Minted 2016 Holiday Challenge Winners Visit San Francisco

Written by Simone Monrad

Every year, the top three winners of one of Minted’s largest challenges of the year, the Holiday Photo Card Challenge, win a two-day trip to visit Minted in San Francisco. On August 14 and 15, we welcomed Susan Moyal, Ann Gardner and Angela Marzuki—the top three winners of Minted’s 2016 Making Spirits Bright Holiday Photo Card Challenge—to our hometown.

It was a typical foggy day in the city, but this didn’t take away from the excitement of finally meeting these very talented women in person. The two-day trip was a whirlwind of activities, including attending a new product development meeting with Minted Founder and CEO Mariam Naficy, a Q&A session with members of the Merchandising and Engineering teams, and a tour of the office. “The Minted office is like nothing I imagined,” said Susan Moyal, the first-place winner in the challenge. “It is amazing to see how many people are working behind the scenes and gain more insight on how the company runs.”

The 2016 Holiday Photo Card Challenge winners in some fun spaces in the San Francisco Minted office, the Printshop, and the Pillow Room. From left: Angela Marzuki, Susan Moyal, and Ann Gardner

During the trip, we got some tips on visiting their home cities (Toronto, Chicago, and Dallas) and gained valuable feedback on their experience as a Minted artist. “I work the best under pressure,” laughed Angela Marzuki. “I’m not one to plan much before challenges are posted. I focus on what I enjoy creating and getting it in before the deadline.” Each artist has been working with Minted for quite some time and we chatted about how Minted has grown over the years and exciting new developments, like our new wedding products and greeting cards. They all agreed that the submission process, especially for Holiday cards, can be overwhelming, but noted that file preparation has become easier and more streamlined. Something we were very happy to hear!

 

The winning designs of 2016 Making Spirits Bright Holiday Card Challenge, from left: “Christmas Sprigs” by Susan Moyal, “Winter Window” by Ann Gardner, and “Freshly Framed by Angela Marzuki

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Hooray for Kristy Kapturowski’s 1st place win in Minted’s Greeting Card Challenge

Kristy Kapturowski was short on inspiration and time when she first heard about The Better Together Minted Greeting Card Challenge, but as she puts it, once she buckled down and brainstormed ideas, she had a lot of fun with the creative process. Good thing she made time to work on greeting card designs.

As the first-place winner in the challenge, Kristy won $5,000, and her birthday card will be carried in a leading U.S. retail chain (to be announced). She also earned Editors’ Picks for 14 other card designs. “Greeting cards turned out to be one of my favorite products to design,” says the Philadelphia artist who goes by the moniker Hooray Creative. “I really enjoyed the chance to write copy and develop concepts for the front and inside of the card, combining illustration with my love of typography.”

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Nashville Minted Artists to Watch

Written by Jennifer Griffin

Angela Simeone

For artist Angela Simeone, the creation of art is no picnic. It’s a struggle, a battle, and yet it’s one of the most profoundly human and life-affirming pursuits one can take on. Art can be lonely. It demands mightily of you. And yet look what comes out of it.

An abstract painter and mixed media artist, Angela has lived and worked in Nashville for the last decade with her husband and three sons. Self-taught, Angela has thrown herself into learning the craft of painting with the same tenacity and discipline she exacted in her former career. Before moving to Nashville, Angela worked in San Francisco at the height of the dot-com boom in the late ‘90s, doing marketing for an editorial startup called Chick Click, an online network of independent zines targeted toward young, hip, urban women.

“It was a highly creative group of primarily women. That was the first time I watched women create their own realities, their own lives, their own careers. They were self-starters, writing their own tickets. A lot of them had not done anything like what we were doing.”

That early lesson, that you can push forward, do good work, and experience success despite initial inexperience was a key one, though not entirely new. Prior to San Francisco, Angela worked in marketing in the music industry in Nashville, initially working for free at an independent publicity and marketing label while studying business at the University of Georgia. It was a thrilling gig; the label promoted Hootie and the Blowfish and the Dave Matthews Band on their first albums.

“I got far more out of everything I’ve done for free than what I gave,” she says. “By working along someone for free, learning and becoming part of the process, that person becomes invested in you.”

Southern Cotton Series 4” by Angela Simeone

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Texas Minted Artists to Watch

Maja Cunningham

When there was talk of war in Bosnia in the summer of 1992, Maja Cunningham (née Pavlić), then 12 years old, took a bus trip through war-torn Croatia to stay with her aunt for two weeks until things “settled down.”

