Tuesday, September 29, 2015

About being an artist // Running your creative business and embracing who you are // 5 tips for the introvert

My work is obviously very visual and most people would think since my work gets a lot of exposure, I would adore the spotlight too. Nothing could be further from the truth though. I love to be by myself, on my own, but I have always known even as a kid, I had to push my boundaries to accomplish what I wanted to do in life and step out of that comfort zone. I am an introvert, that might come as a surprise. But sometimes things that are not necessary you are part of running a business.

To actually make a living as an artist it means I have to get together with clients, meet up with new people, network. I have never felt very comfortable in groups, let alone have financial negotiations with giant companies... It can be exhausting. But since I was a little girl, I always knew I had to do things I didn't like to get some place I would love to be. I pushed myself to sing on a stage, because I knew it would terrify me, and trust me, I am not a good singer. I have skills but singing is not one of them... I would always say yes to new things to get me out of my comfort zone. So yes, I do these interviews and yes, I welcome in a camera crew for a little 'day of an artist' shoot in the studio. I guess the friction also is a form of inspiration, reflecting on what I am doing. Without any tension being creative is hard. It is a love/hate relationship with that part of my creative career.

I know lot's of creative people, designers, architects, dancers, musicians that are passionate and great in what they do but really struggle to put their skills out there since part of their business is reaching out to potential clients. Here are 5 tips for all introverts that try to run there own business.

1 // Don't try to be an extravert
Being an introvert is good enough. Embrace who you are. Except the fact that you use your energy slightly different than your extravert friends. Surround yourself with people that understand your needs. Embrace your needs and don't feel bad about spending time alone to recharge. Trying to be someone you are not will exhaust you. Take your boundaries seriously. Think about what gives and takes your energy and find your personal balance.

2 // Meetings with clients
I like working together with people, but spontaneous meetings are not my thing. Find a way of working together that suits you best. Preparation is key. For me that means taking a step back and writing down all essentials. Researching the topic, finances, listing questions and then get a face to face. Preparation will get the introvert a long way. If I can not do any research or have a get together without a proper preparation my mind will drift off and never get to the point. In meetings other people will comment and I would never get my point across.

3 // Talking about finished projects & doing interviews
Introverts need some time to let things sink in. Take time to prepare yourself and be loyal to yourself. You will be much happier about the outcome. I once had an interview and was completely unprepared. I asked for the list of questions to prepare myself but never got them. Once we sat together and started the interview and the camera was rolling every question seemed completely irrelevant to who I was and what I created so the answers, oh dear god the answers…. I talked about all random things popping up in my head, i felt pressured to say some certain things and finished my interview with a speech about how awesome seed is. That was not a good interview!

4 // Personalize your workspace
Usually introverts are more sensitive for their surroundings so make a list of what you need in your direct work environment. I start each day with a clean slate, with a clean and empty desk. And since I have my own home studio I can surround myself with things I love, artwork that inspires me, photo's of loved ones. If I am researching I use the living room where I can create a mess of magazines, sketches and moodboards. That way my desk will always be organized. Create your own little bubble you feel comfortable in, where you can recharge your battery.

5 // I will get back to you on that
Introverts might have a little difficulty responding to a certain situation in the moment. While extraverts try to get an answer at the spot. When I visit trade shows and meet up with new potential clients there are so many things to discuss. Can we work together? Where can we see your portfolio, can you do this and that for us? What does it cost? I try to keep a first meeting a little superficial before making promises I can not keep. Negotiating finances and bringing structure in planning new projects needs a little maturing, having a good thought things before answering is more for filling than a quick agreement. Also your business partners will get the impression you take them seriously when you spend some time researching the matter. Just say: "I will get back to you on that."

Friday, September 25, 2015

New 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.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Sources of inspiration: Budapest // Where old meets new // Classical Music and Ruin Pubs // Top 5 travel tips

Budapest, Hungary’s capital, always has been a city I wanted to visit. Cities that breathe history always have a certain attraction to me, there are stories to tell. Budapest is one of those cities where you can wonder around the streets and get surprised on each and every corner. The city has a fascinating heritage. It was about time for a visit!

The city is decided into two parts. Buda and Pest that are both worth a visit. Pest is the place where you are likely to spend most of your time while visiting the city. This is where you can find astonishing pieces of architecture. If you are a fan of Jugendstil and Art Nouveau brace yourself! Those beautiful details, painted glass, metal work... OMG it is breathtaking especially for a visual nerd like me. You can find remains of Budapests rich history everywhere, like the Old Jewish Neighborhood which housed the Jewish ghetto during the second world war, the old synagogue with live performances of great Jewish composers. But you can also see new trends like modern designer pop up shops and coffee places appear. Wonder the streets for a day and kick back in one of the ruin bars, where people get together for a drink, a musical performance and long nights with friends. Buda is located on the other side of the Danube river and offers a romantic view of Pest by night so if you'd like to impress your loved one, cross one of the bridges during and spend your magic hour on this side of the city.

Each and every European city has it's grandeur. But Budapest is still very affordable. I stayed in a little airBNB apartment right in the Jewish district, a great location to start exploring this magnificent city. Here are my personal favorites. A shortlist for a long weekend in Budapest. This is my personal top 5.

