After two weeks of a persistant but confusing flu (one day you feel ok, the next you're ill again, on and off. M was even more piteous, he had a more aggressive version), I felt creative enough again to start some sketching at random. I never plan it but somehow I always end up with dodgy characters. Who are these people and where do they come from? ;-)
I'd like to dedicate this weeks Free Friday post to a problem I think a lot of people have: being too insecure about their drawing capabilities. In my illustration courses what I hear most is '...but I can't draw'. I think this is something that has kept too much people back from exploring and having fun while creating.
There are a few things that can keep you back big time from making the things you want to draw in a non-stressful way:
Comparing Yourself To Others
Oh my, even I am guilty to that sometimes. It can be quite hard to stick to your own work and feel good about it when there is so much beautiful work made in the world (that you are exposed to all over the internet, all the time).
But... there is a trick (it at least works for me): keep in mind that you see your work all the time, you're used to what it looks like. Therefor it might not seem that new and exciting to you as other people's work does. Others might look at your drawings with the same oooh and aaahs you look at theirs, just because it's new to them.
You might have heard at school when you were younger that you had no talent for drawing, you sucked at it. But who said this? I think that in the 'old days' drawing must have been something specific that only had to do with how well you could draw from a model or even from the top of your head. Nowadays drawing (and illustrating) is much more about a freedom of mind, of creativity, not of technically being able to draw perfectly.
But ask yourself this: what makes a drawing interesting, it being perfect or a clear vision of freedom and fun in the picture?
It Has To Be Pretty
When you start drawing with the thought in mind: 'it has to become pretty', you're only thinking about the outcome.
What about the process? When you bake a cake, do you only think about what it has to look and taste like when coming out of the oven, without reading the recipe? You have to follow the steps in a recipe to make the cake just as yummy as it's supposed to be. Maybe you taste the batter along the way and feel it needs some more cinnamon or sugar? You would not have known this if you just bashed all the ingredients in the baking tray without thought and put it in the oven like that.
The process of making is just as important as the outcome, it's even more important because without the process there is no outcome! Also keep in mind that a process needs time and maybe trying again and again but along the way you might discover some amazing and inspiring new things!
Your Inner Judge
While drawing you might not like what you see happening on your paper. Are you disappointed not to be able to draw what you'd like to draw, what you have visioned in your mind? Why try to draw what's already in your mind, why not try something new? Let yourself be surprised of what happens on paper. If you hold on desperately to what you want to draw, you are not giving yourself the space to make what you can draw (even better) and will get stuck in disappointment.
Your inner judge is not a very talented illustrator anyway as it mostly only draws what it knows (it's know for wanting to hold on to what it knows) and not what it actually sees.
There is a fun way of drawing to prevent your inner judge to criticize and hold you back, and to train your eye (half the work with drawing is to look very closely to what you are drawing):
it's called 'eye-hand-coordination drawing'. How does this work?
Find a simple object (a vase, pen or mug, whatever is on hand) en place it in front of you. Take a big sheet of paper and a sharp pencil. Focus on the object, find a spot to being and place your pencil on your sheet. NOW... once placing you pencil on the sheet, look back at your object and start following the line of the object (it's easiest to start with the outline) with your eyes while following on paper with your pencil. Keep doing this until you can't go any futher (the line ended or you've come back at the beginning).
When you look at your drawing it might seem ridiculous and off. But once you practice more and get the hang of it you will train your eye to coordinate with your drawing hand. The more you do this, the better you will be able to draw. And the best part of it: because you are nor allowed to look at the paper while drawing, your inner judge will not be able to interfere!
For more information and a how-to on 'eye-hand-coordination drawing' (or 'blind contour drawing') see here.
A few weeks ago my (future-)father-in-law celebrated his birthday. We went to this little museum in Monnickendam. They showed the cutest piggy bank from the old days (1900?) out of ceramics. The photo I took didn't look very clear but I want to show you what it looked like and found some simular ones on the web. Don't you think these cuties make saving extra fun?
