Written by AnnaDenise on Saturday, August 04, 2012 at 22:29
Click on the thumbnail for a larger image
Today, in between sanding and painting three old little tables, taking care of a sick Meneertje, work that isn't work, and choosing wedding-appro- priate attire (no, not my wedding), I finally finished my entry for
The Scribble Project. The Scribble Project is run by Australian illustrator Lisa Currie (check out her scribble here), and it was so. much. fun. to do this. I highly recommend it to anyone who needs a creative pick-me-up!
Written by AnnaDenise on Monday, June 18, 2012 at 01:03
Here's just a quick heads up: I've caught the blogging virus again and have started blogging again over on The Yellow Umbrella. Also, I've tweaked the design a bit. Which took me six hours and was done instead of paying bills.
Written by AnnaDenise on Wednesday, April 04, 2012 at 09:00
On Saturday, I put on my bright orange cardigan and my Lord James brooch, and pedaled my mom’s bike to In de Ruimte (which means ‘in the space’, but also ‘in space’) to moderate Etsy’s first ever Dutch ‘Startersdag’. The Startersdag was an all-day symposium meant for new Etsy sellers to get a handle on how to run an Etsy shop.
My job was to introduce the speakers, make sure everyone got all the information they needed, and to make sure we finished the whole shindig on time. Of course, the occasional rogue beamer needed to be guided towards to the light as well, which happens to be one of my specialties. All of our honored speakers were very well prepared and it turned out I had plenty of time to make good use of my iPad and tweet the most important lessons of the day. Since I did all of this in Dutch, I’ll simply refer all you Dutch speakers to the hastag #hiergroeitiets, but for everyone else: here are a few highlights.
Marketing = Me
First up, Diana and Laura from @Mamamarketing on ‘becoming a big fish in a small pond’. They accentuated the importance of being authentic and personal in all of your communication and urged sellers to “Make [themselves] visible and crack that door wide open. Become the person behind [their] logo.” Your personality should shine through everything you do, they said. “Actively look around for themes and media outlets that resonate with your personally.” Then, they argued, please stop worrying about people who don’t seem interested in the message you’re trying to convey. “You don’t need those people, anyways”.
The MamaMarketing ladies were very practical and gave us some good, clean, hands-on advice. Like the idea to create a content calendar for your blog, so you can spread out the blog posts and topics you want to write about, or how to create an attention-grabbing bio for your Twitter account. Or who knew that newsletters are not a thing from the past, or that press releases may, not must! still be sent out by mail – preferably in a big envelope with a little trinket inside? Fascinating stuff! As a bonus, the ladies offer handy worksheets free of charge on their website.
Then, after a short break, Monique Ruggenaath, Etsy seller and legal advisor, took us on a brief safari into the legal jungle. She urged Etsy sellers to first “[m]ake a conscious choice to become a pro in your business. Once you’ve made that mental switch, the legal steps become quite obvious.” In fact, unlike what a lot of people seemed to think “everyone who has an Etsy shop has already made the decision to try and sell outside of their immediate circle of friends and family. If you have an Etsy shop, you already are an entrepreneur. And you will need to register yourself as a business.”
More importantly, however, Monique spoke of the importance of a good shop policy. “Your shop policies are extremely important. You don’t want to have to rely on them, but in case of a conflict, you need a legal framework to fall back on.” In fact, as soon as someone buys the product you offer on Etsy, you’ve engaged in a contract with your buyer and the shop policies are a big part of this contract. “Be very very clear in your description of the product you’re selling about WHAT exactly it is you’re selling.” Especially if you are using props in the picture or if you suspect your product might have some downsides to it (like it being dangerous for small children to play with, or the colors bleeding when washed).
First focus: Photography
After another short break, we shifted our focus to photography. One of the most discussed topics on the Etsy forums and one of the most important I’d say. Etsy seller Liesbeth Verhart (or PiniPiru as her clothing shop is called) and photography enthusiast showed us a bunch of examples on how to show off your products, but also how NOT to frame your works. “As an Etsy seller you need to seduce your customer through photos alone. Buyers can’t touch or pick up the item, so use all 5 photos to draw them in and convince them. The first picture is the most important picture. It’s the one that goes into treasuries. So make sure it’s interesting, but not too crowded, unclear or weird in color. It needs to fit into different kinds of treasuries.”
