📖 ☕️

I finished reading 📖 Just Kids by Patti Smith. What a beautiful read 💖 As I was reading it, the book reminded me of my uni years and final year, working on final project. My friend Sarune @00instant00noodles00 loved Patti Smith. We worked in her flat on finishing touches of our projects, running on 4h sleep, tons of 🚬, coffee and  sometimes 🍻 as we were drawing and sleeping in turns in between we were blasting Patti Smith Because The Night (belongs to looovers, because the night belongs to lust 🎶 because the niiiiight belongs to lovers because the night belongs to us). And as I was finishing the book, thinking about drawing, process, reflection, connection with people, friends, life, what’s important, where inspiration comes from, how things are so unpredictable and intertwined, this song just became so right and perfect for my life in this moment :) 🎵 📚 ✏️ Just Kids.

patti smith and sarune by andsmilestudio viktorija semjonova

Networks and connections

The other day  I went to a panel talk themed Networks. It made me very curious how other creatives and especially freelancers who work on their own find communities to be part of or if they have a support system in place. I did a poll on my instagram and 68% of people didn't have a community or support group. The ones who had support systems in place it was friends 75% and 25% were part of organisations. It was interesting to see that exactly 50% had support systems in place online and the other half offline. 

When I started my career I was pretty much on my own. I didn't know any illustrators (all my uni friends had change of heart or were workin in house) or makers who were making money from this and couldn't ask for advice.  I started selling on etsy and I used teams and forums section a lot. And went for meet ups organised by Etsy where I met several people who became my close friends but our relationship started as sharing experience of being creatives/makers. I also started selling at Crafty Fox Market (pop up Markets) where I met a lot of like minded people (some of whom I knew from Etsy). They also organised some social meet ups where people could come in and mingle, which was super fun! As my career developed and I took it more into real life I made some connections but also I kept in touch with lots of people who I found through instagram. In the beginning all the support network was more unorganised and sporradic. 

But couple of years into my freelance career and after attending numerous business talks I became part of business club (we named it that way ;) with a photographer and pattern designer. We met once in two months in person, talk business plans, vent fears, dream big and give each other advice or just listen. It was the most important thing. All of us were approximately on the same level in development of our careers, we were making money in different ways and our fields were slightly different. Which meant we could give each other a different view on things but still understand every aspect of the business and creative side of things. We have stopped meeting now as our lives and careers became busier.

At the moment I'm part of several groups. First is my friends who I met through Etsy and Crafty Fox, we are good real life friends but can always rely on each other for advice, support or just venting. 

I'm part of a small online group of illustrators (we are based in different places and some of us have never met in real life). Some of us are based in the same cities and we can meet up and talk business or recommend each other for jobs or just overload on coffee and falafels. But we talk all things creative and business, burn outs, contracts, money, negotiation, health. From which chairs to get and what kind of excercises to do for wrist or back pain to how much to charge for jobs and what to look out for in contracts. The most important part of this group is the community and support system. We are ready to lift each other up and celebrate each other achievements and milestones. We are there as friends and colleagues and not as competition. 

I work from a shared studio Kindred Studios, I'm in the room with 6 other people who different things but Kindred Studios is  a community where you can talk to people, make friends and connections. For me it's such a joy to be working alongside other creative people on daily basis.

I'm also part of The Assosiation of Illustrators  (any illustrator can join, you don't have  to be UK based). I don't have an agent and they provide a lot of incredible useful resourses including portfolio reviews, help with pricing and contracts. I strongly recommend considering joining them.

Here are some tips to keep in mind if at the moment you feel a bit isolated in your work, they all are based on my experience and are extremely subjective and in general some thoughts on the subject.

📺 Both internet based and real life based communities are equally valid.

If you live in a remote place with no like minded people around you or don't have the opportunity to join your local network because of accessibility or meeting times don't feel that the only way to build support system is to meet people face to face. Choose whatever works for you and your situation, don't feel like you have to do one or another

🙋🏼One person and you is already a network/team :) 

👯Reach out to people who are in the same place as you in their careers. 

If you know of (online or offline) people who are in the same place as you in their careers or are interested in the same things as you, they might feel as isolated as you and want to have that connection both personal and business. Growing together, supporting each other and lifting each other up is an incredible feeling and also incredibly helpful, you can share your experiences and find out shortcuts. It's a great adventure and it's easier and more fun when you have people you can rely on and people you can support.

