Interview with Loes van Oosten, Guest Expert for May in the Textile Design Lab
Loes van Oosten is an illustrator and designer from the Netherlands who is joining us this month as our guest expert in the Textile Design Lab. In addition to making her own art, Loes also teaches workshops on stamp making and will be sharing some of her stamping techniques with us in a tutorial later this month. We will be sharing an excerpt from this training on Pattern Observer so stay tuned for that!
Today we invite you to get to know Loes a little better, learn about what inspires her and lessons learned along the way in the launch of her business. Enjoy!
Please tell us a bit about your design background/career path.
Even as a child I have always been very creative and observant. I used to turn on the radio in my room and created all sorts of things from drawings to building furniture and making dresses for my dolls.
After secondary school it was a logical step for me to go to a tailoring school where I learnt the fine details of making clothes. I loved being behind my sewing machine and to realize my ideas. When I graduated from secondary school I decided to develop myself as a product designer and went to the Design Academy. My graduation project at that time was a clothing line based on the psychological effects of colour on humans, this also included the store concept. This was a project where product design and my tailoring skills came together.
After graduation I started my working life as a Visual Merchandiser in the fashion industry. I then spent 10 years working as a Visual Merchandiser at IKEA Delft the pilot store, in the learning and development centre of IKEA. It was there that I felt the inner need to explore and express my self. At home I started to make drawings and I developed my illustration skills and style.
Could you talk about your journey in 2014 (what you described as “the year of exploring my true talents, beliefs and what drives me”) and what led you to launch your own business?
7 years ago, whilst pregnant with my eldest son I suffered from symphysis pubic dysfunction, where I could hardly walk. From that moment on I went into survival mode, focusing on the care of my 2 children, working, lack of sleep and a tough rehabilitation schedule made me run out of energy and it ended up in a burn out 3 years ago. I was not able to think clearly anymore and felt empty inside. At that point I began a journey from my head to my heart, where I began to search for what drives me and my talents. I found out that I am esthetic driven and that I am interested in connecting with people. In order to open up my heart I started drawing, creating hand made stamps and paper cuts. From January 2014 I started to share my creative processes and work with the people around me and on social media. I received so many nice positive responses and even requests for selling my art that I decided to start my own business as an illustrator in 2015. A step that I took based on trust and self-confidence.
Could you tell us a bit about your make your own stamp workshops? Where did that idea originate?
Giving workshops was for me a logical step. At IKEA I was used to sharing my skills and presenting in front of groups. I knew I felt comfortable meeting new people, to inspire them and to bring their creativity to life.
During my workshop ‘make your own stamp’ I take people with me into my world. I guide on what materials one can use and teach carving and stamping tips and tricks.
My aim with every workshop is to pamper the participants with a complete afternoon out. Good company, a good cup of coffee, home baked cake and learning some thing new that you can also do at home. It gives me enormous pleasure when I see that my participants exceed their own expectations that they have ‘created’ something which they never thought even possible.
What have been some of the challenges and exciting moments in launching your business? Do you have any advice for designers who are currently going through this process or about to embark on a new business venture?
My biggest challenge was to learn to trust on my creativity and talents.
It took me a year to transform myself from a maker into a creative entrepreneur.
I postponed the start of my company for a long time because I was afraid. Afraid to show and promote my designs (questioning am I good enough?), afraid to fail (will I manage to get enough assignments?). The use of Social media helped me a lot to open up and to share my work. This medium gave me the opportunity to explore the creative world I wanted to be part of. The responses from my followers gave me a good insight of the opportunities available as an illustrator. It was there after I finally wrote a business plan. Writing this plan was a tough cookie but it was worth it. I was able to explore my market, customers, developed both a marketing and a financial plan.
My advice for future creative entrepreneurs is to explore your talents, strengths and weaknesses. Write a business plan, make choices and try to be realistic, however most of all focus on the opportunities and believe in yourself! Do what makes you happy!
Tell us a bit about your design process. What media/design tools do you like to use?
My design process always starts with a piece of paper and a pencil. I love making beautiful things with my hands and the feel of the texture of the paper. I am patient, precise and can work focused like a monk for hours. This way I am close to my creative soul and it brings me in a state of creative meditation.
I make hand made stamps, block prints, silkscreen prints, paper cuts and dip pen drawings. When I have finished my work by hand, I then make a digital scan of it. In Illustrator and Photoshop I make small adjustments, scale objects and place it in a composition or pattern. I strive to stay as close to the original as possible and to keep the hand made feel of the design.
The materials I use vary on the technique. My favorite ink to draw and paint is Acrylic Artists Ink from Daler Rowney. For my paper cuts I use a craft knife with blade number 11.
For my hand made stamps I carve with an Abig or Speedball gush. The rubber I use is from the brand Speedy Carve and my favorite ink is the multi purpose versa Craft ink.
Where do you gather inspiration for your work?
Nature is for me a big inspiration and makes me wonder. The rhythm of a fern, the fine construction of a feather or the perfect spiral of a cochlea is like magic to me.
Before I begin a new project, I first like to study my object like a scientist. Besides nature I love Scandinavian design and illustrations and color use from the 50’s. Daily life and nature inspires me by choosing my subjects. Books that inspire me are mostly vintage. My favorite subjects are nature historic drawings, cookbooks and old children’s books.
Who are your favorite designers (past or present) and why? What about them has inspired you or influenced your work?
My favorite illustrators are Abner Graboff, Dutch illustrator Sieb Posthuma and Geninne D. Zatklis.
The 50’s illustrations of Abner Graboff I like purely because of the simple and funny style that he used together with the use of color blocks combined with line drawings.
The Dutch illustrator Sieb Posthuma makes beautiful line drawings with ink and uses a variation of different illustration techniques.
I admire illustrator and designer Geninne D. Zatklis from New Mexico. Her work is detailed, her style is very steady and she uses a lot of different craft techniques. Every thing she makes is beautiful! I have been following Geninne’s art blog for a couple of years now, and I have learned that you do not have to stick to one technique as long as your style is consistent.
What advice have you received in your career that has stayed with you or influenced you? Do you have any words of advice for aspiring designers trying to build successful careers of their own?
The best advice I received was, stop planning and start doing it! It doesn’t have to be perfect!
My advice to you is, give yourself time to develop your skills and self-confidence.
Believe in your talents, focus on your strengths and follow your bliss.