Monday, July 25th, 2016
I finally found the time to write about how to become a successful freelancer. It has been more than 6 months for me and I already can tell you a few things about what to do and what to avoid. I have written a blog post about the beginnings before, but here’s my progress. When I talk to people about how to become a successful freelancer there’s such a big halo around it. Don’t misunderstand me, I like it when people think it’s a big deal but I also think if you’re a creative person who likes to find solutions, becoming a freelancer is easier than you think. It has a lot to do with your own attitude.
Before I give you some useful tips I want to tell you when I decided to go freelance and how I started. As far as I remember, I started thinking about freelancing 4 months into my new job when I also started this blog in January 2015. I secretly told myself I have one year to make the jump. So I’d say my thoughts lasted way longer than my actions but that’s quite a common thing. The urgency of becoming freelance is mostly developed out of an emergency, e.g. getting fired, or a huge dissatisfaction, e.g. the job is not fulfilling anymore. My job was alright and so were all the others before but my problem was that everything was too slow for me and I could barely develop my own skills because I had to follow processes and rules. I know I sound like such a rebel but I knew for a long time I might not be the best person doing what other people tell me to do, at least not without questioning it. So freelancing was the first step into independence. I’m guilty of not being prepared enough, i.e. I didn’t have savings when I made the jump. I just couldn’t wait anymore. It might not be the best starting point but on the other hand, I really needed to push myself to make things happen.
At the moment, I still have a mix of different jobs. I work sporadically for an agency as a social media manager and I do have my own clients. I’ve been incredibly lucky that my clients can see such a big potential in me and trust me with my expertise. I not only help them with their social media channels, I also provide help with branding, PR, and marketing. The truth is that I can do so much more than social media but sometimes it’s tricky to sell this to your client when your obvious expertise is social media. Once people get to know me and have seen what I’m capable of we’re rocking their brand together.
But enough about me and my clients. I want to tell you a little bit more about how you can make it, too. Here we go!
Please share your thoughts with me! Are you thinking of going freelance? What does stop you? Where do you see your biggest problem? I’m happy to give some more advice and encouragement!
Working from the coffee shop around the corner of co-working space Campus London.
Working with my freelance friend Emelie on my shared terrace in East London.
Thursday, July 21st, 2016
Summer is finally in London! It’s the perfect time to introduce you to illustrator Marylou Faure. I discovered her at the recent Adobe Creative Meetup. It was an event where creatives talked about their skills and careers. I highly recommend attending one of their events. If you’re interested in creative talks from Adobe you can pre-register here. It was a very well organised and inspiring session. Do you know the feeling when you met lots of creative people and listened to their stories and then you go home and just want to create things?! I definitely felt like that when I listened to Marylou’s talk.
I just thought that illustrator Marylou Faure totally stood out. Her style seemed very significant. She was telling us how she started and what it means to develop your own style. You have to practice, practice, practice, but with a lot of patience and stamina, you can do it, too.
Her illustrations are very bold. I remember she was saying she wanted to go away from the cute designs and be more daring. A great tip from her: if you want to be known for a specific style you need to put it in your profile. Don’t put everything you’ve done in your portfolio. Show people who you really are and what you want to do.
Would you agree with her statement? It was really interesting to hear that illustrator Marylou Faure started off with a darker approach to her illustrations. But one day she decided to make her drawings brighter and happier. Well, I can tell you that they definitely make me happy, especially since summer has finally arrived in London, too. She went through stages until she developed the style you can now see in her illustrations. I really loved seeing her process and progress.
It was really interesting to hear that illustrator Marylou Faure started off with a darker approach to her illustrations. But one day she decided to make her drawings brighter and happier. Well, I can tell you that they definitely make me happy, especially since summer has finally arrived in London, too. She went through stages until she developed the style you can now see in her illustrations. I really loved seeing her process and progress.
What do you think of her illustrations?
Monday, July 18th, 2016
What do you think about workshops? A couple of weeks ago I had the pleasure to attend the Viking Arty Party, a blogger meetup where we could test some arty skills such as origami, block printing, and calligraphy. I’ve never seen so many creative bloggers in one place. It was great meeting some like-minded souls. A couple of months ago I’ve attended my first workshop. It was all about collaging in different forms. I really loved it. So I was very excited to attend the Viking Arty Party and I want to tell you a little bit more about the different workshops. Are you ready?
