Meet Agata from Good Stuff No Nonsense

The Iconfinder Blog
10 min readJul 12, 2021


Agata Kuczmińska is an awesomely original designer/illustrator, who helps other designers to build their online brands. We talked about her life journey, what brought her to design, and a bit about who she is when she’s not a designer.
Check Agata’s icons on Iconfinder here.

Thank you for agreeing to the interview. Let’s begin with the basics. What does your typical day look like?

I wake up, feed children (hear cats) and make breakfast that I eat together with my partner while watching “something short” on Netflix. 6 am club is definitely not for me anymore. I work through paperwork and mail with my first cup of coffee and then typically take a break to do some exercise and cook around mid-day. I go back to work designing or drawing for the rest of the day. I try to keep up with daily walks, but the pandemic has put many things off balance making me a bit more of a couch potato than I’d like to be. I finish my day watching tv with my partner, reading books, or gaming with friends.

Agata and her cat Julka

How did you get to where you are today?

I grew up in an artistic family, and I don’t think I can draw or paint in a way that most people find acceptable, but I have a knack for constructing things and solving problems. I’m also very patient and very stubborn. When I was in high school, I was sure I’d end up in the Economic University because the only thing I remotely liked, aside from running with friends, breaking stuff, and inventing things, was math.

Until I found out that there’s something called Industrial Design at the Fine Arts Academy- It was a dream come true. The only problem was that people typically applied there after 5 years of art school with a wide graphic portfolio. And there I was, with no artistic training aside from doodling, with no portfolio whatsoever, and just one year before the end of high school and admission exams.

What did you decide to do then?

My parents got me signed up for drawing and painting lessons. It wasn’t great, but at least now I had something in my portfolio that wasn’t Fido Dido doodles -seriously, look it up. But the hard part was yet to come. I don’t want to dwell on things but let’s just say that my father was not a good person, and my childhood was definitely not ponies and roses. One day, a few months before my uni admission exams, I overheard him saying that I have no chance of getting into the Academy simply because I’m not talented enough.

“So, if you ask me today what made me the person I am now, I would say: persistence, stubbornness, not giving up on my dreams, and last but not least proving my father wrong.”

Wow. So you got in?

Luckily for me, the drawing and painting part of the admission exams for the industrial design major isn’t that important as the design part, and I have nailed that one. I got in with a top score (smile).

And what led you to web design? How did you get to icon design specifically?

In my uni years, I became fascinated by 3D graphics and flash animation, which got me into flash web design. It was something new back then, and everyone wanted to stand out online, so animated and out-of-this-world websites were in high demand. I was one of the first designers who were able to do it, so finding a job after finishing uni was not a problem. Soon, I’ve started accepting freelance jobs and got to a point when working was basically all I did in my life. I had a long list of clients and a day job, and I wasn’t able to sustain it for much longer. So, I’ve quit my day job and started my own one-woman company. It was great. I still worked all the time but now for myself. Soon after, I met my life partner, and we ended up living and working together to this day.

Planner — color icon set

How did it develop from there?

It was all good until the introduction of mobile phones put an end to non-responsive websites and whole flash website shenanigans. We decided to cut the past and start over with creating affordable responsive websites. It was stressful and hard at the beginning and left us somewhat struggling to keep the lights on. We moved out of the city to cut out the cost of living and started building our company from the ground up. It wasn’t easy, but long story short, we made it a success, to the point where the next logical step was expanding it.

But at this time, I hardly did any design work because managing projects and paperwork was eating up all my time, and I started to feel frustrated and burned down by client work. I’ve picked up a self-initiated daily drawing challenge while listening to “Awaken The Giant Within” by Tony Robbins, mashed up with Gary Vee YouTube videos and Seanwes podcast. All those things made me want to look for other things I can do in life outside of web design. This is how I’ve ended up releasing my first free icon set, and it all snowballed from there.

“I’ve made a hand-drawn icon design a full-time job. It was a scary step at first, letting go of the web-design client work. But I needed something with more artistic freedom, and I’m glad that I’ve chosen that path.”

And what’s your key principle/rule when designing icons?

I always strive for my icons to be unique. I enjoy playfulness, not so serious approach to life even if things are serious, so I guess it extends to my work as well. I embrace happy accidents, imperfections; I think all of that makes the icons more relatable. But I’m also very strict when it comes to execution, and I always stick to my design process.

Baby shower icon set

How do you organize your icon design process? Do you work on it full-time?

I start with a list of icons I want to make. It’s often based on a few icon requests I get from my followers, and I add to it what feels right. I love to reach out to people and ask what they would like to see in a particular icon pack. It helps me see the broader picture. I write it all down and pin it to my work desk.