1 // Ruin Bars - Jelly fish and cocktails
What I really like about Budapest is the fact that you don't really see overly crowded shopping streets. Most of the crowd hangs out in little pubs, restaurants and typical Hungarian ruin bars where you can enjoy art, music, films, workshops and relax after a busy day in the city. Most inhabitants of Budapest don't have a balcony or garden, the ruin bars are the place to sit outside on a hot summer night and meet up with friends. These ruin bars are located in small alleys, basements and courtyards and they have one thing in common: they are all a little hard to find but you are very likely to stumble upon these little gems while roaming the streets.

There are two places I highly recommend. I visit the Anker't, a whimsical place with a huge bar, Hungarian menus for alcohol are massive, from German weisse beer to Cuban cocktails, they serve it all. While listening to a live string quartet I attended a painting workshop at the other end of the courtyard. The place is packed at night, as is Kuplung, another ruin bar close to my apartment. I particularly like this bar because of the vibe and decoration. Who doesn't want to see jellyfish lightning and a giant under water painting? Go visit a ruin bar and you will meet a whole bunch of interesting people when you travel alone this is a good place to meet with locals, drinks are good and the cocktails cheap. What else do you need?

2 // Designer shops - Where old meets new
As a designer I always try to research trends in each city and country i visit. I go look for small shops with local fashion and home decor design and try to understand the local art movements. With a communist history the country does not have a massive amount of shops (I hate shopping so that is a big plus) and maybe that is why fashion, home decor and design are very different and unique. It does not have a main trend, there is still room for difference and authenticity. I love it! And yeah, of course you can see some Scandinavian design influences and small designer shops like Mono that are a little more on 'our' trend, but it all has a little more honesty to it. There are several vintage shops such as Retrock, that are great places to get an impression of what once was. Designers are actually designing in their little shops and you can touch and smell the materials while they are sewing, cutting and gluing when you visit the Paloma designers collective. It never has been a mass production. Is it communist souvenir? I don't know, but it is definitely surprisingly different, that's is what I love about creation.

3 // Musical heritage
When you visit Budapest you are very likely to stumble upon some live music while looking for a place to have dinner or a drink. There are lot's of restaurants with live music, from classical harp to string quartets, jazz and DJ's, Budapest is a great place for music lovers. The city has an amazing musical heritage and I loved how there are so many people passing me on the streets carrying an instrument. So do take your time to enjoy some music. You can also buy some tickets to the Opera if you're in for a little drama or to a concert in the synagogue. Music is everywhere.

4 // Thermal Baths
Hungary is a country of thermal springs with healing water. The bathing tradition dates back to 16th and 17th centuries and during a trip you can experience a traditional Turkish bath. After a day of walking around town it is a great way to relax or visit one in the early morning before the tourist rush. Budapest's largest medicinal bath, Szechenyi is a great place to visit in the morning. It is one of the largest bathing houses in Europe and it's old exterior makes you feel like royalty. The interior however could use a little renovation, but the old details, tiles, pools and changing rooms are still authentic and really add a certain romance to the experience. The bathing routine can be a little daunting though, make sure you have a bathing suit, hair net and a towel when you visit a thermal bath. And acquaint yourself with the regulations since they differ in each pool.

5 // Architecture
Budapest is a true paradise if you love architecture. Arabic elements, Art Nouveau, Baroque, it's all there. Every corner of the city seems to have an architectural gem and there are lot's of buildings open for the public if you also want a little peek on the inside. Seriously, the architecture! The Gellért Hotel for instance, this elegant hotel also houses the Gellért Spa with colorful tiles, jugendstil ornaments and stained glass windows. The Parisiana Club, with it's interesting facade. The Paris department store, that is home to a bookstore but also has an ice rink during the colder season and has a crazy beautiful restaurant with neo-Rennaissance elements. The synagogue, the parliament building…. There is so much to see! But my favorite must be the Hungarian State Opera House that was partially funded by Emperor Franz Joseph, so there was some money there. It is nothing like I have every seen. The roof, the golden detailing, the marble, this must be one of the world's most breathtaking theaters in the world, do take a look inside if you have the chance.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Made with Little Smilemakers Studio Fabric // September 2015

It is so exciting to see a finished project after working hard on a new collection or a series of illustrations and surface patterns for our clients. But with finished fabric designs it is even a bigger surprise to see what customers create. To see how final products evolve when people put their own creative energy in there is amazing.

Here is our monthly blog post featuring some creative results from Australia, Sweden, United States and Canada. This is our new September selection. We love how Little Smilemakers creations are the foundation for other creatives all around the world to work with. If you browse around on Etsy for some kids fashion you are very likely to stumble upon some Little Smilemakers. Most creatives with small home based businesses sell their finished fashion and home decor projects via Etsy. So take a look and see if there is something for your little one too and support these small business owners.

Geometric triangle storage bags - Oxzyde
Oxzyde is all about handmade, unique products and specialize in cushions, wall art & homewares. Based in Melbourne, Australia. Our very trendy Little Smilemakers Triangle fabric was used for their new range of fabric storage bags. Oxzyde fabric storage bags come in two sizes, and many colours. All bags feature a plastic lined base which protects against water damage, making them great for pot plants or for serving bread on the table. A fun eye catches for your Scandinavian style interior. The uses for these little bags is unlimited. So take a look at the website to get one of these trendy bags.

Pale pastel ice-cream fashion - Tiny Tiger
Tiny Tiger is a small business based in Sweden. Living in India Hannah searched for an opportunity to be able to work from anywhere, independent of location, and that's how the idea of Tiny Tiger was born. Her passion for comfortable, organic and pretty baby clothes started when she became a mother and is the fuel behind the company. Now she creates hand made baby and toddler fashion and home posters. Take a look, she offers world wide shipping too!

