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July, 2012 Monthly archive

Today I would like to write about somebody who inspires me: the fashion designer, artist and illustrator Julie Verhoeven. Julie lives in London and has worked for the fashion industry and creative industry for many years.
She was born in Kent, England in 1969. Her father was a graphic designer and her mother an illustrator. She says that the creative environment she grew up in is responsible for her unusual talent.
Julie ended her high school education when she was 16 and began her higher education in an Art and Design College. She loved to dress up. At the college she was into illustration but also into textile print design and fashion cutting. After her degree at the college she applied to go to Saint Martin’s College but she was not accepted (today she teaches there). For 4 years she was the assistant of John Galliano. For him she created print designs and illustrations. She learned a lot while working there. Then she wanted to focus her career on illustration. But it was hard to find good commissions, one reason for this was that her work was very much fashion oriented and very unusual. She started to teach. Since she felt that the fashion world might be better than the illustration world she moved to Paris to do fashion. There she worked for Martine Sitbon. She was responsible for textile prints, illustration but also designs for the collection and accessories.
1995 she went back to London but continued to freelance for Martine Sitbon. Now she was better off with her commissions and received a lot of work in the areas illustration and creative management. She was also a designer for Gibo and created lots of bold fashion. She continued teaching (until today).
Above you can see her work samples. To get more information you can buy two books about her: Gas Book 13 and Fat Bottomed Girls or visit her website.
Julie also moved in the art world. She was invited to do exhibitions in galleries. Her artworks are dominated by female figures and explicit sexual motifs.
Companies like Louis Vuitton and magazines as Dazed and Confused or Vogue, as well as Mulberry, Lacoste, Topshop, etc. worked with Julie Verhoeven. She started teaching at Saint Martin’s College.
I personally like her pen stroke. You can see the blind confidence she has in her drawing technique. She combines elements from the textile field, such as flowers and other patterns and symbols that are typically used in fashion design in her illustrations creating her own unique style and world. In this world the Verhoeven-girls were created.
These women make her work highly narrative and give the work a story-telling context.
There is also a dominant beauty to her work.
The (faded) strokes are in pencil, china ink or in watercolour marks or stains as well as in coloured pencils, collage effects, photocopied paper, coloured paper, etc. The monochrome parts of the work are enhanced with touches of bright (pop) colours which are skillfully combined. Together these elements create a bold and happy effect. Strong colourful elements make the artworks very positive. At the same time the Verhoeven-girls are happy & positive as well as anxious and sad – terrified.
There is a trashy, punk feel to the artworks, they also have a quality of the unfinished, imperfect. The feel to these works is one of rebellion. She does not constrain herself to the standards of any industry, her illustrations are a statement against compulsion and confinements. There is a softness and pride in the way she adheres to her instincts and lets the handwritten and handmade excel. This has brought her many followers amongst which are some of the world’s finest brands.

Credits: The information in this article and the photos are taken from the following sources:
a. Gas Book 13 JULIE VERHOEVEN 2004, Publisher Shinjiro Nishino, 64 pages, ISBN 4-86083-364-3
b. IdN International Designers Network Magazine, Volume 14 Number 3 2007 Three, Fashion Graphics Issue, http://www.idnworld.com

 

Yesterday I saw a documentary about Woody Allen. It was interesting. It was shown how his work process evolves during everyday life. He writes all his scripts and screenplays on a typewriter that he bought for 40 USD when he was 16 years old. He makes changes to the machine written pages using a staple machine and scissors. Also handwritten notes play a great role in his writing process. His work seems to have to do with HAND-WORK, it is a very physical process.

He keeps his notes in the drawer next to his bed. He writes these notes just about anywhere. Actually they are more like hand-scribbles on restaurant bills or paper towels. He uses these notes, when he needs inspiration. Then he re-reads them and uses the ones he thinks fit into his currents project.

There are many parallels between my working method and that of Woody Allen. For example Woody Allen has tried several kinds of movie in the course of his career: comedies, tragic films, etc. He was strongly inspired by European filmmakers like Fellini. Since Woody Allen uses a lot of autobiographic material in his works, the films are born by themselves. He lets the film happen while writing the screenplay.  He emphasizes the impossibiliy to predict which lines (or entire films) will work and which won’t and he seems very frustrated by this fact. I feel that similarities exist between what he is saying and my work process.

The way I develop my ornaments is that when I wake up I need an empty head. Like a blank sheet of paper. Everything should be ordered and clear. A lot can be done through ritual and following the course of the process. A lot is done by habit. For example I can do certain tasks only at certain times in the day (probably this is so because of different energy levels in the body during the day). I cannot push things. I jump from activity to activity.  Yesterday for example I had a rough plan of what I wanted to accomplish. I started to work with the task I felt I had the most energy for. But when I get tired of one activity I leave it for the moment and go to the next one. In this way I proceed jumping between 4-5 tasks for the whole working day without finishing them all. Maybe in one day one or two get done and some are started off, etc.

