Friday, October 19, 2018

New Work // Pablo & Co // Dog accessories



Early this year we received a message from Loren, CEO of Pablo & Co. She was looking for some cool new prints to license for her dog accessory brand. For the new season, she was looking for some cool and quirky designs for dog raincoats, leashes, bandanas and harnesses. So much to choose from!

For the new collection, our Memphis Banana design and Ziggy Zag print made the cut. We licensed these prints to Pablo & Co with a non-exclusive license. Designs featured here can also be purchased via our Spoonflower fabric shop. If you'd like to create some stuff for your pup you can! We’ve been creating more and more designs for puppy brands the past two years and somehow we seem to be growing our fan base in the furry world. We just loved what Loren created with our designs. The full range of dog items: bow ties, collars, bandana’s and more are now available in her shop where her furry friend Pablo does most of the modeling. These images are so adorable! Cannot get enough of them.

If you are looking for some high-quality dog stuff, do take a look in this Australia based webshop. Maybe there’s something fun in there for your pup loving friend for Christmas as she just released the seasonal collection too. Enjoy!

These designs were licensed non-exclusively and are still available to license for your own brand. Want to know more about licensing, please send us a quick message. Or you can purchase the Memphis Banana or Ziggy Zag prints on fabric via Spoonflower.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

How I started my creative business // Reflecting on 7 years of being a creative entrepreneur // The first steps




Times have changed, instead of doing interviews about my designs I get asked to talk about running my business and how I started as a creative entrepreneur more and more often. Instead of replying to all those individual messages I thought it was about time to sit down and write a little something about the start of Little Smilemakers Studio.


My E-mail, Instagram and Facebook inboxes are filled with questions like; how did you start your business? What tips do you have for a starting creative like me? And you know, the questions seem so straight forward but the answer’s not that simple. So here you can ready a little something about my own experience as a designer.


The first steps
In 2011 I registered Little Smilemakers Studio as a new business. But things started way before that. When I was in design school I had so many ideas and projects I wanted to work on, and by the time I started out as a graphic designer here in The Netherlands (2004) I was working on all those projects at night after I got home from my job, which was less fulfilling then I had hoped it would be.

After two years of working full time I decided I wanted to specialize in Graphic design and Typography and went back to school. With a full time design job and classes 4 nights a week I still had this itch to create my own thing. I always felt I needed to find a way of expressing myself, pushing my boss and teachers boundaries time and time again. Because I didn’t have much time in between work, classes and school homework, I did not have much time to create my own stuff. I always needed to create, so carrying a camera along was the way to keep creative and true to myself. I always carried along a camera. First an analog Minolta, then my Lomo and after that the digital camera’s came. I captured everything in images.


A passive income
I worked at a design firm in The Netherlands where I had the chance to create the most amazing things, but sometimes, budget and time was restricted and we had to fall back on stock images. I started selling my first photographs on iStock. Images of Rotterdam and The Hague. Typical Dutch street scenes but also raw textures and details, rust, paint, decay. My photography finally had a purpose and it’s the balance between creating from the heart and making a living that challenges me, keeps me energized up until this day.

During my studies on the art academy I started freelancing. One of the first jobs I took on was creating Back-to-school items. Working on school accessories for kids was the start of my career in print designs. I started creating illustrations and surface pattern designs. All sketches and left over creations that didn’t make the final cut were added to my stock portfolio. This created a passive income for me. The foundation on which I could later on built my company.


The leap
After working for another design company for a few years I realized working for a boss was not for me. I missed the freedom to put my all into the job. I started as a graphic designer when things were all peachy but in 2010 the industry was one big mess and the graphic business pretty much collapsed. The design agency struggled with anxious clients and budget cuts. And the job got so stressful my fibromyalgia got so bad I couldn’t sit, stand, sleep, I was in pain 24/7. I knew it was time to leave and take the leap. I had gathered enough experience to know how I did not want to work so I though, what the hell, let’s do this.

You have to be a little naive to start your own business. At least you need to have the courage to think you can figure out, even though you’ve never come across so many challenges you’ll have to believe you can do it all. And so I did. And yes, I did have a lot of experience to take with me. But there was also so much I had yet to learn. And I was not healthy. I was struggling with my joints. But the decision to start my own business was such a relief. I never had to cross that line of physical exhaustion again. So I thought.


Taking on the first projects
Looking back I believe I was a pretty clever one starting out. I had a plan A, B and C. A passive income stream that was growing and now was enough to cover my basic expenses: mortgage, utilities and such. And the stock websites turned out to be a pretty handy tool to show businesses all over the world what I had to offer. I didn’t have to spend too much time on my own website because all my work was already out there to see. The first year I started working with companies from 18 different countries. I has to hire help every now and then. Pretty amazing when I look back on it. I worked with companies in home decor, textiles, kids fashion brands. The first year was definitely exciting! But it hasn’t been all easy.

