Amy Marsh


My previous intern, Amy Marsh has just opened her own Etsy shop with the cutest makings!
Brooches, dolls, booklets, all from Amy's talented hand, you can find it all here.

Free friday


This is truely a free friday for me...
The last lessons of the illustrations courses are teached (the illustrations above are made by two of my students and are details of a little harmonica booklet), the garden is 'winter ready' and I'm up to a well deserved (as I say so myself) holiday.
After Christmas we'll be off to Spain... see you in the next year!

Happy christmas to every one and a very good 2013!

Winterfeest fun


Even though it was grey and wet outside, the Winterfeest was a cosy and fun succes. Lot's of mini-christmas pieces were made, great food and drinks and all together a nice christmassy feel!
A few pictures (I forgot my camera so these bit blurry ones were taken with my phone)...
For more (and better) pictures of some nice finds, see here.

Free friday - question

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Today the last free friday question of the year!
If you have questions for 2013 about, blogging, being or becoming an illustrator, selling your products or having an Etsy shop, send me an email!

This question is from clix bee design:

Do you have the problem of having loads of ideas sometimes in different fields and not knowing where to start first, how do you select and get organized to get successful goals?

Oh yes, this is a classic! Having to many ideas and not enough time, a tricky fella...
a list of tips to get you organized:

1. write your ideas down, when they're on paper, they're no in your head.
2. keep a good journal or planner in which you write down all your appointments,
    projects and commissions. This way you know how much time you have left
    and what you can or can't do in a day.
    A easy way to do this is to print a sheet with 'planner: week/month' and hang it
    above your desk. You can fill in the projects and things to do on your wall planner.
3. learn to say 'no' to things that are not inspiring or helpful and by doing so, create
    time for the projects you love doing.
4. deal with one big project at the time. Trying to juggle all at once will only make
    you feel frustrated and inefficient.
5. make a collage above your desk with the things you love most, this will keep
    you focussed.

Let's say you have 5 ideas you'd love to pursue, which one do you start with?
Well, the simple answer to this question is: whatever you like most!
But sometimes you like more than one 'most' at once. In this case, try the project that looks like the easiest one that will take you not too much time to finish. During a short project you can learn just as much a during long projects and when beginning small, it's more likely you'll finish it with succes. This will motivate you to eventually start with a bigger project.

If you have a idea in mind that you need more knowledge for on a certain subject (let's say you want to make your own printed china), start with collecting information. Are there people around you who might know more about your subject, maybe someone on the internet? When I started my china I asked Camilla Engman where she had hers printed, that got me on straight on track.

If you have a clear endgoal in mind (for example: selling your china online), make a list of the steps you need to follow. In the printed china example your list could be like this:

1. gather information
2. find pretty china to print on
3. make
4. promotional material: business card, postcards, wrapping paper for orders, a logo, etc.
5. make good photos
6. open a webshop (on Etsy or somewhere else)
7. get the word out there: blog, tweet, write to magazines, or...

It helps to add a time schedule to these steps but be reasonable. Don't set it to tight, this will only make you fail to keep on track and that's very demotivating! Don't let it take too long either, or you'll have lot's of new plans in the meantime and want to move forward to that without finishing the current one.

The time schedule for the list above could be like:
1. week 1
2. week 2
3. week 3-4
4. week 5
5. week 6
6. week 7
7. week 8

This means you have reached your goal in 1.5 months.

Keep in mind you are a person (and not a robot) and you can only do a certain amount of projects at once. You have written you ideas down and they'll wait there till you're ready for the next one, no stress!

Have a good (and organized) weekend!

ps. I have to admit that although I am a very organized person, I too sometimes am overloaded with ideas and projects and get a bit lost one the way. But it's an ongoing learning proces... ;-)

Christmas workshops


With the upcoming Winterfest in mind I thought it would be handy to tell you a bit more about the workshop I'm giving there.

It'll be two workshops at 14.00 and 17.00 o'clock. The costs will be 5,- euro which will be donated to a charity.
So what will you make? A cute tiny christmas piece in a teacup with a christmassy animal a mini candle and moss. There's no subscription list so make sure you're there in time (preferably with 5,- in cash)!

Location: Hooghiemstraplein 15, Utrecht
Date: 16 december 2012

Christmas proof

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I don't know about you but with me december is a very busy month! After Sinterklaas (dutch sort of christmas) and all the shop orders, I'm now preparing for Christmas.