Dachshund Cosmetic Bag - Tiny Tiger
For the love of pattern is a design studio based in Savannah, Georgia with a focus on textile design and creating signature handmade fashion accessories as well as home goods. Abby creates her own original textile designs but also uses Spoonflower fabric for her beautiful creations. Visit her website if you are getting curious!

Quirky foxes, clouds and bohemian feathers nursery textiles - 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 Little Smilemakers Studio to create a range of products for her shop. Check the entire new collection now.

We have already seen a lot of awesome sewing projects made by Little Smilemakers fabric customers. We made a little selection out of the dozen photographs that were sent to us or that we were tagged in. Cute home decor items. Personalized bedding, scarfs, leggings and head bands. So much to choose from! If you'd like to be featured in on of our monthly "made with..." posts. Please send us your images. If you are looking for cool designs for your own projects take a look around in our Spoonflower fabric shop and start creating!

Monday, September 7, 2015

The Spoonflower Handbook // DIY Guide to Designing Fabric, Wallpaper and Gift Wrap

What if learning to design fabric was as easy as messing around with pencils and paints? The Spoonflower Handbook puts surface design for fabric, wallpaper and gift wrap well within the reach of creative people everywhere.

Designing fabric, wallpaper, and gift wrap used to be the stuff of dreams. Few artists ever got a chance to try it, and printing even a few yards required significant financial investment. But times have changed, and today anyone with a computer, internet connection, and idea can upload a file and, at modest cost, order their own fabric or paper, printed one yard at a time. At the forefront of this revolutionary DIY movement is Spoonflower, a North Carolina startup that produces designs for hundreds of thousands of creative people worldwide — printing 24 hours a day/seven days a week to keep up with demand.

The Spoonflower Handbook is an essential step-by-step user’s manual and project collection for this booming new creative outlet. Written for both new and experienced users of this print-on-demand technology, it covers everything from equipment to software to working with photos, scans, repeats, and vector files, and includes projects for the home and wardrobe as well as special tutorials contributed by members of the Spoonflower community.

Spoonflower began in 2007 with an idea, when cofounder Stephen Fraser’s wife, in search of fabric for curtains, casually said to her husband, “Wouldn’t it be cool if there was a place where you could order fabric you designed yourself?” With the Spoonflower Handbook, now all the DIYers who have ever thought about sewing their own curtains can design not only their own fabric but also their own wallpaper and gift wrap, and have it delivered right to the front door.

For this book Little Smilemakers Studio was selected as one of Spoonflower's participants. Would you like to order a copy of The Spoonflower handbook. Order this creative resource on Amazon today.

This post was originally posted on the Spoonflower blog.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Behind the scenes: Top 10 pro's & con's // having a home office

When starting Little Smilemakers Studio I knew one thing: to make a living as a creative artist I had to keep my expenses as low as possible. So I started working from my home office instead of renting an expensive office downtown. I thought: "If the cash-flow will get steady, I can look around for another place to work outside of my own home" Almost 4 years later I am typing this post on my dinner table with classical music playing in the background and a washing machine reminding me to hang my wet clothes.

Sometimes I wonder why not rent a place and keep my work a little more distant from home. But at the same time working at home makes me more creative, gives me more freedom and of course, I travel quite a lot, so why pay rent for a workspace that is empty four months a year? So yes, four years later I am still working from my home and I love it, wouldn't change it for the world. But then again I am single, don't have kids, so I have the place all by myself.

I always advise young start-ups to not spend money on rent if possible. Cut costs as much as you can. Start small. First and foremost you will have to earn a steady income to provide a living for yourself and maybe also for your family. I do not have the responsability for a kid, or have to be a girlfriend when my spouse is home, have food on the table at some certain time... Does it work for everyone? I am not sure, but I have made a little top 10 of things I love and things I do not love about working from my home. Here are my personal pro's & con's having a home office:

1 // It is cheap
Face it, starting your own business can be a huge struggle. Make end meet is hard being creative so cutting costs starting out is a must. I started working from my own dinner table simply because i could not afford a decent place somewhere else. After three years I turned one of the rooms into a proper office. Not worrying about paying the rent, that is a great luxury.

2 // Never stuck in morning traffic
The best thing about working from your own home office must be the fact that you have so many extra hours to spend on whatever you want to do. You won't have to worry about being stuck in traffic every morning and every night. You don't need to spend any money on a car or gas, cutting costs is a big must if you start your own business.

3 // The Healthy lunch
I remember working in a 9 to 5 business structure where my lunch time got planned by projects and deadlines. I had a very unhealthy diet since I did not have time to eat a proper lunch, sometimes I forgot all about it or the pile of work forced me to skip lunch all together. I love that I can make whatever I want, my kitchen and fridge are only a few steps away. I eat more frequently and a lot more healthy since I run my home studio because I have time to prepare something decent. It takes a little longer but it is also a nice break from work too.

4 // It is all yours
I thought about sharing a creative space but the thing I got attached to during the years i am working from my home is the fact that everything feels like me. To feel comfortable is so important for my creative process. Putting me in a clean cubicle or office space where I can not decorate my walls, add a personal touch or rearrange furniture will kill my creative flow. I need to be surrounded by good energy and my studio if filled with things I love. Inspiring artwork, little personal memorabilia, reminders of loved ones and travels.

