· By Jeni Himmer
Customer Spotlight - Molly Magnell
Everyone, meet Molly! Have I mentioned how much I LOVE that our tiny New York community is growing?
Pulled from her website: "Molly Magnell is an overgrown child with a pencil living and working in NYC/ NJ. She specializes in creating lifestyle imagery that mixes nature, powerful women, and greenery. She graduated with a BFA in Communication Design from the Sam Fox School in 2018 and Phillips Academy Andover in 2014."
What are you currently doing with your creativity? Professionally or just for fun?
"Right now, the biggest change in my life is transitioning from a fulltime job to working as a freelance illustrator and designer. Before, I was a Designer working on temporary and new permanent exhibitions at the American Museum of Natural History in New York."
How did you get started?
"Aside from a brief period in second grade where I wanted to be a doctor, I always knew I wanted to pursue some career in the arts—anything and everything between the spectrum of traditional animator to architect to fine arts painter. It was in middle school that I was exposed to the world of digital art (mainly through DeviantArt tutorials) and free font websites that allowed me to come up with my own naïve and stereotypically 2007-inspired artworks using a pirated copy of Photoshop CS3. My mom has always been incredibly supportive of me pursuing the arts and enrolled me in extracurricular art programs when we had some extra money, but a lot of my early training came from internet tutorials. The big turning point for me was when I was able to attend an elite boarding school on full scholarship that had an incredible arts program. The formal training I received help me fill in some of the technical gaps in my skills. On weekends, I basically camped out in the art computer lab teaching myself more Adobe programs and designing graphics for different groups on campus, which inspired me to pursue a degree in graphic design. But I wasn’t confident in a career in the arts, and wanted to study my second love, biology, for future job security."
"Come freshman fall at Washington University in St. Louis, I fell completely out of love with design due to a very unenjoyable required 2D Design course but fell very in love with my drawing classes and my teacher who was able to help me jump leaps and bounds in my technical abilities in traditional tools. I did a near 180 and decided to pivot completely towards illustration, which I didn’t even know was a career growing up. While I enjoyed the unlimited potential of illustration and the ability to break the rules of strictly representational art, there was a part of my brain that really enjoyed the structure and unique problem-solving creativity associated with design. In the end, I graduated as a hybrid “designustrator” with some sprinklings of self-taught animation."
"After some brief stints in the corporate world (internships at Facebook, an ad agency called 72andSunny, and now the museum), I realized that I miss completely owning a project and enjoy bringing an idea to completely to fruition without needing outside input that sometimes brought limitations that I didn’t agree with. So, I quit my job. It sounds silly to leave a salaried position in the middle of a global pandemic when so many people have lost their jobs, but I feel a big relief regaining agency over my work and my time—I don’t think I was ever suited for a corporate 9-5 schedule."
"In terms of my work now, I feel like it’s still stewing. I’m figuring out the balance of illustration and design and investigating how I like to make things. Currently, I enjoy mixing digital and analog printmaking techniques. I’m obsessed with risograph printing and the quirks that come with the semi-unpredictable tool."
"In my spare time, I’m embracing therapeutic crafts like building preserved moss boxes, making paper art using my new Cricut machine, and building modular origami to embrace building physical things with my hands. I’m also interested in the unpredictability of generative art that comes from coding, and I hope to eventually make a zine of pieces derived entirely by Python. Occasionally, I’ll stop making altogether to enjoy propagating some of my house plants, help my boyfriend and some of our friends start a coffee roasting company, and watch games of competitive League of Legends."
What inspires you?
"I think sites like Pinterest, Instagram, and Behance turn into a bit of a feedback loop of the same types of art. While helpful at times, I try to avoid these sites as my only source of creative inspiration. I collect a lot of art and design books that give me a curated look at works across time. I’m currently obsessed with the impossible spaces created by “paper architects” like Alexander Brodsky and Ilya Utkin, the multidisciplinary and joy-inducing work of Kelli Anderson, and the intricacy of traditional Chinese papercut art."