Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Best of 2014: what a year it was!

Dear friends, today I've decided to look back at the year 2014 and remind myself of what beautiful moments we've been through together on this blog. It was so nice to go back and flick through the articles; it felt like opening a family album and reminding myself of those tender moments that are so easy to forget in the everyday busy life.

When I was small, we would sometimes pull out family albums from our home library with my mum, cuddle up on the sofa and enjoy a stroll through our past, reminded by the photos.

Let me invite you for such a cozy moment; here are the highlights of 2014, sorted out in four quarterly sets, with one special moment per month:

January: drawing of a lady with violet earrings
February: one of the most popular articles on the blog this year - my review of Seventh Tree Soaps
March: the simple line version of this drawing became a part of my branding (as you can see on my business cards here)

April: a photo story of our trip to Sweden over Easter. Sweden has a very special place in my heart and I can't wait to be back, hopefully again next year :) That would be our 4th Easter there, I believe. 
May: my book covering DYI article went quite viral on Pinterest and became another one of the most read articles on my blog this year
June: this illustration triggers such nice memories for me. I drew it by the pool at Chris' parents house, suntanning, completely relaxed, enjoying the summer. I think that atmosphere shines through the drawing. No? :)

July: Chris and I visited my dad's art studio for the second time this year (first time here, second visit here) - it's always so inspiring
August: happy birthday card free to download and print. I've printed it myself and gave it to my dad for his birthday; it came out ever so nicely!
September: Chris' and my first time out of Europe - our trip to Curacao in pictures + a list of 10 things I've done for the first time in my life (e.g. swimming with dolphins, one of the best moments ever)

October: yet another 'first time in life experience' - our trip to New York, all in photos
November: in this and also this article, I've told you about all the big changes on the horizon for 2015. Super exciting!!
December: I looooooved sending out these Christmas cards I've designed for my friends and family 

I wish you a beautiful holiday time & all the very best into the new year. Remember, dreams come true, you just have to believe

On that note, I've got news for you which is so amazing for me, it's unreal: I've got keys to my art studio! 
This is an absolute dream come true for me; something that will only fully sink in in January, when I'll move in. I am kicking off with furniture shopping in Ikea at the beginning of Jan and then I'll have all the time in the world to draw and create.
I'll keep you posted and will definitely take pictures to show you my new dream work space.

Take care and all the best,

Saturday, 20 December 2014

Early morning tea at home: come in!

Our home is tiny (30m2) and it's definitely not a flat that looks like it's just been featured in Elle Home. We can't paint the walls and most of the furniture came with it and must stay here. 
I've however learned to love it as it is. There are lots of tiny little corners that I adore and art that cheers me up every day. 
Come in for a small visit, I've made some tea.
This flag is from Zana and flew to our home all the way from Cape Town :)
Lovely photos by Clive Figes, taken at the English riviera
Custom 'Christof & Natalie' banner from Minted
Dinner Time print by Balázs Solti from Curioos
A tiny treat from Ladurée which I only ate last night (got it in NYC in October!)
Christmas Card from my most adored grandma arrived last week 
Lady by Floyd Grey, purchased at Curioos. They don't sell this one anymore though as it was a limited collection. So glad to have it!
Little tea candle lighthouse I got in Amsterdam & our picture from when I've freshly moved to Vienna
A cute reminder of a night full of dancing in Pratersauna, Vienna
Guardian angel from my sister
Pre-Christmas atmosphere in our bathroom :)
These stars have become our all-year bedroom deco, which makes our evenings ever so cozy

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Today I'm loving: Christmas edition

December / Horses / Candle / Pillows / Rolling pins / Pouch
This year, my family and I have agreed that we are not giving each other presents. I must admit I'm so relieved. For the first time, Christmas will be purely about the time spent together, cooking together, relaxing, eating and telling stories. 

As I am freed from the Christmas hustle in shops, I am spending my free time relaxing and gathering inspiration. I found the images above when researching sellers' stories on the Etsy blog. I absolutely loved peeking into their studios, reading about their processes and how their creative business grew. This is my prep for January when I'll start working on my own creative world. 

Ready for a dose of genuine stories & pretty handmade goods on top?

December (by Twenty Fingers)
This story, the location, their products, photos, everything is so fairy-tale like, magical, yet beautifully simple. I'm convinced you'll like their Instagram feed too.

Horses (by Amanda Kingloff)
I fell in love with this DYI project at first sight. So much that I seriously looked for vintage salt and pepper shakers to buy to do the project. I didn't quite find any that I would buy and also realised that we don't need new shakers now, but I adore the project anyways. 