Then, I start to sketch. I used to use paper and pencil, but now I just use an Ipad. I have a 128x128px dotted grid template that I use as my work page. When I’m happy with the sketches for each icon, I move on to the inking part. I use the sketches as background for the inked version. I could probably vectorize it right then and there, but I’m a slave to an old-school. I export the inked icons into Illustrator and trace the icons by hand with a pen tool.

Custom icons for a Tea shop in Switzerland

What encouraged you to start your own business and go full-time as a designer? What advice would you give to someone who’s considering it?

I started my own business when my freelance work outgrew my day job. I was at the crossroads where I had to choose one or the other. I chose to work for myself, but it was an excellent position to start with. I already had experience working with agencies, and I had my own client base. I could talk all day giving people advice about it, but if I had to dial down to one, I would say:

“Before you start your own business, work for someone else first. You will have the chance to test your scholarly education, and you’ll learn things that no school will ever be able to teach you. Treat every failure as a life lesson and carry on wiser from your past experience.”

Agata’s Self Care icons

How did you approach marketing when you first started your own business? What helped you build your audience? Can you give some tips for icon designers who are just starting?

I’ve devoured every marketing/design podcast I could find. I’ve picked up bits and pieces and tried the ones I thought were achievable for me to see what works and what doesn’t. I’ve started my newsletter early on and never rushed the signups by pushing too hard. Be patient, and it will take time to kick off. For me, it was 2–3 years until I’ve started to see more prominent results.

“Be consistent, respect your audience, treat them like they are your friends. Give them good value and keep in touch.”

Sketch of a car wash icon

How did the idea behind “Good Stuff No Nonsense” get born?

I have a chronic distaste for things that look pretty but have no substance. I wanted to have a brand name that will always remind me what my core values are. And I make sure that all my icon packs are as useful as they possibly can be. I want my customers to unpack my icons and say: Wow, I can make so many cool things with it, and it’s all well organized and prepared.

Besides design, you also address mental health in your blog. What are the three most important things for you to “stay sane”?

Who said I am sane?! But jokes aside, yoga, breathing exercises by Wim Hof, and a good old hearty laugh.

We tend to live more online than analog these days, and it’s very easy to disconnect with the environment, with real people, even with self. Yoga, meditation, breathing are great and affordable tools that can bring a little tranquility into our hectic lifestyles.

But if you are not feeling well and preventative means don’t work for you, please do yourself a favor and seek professional help. Some things like depression or anxiety are not fixable by strong will alone. Don’t be afraid or ashamed, and it’s more common than you might think. (smile)

What else do you like to do in your spare time?

I love books! I love to read, but I also listen to audiobooks while I work, which feels like a double win. I love good food, and I really like cooking. I love watching movies and tv shows. I also love hiking in the woods and mountains. I’m a gamer too. I thought I would grow out of video games, but the gaming community is full of people who thought the same, so I just play along.

Is there a particular show/game/book you are a true “nerdy” passionate fan of? Is that somehow inspiring your art?

I’m a huge Futurama and Friends fan. Those are the two shows which always put me in a good mood. It’s hard to say if it inspires my art, definitely being a futurama fan motivated me to create space icons, but other than that, it’s just pure fun.

Do you have any other professions or passions?

DIY! From homemade candles to a wooden wall separating the wardrobe from the bedroom. I don’t care what it is as long it’s a form of “do it yourself” project; I’m on board. (laugh)

What was the last DIY thing you made?
A kitchen table!

Kitchen table Agata made

All your icons and designs are adorable and have a great character. How did you create this style?

Would it be too cheesy to say it’s all me? I have tried to learn by copying other people, and I’ve explored popular design styles but always felt like a fraud and not a very successful one, to say the least. But hand-drawn for most of the time feels effortless to me, and I love to sneak in quirky and funny ideas. I love to laugh, and I think other people love funny things too, so it all comes out very naturally to me.

What is the most memorable moment of your career?

I remember my first custom hand-drawn icon set for a tea bar in Switzerland. It certainly was some form of validation that my work became recognizable. That and seeing my cooking icons on a food truck. (smile)

Food truck with Agata’s icons

Agata recommends:

Never forget to: Trust your gut and remember that for every win there are 10 losses no one talks about.
Favorite designer to get inspired by: Lisa Glanz
A podcast worth listening to: The honest designers show
Book worth reading- (Did you seriously thought I would restrain myself to recommending just ONE?)
Design for the Real World by Victor Papanek
Design Is a Job by Mike Monteiro
Whatever You Think Think the Opposite by Paul Arden
Music to listen to while working: Audiobooks and Tracy Chapman