Mary Manthei

a classic tale

January 20th, 2019

When I was asked to recreate the cover of A.A. Milne’s Winnie the Pooh for a family baby shower invitation, I thought it would be simple enough. I figured there was stock artwork all over to pull from and it wouldn’t take much time at all.


What I discovered is that I was wrong. 🙂 Ultimately, all I could find online were low-res images of the original cover that I could only use as a reference to create my own illustration.


I brought a low-res b/w illustration into Photoshop and cleaned it up til it was usable. Then I used the paintbrush tool to softly color in the drawing.


Next, I needed to match the original font as closely as possible. I felt Adobe Garamond Pro was a good option with the same classic details in the W and S.


Ultimately I was very happy with the final product and also ended up loving the soft salmon color and bumble bee pattern as the background.

belle of the ball

August 26th, 2018

It’s not often someone asks me to do work with a Disney theme. So this bridal shower invitation was definitely something different and fun for me to take on. It was important to me to give the Beauty and the Beast theme a mature spin and get away from any sort of cartoony look. However, I didn’t want it to feel stuffy or boring.

I drew Belle by hand with blank ink, scanned her in, and created the finalized look in Photoshop.

Then I looked for fonts that would feel whimsical enough to evoke an appreciation of this child’s movie, but for grown-ups. Ironically enough I landed on “Fairy Tales” as the whimsical serif font. Bombshell is the accent script font, and Capitals is the smaller detail font.

something fresh

November 26th, 2017

I’ve done so many wedding invitations that sometimes it can feel like it’s all been done before. And then I get projects like this where I get to really wear my creative hat.

The bride wanted the info card to include a map of the wedding ceremony and reception locations that was hand drawn.

I executed this by first drawing out the venues in my sketchbook and scanning them to my computer. Then I cleaned them up a bit in Photoshop before bringing them into Illustrator to utilize the live trace function. Once they were vectors I smoothed the strokes a bit to get a sleek, uniform look.

Overall I was very pleased with the whimsical, yet dramatic look of the 90% black ink drawings on ivory stock.

a simple save the date

September 26th, 2017

My niece approached me about designing a save the date for her wedding. She wanted something clean and modern, and shared their engagement photos with me. Right away it was clear their gorgeous photos would steal the show in their save the dates, so it would be my job to keep them as simple as possible so as not to take away from the artistic composition of this photo.

fiesta time

August 10th, 2016

The only thing that makes me happier than a party with guacamole and margaritas is designing the invite for that party.

I don’t always get ‘unleashed’ to use bright, bold colors and playful fonts. I had to be careful not to let the color palette become unfocused or too rainbow-looking. I chose a chalkboard background to help the colors radiate off of it. All in all I was really happy with the final look and feel of this piece… and the margaritas were delicious too.

the labor lady

September 22nd, 2015

I recently became certified as a birth doula, so that I can help support women during labor in either hospital and home settings.

I wanted a catchy name and brand to reflect my personality. Because I love all things alliterative, I landed on The Labor Lady.

Next step was logo time. The pressure is on for a graphic designer to design their own logo. It can be really hard to define and execute for your individual brand. It’s similar to when someone asks you to tell your life story or write your own bio – it is HARD.

However, as hard as it was to hone in on what I wanted, it was also really fun. I was able to incorporate all of the elements I wanted, including a subtle abstract silhouette of a pregnant belly, if you study the logo close enough.

I knew I wanted to incorporate florals into my branding, so I feel like this logo has just the right amount of femininity and whimsy to complement a floral background.

Here is how it translated to my website and social media:

passport to paradise

December 28th, 2014

My sister is getting married in Mexico, so she wanted her save the date to be special. We decided to create a postcard themed save the date, complete with custom ‘stamps’. I also spent time to make sure I could find Mexican stamp images to use, as well as typefaces that had a handwritten look.

cross town classic theme

December 27th, 2012

Ashley and Jason met at the Crosstown Classic: White Sox vs. Cubs, began dating, and are now getting married. This cute couple wanted to commemorate their unique meeting by giving their wedding save the date cards a vintage baseball ticket look. Their wedding colors are deep purple and golden yellow, so I incorporated those colors in a classic way. I had so much fun working with them on this and can’t wait to make their wedding invitations.

flower triptych

October 26th, 2011

I was commissioned to paint a large floral painting with warm, vibrant colors. I chose to turn it into a triptych to make it more dynamic and play with the proportions a bit. The overall width of these three canvases is over 50 inches.

I began playing with grids in one of my college painting classes and am still exploring different takes on this concept of creating a digital/pixelated look through the use of a square grid. It is also a nod to cubism since the different gridded squares can show different aspects of light vs. shadow.

pretty birds

December 9th, 2010

I recently gave these paintings as a birthday gift to my sister-in-law Aly, UW-Madison veterinary school student and bird lover. My goal was to create abstract pieces that had a simple iconic look. After all, Aly is in vet school and can use simplicity where and when she can find it. But she also has a bold personality, so it was important to me to portray that with color. I’m happy because I gained a lot of inspiration for future work, and hopefully Aly is happy too!

Larger images of these paintings can be found in my portfolio.