Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Five Minutes with Artist/Designer Marian Lansky

It was about two decades ago when I first became aware of Marian Lansky's work. I was in need of a designer for a project at the time and she was recommended to me by, I believe, Service Printers. We met for lunch and I reviewed her portfolio. I was impressed. She also said she was too busy with other projects to take on something new. That was that.

This past month I attended an art opening for Mad Women, featuring the work of women in the advertising field. Marian Lansky's exhibited works again made an impression on me, and I asked if she'd consent to be interviewed for this blog. She said she was still quite busy, but made the time.

Ennyman: Briefly outline your career.
Marian Lansky: My graphic design career started in 1989 when my son was a baby and I was looking for a way to be able to make a living at home. I'd always loved combining words and images, and then one day I saw a demonstration of a Macintosh computer with Aldus Pagemaker, Aldus Freehand, and Adobe Photoshop. It was pretty primitive stuff compared to now, but I was hooked. Went to a bank downtown and got a loan to buy a Mac IICX, one of the first HP scanners, and an Apple Laserwriter. Within a couple of years I was making a decent living doing what was, at that time, called desktop publishing.

Enny: How did you determine to make a living in the creative realm?
ML: Before then, I'd worked at a number of different jobs. I wasn't especially fond of any of them, but they were excellent life experiences for me. I'd worked in offices, stores, restaurants and as a registered nurse in hospitals. Coming back to doing something visually creative was coming back to my roots. I'd grown up in New York City and attended the High School of Music and Art as an art major. My art education there was fantastic. The school pulled kids from all over the city (you had to test in by submitting a portfolio of work and taking several hours of drawing exams). We had five studio classes a day in every conceivable discipline, on top of a rigorous academic load.

Enny: Who were your early influences?
ML: My early influences were probably too many to mention. Growing up in NYC, I spent countless hours at museums. They were my favorite hangout. When I played hooky from school, I'd spend the day wandering through museums. And then my teachers… all incredible artists in their own right, were a tremendous influence. As a teenager I loved Matisse and Bonnard.

Enny: Do you consider yourself more designer or artist? And what is the difference between the two?
ML: For the last 22 years, I've considered myself more a designer than an artist. As a designer, you give visual expression to your client's goals and values. Now, however, I am beginning to consider myself more an artist than a designer. In a way, I've become my own client… giving visual expression to my own inner values.

Enny: How have you gone about getting clients? What works and what doesn't?
ML: I've been just unbelievably fortunate in that I never had to advertise to get work. For most of my career I've had as much work as I could handle (and sometimes more!), without doing anything to promote myself. My philosophy of business has always been to keep my head down, put the client first, and do good work. Word of mouth worked wonders for me.

Enny: You have a wonderful portfolio. Do you have a few favorite pieces?
ML: Thank you. I have to say that I usually love the last piece I did the most! I learn more with everything I do. I recently completed a big commission of 14 pieces for a client and what I learned doing those pieces I've turned around and applied to my own work. I finished one yesterday that is my new favorite.

Enny: Any advice for young creative people looking for a career in design?
ML: I guess one piece of advice I'd give to anyone starting out in this business, or perhaps in any creative endeavor--is to love what you are doing. If you don't enjoy it, your lack of joy will show in the work. Find what you love to do, do it well, and the rest will follow.

Marian and her partner Rick Allen own a business called Kenspeckle Letterpress which can be found at www.kenspeckleletterpress.com.

You may follow Marian and Rick's current activites at their Blogspeckle, located on the Specklesphere at


marian said...

Hi Ed! Thanks so much for this--much appreciated...

ENNYMAN said...

Thanks, Marian. It was fun to share your work. I hope people went to your site to see more of it... You really are doing some wonderful stuff.