Marian Bantjes Follows Her Heart


In a gorgeous, eloquent speech that read like the commencement address at our dream university of design, Marian Bantjes addressed the elusive and ever-terrifying topic of “unexpected nextness.” Opening with an adorable shot of her as a child hunched over her art, she led us through the meandering path she took to the fame that surprised even her.

You’ll remember that after being a designer and typesetter for years, she tried doing only the work she loved. She gave herself one year and made no money. So she borrowed money and gave her herself six more months. Then, her design career took off: “I felt like I went 0 to 60 in three seconds and I still don’t know what car I’m driving.”

This was our favorite: “If you would have told me four years ago…that I would have been speaking main fucking stage of the national AIGA conference I would have said no way.” She said she constantly felt like that Talking Heads song: “This is not my beautiful house, this is not my beautiful wife. How did I get here?”

But she still worries, she reveals, in an extremely personal, raw moment that we’ve all experienced when our insecurities stare us blankly in the face. She worries that the boom in ornamentation will bastardize her work. She worries that people will grow bored with her trippy curves. In the Q&A she says she feels like she will need to take a big creative leap and huge risk very, very soon. Whatever it is, we know for certain it will be something beautiful.

All AIGA NEXT coverage here.