First stop was the Origami workshop with Samuel from MindFOLDness. You’ll probably wonder but origami wouldn’t be my first workshop choice although it’s the closest to Found Some Paper. Anyway, I totally changed my mind. It’s wonderful! First of all, we got a little introduction to what origami means and where it’s used. Samuel was so good in explaining the meaning of origami and he impressed us with stories of the folding craft in different areas such as medicine and the space industry. If you want to know more about origami and mindfulness his book will help. Finally, we folded a bird ourselves. It’s quite therapeutic and relaxing, to be honest. Samuel told us to give this bird to a stranger as an act of kindness. What a wonderful idea, don’t you think?! Have you ever tried origami?
Second on the list was block printing. It’s actually easier than you think. You don’t need a lot of materials. Jane from Tea & Crafting introduced us to the art of block printing. All we needed was a thin sponge, a piece of plastic to stick our sponge shape on and some paint. I’m a big fan of triangles and diamonds so I tried to combine these two and block printed a Viking folder with my purple shapes. I’d love to show it to you but I was too concentrated in the workshop I forgot to take a picture. What shape would you choose? Have you ever tried block printing?
Last but not least, we had some time to dive into calligraphy. I almost missed it because I had to attend a friend’s birthday party but then I decided to stay half an hour longer to at least try it. And it was so worth it. Suzie from À L’aise came super prepared. I was quite impressed how structured her workshop was. She printed some beautiful templates for us to use and practice with. After a short introduction, we started immediately. It was so much fun! I didn’t have time to do the whole alphabet but we could keep the ink and the pen so I still need to practice more. If I have to compare calligraphy to something it would be the language French. Not sure if you can relate to this comparison. It’s just beautiful. If you have ever tried calligraphy it would be amazing if you share it with me on Twitter.
And here’s me very concentrated taking photographs (this photo was taken by Search Laboratory). When I was a child I always put out my tongue when I was being creative. Guess nothing has changed much hahaha
See you at a workshop in London soon?
Monday, July 11th, 2016
It’s about time I’m sharing my art journal progress with you again. A few months ago I posted the first pictures of my new art journal and told you how to easily start one. Since then I’ve sat down a few times and continued drawing and painting. Art journaling helps me a lot to stay creative. Here are a few tips on how to stay creative with your art journal.
Do you have an art journal yourself? I’d love to see yours! Share it with me on Twitter.
PS: I’m always happy to hear feedback, too.
Tuesday, July 5th, 2016
Together, we created our own little tile designs in a morning workshop. Head to my Twitter account to see what I’ve made. We also had an interesting introduction to the designs of Bisazza. To be honest, I’ve never really thought about tiles but after I’ve visited the showroom my opinion completely changed. After all, we have at least two rooms with tiles in our house: the bathroom and the kitchen. So much potential! I will never look at these two rooms in the same way again and yes, I feel that my bathroom and the kitchen look fairly boring after I’ve discovered Bisazza’s dream world of tiles.
Bisazza works together with artist teams like the Studio Job and Tom Dixon, who I’ve also discovered recently and with whom I fell deeply in love with… ehm, I mean with his design. Of course, Bisazza is an extravagant brand and it’s not cheap. Therefore, I recommend start saving now so when you buy your own house you won’t be able to go with any lower than these tiles after reading my blog post. Promised!
I’m definitely planning on having a pool in my house. Tiles sorted! What would you create in your bathroom or kitchen?
I really like the gold and white tiles at the entrance of the Bisazza showroom. It looks very elegant.
Bisazza has so many inspirations to choose from; every colour theme you can imagine as well as the most beautiful artworks.
This is us creating our own tile designs. The Bisazza team was absolutely lovely and I really enjoyed getting creative myself.
Just look at the details of the mosaic flowers. They’re not only a place where you buy tiles, it’s a place of inspiration and true art.
Monday, June 27th, 2016
The Royal Academy of Arts’ Summer Exhibition 2016 is one of my most favourite exhibitions in the world. Why? Because I support the idea of giving every artist in the world the opportunity to showcase their work.
