Jimmy Muldoon Interview
Building Brands and Community: Insights from Partner Studio's Founder.
Jimmy Muldoon is an Aussie graphic designer based out of Brooklyn, New York and the founder of Partner Studio.

MK: Hey Jimmy! We met a little while ago here in New York through Cathy I think, but for those who might not know you, I'd love to start by hearing about your creative background

JM: That's right. You randomly came over for a dinner party one Friday night. I think Blair might have invited you. 
I was introduced to graphic design back in high school, where I explored how to create websites in Dreamweaver and Flash. I then got into designing camp flyers, merch, and stage designs, as well as coding MySpace pages (yikes, I'm old) for bands. For most of my younger years, I would design anything for anyone in whatever medium; I wasn't bothered by whether people liked it or not, I just wanted to create. I went to design school at night while working odd jobs during the day as a barista, construction worker, and high school counsellor. I landed my first full-time design role working at an online wine company back in Melbourne about 15 years ago. I moved to NY seven years ago to teach design at Shillington and have since worked for a few agencies here in NY. I started my own studio a few years back - Partner Studio.

MK: You made a pretty big career pivot from construction to design. Do you have any advice for people who want to make a similar change?

JM: Shout out to the Happy Hebel crew! I spent a number of years in construction before landing my first full-time design role at Vinomofo. In many obvious ways, it's a big shift; physical design takes less of a toll on your body versus carrying tons of concrete every day. But I've found that design allows you to bring your previous career skills or ways of thinking and gives you an opportunity to use them. Working in construction, I had to problem solve quickly and troubleshoot, design is exactly the same. Things don't go to plan, it could be a concept or presentation etc. You need to think on your feet.  When I was a high school counselor, I spent my time listening to people and building trust; this is a critical soft skill for a designer. 
If you're looking to make a big pivot, there's almost always transferable skills - identify those first and go from there.

MK: I'd love to hear a bit about Partner Studio, and why you decided to start your own business. What are some dream clients you'd like to work on?

JM: I've always wanted to run my own studio. It took me a while, but over the last few years, I started to slowly build the concept for Partner Studio. After several years in New York, I decided it was time to take the leap.
I thrive off of interacting with people, and connecting and sharing with people is what makes it all worth it. My vision for Partner Studio is a place where I can connect with people, really connect, and get to know them (sometimes over a beer or two) and help them make their vision for their brand come to life. I really focus on working with local businesses and brands too - contributing and helping to build local community is important to me.
Dream clients: I'd love to work with VSCO or Lecia. There's a beautiful world where photography and design live together. The Boston Celtics would be huge. Imagine seeing your work laid out on the court or your motion piece on the big screen. I love working with local businesses, and if I weren't a designer, I'd create furniture, so I'd be super keen to brand a local furniture maker in Brooklyn.

MK: What are your plans for this year and what gets you excited about the future of the creative industry?

JM: My son is four months old, so this year is looking a little different than years past! Beyond my family, my focus is on making local connections. Not all jobs are going to be with neighbors, but I'm making an effort to strengthen those ties. 
Right now, I'm pretty excited about the advances in 3D, digital design and motion. I'm keen to keep learning and growing in those areas.

MK: You were a design educator at Shillington for a number of years, what drew you to teaching?

JM: I stumbled upon teaching through a friend who was teaching part-time at Shillington. It wasn't something I ever thought about doing, but once I saw the difference those educators were making I wanted to be a part of the team. There's something so rewarding about witnessing a student's creative confidence grow and giving back is something that's been important. I've had plenty of people in my life who spent time and energy helping me see and reach my potential - and it feels great to pay it forward.

MK: What's your opinion on the current landscape of design education? I often get asked by students if it's worth it to do a college degree.

JM: College vs. Bootcamp: It really depends on the person. I don't think it's black and white. I've seen people be super successful without any formal education, and I've seen those with advanced degrees crushing it. I think those considering whether or not to invest in school have to ask themselves how they learn best. I do think if you're starting at a complete rookie level (need to learn basic computer skills), it is probably best to take some intro courses at least.

MK: Also want to say a huge congratulations because you just had a baby!! What's this time been like for you and how's everything going?

JM: Thanks, mate. It's been a wild ride. With a little one, there's a fine line between calm and chaos. Jasper is doing great; he's happy and healthy, all a parent could ask for. I love spending my days with him. I'm currently taking time away from work to focus on the kid. I try to make the most of the downtime when I can to jot down ideas or start designing something. I try my best to keep up to date with what's happening in the world of design- you never realize how fast it moves and how many new products and program features are launched every week until you stop and sit back on what feels like the sidelines. I'll get back into things in the next few weeks, and that'll be my next challenge: learning how to balance being a parent with running your own business. I'll keep you posted on that!

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