My favorite moment of the year is, with boyfriend, buying and decorating the christmas tree.
I gave M the control over putting a few decorations and bows in the tree. Decorations (specially the little angel on top) went fine but after a while I sensed some desperation on his side and looked over at the bows he had made so far... Let me tell you one thing about men and bows: A Bad Combination! (That only leads to frustration on man's side).

Taking care of the christmas tunes was however totally his thing and with Wham classics on the radio and the amaryllis blooming, we finished a cosy little christmas tree.
The happy season may begin!


A while a go I contributed to a nice new project, the Design Your Own papercraft kit.
What this is? A pack full of pretty and fair trade paper from around the world. It also includes design projects (on the website) for: paper jewelry, a paper lampshade, giftboxes, and more.
You can buy the papercraft kit in one of the Wereldwinkels (fair trade shops) in the Netherlands.
For more info, see the website.

Free friday - Question


Some of you have asked me more than one, so here a second question from Rebechan:
By the way, you can all still mail your questions to me, this is ongoing! (Mention 'free friday question' in your mail subject.)

How much did it take you to find "your style"? I graduated from university in illustration last year and, differently from some of my classemates, still struggle to find that one style that I can call mine (and find this really depressing usually).

You're not the only one struggling with this, I get this question a lot!
Unfortunately a personal style can take a while, so let me tell you a bit about my own process...

Before becomming an illustrator I studied fashion design at the art school in Arnhem(and worked in that field for a few years). During this study I already noticed my love for illustrating when making fashion illustration for my collections. After graduating I started working for a company where I designed prints and labels for kids clothing, again I noticed I liked that more that the actual clothes design. I was designing only on the computer though and missed the actual material-touch. When I started suffering from RSI syndrome, I decided no more computer for me and went looking for other options...

This in when I started my Illustration study in Utrecht at art school. During this study I tried so many different things, explored materials and looked at other people's work. This was all very inspiring and I learned a lot but in the last year, it made me feel confused. Teachers have opinions about your work, your fellow students too, everyone had a certain taste and advise, it made me drift away from my own inner judgement.

In 2007, after 3 years, I decided I had learned enough and dropped out (yes, you read that correctly). I wanted to try on my own and started my business as a freelance illustrator.
At this point I hadn't found my style yet! I worked on as many commisions as I could and made my own work on the side. Because I did so many different assignments, I tried a lot of different styles. By doing so I came closer to what did feel like me, just by noticing what didn't.

So now we're at the point where I wanted to go: Do as many things as you can, try as much different styles and materials and exclude what didn't feel like you. It's very important to also do personal projects and make your own work, this allows you to find your favorite subjects and material as well.
There are a few lucky people who find their style instantly but for most of us it takes a while (and this is OK!)

Please don't frustrate yourself over this, see it as an opportunity to explore and have fun before pinning yourself to one style. I learned a lot by doing this and on the way met lots of people and business contacts that are still helpful today.

An advise I got from a teacher (that sounded a  bit strange to me at the time): Don't be afraid of trying what others do. Do you see a style you'd love to master? Figure out how it's done and try it yourself. I'd like to add here that I do not propagate copying and stealing other people's work but try just for you own experiment, to explore. You might learn some new tricks and things you would otherwise never had thought of.

During this whole proces it's very important to stay close to your personal favorites. Who are you, what do you like and what feels good and what didn't? By keeping a close eye on this, eventually you will get closer to who you are as an illustrator (or designer, or...). Think of what makes you you. How are you different from others, is there a certain passion that's typically you? (I for example have a tendency to lean towards the 'feel good' and 'little smiles' in life and therefore in my illustrations).

I know this sounds more easy than it is. With all these amazing talents all over the internet it's hard to stick to your own core. I remember myself visiting other websites and thinking 'oh my god, I wish I had made that, this is so much better than my work'. But you should not forget one important thing:
You see your work every day, you're used to it. To others it might me new and they might think the same 'Oh my god, I wish...'. So do not lose yourself in comparing, try to see beautiful work as an opportunity to learn and to be inspired.

Finding one's own style can be hard work but it's rewarding! And keep in mind that the proces is just as important as the end goal. Most people tend to forget this. Without a proces you can't have an end product so have fun on the way, after all it's your adventure!

Hope this was helpful!



On dec 5th we dutch celebrate Sinterklaas, a holiday simular to Christmas (Sinterklaas = Santa claus). Imke, from the blog lovejohnny, came up with the idea of 'creasint', an exchange project of handmade Sinterklaas presents. How exciting, I joined instantly!
Yesterday I received my present and was pleasantly surprised by a pretty handmade apron for my garden tools. Thanks Ama, for you lovely creasint-gift and to Imke for the great initiative!

