Friday, February 27, 2009

nina van de goor : artists who blog

Nina's blog:
Nina's shop:

Why did you decide to start a blog?

It’s kind of funny how my blog came into existence, cause I never really consciously decided I wanted to have one, I somehow just got started on New Year’s Eve of 2006. I had been reading creative blogs for some time then, but never thought I was able to do something similar. But that day I had made some photos of my home, and I wanted to share them with some people with a similar interest in interior decoration. And then I thought: why not put them on a blog?
From the moment I started, I quickly became an enthusiast and wanted to do it well. My skills were very, very limited, but somehow I got hooked and kept going with the blog, and during the process my blogging and photography skills improved some...

I guess from the beginning the blog had two main functions for me. In the first place, I wanted to develop my creativity and share that process with other people. I never went to art school or anything, and I didn’t know many people with an interest in art, craft and design. So I guess I was looking for some sort of community with similar interests. In the second place, the blog was a bit of an escape/playground area for me. When I started the blog, I wasn’t feeling too happy. I didn’t like my university education much anymore (but had to keep going), and felt I wanted to follow a more creative path. But I had no idea where to get started. Blogging helped me finding some sort of direction in that struggle, it became the playground where I could experiment with the creative thing, seeing if it worked for me, without abandoning university.

How did you come up with the name of your blog?

That’s another accidental one… When I started the blog rather out of the blue, of course it needed a name too. Back then I was blogging in Dutch, and as I wanted to write about art, craft and design, I came up with ‘Nina in vorm’, which more or less means ‘Nina in/on shape’. I never gave much thought to it, it was a bit of a silly name but at that time I just needed a quick name. But as it always happens: you easily get used & attached to it, so somehow ‘ninainvorm’ became some sort of a brand name that I started using in many different places: for my flickr account, for my etsy-shop…

The fun thing is that for me, ‘ninainvorm’ has actually lost its original meaning and has just become a new word that’s related to my creative stuff, it’s like a creative alter ego. But it’s always funny when people try to make something out of it, for example when they think ‘Nina Invorm’ is my name… It doesn’t have that much meaning, I just somehow got attached to the name.

How has blogging affected your work as an artist/designer?

Oh, a lot! The title of this interview series is ‘artists who blog‘, but I’d rather see myself as a ‘blogger who artists’ (if that would be a verb ;)). When I started the blog I only made rather ugly stuff. My development in my ceramic work runs rather parallel with the development of my blog, and it’s an ongoing development. I’m still learning about aesthetics, design, techniques… I learn from what I see on other blogs, but also in the process of working on my own blog: what works and what doesn’t, how can I realize the images that I have in mind? The feedback I get is also really important, it has definitely made my confidence grow.

I think one of the good parts of blogging is that you can do things at your own pace. When I started showing my own work on my blog, people sometimes said ‘you should sell it!’, but in the beginning I definitely wasn’t ready for that. But somehow the encouragement created some sort of basis of ‘hey, I could try that!’, and in the end, I started my etsy shop. I needed some time to grow, gain confidence and develop what I was doing, and my blog was an important part of that.

What are your favorite artist/designer blogs? Why?

Oh, I have quite a list of blogs I frequently visit… On my everyday-list are Bloesem, sfgirlbybay, Decor8 and design*sponge, for keeping up with what‘s happening. Then there are quite a few that I often look at for visual inspiration, such as Fine Little Day, Bliss, Emmas Designblogg, ellmania, fryd + design, smosch, Studio Violet, Oh Joy!, Meyer Lavigne… Then there are also a lot of blogs that I read for the great mix of images, text and personality: Yvestown, Door Sixteen, Tiny Red Design, SkinnyLaminx… And many, many more. I try to keep up with many, but I don‘t always succeed!

Do you have any advice for artists/designers who are starting a blog?

I‘d say take one step at a time… Take your time to develop your own style, you don’t have to have a big famous blog that everyone loves within a month. I see many blogs that keep recycling the same things and images (especially the ones on interior decoration), and I think that‘s rather boring. I also think it‘s a little too easy to just put a collection of pictures from interior decoration magazines online and call it ‘your blog’: it’s nicer if you can add some more to it, something personal, your own work or some vision.

When you start a blog, I think you have to take it seriously. There are already so many blogs out there (and a lot of good ones!), so if you want to add something to that you really have to work for it! ;) I see a lot of blogs get started enthusiastically, but within a few weeks or months it gets silent. I think a good blog should be updated at least once or twice a week, preferably more often, so that people can come back and find something new regularly. Blogging is super nice and very addictive, but if you want to do it well it also takes some time!

What has been the most positive and inspirational aspect of having a blog for you?

I think it’s being part of an online community with shared interests, with people all over the world that happen to love the same things you do. Also I think I wouldn’t have started an etsy shop without having my blog first, so the fact that I’m now selling my ceramics to people all over the world is another great aspect of having this blog. And finally, it’s a nice idea that many people come to my blog voluntarily to see what I’ve found or made… I never could’ve guessed that a few years ago!

What do you find the most difficult/most rewarding part of having a creative profession?

Since I’m still at university, this isn’t my full-time job, though I spend quite some time on it. I often fantasize about being a full-time ceramicist/designer though… What’s rewarding is easy: creating things is what I love, it’s exciting and I can’t even realize a small part of all the ideas I have in mind, so there’s always plenty more to discover. Also, I’m the kind of person who likes to work on her own projects, with a lot of freedom, so in that sense this kind of profession would work for me.
But there are difficult parts too. I think it will be very hard to make a living with what I do right now. I would have to make and sell so much more in order to make a proper living from it, and even if that were possible, I’m not sure if that would be very rewarding in the long run. I would have to start working like a little factory, producing much more than I currently do, and sometimes I’m worried that would end up being very boring. But I’d love to find out, so I hope to find out more about what it’s like having a creative profession after graduating from university…

Other than your blog, what has been the most effective way for you to promote your art/design?

Actually I haven’t done much more so far except blogging about it! But other blogs and websites writing about my work has really helped promoting my work too. I’m sometimes really surprised how people find me and my shop: the internet is such a strong medium. I wish I could do more wholesale, so that people would also find my work in real shops, but currently my production is just way too small. So currently people just have to find my online shop somehow! I hope to expand my little business a bit in the near future though…

How do you maintain a healthy work/life balance?

That’s hard sometimes, cause I want so much and I’m really at the beginning of all this, so I often feel I should grab every chance I get. But on the other hand I still have to work on my thesis for university, and I also have this little job in local politics, so sometimes it’s a bit hard to combine. I think a creative career is difficult to force, so I just try to work steadily on it and take it as it comes. I have many creative passions, and most of the time I don’t see them as work, so when I don’t have other obligations I work on them and enjoy them.

What are your main goals for 2009?

Mainly increasing my production capacity, so that I can finally start delivering to shops and update my shop a little more often! And I want to keep developing my creative skills and techniques. I’m really looking forward to learn more about screenprinting, and hope to find the time to make more collages. And I hope to finally finish university, so that I can seriously work on what comes next…

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