Continue reading “How I make my ornaments and patterns: Part 1 – Inspiration” »

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I have learned that product photography is essential for generating success on the internet. To be able to improve my photography skills initially I have had the support of helpers and photographers: Alexander Grübling, Michal Jellinek, Craig Dillon, Irene Schaur and Stephan Doleschal. But lately due to my pregnancy I spent a lot of time in bed and discovered Youtube channels with tutorial on virtually any subject. I also discovered great links on photography.

To make it easier for you to learn to make better photos, Tamara (who is working with me for one month) helped me to jot down a few of the photography tips I found online:

A. If you work inside a room you need great daylight, so you need to wait for the best light and find a corner in a room with good daylight. Don’t use a flash.  It is best if you open the windows to let even more light into the room.

B. For more control learn to use the manual settings of your camera. Don’t use automatic mode.

C. Always make sure everything on the photo reflects what you are trying to say. Keep the background perfectly white or make it say something (e.g. by creating a certain atmosphere like a table setting, etc.)….

D. Control all the details even if at the first glance they are not obvious. Exmples of disturbing things are a badly ironed tablecloth, the objects lying unorderly, an open door, a big mess, a face mirrored in the object…

E. Make closeups to let the people see all the details of the product.

F. Place the object in a setting in which it will be used later (eg. hang a painting on the wall of a furnished room, put the crockery on a table to show how it will look when it will be used,…).

Here are a few links fo you about product photography and camera settings:

http://www.divasanddreamsblog.com/2012/06/from-auto-to-manuel-who-else-wants-full.html

http://www.abeautifulmess.com/photography-tips-and-inspiration.html

http://www.abeautifulmess.com/2012/02/5-tips-for-great-indoor-photos.html

http://www.abeautifulmess.com/2011/09/5-tips-on-photographing-your-home.html

On the website of Holly of  http://www.decorateblog.com there is an online course about blogging. I would like to join this course in autumn.

For a few days I have been occupied with the website Etsy which is specialised on the buying and selling of handcrafted products. I heard about the website Etsy from several people and was at first reluctant to use this platform.  I now decided to give it a try after talkig to Dinah Smutny of Lilesadi. She said that for her company the exposure on Etsy brought many good contacts and very good sales. I also indulged deeply into the Etsy Seller handbook, which I find useful not only for Etsy but for online sales in general (later I will apply this knowledge also to the Store here on http://www.ninalevett.com/store). Here is the link:

http://www.etsy.com/blog/en/2012/the-seller-handbook/

I have learned that it is especially useful to make closeup shots of the items,  so that the client gets a hand-on feel of what he is buying. The product shot should replace the product in a real shot and should gvie a “real idea” of the product as it will be used in the buyer’s home . I also liked the idea of shooting atmospheric shots (stylized room view that show the everyday use of the concerned objects). In this case we did a flower arrangement and set a complete table decoration to give an idea how a dinner party could look with Nina Levett tableware.

Since my new inspirational blog is called Neonjunky, I wanted to use neon colors for the shooting. Together with my two helpers (Nora Schmoll and Tamara Koblizek) I got out all my fabrics and we sorted out everything so we could find suitable fabrics for the shooting. We looked for inspirational photos on Pinterest and showed them to Katarina Niznanska (the florist), who then made the wonderful flower designs on these photos.

http://pinterest.com/ninalevett/pins/

You can see some impressions of this wonderful day on the photos above. This is the new Etsy shop: NinaLevett.



My new sofa was delivered a few weeks ago. Actually it is not new. I bought the sofa Sofa Tufty Time about 5 years ago. It came with a standard fabric, as I had bought it off a showroom exhibition at a lower price: the fabric was orange and dark grey.

The children love the sofa. They jump on it even though they are already 9 and 10 years old. The fabric was therefore already torn. But there is another reason why I wanted to re-do the sofa: I am pregnant. It is no secret that pregnant women start to “build their nest”.
In many sleepless nights I started my investigations. I went into the internet and found many blogs sharing tutorials on how to make good use of spaces. As much as I fell in love with the idea of re-styling the apartment, I immediately felt that this was also a professional opportunity. I had done a lot in the area of textile design lately but nothing that we could “test” for private use.
I then ordered the fabric at the upholsterer. When he delivered the textiles I was surprised how many fabrics were necessary and how big they were. There were 6 furniture pieces that I wanted to re-do at the same time. For the Tufty Time sofa two of the fabrics were about 10 m2. They are so big because the sofa consists of so many folded parts.
It took a few weeks to finish the print. There were so many small and large pieces and I developed different ornaments and patterns for each of them (one for each arm-rest, one for the back, one for the front, etc.).
It was difficult to make the pattern large enough to fit to the design of the large sofa.
It was the first time I made a really big pattern repeat. It was a sort of table with 2 rows and 3 columns in which I made the design. I had to print 6 screens to finish one repeat, and then add the next 6 screens to continue the pattern, etc.
I think it paid off. The pattern I created fits to the pregnancy: flowers and embryos interwoven together.
Please comment if you like these designs.