Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Little Smilemakers Studio // 3 year anniversary

Another celebration in the studio today. Happy birthday Little Smilemakers Studio! I started Little Smilemakers Studio 3 years ago on a cold and rainy November day in 2011. Now three years later, after working long days, it is time to say goodbye to the first toddler years. We've been growing strong with a great client base and it is time to reflect on a great start.

In three years so much has happened. I quit my safe but non-inspirational office job in a design studio and it seems like ever since I decided to work as an independent designer life seems to have fallen in to place. This way of life fits like that favorite pear of jeans. I have the luxury doing what I love: making illustrations and surface patterns for clients all around the world. My work has never been so fulfilling and is completely different every day. I am able to travel. I always carry a camera, just to make little visual notes. These impressions are translated into my work. In my portfolio, my travels come together in illustrations and patterns inspired by all the places, moments, encounters, and colors that stimulate my creativity. It has been a great ride so far. I am looking forward to what is to come.

Photo by Kaponia Aliaksei

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Saying goodbye // celebrating life // make it count

Today I got some sad news: a dear friend of ours has past away this morning. He touched the lives of so many people all around the world. These prints were inspired by your kind heart and your fight for what is right. Safe travels to the rainbows my dear friend.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

November news // Veritas new wonderful winter collection

For Veritas I have been working on a new series of print designs for this years winter collection. The developing process from design to product can take a while and after months of patiently waiting I saw a sneak peek of the collection in September during Veritas Blogger event. Now has November has come and the entire collection is now available in all Veritas stores and in their online webshop.

From ink drawing to surface pattern
For this new winter collection home wear and accessories I wanted to create something which was in line with designs I made last year. A clear follow up. I wanted to create a series of prints with the same look and feel. When I started the designing process for this collection I just came back from India. The little illustrations and repetitive prints have a raw edge to them. I decided to use raw brushes and Indian ink to shape my whimsical illustrations, the first step to a surface pattern. The imperfect shapes of raw nature reflect the emotions with the change of the seasons. During this time of year nature transforms from soft and colorful into clear and raw. The new shapes were a direct conversion to this raw emotion. If you look closely to the little shapes that built the pattern you can see these spontaneous curves.

After this first drawing phase I will sit down and convert my drawings into vector files. When I have them on my computer I first start with a composition. It can be a simple repeat or a combination of shapes together. I will move the illustrations around until they find the right balance and then add color. For this collection I wanted to use cold winter season colors in soft tones and combine those with a warmer orange. Just using the second color as a little pop. The small scaled illustrations give the pattern a romantic touch. The entire home wear series is made from soft pastel repeats and the pyjama's have a contrasting t-shirt with a enlarged details and patchwork on the front and little detailing.

Cuddle up in cosy homewear
For the accessories, the bags and scarfs, I wanted to make a stronger series in color. They are a bit more winterly and darker than the series of prints I made for home wear. All designs are also available as fabric. And there is an entire series of sewing supplies that are very handy in your DIY home. The home wear series also includes undies, warm winter socks and matching negliges to go with the feather, flowers and apple prints. Take a look at the entire Maaike Boot collection online and mix and match! Don't be shy and tag your items in your Instagram feed of post your selfie wearing one of the items on the Little Smilemakers Facebook page. Looking forward to see how you mix and match this winter.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Sources of inspiration: Cactus heaven // Botanical inspiration in Gran Canaria

The change of seasons can be a great inspiration. I love fall weather and see the leaves change color. In Holland you can see the joy of all seasons but when I travel I enjoy the difference in vegetation too. Colors of plants, shapes and leaves, they can be very different from the plants growing in this part of the world.

Last week I came back from a week of traveling on the Canary Islands where I went to see a botanical garden which was created in 1952 by the Swedish Eric Sventenius. His goal was to protect all species of plants from extinction that were growing on this island. Now this great garden has become a great lush place of green. A lush heaven on this dry island of Gran Canaria. When you walk into the garden the first thing you see is a forest of small palm trees that reminded me of juicy pineapples. When you walk further you can see a small pond surrounded by amazing colorful flowers and close to that same pond there is a huge bush of cactus plants that is totally breath taking. This garden is a great mixture of plants and it will take up your entire afternoon to take it all in.

