Instagram photo taken by @ellothereprintco
One of my favorite meetings at the UncommonGoods headquarters is something we like to call grown up “show-and-tell,” where the marketing team previews the products that will soon join our This Just In assortment. I was immediately intrigued by the story behind the National Parks Sticker Map. Assistant Merchandising Coordinator Jillian described Seth and Maddy Lucas as a young married couple who had a goal of visiting all of the national parks in their lifetime. It might have been because I was in the middle of reading Cheryl Strayed’s “Wild,” but I immediately thought “I wanna do that, too!” I started daydreaming about where I would thru-hike one day, imagining myself rolling out a sleeping bag next to a serene lake in [insert middle of America location]. But when Jillian mentioned that the designers were based in Brooklyn, I swiped the serene lake away like an email on my iPhone and thought “Oh, I wanna go there too.”
I had never been to a home studio before visiting Seth and Maddy. Upon entering their light-drenched apartment, I think the phrase “bring your work home” took a whole new meaning. From the nostalgic American pillows on the couch, to the colorful shelves in their kitchen, it was easy to tell that their artistic aesthetic is consistent throughout every detail in their daily lives. When I stumbled upon their copy of the “Wes Anderson Collection,” everything clicked. I realized that Seth and Maddy had the ability to create an all encompassing visual language similar to what Anderson fans feel when they are lost in any one of his famous films. The ability to live life with such a distinct style seems to come naturally to Seth and Maddy, whether they are backpacking around another park, or just listening to a record on their couch. Meet travelers and designers Seth and Maddy Lucas, and learn more about their colorful inspirations, their collaborative process, and the delicious way they celebrate a victory.
Where do you find inspiration within this space?
Seth: The lighting is my favorite part about it. We have two big glass doors that bring in lots of light, and I think that’s key with any workspace.
What are your most essential tools?
Seth: I do my sketching in Paper [by FiftyThree] or Adobe [Illustrator] Draw on the iPad with the Pencil [by FiftyThree]. I love being able to draw and then send my files directly to Adobe Illustrator.
Where does down time fit into a day in a home studio?
Seth and Maddy: It’s never scheduled, but we have lots of really amazing coffee shops nearby in Bushwick. We like to take a break at random times throughout the day and grab bite or a drink.
What was the toughest lesson you learned as a young couple starting a business?
Seth: I think giving each other our own defined roles was the hardest part to figure out together. There’s just parts of the business that I know Maddy will be better at, not only in organizing our workspace, but in organizing and putting together our online shop. Know that we’ve become comfortable with what we do and how we split up work, our day-to-day process runs much more smoothly.
Where does collaboration come into play with your craft?
Seth: Mostly in the idea stage. We come up with a lot of ideas together, and if we’re excited enough about an idea I’ll start working on it right away and Maddy will give me suggestions. We really try to only put out products that we love and feel like we have to get it made right now because we want to have that product in our lives.
How did you come up with the concept of your product?
Seth: The National Parks [Sticker Map] came about when Maddy suggest we make a lifetime goal of visiting all 59 national parks, and she wanted me to make a map to mark our journey. We had a hunch that others would want to use this map and sticker design as well, and we’ve been blown away at how many others share our passion for visiting the national parks.
What advice would you (both) offer the you of 5 years ago?
Seth and Maddy: Relax, you’ll figure it out. Freaking out over our lack of business knowledge has always made us feel underqualified, and we’ve had to make some mistakes to figure out what we’re doing. But moving forward and learning from mistakes has been the best way for us to improve.
How do you celebrate a victory?
Seth and Maddy: Dominique Ansel is our favorite bakery and they make these really cool chocolate chip cookies in the shape of a shot glass and fill them with vanilla infused milk. As soon as we finished our first trade show, we made our way to Dominique Ansel and had cookie shots. It’s sort of become our unofficial celebration when we’ve finished a big project.
How do you recharge your creativity?
Seth and Maddy: We take a lot of weekend trips. We’re not messing around with our national parks goal. We’ve been to 20 now, and they make for a great chance for us to get work stuff out of our minds and just enjoy the outdoors.
What quote keeps you motivated? What does that quote mean to you?
Seth: “Show up every day.” This is a quote from one of my favorite podcasters, Seanwes. I love how it’s only three words, but it says everything you need to know. Just show up, be there, every single day. If I want to see progress, I need to make new products and come up with new ideas, this process is never ending and to make it work we have to show up every day.
How do you set goals for yourself?
Seth and Maddy: Getting ready for trade shows has become a great way for us to get out new projects. It gives us a deadline, and we can set up smaller deadlines so we know when we need to be done coming up with new ideas, when we need to design those ideas, and how much time it will take to get those ideas printed.