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Meet Macoe Swett of Urban Legend Design

Today we’d like to introduce you to Macoe Swett.

Macoe, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
As a kid, I loved to draw, but even at a young age, I knew I didn’t want to become a starving artist. In high school, I took all my electives in Fine Arts and I was fortunate enough to have a teacher who suggested I go into graphic design. The more I learned about design, the more I fell in love with it and its seemingly paradoxical blend of logic and aesthetics, beauty and strategy, research and intuition, intellectualism and emotion.

The longer I practiced design, the more I realized that in design, these aspects are not paradoxes at all, but integral parts of a complex system, all working together to produce a unique experience.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Yes and no. I think one of my struggles is that I want to do everything! So I can be easily distracted. I have been a bartender, a shoe salesman (literally), a yoga teacher, a college professor, a DJ, a jewelry maker, a marketing coordinator, a restaurant floor manager, and I am currently a designer, illustrator, art director and design manager. I like trying new things, but the one passion that has never died for me is design and all things design related. I’ve learned that I need to pick and choose what I give my energy to carefully. I’d rather be really skilled in a few key areas than a jack of all trades.

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Urban Legend Design – what should we know?
I started Urban Legend Design back in 2003. It’s a sole proprietorship; I have no employees and never planned to. I always wanted to be my own boss, but I’m not really interested in telling others what to do. I don’t even use contractors, except for web development. Every project I take on is in my hands from start to finish. So my clients get my > 20 years of expertise.

I specialize in data visualization/infographics, iconography, custom typography, patterns, illustration, and integrated branding solutions. One of my favorite things is when I create an identity system for a new business. The client’s reaction when they see what is often the first tangible element of their passion project is my greatest reward!

Is there a characteristic or quality that you feel is essential to success?
Back when I had recently graduated with my BFA, I was unsure of myself and my work. It was hard to know when something was finished. So I challenged myself to not consider something as done until I loved it. I would tell myself at the beginning of a project that it was going in my portfolio no matter what. That pushed me to dive deeper, spend a little more time, and not settle for “pretty good.” I’m not sure what you would call that quality! Pickiness? Haha…

The other thing that I think is really important is a good life/work balance. When I was entering my MFA program while also running my business and teaching full-time, I decided no matter what I would allow myself 8 hours sleep. I had been running on about 6 hours a night previously. I was shocked at what a difference it made. It turns out, I was walking around vaguely tired for about a decade before that. For me, being well-rested and spending time with friends and family as well as self-care is essential for my creative process.

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