In short: put your product in the middle, make sure the background isn’t too distracting, make sure people can see how big the item is and how it can be used. Most importantly, however, make sure the colors are right. “Learn how to use Photoshop or some other kind of photo editing software. To be truthful, you shouldn’t put any photo online that hasn’t been through some kind of editing process. It’s so important that the colors are exactly right.”
Also: a cloudy day is perfect for taking pictures. A sunny day will produce too many harsh shadows.
Putting the ‘fun’ in ‘finance’?
Rob Kramer, from Bedrijfscijfers, told us about bookkeeping. By this time most people were pretty tired and I needed to intervene a bit at the beginning. In an attempt to make the subject matter as accessible as possible, Rob used some words and a manner of speaking that some members of the audience felt were a bit derogatory. It’s not a sensitivity of mine, personally, but I can imagine some people might feel like they’re constantly battling stereotypes about what it means to be a professional crafter. In fact, some members of the audience told us that when they went to register their company, they were pretty much laughed at and told to just go back home and continue with their “little hobby”. Shocking. Rob encouraged them to just go back and insist on them registering you as a company. His core message was that bookkeeping can be simple and manageable and not scary at all and perhaps even fun, when you know where and how to get some of the benefits that small companies can apply for.
And then it was over. We had a short drink afterwards, but I think most people were eager to go home and let all the information just sink in a bit. It seemed like most people had a great time and had learned a lot. Business cards were exchanged and goodie bags given away.
The next day I went back to see the Showroom and do some shopping of my own. The place looked GREAT and I met a lot of people that I had previously been in touch with via email or social media and it was so fun to actually meet them in person. I didn’t have a whole lot of cash with me to spend, but I did get a beautiful cup and saucer from Kim Welling. Pictures of the showroom can be found on Facebook.
All in all, the weekend was invigorating. It was amazing to meet so many new and likeminded people, simply wonderful to be able to contribute to the events of the day, and just so inspiring to be around so many talented people and beautiful things. A big thank you to Marta from EtsyNL for asking me to moderate the day, a big thank you to all of the amazing speakers and, of course, thank you all for coming!
© All images used in this post are courtesy of EtsyNL
Written by AnnaDenise on Tuesday, February 28, 2012 at 23:58
Finally, finally, finally I can talk about this. It's been in the works forever, but now that I got my magazines in the mail, I can share it with you!
Me and my (well, our) apartment were featured in IKEA live magazine for Belgium! Wooh!
Now, you might not know this about me, but I am personally of the opinion that going to IKEA is pretty much the best way to spend a Friday evening (I'd choose IKEA bed-testing and ice cream cone eating over drinking beer in a pub any day), even if you don't buy anything (which never seems to happen, though. It's the darn bedding section, man. With the cute Scandinavian prints).
The actual published article is in Dutch, but we did the interview in English and apparently they do all the art directing and information gathering in London and then translate it all into the local language. The result is I have an English PDF to share with you but on paper I sound totally Flemish. Which is quite funny (not the Flemish itself, but the fact that the phrasing is very uncharacteristic for me).
So, enjoy getting a sneak peek into our home. Which, in the most part, looks so cool because our landlord is an interior designer and he fixed up the place so nice that even a Klippan couch (why, yes, it is indeed the cheapest couch they sell. But quite worth every penny, tvm) looks like designer furniture. But I didn't tell IKEA that. And don't you dare tell on me either, you bunch of snitches. It was all the cool prints that really convinced them of my awesome interior design abilities, anyways.
Written by AnnaDenise on Thursday, February 23, 2012 at 23:00
I guess most of you know by now that I'm an Etsy junkie. Ever since I discovered Etsy, THE online marketplace for handmade and vintage awesomeness, in 2007 I've been an active part of the community buying and selling, making it to Twitter artist of the month once, and actually visiting their amazingly cool offices in New York. I make no secret out of my love for Etsy and have helped ruin many a friend's credit score by pointing them and their credit cards towards this website.
