Minted Expands Beyond Stationery With New Art Print Business

Minted, the company that is best known for its online marketplace for stationery with prints by individual graphic designers, has launched a new vertical: Art prints.

The art business on Minted is curated in the same way as stationery. Minted holds design competitions to which any graphic designer or artist can submit work, and the submissions are voted on by their peers — the community of artists and designers on the site call themselves “Minties.” Only the top-voted designs are presented for sale. Artists receive 8 percent of all sales of their work, and Minted handles the printing, shipping, packaging, and customer service on all orders.

In the same way that it offers personalized stationery such as wedding invitations, Minted is also offering a section with customized art — nursery art with a child’s name, or illustrated family trees, for example.

“Family Of Oranges” customized family tree on Minted

Good For Minties, And Good For Business

According to Minted CEO and founder Mariam Naficy, the expansion into art was really inspired by its “Mintie” community. “As we saw all of this beautiful art streaming in, we realized we weren’t really a stationery retailer, we were a design community. The range and the strength of our designers was so strong that it can be used in different ways as artwork in people’s homes,” she said. “We realized that many years ago, and this is really an unfolding from our core.”

The competition aspect and the design community is what really sets Minted apart from other players in the space such as, Naficy said. The pieces will be priced in a middle range, above posters and most standard replica prints but below high-end commissioned artwork.

From a business perspective, it is a sharp move. Minted has become hugely popular for things such as wedding invitations and holiday cards — which are, obviously, quite seasonal businesses. The art print category is something that could be strong year-round. Minted’s customer base is also primarily female at the moment, as women are more likely to head up purchasing of stationery. Art is something that could appeal more to both genders.

More Verticals To Come

While this is the first vertical Minted is launching beyond stationery, it is probably not the last, Naficy said. “The designers don’t define themselves in terms of product categories. We business people might, but not the designers,” she said. “But they can see their art in a number of design-driven categories. This is just one way that it will unfold.”

Minted, which was founded in 2008 and has 60 full-time employees, has taken on $8 million in two rounds of venture capital funding.

The company held a launch party in San Francisco last night at Mariam Naficy’s home, and TechCrunch TV was there. Watch the video above to check out the scene and see our interview with Naficy about the new business. Also, in May and December of this year, Minted will give 50 percent of the proceeds from its children’s art category to Every Mother Counts, a maternal health advocacy campaign founded by Christy Turlington Burns, who we also had the opportunity to interview (which I have to say was pretty cool, as it’s not every day at TechCrunch that I get to interview a supermodel.)