Merry Christmas, everyone! I hope you're having the most wonderful, the coziest and the most relaxing Christmas ever. I know I can definitely use a good break before diving into work again. Even though I know I say this every year, this year went by SO fast! It feels like it was Christmas 2017 just five minutes ago. What is time?! I plan to be sharing more on my blog again in 2019 and I'll be sending out a newsletter, too! Sign up here if you like. Happy Holidays! Lots of love, Anke.

Motivation Poster & My New Newsletter!

When I was in primary school I got REALLY into penpals. I had at least ten and I was writing and receiving letters pretty much every single day. Not surprisingly, this is when my love for stationery started, too! Ads for penpals were usually at the back of kids magazines but I also roped kids I met on holiday into becoming my penpals. Even when everyone was on the internet, I was exchanging snail mail with people I knew online. I loved writing the letters and making my own envelopes, adding stickers and little details. And I LOVED receiving post, too - I still do!

Nowadays I rarely have the time or patience to write proper letters, partly due to being busy and partly because after drawing all day I don't feel like also using my hand to write (plus, I write super slowly). But I still love sending birthday presents to friends in other countries - including lots of little gifts, wrapping them, decorating the box, etc.
It's similar with my Etsy orders, I love making everything cute so that when you open your order it's like receiving a gift!

Why am I telling you all this? Because these were the things I was thinking about when I decided to start my newsletter. I don't want it to be just list of 'news'. I want it to be like sending a letter/present to a friend. With lots of care about the details so that it's really fun to receive and open my emails.
It doesn't have to be one-sided if you don't want it to be - you can email me back with comments, suggestions and questions. After ten years of being an illustrator some things can seem really obvious even when they're not. So don't hesitate sending in your questions and I'll do my best to answer your questions and include a Q&A at the bottom of each newsletter.

In addition to that, I want the newsletter to be about motivation and productivity because I love those topics and many people joined in my '100 Days Of Productivity' challenge which I didn't expect! I think they're useful topics for everyone, whether you have a lot of projects you would love to do or whether you just want to get stuff done efficiently so you can have more time off.

That's why I've illustrated a free printable Motivation Poster for you, wohoo! If you sign up to my newsletter you will be taken to a page with the free downloads, there's both a colour and a b&w (which looks cool on coloured paper, I think) version. I hope you like it and I'm excited to start sending you my newsletters soon!

Cincinnati Gives / Raising Generous Kids

I love doing editorial illustrations, and I think this is one of the sweetest ones I got to draw so far! Cincinnati Gives is an annual magazine produced by Cincinnati magazine and the article is about getting children involved in helping with charity work. Here's a peek into my process: As you can see, I initially submitted two different pencil sketches for the art director to choose from. Then I inked the illustration on paper, scanned it and coloured it digitally. (The last image is a screenshot from the article on the Cincinnati Magazine website , you can read it here!). Cincinnati Gives  is out now.

Shop / Spies Print

I've added a new print called Spies  to my Etsy Shop, just in time for Christmas Shopping! This is an updated illustration of a screenprint I made back at university. A lovely lady called Alison saw this print in a cafe in Edinburgh and asked if I had any more available since it reminded her of her daughter. Since the screenprints were made back in 2005 they're long gone, but it inspired me to make an updated version and turn it into a giclee print. It was so strange and interesting to return to work I made a long time ago and so nice to 'fix' some things and make them better. Do you ever re-visit older work of yours?

Freelance Life / Printable To-Do List

Hello! It's Sunday and I want to check in as my first week of my '100 Days Of Productivity' is almost completed. When I wrote the blog post last week, I kind of came up with the challenge in that moment, to keep myself more accountable during the cold and grey season. Especially since it was so short notice, I was surprised at how many people joined and printed out the chart from my blog post! It definitely motivated me to keep setting my alarm for 6am even though I was pretty tired as the week went along. And some sort of 24 hour stomach bug threw me off on Thursday and Friday. But it's ok, productivity isn't about being perfect and it definitely won't be perfect every day for 100 days.

I love seeing everyone's updates on Instagram stories so much! If you haven't joined yet, you can still start at any point. And if you're finishing your first week as well, let me now how it's going!

