Grad Launches Home and Skincare Line
Amanda Ruetenik grew up near Los Angeles and attended California State University, Northridge for two years before transferring to FIDM. “I was always interested in doing something in the art world,” she said. “I went to CSUN for two years, for Graphic Design, and then heard about FIDM from my friend who went there. I met with [Department Chairperson] Anne Bennion and loved the idea of Textile Design. It was never on my radar, but it just felt right after learning more about it.” Since graduating from FIDM in 2010, Amanda has worked as a Graphic Designer and Textile Designer for companies such as KWDZ Designs, Evy of California, and XCVI Fashion. She recently launched Shwally, a collection of chic non-toxic playmats and handcrafted skincare balms. We caught up with the Redondo Beach, California-based alumna to learn more about her journey.
How did you pick your major? I actually thought I would go to FIDM for Graphic Design until I learned more about textiles. [Admissions Advisor] Peggy Quayle at FIDM pushed me that direction thinking it was a better fit for me and she was right.
What were some of your favorite aspects of the Textile Design program? I loved working with all different types of mediums again and learning the old school way, before there were computers. We hand-painted our repeats and didn’t just learn on the computer programs. That was so valuable to me. Now, I actually paint my designs and then digitize them, which to me feels way more unique and original than to do everything on the computer. The Print & Dye class was also my favorite. Anne Bennion taught that class and it was so fun.
Which skills do you use most often that you learned at FIDM? Learning how to use Photoshop and Illustrator, and indexing prints.
What are you currently up to? I’ve recently started my own business with my husband called Shwally, designing home products and a skincare line. I do all the surface designs from the playmats and textiles to website and branding. Before starting our company, I was with XCVI for eight years full-time, and I am freelancing there now. With XCVI, I do everything related to graphics and textiles, from making prints to doing all the embroideries, embellishments, CAD sketches, and hangtag and care labels. We also prepped screens and printed films for our screen printer. I also worked in our screen printing area and ran the sublimation machines when our printer was too busy. I was in charge of all the art direction presentations and execution of all artwork.
What do you love about your new role as an entrepreneur and freelancer? I love the excitement of starting my own company and that it is my own. I also love freelancing and setting my own schedule. While working with XCVI, I love knowing exactly how to work with certain people and what they want. After being somewhere for eight years, you know exactly what a salesperson wants to see or how the head designer wants the artwork done and the work is streamlined.
What advice would you share with someone who wants to go into your industry? Try and design for what you believe in and for brands that you like. It makes it so much more fun and worth it when you see your designs come to life.
Learn more at shwallyhome.com and on Instagram @shwallyforever and @aruetenik.