5 // Flexibility
Oh I love the freedom. I can pack my laptop and work anywhere. Lot's of lunchrooms and coffee places have free wifi and working from a free spot like that will change your perspective a little and triggers creativity. I can do errands during the day and don't have to get into shops on rush hours. I can go to the beach on a hot summer day and work nights if I want to. Freedom is very dear to me. I love it.

6 // The daily mess
There are always things to do at home. Clean dishes, scrub the floor. A home can be a place of distraction. My home is always clean and tidy. If not, when I have a deadline and finish up work I find myself in the kitchen, cleaning. A messy home is a messy head so I can only focus when there is no random stuff laying around the house. These house chores can be a real distraction!

7 // Smelly food & meetings
Before meeting a client i made this amazing salmon, broccoli pie. Not a very good idea when you invite professional people over to have a chat.

8 // You never leave work
That is probably the hardest thing about working from your own home. Your work will never leave the building. It is there, so I work late hours and during winter nights I can be stuck at my desk round the clock. Closing the door to my home office doesn't seem to do the trick. Separating work and quality time can be hard. I love my work so it always draws me back in.

9 // My house is always clean and organized
I can not work in a mess. It will distract me from my deadlines and it really bothers me up until the point that I will do my dishes before finishing my deadlines. So my home is always tidy and clean. I can do my laundry while working and take little breaks to vacuum or clean the windows. Even though is is a distraction is a bad way, it is also quite healthy to stand up from your desk and move around a little.

10 // Unlimited Space
I have a studio in a separate room so I don't have to work on my dinner table. But I do have enough space to expand to my living room when I have meetings or I can use a few friends to pick their brain about a project or concept I am working on. I can use my entire house when needed or limit myself to one room. Usually I shift my work into different rooms. My home office is used for serious labour: Designing, e-mailing clients. And my living room I use for writing my blog, painting, drawing and doing research.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Bambino Mio new collection // reusable Mio Solo nappies // potty training pants // swimwear

Bambino Mio is established as the leading brand of reusable nappies and accessories worldwide. Bambino Mio's family business has been around in the industry for almost 25 years but the core values remain the same as when they started their company in 1991, to manufacture high quality, simple, reusable nappies and associated products and make them accessible and affordable to all.

We started working with the company in 2013 when they decided to launch a new printed series of re-usable diapers. The prints were a great hit and after that another series of designs were launched past spring. This summer they also introduced Little Smilemakers design into their cute swim collection and potty training pants.

For the swim diapers Bambino Mio used our pink little mermaids, deep sea and aquarium themes. We love how colorful the new collection is. But if you are still potty training your little one check out the potty training pants. My god, they are adorable! They have elephants for girls or our very quirky outer space pattern for boys. Take a look in their webshop and order you favorite pair!

So far we have had such a great response on the prints and it's great to see all those babies and toddlers show off their Mio Solo nappies and swim diapers on Facebook and Instagram. So keep tagging! It is very much appreciated. We love to see how our designs put little smiles on your kids faces.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Summer beach trend : welcome back to the printed swimsuit // Cactus swimwear for Batoko

Shopping for swim wear can be a struggle especially finding a two piece bikini that needs to fit top and bottom and also flatter. Yeah no, I am not a big fan of shopping but I really hate shopping for beach wear. So I am very happy to see the swimsuit made a real come back this year. Celebrities like Beyoncé and Doutzen Kroes all have been spotted in one piece swim wear this summer. So make it a little easy for yourself and embrace the trend. There are lot's of fun designs to choose from. And we have one over at Batoko. A cactus swimsuit you really need to get your hands on!

The girl in the image above is the very talented Australian based DJ Tiger Lilly. We are very happy to see her in one of our fun creations. She looks awesome with this cactus & mermaid hair combo, doesn't she? The photo was made by Melbourne photographer Shevin Dissanayake. Follow this photographer via Instagram @shevindphoto.

Yuka is a LA blogger and is wearing this cute desert theme with some crazy cool sunglasses to coachella. We love the color scheme of this photo. Follow her on Instagram @yukasaur and check her fashionable blog for daily fashion inspiration.

We love how companies are exited to use our designs and always tag us in their posts. Kudo's for all amazing peeps creating such joyful things with Little Smilemakers designs, fabrics, wallpaper and paper goods. Your tags and credits are very much appreciated. So again: Thank you to all creators and followers. If you ever stumble upon one of our designs. Please tag us @littlesmilemakers!

Friday, August 28, 2015

Silk fashion winter collection for woman // Shop Vida

The past few years I have been trying to improve my sewing skills. As a fabric designer I thought it would make sense to have a little insight about the sewing process, to understand my customers needs I had two years of sewing classes. But unfortunately I seem to have found my calling already: being a fabric designer and illustrator.

When I was a little girl I would look at my mom, she was always making lot's of home made clothes for me and my two brothers. While she was sewing I was drawing but I always wanted my mom to teach me her sewing tricks. Unfortunately she never had the chance to teach me and because I love making things by hand I thought it would be great to make my own things here in the studio. For styling photography and portfolio shoots. So two years ago I joined a sewing class, which is actually a great class. But I am not so great. I really hated the preparation, lord, all the cutting you have to do! And my eyes could not see all the thin lines so my cut out pieces of fabric were always a little off. My god I was a mess! After two years of trying I decided: "This is not for me." So I have been looking at ways to produce small scale fashion for woman. Since I already work in the fashion industry that mainly consist of designing baby, toddler and kids clothes, I wanted to have some adult pieces for my portfolio.