And talking about cuteness... this porcupine pouch is cute and very pretty too!
There is an exhibition at the Nieuwe Kerk in Amsterdam called: The american Indian, that caught my eye. Last weekend when I had some free time, I went to see what it was about.
The exhibition shows the Indian culture and myths, but also how we 'western people' look at the native american, the stereotypes. There were some beautiful pieces, the hand painted animal skins (first picture) were my favorite but the information was a bit too summarily. It would have been very interesting to know what material they used for painting; natural pigments, brushed and such but I couldn't find information on that.
I also missed a few items and stories like on dreamcatchers. Although the items displayed were very nice, the whole exhibition could have been more thorough and better explained, it seemed a bit too shallow for such a rich and interesting culture.
The focus seemed to be more on merchandise as the museum shop was fully packed with all sorts of jewelry, books, toys and ritual items. And because the admission fee was 15 euros this felt too money-pushy, a bit of a shame.
Happy Valentines day everyone! I hope you'll all have a loving day today...
Flow Magazine has a new book called 'Simplify your life' to which I contributed with this illustration (and poster)! You can buy the book in a bookshop from the 5th of march ore order it here.
After receiving a few requests for birth announcement cards and such, I decided to add some more information to this blog in case you'd like to hire me ;-)
You can find all the info (incl. prices) under the tap 'commissions'.
There is an amazing new online magazine on the market: Oh Marie! And what's this mag about?
Oh Marie! is a new bilingual (dutch/english) online magazine. It's filled with beautiful photography, DIY projects, styling and vintage with a twist. Oh Marie! helps you develop your own style in a practical manner. (quote from Oh Marie! website)
And for the new issue, my former Urlaub-colleague and fellow illustrator Ellen Vesters made the amazingly pretty cover illustration!
I can only say: go read that magazine!
Today's free friday question is from Jennifer. She asks:
How does wholesale work, where to start?
Ok, this is a tricky subject. For wholesale you have to do some calculations:
1. calculate your production and labour costs. This means (all incl. tax):
- the material to make your product
- the time you spend on making your product (determine your hourly rate)
2. add these together and this is your break-even price.
Let's say you make oven mitts. The material per item costs 5,-.
It takes you 1/2 hour to make one item. With an hourly rate of 40,- this means 20,- per item.
This makes your break-even price: 20,- + 5,- = 25,-
3. Now add 50% to the break-even price and there's your wholesale price without shipping.
(In this example 50,-).
4. Calculate shipping costs (do you only sell in your own country or worldwide?) and add these to the wholesale price.
If you do not want to add too much shipping costs to the price of one item, you can set a minimum order amount and spread the shipping costs over that amount of items.
And now we have a problem... oven mitts of 50,- a piece are quite pricy, will people buy them?
My experience here is that or you have to produce them quicker and with cheaper material or you have to choose to make less profit.
In this case, research a bit on what others ask for a simular product, what are their prices? Let's say you can buy nice oven mitts for 25,- a piece.
Minus your material costs of 5,- your 'profit' would be 20,- Maybe once you get the hang of making them, you can make them in 15 minutes (doing a bunch at the same time helps to speed up).
This is up to you, would you like to sell more and make less money a piece but make more money in total or stick to your first price and sell less (but also have to put less time in it).
In my experience the best thing to do is to find ways to speed up the production and lower the material costs instead of a higher price.
For example: my Instant Comfort Pocket Boxes took me 30 minutes each in the beginning!! Now that I make more at the same time of the same design (as a little production line) it takes me 10 minutes each.
Other tips on wholesale:
-make a pdf file with good photo's of the items you sell and a list of the wholesale prices (incl and excl tax) that you can mail to clients. Also add your terms and information about your products in this file (who made them, are they eco, what are your return policies in case of damage?)
