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Natasha Mileshina & Random Small Business Thoughts

I have to spotlight Natasha Mileshina today because a parcel arrived from her in my little mailbox this morning and it absolutely made my day. I blogged about her etsy shop, bubbo-tubbo, in Take Five Tuesdays last week and like so many artists I feature here I end up becoming a customer because I want to own a part of their world.

I absolutely appreciate and love the American arts & crafts scene, and though there is one here in Germany that is growing and blooming right now, there is still something about the American aesthetic that I really like. Of course, I am partial since I am American so of course I’m going to appreciate things about my own culture that others in different lands may not. I think Natasha Mileshina’s style is so positively perfect, I really enjoyed the package of goodies that arrived because everything was so carefully wrapped and arranged. It was special to just open it and after turning back the papers to reveal the contents – ah, bliss!

“Nothing to put on” print, 5 x 7, $12.

Notebook, $7

Natasha lives and works in Baltimore, Maryland… not exactly the ‘hub’ when it comes to creativity like other places in the U.S. (Brooklyn, San Francisco, Portland OR, etc.) but I imagine that at times it must be nice to not live in uber creative communities because you are able to really be alone with your work and spend time developing it and fine tuning your style. Does this make sense? I guess I think this way because I lived for years in Boston and only when I relocated to southern New Hampshire did I really ‘slow down’ enough in my head to focus on my own artistic and creative spirit. Everyone is different of course. I cannot doubt the explosion of creativity I feel whenever I’m in San Francisco, L.A., even parts of the south where I grew up… But you can really be creative anywhere on this planet and though many artists pack up and relocate to the hip cities to be part of the local culture there, there are plenty of artists who do just as well in their little corners, too. If you’re like me, I go to cities to be inspired but I feel completely fine living outside of creative hubs now because I don’t need to be immersed in it 24/7. It almost stresses me out if I spend too much time in New York City, for instance. I like it there but I find equal inspiration walking on the beach in Maine.

I think in really creative hubs there are so many people making things that yes, it can inspire, but sometimes it may also feel competitive or stressful… like you must continuously churn out new designs or you are no longer ‘the hottest thing’ in your community. I wonder if anyone reading this lives in a creative hub and can comment on this. Here in Hannover, Germany we have many creative types but no one really sticks together, in fact it’s a little competitive and ‘high school’ sometimes just as it was in the beginning days of blogging for me online. I am trying to change this here in Hannover, but it will take awhile. But I have an idea…


“Cat on my head” print, 5×7, $12.

I want to host a street fest here with the local artisans and craftsters but I’m scared no one will mingle because they seem to not like one another! I think these problems exist in the states too, but when I was at Renegade last summer in Brooklyn I didn’t get the sense that vendors there were competing or even jealous or upset at the success of the more popular vendors. I think this is one of many reasons why Americans have such success with their small businesses — the majority seem to support and rely on fellow small business owners knowing that their success comes, not by shunning or excluding others, but by holding hands with others and showing support. I don’t know if craft fairs like Renegade really exist here in Germany, but I’d like to get involved in hosting one here in Hannover to see how it goes. My friend Enna and I are in discussion over this so I’ll let you know what we churn out. I’m thinking next year, a summer fest. :) I want to have a ‘decor8′ table at the fair to show the work of my American friends, and even those from Australia, England, and beyond that may like to introduce their work to the German market. I want to expose more Germans to crafts outside of Europe, too.

You may be shocked to learn that most of my creative friends here aren’t even online, do not blog, and they’ve never heard of Etsy! Half or more do not even speak English, another problem if they want to reach customers outside of Germany. This is one of the major reasons I’m speaking this Saturday in Berlin, I want to encourage the many creative types who will attend the decor8/Dawanda event to blog and reach out to the world if they aren’t already doing it. I feel so confident in the indie arts scene in Germany but not many people outside know what’s going on in this country outside of Oktoberfest and beer. Not even many Germans know what’s going on because so many seem to create in their ateliers, closed off from the rest of the world so to speak, and not much is seen outside of their own city. This is only my opinion as a non-German but I think small business here (at least arts & crafts) is where American small business was back in 2004/05 – blogging was just picking up speed, indie craft fairs were starting to appear nationwide, more and more people were connecting online and making new friends, etc. It’s fun to be over here in the beginning stages of it all. I can’t wait to see what develops!

“Fake NYC” by Natasha Mileshina, processed using the fake tilt shift technique, most likely in Photoshop.

I think I’m running off on a tangent here (what’s new!?), but this was on my mind when I awoke this morning so I thought I’d talk about it today to see what your opinions are on this topic. Do you need to be in the heart of a creative hub to create and network? If you lived in a city where shop owners do not seem to support other shop owners, how would you promote peace and encourage a more supportive environment? How do you overcome feelings of competition with fellow creative types?

Now back to the lovely Natasha! Don’t forget to check out her Flickr album for further inspiration, and don’t miss her lovely studio over at Poppy Talk.

(images taken by holly becker for decor8)

Posted in Arts + Crafts, etsy, small business on September 17, 2008

Suzy Ultman: Illustrator

I recently heard about Suzy Ultman via the fabulous Lilla Rogers and fell in love with her illustrations. I think her style is so very sweet and thought I’d point you over to her online portfolio for additional eye candy. I heard that Miss Suzy was recently picked up by Madison Park Greetings to produce a collection of cards so I’m sure we’ll be seeing more of her cutie illustrations in the months to come.