“No one thought the war would last long—but my short trip turned into eight years,” says Maja, now 37. When Maja became a war refugee as a pre-teen in Mainz, Germany, all she had was a bag of clothes and her homework. Maja’s mother stayed in Bosnia, and they didn’t see each other for the remainder of the war. Maja felt like a stranger in Germany, but gradually built a new life there, learned the language, and began studying architecture as an apprentice at age 16.

Then at age 20, Maja moved to Texas—once again with just one bag of belongings—to live with her cousin who had immigrated there. “When I moved to the U.S., I was basically a mute for the first six months, and my cousin spoke for me,” Maja explains. “After six months, she said, ‘I’m so over this.’” Out of necessity, Maja quickly taught herself English and became fluent within a year. That’s when Maya started studying architectural design at University of Texas at Arlington. Upon graduation, she landed a job as an architect for a prestigious firm and enjoyed learning the field.

That’s one fast bike, said the cloud” by Maja Cunningham

Fast-forward several years and Maja married a Texan, had her son Jack in 2014, and started decorating her son’s room. When she couldn’t find art that felt personal to her, she made her own. She created “That’s one fast bike, said the cloud” based on her honeymoon adventure she’d taken with her husband, entered the painting into a Minted art challenge, and the rest is history—sort of. After working for nearly 20 years in architecture, Maja realized that her heart just wasn’t in it. Now Maja is a full-time parent and artist and couldn’t be happier. “I don’t regret anything because it leads me to where I am now,” she says. “Because I’ve been through so much in the first three decades of my life, I really want to live a stress-free life now. Things that matter to me are health and my family’s happiness. I know it could all be taken away in a second.”


Andrew McClintock

Andrew McClintock is a big guy who makes big art for a big world. “But I also have a passion for little trees.” His words—not ours.

At 6 foot 7, Andrew’s definitely tall, and because he creates illustrations and photographs intended to be viewed in an oversize art print format, Andrew holds true to his claim. As for his interest in small trees, Andrew’s newfound hobby is bonsai. “Maybe I was inspired by The Karate Kid in the ’90s,” he says.

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Florida Minted Artists to Watch

Elizabeth Sanchez of Alex Isaacs Design

Sunny watercolor hues, mid-century modern curves, and la piña are some of the elements you’ll find in Elizabeth Sanchez’s work, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you can summarize her work as “Floridian art.” Instead, Elizabeth describes her work as a “melting pot of various cultural influences.” The Minted artist who goes by the moniker Alex Isaacs Designs (named for her brothers), lives in Estero, Florida, an area known for white sandy beaches and lush fauna and flora.

My art is heavily influenced by the places where I’ve lived: Colombia, Palm Beach Florida, and Southwest Florida,” Elizabeth says. “From Colombia, I bring on a tropical color palette and Caribbean flair. From my years living in Palm Beach, I get my affinity for all things Palm Beach Chic: Chinoiserie, the revival of Hollywood Regency glamour, and the quintessential preppy chic.”

Semicolon” by Alex Isaacs Design

A full-time artist who lives in something akin to tropical paradise, it’s hard not for Elizabeth to be inspired by the lush beauty that surrounds her. Her work is also influenced by some of her earliest memories, which are marked by family trips to the Sierra Nevada of Santa Marta and the Tayrona National Par, a unique area of Colombia with a large mountain and gorgeous beaches. Elizabeth’s father loved traveling to wild, uninhabited locales and exotic locations. “We never had an ordinary childhood vacation,” she recalls. “These strong childhood memories marked my love of color.”

On Elizabeth’s Minted Artist Store, you’ll find art prints that evoke magical realism—a combination of abstract watercolor paintings, illustrations, and digital paintings. “My creative process is ongoing. I always keep a small notepad with me so I can jot down creative sparks that I come upon in unexpected places: A striking color combination while waiting in line, a captivating word that would be perfect for a title for painting. I take snapshots wherever I go.”

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Hip Hip Hooray Kid’s Invitation Challenge Special Prize Winners

Announcing the special prize winners of our Hip Hip Hooray Kid’s Birthday Party Invitation Challenge. We invite our talented Minted community to design fun and unique invitations that set the tone for a major, memorable party and become a keepsake that the parent and child will enjoy for years to come. Congratulations, winners!

Out of the Box Award
For the most design-forward, innovative kids’
birthday party invitation that you would only find at Minted.
Bow and Arrow by Alethea and Ruth

Runners-up: Jungle One by Grace Kreinbrink | Party Lion by Melanie Mikecz | Book Party by Shiny Penny Studio


Birthday Boy Award
For the best design for a boy.