-Be clear about your delivery time and stick to it. This depends on you product. I go for a 'within two weeks' delivery. (Set your time a little bit later than you actually need. It will make you client happy when your products arrive earlier. And happy clients is what we want ;-) )
You can also ask you client when they need the products and make arrangements with them on when you will deliver, most clients are very reasonable and willing to come to an understanding on when to deliver.
-shipping: you are responsible for shipping until the items arrive at the client.
-find shops you think will be interested in selling your items and visite them in person (bring the item you want to sell) or email them (figure out who's the person to address and use their name in the mail, not a 'dear sir/madam' or just 'Hello'). Ask if they would want to sell your product in their store and add a good photo to the mail (and/or link to your webshop if you have one).
If they are interested, you can send them the pdf file with information on the products.
-Last but not least... make a nice package of the products you send to your clients. Add a personal note or postcard and a business card so they have your contact information.
Send the invoice by email or, if the client prefers (ask if they do) in paper.
-Etsy has a good How-to on wholesale. You can find it here.
I had some spare time today and made two potholders and coaster for our kitchen. I handprinted some of the fabrics, another came from Carol Cox in Utrecht and one fabric used to be a vintage dress.
These little 'random' projects help me reload. It boosts my creativity in a non-stress way.
Now that I'm working in Ilpendam, Seb's living here too. We made a cosy apartment for him just outside the kitchen door. He looked quite smug with his new spot, until sunday morning...
When bringing Seb his kibbles he was nowhere to be found. After checking every corner we knew for sure he was gone and panic hit me. The cage looked firmly closed, no escape signs there.
Visions of bunny snatchers, bunny stew and rabbit paw keychains poped up in my head. Not to speak of road kills or a frozen stiff furry friend found under a bush. What had happened to my sweet Sebster?
M wiped my tears and with the promis 'we will find him' he ran off into the rain to look under every bush and in every garden. Meanwhile I walked around the back yard calling Seb holding out a bowl of his fave crunchies, with no succes...
I felt more desperate mesures were needed. I ran upstairs to design a 'missing rabbit' poster. After 10 minutes my pamphlet was printed and we systematically we went past all mailboxes in the neighborhood.
When arriving back home, my phone rang: 'Are you looking for a rabbit? I just saw him chilling out underneath my car' a man from two streets away proclaimed. I grabbed my coat and started running. When arriving at the spot, Seb was nowhere to be seen though. But just when we thought it was a hopeless case, a man stepped outside, two houses up the road. He beckoned us with a grin on his face and opened the door to his shed... there Seb was, having a blast with two other bunnies, perfectly happy above a bowl of food in some soft hay.
Apparently Seb had had the time of his life. I received another phone call later from a women a few houses from ours who said he had been running around her garden enjoying the crumbs of bread she fed him ('He looked me straight in the eye', she said. 'He didn't seem like a wild rabbit'). He probably escaped from his cosy residence (don't ask me how, Houdini is nothing compared to Seb's escape talents) at night and enjoyed a free run till half past one next day!
After his adventure he slept all day, wrapped up in the curtains at my studio... I'm glad he's back.
My new workspace is located in a small town just above Amsterdam. As a city girl I have to adjust a bit (no supermarket nearby, no cycling around town) but I'm starting to see the beauty of the country. I plan on daily walks around town to 'investigate' this new location.
Can you guess which town this is? Tell me the name in a comment and I'll pick a winner who will receive a surprise package...
Update: We have a winner! Jennifer guessed right, it's Ilpendam!
No questions this friday, there were non asked (but you still can if you have a question about illustrating, being creative, the bookkeeping part, etc, etc. just mail me.)
I'm having fun with decorating my new workspace in between jobs. I just love moving things around, adjusting colours and adding some green life. The light in this new 'office' (it's a room in my boyfriends house, not a fancy office building or anything ;-). But it does have a window almost as big as the wall!) is amazing, especialy when the sun comes out.
I will probably stalk you with more pictures soon, can't help myself, this new space makes me happy!
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