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There’s a real nostalgia to Magda Ksiezak’s work. While she makes a living as a graphic designer, artist, and printer, it’s most notably her elaborate paper craft sculptures that leave their mark on you. Magda’s made everything, from boomboxes, to coffee machines, to milkshakes, pizzas, and burgers. Everything constructed from brightly coloured paper with some tape to keep it all together. It’s intricate and patient work but the results are so much fun they’ll have you reaching for a pair of scissors and a gluestick in no time.

How did you get in to the paper craft side of things?

I got into it by just goofing around one day and realising that it was actually quite easy to make stuff with. Probably the colours and that whole DIY aesthetic was what got my attention. A while ago I used to make stuff out of felt. Mainly large cushions as birthday presents for friends. Things like pretzels, skateboards, pizzas just stuff that I knew friends would appreciate. All of that was made on a sewing machine but I used to have to think about how to construct objects and be clever with where the seams would appear. Paper craft is similar in that way so it wasn’t that different from what I had already been doing.

What’s your process for designing a work?

I think my process is still evolving. The main thing I’m slowly figuring out is to have a clear idea of the finished work before you start constructing anything. When I was making stuff just for fun, for myself, this wasn’t really a thing I would do. But now that I need to show clients what I have in mind it’s really critical to have a plan, a sketch or a tiny mock-up of the finished piece.

Before I actually make anything now I really try and consider the colours, the construction, and the composition. There’s nothing worse than trying to wing it at the end, especially on a tight deadline.

It seems like you have to be a really patient person to do the work you do, is that correct?

I’ve heard this from other people and at first I thought, “yeah… I must be pretty patient.” But honestly I’m not. It might even be the opposite. I can’t wait to see how things eventuate and resolve, that’s probably one of the driving factors. I’ve started to recognise the moments when I’m completely impatient. I try and shortcut things and it actually makes it worse because there are no shortcuts with paper work. I get clumsy and will end up tearing paper or not gluing things properly, it’s a disaster. That’s when I have to step-away and take a break. I don’t know if this type of work is completely about patience, maybe more about problem solving.

How would you define your aesthetic?

Defining your own aesthetic is a tricky thing. You’re conscious of your own style and yet it just becomes innate. I think my style is loose, playful and it’s quite rounded with a softer edge. I also try and keep things clean and minimal.

Considering your paper craft and printing press work, as a designer do you prefer physical mediums over digital? 

Most definitely. I don’t know what it is about making something with your hands but there’s just way more excitement. Maybe because the finished product is tangible. I definitely prefer problem solving in real-life than say trouble shooting software. Having said that, sometimes after finishing a paper piece or printing, I look forward to jumping on the computer at a clean desk where there isn’t a pile of scraps or paint everywhere.

You work with a lot of mediums, do you have a favourite?

I don’t think I have a favourite, otherwise I would be practicing just that one thing. I guess it’s because I like to mix things up but I do often wonder if I should be sticking to just one medium. Commercially it’d probably be wiser to kick butt with one style in one medium rather than jump across different process in different niche scenes. I do feel as though I’m still figuring it out though. Either way, it’s good to experiment and eventually it’s all relevant. It’s all experience and learning.

Is it difficult to balance commercial work and artistic work?

Sometimes. With commercial work there will always be an agenda to sell something or to get a specific message across. As a designer you’re figuring out how to best get that across. Artistic work comes from a different place, it’s more about a feeling or making a personal statement. Or even exploring an idea. Sometimes it’s tricky to find the time but I think it’s really important to keep making and creating to fulfil your own desires.

What ideas are you playing around with for your next project?

I really want to make some stop-motion animations with paper craft. I’m thinking of something really simple and basic to start out with and of course it’s food related. Every idea I have sort of tries to capture a single funny aspect within each scenario. For example, the sound of SPAM dropping out of the tin. Or for static floating paper images I’m thinking of a Vietnamese Bahn Mi or a series of Seinfeld referenced foods.

Words by Mitch Parker
Photography by Amelia Stanwix