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Contest

Maker Stories

Meet Naomi Meller, iPhone Case Design Challenge Winner

June 29, 2012

Every new design challenge fills us with such excitement! It is inspiring to see the passion, emotion, and wit in the artists’ stories behind their unique designs. The iPhone Case Design Challenge brought in over 100 entries and the opportunity for artists to share the paintings, sketches, and graphic designs they have created.

Our judges worked through designs with unique mediums, bold colors, and uplifting stories. They decided on pieces that they thought America would love for their whimsy, and others they thought would inspire iPhone case envy. But there was one piece that the judges couldn’t get off their minds; they loved its wit and clever juxtaposition of technology on technology.

We simply love the clever geeky chic of Computer iPhone and cannot wait for you to learn more about its designer, our iPhone Case Design Challenge winner, Naomi Meller of Rhode Island. Naomi recently rediscovered her love of art and designing through photography and will soon be able to see her designs on the backs of iPhones all over the country. Meet Naomi, the newest addition to our Uncommon Artists family.

When and how did you discover art?

I’ve been involved with art for as long as I can remember. As a very young child, I drew elaborate pictures that often caught the attention of my teachers. This evolved into years of drawing and painting, usually for it’s therapeutic value. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized that I don’t want to keep it all to myself.

How did you realize that photography was your passion?

Photography was one of the only mediums I had never experimented with. When I had my daughter over 2 years ago, I got very sick and came close to losing my life. The months following were difficult, and I was physically weak. I tried to walk around a lot to build stamina.

During my walks, I started taking pictures with my iPhone. I fell in love with these photo walks I’d take, and decided to buy a dSLR to take my photography to the next level. I’m stubborn, and sometimes that can be a good quality. I set out to learn how to properly use my camera, and I did. Since I started taking pictures, my passion for taking them has only grown.

What are your favorite things to design/photograph?

My number one favorite thing to photograph is my daughter. Kids grow so quickly that I just want to capture all the good/bad/and in between moments of her growth.

I also love to create characters in my self-portraits. This allows me to step outside of myself, become someone different, and express myself in a raw and comfortable manner that I hadn’t been able to in years.

How do you keep yourself inspired?

I never stick to one style of photography. And I never stick to one type of subject. Some weeks I’ll take portraits of our family. Some weeks I’ll focus entirely on surreal self-portraits. On occasion I’ll do some photojournalism work for my husband’s news site. By always changing my subjects, I’m always changing my perspective. And it keeps me going.

I also love challenging myself in Photoshop. I taught myself how to use the program by way of trial and error. Sometimes I’ll take a picture, and work on it until I’ve succeeded in something I didn’t know how to do before sitting down. Currently I’m trying to master an old film camera that my dad gave me. I always keep things evolving, always keep learning – that way I avoid feeling stagnant.

How else do you express your art?

I’ve recently started a photography blog to help publicize my work, but also to inspire myself to start writing again. Writing is something that I did creatively for a long time, but haven’t much in the last several years.

I’ve also picked up a paint brush again. I have an earlier photograph in which I combined painting and a surreal self-portrait. I hadn’t picked up a paint brush in a long time. I still have several canvases in my house just calling my name!

What attracted you to want to take part in this challenge?

Aside from the fact that I’m a huge UncommonGoods fan, over the last few months I’d been feeling much more anxious about getting my work out there. I’ve been creating things for over 20 years, and the only person in my way has been me. I thought that this challenge would be a great opportunity with a great company.

What was the inspiration behind Computer iPhone?

Most of the work that I’m most proud of has come from a quick decision. When I over think and over analyze, it usually harms the outcome of a piece. Computer iPhone came about because my husband had recently dismantled a broken computer. Pieces were surrounding the office we share. I had submitted some other designs, but they were very portrait based. For Computer iPhone, I thought, “what would look cool, hold up well to wear, and still portray the irony that I always have in my work?”. And so I decided on a piece of the computer.

Do you have any advice for someone interested in taking part in a future challenge?

Don’t doubt yourself. If you enter a future challenge, and don’t make it through, the worst case scenario is that you can try again. I did.

All photos courtesy of Naomi Meller

The Uncommon Life

Backyard Party Pinterest Contest

June 22, 2012

Summer is finally here and we can’t wait for backyard barbecues and picnics in the park. In fact, we have been Pinning about it all winter and now want to see your summer inspiration boards!