A little while back, Etsy began setting up offices around Europe, and after Germany, the UK, and France, Holland was one of the first to take on a very lovely community manager named Marta, who works her ass off to produce lovely events for Etsy sellers and other handmade & vintage lovers from around The Netherlands... and Belgium! We met her last year when she helped Julie Anne and me organize the first (and so far: only) Belgian Etsy Labs here in Brussels. We did an art journalling workshop and it was truly one of the highlights of my year.
Most of the events Etsy organizes around these parts take place in Holland however, and although I'm there quite frequently, I usually have trouble making it to the weeknight events. So, to make a long story a bit shorter: I took to the forums and joined the Belgian Etsy Team. Through the magic of the boards, I set up an Etsy meeting in Brussels, which took place last weekend on the Mont des Arts. It was brilliant. There were eight of us, mostly international Etsy sellers, and we had a wonderful time chatting, admiring each other's work, and even knitting a bit!
The meeting resulted in setting up a Facebook group called 'BXLHandmade' and if you're an Etsy enthousiast, seller, buyer, handmade or vintage lover from the are, please join us there. I hope to post our first event and meetup on the group page soon!
Written by AnnaDenise on Monday, February 06, 2012 at 09:00
I'm just going to admit it: I not-so-secretly really want to be published. As in: I want my journals to be published in book-form. And so, my new years resolution was to up the ante a bit and really start working on transforming my experiences into (somewhat) coherent stories and journal pages. When I noticed a cartooning contest here in Brussels on multiculturalism, I decided to take a whack at producing a multi-page comic. The result is five pages and it took me about two weeks to finish (of course, I do work a full time job plus evening events and have multiple freelance jobs going at the moment, but it took me long enough to notice this is a different animal altogether). Anyways, it's based on my own experiences and it's about how I lost a friend due to my foolish cultural arrogance as a teenager. You can read it here.
Written by AnnaDenise on Thursday, January 26, 2012 at 23:23
Just a quick message to let those of you who don't know already know that a few weeks back a piece I wrote about Bikram yoga was published on Elephant Journal. Elephant Journal is a fairy popular online journal on yoga, buddhism, spirituality, and environmentalism (plus a lot of silliness, I must say) and my article made it to the top ten most popular blog posts that week.
You can read the article here (first three articles per day are free, after that you pay or you'll have to wait for the next day to come around).
PS: Reason I didn't share the article here right away is because it's so very personal. I know that sounds ridiculous coming from someone who shares her journal online, but that's of course a highly edited image I'm painting for you and this article is very, very close to who I am. Which, I feel, does make it a more powerful piece and is the reason why I did want to publish it. I'm fairly certain, however, that many people I know in real life would never read Elephant Journal, but they would read this blog. Due to the positive responses, however, I now feel confident enough to share it here. Be critical, if you want, but be gentle in your delivery if you can.
Written by AnnaDenise on Friday, January 20, 2012 at 08:30
I've been feeling kind of blue these past few weeks, with the weather doing its traditional January-thing (rainy, cold, grey skies, dark) and work creeping up to the point where my five Bikram sessions a week have been reduced to three (which isn't very good for my mood, either). So, I had really been looking forward to our trip to London that we planned a while back. Ashwin had some work-stuff to attend on Friday and Saturday and I joined him on Friday evening.
We were both really tired and ordered some dinner before passing out. I drew the hotel room. Which was fun, but didn't turn out so great. Who comes up with these fugly hotel room colors anyway?
The next morning, after Ashwin left for the second day of workshops, and as the weather was cold, but beautiful, I decided to take a stroll (yes, not just a walk. A stroll. A leisurely stroll) along the Thames.
I ended up at the Tate Modern, where I quickly walked through the exhibition on Belgian surrealism (not my thing) and then proceeded to spend nearly two hours in the gift shop (not buying anything). How very cultured of me.