Winterfeest - Hooi en Stro


We at Urlaub are organising, together with Uitgeverij Snor, the most festive design christmas market of the season! This inspiring event will take place on dec 16th in Utrecht. For more information see here or here at the 101 Woonideeen-blog! Would be great to see you there!

Free friday - questions

It's time for a Q&A again!
This question is from clix bee design:

What would you give as tip(s) to an illustrator that wants to start freelancing?

The most important thing you need is work! After all, a potential client would want to see what they get, right? Create a good portfolio. My experience is that an online portfolio or website is the most asked for but a 'real' one is good to have as well.

So what is a good portfolio exactly? A good portfolio shows who you are, your style and expertise. Your work shows a solid line and recognisable style. This might be a bit tricky when you just start out though. You might not have found your own style yet. In that case, show the work you enjoyed most making and are most proud of, this is a good measure for who you are as an illustrator. This also could mean your real portfolio is still a bit empty. Therefor it's important to show on your blog/ website/ online space what you're up to at the moment.

There's a simple psycological common belief: if you're busy, you're succesful.
Show what you're working on, the proces, your thoughts and passion for your work. When you create something new regularly you not only make a motivated impression but you give yourself the chance to grow.

Take this motivation and passion with you when going, for example to an exhibition opening where potential clients might 'walk around in the wild'. This does not mean you go scatter around your businesscards like candy, that's way to pushy! Just chat with people about what they do and what you do in an 'I'm not looking for a commision, just enjoy what I do'-way.  When you are enthused about what you do, others will be too and they might ask for your card or ask for theirs.

The second most important thing when you start freelancing is bookkeeping. If you're not comfortable with doing this yourself, find an accountant you trust (mine was recommended to me by a friend). If you're comfortable with bookkeeping yourself but to an expert, you can ask if you could fill in your income and expenditure yourself and they only do the end bit, this safes money. Check if your accountant offers that option.

The last tip is about the online community. There are loads of drawing assignments, little projects and creative pitches you can submit work to (like doodlers anonymous, the art house project ad sometimes Uppercase Magazine asks for submissions too). This is fun, expands your network and gives you the possibility to make new work for your portfolio.

One more thing, it could be interesting to go look for a agency. Some of my illustrator friends (like Sue Doeksen) are represented by one. Check if it is a good one though. Who are their clients, who are the other illustators they represent? Personaly I have no experience with this but it could work for you!

Good luck!

illustration by Helene Riff

Seb has got mail!


Seb received a little parcel with medication for his snotty noose! (And I can tell you on his behalf, he feel soo much better!). Thanks secret (but not so secret) doctor ;-)



Urlaub and Uitgeverij Snor (book publishers) are organizing a winterfest... More about that later, first: a sneak peek into flyer making process.

Free friday - question


This Free friday's question is from Mieske. She has send me a cute little package with postcards and the following thing she wanted to know:

I have a great product (in this case christmas postcards) but how to promote and sell it?

Well, this is your first promotion, a blog feature! This is a powerful thing, as lots of people see it and might hop over to your website. It's always great if someone writes about your work but how to achieve this?
Don't send people something with the only goal: feature my stuff, this feels a bit cheap. Make sure you have a reason (like with this free friday question) or just send a cute goodie to tell them how much you like their work. It's very likely they'll post about your little snail mail. Make sure though, you are sincere, don't go tell people you like their work just so yours is featured.
I've send Sandra Juto a costumized portrait pin (with her portrait of course) once to tell her how much she inspires me. When she told about this on her blog, lots of people clicked the link and since then I have a lot more followers (and people who visite my shop), even though this wasn't my first intention.

Some other advise is to blog yourself, and by that I also mean blog about others (and make sure you link to them). Let them know when you've blogged about their work so they can link to you on their blog (but don't ask them to). After all, what you give is what you get!

Another good thing to do is just to mail shops (real or email) about your product, this is always permitted in this direct way (in contrast to blog features) as they are a shop and might want your product. Be nice about their shop (show that you know what they sell and that you not just send your 'please-sell-my-stuff-message' to every random shop) and ask friendly if they'd be interested in selling your product (if so, you can send them your wholesale and retail prices, don't forget tax and shipping info).
Make sure you direct your mail to the person who handles wholesale and such (not 'sir/madame' or 'hello', this makes it very impersonal) and include one good picture (in case of email) of your product in low resolution (72-100 dpi).

