Member Spotlight: Laura Palotie

For this edition of our Member Spotlight we chatted with literary agent, journalist and editor Laura Palotie. Born and raised in Helsinki, Finland, Laura moved to the U.S. as a teenager, and has since studied writing and journalism and worked in writing, content marketing and editing on both sides of the pond. She’s passionate about sharing great stories that break down cultural barriers. Laura works as the New York-based agent of Elina Ahlback Literary Agency, headquartered in Helsinki. A Brooklyn member since day one, Laura was our steadfast cheerleader as we got the space up and running. We love hearing about her trips back to Helsinki and all the fun books that land on her desk. Thanks for spoiling us rotten with Finnish chocolate, Laura!

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What does a typical day look like for you? 

Because I’m in touch with publishers in both Europe and the U.S., as well as with our Helsinki office, my days begin relatively early; I’m typically handling correspondence starting at 7 or 7:30. Throughout the day I work on our agency’s newsletters and other English-language materials, meet and keep in touch with publishers, and work on contracts and other elements of the publication process: we represent Finnish authors, illustrators and publishers in international markets as well as several U.S. publishers and agencies in the Nordic markets, so I’m always busy! In the evenings and weekends I’ll often work on journalistic or editing projects at home: I contribute to Finnair’s English-language inflight magazine, Blue Wings, as well as a medical news publication in Finland, among other outlets: most recently I had an article published in Breaking Character, the theater industry publication of Samuel French.

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image by Kira Simon Kennedy

What do you love most about what you do?

As a literary agent, I love having the opportunity to bring fantastic books to new markets. A terrific translated book, whether it be a literary novel or a picture book, makes the world feel more accessible. We work with outstanding, imaginative authors in all genres, and playing a part in the process that helps them gain more fans worldwide is an honor. The best part of my job is calling an author and telling them that their book is going to be published in a new language. Overall, whether is be as an agent, a writer or an editor, I love bringing compelling stories to new audiences.

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What projects are you excited about right now? a favorite book that has landed on your desk recently?

We have a terrific middle-grade novel called “Monster Nanny” (“Mörkövahti”) by author Tuutikki Tolonen, which is a mix of “Mary Poppins” and “Where the Wild Things Are” set in contemporary Finland. It’s just as quirky and charming as it sounds, and it has already sold in Germany, Spain and Estonia (the Finnish edition is coming out in August). In the adult fiction realm we have “Jingle Land” (“Mantelimaa”) by Miina Supinen, about a sinister theme park where it’s always holiday season. To complement the intriguing Tim Burton-esque premise, the story is told in a very realistic way with relatable, richly drawn characters.

What do you miss about living in Helsinki? and what do you love about living in Brooklyn?

In addition to my family, friends and godchildren, I miss the bike lanes, gorgeous light in summers and the abundance of nature — and yes, the free health care system! In Brooklyn I absolutely love the diversity (in friends, food and experiences) and energy. It feels like everyone here is on a crazy shared adventure together.

Any funny stories about your first adventures in NY?

I first moved here in 2006 for grad school, and lived in Soho in a tiny, slightly decrepit apartment. I remember stepping outside and finding more options for designer shoes I couldn’t afford than for bagels (Brooklyn suits me much better in that realm). The most ridiculous moment for me was probably noticing a giant mouse devouring a bag of chips in the kitchen, and calling my dad in panic. Not sure how he could have helped me from 5000 miles away in Helsinki.

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image by Kira Simon Kennedy

What’s your favorite thing about working from Makeshift?

It’s a place full of people who are totally passionate about their respective projects (whether it be in design, marketing or writing). It’s a great place to focus, but also the perfect environment to chat with like-minded folks.

Where’s your favorite spot in the neighborhood to grab a bite or a drink?

I’m very much into Sweetgreen for lunch, and as an after-work spot my absolute favorite is the Pinkerton Wine Bar. It’s cozy and not too loud, so it’s great for catching up with a friend or for sitting down with a book, and the wines and cheeses are delicious.

Member Spotlight: Meet Leigh

l2 For this edition of Member Spotlight, where we showcase the diverse creative work of our members, we chatted with freelance graphic designer Leigh Mignogna.  On a typical day you can find Leigh at her Studio Desk working on an app design, brainstorming a book layout or upstairs covering a table with post-its. A New York native, Leigh stuck around on this coast – she earned her Masters in Communications Design from Pratt Institute, worked as a designer at Paperwhite studio in NYC, and has held adjunct professor positions at Parsons, St. John’s University and Pratt Institute.  She specializes in visual identity, print, interactive and exhibition design.

Leigh is currently half of design partnership L&L and is serving as a Public Access Design fellow at the Center for Urban Pedagogy. Sometimes she also works with Intracollaborative, a collective of colleagues from Pratt who focus on socially-minded design. She chatted with us about working at Makeshift and the power of being your own boss. Check out some of her work below and signup for her Type 101 class on June 30! Or say hi when you see her at the next Members’ Breakfast! Hint: strike up a conversation about R Kelly…


The Geneva Kneue typeface was designed using code – a mathematically-based programming language called Metafont. (designed with Liz Seibert)

When did you realize you wanted to be a graphic designer?
My dad is a graphic designer, so I grew up surrounded by design. But, it wasn’t until college that I became serious about studying design myself. Like most 18 years olds, I had no idea what I wanted to study, so I suppose I gravitated towards what was familiar. I remember learning about Tibor Kalman around the same time and realizing that design could be political, provocative and smart.  Tibor’s work showed me the cultural importance and power of design. He’s been a big inspiration over the years.