Candle (Tokyo Factory)
Looking at the process photos, I want to go and make candles right now! The concept, minimalistic branding and natural ingredients plus a genuine smile of the owner make one perfect business model for me to look up to and admire. 

Pillows (by Belles & Ghosts)
For a split of a second, I thought it might be paint spilled on MissySue's hands. A mili-second later, I realised that her hands are that pretty all the time. Clearly, they create really pretty things too.

Rolling pins (by BoonHomeware)
If we were giving each other presents (and I found it early enough), I would have bought this rolling pin for my grandma. And if I baked (which I don't), I would have gotten it for myself too!

Hand-painted, hand-made, super pretty, totally my style.

I hope you've enjoyed this handmade tour and you are having as much peaceful pre-Christmas time as possible :*

Monday, 8 December 2014

23 envelopes with Christmas wishes are now ready to be sent out

I've spent the whole day today writing Christmas cards, looking up addresses and decorating envelopes.

Some of the 23 cards will, I believe, be a complete surprise and some will be more or less expected (for example Chris' parents can be quite sure to get one, I filled their winter garden with my mess today, so it will be a small 'thank you' and 'sorry you couldn't enjoy reading newspaper in your sofa today morning as I moved it in order to have more space for photography purposes').

I would love to know: are you sending out Christmas cards this year? Is that something you do every year?

For me, it's one of my Christmas rituals. I don't bake cookies for example; instead, I love spending hours writing cards and packing presents :)

This is how today looked like for me:

You might have seen this illustration of mine on my Instagram here or here
'Hand made' stamp from Paper Sushi
This one is ready for Chris to sign :)
These babies will be going out to Czech Republic, Austria, Germany, UK and Sweden
Can't wait to pop these in the post! 

Have a lovely rest of your day and enjoy the pre-Christmas atmosphere ♥

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

7 tips for moving ahead with your dream life

Elements of my dream day. Photo credits: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 (the illustration is by Oana Befort)

I have a bit of a news for you.

I've quit my day job.

In the past 2 years, I've been feeling full of inspiration, motivation and drive to draw, yet I only had (some) week nights to actually do it. I've always loved drawing; but, due to various circumstances, instead of an art career, I've worked in startups for 6 years. I am ever so thankful for that period of my life though. It taught me to be independent, I've gained tons of experience and met amazing friends at work. I would not have changed a bit about the way things have happened.

A couple of months ago, I started feeling a restless need to give my creative drive more of my time. Slowly, but surely, I've decided that I am giving my dream a chance, full time, as of January.

I'm swapping an office for an art studio.

Wohoooo! (I still can't quite believe it when I am saying it. It's amazingly unreal.)

Looking back at the months that have preceded my decision and thinking of what's played a huge role in me getting this far; I've put together a list of things that I believe have made things much easier.

Here's what I recommend you to focus on 
if you want to get closer to your dream life

1. First of all, I've gotta tell you, the law of attraction works. 

Call it The Secret, call it visualisation, whatever you wish, I now know it works. I simply saw myself in an art studio instead of my office chair, I saw myself working on my shop opening, having a blog, drawing every day, packaging orders and here it is, it is less than a month away. I believed it, I knew it will happen and it is simply happening, right in front of my eyes. See yourself doing what you love, think about it every day, don't give up and it will come. Just watch :)

2. Save money. Start now. 

I started saving up 6 years ago, with super tiny amounts. I completely forgot about my savings contract for some time and was not even saving up for like 3 years. I then started again a year ago. I doubt that I would have felt comfortable taking a leap into completely unknown, without having some financial security. Start saving now, you'll be very thankful to yourself in a couple of years. As Marie Forleo reminded me recently:
"Never give up on a dream just because of the time it will take to accomplish it. The time will pass anyway" - Earl Nightingale

3. Learn. 

I've spent sick hours watching tutorials on topics I wanted to learn about. I've taught myself how to use Photoshop from scratch (and can now do all I need, very comfortably), how to use a graphic tablet, how to scan and digitally edit illustration, how to set up a trade license in Austria and more. Be hungry to learn and don't give up researching.
Enroll in online courses, watch tutorials, read blogs, books, ask people around and find mentors - there is a million ways to learn, you just need to start and be very persistent.

4. Find out if there are any support systems in your country.

Are there any startup grands/ artist in residence programmes/ free consultations for starting entrepreneurs/ community meet ups related to what you want to do in your city that you can join? Research, join them, make friends and ask. See what your country offers, you might be surprised!

5. Be ready to work in the nights. 

I don't think that there is a way to trick this. If you want to achieve something big and you happen to have a day job at the same time, you'll soon realise you've been spending the last x months (in my case 2 years) working in the nights - researching, learning, doing what you love.