I have to say it was quite overwhelming and I could visit the Summer Exhibition 2016 again and again. This year’s theme was all about artist duos. The Royal Academy of Arts received over 12,000 entries from which 1,240 artworks are now displayed in Burlington House. I was told that the selection of artworks takes place anonymously which is a fantastic idea. It’s not the name which brings you hanging on the wall, it’s the originality, the craziness of your idea and the talent as an artist. The Summer Exhibition is an independent exhibition and has been running for 248 years now.
“One of the founding principles of the Royal Academy of Arts was to mount an annual exhibition open to all artists of distinguished merit to finance the training of young artists in the Royal Academy Schools. The Summer Exhibition has been held every year without interruption since 1769 and continues to play a significant part in raising funds to finance the current students of the RA Schools. The RA Schools is the longest established art school in the UK and offers the only free three-year postgraduate programme in Europe.”*
Nearly all artworks of the exhibition can be purchased. I don’t want to go into detail of any artworks of the exhibition because visiting the Summer Exhibition 2016 is a must to explore new and established artists. If I had the necessary change I’d definitely buy one of the artworks.
Will you go and visit the Summer Exhibition 2016 at the Royal Academy of Arts this year?
*From Royal Academy of Arts’ Press Release
Monday, June 20th, 2016
Or maybe they found me? I was very happy when Ben from Old English Company got in touch with me. Old English Company has some really cool stationery. Their focus is on witty captions and minimalist illustrations. I immediately laid eyes on the bear wall hanging and I can proudly say it’s now hanging amongst my collection which I’ll share with you soon. I also had the chance to find out more about Old English Company. Get to know the man behind the company and read the inspiring interview with Ben below.
Old English Company is the brain child of myself, Ben Treanor. I studied design at Leeds Metropolitan and then went on to work for a small design agency. Working my way up I became head designer for Waterstones, the leading high street book store chain in the UK. While there I worked on various projects, including the designing of their own brand stationery (greeting cards, notepads etc). It was this that sparked an interest of designing stationery and homeware to sell. I illustrated a small range of cards and sold these online. While my designs became more and more popular I realised it was time to leave my day job to pursue Old English Company full time. Since then we’ve relocated studios 3-4 times (if you count my bedroom being the first studio space). Currently we’re a team of 4, and based in the beautiful historic town of Stamford, my home town.
A day at the studio will normally consist of getting all of the orders made and packed, ready to be sent out the door. I’ll then try to have an hour or so designing/illustrating, however we’re very busy around any seasonal holiday (Christmas, Father’s Day, Valentine’s) and any upcoming trade shows, so this effects how much time I’m able to spend on illustrating new ideas.
It’s hard to know exactly where my inspiration comes from. I love to look at old vintage signs with bold typography and will often go to our local antique shops (Stamford has a lot of them!) to see what I can find. Also hand lettering, anything hand lettered and monochrome will always catch my eye.
Old English Company is always growing. Over the past year we’ve been exhibiting at more and more trade shows, and have found ourselves stocked in various stockists including Urban Outfitters and Oliver Bonas as a result. We’re looking at exhibiting at trade shows in America, as we’d love to have more stockists on that side of the pond. I also want to look at increasing the range of stationery and homeware products that we produce.
Staying creative can be difficult at times. I think if you speak to most designers / illustrators you’ll hear that they will often have design slumps, when ideas just don’t seem to materialise. I find it important to persevere through these slumps. Having a sketchpad and pencil to hand always seems to help!
Do you love Old English Company as much as I do? Then you’re lucky! I’m giving away two Old English Company coasters (2 surprise coasters).
Monday, June 13th, 2016
Facebook groups are a thing nowadays, in case you haven’t heard. Therefore, I have put together 6 Facebook groups you need to join. Why are they so popular? It’s quite simple. In the digital world we get penetrated by brands and advertising. Every social channel provides a huge potential to reach a certain target market. It’s great – as a marketer – but it can be annoying for a consumer. Facebook groups though became little isolated islands where it’s not easy as a brand to invade. These groups have strict rules and overall exist to help each other. It’s definitely a great idea! Without further ado, let me introduce you to a couple of Facebook groups I really like.