Birthday Rider by Rebecca Durflinger

Runners-up: Skip Go by Jennifer Lew | Ready, Set, Jet! by Susan Asbill | MVP Collectors Card by Shiny Penny Studio


Say Cheese Award
Some of our top-selling birthday party designs
incorporate photos and we are looking to grow our photo assortment.
This award is for the best party invite featuring one or more photos of the
birthday boy or girl.
Cartoon B-Day by Avie Designs

Runners-up:  Fairytale Princess by Karidy Walker | I’m This Many by Kelly Kirkbride | I Am One by Phones Ras


First Fete Award
For the best party invitation for a 1 year old girl or
boy (which ideally works well for either gender).
Butterfly Garden by Angela Marzuki

Runners-up:  Little Racer by Jennifer Lew | Dundee by Chicimicacuno | Toucan by Lori Wemple


Foil Fiesta Award
For the best design with elements that would truly
shine in foil. Please note only non-customizable text and elements can be
foil-pressed.
Magical by Laura Hankins

Runners-up:  Unicorno by Peetie Design | Glitter & Glam by Oma N. Ramkhelawan | Rinaldi by Chicimicacuno


Great Shape Award
Our die-cut shapes are especially popular with
customers purchasing kids’ birthday party invitations. This award is for the
best design specifically created for one of the unique shapes Minted offers.

Splash Pool Party by Anupama

Runners-up:  The Magic One by Anna de Sousa | Berry Sweet by Laura Hankins | Pizza Pie Party by Paper Sun Studio 


Changing Seasons Award
Some of our top-selling designs are seasonally
inspired and we would like to augment our assortment of autumnal and
wintery designs (think pumpkins, fall leaves, snowflakes, etc.)

Winter Train by Baumbirdy

Runners-up:  Autumn Pumpkin by Karidy Walker | Pumpkin Patch by Laura Hankins 


Curvilinear Award
For the best design that puts the name or other
customizable text on a curvilinear path.

Animal Pool Party by Lori Wemple

Runners-up:  Over the Moon by Jessie Steury | Slither Snake by Jessica Ogden | Purrfect Kittens by Shiny Penny Studio


Newbie Award
For the best design from a designer winning for the first time.

Calling All Superheroes by Jessica Prout 


Originality Award
For the best design that incorporates an original hand-drawn illustration or hand lettering.

Ellie Fun by Sweta Modi

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Israeli-Californian artist Hadas Tal marries realism and abstraction with a designer’s eye

“Finding the emotional climate and capturing the feeling of a scene.”

That’s the name of the creative game for Hadas Tal, who approaches her paintings with a designer’s eye. Whether she’s painting a California coastline or an abstract representation of high-rise windows, she carefully considers the composition, color, shapes, form, and cropping of everything she creates. “I like clean design, white, contemporary—The Guggenheim in New York, for example—expansive white walls,” she says.

Tal is a full-time artist in Emeryville, California, located about 10 miles northeast of San Francisco, but was born in Rishon Letzion, Israel. In 1980, her dad received a lucrative opportunity to work as a computer programmer for IBM, so her family moved to New Jersey, where Tal grew up. A new Minted artist, Tal earned a top-voted win for Windows,” in the Minted + West Elm on the Big Stage Challenge. “Windows” was inspired by a gray, rainy day in Chinatown, San Francisco—more specifically, the haziness of the gray rainy day and how it affected the light surrounding the building. “Each window looked like an abstract painting,” Tal says.

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Minted x West Elm Art on the Big Stage Special Prize Winners

Announcing the special prize winners of our Minted x West Elm Art on the Big Stage Challenge! For our fifth year running, Minted and West Elm teamed up to put Minted’s independent artists on a big stage. Congratulations, winners!