Be active locally and online

Find local etsy/market anything group. Go to talks, meet ups, join online chats and live streams, FB groups and connect with people on instagram.

Consider getting a studio space

If you feel lonely and isolated consider becoming part of a collective, finding a studio space or a co working space. Some of us work better on our own and some of us need people around us but you will never know without trying and you may make some friends along the way.

Join professional network

Does your profession has an association or maybe a huge FB group? Maybe joining them will benefit you.

Talk to people

Be it online or in real life. We are all people and we all make connections and friends somehow. If you want to say something - say it, if you know someone who might light someone else's work - share the love. I personally believe it takes time to find likeminded people (it certainly took a while for me) but even the most fleeting of connections can be so meaningful. There could be people with who you just chat on instagram about Queer Eye occassionally and there can be people with who you are chatting on daily basis. Both are important.

Don't look for validation from outside

Build it from within. Please do seek constructive cryticism and reviews but do not let anything from outside to affect your personal and professional self worth. I am a strong believer that if you love doing something no one can tell you that you shouldn't draw/crochet/dress making. And sometimes our work doesn't reflect our taste and that's where your support system will help you grow but they can never replace your inner voice which will push you further in your career. 

Last but most important..

Be kind to yourself and people around you. There is space for everyone, we are not competition we are peers. ✊🏻✊🏼✊🏽✊🏾✊🏿

Some resources (a lot of them were recommended by lovely people on instagram, THANK YOU!):

Local Etsy Teams (if you are selling on etsy)

London Local Etsy Team (they are a fabulous bunch)

In Colourful Company

One Girl Band

The Association of Illustrators

Ladies Wine Design

Creative Mornings

Women of Illustration

Freelancing Females

Freelance Circle

SheSays

Instachat

And many MANY more amazing places. Please comment below more networks. And what is your story?

Porcelain Jewellery Making Workshop with Kinska At Mellisa Flagship Store

The other day I was lucky enough to attend a workshop run by talented ceramicist and artist Kinska at Melissa London Flagship Store

 

kinska
kinska workshop at melissa

I've been a fan of Kinska and her beautiful ceramic creations for a long time, as well as plastic and beautiful Melissa shoes, so it was an absolutely perfect pairing of the workshop and location.

kinska workshop ceramics
kinska porcelain

Kinska taught us how to create beads from porcelain and think outside of the box in terms of shapes and sizes, it was quite easy as we were inspired and surrounded by her work.

ceramic snake cute
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I made a snake bead and some plain tiny beads to match. Can't wait to see them fired! snake

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Thank you so much for the workshop Kinska and for having us in your beautiful shop Melissa!

Girl Power! 🌸✊🏻✊🏼✊🏽✊🏾✊🏿

Girl Power Print is one of my most popular products and one which started as a tribute to women for 8th of March International Women's Day. I decided to create an illustration featuring all the amazing women whom I admire, who inspire me, who remind me every day to keep going, who empower me and show me the way ;) Past & present. Real and fictional. That's my tribute :)

 After researching each woman I cried, I felt all the feelings, I felt both invincible & vulnerable, unbreakable and optimistic. 💪🏻💪🏼💪🏽💪🏾 One illustration is not enough space to fit all the fantastic women and I already plan to do another one. Please drop a line here with women who inspire you. 

Girl Power Illustration by viktorija semjonova andsmilestudio
Source: http://shopandsmilestudio.com/products/gir...

Olive Bowers

International Women's Day is this Sunday, 8th of March.  I'm a feminist and I would like to dedicate this week to thinking & drawing some inspiring, outspoken, brave women who in one way or another are making our society more equal and a better place for everyone. It's just my ode to awesome kick ass babes who come in many shapes & forms.

I would love to start with amazing, brave, fierce, smart, outspoken surfer Olive Bowers (who's 13 years old).

Olive wrote an open letter to Tracks magazine (surfer magazine) tackling objectifying of women in the magazine (both online & printed). 

I would subscribe to your magazine if only I felt that women were valued as athletes instead of dolls. This change would only bring good.
— Olive Bowers

Olive, you are a superstar, please continue to be awesome!  

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You can read her full open letter here

You can read her full open letter and a very poor reply from an editor of Tracks magazine here