I came across a website called Vida, which offers designers a platform to sell tops and scarfs with their own artwork. Fashion with a cute trendy A-line cut and made from high quality silk. So if you would like one of these limited Little Smilemakers designs for this year's winter. Check out our Vida selection.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Behind the scenes: Improve your creative productivity // inspirational tips for artists and night owls

Nothing makes an artist more scared than routine. At least that is what I have in common with most of my creative friends and I guess for most artists, a nine to five structure does not improve any creativity and neither does any good for their productivity. My most productive hours are usually when I am just out of bed and make myself my morning coffee and late at night when everyone is sound asleep and my inbox and social media stream stays clear of comments and messages.

I have to say I am not an early bird at all. Does it have something to do with the choice of staying up all night or is it something that is a natural need? I don't know. I love working late at night. There are less interruptions and distractions compared to working during the day. It is easier to focus without the interference of new emails, social media comments and it is easier to complete a projects and work faster.

Intelligent people all have one thing in common: They stay up late.

Working from my own home, having an home office gives me the freedom to work whenever I want. But there is a downside too. I am not chained to my desk all day so when dishes are done, the living room is all cleaned and vacuumed, I go out to visit a museum or exhibit, walk through the dunes and make photo's, have a business lunch, or lunch with friends and have a drink out on a terrace when the sun is out. So during the day it is hard to focus and stay productive. Working independently as an artist it can be a struggle to juggle productivity and inspiration. Here are some tips for night owls like me:

Embrace your needs
If you feel working late hours work better for you why not go ahead and do that? Why force yourself to sit on your desk all day when it kills your creative flow?

Go out
There are very few days I stay in during the day. Museums are open, the streets are buzzing. Go visit a new city, go sketch in a coffee shop. If you need inspiration you need to change something. And changing your environment is an easy tool to get the creative juices to flow again.

Experience new things
You can go out, visit galleries and concerts, but you can also push yourself to add new skills, new styles or work around new themes during your day to day creative job. For me trying to keep up with new software and possibilities that come with that is a great way to broaden my horizon.

Get a hobby
I think this is my biggest challenge because I think about my job as my hobby. But doing something completely different means awaking different parts of your brain. It makes room for new connections and also gives you a great new other perspective on what you are doing. I tried a sewing course for instance. Creating things by hand in a completely differents way. And I am a volunteer working at my local theater where I work with kids. Something very different from my daily routine.

Don't push it
If you are completely stuck. Take a little break from it all. Having an home office is great but there is always something to do. If I have to work on a new illustration or pattern for fabric and I have no clue how to start I find myself cleaning the bathroom or rearranging my home. But taking a moment to sit back and relax is very important. While doing house chores is a great distraction, it is not distraction that will help you any further. Take a step back, dream, and refill.

What do you think?
I never get any feedback so this is also a great tip for myself. Have a little drink with other creative people and chat about things that are going on. I bet another perspective will also shine a different light on what you are doing.

Productivity is not about doing everything you need to do. It is about doing the right things and see no to distractions. I take my time during the day to fuel myself with inspiration, new experiences. These are put to good use when the day turns into night. There is a shift in energy. That is why my working hours are late at night.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

New collection Olé Hop Canada // Princesses, peacocks and pirates // Little Smilemakers surface pattern designs

Colorful and full of fantasy. The new Olé Hope designs are just what your little one needs. We worked on a new collection for Olé Hop this spring and now we can finally enjoy the new collection.

Olé Hop is a small start-up company based in Canada. They specialize in baby goods and their colorful collection is now available in the shops. Olé Hop specializes in kids home textiles and we are so happy to see this gorgeous photoshoot! So if you are based in Canada yourself, check out the entire Olé Hop collection. There must be at least one exciting print for your little one there! Olé Hop sells have our peacocks, princesses, fox woodland, pirates, owls prints and many more!

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Made with Little Smilemakers Studio Fabric // August 2015

It is so exciting to see a finished project after working hard on a new collection or a series of illustrations and surface patterns for our clients. But with finished fabric designs it is even a bigger surprise to see what customers create. To see how final products evolve when people put their own creative energy in there is amazing.

We love how Little Smilemakers creations are the foundation for other creatives all around the world to work with. So here is our monthly blog post that features some creative results from Poland, United States and Canada. This is our new August selection. If you browse around on etsy for some kids fashion you are very likely to stumble upon some Little Smilemakers. Most creatives with small home based businesses sell their projects via Etsy. So take a look and see if there is something for your little one too and support these small business owners.

Blue retro flowers - The Hause of Harry
The Hause of Harry is an online shop that sells lot's of Little Smilemakers stuff. The shop is based in Lincoln, USA and the maxaloons, leggings and other kids fashion is right on trend. You can find a large collection of gender neutrals and geometrics but this blue flower print must be one of our personal favorites.

Penguin blankets & pillows - Kalamati
We just finished up a new series of design for Kalamati but when we saw this photo come in we had to add it to our 'Made with' post. It is such a great shot. We love how little ones fall in love with the cute penguin pillows. Would you also like to order one of these. Or want to get your hands on one of these adorable blankets for your new born baby nursery? Check out the Kalamati shop! You can also find a little sneak peek of the new collection on there!

