ended up taking that art print out of the challenge I’d submitted it to, but kept the basic design in my back pocket. When the time came to re-envision it as a notebook, it came together easily.

I also still feel good about my wedding invitation suite “Bliss.” This design evolved as I moved various elements around my Illustrator file rapidly—this often helps me see things that I wouldn’t otherwise.

I usually start a design without much more than a glimmer of inspiration, and just let things flow organically. One thing I’ve learned is that the creative process can be a strange and very personal thing, and can take on a life of its own. Sometimes you just have to follow where it leads and be “in the zone” while it’s happening. Being in this zone is where I do my best work, but it can be so elusive. I wish I could bottle it!

Who are your favorite designers?
I love the simple forms and bright, unexpected color combinations in the work of children’s book author and illustrator, Ezra Jack Keats. I also adore the rhythms of color New York painter Juri Morioka creates in her abstract art. In the stationery world (aside from the many crushes I have on the work of fellow Minted artists), I really enjoy the work of Ingrid Reithaug and Tonje Holand, the Norwegian duo who make up the design studio Darling Clementine.

Leaf Study” by Kristie Kern

What’s your advice for new designers?
Make a non-negotiable appointment with yourself each day to practice your passion, preferably during the hours that you are at your best. If you have to break this routine, try not to let too many days go by before you get back to it. I’ve found that the more time I spend outside the creative zone, the longer it takes to find that oh-so-happy place again.

In terms of design, these are some of the things I keep working on myself: When you realize you’ve stopped designing and have started “decorating,” take a break. Come back with fresh eyes, shift a few things around and take a few things away. Try to look at the overall composition rather than fussing with tiny details in the beginning. Find the focal point, then pare back on anything that competes with it (or decorates it rather than enhances it). Then refine: Check kerning, leading, and for a pleasing amount of space between text and graphic elements. Detailed attention to typography can really make a design.

Designing for Minted has brought amazing opportunities. The added visibility has helped potential clients find me and has generated additional work. More important to me, though, is the strong sense of support that I’ve received from being part of the Minted community. Especially for anyone in a solo career, feeling connected to a group of peers is so important, and I’ve found my fellow Minted Artists to be not only wildly talented designers, but also incredibly smart, funny, generous and good people.

Hello World” by Kristie Kern

More from Kristie Kern:
• Minted Store
• KristieKernCreative.com

Photography by Stephanie Miller and Angie Arthur

Published August 28, 2015 • Learn how to become a Minted artist here.

 

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DIY: Watercolor Wedding Fans

Written by Sara Albers and Melissa Fenlon of  alice & lois

Summer weddings are in full swing and if you’re holding your ceremony or reception outdoors, then it’s thoughtful to think of ways to keep your guests from melting beneath the blazing sun. These sweet handmade fans are easy to make and perfect for cooling off; paint them in your wedding colors and you’ve got a pretty handmade element to add to your wedding décor.

Click through for the full tutorial

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Fall and Winter Digital Invitation Challenge: Special Prizes

Announcing the special prize winners for our Fall and Winter Digital Invitation Challenge! In this challenge we asked you, our talented community of artists, to build our assortment for fall and winter events including Back to School, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and more. The holiday season is the biggest party season of the year, and once Digital Invitations launch in late October, we are expecting them to be extremely popular. A huge congrats to all the winners and runner-ups!

Guest Judge Pick 
Vintage Pumpkin Seeds” by Karidy Walker

We asked Jenny Keller a self-taught baker, author, and stylist whose creative work has been featured in Romantic Homes, US Weekly, OK! Magazine, and Brides Magazine among others to guest judge this challenge.

Her thoughts on her Minted pick: “I love all things vintage and this design has the perfect mix of colors and a great variety of fonts.  The back of the card would be darling with a plaid design in a mix of  oranges, black, browns and greens. This design would be simple to coordinate party decor and can be used for any fall occasion.  I imagine a big party at a local pumpkin patch to pick out pumpkins or an outdoor family gathering with pumpkin carving and hot apple cider.  I may need to plan a party with this card!”


For the most original holiday party invitation that
you wouldn’t find on other sites 
Floral Fete” by Baumbirdy

Runners-Up: Coffin Break” by Pistols | “HotDogtoberfest” by Shari Margolin
pignolata” by chocomocacino


For the funniest or wittiest holiday party invitation
Ripped” by Kim Dietrich Elam

Runners-Up: “BooYah” by A.J. | “Latkepalooza” by RedRedOrange
Bewitching Soiree” by Itsy Belle Studio


For the best design that puts customizable information
on a curvilinear path
Carving Party” by Pad and Paper

Runners-Up: “Festive Catrinaby Maria Mordvintseva-Keeler
Holiday Cookie Jar” by Chelsey Scott


For the best design showcasing a Christmas-specific
 theme and traditional Christmas color
pandoro” by chocomocacino

Runners-Up: Holly Exclamation Point” by Sara Malone | “Editorial Chic” by Stacey Meacham
Pretty Party” by Phrosne Ras

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

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What to Include on Your Wedding Website

The goal of every good wedding website: Give guests the details they need to prepare for your wedding—and get them pumped to join you for your celebration in the process. To help you pull it off, follow our handy guide to everything you should include on your wedding website.