Etsy is a great way to sell your products too. Not only is it easy and very cheap (they only charge 20 dollarcent per listed item and 3,5% of your selling price of every sold item) but also great fun! The Etsy community is very large which means: lots of potential buyers and heaps of tutorials, help and fun stuff, even meetings and markets. The trick is to make sure your shop stands out. Choose a name wisely (also pronounceable in english). For more info on opening a online Etsy shop, see here.

Be aware of the fact that people don't only buy your product but your brand. If they like what you stand for, the feel and who you are, they are more likely to buy from you, as by doing so they buy your style. This means that when you pack your orders, always make sure you add a little something. This could be a personal note, an extra product or do a great giftwrap. Always include a business card or something else that shows your name and website. And, very important: be friendly and helpful in your communication!

Last but not least, it helps to email (with one good picture in low resolution) your product to magazines. Investigate a bit on what mag might be interested in your product (kids products are not so likely to be featured in a magazine about science, unless you make science kits for kids). Same rules here as with mail to shops, direct it to the right person and be friendly.

Ps. 101 Woonideeen (a lovely dutch interior design magazine) has a christmas-card-countdown every year. You can send them your christmas card and they might include it on their blog with your link! Be quick though as it closed on november 29th. For more info, see here.

Seb and the Vet


Seb has been a bit under the weather lately, he has a snotty nose and won't eat his dinner... so yesterday I took him to the vet, maybe he could tell me why Seb was not his hungry self?
Well, first the vet couldn't find a cause. He noted Seb had: a strong heart, great lungs, good teeth, perfect weight and finally proclaimed (this specifically made me feel a proud mother, hearing this from a pro): 'what a beautiful rabbit!'.
At this point I thought all couldn't be more peachy perfect but the vet had one more conclusion...
Seb is allergic to dust!

OMG, this is so typical me, having a rabbit with an allergy! I put my sensitive furry friend in his traveling bag (may I mention here that it is a very fashionable one with army print?) and rushed home to thoroughly vacuum his residence and cleanse his hay in water. Let's hope it helps...

Aunt Henry finds

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We at Aunt Henry's listed some new pretty finds in the shop... Mr robot and tin toy pony (two real collectors items!)

Wrapping paper for the holidays

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I listed new printable wrapping paper in the shop, for the holidays!
Once purchaced you'll receive a zip file with the two designs in A3 size which you can print (for personal use only) as often as you like!

Free friday - questions


As promised, a free friday with some free advise. A few of you have responded to my call for questions about being an illustrator or webshop owner, thanks! I'll try to answer them all (some are simular) over the next few weeks. In the meantime you can still email me with new questions!

Todays question is from Rebechan.

Back at university, teachers used to tell us to "just write emails to editors, magazines and send your work". Does this really work? I can't bring myself to 'just write', I tend to think they will just discard my emails since they probably get a ton of those every day.  

Yes and no... First of all, to make this approach succesful, you have to understand how these editors work. You are right to think that they are people with loads and loads of incoming mails from shops, product designers, illustrators, graphic designers and other creative people who all want there work to be featured or commissioned, and no time on their hands. But there are a few tricks.

To make it easier for them to pick you, make sure you never send an overload of work in your email. Stick to one or two signature illustrations (or whatever work you make) and include them directly in the mail in a low resolution (72-100 dpi) so it's easily uploaded.

Make sure you have a short but clear story on what you want (nothing more annoying than someone saying: 'I hope we can mean something for each other' when what they really want is a commission or feature). A little note here though: we dutch are quite direct and prefer this in our communication, this may be different in other cultures!
I do believe it never to be wrong to say something like: 'I think your magazine is amazing (because...) and would love to illustrate for you!'. As long as you're polite and sincerly enthousiastic, you can't go wrong.
Also mention in your mail that you'll contact (email) them again, within two weeks or so, about how they liked your work and by that time do so.

This however doesn't mean that they'll give you a commission... right away. You need to wait and in the meantime send an occasional (once every 4-6 months or so) new work to keep them posted on your progress. I've had clients who finaly contacted me after 3 years! Sometimes they already have enough illustrators or they are looking for a different style at that moment or they just need to hear from you more often (this can also mean they notice your work somewhere else like in a blogpost or exhibition).

A final tip: it helps to investigate you future client a bit. What does the magazine stand for, what is their target market, what do they like, is their anything missing? A friend of mine wrote to a magazine once that she noticed they didn't have any illustrations in their magazine and she thought it would be a great addition to the magazine if she could make them some. They agreed!

I hope this was helpful, good luck!

