Don’t you just love our new collab with amazingly talented Maja Säfström? We totally fell in love with our new friend, the witty and highly reasonable sloth that Maja created for Pucle 🙂 We truly enjoy Maja’s work that includes plenty of funny, smart and grumpy illustrated animals. Maja’s humor was something we really wanted to try on Pucle and we love the result. It´s the best illustration to assemble after a hard day of work and then hang in your office space – to remind you daily to focus just on the interesting and important stuff 🙂
- Hello Maja! It’s so amazing that our collab worked out! We remember when we heard about you the first time. You were in Slovakia and you bought our Pucle in ARTFORUM bookstore. The shop assistant there is our friend – and by a chance also an illustrator, so she knew your work and she mentioned your name and that you really liked the product. So we checked you out on the Instagram – and we fell in love with your humor and illustrations! We decided that once we will make a new set of motives we will try to contact you – and the rest is history 🙂 So tell us, how was your first Pucle experience when you assembled the puzzle you bought in Slovakia?
It was lovely! I bought a 200 piece puzzle in a lovely bookshop in Slovakia and was so happy to finally find a BEAUTIFUL puzzle. Then I assembled it with my 4 year old and it was just so nice. We were both enjoying it very much!
- Were you surprised when we sent you an email with collab offer?
When I saw your Pucle puzzles in the bookshop my first thought was that I would like to be one of the artists! Haha 🙂 And then I had a chat with the bookstore owners and it seemed like they knew you and I really let them know that I loved the idea and concept! So when I got the email a few months later I was very happy cosmos brought us together =)
- How long have you been a professional illustrator?
For 5 years!!!
- Can you tell us something more about our lovely witty sloth we have on Pucle? 🙂
He is not lazy, he just don’t like to do boring stuff 🙂
- I’m sure you’ve heard this many times, but there is something so special about your work! The witty, grumpy-smart humor is so on point! Not to mention the simple cuteness of any creature you draw. Did it take you a long time to develop this specific and original style of illustration?
Yes and no. I have always been mesmerized by people who could draw, and this is 100% the truth, I was never one of them growing up. I had a feeling it was this magical talent sent by God or Cosmos, not given to me. But then when I was about 17 I felt like fuck it, I am gonna conquer this. So I started copying things I liked, line by line, in detail. I didn‘t show it to anyone at first. I saw it more like someone who practices ballet and they do the same exercise over and over again to get the positions in the body. Then gradually my own style developed. And I think this would be the same for any person. Start by copying something you like, just to learn and understand that your hand can actually create that thing you see that seems impossible to accomplish, and then when you “get it” it is impossible not to develop your own style, anything else would just be too boring. So actually I encourage anyone who likes my style to be inspired by my work, even copy it. Just don’t put stuff online that are pure copies, and don’t start selling stuff until you found your own style, that‘s my only two rules, I think.
- You have a lovely shop and studio in Stockholm – where also Pucle are be sold ! How difficult is it to run a brick-and-mortar shop and online business at the same time?
It‘s so hard that I actually gave up the physical shop more or less. It took so much energy. And it became this prison where I HAD to be, because I had this horrible invention called Opening hours. So now the shop is just a webshop and my studio is more like a showroom where anyone is welcome, just DM me the day before to make sure I am there.
- What is the environment like for emerging entrepreneurs in Sweden? Did you have to go through a lot of bureaucracy to found a business?
Not really. I have a guy that helps me with my accounting. Without him I would be crying every day. But the rest is not so hard I would say. You also forget how hard things were to learn, the moment you know them so maybe I forgot. I mean it‘s tough of course but it‘s totally worth it.
- Is there anything that frustrates you as an entrepreneur?
Absolutely, I mean nothing that makes me consider doing something else, but one hard thing is that when you are a one person company there is no-one who will necessarily give you their honest opinion on decisions you have to take. And also maybe not that many people who are THAT interested in your work at all (even if they of course say they are, but it makes sense because I am not THAT interested in my friends‘ work either). But that‘s when collaborations like this one come in, then it‘s suddenly like I have colleagues, who care about the result as much as I do. I love that.
- We absolutely love it too! It´s amazing to share the enjoyment and anticipation of the final product 🙂 So on the flip side, which part of entrepreneurship do you enjoy the most?
I love that I can decide everything I do, like everything. And if I have an idea I can spend my time developing it, preferably teaming up with someone else, but it‘s really fantastic.
- Do you have mostly Swedish customers?
I think about 50% of my customers are Swedish and the rest are from all over the world so definitely mostly Swedes!
- You also have 3 incredible books. Big congratulations on the new one! Your books are available also here in Slovakia and they are truly beautifully made. How is the process of creating a bestseller?
Haha! A lot of anxiety. I had really fun making the first one, I was just goofing around making “a book that I would like to read” and then it became this big thing translated to different languages and then there was more pressure involved. But I mean it was also fantastic. Horrible and fantastic.
- Do you have a good advice for starting illustrators or maybe entrepreneurs in general?
Don’t quit your day job, hehe 🙂 No, but seriously. Even now when I am a full time illustrator, when I want to make “free work” that is not a commission, I do it in the evenings when the kids are sleeping. So if you have a dream of becoming an illustrator the best way I think is to start like that, drawing everyday when you have a minute left. Always bring a paper and a pen. But don’t quit your job, make the transition gradual as you start to notice that people are willing to pay for your illustration work!!!
Maja Säfström is a super talented illustrator, creative entrepreneur and a mom of two. Maja and her studio MAJASBOK is based in Stockholm. If you would like to see more of her work, go check majasbok.com.
All cool pictures which are here can be found at Maja’s Instagram account 🙂