I have this weird thing for cacti and have used this raw dry vegetation as inspiration for my 'raw nature collection' last year. For this collection I have created ink sketches of small insects and desert plants which are available on home deco items, wall art prints, throw pillows and phone accessories and stationary. During this trip I arranged a photo shoot in the garden for one of my Dutch clients. We made a series of portraits with abstract plants and popping colors in the background. It was not hard to make some great shots.

The garden is located in a valley and goes all the way up against a steep hill. The view on top of the garden is gorgeous. If you ever get the chance to travel to Spain, do visit the Canary Islands. You can find this botanical garden, Jardin Canario Viera y Clavijo on the island of Gran Canaria.

Are you already looking for some seasonal presents? Looking for fun Raw Nature christmas gifts? Take a look into the Society6 shop for home decor items and fun art prints with cacti theme or creepy insects pattern. These designs are also available on fabric and wallpaper via Spoonflower. Have fun!

Thursday, November 6, 2014

3 Must-Reads for starting up your design business

This month it will be three years ago since I started Little Smilemakers Studio. I have studies and read numerous books and magazines to stay up to date about social media and making my living doing what I love. There are three books that have helped me with the little bugs and errors that come with setting up your own independent creative business. I was lucky to have had 7 years of experience before starting my company so I already had a clear view of what I wanted and especially what I didn't want. But there is no way to oversee it all. There three books have been a great addition.

1 // Mollie Makes Blogging
This is not a book but a magazine all about blogging, social media and how to deal with creative content online. The magazine has great tips for transforming your blog and website into a great visual experience for followers, simple tools to keep in mind while posting content and it has a great overview of all social media pro's and con's. Find out what works best for you and build your creative blog with a steady foundation.

2 // Handboek voor het opzetten van een ontwerp praktijk
I already bought this book before starting my own business. It is a good preparation for what is to come when you do not have a lot of experience in design practice. This book contains all practicalities you will have to worry about while setting up a new business. How to attract clients and how to deal with contracts and numbers. The guide to start your own design business. The book is only available in Dutch.

3 // Art Inc
A guide for building your career as an artist and was written by Lisa Congdon, created by her own experience as an artist. This book is all about turning your skills into a successful business. The book has some great tips about dealing with irregular income, protecting copyright and you can also learn about promoting your artwork, work with creative galleries and selling your art.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Happy Halloween fright night

It's Halloween! Are your ready for this year's fright night? Traditionally October 31 is the day to remember the dead. But nowadays it is a time to dress up and have fun. However, with this holiday I would like to take some time to celebrate the life of all people that have passed in my life. Enjoy your happy holiday, celebrate and remember the life of those whom have passed and left a mark in your life or have influenced your being. Happy Halloween!

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Fall fabric Hot Sellers // Spoonflower

As a country girl I used to play outside a lot and enjoy the change of season. From lush green leaves to bright red, orange and yellow. I enjoyed playing out in the windy fall weather. Hiding out in a big pile of crisp leaves, dancing in a puddle of mud.

I loved playing outside, see birds build their nests and take care of their little ones. Me and my bestie took long hikes to spot little animals. Rabbits, owls and an occasional fox. And after the summer we would wear our rain boots to walk through the cornfields to see crops grow.

These little parts of my childhood are a great source of inspiration. The little girl hiking in her own Alice in Wonderland fantasy land, where oak trees came alive and little birds would turn into dinosaurs, well everything could turn into a dinosaur or a unicorn of course, those happy moments still inspire me creating seasonal designs.

Fall might just be my favorite season. It is all about starting new things and a time to reflect. Stay in, find your way around the house again and maybe improve small things to make it home again. I noticed the past few weeks a lot of DIY fans have started their new projects. Sales are up and it is time to make some new warm fashion items and fun home decor textiles to lift up the interior. A great way to start this colder season. We are all ready to look ahead and show you the latest trends at Spoonflower. Fun fabric for the colder season.