When I was done thinking about the categories in the Tate Bookshop ('illustration' was filed under 'design', next to 'street art' and 'photography'. Hm. ) I went outside to get a cup of hot chocolate and wait for my date for the day: Heidi! I had put a call out on Twitter to see who of my online art friends felt like meeting up and although Heidi lives in Cambridge, it all came together nicely!
It was very fun to finally meet Heidi (who now also works for Etsy, which makes her awesomeness almost too much to handle), someone I've been 'connected' with digitally for such a long time already and we had such a nice day together. We walked along the river, went treasure-hunting at a used book market, had cake and tea together, looked for, found, and rode the 'Singing Elevator', and sketched. Heidi is so fun, talented, and gorgeous (although she's kind of camera shy, it seems) and I'm so glad I got to meet her! Yay for the Internet!
In the evening, Ashwin and I walked through town and ended up eating at a little restaurant near the water. I kind of miss living in a city with water. All of the places I've ever lived in had a connection to the water by means of canals, or a river, or being close to the beach. I realize that I miss the air of freedom I associate with the presence of water. I suppose it's the same reason why being in the mountains (for example at my grandma's house in Switzerland) makes me kind of claustrophobic after a while.
On Sunday, Ashwin and I were planning to go to the zoo, but it was pretty cold so we ended up riding buses and visiting the Design Museum. Where we saw an exhibition on Terence Conran (very interesting!) and we (or: I) had tea and chocolate cake (I have decided that when you're in London, you have to eat cake and drink tea at least once a day).
And so we returned home on the Eurostar. Bellies full of chocolate pie, art, water, and design. A welcome break it was.
(it kind of felt like it needed an end, didn't it? Yes, after over eight years of blogging, I'm really getting the hang of this storytelling thing, I think).
Written by AnnaDenise on Friday, January 06, 2012 at 08:00
I don't know about you, but I listen to a lot of podcasts. A LOT of podcasts. I think if I say that I average about 2 to 3 hours of podcasts a day, I'm not even exaggerating. I love listening to a podcast during my daily commute to and from the office, when I'm cooking, when I'm drawing (in fact, that's my absolute favorite), and before going to bed. Sometimes I even listen to podcasts when I'm taking a bath (books ALWAYS get wet, despite the many precautions). There's a few Ashwin and I listen to together, and there's a few I like to listen to by myself.
Many of these you've probably already heard of, but maybe not. In any case, here's the complete list of podcasts I listen to (in no particular order):
- This American Life
- The Moth
- Fresh Air
- All Things Considered
- Planet Money
- The Dawn and Drew Show
- The New Yorker Fiction Podcast
- 99% Invisible
- Stuff You Should Know
- The Nerdist
Do you have any podcasts you like to listen to? Anything I missed and I should absolutely subscribe to asap? I'd love to hear about it!
Written by AnnaDenise on Wednesday, October 05, 2011 at 10:58
Hip hip hooray! I have a BIG announcement.
This fall, Julie-Anne of Turtlewings and I will be collaborating on hosting our first-ever online art journalling course, called 'A Visual View. Daily Illustrated Journalling'.
This introductory course into illustrated journaling will help you to view your world, your experiences, and memories in a creative light whilst reconnecting with your inner artist through keeping an art journal. During this six week series of exercises Jules and I will work with you to find out where your creative heart lies and how to translate this into great-looking journal pages.
The course is easy, hands-on, and fast paced.
You can expect some very concrete assignments each week, but in the individual critique sessions we’ll talk more about your personal progress, about what inspires you, and how you might incorporate keeping an illustrated journal into your daily life or creative practice We want to create a private, safe online space, where we can all share our work and support each other in out creative journey. Students are invited to comment on each others work (but in a constructive manner only). This course is designed for absolute beginners with no experience whatsoever, but we suspect more experienced artists or creative professionals might find that an illustrated journal might help them view their own creative process differently.
10 students only
Because this is our first time and we consider this a trial run, we'll accept 10 students only for the special price of €70,-. Signups go through me on a first-come first-serve basis and registration opens the 10th of October (I'll put up a reminder here as soon as we've got the Paypal situation all figured out).
You can read more information about the course [here], or by emailing me via anna [at] annadenise [dot] com!
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