I have mentioned this Facebook group before on my blog and as far as I can remember it’s the first group I joined and follow regularly. It’s quite big now, with over 12,000 members, but I find it still valuable. If you’ve started your own business or if you’re thinking about going freelance this is the perfect group for you. Everyone is really friendly and helpful in this group and you might even find a new customer for your own business.
Avocado Social Media Hub
This Facebook group was founded by Alison, the owner of the social media agency Avocado Social. She wanted to create a hub where people can share what they’ve discovered on social channels, what’s new in the digital world and also in order to answer any questions people might have about the massive world of social media. I definitely recommend joining this little personal social media hub.
Instagram Marketing Mastermind
I might have mentioned this Facebook group before on my blog as well because it’s part of a newsletter workshop about Instagram. I have tried quite a few free Instagram courses and I found this one from Alex Tobey was the best. When you have signed up you also get the chance to join the Instagram Marketing Mastermind Facebook group. If you have any question about Instagram you can be sure it’ll be answered by the community. I’m Instagram addicted so this group is perfect for me and maybe for you, too.
I know Lu, who started this community, through the networking events I’ve been visiting regularly in London. She did a great job by creating a place where female founders can get together, ask for help and offer support. I have met a couple of people through her Facebook group and I think it’s so valuable. Again, if you’re a freelancer or a startup Blooming Founders is a fantastic community to join.
If you’re a blogger and a reader of my blog it’s very likely you will enjoy this Facebook group. Creative bloggers was founded by Lauren and it all started on Twitter first. But because Facebook groups are such an intimate environment it’s a great move to have this community of like-minded creatives on here as well. I like to keep up with all things creative and the group is an awesome and easy way to do that.
I’m getting even more specific but if you live in London AND you’re a blogger the London Bloggers Facebook group is a cool place to be. Every now and then people post free workshops in there or collaboration opportunities for your blog. It was founded by Elle who is a fitness blogger in London. It’s fantastic for making new friends and for arranging a meet up with other bloggers in this group.
Are you a member of any interesting Facebook groups I should know about?
Monday, June 6th, 2016
I was very fortunate to meet Kate of Isla Apothecary a few weeks ago at the bloggers’ workshop organised by Makers & Friends. She was one of the makers who used the pop-up concept to test and sell her products. I immediately loved the idea behind her new brand as well as the design of the bottles and tubes. Kate and I went for a coffee a few days after and I had the chance to get to know her a little better. I was very inspired by our conversation and I wanted to give you the chance to get to know her as well. Therefore, I asked her a few questions about Isla Apothecary and Kate’s own creativity. I think this interview is truly inspiring and I hope you will love it, too.
Tell me a little bit about Isla Apothecary.
Isla Apothecary is an expression of my positive experiences with conscious and botanical led self-care and skincare and my take on both of those. I draw on the principles of aromatherapy, olfaction, a dedication to beautiful, natural remedies, and my belief in the power of the skin to heal and thrive with the assistance of nature uninterrupted.
I handcraft everything in the product range in small batches and I have two primary concerns when I create a product; that I use the finest raw and natural, and where possible organic and wild crafted ingredients for their therapeutic action, and that the end product smells good; but of course the last bit is totally subjective.
Why did you start Isla?
How I spend my days is important to me. Time was passing me by and for much of it, I felt increasingly disconnected, disheartened, and disoriented in what I was doing.
I got to a point where I struggled to justify always feeling that way so I started to address that discomfort. Part of my process included placing greater emphasis on exploring new things and spending time on things I already enjoyed and were relatable to me i.e. experimenting with natural ingredients and alternative therapies. By doing that I started to feel more enriched and looking back, I think it gave me confidence to believe that feeling good about what I do isn’t out of reach.
In the summer of 2014, I started to sense I was edging closer towards some semblance of what Isla was to become. I was also entering a period where I was trying out a more holistic approach to living and that actually extended to my career choices. Suddenly, the question of ‘why can’t I add the things that really make me tick in to my every day?’ wasn’t yielding any worthwhile answers.