1 // Pastel Feathers
The pastels and the black color scheme form a light crisp contrast to the background. This 2-directional repeat has been very popular for baby and toddler fashion items but also very suitable for home decor. This soft design has little Aztec detailing and small arrows.

2 // Geometric fox
Geometric designs still are trending. For this design I tried to combine both fall and fashion. The design has been added to the Spoonflower shop just two weeks ago but already a hot seller. Looking forward to seeing all finished projects made with this woodland theme.

3 // Pine trees
Never expected this print to be picked up like mad. But I am happy to say this pine tree design made the top sellers too. If you are looking for a clean Scandinavian style winter design this is all you need. A simple repeat in black and white with little pops of color.

4 // geometric Woodland
This must be my favorite design on fabric this season. A mix of woodland animals and geometric details in soft powder tones. This designs has been used for kids fashion but is also very popular for winter and Christmas decoration. This print is also available in black, white and gray.

Want to purchase one of these designs or check out all other themes? Take a look at the Little Smilemakers shop at Spoonflower. There are over more than 600 designs to choose from. And of course, don't forget to show your finished projects and leave a comment.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Dreamy clouds // water colored foxes // geometric crosses // cute little ballerina girls // My Little Hands - Australia

Usually I am working on new winter and Christmas themes during summer. But for a new client I sat down for some summer designs. When days are getting colder here in Holland Australia is warming up. Time to show off some new Australian summer designs for My Little Hands.

My Little Hands is an online shop, a place to find all things beautiful for your little one’s including bedding for babies and children, clothing, floor rugs and room decor including wall art, garlands and wallpaper.

The Australian company is run by the gorgeous Emma Colombera. She has a heart for true designs and asked me to create a range of products for her shop. We started out with a series around the water colored foxes. A cute simple repeat of these yellow creatures is now available on cute blankets and other MLH items.

We also have been working on a cute series of pastel clouds. This dreamy print is suitable for both boys and girls, available in soft pink, mint and baby blue. Emma told me she has a weak spot for ballet and also hand picked the Ballerina designs for her shop. Of course for this season some geometric designs are part of the series too. A cute crosses design with small aztec detailing. Sounds good? Well, take a look in My Little Hands shop and check the summer entire collection. Enjoy!

Monday, October 20, 2014

New winter collection of phone cases // Daily Objects

Another season, another batch of gorgeous Indian designs. For Daily objects India we just finished a new series of surface pattern designs just in time for the holidays. Browse through more that 200 designs and pick your fav gift!

The winter season is coming, so for this series of designs we have been making some cold woodland inspired design. Organic shapes and raw garden themes in soft colors. There are also some new Indian themes: of course some new peacock designs and some retro American inspired art will be part of the new collection too. Take a look on the Daily Objects website and order your favorite design.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Sources of inspiration: New York Yay! Series // fabric // postcards // home decor

I was a dreamer at 15. I wanted to go and see the world and luckily my father supported the idea of studying abroad for a year. Just before my 16th birthday I took off on my first trip to the United States. Where I crisscrossed the country. We took a long walk to the Golden Gate Bridge. Ate a one foot high sandwich in Salt lake city. Yes that is to be considered huge in Holland… We crashed at some awesome peoples home in Atlanta and we went to see New York. It was the first trip that made me realize I wanted to see the world.

Although I never went back until last year this country is my first taste of traveling. Letting go of what you know. Go with the flow and pick up the different energy while moving from place to place. Enjoy simple every day things and go back home appreciating what you take for granted.

This year, after receiving Shutterstocks Grant Prize I decided to go back to New York. Working for a company that invited me to come and see the new Empire State Building office, it was all work no play of course.

I love the buzzing streets of New York, where your eye gets drawn to the high architecture and people are in a constant state of hurry, but also enjoy life in little moments by themselves in a park or coffee shop. The city surprised me: I always have this sense of restlessness within me, but when I visited New York, I felt this sense of easygoing peace and calm, like I was home. It's also visually mind-blowing. Street art and high-end designer shops go hand in hand. NYC is the ultimate destination for a designer like me, where constant movement is inescapable, there's room for both culture and business, and, if you set your mind to it, everything seems possible. A multicultural melting pot, which I love.