Everything You Need to Include on Your Wedding Website

THE ESSENTIALS
• A warm welcome and a photo
Welcome guests to your wedding website with a favorite of yourselves and a heartfelt message letting your guests know how ecstatic you are to see them. After all, this is probably one of the only times you’ll have all your loved ones gathered together in the same place at the same time.

• Wedding date, time, and location
Kind of a no-brainer, but you’d be amazed at how many couples forget to include this vital wedding-day information.

• Schedule of events
Most guests just want to be told where they need to be and when, so be sure to include details on the ceremony and reception start times, as well as extra events like the after-party and morning-after brunch. But only include the events where everyone is welcome to avoid any unexpected drop-ins!

• Travel information and accommodations
Think about what you’d need to know in order to plan a trip and provide this info to your guests so they don’t have to do lots of legwork: lodging suggestions (and any negotiated hotel room rates); a list of local airports, train station, and car rental companies; maps and driving directions; public transportation information (including car services like Uber and Lyft); and venue parking details.

• Online RSVPs
These days, more couples are opting for online RSVPs instead of traditional mailed response cards, so choose a wedding website template that includes built-in RSVP management. (Bonus: You’ll save on reply cards and return postage!)

• Contact information
Let your guests know how to reach you if they have questions or want to send their congratulations.

• FAQs
It’s nice to have a catch-all section devoted to any questions guests may have. This is the place to include helpful notes on attire suggestions, whether children are invited (since some guests don’t know the ins and outs of envelope etiquette), a list of reputable local baby-sitting services, whether you will provide transportation to/from the celebration. Think about all the questions you ask when you go to other people’s weddings and try to include the answers to make life easier for your guests.

NICE TO HAVE BUT NOT CRUCIAL
• “Our Story”
Chances are not all of your guests know how the two of you met and when you decided to get married, so devote a section of your website recounting your love story and the proposal.

• Wedding party information
Many couples opt to include a section with a brief bio of wedding-party members describing how they know each person.

• Registry
Printing registry information on your actual wedding invitation is usually not advised by etiquette experts, so your website is the perfect place to include these details (be sure to supply links that allow them to click through to shop).

• Sightseeing suggestions
If many of your guests are traveling to your city for the first time or if you’re hosting a destination wedding, then they will appreciate suggestions on local sights and attractions. Provide a helpful guide to the area by making a list of your and your groom’s favorite spots: restaurants, coffee shops, hair and nail salons, local tourist attractions. And if the area has special significance to you, let guests know! For example, if you met, went on your first date, or even got engaged near the wedding venue, those can be fun facts to share.

• Photos
If you had engagement photos taken, this is a great place to display them. But don’t go overboard: One of guests’ biggest gripes about wedding websites is the never-ending photo gallery. So pick the best ones from your engagement session and a few favorite snapshots of you and your fiancé, and you’re all set.

Ultimately, remember that your wedding website is a tool to make life easier for your guests. Choose a design that is easy to navigate (bonus points if it’s easy to read on mobile, too!); focus on their needs and try to anticipate any questions they may have. Your guests will sincerely appreciate it.

What to Include on Your Wedding Website

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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 gcoxphoto.com

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

Inspiration
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.

Home
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.

Art
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
Smudgedesignco.com
• Instagram: @SmudgeDesignCo

San Francisco” by Smudge Design

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DIY: Watermelon Piñatas

Written by Olivia Kanaley

Savor the final days of August with these sweet slices. Watermelon-shaped piñatas come together easily from that ubiquitous summer-serving staple: the paper plate. Dessert-sized plates make watermelon slices sized just right for place settings or favors.

DIY Watermelon PinatasDIY Watermelon Pinatas

Keep reading for the step-by-step instructions

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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

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Design to Dish: Crumb-Topped Blueberry Cheesecake Bars

Blueberries are a summer staple at our house—my kids love to shove fistfuls of fresh ones into their mouths in July and August, when they’re the sweetest, and I love freezing them so we can use them September through June in smoothies, pies, muffins, and more. These blueberry cheesecake bars are a great way to showcase fresh blueberries, but you can also use frozen berries and get a burst of bright, summery blueberry flavor even in the depths of winter. And these bars are so easy to make, which is always a bonus when it comes to sweets. Sometimes I see “cheesecake” and think that means tons of work, but this recipe is ridiculously simple.

blueberry cheesecake cookie barsI was inspired to create a blueberry recipe after spotting these beautiful “Watercolor
Wreath
” wedding invites by Yao Cheng, one of my favorite Minted artists (left).
Crumb-Topped Blueberry Cheesecake Bars (right; recipe below)

blueberry cheesecake cookie bars minted

Keep reading for this easy and delicious cookie recipe…

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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.

Inspiration
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

Home
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

Art
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.

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