Couture paper design artist Tanja Maduzia is a modern-day crafts(wo)man. As the owner of byTanja, a couture paper design studio based in Los Angeles, Tanja specializes in event invitations for special occasions from parties, to weddings and showers. Well known in Hollywood circles, Tanja has worked with big-name clients including Steven Spielberg, Bradley Cooper, Christina Aguilera, Jake Gyllenhaal and Jonah Hill. She’s also a frequent featured DIY-er on ABC’s The List.

When it comes to the creative process, Tanja believes we should all step away from the computer. “Part of my creativity is that I’m always moving around and physically making things,” she says. “I purposely am a bit disconnected.”

In episode 17 of I Want Her Job: The Podcast, Editor Polina Selyutin and Tanja discuss nurturing creativity, building a business from scratch and sources of inspiration. You might even be surprised, like we were, to learn that Tanja bucks the status quo when it comes to inspiration boards. Listen on to find out why, and hear Tanja’s thoughts on the importance of work ethic.


  • Making A Connection: Despite her success, we love how Tanja stays grounded. She tells us how she always carries greeting cards on her, and admits that at times, she’ll even pitch people on her services in the card aisle of a grocery store! We love that hustle. 
  • Getting Started: Some clients have a proposal, and others have no idea what they want. “In the custom world there really is no ‘normal’ and you just have to go with the flow,” Tanja says.
  • On The Creative Process: “I have binders that I’ve put together of fonts, or color schemes, or anything that inspires me,” Tanja says. Sometimes her creative process will start with a font. Other times it will begin with a photo. Either way, Tanja likes to get a few descriptive adjectives from her clients to kick-start the process.
  • All Together Now: “I know a lot of people like inspiration boards … I don’t like to put them [photos] on the wall, because I think sometimes when you’re looking at something a little too long, it loses its charm. I put everything together in a binder,” Tanja says.
  • On Inspiration Seeking: Tanja explains how she finds ideas in everyday life – like the font on a menu to storefronts and trees.
  • Taking It Back: From redesigning lamps to styling window displays, Tanja shares how her family’s antique business developed her skills and love of design. 
  • On Cultural Influences: Tanja’s grandparents were born in a small cobblestone village in Croatia and left to avoid the conflicts there. But, before their dream to enter the United States came true, the two spent nearly 10 years in a refugee camp.
  • In Her Blood: Tanja’s grandmother worked in Seattle filleting fish after moving to the States. “She was actually very famous. She taught other companies because she had the least amount of waste. Earlier on in my career my grandmother passed, and I was [talking] with one of her friends asking, ‘Why was she so good at her job?’” Tanja says. “And one of the women told me, ‘She was consistent in the way she worked and the speed at which she worked. She wasn’t the fastest, but she made a consistent pace throughout the entire day, so she never burned herself out. She did the same day of work at the beginning of the day as at the end.’ That really struck me, and I think about that every single time I make projects.”
  • Ultimate Dinner Party: Tanja explains why, if she could get any other four women together for dinner, the guest list would include Martha Stewart, Vogue Australia’s Christine Centenera, Goldie Hawn and Dolly Parton
  • Favorite Resources: A book Tanja recommends for all entrepreneurs is How to Set-Up Your Business For Under $1,000 by Dan Fleyshman and Branden Hampton. Other favorite authors include Joel Osteen and Norman Vincent Peale. She also recommends The Secret to Success Podcast by the “Hip Hop Preacher” Eric Thomas.
  • More Information: Read Tanja’s I Want Her Job Leading Lady interview from 2012.
  • Connect:; @byTanja on Twitter; @by_Tanja on Instagram; and @byTanja on Snapchat.