Occasionally we like to stop and reflect on what's most important to us; our family, our friends, our job, our happiness. For Sandra Magsamen, these tend to go hand-in-hand. As the designer for our Tiny Footprint line, Sandra has formed an intimate relationship with the characters and personalities she creates. We recently had the opportunity to sit down with the award winning storyteller to get a glimpse behind her ideas, inspiration, and advice to other young professionals who are looking to launch their own career in design.
When did you first begin creating characters for children’s books, dinnerware, and toys?
When I was pregnant with my daughter Hannah, I began to write letters to her. Soon after she was born I began illustrating the love poems that I wrote to her. It was twelve more years before I shared my poems with a publisher and my first book was purchased. Now, all of the books are illustrated poems that celebrate, inspire, and welcome the little one with the message that they are each special, unique gifts to the world. As a teacher and art therapist I understand the importance of rhyming verse to help the child learn their first words and to eventually read. Our dinnerware, toys and puzzles each have verses and also share a heartfelt mission of supporting a child to reach age appropriate milestones while at the same time encouraging play, well being and a sense of feeling supported and loved.
What inspired you then, versus what inspires you today? Has it changed over time, or stayed the same?
My daughter was the inspiration all those years ago. Today she still inspires me. Hannah, will in a few years be a young mother ( I hope I will be a grandmother). I listen and learn from her and other young mothers about what they hope to teach their children. Turns out we all want the same things for our children.. From the moment a child is born we want to welcome them to this great big beautiful world with lots of love. We want to surround our little ones with hope, joy, dreams and wishes for them to become who they are meant to be.I am a firm believer in the notion that “it takes a village” to raise our children. To that end, I literally moved to a small village in Vermont where I teach students how to garden. My students span from Pre-K all the way up to sixth graders. In every child, I see them eager to learn, wanting to belong, curious about the world they live in, and with a burning desire to make a difference in it. These children inspire me, too. I design and write for all the children in the world.
What can you tell us about your design process when going through the steps of creating a new character or personality?
The characters are little pals that come from my children’s books. Each has unique qualities and traits and each has a meaningful and special message to share with a child.
Which Tiny Footprint character resonates more with you on a personal level?
I love Ryan the lion! I love that he says “ I”m wild about you!” I think its fun and wonderful to say that to a child and then to “roooarr.” I'm also a Leo and like lions lots.
What advice would you give to someone who might want to launch a career in design and/or storytelling?
My advice is simple….. DO IT!!! Write, draw, design, paint and create! All too often people write to me and say ”I have an idea” but its just that, an idea, not a thing yet. One must put onto paper what one sees in their head and heart in order to share it. Make, write, create what only you can do. Show us what you have to say and you will find that is the path to creating a career in this arena.