West Elm Creative Director’s Award
For the piece that most captures the attention of West Elm’s senior vice president of design, Johanna Uurasjarvi.
Surf by Lauren Packard Art


Collection Award
For the best group of pieces (3-4) that could be purchased together.
Stay 1, Still 2, Still 3, Still 4, and Still 5 by Victoria Johnson


Painterly Neutrals Award
For the best painting created in a neutral color palette.
Mountain Movements by Kristen Franklin


Abstract Photography Award
For the best abstracted piece of photography.
Big Apple Blur by Emily Coey


Fauna Photography Award
For the best piece of photography showcasing animals.
Jane Gallagher by Amy Carroll


Printmaking Award
For the best piece of art created using a printmaking technique (lithography, etching, etc).
Ocean Abstract IIIOcean Abstract IV, and Ocean Abstract V by Alicia Schultz


Graphic & Geometric Award
For the most interesting graphic & geometric art print.
After Midnight by melanie mikecz


Drawing & Sketching Award
For the best black & white drawing or sketch.
Human One: Anton by Colin Stuart

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You can take the girl out of design, but you can’t take design out of Minted artist Karidy Walker

You can take the girl out of graphic design, but you can’t take the graphic design out of the girl. This was the case for Karidy Walker, the Minted artist who knew as early as middle school that she wanted to pursue a career in design in some shape or form. She went to college to study design, until she dropped out during the second-half of her freshman year. Several years later, she returned to Western Washington University and finished her degree in 2008, but she didn’t actually consider herself a full-time graphic designer until she started entering and winning Minted Challenges in 2013. Her success on Minted has led to freelance design opportunities for various clients, and now Karidy is a full-time, self-employed graphic designer who works from home in Anacortes, a seaside town in Washington state.

In the last four years, Karidy, who recently turned 40, has become known for her light-hearted, fun, and often illustrative design aesthetic. “I definitely swing more toward the whimsical side of design, but I still like clean lines and modern typography,” she says.

Minted: How did you know that you wanted to be a graphic designer so early in life?
Karidy Walker: When I was in seventh grade, we had a career day at school where people came to share their jobs and life experiences. I always knew I wanted to do something art or design-related, but I never had a “term” to describe it. A graphic designer was there that day, and I knew immediately that’s what I wanted to be.

Modern Angles” wedding invitation by Karidy Walker

Are you originally from the Pacific Northwest?
I was born in Texas, and we moved to Washington when I was almost 6, but lived in west Texas (where my dad was born and raised) and Hawaii (where my mom was born and raised) before that. I definitely have heart strings to both Texas and Hawaii, and my upbringing between them is a big part of who I am today. I’d describe myself as a Northwest girl mixed with a bit of Southern charm and aloha spirit.

Karidy and her husband, Matt, in a tulip field in Mount Vernon, Washington. Her daughters, Kaileia and Aneka, are 4 and 3.

Why did you drop out of college but return later to complete your BA in graphic design?
I always knew I wanted to be a graphic designer and enrolled in college right after high school. I realized early on, however, that I wasn’t ready for the work involved to finish my degree. I returned to school in my late 20s with a renewed focus. The WWU design program was really competitive at the time, so earning my degree not only gave me the skills I needed, but also the confidence I needed to become the graphic designer I always wanted to be.

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Minted artist Erin Hodges mixes graphic design with Texas politics

Some people say art and politics don’t mix, but for Erin Hodges, they do. Well, sort of. Under the moniker Fig + Cotton Paperie, the longtime Minted artist has established her niche for modern yet timeless stationery design. And as a senior advisor to the Governor of Texas, she tackles the Lone Star State’s politics head-on. How does she manage to do both with grace? As a full-time working parent, she says she’s “still in search of that unicorn they call ‘balance.’” “However, I am one of those people who needs—not wants—a creative outlet. Stationery design scratches that itch in the most rewarding way,” Erin says.

By day, the 38-year-old works on almost every major state policy issue, and focuses a lot of her time on issues related to public education and child welfare. And by night, she’s a self-taught graphic designer who’s figured out the complexities of Adobe Illustrator. If you asked Erin during her college days as a Communications major at Texas State University what she wanted to be when she grew up, she would have said Public Relations, but as she explains now, “the public policy/government bug bit me quickly.” Fast-forward to 2010, Erin entered her first Minted design challenge, the 2010 Holiday Card Spectacular and the rest is history.


One of Erin’s favorite Minted designs is her “Mod Palm” wedding invitation. “It just feels like ‘me,’ she says. “I feel like my style can be all over the place sometimes, but I am really feel like this wedding suite captures it.”

Minted: Have you worked in politics for a long time?
Erin Hodges: I’ve worked for the Abbott Administration for the majority of my career—from when he was running for Texas Attorney General in 2001 through a large portion of his tenure as Texas Attorney General, and now as he is in his second year as the Governor of Texas. I did take a four-year break to serve a Chief of Staff in the Texas House of Representatives…but I didn’t stay gone very long.

Erin Hodges at the Texas Capitol office in Austin. Photo by Molly Quirk

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