I love traveling alone and getting lost in places I have never been before. I stumbled upon an expo of graduation students, met some interesting young artists with amazing refreshing work. Goosebumps people! Another stroll from my loft to the high line brought me through the romantic streets of the West Village with it's beautiful brown stones with the typical soundtrack of New York in the back: spring sparrows. An old lady walked by and told me luck would be coming my way... It had already found me.

After I came back from this trip I have been making some new US and New York themes. Some for fabric, some for my pug loving friends back in Brooklyn and a new series for iphone cases and postcards. I still have to create so many things though. So yes, I call them my New York Yay series.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Christmas is on it's way // new seasonal prints & fabric

Christmas. It is on it's way. Decorations are already up in New York and when it's up in New York Christmas is on it's way. During the summer we have been working on new winter and christmas themes for surface pattern design, postcard designs and of course a great chunk of the new seasonal prints is also available on fabric now.

For me personally Christmas always has been a bit of a dreadful experience. With family clashes, angry grannies and weird presents I was always happy to return to school after two weeks of family awkwardness. Now that I am older I tend to flee the country around the holidays. But I love the seasonal vibe and decorations. I am always happy to work on new Christmas themes and the romance of the tale. Designing new prints with fun winter themes and Christmas icons. No, I adore making new seasonal work. Hope you enjoy the new christmas designs too.

Of course you can also do some Little Smilemakers Christmas shopping for your friends and family. Have you seen the new prints available via Daily Objects? I have been working with this company for a year now and there are over more than 200 cases available. They company sells iphone cases for also cases for Samsung, HTC, Nexus, just name it. Take a look and see for yourself.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Hello October // Colorful transition time

Hello October! My favorite time of the year. When leaves change color and a renewed buzzing energy fills up the working days. When temperature drops but we still pretend there is nothing wrong with getting a drink on a terrace, just stretching summer and enjoy every second of what's left of the warmth. October is a month of transitioning. Letting go & preparing for what is to come and don't forget: make room for new things.

Many things are happening! This fall the new Veritas collection will be launched. The fall winter collection contains new bags, scarfs, cosy home wear and lot's of new fun accessories. After the very successful collection last year I was asked to make an entire collection of prints. Can not wait to see it in the shops.

This past summer has been a crazy hectic one where we welcomed a few new customers from the UK, Poland, South Africa and Australia. Now we are approaching winter most projects get finalized. Hopefully the new finished products will be launched shortly. We have been working on some nursery collections, a new fabric range and cute little shoes for toddlers. It always takes a while before the prints are finished and the finished products are ready. Can not wait to see it all! Of course it will be up here too.

And of course. With every new season there are new designs in the Spoonflower fabric shop. New winter 14/15 prints are up. Make sure to order in time for christmas and skip the holiday rush!

Monday, September 22, 2014

Finished projects made by customers // DIY passport cover // Baby nursery home // Lion dinner set for kids

After a lot of hard work it is lovely to see finished items. Sometimes it can take up to a year before we get to see the final result. Here is a little piece about some of the great ways Little Smilemakers designs are used by clients and fabric customers.

There are quite some travel themes in the Little Smilemakers fabric collection. For asian themes to New York inspired illustrated patterns. A Spoonflower customer send us this little passport case photo this week. And as travel addicts we love to see this travel themed finished project made with Little Smilemakers New York City fabric available at Spoonflower.

La Millou has a range of Little Smilemakers designs in their nursery collection. The hipster design, the Parisien design, Foxes and one of our all time favorites is the Toucan Birds design. A colorful patchwork style print for both boys and girls. The print is available on blankets, pillows, little hats and lot's more!

For Triple 8 Design Studios in Australia we have worked on some cute bamboo fibre biodegradable dinner sets. One with Lions but also one with cute little dinosaurs. So much fun to have these on your kids breakfast table! And after these there is even more to come.