What made you want to start L&L?
Fitting into someone else’s model of how a design studio should work never really made sense to me. Starting L+L meant that I could wake up every day and make my own rules. At the end of the day, Liz (the other “L”) and I are only responsible to ourselves, and for us, that’s huge.

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Identity and signage created for Brooklyn Fashion + Design Accelerator with Intracollaborative.

Do you have a dream project?
Dream project: Something I know nothing about!

What are some of the tools that you use?
eyes for
looking ears
for listening
mouth for talking
hands for making
words for sharing


Graphics for a poster collaboration between Intracollaborative, CUP and the grassroots organization, CAAAV. The Chinese and English poster helps tenants understand rent stabilization laws and their rights as tenants.

What type of role does Makeshift Society play in your work?
When I first started L+L I was working out of my apartment and it was the worst. I felt really uninspired and would get lonely. At Makeshift, I’m surrounded by amazingly smart and creative individuals. Whether it’s asking for a second set of eyes from a deskmate or seeing the other things members are building, being surrounded by that energy is inspiring.

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Identity and logo for Sanaa BK (designed with with Liz Seibert)


The first publication of the newly minted Pratt Press, written, edited and designed by Leigh, Maura Frana and Liz Seibert. Using the lens of creative writing, the book explores the issues of authorship, language, typography, and self-expression as they relate to current practices in the graphic design field. The book was presented at the AIGA Design Educator’s Conference.


Identity for 2013 Pratt MFA thesis show, “This is Not Graphic Design.” Designed by Leigh, Maura Frana, Will Hoffman.


Last week we hosted 50 zine-o-philes who spent the evening creating a collaborative zine from start to finish in one night. In a few short hours we poured over ziney inspiration, heard a talk by Elana Schlenker, created our own zine pages, and printed them out on a risograph manned by Gerardo Madera of Common Satisfactory Standard.

This event was a continuation of the Working Late series we helped Adobe Typekit launch.


All photos by Laura Pardo


After a brief talk by Elana and Gerardo, the design sprint started! No one knew the specs for the zine before the night began, so we all had to jump into it with fresh eyes. Each person designed one page of the zine by drawing something they loved in pink and something they hated in red. We sketched, scribbled, inked; we created with vectors, pixels and pens. There was a lot to love: dachshunds, speed walkers, hotdogs, bagels… And even more to hate: limp handshakes, liars, olives.

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Right as the design sprint finished, dinner was served.  We ate Takikomi Gohan (japanese rice bowls) from Yakitorius Inglorius as the risograph whirled, clacked and printed our pages. The risograph, if you’re not familiar with it, is basically the lovechild of a silkscreen and a copy machine. It prints with beautiful, layered, solid-color inks but works mechanically like a copy machine.




Natalia Baker


Boyoun Kim


Greg Mihalko


Tyler Moody


Erin Rommel

Sue Jean Ko

Sue Jean Ko


Isabel Urbina

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Kathleen Scudder

Big thanks to Elana, Gerardo and to Adobe Typekit for making the event happen!


The plan was for everyone to go home with a zine, but we had a small printing hiccup and copies were available in the following days. It’s worth the wait though; and each copy includes a DIY binding kit so you can bind it at home. It was a tiny print run with copies available only for the people who attended, but if you want to have a look you can browse one in the Makeshift Society libraries in Brooklyn and San Francisco.



You can be part of events like this too. Makeshift Society is a coworking space for people who are as serious about their creative practice as they are about making it pay the bills. Drop by for a tour, sign up for the newsletter, or check out our events calendar to stay in the loop.

‘One Brooklyn Under A Bun’

In honor of National Sandwich Day, November 3rd, we rounded up the best sammies from 20+ local restaurants. With everything from Saltie’s Scuttlebutt (hard boiled egg, feta, black olives, capers, pickles, pimenton aioli) to Court St. Grocers‘ Italian Combo (Salami, capicola, mortadella, swiss cheese, mozzarella, pecorino romano, egg hoagie spread, arugula, red onion, mayo, on a caputo’s seeded club roll) our 13+foot sando proudly displayed the diversity, ingenuity, and flavor that one borough can pack between two pieces of bread.

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all photos by Tim Gibson unless otherwise noted

A big thanks to our “One Brooklyn Under A Bun” sandwich contributors and to poets Nancy Mendoza and David MacGougan, whose sandwich poems were read aloud at the unveiling.

66 Hope Cafe Marlow & Daughters
The Bagel Store The Meatball Shop
Campbell Cheese & Grocery Meat Hook Sandwich
Court Street Grocer Nam Nam
Dépanneur No 7 Sub
Eastern District Otha’s
Five Leaves Red Star
Grilled Cheese Social Saltie
Knife The Sandwich Shop
La Goulette Scratchbread
Lincoln Station Summers
Little Neck




Sandwiches don’t love us.
Forever they
Hone the proportions
Of lunch, articulate
the boundaries of our preferences
and aversions, unsparingly reveal
our compromises.

But when the mayonnaise.
When the soft bun or the tomato jam.
When the micro greens
Or the grassy cheese.
When the French ham curling
On itself. When we stack

Beyond mere self and lavish
All of our style and form-making
In a piquant risk to find
What lies between us,
Sandwiches love.

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Tis true that blackness swallows all,
though some men choose their Siren’s call.
No nobler cause be found, I pray,
that I take one more bite today.

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Makeshift Member Angeli with Campbell Cheese & Grocery’s Spicy Turkey (photo Emma Rodriguez)

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Sandwich Day poster artwork by Cait Brennan