Graphis Master Marlena Buczek Smith moved to the US from Poland in the early 1990s, where she attended the School of Visual Arts. Her body of work includes posters, commercial graphic design, and paintings. Her posters have been printed in various publications, including Graphis and Print Quarterly. Marlena’s posters have been exhibited globally in countries that include the US, Germany, Italy, Poland, and Russia in exhibits such as the 8th International Biennale of the Socio-Political Poster, the 14 International Triennial of Political Posters, What Unites Us 2, and the 2021 New Jersey Arts Annual: Revision and Respond.
Here’s a snippet of her QA:
What inspired or motivated you to have a career in design? Coming from a different country where most things were partially monitored by the government, it is a challenge in itself to think freely. This lack of exposure constrains our visual knowledge. Our minds are restrained and deprived of thoughts themselves. The lack of thought takes away our ability to function as freely as we can, deprives us of our potential existence, strips away our rights, and takes our dreams away. Democratic societies open up limitless possibilities to express ourselves. It helps build an independent, open society. It allows different avenues to achieve freedom in “itself.”
What is your work philosophy? Unsatisfaction. Sitting on a glory leaf doesn’t get you anywhere. If there is no partaking in something, itself is gone. Once itself is gone, the darkness creeps in. Then you go lie under a tree and wait to die.
Who is or was your greatest mentor? I don’t have a professional mentor per se, but the guidance of a mentor exists in my husband and books.
Who are some of your greatest past influences? They are not past, they are not present; they just are. Armando Milani, Seymour Chwast, Tom Geismar, Luba Lukova, Massimo and Lella Vignelli, Ivan Chermayeff, Yossi Lemel, Shigeo Fukuda, and so many more.
Who among your contemporaries today do you most admire? It’s hard to admire someone when change happens all the time. Today it might be one person, and tomorrow it is someone else.
Who has been some of your favorite people or clients you have worked with? Myself, since I make most posters for my own fulfillment. There is no client; there is just me in a room, quietly sitting.