Above is a glimpse of her home studio in Newburyport, MA – a nook that inspires her.

Congrats, Suzy!

Also don’t miss the Lilla Rogers online shop — it’s visually a delight and loaded with links galore. You’ll be in heaven I swear! Lilla has a fab card shop too!

(images from suzy ultman via lilla rogers studio)

Posted in Arts + Crafts, stationery on September 10, 2008

Etsy Take Five Tuesday

Hello friends! I’m back from Amsterdam so you know what that means… lots of great things to show and tell which I’ll get to shortly (tonight or perhaps tomorrow). But first, I cannot let Tuesday go by without the weekly Etsy Take Five Tuesday. Enjoy!

Bostonian Jill Rosenwald recently notified me that she has a? new shop on Etsy where her ceramic creations are sold, ranging from plates to bowls and vases. Fantastic patterns and colorways… really great.

Pirilampo Riscado is based in Portugal and is a-m-a-z-i-n-g-l-y talented… gifted really. I cannot take my eyes off of her intricately woven handcrafted treasures to wear or display. This jewelry is not only breathtaking but made with heart, you can feel it as you look over her goods in her Etsy shop. I keep finding myself back on her Flickr “Necklace” set just to drool. When I see work like this I’m reminded of the sheer talent that exists in this world and how privileged we are to be online with continual exposure to it all without having to jump on an airplane.




Marta is a one-girl shop in Barcelona where her thoughtfully made things are sold under the name Emedemarta. Wood, linen, and cotton are a few of her favorite things along with deer and mushrooms (still popular motifs amongst indie designers, especially here in Europe).


Pardon My Vintage (cute name) is a shop filled with new-to-you finds curated with love and exceptional taste. Some of my personal faves include the retro pear canister, the folksy recipe tin, Rorstrand Fenix cup and saucer, and the vintage Heath mugs. Best part, she’ll ship worldwide! You can keep up with the latest Pardon My Vintage finds also via her Flickr account.


Bubbo-Tubbo is a sweet shop you’re certain to adore as much as I do. Originally from Russia now living in America, I stumbled upon Natasha Mileshina and her illustrations just this morning by roaming Flickr and was quite pleased that I took the time to wander… her drawings are pretty special! I’ve already decided to place an order for a few of her prints to put in my hallway. I can’t help myself!

(images linked to sources above)

Posted in Arts + Crafts, etsy, Etsy Take 5 Tuesday on September 09, 2008

decor8 & Dawanda Event in Berlin: September 20th

I’m so excited to announce this as I approached Dawanda some time ago with hopes they’d help me plan a fun blogger event in Berlin this year. And it’s planned! We’re ready to invite all who’d like to attend so if you plan on being in Berlin this month, please mark your calendars for a free fun event I’m hosting along with Dawanda in a few short weeks.

On September 20th we will hold a special workshop called ?Make it! Shop it! Blog it!? for artists and designers to get together and mingle, learn from guest speakers (including yours truly) all about how to build your business through blogging. When I finish speaking, I’ll stay to answer any questions from the audience that you may have about how to use your blog to maximize your small business as an artist or designer. If you do not have a small business, you just may walk away inspired to build one when I am finished because believe me, I have a lot to say on this subject!

Note: This event is bilingual! I’m speaking in English and Nicole will be speaking in German. No translator will be present!

During the event, we’ll supply complementary “Kaffee & Kuchen” (coffee and cake, well really cupcakes from an American bake shop, Cupcake Berlin, that we’ve asked to cater for us) and then later in the day, our second special guest speaker (after me) is Luziapimpinella (Nicole), a DaWanda shop based in Germany which is not only a very successful DaWanda shop, but a popular German blog too. She’ll share her first hand experience as a blogger and shop owner.

Of course we plan to do more than talk. Play time is part of the fun! We’ll holding a screenprinting demonstration from both Smil and Bloodbunny who willl share screenprinting tips, help you print something of your very own, and you can leave with your very own creation. Materials will be provided, but only a limited number can participate so this is on a “first come first serve” basis (see schedule posted below and show up for this session a little a head of time to be included).

Here are the details and schedule:

Date: Saturday, September 20th 2008
Location:o3 Berlin – Oderbergerstr.3, 10435 Berlin. (M1 stop Eberswalder U Bahn / Schwedter Str)

12 pm – Doors open – Bring your business cards and make new friends!
1 pm – Holly?s talk and Q & A session
3 pm – Nicole?s talk and Q & A session
5 pm Screenprinting workshop
6:30 We all go home inspired!

Spaces are limited so please RSVP if you would like to come! elizabeth {at} dawanda {dot} com

Thank you Enna for creating the beautiful art work for our Make it! Shop it! Blog it! postcards.

Hope to see you there. :)

(image from enna)

Posted in Arts + Crafts, blogs, events + markets, small business, travel on September 04, 2008

Books:

Some of my books...

Further editions available: Decorate published by Murdoch Books for AU/NZ, Decorar BR, Alt om indretning DK, Inspirace pro váš byt CZ, Dekorácie SK, La décoration FR, Lust auf Wohnen DE, Sisusta tyylillä FI and Sztuka aranżacji wnętrz PL.

eCourses:

Next dates

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