Meet a Minted Artist: Julia Contacessi

A monthly series where we highlight a member of our talented Minted artist community. Featured this month: contemporary abstract artist Julia Contacessi, who lives in Norwalk, Conn.

After graduating from Brooklyn’s Pratt Institute in 2000, Julia Contacessi worked in marketing and branding as a graphic designer before deciding two years ago to quit and pursue painting full-time. Here, she shares a glimpse into her studio life.

Q&A: Minted Artist Julia Contacessi

Quick! Tell us…
Digital or Film: Film
Modern or Vintage? Modern Vintage!
Marfa or Oahu? Oahu
Morning or Night? Night
Stripes or Polka Dots? Both please!

How did you first hear about Minted?
I first discovered Minted years ago (BN—that would be “Before Neo,” before my son was born!), around 2007. I used to make custom candles that people could give as party or wedding favors, and I was always searching for other industry-related ideas and products. I remembering falling in love with Minted’s concept, and, of course, the designs were amazing. Then, more recently, when I started painting full-time and began to focus on other avenues to expand my reach, I joined the community and started to enter art print challenges. The Oh! Ovals challenge last year was the first one I participated in.

What mediums do you most enjoy working with?
As a painter, I focus primarily on acrylics. And because I love exploring the contrasting nature of things, I enjoy working with polymers and texture pastes along with pencil and paper. And, just recently, I started playing with fabric but not sure if that’s going anywhere.

If you could sit down with any artist past or present, who would it be and where?
Patricia Larsen in her studio
(Ed. note: See images of Patricia Larsen’s incredible studio in Mexico on Remodelista.)

What are you inspired by?
I’m a details person and usually find beauty in the simplest of things. I can fall madly in love with the sparkle from the edge of a gold glass vase or obsess over the texture of a stone found along a walk. I guess, as a way to hold on to these bits of beauty, I started creating art—trying to recreate the beauty I find in life in my work.

What color palettes have you been into lately?
I’m currently crushing big time on all shades of blush.

What are some recent inspirations?  
I’m often drawn to the sea as a source of inspiration—I’m fascinated by how the ocean provides an escape and can transport you to a meditative, dream-like place. My most recent work explores the water in abstracted forms to capture the fluidity of time. I see this recent series as a progression of my earlier landscape work—it’s almost as if I am trying to capture the same subject matter and inspiration in another form.

How do you approach your art?
For me, my work is how I problem-solve and find balance.

And how would you describe your style?
My style is single-minded and focused on the simplicity of beauty in the moment. My goal is to drown out the noise and clutter to find a sense of calm. The end result is clean, fresh and modern.

What does Minted mean to you as a working artist?
Minted is such a valuable business partner—the company connects artists with amazing, like-minded businesses that would typically be untouchable as an independent artist. That means relationship-building in ways I could never do on my own. Minted is also a peer-to-peer resource and, in the creative world, I NEED MY PEEPS!! That means working on my own doesn’t have to feel that way.

"Sand" by Julia Contacessi | Minted “Sand” by Julia Contacessi for Minted

Julia’s Favorite Things
We asked Julia to share her current favorite art, style, fashion, and home décor inspirations.

Inspiration
Who inspires you: Positive people doing good things
Favorite recent discovery: My new sneaks—Cloud. I can run all day in these babies.
Favorite place in the world: Home
Favorite charity: Everytown for Gun Safety
Favorite movie: The Birdcage
Favorite colors: A lot! Blush, gold, cream… and then navy, green, and gray. Plus, soft purple.
Fashion idol: Recently I’ve been exploring fluidity and discovered Rick Owens. Fashion as art, incredible! And I always love Eileen Fisher.
Daily website read: TheSkimm
Song in your head: Because of my six-year-old: “Lego Ninjago the Whip
Favorite Instagrammer: @interior_wish_list

Home
Favorite pieces of art in your home: I just recently added two original abstract figures by Kim McAninch to my bathroom: this one and this one. Every day they make me smile.
Stationery: Neenah or Mohawk
Pets: Just recovering from the loss of our beta, Bubbles. He was a good fish.
Favorite flowers: Hydrangeas
Favorite gadgets: My Jawbone UP
Favorite neighborhood restaurant: LeFarm or Bartaco (because I can never get a rez at LeFarm!)
Favorite drink: By day, a fresh juice made with my Breville; by night, Smart Cookie red wine
Favorite dessert: Yasso Frozen Greek Yogurt bars in coffee chocolate chip
Coffee-table book: Elements of Style by Erin Gates
Favorite snack: Lesser Evil Organic Popcorn in Himalayan Pink
Top 3 DVRed shows: Scandal, Girls and The Affair (oh, my)

Art
Favorite artist: My mom
Favorite works of art: Oh my… here’s a look at my Pinterest
Favorite art supply store: Jerry’s or Blick
Favorite paints: Charvin and Turner Acryl Gouache
Favorite brushes: Liquitex Freestyle Paddle
Other art-related favorites: A good quality mat and frame!

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Black-and-White Ice Cream Cone Wrappers (Free Printable!)

By Sara Albers and Melissa Fenlon of Alice & Lois

Summertime means lots (and lots!) of ice cream, which is why we designed these modern black-and-white ice cream cone wrappers. They’re such a fun, easy way to dress up a plain ol’ sugar cone. Download and print them out to use at your next summer gathering—set up a toppings bar for the kids stocked with sprinkles, mini candies, granola, sliced fruit, and whipped cream and just start scooping!

Click through for the free ice cream cone wrapper printable… 

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Roundup: 10 Summer Cocktails to Help You Stay Cool

Now that the temps are rising, beat the heat with these delicious, frosty, summer-inspired cocktails. Serve them ice-cold at your next alfresco dinner party—or even at your wedding reception!—and you might not need the A/C.