6. Be ready to invest in it financially. 

For me, it was online courses, consultations, materials, technology, trial prints, branding design and a lot of other things, that I've paid out of my pocket. There will surely be more to come and that is fine. It is, at the end of the day, an investment. An investment into learning, getting better and perfecting a product. If you mean it seriously with your dream, expect to make investments into it as you go. Choose very carefully, but sometimes you'll simply figure (after thinking of certain investments for months) that it will be worth it.

7. Don't wait too long. 

I believe your gut will guide you with this one. There comes a point when you simply know you need to move on. Listen to that, repress the fears and stick with the plan.

That is where I am now. I've gone ahead with the dream plan. No clue what's ahead, but I love it.

Sunday, 23 November 2014

New in: stationery and jewelry from interesting places

- lovely treasures I recently discovered, completely by surprise -

Loving this pendant from Myns with a secret inside, which I got at a local bloggers event organised by Fashion Camp Vienna. Out of many 'secrets' to choose from, my best friend Begimai chose this little buddha for me, which brings fulfillment & inspiration. Couldn't be happier with that!
I've been thinking of ordering Flash Tattoos for quite a while, so when I saw them at a shoe shop counter in New York, they were in my bag in a split of a second. One of the packages includes many bracelets, necklaces and rings in gold and silver. Yay!

Apart from jewelry, I got myself these stationery pretties:

These have, too, popped at me at unexpected places. I've gotten the pencil at Feschmarkt, local designers' market, from a Czech stationery brand, Papelote. The girls at Papelote weren't at all surprised that I started speaking Czech at them, here in Vienna; I guess I was by far not the only Czech there :) 

The washi tapes and scissors are from a newly open Japanese take out, o.m.k., which I've discovered through a graphic designer that did their branding and posted the project on her Facebook Page. From a trip for a yummy dinner, I ended up with not just amazing food, but washi tapes, double sided gift wrapping paper and scissors as well!

Scissors, washi tapes and gift paper visible on pictures above, all from House Doctor (through o.m.k. in Vienna)

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Life lately: step by step towards a big dream

Image sources: left room image, right peach-colored products image, right wood & flowers image

So much has been happening 'behind the scenes' lately, yet there isn't much I can show. I think that's an ideal time for me to tell you what is it that I've been working on. 

  • Product photography. 
Draw a design, print greeting cards, take photos, post on Etsy, open a shop; can't be so hard, right? Well, things turned out a little different.  
I've bought decorations, spent 3 hours taking photos of my greeting cards and about 2 more hours post editing them, only to find out that I don't like the shots enough to have them as product images for my shop... Face palm. 
Since then, I've researched tons about product photography, bought a white backdrop, created my own wooden desk (which is drying as I type) and will do a round two of product photos. 
I've also created a Pinterest inspiration board with gorgeous product photography images, like the ones above. 
It's going to take about a month longer than originally expected, but it all turned out to be a great learning project & I now have my own equipment for beautiful photography to come, yay! :) 

  • Changes at work. 
Major changes on the horizon. Will tell you more once I can! Though it might be pretty self-explanatory :)

  • Temporary tattoos. 
After the first order that arrived last week turned out amazeballs, I've ordered more designs today. That'll be in total 5 designs, all ready for a showoff in my shop. YAYS!

  • Tax & paper work. 
I've been having some really smart (totally sarcastic here :), all in German discussions about my trade license with the finance office here in Vienna. I used a lot of hand signage to explain words like total revenue and profit, but I think I've learnt more practical German in that 45 minute meeting than in my German lessons in the last 1 month. 

  • Studio.
I fell in love with an art studio. It's a little too early to talk about this (sounds like a fresh relationship, heh?), but I'll tell you more soon!

  • Feschmarkt.
Chris and I have checked out a local young designers' market called Feschmarkt on Friday. It takes place in a lofty-looking, two-story, old brewery, which feels a little like a maze, but has a great atmosphere ideal for a design market. We had a little of a 'déjà vu' as we've been there already once at a party two years ago and even then we felt a little lost in all the rooms there are :)
It was great to see the products of local artists & designers and say hello to Adiam from Dubaruba. We got to know each other in shared office spaces 2 years ago when she was working for an investor company full time and since then, she's started her own design shop and works on it full time. I love stories like this! 

Quite a few of my friends are now going through a work-related change in their life. Seems like 2015 will be full of great new beginnings! 

The biggest learning for me so far (in the past 1+ year blogging and recently working on opening a shop), has been not to give up. There will be lots of hurdles, things to solve, situations harder than expected and things taking twice as much effort as I presumed, but I love the process and with every small project ticked off, I'm getting closer to my dream of doing what I love
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