We are always excited to see the result! So if you have been working with Little Smilemakers fabric or if you have some fun items to show that are in your little kids bedroom or in your household please share your Little Smilemakers via the facebook page.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

A graphic designer's worst nightmare // Family wedding invitations

I also have the occasional family invitation to make. This month my father will be marrying his girlfriend of 15 years. Finally they took some time to save the date and tie the knot. I created a batch of cards and invitations with some portrait illustrations of the couple and their little dog baby.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Open Monument Day // Top 5 historical places to visit in The Hague

As you may know already: nothing is more terrifying to me than doing the same thing day every day. Living in the same city for over 7 years now is quite the challenge too. So thank god for Open Monument day. One day in the year all Dutch Monuments are open to public. Amazing old buildings and historical landmarks open their doors for the public. A great day enjoy some new things in the city.

Usually I miss these kind of events that take place and only ready about it afterwards but this year, although it said Sunday on my calendar, I made it this Saturday! I love to explore new things and Open Monument Day is a great way to get to know your own city. The Hague has a lot of impressive architecture and a great history of politics and of course traces of the Royal Family. I think over the years I have gotten to know The Hague quite a bit. I try every new lunchroom that opens in town. Go to the galleries, museums and try to enjoy it to the fullest. This is a great day to explore the city without spending a crazy amount of money. So here is a little top 5 of places to visit while staying in The Hague.

1 Pulchri Studio // Art Gallery
This Art Gallery is my all time favorite in town. This well known art society dates back to 1847. Run by artists and art lovers this place keeps buzzing. The gallery is located in the beautiful historical district of The Hague and doesn't look too bad itself. Downstairs you can find some original interiors and upstairs the large glass panel roof brings in the daylight. You can see and purchase paintings, sculptures, photographs and, well, everything that meets 'Art' you can find here. Pulchri Studio has new shows every few weeks, is free of charge and is open for public 6 days a week. If you are passionate about art this is a great place to look around, find some new inspiration and enjoy a glass of wine on the terrace. If you would like to know what's going on check their calendar on the website.

2 Paleis Kneuterdijk // The Council of State
The Council is one of the High Councils of State regulated by the Constitution, which carry out their tasks independently of the government. The Council is situated in Paleis Kneuterdijk that was build in 1730. The palace was the home of several generations of Royal Family and changed into government offices around 1937. So the building itself is like a patchwork of architectural diversity. A must see is the gothic hall that was built around 1840. A room with stained glass windows and a dramatic arched roof.

3 Hotel Des Indes // Luxerious grandeur
This elegant hotel in the heart of The Hague was built in 1858 and first in use as city palace before becoming a hotel in 1881. The luxurious hotel has welcomed royalty and celebrities from Dalai Lama to Rolling Stones. The hotel is like a story book where great ball room dances took place and history was written.
The ground interior, lounge and restaurant is an extravagant place filled with colorful patterns and golden detailing, with vaulted ceilings and elegant draperies. If you want to experience the one of a kind atmosphere make sure you book a high tea or sit down for a glass of bubbles in the salon. You can also watch the Dutch documentary that was made about this iconic hotel.

4 Regentes // Art Deco swimming pool transformed into theater
This Art Deco building was built in 1920 and was the first indoor swimming pool in Europe at the time. Nowadays it is the home of Theater De Regentes. The interior still has typical swimming pool elements. Little signs with typography, the large pool is transformed into a lounge that still shows the original pool tiles and in the main theater you can still see the little dressing rooms on the side of the hall. I am a big fan of theater and performing arts and love to see what happens behind the scenes. The building is a fun mix of Art deco and creative energy. If you want to look inside, go see a play.

5 Kloosterkerk // Protestant church and concert hall
I am not religious but I enjoy seeing churches and temples where ever i go. The Kloosterkerk is a protestant church members of the royal family like Princess Beatrix visit frequently. The church has a dramatic exterior and the original foundations of the building date back to 1540. If you are curious to look inside you can attend a sunday service or visit one of their musical concerts.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

New quirky owls baby goods // Kalamati Poland

Once there was a penguin print that ended up being more of an owl design. Still this design is one of my favorite kids prints I have made this year. So of course I was very happy when Kalamati contacted me to purchase the license.