Aztec Cross Pattern - Sprout Handmade
Look at that sleeping baby! We love to see these adorable little monkeys model for our fabric and we were such big fans that we could not choose just one photo, so there's two! Sprout Handmade is a little baby and toddler shop run by two sisters in Sudbury, Canada. They have a diverse selection of cute Little Smilemakers prints in their organic cotton leggings, harem pants, bibs and toques. This aztec cross print in blue is one of our hot selling designs at Spoonflower. We also have this print in violet, pink, mint, apple green and gender neutral beige and gray. Take a look into the Spoonflower shop to create your own tiny people fashion or visit the Sprout Handmade shop on etsy if sewing is not your thing.

Geometric triangle soft sole baby shoes - Little Pitterpat
These adorable soft sole baby shoes are made by Sharie who uses lot's of Little Smilemakers Studio designs in her Little Pitterpat Etsy shop. Some of these soft sole baby shoes even have matching hats. Adorable! All items are made by hand in Sharies studio in Montana. These cute shoes make a great baby shower present. So take a look into her shop if you want to have a pair of these. Or keep follow Little Pitterpat on Instagram. Right now she is having a well deserved break but don't worry, it is worth a little wait. She has over 200 items to choose from and new products are listed frequently.

Looking for some cute fabric to start your own sewing project? We have over a 1000 design to choose from in our Spoonflower shop. All designs are available on organic cotton, jersey, sports lycra and lot's more! So take a look around, tag us in your finished projects and maybe you or your company will be featured in our next 'Made with' post.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Spoonflower // New sport lycra fabric

Spoonflower has introduced a new type of fabric which is now available in the shop. Sport Lycra is 88% polyester and 12% Lycra® fiber, with the durability and quality you need to make workout apparel that stands up to many workouts and washings. This fabric offers great color, is breathable and quick drying with a great stretch and a beautiful sheen.

So if you would like to make your own pair of yoga leggings, cute swim wear for your little ones or breathable gym fashion check out the new fabric and order your favorite Little Smilemakers design! We are very curious to see what you will create with this new stretchy fabric. Looking forward to seeing all result. You can post your final diy projects on our Facebook page of tag #littlesmilemakers on instagram.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Sources of inspiration // Top 5 movies about artists // photographers // painters

Summer is awesome, spending long nights at the beach. Live outside and enjoy nature, but yeah, here in Holland the climate is not all that awesome. We have had weeks of rain and dear god it's cold! We had to turn the heater on in the studio this week. So if your summer needs a little 'cozy & at home time' we have listed a few inspiring, beautiful and dreamy films and documentaries. All with a little creative artist twist. So get yourself some popcorn and a warm blanket and have a creative film marathon. Here is my list of favorite on screen creativeness. A top 5 list of movies about true artists.

Big eyes
Tim Burton must be one of my favorite directors. He knows how to create a completely different world, a feather light colorful fantasy world but things are always a little rough around the edges. All his films are pieces of art itself but in this movie he talks about the story of a pop culture painter Walter Keane who is an upcoming artist in the late 50's. But no one knows the real painter behind the artworks is his wife Margaret Keane. A beautiful film starring Amy Adams.
Watch trailer

I think this movie might be one of the most famous ones about the life of an artist. The story about Mexican painter Frida Kahlo really touched me. In an era of Facebook, where you are only to show the positive side of life it seems we have no room for the real stories. For me it can be challenging too, how people love what you do but it has to be all 'happy and sunshine.' That is probably why I love this movie so much. It touched me right to the core since I have my own disability too. But never talk about that. Only when artists pass we have room for the real story. Isn't that sad? Creative people sometimes are creative for a reason, they had to adapt and be creative to find their own paths in life. Usually great artist have an interesting story to tell. They are ahead in life because they are fighters. That is what I love about the movie, even though it can be sad it shows an enormous strength. Frida you are an artist in both life and work.
Watch trailer

Feet, what do I need you for
when I have wings to fly //
Frida Kahlo

Bill Cunningham - New York
It is funny how this documentary is an attempt to tell a in depth story about this famous Manhattan street fashion photographer. I have seen this documentary a couple of times and love how we get a little insight in Bill's every day life. The New York streets scenes are a big plus too. Little details and anecdotes shape the story about Bill. And what I truly love is his passion for his profession both photography and fashion. Bill Cunningham is a 86 year old man, cycling the streets with his camera in his typical blue jacket capturing current fashion. He still works for the New York Times up until today. That is his life, and it has been his life for years. It is a story about a true artist with great passion for the creative process that stays true to that what he finds most important. What not to love?
Watch trailer

Finding Vivian Maier
The photographs of Vivian Maier were found in 2007 when a her boxes of negatives came under the hammer. Vivian could not pay the rent for her storage boxes, as a result, her negatives, prints, audio recordings, and 8 mm film were auctioned. The collector of these negatives began his search for the unknown creator of these images and in this documentary we join him on his search. During the documentary we get to know more and more about this silent traumatized woman who is now known as one of the most accomplished street photographers of her time.
Watch trailer

Ai Weiwei - Never Sorry
Ai Weiwei is as much an activist as he is a creative artist. He is China's most famous international artist and I have seen his work in the Brooklyn Museum while visiting New York last year. His bright ideology never seizes to amaze me. He works with strong symbolism and always pushes his boundaries in a regime every move he makes is watched by authority. What I find truly amazing is that Ai has a goal, he want to fight for what he thinks is right. Even though he has a family, he was beaten up and was held in detention, he stands up again and tries.
Watch trailer

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

A designing process // A brief step by step // New Indian Summer Boho feathers

I love the summer season. I would love to move to a climate in which the temperature is a plus 20 degrees all year long. As some of you might know, my joints are terrible during the colder season so I love focusing on summer. During the winter most of the summer designs take shape. During spring we can see the first sales and see what our most trending themes are.

