What is the process involved in your work?
I am a designer and printmaker. I produce stationery and art prints using vintage, hand-operated printing presses. My drawings are made into metal plates which are then inked and hand-pressed to produce each card or print that I make. I work from my garden studio in Donegal and each item is hand-printed, finished and packed by me.
Where do you find the inspiration for your designs?
I have always been a avid collector of vintage items - so there is always a retro feel to my work. I collect vintage botanical drawings and textile pattern books which I constantly refer back to for composition and colour.
I also gather and press plant studies - collected mostly from my garden and while out exploring Donegal’s Wild Atlantic Way. From these I create simple silhouette drawings which are ideal for letterpress printing. I also like to de-construct plants - creating new drawings which combine elements of different plants. It’s a process a bit like cross-pollination but takes place purely in my imagination.
What have been the most positive turning points in your career so far?
I would say that there have been three major turning points in my career so far:
Firstly, moving to Scotland and going back to college to study furniture and textile design. That set me on the road to becoming a designer and maker.
Secondly, leaving a safe job to become self-employed during the recession in Ireland. If I can survive that as a creative in Co. Donegal, I can survive anything.
And then thirdly, the decision to establish and launch Maggie Marley as a brand two years ago.
What is the most challenging aspect of being a designer/ maker or running a creative business?
The most challenging thing is working by yourself and having to wear multiple hats at the same time. Switching from designer to maker, from marketing expert to site manager to accountant is a challenge. As the business grows I envisage that I will be able to outsource some of these tasks and concentrate purely on designing.
Are there any other people in your field (or otherwise) that you admire?
It’s an amazing time to run a small to medium sized creative business and there are so many inspiring businesses out there. For me, because I studied graphics, furniture and textile design I am drawn to and admire businesses that produce a range of products under their own brand name. Brands that I really admire are Superfolk from Ireland, Tom Pigeon of Scotland, Mijo Studio in Denmark and Cass Byrne of Australia.
What is your favourite piece of work at the moment?
My favourite piece of work to date is my new graphic flower print, created from shamrock leaf studies. It’s the starting point for a more extensive range of prints and patterns.
What do you love most about what you do?
I love working with luxury papers and fabrics and using vintage printing presses. The smell of the ink when lifting a silk screen beats sitting in front of a computer screen any day. Oh - and seeing my work in shops in Dublin and London.
If budget and time were no obstacle what would you create?
I would build a contemporary home and fill it with classic mid-century furniture and retro pieces. Then commission and buy hand crafted ceramics, textiles and art and have a few classic cars in the garage. Basically have my own design museum.