Here's another printable which is a week to-do list. It's always good to know what you want to/have to do in a week, so you can plan each day better. I kept it pretty simple so it works for everybody and you can use it in a way that works for you!

Download the free printable here: DOWNLOAD  •  PDF    TEMPLATE 

It's getting a lot colder now in London, and when I'm at my desk with blankets and a hot water bottle I can definitely use the extra push of this challenge. Thank you for keeping me motivated! Have a great week & remember to kick ass!

Freelance Life / 100 Days Of Productivity

The days are getting shorter, we're racing towards the end of the year and the urge to hibernate is real! Perhaps not  actual  hibernation but I find myself getting up later (it's just so cozy under the blankets, one more hour can't hurt, right?), skipping things on my to-do list, wasting time scrolling down Instagram and feeling a little more sluggish. It's been a busy year, maybe I should slow down and give myself a break? I think it would be totally fair enough. (And if that's your plan, go for it!)
Problem is, I have a whole bunch of projects and goals and things I really, really want to work on and what will make me happiest is to end the year with a lot of momentum and progress.

So I made the decision yesterday to start a  100 Days Of Productivity  challenge. The idea originally came from the study community on Tumblr: People were posting pictures of their work & workspace every day to hold themselves accountable and stick to good study habits. I find this concept really inspiring and of course it can be applied to anything, not just studying. You can (and should) make your own rules about what you want to accomplish and what productivity means to you. It should be fun!

Do you want to join the challenge? I made a printable chart where we can tick off each day that we've been productive. Yay! I love a good chart. And you can share your progress on social media if you want - I'n planning to post mine on Instagram stories.

My personal goal is to make sure I'm up before 6.30am every day and to stick to my daily to-do list without getting distracted by phone/internet/etc, double my productivity and get as many projects ticked off my list as I can!

You can start this at any time, but if you start with me tomorrow (22nd October 2018), the  100 Days Of Productivity  challenge takes us to the end of January and we will have started 2019 on a roll! Are you in?

Print out the free template  and you're ready to go:  

Behind The Scenes / How To Make A Travel Journal

I finished my travel journal! It's called Planes, Trains & Fireworks and documents James' and my trip to Toronto, Niagara Falls, Buffalo and Rochester. (It's available here!) Fitting bigger personal projects around illustration commissions is challenge so this took some time to complete, which is why I can't quite believe it's finally done and printed. Wohoo! I thought it would be fun to share some behind the scenes of the process! So here we go:

As you can see during our trip I just made very messy scribbles and notes in my sketchbook. When we're on holiday, James and I like to wake up, walk and explore all day (often 10 hours of more) and then fall into bed exhausted at the end of the day. There isn't ever much time to draw, let alone put effort into making a pretty sketchbook! This is an A5 Travelogue Handbook sketchbook, by the way.

Back home in London, I made a rough plan/storyboard for the travel journal I wanted to make. I went through the sketchbook I kept on holiday and roughly divided the content into pages. This time I used an A3 Seawhite Of Brighton sketchbook, because I needed the space!

Then I started to make sketches for the book. Since my original drawings were very basic, I used the photos I took on holiday as reference - for example for all the food we ate. Some things I googled as well, like images of chipmunks which I then drew a few times for practice. (This is a random A4 Leuchtturm lined notebook. The pages were perforated so I taped them with washi tape to make sure they wouldn't rip out).

At this stage I drew each page layout pretty neatly with a mechanical pencil onto A4 sized layout paper. It's pretty close to the final drawings, I only tweaked small details while inking.

The whole book is inked by hand on paper and hand-lettered, too. Ouch! This was the stage where my hand was really aching but it was also the most fun and satisfying part of the process. It's A4 Fabriano drawing paper, with a bit of texture. I love it because it makes the lines look so much nicer than smooth paper.

After scanning all 40 pages, I cleaned up any smudges in Photoshop and 'coloured' the pages (i.e. I added black areas and screentone). I also tweaked the layout, corrected typos/mistakes, added a few small things...) This  stage took a lot longer than I had expected. I printed out each page and taped them up on the studio wall so I could see my progress and also see how it would all look together!

During our trip I collected a lot of tickets, bits of paper, business cards etc which I scanned and turned into a repeat pattern for the endpapers of the book.

