It’s always a pleasure to jump beyond the coastal design scene to inspect what’s going on in the midwest. While casually scrolling through design*sponge’s highlights a few months back, I nearly flipped when I stumbled upon Amy Soczka’s paper cut out displays for Urban Outfitters. Paper has become a popular retail material as of late, as it’s affordability and versatility is incomparable. Soczka’s creations tap this trend while setting new creative standards. Her intricate handwork and artistic eye crosses multiple mediums and platforms, ranging from printed greeting cards and homegoods to commercial collaborative ventures. Check out our Q+A for a glimpse into Amy’s daily routine.
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PP: What websites do you generally start your day with- do you have a daily routine for news/blog/information consumption?
AS: A few of my favorites right now are:
I also check in at Flickr and Facebook to see what my friends and contacts are up to. I tend to poke around online while I am enjoying my coffee and planning my day – all of the design blogs provide good eye candy and motivation to work harder.
PP: Do you discuss your work with other designers? If so, how does that impact your creation process?
AS: One thing I miss about art school is the opportunity to discuss work with a variety of people at any time. Working in my home studio, I don’t often get the chance to interact with other designers. When I am having a hard time with something, I will seek feedback from friends who are artists or designers. Ultimately what I need is a new perspective – second-guessing myself is a common challenge and it’s good to have people who can give encouragement or criticism to help the process along.
PP: Where do you usually work on your patterns and what is your preferred method of creation + execution?
AS: I have a studio in my home and that’s where I spend most of my time. It’s getting pretty crowded in there though, so when possible I’ll take my laptop to a different area of the house and camp out. My method is consistently a mix of computer and handmade technique, but I would definitely say that every design and idea starts with a drawing in my sketchbook.
PP: How did you discover your talent and how has it evolved over your career?
AS: Some of my earliest memories have to do with drawing: drawing contests with my sister, having access to piles of fresh white paper all the time because my grandfater worked at a paper mill, being allowed to color on the wallpaper that covered the kitchen walls because it would be torn down the next week. I was always in art clubs and after school drawing classes – my mom has been a constant source of encouragement and gave me a lot of opportunities to explore.
I think the evolution of my work over the last 5 years has been about finding a way to do what I want to do and make a living doing it. I have been stubborn and sort of wiggled my way into the place I am now and the challenge is how to keep it moving forward so that I can call this a career.
PP: Do you incorporate commercial trends into your work and if so, is this a factor that drives your design?
AS: It would be nearly impossible for me to be a part of the design community without having a certain amount of consideration for trends and what’s hot. I never approach new work thinking about that, but I do think about how I can apply my ideas in innovative ways and how people react to one design more than another.
PP: Do you have any advice for younger designers just getting started?
AS: I think it’s really important to have a well-rounded background. Drawing, printmaking, photography, and graphic design are all closely related and to know something about each of them is going to make your process stronger. Avoid oversaturating yourself with design – I love looking at the work of my peers, but sometimes I have to take a break from it to clear up my vision. Seek out opportunities to learn from people who are where you want to be, whether that is an internship or a conversation – people who are proud of their work generally want to share that with others. You won’t get very far sitting still, so ask questions and get involved. Lastly, a good friend of mine told me the key to success -“work on your work.”