Summer Cocktail Ideas: Strawberry Smash

1. Strawberry Smash // via The Coveteur

2. Grapefruit Fennel Fizz // via Jojotastic

Click through for eight more summer cocktail ideas

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Children’s Birthday Party Challenge: Guest Judge’s Pick

Recently, we asked our community to submit their most fun and festive kid’s birthday party invitation designs for our “You are Invited!” Quickfire Children’s Birthday Party challenge. We received a whopping 1,356 submissions and, to help us sort through the amazing entries, we asked superchic blogger and wardrobe stylist (and mama to adorable Parker!) Jen Pinkston of The Effortless Chic to be our guest judge. Her winning pick? “Party Favors” by Jennifer Wick.

“I love all of the birthday invite submissions, but my favorite is “Party Favors” by Jennifer Wick. I love the simplicity of it and am always a sucker for polka dots!”
—Jen Pinkson of The Effortless Chic

Thank you so much, Jen, and congratulations, Jennifer Wick! You can also check out (and purchase!) all of the winning children’s birthday party invitations here.

Special Prize: Jen Pinkston's favorite Minted children's birthday party invitation

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Recipe: Blackberry, Cucumber, and Mint Popsicles

Looking for ways to beat the heat? Stay cool with these easy-to-make (and super hydrating!) popsicles infused with blackberries, cucumbers, and fresh mint. All you need to do is start with chilled cucumber-mint water (my favorite summertime drink!) and add a handful of your favorite berries to make this deliciously refreshing (and practically calorie-free!) icy treat.

Click through for this easy popsicle recipe

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Baby Shower Invitation Challenge: Special Prize Winners

A beautifully designed baby shower invite is not only functional, but also serves as a baby album keepsake for generations to come. We challenged you, the talented Minted Design Community, to freshen up our collection with the most original baby shower invitations the world has ever seen. We were beyond blown away with the amount of creativity and risks taken in this challenge.
Congratulations to all the winners and runner-ups!

The Trifecta Award based on the strength of submissions to this challenge: Pistols 
We selected one designer to receive guaranteed placement in the Minted catalog,
a homepage banner, and email to help build his or her brand on the site.

Brushed Boy” | “Little Cub” | “Chic Raindrops” | “Barnyard Baby Shower


Collection Award for the designer who is guaranteed at least five total picks across the challenge and other challenges in the baby & kids category in the next year to build a design collection on Minted: Baumbirdy

Oh Baby Dots” | “Owl Girl” | “Over the Moon in Love” | “From the Very Start


For the most out-of-the-box baby shower invitation
Owl Girl” by Baumbirdy

Runners-Up: Hey Baby Baby” by Itsy Belle Studio | “Night Owl” by Susan Asbill
Reef” by Angela Marzuki


For the best design specifically created for one of our die-cut shapes
Elefante”  by Peetie Design

Runners-Up: The Pink Drink” by Anupama | “Little Deer” by Karidy Walker


For the best design for a boy
Baby Names”  by Jennifer Wick

Runners-Up: Team Player” by Loree Mayer | “Ahoy, Boy!” by Erica Krystek
New Buckaroo” by Pedestal Design Studio

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

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How To: Pack a Picnic Basket Like a Pro

Once upon a time we owned a pricey picnic basket, but after an evening of bocce (and vodka!) on the beach, it ended up either lost or stolen (we’re still not sure what happened). Now, I’m all about simplicity when it comes to picnics—an easy, affordable basket I can quickly fill with boxed sandwiches and some basic outdoor-eating staples. Want to make your own portable spread? Take a peek at my tips on packing the perfect basket for your alfresco meals this summer.


Keep reading for my best picnic-packing tips

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Valentine’s Day Art Challenge: Special Prize Winners

For our Quickfire Valentine’s Day art challenge, we called on our artist community to create pieces that would make the perfect gift for a loved one. For this art challenge, we were particularly looking for the perfect Valentine’s Day gifts for men—whether for a husband, father, or brother. We loved seeing the graphic illustrations, unique customizable keepsakes, and modern typographical pieces that you designed. Congratulations to all winners!

Out of the (Candy) Box Award for the most creative and innovative take on a Valentine’s art print
Gold Standard” by Keen Peachy


Perfect Gift for Him Award for the most unique art gift for him
License Memories” by Johanna Phillips Huuva


All you need is Love Award  for the best typographical piece that showcases a quote, piece of poetry, or literature in the public domain
How do I Love Thee” by Fatfatin


Foil-Pressed Award for the best piece incorporating a foil-pressed element
Heart Stripe” by Cindy C Lackey

Click through to see more special prize winners from the Quickfire Valentine’s Day Art Challenge

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The Easiest Party Decorations, Ever

Here’s another favorite tip of mine for throwing a party on a budget: Use pom-pom fringe! It’s so fun and festive on its own, and best of all: no DIY-ing required. All you need are removable hooks, a few strands of pom-pom fringe, and about three minutes—it’s easier than blowing up balloons. And since pom-pom fringe usually goes for about $2.50 a yard, it’s super budget friendly, as well.

pom pom trim pom pom fringe

I bought my pom-pom fringe online in assorted colors from M&J Trimming. You local fabric store will also likely sell it by the yard; several colors are also available on Amazon, as well.

pom pom fringe pom pom party decorations


More Easy Party Ideas
How to Throw a Killer Party on a Budget
DIY Fruity Party Printables (so perfect for summer shindigs!)
DIY Alphabet Crayon Favors 
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