This week we head upstate to the Catskill Region of New York to talk shop with small business owner Magdalena Long. Previously an Associate Art Director for Travel + Leisure, Magdalena now navigates the world of prints as she pursues her own small business dreams. From London to LA, Thailand to Texas and Sweden to Saigon, Magdalena travels the globe looking for the perfect prints and patterns to inspire her work in textile design.
When she isn’t traveling, you can probably find her at an upstate auction scouting for local treasures. Scroll down to see how Magdalena wove her artwork into business stationery and hear her thoughts on design and branding.
We’re loving how she pulled elements from her print collections into sticker labels for a nice packaging touch.
What’s your favorite thing about what you do?
I have a BFA in communication design. Graphic design is definitely a solution based occupation – you can’t design something if there is no problem to solve or idea to be translated. You’re always thinking about what is being said, what the end result is, where the noise is. So you often find yourself in that workflow. Creating prints and fabrics is quite the opposite, its more emotional and expressive. You pull so much inspiration from feelings, essences, places, colors or even distant memories. You start pulling these pieces together and weaving abstractions together that often times you don’t know what it is until after you have made a few iterations. You use your rational brain after creating the work, not before. I find it really refreshing to follow these more instinctual threads to an unknown destination and then to assess where I am . . . to see if I like it.
What do you value in great branding?
As a graphic designer I know how much work and energy goes into branding and how easy it is to lose your way. Great branding really creates a unique world and then knows how to play within its boundaries. There’s a lot of discipline behind creating that world, a lot of reduction and attention to small details. If its done well it looks effortless. I also love the psychological process that the actual brand has to go through in order to create this visual world; its a very rigorous round of deep questioning to eek out their own essence, to acutely define who they are and what value they are bringing forward. It’s very rewarding when a client can finally pinpoint who they are and what they’re contributing – then every visual decision you make has to follow that point, if it doesn’t you toss it.
What’s the best piece of advice someone’s given you about starting / running a small business?
Just keep going! Its inevitable that you’re going to make mistakes, if you just admit to yourself that it’s going to happen then you can get over it more quickly when everything isn’t perfect right out of the gate. There’s a difference between stopping and quitting, if something isn’t working admit you made a mistake, stop to re-assess and then keep going. I also got advice to hone in on one thing and just do that thing really well . . . although I’m still working on that haha!
Thanks to Magdalena for taking the time to chat with us and if you want to see more of her work you can check it out here.