Around this time though, I was very close to pursuing a career in law, having just finished a law conversion course but I struggled to see myself in that world even though I was (and still am) fascinated by the subject. Isla Apothecary wasn’t a business idea per se and nor was it borne out of a business plan, but all of these factors I describe strengthened my resolve to move forward with it. It is simply reflections of my life, experience, habits, desires, lifestyle choices; and finally feeling inspired and encouraged by all of the above. They came together in their own time and timing is everything.
What are the biggest challenges of having your own business?
My day-to-day consists of me tempering strategy with creativity and unavoidable administrative tasks. Naturally, there are aspects that I favour over others and I am still learning to put equal effort in to all of them.
But probably the biggest challenge I have is switching off. I love what I do, however it is constant and it’s as if I run out of time a lot! So my mind churns with to-do’s, ideas, deadlines and that’s tricky to curb. Being aware of that though is helping me to work harder at being more present in other areas of my life.
In our conversation you mentioned you never thought you were creative. Can you tell me why you thought that & what changed your mind?
I always thought I was just more the academic type and therefore not creative, as if being academic and creative are incompatible. I loved and still love learning; studying and researching new subjects! I just had lots of interests and passions that seemed to be congealing with not much coming out of them. I suppose Isla Apothecary represents my readiness to cross over from theory into practice with a wider application in mind, and that’s when I realised that I was capable of my own version of creativity.
For me, creativity is also a conduit to freedom and vice versa. Freedom of expression. They say that there’s an art and a science to aromatherapy and what I like about that is that whilst there is this huge frame of reference, there is a lot of freedom to play around. It works for me. I’m not into hard and fast rules.
How do you stay creative?
Caring about what I do keeps my creativity switched on I think; and to sort of answer the question above in another way, doing what I get a lot of joy out of is a big factor in that. I always wanted to find, or be able to create and do what I loved. It is something that Steve Jobs said, which really spoke to me – “you have to find what you love.” You may not know what you love and that’s fine! Being open and trying new things is a great place to start. I digress! Determination to grow, progress and push ahead (especially when I make mistakes, there are many) means learning the lessons and moving on quickly, and trying new things; and that spurs creativity, if only by accident.
I tend to say ‘yes’ to trying new things out for the business and I try to get out there as much as possible. You never know when and how you can be inspired.
Travel seems to renew my sense of curiosity and I like to imbue that in the brand. I wish I could do more of it! I’m going to India in January on an Aromatherapy tour of Kerala and Tamil Nadu, which combines the educational, the hands-on and the travel and I can’t wait! I hope it’s the beginning of many more trips like it.
What are your thoughts about this interview?
Sunday, May 29th, 2016
This year I finally made it to the Clerkenwell Design Week 2016 again. I wanted to go every year but because I worked in a full-time job which wasn’t design related I struggled to convince my employer to let me visit the festival. Well, this year I’m my own boss and I decided to spend a day at Clerkenwell Design Week 2016.
I started with a press breakfast on Tuesday where we were shown around the streets to get an overview of all the shows in Clerkenwell. There was so much to see! Then I met up with a group of design bloggers who were invited by We Blog Design to visit some selected designers and talk about their new collections.
I thought I mention here the other design bloggers if you fancy following them.
So where have I been & what have I discovered? We started our tour at Arper, an Italian design company with a Scandinavian touch, creating furniture for offices and homes. It was great to hear a little bit about the story behind the company. It only exists for a bit longer than a decade but is doing really well. Then we went to Clerkenwell’s St James Church (I had no idea it’s so much more than a church) and this was the highlight of the tour, in my opinion. Tom Dixon’s work is just stunning. He has chosen an amazing venue to showcase his work (see last picture below; he created the chandelier which stays there forever as far as I know). Have a look at Twitter to see the great installation HakFolly by Hakwood & FleaFolly Architects. The tour was followed by a visit at Vitra Showroom, the Sensorium Installation and the Sto Werkstatt. Last stop: The House of Detention. I met the designer of Off The Rails Design and I can’t wait to introduce her properly on my blog soon.
Phew! So many designers and places to discover. It was great! Thanks to We Blog Design for organising a little tour for us!
Have you been to Clerkenwell Design Week this year?