The cover was such a nerve-wracking thing because after all this work I wanted it to be something I would be 100% happy with. No pressure, right? Sometimes things are fun and ideas come easily, but with all this pressure I had zero ideas. I made so many different sketches, none of which worked, until I came up with this one. It wasn't until I draw the elements separately and moved them around that the final version came together.

Now it was time to put everything together in InDesign and to ask the printer to send over a lot of paper samples. I wanted the paper to be perfect as well, something beautiful with some texture that would make the final product beautiful and hopefully even more fun to read!
I then asked the printer to send me two printed proofs on different papers that I liked and ended up choosing Mohawk Superfine Eggshell paper (it's so lovely!).  I also realised that the illustration wasn't centred properly on the cover, so I fixed that before sending the travel journal off to print.

And that's the end of this very long story behind the making of PLANES, TRAINS & FIREWORKS. I love seeing/reading behind-the-scenes and hope you enjoyed this! There are more details and peeks inside here in my Etsy shop.

Schweizer Familie / Kids Protest


Another really fun editorial illustration for Schweizer Familie magazine. I love that commissions get me to draw things I may have never drawn otherwise - like this fun children's demonstration/protest!
Here's another peek into my process as well, showing the pencil sketch that I sent off for approval, the ink-on-paper illustration, and the final version (digitally coloured in Photoshop). The image at the bottom shows what the final illustration looks like in the layout. If you're interested in reading the whole article, there's an option to subscribe to the e-paper version of the magazine here:

Arlington Magazine / The Thing About CSAs


Hello & happy Monday! If you know me, you know that I LOVE vegetables, so drawing this illustration for the current issue of Arlington Magazine made me feel so lucky to be doing this as a job. My illustration is accompanying an article about the advantages and disadvantages of CSAs (weekly veg boxes), written by Holly Scudero.

The first image is the finished illustration, followed by the initial pencil rough I sent off to the art director. There was only one change I was asked to make, which was to change the cucumbers in my sketch to okras. I definitely think it's much better with the okras! All my illustrations are inked by hand on paper and I work pretty neatly, so the third image is just a scan of my ink drawing. Once the drawing is scanned, I colour it digitally and in this case I also added some hand-made watercolour texture to the big lettuce leaf. Finally, at the bottom you can see how the illustration looks in the layout of the magazine. Here's a link to the article as well, if you're curious!

I've already shared the illustration on my Instagram, but a blog is such a nice platform to share a bit about the process behind it and since I am determined to get back into blogging, this is one thing I am planning to share more of. Do you enjoy this kind of post? Suggestions are always welcome!

Exhibition / Isle Of Dogs


At the start of April we went to see the Isle Of Dogs Exhibition at The Store X in London. Like so many other artists and illustrators I know I'm a big fan of Wes Anderson, because, well, he's obviously amazing. His new film (Isle Of Dogs) was finally out at UK cinemas and this exhibition displayed 17 sets from the film and a lot of the puppets. It was incredible and so much bigger than I had ever hoped! Even though it was pretty busy, there was plenty of space for everyone to have a closer look at each set - each one was to detailed and beautiful.

I decided to finally share these pictures (which admittedly I've been meaning to do for weeks!) But hopefully that means most people have seen the film by now and it won't be full of spoilers. Even though the exhibition isn't on any longer, maybe it is fun to see a glimpse of it if you didn't manage to go?

Out And About / Kindred Studios Open Day

On Sunday I took the day off and we visited the Kindred Studios open day! My illustrator friend Viktorija has an amazing studio there (you can see her desk in the last photo) and I had visited the studios before so I knew this would be amazing. 

There are over 160 artists making all sorts of work in this huge Victorian building which used to be a school. From fashion designers to fine artists, architects, graphic designers, jewellery makers, sculptors, ceramicists, photographers and more. There was so much to explore. Lots and lots of inspiring work and just as inspiring workspaces - I loved seeing the details of everyone's space and who doesn't love a huge building pretty much filled with art materials! Not to mention the beautiful lighting inside the building and great views over London! 

Bt the end of the day I felt all inspired to go and re-organise my own little home studio. If you live in or near London, I definitely recommend checking out Kindred Studios on their next open day. It's such a magical place!