I have been working together with a few different companies in baby and kids textiles this year but this series of products is definitely one of the high lights. Kalamati is a company that specializes in baby and kids goods. As you can see the fabric is not only very handy at home or in your little ones crib but you can also use it outdoors during these last few days of summer. For now this design is only available in Poland and via their website. So if you are in love with this print you will need to hurry up to get yourself one of the blankets of toy animals.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Yoga & Meditation Retreat // Flyers & Posters

For a few years I have been working for a little Yoga studio here in the neighborhood close to The Hagues city center. The studio is run by Diana van Gelder who teaches Hatha Yoga classes and organized Morning Meditations on Saturdays.

My work keeps me working on my computer for quite some hours each day so I love to attend her classes and balance my body and mind. And after a few years of knowing Diana I started doing some work for her. Her studio flyer, beach posters. Right now I am working on a flyer for a little retreat Diana is organizing next year.

I haven't been doing too much graphic work lately. I have been very busy with illustrations and surface pattern design so it is nice to work with image and type again. The retreat is a combination of Yoga classes, meditation and massages and of course a lot of 'me' time to relax and enjoy the food and culture of the Algarve. A great way to relax and take it easy in an amazing area of Portugal. If you would like to know more about her Yoga & Meditation retreat, check her website for more information about dates and prices.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Veritas press event // the amazing new office // presenting their new end-of-year collection

This past tuesday Veritas had organized a press event in their new office to show their festive end-of-year collections of accessories and new fabric. I was invited to make a little presentation about the designing process of the new fall collection I created and show attendees the final result of the entire collection that will be in shops by the end of this year.

The day started with a little tour around the amazing new office. Vanessa Boel, head of styling and visual branding manager at Veritas, had the opportunity to shape her own office environment and took on the job as decorator. With little spontaneous threats of typography and inspiring quotes. Room for creative projects and workshops. Little nooks to hang out and create your own cozy bubble, the building now reflects what Veritas has stand for, for over more that 100 years. A company that stimulates individual creativity.

After a delightful Christmas themed lunch it was time to get something done. Press and bloggers were invited to join several workshops, get a little make over and also listen to my story about the new collection that will be in shops this November.

New woman's accessories, sewing supplies, cozy home wear and fabric. It will be all available very soon. I will keep you posted!

Although talking about my process and design workflow is not really my thing I have enjoyed every minute of it. It was so much fun to feel this great energy going around the building, talk to so many inspirational people. Thank you Veritas for an incredible day! And of course a big thanks to all peeps that came over to check out the fall collection.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Back to school // Time to start new crafty projects

It's that time of the year again. The weather is changing, the days are getting shorter and new things
are happening. I love this time of the year. When it feels good to stay in and watch a movie and you don't
feel like missing out on anything.

It is time to go back to work, or back to school for the little ones. My vacation is yet to come so I still have something to look forward to. This summer has been unusually busy so for me, my summer is postponed till September I guess. But with all new projects starting up that might be wishful thinking! So much to do! Since it is 'back to school' time I have been adding new fall and winter themes to the Spoonflower shop. I also have been working on some NYE themes and christmas prints already. So if you feel like starting new crafty projects take a look!

Friday, August 29, 2014

Bebè Casa Fabrics | Original Little Smilemakers designs for Kids fashion and home decor

So happy to show this new collection! I have been working for a new fabric company in Poland. A new start up with a collection of new fresh designs for kids fabrics. Jan, head of the company was looking for colorful prints after the birth of his new born. He saw my work via Shutterstock and approached me for the fabric license.

"From newborns to parents, we are set on a journey to help create an environment of joy through colourful, vivid fresh design that each will fall in love with. Original patterns curated by young, skilled, world-class designers." - Jan, Bebè Casa

As a start up there is so much to do, I know all about the complexity of starting your own company and how exhausting taking care of all those little details can be. But the first designs are now available. And there will be more to come in the months to come. So if you are looking for a genuine manufacturer of Little Smilemakers fabric in Europe. Stay with us for more and follow us here and via the new & fresh Bebe Casa Facebook page.