This year the Indian Summer Feathers were one of our hot selling designs. From Australia to South Africa, this Boho print is now everywhere! But the summer season is not over yet and since nowadays our production process doesn't take 6 months we can add new designs and adept to what's happening quite easily. So this week it was time to add some new feather designs.

Designing on screen can be very annoying. I don't like the digital process all that much but of course, designing on screen is a lot quicker and gives a design a completely different look and feel. I love to create things by hand and need a pencil or brush in my hand at least once a week. Our feather collection contains hand drawn ink illustrations, designs that are completely created on screen but there was no feather print made with watercolors yet. I love using a sharpie to draw but I am too much of a perfectionist to actually like my drawings. Somehow they never seem good enough. By using a brush, a lot of things can happen that are not under your own control. The ink can drip and make little circles, the hair of the brush all go there own way. The end result is a lot more spontaneous and not as crispy clean as an ink pencil drawing.

A brief step by step
To create a pattern the first step is making the first illustrations, paintings or shapes. For the new Boho Feather design I painted a series of different feathers on several pieces of paper. I love to mix lot's of water with the, in this case, black ink to creates shades of gray that make the design more layered. After painting I let things dry for a few hours. The paper can be soaked so I make sure everything is all dry before scanning the artwork.

First I clean the glass plate of the scanner to make sure no extra dust or speckles are scanned. I create a .jpg file that I tweak a little in contrast and color to make the white paper background a crisp white and have a contrasting deep black. I use Photoshop for those little tweaks and adjustments. Usually after that I would trace the image in Adobe illustrator. But since I love the raw touch of the brush, it is hard to convert the image to vector and not loose this particular element I like so much, so for this design I use Indesign. First I cut out every single feather and shape and put them in all in separate documents. That way I can place the image and scale and rotate all feathers separately from one another. By using Indesign it is also quite easy to repeat the print, make it seamless and change the colors. Eventually I export a .pdf document which I check and open in Photoshop and then save as the file needed for production.

So now we have a final digital file. The design is now uploaded into our Shutterstock and Spoonflower libraries and will soon be available on European market as well. Wanna have a piece? Follow us via Facebook and stay up to date about new things that are happening or follow our Instagram feed where you can find some DIY inspiration.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

My Little Hands Australia // Winter collection // Baby & Todler home textiles and fashion

A few months ago we finished up a new series of designs for My Little Hands Australia that is now finally for sale! Yeah, we do not have a lot of patience when it comes to waiting for the end result but it was very much worth it...

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.

For this season we created a series of Bohemian Feather designs for both girls and boys including the Sleep little one & Buonanotte pillow case. Some cute framed artwork for your little ones nursery and well, many more cute things are available in the online shop. Check their online shop to see the entire new Winter collection or visit the My Little Hands Facebook page to see what's new.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

HOW TO // Sew a Quilt

On the Spoonflower blog you can find a lot of fun inspiration for DIY projects. If you are looking for some great sewing ideas check out the Spoonflower blog. This photo was past of the 'How to make a quilt' post. Curious about the final result? Here you can find the finished home blanket with our cool Little Smilemakers Geometric Clouds design.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Made with Little Smilemakers Studio Fabric // July 2015

It is so exciting to see a finished project after working hard on a new collection or a series of illustrations for our clients. But with finished fabric designs it is even a bigger surprise to see what customers create. To see how final products evolve when people put their own creative energy in there is amazing.

We love how Little Smilemakers creations are the foundation for other creatives all around the world to work with. So here is our monthly blog post that features some creative results from United Kingdom, Australia and United States. This is our new July selection. If you browse around on etsy for some kids fashion you are very likely to stumble upon some Little Smilemakers. Most creatives with small home based businesses sell their projects via Etsy. So take a look and see if there is something for your little one too.

Soft sole squirrel
These adorable soft sole baby shoes are made by Sharie who uses lot's of Little Smilemakers Studio designs in her Little Pitterpat Etsy shop. Some of these soft sole baby shoes even have matching hats. Adorable! All items are made by hand in Sharies studio in Montana. These cute shoes make a great baby shower present. So take a look into her shop if you want to have a pair of these. Or keep follow Little Pitterpat on Instagram. Right now she is having a well deserved break but don't worry, it is worth a little wait. She has over 200 items to choose from.

Baby Bandana's & Headbands from Down Under
Ollie & Coco is a small starting company from Australia and makes adorable baby bandana's and bibs. They bring you beautiful products made for your little ones, their nursery and your home. Ollie & Coco will also add a new range of products to their cute and fresh collection soon, even more reason to have a little look on their website and follow this fun brand on Instagram.

Summer season coat
It has been a while since the last Little Smilemakers collection for Veritas hit the shops. Sometimes we see finished products in magazines like Ottobre, Knippie and La Maison Victor and can not trace back to their origin. This cute coat was made by a Veritas customer. And what a great job. If you are the maker of this creation please contact us so we can give you some proper credit for your work.

Unicorn dream girly shorts
We love love love these little tiny shorts that were made by Isis that runs a cute shop with apparel and accessories for baby and toddlers. All items are hand made. Whatever legging, romper of pair of little shorts you pick, your girls will feel like a little princess. Go take a look and browse through her shop or follow her feed on Instagram for some fashionable inspiration for your little one.

