Mady Samsel

A big congrats to Mady Samsel (@madysams), one of our 30 TDK Awards winners' for 2020. A Jefferson University graduate from Philadelphia, their work was chosen by Annie Atkins in Dublin: 'Mady has clearly had great fun with her portfolio: the bright colour palette and choice of topics make for an engaging and refreshing read. It’s clear that Mady has been inspired by various graphic styles from the vernacular, but she’s still made everything her own. I love the Pacman print on the burger wrapping, and I love how she’s photographed everything to give her designs context. Super!'.⁠ We asked Mady to answer a few questions for next years TDK Awards hopefuls.

What do you wish you’d known now when you started your design course?

I wish I would have learned to not compare my work to my classmates’ work, or even the inspiration I was looking at. I love seeing all sorts of design, and I love finding inspiration, but it is really easy to get sucked into it and wonder if you are as good as what you are looking at. Everything I was looking at was filled with talent and special in its own way. I spent too much time being really hard on myself which did lead to end results I was happy with but also, the process there was sometimes hard. Not everything is going to be instantly perfect and that’s okay. In fact, that’s the exact reason to be in school. To learn and grow and get feedback and get better.

What originally led you into design, and how has that changed - what do you want to do/are doing now?

I didn’t go into school thinking I was going to be doing graphic design. In fact, I changed my major twice before deciding to major in graphic design. I went from one design major (interior design) to a more business/management major and literally realized I was horrible at economics and knew that wasn’t the route for me. I basically was like “I don’t want to sit around doing math and looking at numbers” and honestly, kind of changed to graphic design on a whim. Luckily for me, it worked out. I am currently not even a full year out of college and working my first job in my field at a custom t-shirt company in Philadelphia. It wasn’t was I was expecting but I’m enjoying it quite a lot. I’m doing a lot of in house design work as it is a fairly new company. I really enjoy the people I work with. I work with people who have an artistic background, like printmakers, and then I also work with people who have no background in the arts/design and it's really interesting seeing the difference of how our minds all work but how we work together. I would love to eventually get into something related to publication, but I’ve got my whole design life ahead of me!

Design work by Mady Samsel The Design Kids interviews Mady Samsel work-2

Any hot tips for getting ahead at uni?

Hmmmm, experiment!! Don’t follow all the rules….but like, within reason. Whatever you do, make it a design choice. Explain why you did it so when you are breaking some rules, you can explain you did it on purpose and not because you didn’t know the rules to begin with. I don’t know, is ‘breaking the rules’ good advice? If you don’t want to get too crazy and break rules, just make sure you have fun with your design! Not everything has to be clean and perfect and pretty to look at.

What do you love about the design scene in your city and what companies are on your dream list to work or collaborate with?

Philly is a cool place filled with local artists, designers, and musicians. There is a crazy amount of community within Philly which is awesome. Philadelphia as a whole can sometimes be a little rough around the edges, but living here for going on 6 years, I am absolutely a more well-rounded person. The art/design scene in Philly consists of artists/designers supporting one another. I’ve been to, essentially, parties of local businesses/studios/galleries, open to the public, where you are literally handed a beer when you get there. There’s really a lot of hospitality with it and no pressure situations filled with super nice people. It makes me really proud to be apart of the community of Philadelphia and also, really glad to be apart of the design/art community particularly. There’s a publication design company I came across from one of those little gallery/studio parties and I fell in love with what they were doing. They are called Sometimes Publishing and they do a magazine that highlights a lot of what Philly has to offer, whether its local music or local artists. As far as I know, the magazine is printed locally (an example of the art scene supporting one another) and it is very experimental but beautiful, and very zine-esque. Which, personally, is right up my alley. It is some of the coolest work I’ve ever seen!

Design work by Mady Samsel The Design Kids interviews Mady Samsel work-4
Design work by Mady Samsel The Design Kids interviews Mady Samsel work-4

I hope to find time to do things for myself, for my own enjoyment, whether that be design-related or not.

Where do you see your career in 5 years?

One of the things about me is that I don’t really have a plan. Call me crazy, but I’m kind of taking my life how it comes and sort of going with the flow. I try not to limit myself by having a plan too much set in stone. Not that there’s anything wrong with having a plan, it’s just not really me. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes I’m thinking to myself “whaaaat am I doing and why don’t I know” but it keeps things interesting. I would never want to turn something down because it's not quite what I thought I would be doing. I’m super indecisive which is a big part of it, so I’ve never been one to know exactly what I want. I sometimes think I know and then I change my mind! But as of now, I would love to eventually get into publication and more recently, thought about the idea of teaching. But who knows! I’m just trying to take it day by day for right now.

2020 for you in a sentence

I feel like this might be more than one sentence. I hope 2020 is the year I work on bettering myself as a designer and also as a person. I want to learn more and grow more and push myself. It’s a big year of big change having graduated from college recently. But I hope to find time to do things for myself, for my own enjoyment, whether that be design-related or not. The last five years in school were wild and great at the same time, but I do want to focus on myself a bit more than I have. Also, maybe get a hobby with all the free time I have!

Design work by Mady Samsel The Design Kids interviews Mady Samsel work-6
Design work by Mady Samsel The Design Kids interviews Mady Samsel work-6

Where to find Mady Samsel online.

Instagram: @madysams

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