One lucky winner Pinner will receive an UncommonGoods gift card to furnish their summer party.

Leave the link to your inspirational Backyard Party board in the comments below and/or on the original pin in our Summer Time board and you’ll be entered to win.

We’ll announce the winner on July 6. How much that person wins is up to you. For every 50 entries we see, we’ll add $50 to the grand prize, up to a total of $250. So after you share your board with us, be sure to tell your friends and family to enter too!

Follow us on Pinterest for more updates, and leave a link to your profile in the comments. We follow back!

Good luck and happy pinning. We can’t wait to see your brilliant boards!

Gift Guides

June Birthdays… now is your time!

June 1, 2012


You say it’s your birthday!? Then tell us about it on Twitter and Facebook.

Enter yourself and friends with June birthdays and this year their gift could be on us. Tag your friend in a comment on this photo on Facebook or Tweet at them with #UncommonBDay to enter them into our June Birthday Contest. Do both of those things for a double entry!

The winner will be contacted on June 30.

Maker Stories

Matthew Amey’s ‘End of Innocence’ Jumps into our Collection

May 23, 2012

With every new design challenge comes the chance to step into the minds and lives of some of America’s budding designers. The Wall Art challenge brought in over 100 entries and an opportunity for artists to tell a personal story through the paintings, sketches and digital graphics they have created.

Our judges worked through art with sentimental stories, unusual mediums and contemporary themes. They decided on some pieces that they could see hanging in the homes of many Americans yet others they loved for their niche attraction. But the piece that stole their heart was one about the uncertainty in change and straddled a fine line between hopeful and ominous.

The more we learn about Wall Art Challenge winner Matthew Amey of Maryland, the more we love End of Innocence: Jump Off and can’t wait to share its story with customers. Matthew heard about our design challenge from his wife who encourages him to share his work with others in new and exciting ways and will soon be able to say that his work is on the walls of homes across the country. Meet Matthew, our Wall Art Design Challenge winner and the newest addition to the Uncommon Artists family.

When and how did you discover art?
As a young child I took art classes during summer camp and was thrilled with the freedom that was afforded us to create whatever we wanted. My older brother was much more astute at drawing than I was so, as a challenge to myself, I set out to be a better artist than him. I believe I was 7.

What are your favorite things to design/illustrate?
My interests are many and diverse. I’ve spent the last four years studying fine art at the University of Delaware where I’ve been exposed to a plethora of techniques, materials and insight into the concept of a fine art profession.

Recently I have been enamored with cephalopods; octopuses especially but I’ve been researching and becoming more interested in cuttlefish and squid.

How do you keep yourself inspired?
I am constantly thinking of what to do next. Dwelling on past achievements, while ingratiating, can be burdensome. The process of making art, the actual moving of paint around on canvas, pushing a pencil across paper, or drawing with a stylus on a drawing tablet to create digital works, is what drives me to create more. While I enjoy the finished pieces and I’m excited to see how others react to my work, I am more enamored with the actual creation of the work. I started out as a doodler and dabbler but that has turned into a profession that is quite fulfilling.

How else do you express your art?
I have been a professional tattoo artist since 1991 and much of my work is informed from that experience. Tattoos are a very personal expression for my clients. I have built a reputation for creating high quality work in the skin and my clients know that my work excels when they give me artistic freedom to work within their design parameters.

As a tattoo artist it is very apparent that my job is to help my client express their ideas on their body. Often it is an opportunity for me to explore many different ideas, compositions and concepts that I wouldn’t normally investigate.


What attracted you to want to take part in this challenge?
My wife knew that I was searching for outlets to show my non-tattoo related artwork and she turned me on to this contest. I happened to have these illustrations that are part of a series that I recently created.


What was the inspiration behind End of Innocence?
In 2008 I returned to college after a 20 year hiatus. While studying fine art at the University of Delaware it became apparent that I was surrounded by young, soon-to-be adults who were going through some major emotional and physical changes. One day a tattoo client of mine requested an image of his daughter on a rope swing under the silhouette of a tree. After doing the tattoo on him I started to think about the image and how it had the potential to tell a more compelling story. I started putting together images of different trees with children on rope swings and ended up with a series of 5 disparate images.