Fun storage bags for your home
We are big fans of One Pennie, a little shop from Perth. These cute garlands are made with one of our most popular Spoonflower design: our plus sign fabric. We love the black and white style with a little hint of color here and there. These clever bags to store your pencils or keep your plants safe and pretty are available on their website.

We have already seen a lot of awesome sewing projects made by Little Smilemakers fabric customers. We made a little selection out of the dozen photographs that were sent to us or that we were tagged in. Cute home decor items. Personalized bedding, scarfs, leggings and head bands. So much to choose from! If you'd like to be featured in on of our monthly "made with..." posts. Please send us your images.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Back to school // ABC Fabric on Spoonflower

In a few week the new school year will start. If you are looking for some cool back to school ABC fabric check out the Spoonflower blogpost with cool Alphabet fabrics and DIY inspiration for kids. Would you like to use onw of out own Little Smilemakers designs? Check out our back to school inspired designs in the Spoonflower shop.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Sources of inspiration: Berlin // treasure hunting // top 5 places to visit // Romantic decay & hidden gems

It has been a long time since I have been to Berlin so when I knew the Bread & Butter show was coming up I planned a trip to one of my all time fave cities. I guess what attracted me most, when I visit Berlin 10 years ago, was the calm and relaxed atmosphere. The city itself did not have a booming economy and lot's of creatives settled here and it was still easy to find a cheap place to live.

But a lot has changed. Since Berlin was featured in the New York Times as one of the 'go to' places the city now has a crazy amount of tourist flushing the streets during the warmer season. Even though locals might not be too happy about it and prices have gone up like crazy, they have to admit: this new cash flow was very welcome.

Romantic decay
During summer 6 years ago was the last time i visit this city before going back this summer and I can see so much has changed. The damaged old buildings have been renovated and covered in a layer of fresh new paint. New modern architecture is popping up around the eastern part of town and near the Spree river. And I am quite happy to only have seen one junkie shooting up during my trip. That is a little progress right?

Berlin always has been a melting pot and the city has a complex history which is very visible to the eye up until today. So what is it that makes this city unique? The way it bounces back from everything that has happened? Berlin is in fact very different from other cities in Germany that I visit and this raw creative energy is very much part of it. Hopefully some of it will stay.

Bread & Butter
So this year I decided to join the Bread and Butter show where fashion start ups and shops find there annual dose of inspiration. Where buyers collect new items for their shop and designers present their new work. It is always fun to see what is happening in fashion and print. What influences new collections. The Bread and Butter show location is an experience by itself: the old Tempelhof airport building, that was open for public up until 2008, is a beautiful piece of architecture. After a brief meeting I was able to have a good look around and enjoy the beautiful and hot summer day out in the sun, overlooking the old airport.

Berlin, It never ceases to amaze me. The city has a raw urban edge but is also a great place to visit with small kids since parks and playgrounds are everywhere. So of course with every trip I stumble upon places I really love and I am happy to write down a few of the Berlin gems I discovered while cycling around town on my bike. So here is a top 5 of places to see and experience.

1 // Blain Southern
This contemporary art gallery is located in the old press building and offers a huge canvas to artists. This summer the gallery has an impressive exhibit of Morellet. You can see his paintings and also his later work: neon installations. His work was influenced by artists like Piet Mondriaan and Max Bill. You can see some similarities in the movement and the composition but using materials like neon, concrete, metal, and leaving out color were considered to be quite modern back then and still make his work very unique. What I love about the gallery itself is that it has a huge main area with one high sealing stretching up into the sky. The canvas for the work makes the art even more astonishing.

2 // Café Strauss
This time I was renting a small studio near the Bergmannstraße in Kreuzberg. A perfect location to visit the Bread and Butter show that was held at the old Tempelhof airport. This area has lot's of restaurants and bars but if you want to have a sweet break or little brunch I would recommend Café Strauss that is a little further west and located on a graveyard. Does not sound too appealing right? Sit down and eat with the dead? Well, it is an experience to have a bite here. The place itself has great baked goods, heavenly cheesecake, but you can also eat the more traditional pretzel and butter. Try it out!

3 // Neue Heimat
Most people visit the East Side Gallery when they visit Berlin. These remains of the wall that once divided east and west is one of the cities main attractions. But there is lot's more to see and to do around the eastern part. If you walk a little more north you can visit a small reggae place with food and drinks and art exhibits: YAAM. But one of the places that for me is a typical Berlin experience is the Sunday flea market down Revaler Straße. Neue Heimat. This area remains a little shady but on sundays the old factories east of the train tracks houses a vivid vintage and flea market. You can enjoy some street food, have a drink and enjoy live music in typical Berlin style. During the night this place turns into a club. So if you're up for a night out check out what's going on via their website.

4 // Schee
I am a big fan of one German shop in particular: Kauf Dich Glücklich. And while visiting this fave of mine I found this little gem next door: Schee. A place where you can find small home decor items and a great collection of graphic prints. Seriously great! If you can appreciate illustration, photography, typography and design; this shop has it all. You can buy an original screen print for under €50. So go take a look, and even if you are not looking for anything to spice up your wall, it is a great place for some colorful inspiration.

5 // Kauf Dich Glücklich
Just so you know, I am not a big fan of shopping. But this place has it all for me. The shop has locations all over Germany so I always make sure to have a little peek before I leave for home. They have some Scandinavian fashion labels and also have jewelry, shoes, bags and book. Great books about travel and art. Boy that is one awesome mix of books! I know! So if you get a chance to visit Germany, check out the nearest KDG shop and buy yourself some happiness.