Paper cut illustrations


The students in my Illustration and Digital course made their own postcards using the paper cut technique. We ordered some real postcards at Moo to see how their hard work looks in print, fingers crossed the cards turn out just as pretty as the originals!

Surprise mail!

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Yesterday we at Urlaub received some darling mail... a poster by Zilverblauw's Anki (who just launched her beautiful portfolio website) send to us by Monique, the art director of 101 woonideeen! Who has a very inspiring blog herself by the way...
Thanks Monique, for this great surprise (imagine me and Ellen screaming 'oooh' and 'aaah' over the parcel)!


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Now that I am an illustrator, designer and Etsy shop owner for a while I'd like to pay my knowledge, gathered over the past years, forward. Is there something you'd like to know, some advice, tips or tricks? This is your chance!
Email me your question(s) and mention in your mail subject 'free friday question' and I'll give it a go!

ps This cute tin toy bird is for sale at Aunt Henry's!

Aunt Henry is in business!

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Our new Etsy shop, Aunt Henry, is open! This shop has a bit of a special goal... We (me and my man) are saving for a shared dream: a road trip through the USA. We worked hard this weekend on photo's of the pretty vintage pieces and some fancy product descriptions. The first items are now listed.

To celebrate the opening of Aunt Henry, we'll give a 15% discount only this week (till sunday the 18th)! Just enter couponcode AUNTHENRYFIRSTWEEK at checkout.

Aunt Henry - New Etsy Shop!


My boyfriend has the most amazing collection of vintage finds... all hidden away in the attic. We talked about what to do with all these treasures and came up with the perfect solution over sunday breakfast: why not open a Etsy shop?

Hands on as we are, the name was found within ten minutes: Aunt Henry, and we planned to list items upcoming weekend. This means our shop will be open from next monday on! I'll let you know when it's there (I'm so excited)!

Flow Magazine


Working on an lovely commission for Flow Magazine...
You'll have to wait a while for the finished illustration, it's coming out in februari 2013!

No free friday (or saturday)...

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The tea bag holders I listed in my Etsy shop last week sell so quickly I have to make new stock already!



I discovered this cute webshop, Cocon. All the items in the shop from children's clothes to mobiles and textile kitchen ware, are handmade by stylist and designer Masami Akatsuke. I couldn't resist and bought myself a little fabric jade plant/ branch. Shipping was very quick and it came in such a cute package...

First and second photo by cocon.

Snail mail

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Oh dear, I absolutely love surprises in my mailbox! And this time I found a cute package by a certain lady whom I know as a lovely student and fellow blogger... Thanks P!
It's been quite a while since I embroidered (is that how you write this?) but this seems like the time to pick it up again!

This brings me to another item... I'm joining Ellen Vesters at her studio, this in preparation to Urlaub, it's so much easier when our desks are in the same room...
For the new address see here ;-)

Hello Etsy Eindhoven


Last saturday I was at Hello Etsy in Eindhoven in the workplace of Piet Hein Eek. I met Janine Vangool (the publisher of Uppercase Magazine). I think you can see in the picture how much I adore her for making such a beautiful magazine... ;-). You can meet with her in Amsterdam today at the American Book Center at the Spui from 17.00-19.00! And, you can still watch the inspiring speach she gave at Hello Etsy online here.

I was also in the successful shop panel with the lovely couple of Snowpuppe and Mitsy from Artmind. Simone Weimans interviewed us about our shops and work. You can watch the video here...

New porcelain china!


My new china series are as of today available in my Etsy shop! You can find tea bag holders, breakfast plates and mugs right here.
The inspiration came from the movie Moonrise Kingdom and the little fox you might have seen in my work before, has been restyled in scouts style.
I hope you like!

Circle scarf


A circle scarf I made some time ago...
I remember doing this when I was younger, in the eighties: creating a pattern on fabric by making stripes and dots with a swab dipped in bleach!


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Last weekend in Antwerp was amazing! Bakeliet, the Bed and Breakfast we stayed at was so stylish and cosy! It felt like we went back in time to the previous century (but with 21st century comfort). Everything was decorated with an eye for the smallest detail. Our friendly (and evenly stylish) hosts served a yummy breakfast with a fried egg on sunday (from one of their two chickens in the back yard).

On saturday evening we went to a modern ballet/ theater/ mixed media performance at deSingel, and together with great food (especially at Fez and ra13), love, nice weather and some shopping it was a peachy perfect weekend away!

Shelley pointed out to me (thanks!) that I am featured on the Uppercase blog, see it here.
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