Each image has a tree, a child either on the swing or jumping off, and varying types of birds either in flight or perched on a branch. The tree represents stability, safety, comfort, excitement and all the positive attributes of a loving family. The child is enjoying the ride and seems oblivious to what lies just outside of the trees reach, the future. The birds represent the varying societal norms that the child could eventually grow into.

Any advice for someone interesting in taking part in a future challenge?
Take a chance. You’ll never know how your work will affect others until you put it in front of them.

All photos courtesy of Matthew Amey.

The Uncommon Life

Giveaway: Show Us Your Colorful Mug Shot!

May 18, 2012

The original Face Mug has gotten a lot of attention since he first looked at us with those wide eyes, flashed that perfect (for stuffing with cookies) smile, and landed in our lineup.

We’ve heard gifting stories of how he’s made loved ones laugh, suggestions for filling him with different drink and treat combos, and some interesting alternate uses–like a business card holder with candy on top or a cheerful place to pot a plant. But one thing we’ve heard time and time again is that folks would love to see this character in color.

While Mr. Mug isn’t exactly on hand in color just yet, he is available for purchase on pre-sale and can be yours as a set of two in warm or cool colors. And, to add to the fun, we’re giving away all four to one winner!

Entering is easy. Just send us your best, most colorful mug shot. Use colorful props, bright outfits, and bold backgrounds. Or, take a photo with a color-altering Instagram filter, edit with your favorite program, or come up with something even more creative!

Post the photo to our Facebook timeline and we will post it in our Show Us Your Colorful Mug Shot album.  Share it with your friends and get them to “like” and comment on your photo. Tell your friends to tell two friends and so on, and so on… because the photo that gets the most Facebook love wins a set of these technicolor mug!

We’ll announce the winner on June 1, so start snapping, editing, and spreading the word!

Gift Guides

The Winner of the Pinterest Mother’s Day Contest

May 7, 2012

Another Pinterest contest means another chance for our Social Media team to get together to debate a winner. This time, the Mother’s Day contest required a different kind of discussion. We weren’t just picking out the best designed bedroom, we were deciding who’s mother most deserved a gift from UncommonGoods. The contestants in the Mother’s Day Pinterest contest told us so many stories about their mothers with pins and boards. Some made us laugh, some made us hungry, all of them made us want to call our mothers.

Here are some pins that tugged at our heart strings.


Tina pinned a picture of her mother and the cartoon character that makes her smile. We couldn’t help but find Tina’s mom simply adorable.


This one tugged directly at our stomach. Natalie‘s mom kept things exciting for her children by serving “brinner” once a week. Not only did she work a full-time job and then cook a homemade meal, she made memories for her children.


Elisse posted an image that told us so much about her incredible mother- she served in WW2 and paints watercolors. We are such suckers for vintage photos!


Kim‘s mom’s spinach ricotta looks delicious. It’s hard to believe that her mother isn’t even Italian with cucina skills like those.


Jennifer‘s pin made us giggle. Every mom seems to equip their purses for everything needed in an emergency- bandaids, hand sanitizer, hard candies. It also made us realize how much we are turning into our mothers!


But out of the 56 entries, the board that stole our hearts was by Jennifer Smillie. During our individual screenings, we had all decided that her mother is someone we would love to meet. Jennifer’s pins and stories were so sweet and helped draw us a picture about her incredible, free-spirited mother.

Please help us congratulate Jennifer and let us know how you are celebrating your Mother this year!

Gift Guides

Pinterest Contest: Happy Mother’s Day

April 16, 2012

Win up to a $250 shopping spree for you and your mom.* Just repin this image below to a Mother’s Day board, follow the instructions, and leave a link to your finished board in the comments below, or the pin on our Pinterest board.

Let your Mom know why she’s the best with this board filled with images that remind you of her. Don’t have an exact photo? No worries– be creative with these prompts and have fun!

We’ll announce the winner on May 4, so you and your mom will have plenty of time to shop together, before or after Mother’s Day. For every 50 entries we see, we’ll add $50 to the grand prize, up to a total of $250. So after you share your board with us, be sure to tell your friends and family to enter too!

*Or mother figure, or moms. Whoever you’re celebrating this Mother’s Day!

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