The first year I was definitely high on the excitement of doing everything for the first time. New jobs coming in. new collabs. New finished work. But with 18 different countries comes 18 different cultures. 18 different ways in which to approach my clients. Working in the creative field is fun, but it’s also being your own accountant, design strategist, trend watcher, you have to become a writer, content manager, communication specialist. It’s a job allright. The creative field is not one to become rich over night. And that was never the goal anyway. I am not a big spender and want to know everything I need to run my business. I am very reluctant to hire help. I want to know what it’s about, and try to teach myself whatever is needed to resolve the problems that I come across.


The ultimate tip
Over the years I have done writing courses, online marketing classes, sales and business coaching sessions, I spend hours and hours on researching copy cats to fight giant corporations using my work without paying. An ongoing investment for my business. It’s been fun but mostly it has been hard work. With determination and time you can do it! The only quick tip I can give you here; if you’re not up for the task, don’t start. If this seems like a hassle to you; keep working for your boss and let him take care of it all. Sometimes the rough and the rude gets to me. But one thing I know for sure: I will always keep creating. And if you have this all consuming itch for creation like I do. You’ll be fine. Trust in your skill and create from the hearts and there will be no one like you. And that’s exactly what the world needs.

Friday, October 5, 2018

Rusty Pink Autumn // New surface pattern designs available for fabric & art licensing



Fall must be my fave time of the year. It is filled with small rituals and as an autumn child this colorful season is my personal fave. When you realize the last rays of sun have to be soaked up fully. You go for walks in the forest to see the leaves turn into bright autumn colors and feed yourself with inspiration and at the same time calm the mind.

The forest is filled with inspiration: acorns, chestnuts, berries, toadstools and leaves in all shapes and sizes. I love the autumn lights, harsh and bright, waking me up in the morning. Autumn, I love it. And it’s my fave time of the year to create new print designs. Inspired by more earthy tones. Every year around this time I create new designs for the autumn season and an exclusive presentation is sent out to our customers who have the first pick when it comes to licensing exclusive designs. But we also look at some old prints and turn them into autumn versions: we add new colors and new scales to our Spoonflower shop, create some cool new palettes.

This year we create the Rusty Pink collection. With typical woodland, wild life and forest themes but also some more on trend prints like the Llama design featured here. And this fall animal prints; leopards and panther designs are it. So we added some of those too. Combined with our abstract designs they make a very nice broad collection to create home decor, fashion pieces for your little ones but also some on trend items for your own more mature wardrobe. So much to choose from! Take a look into our Spoonflower shop and let us know what you think of this new palette.

Designs featured here are available for licensing and on fabric and wallpaper in our Spoonflower shop. Click on the titels to get redirected to our Spoonflower shop.
Sunflowers - Llama Cactus - Rusty Leaopard - Dashes and Strokes


Wednesday, September 26, 2018

New Work // Halloween fabric collection




Fright night is coming! And we are preparing for a night filled with spook and yikes! We just had to add another batch of designs for this year's halloween. We added a series of skulls for both boys and girls. Some geometric halloween animals that are just to die for. Super cute as I may say to myself...

and of course some witches, vampires and scary shizzle is now up in our Spoonflower shop. If you would like to license some of these prints for your business just reach out and send us a quick message. Traditionally October 31 is the day to remember the dead. But nowadays it is a time to dress up and have fun. And we love to see what our fabric customers are creating this year. Fun pumpkin leggings, black cat dresses. We've seen some cool pupkin dog accessories pop up. So many cute creations made with our Little Smilemakers Spoonflower fabric.

And even though this holiday has turned into this crazy dress up party world wide, it is also a day to remember those that passed. Enjoy this joyful holiday, celebrate and remember the life of those whom have passed and left a mark in your life or have influenced your being. Happy Halloween!

Thursday, September 13, 2018

How to set new goals when you’re forced to redirect your attention and energy // spoiler alert: haven’t got the answer yet



It has been a while since I posted something a little more behind the scenes of the studio. The past year has been pretty much a deep pit and it’s pretty hard to find something positive and uplifting to share about business when yours just went down the drain. But I think there have been so many 'after' and 'reflection' stories, it's time to speak up when things are in fact still dark and fuzzy.

In 2016, I signed the papers for the new business: opening a shop and starting my own fabric production has been a long time goal, and I was working my way up to this moment for a couple of years when I decided I had to share the energy and workload to build a strong foundation for this new venture. And so I did. I sat around the table with my new business partner for over a year until it felt like we had talked over and tackled most bumps in the road. We signed contracts, looked for a place to rent with an office space, storage and storefront. And we set everything in motion to get things going. I invested all my savings for renovations, production, decorating the new space. And it was a good energy, things were moving, things got checked from our list. The website was ready to be filled with new products and our store was finished. Then my colleague flaked. After giving a go on our first fabric collection to our producer, a day later she told me she wanted to step away from the business, and she already started to put everything in my name.

The first cracks
During the renovation of our new space already noticed the fair of making decisions for my partner. We had written down our thoughts and expectations before the start but I noticed she did not keep her end of the deal. There had been some discrepancies. Trust was broken. Eventually, I found out numbers were a mess too, and I was glad my gut instinct told me to pull the plug right away. I could not run a store, creative studio and keep busy with productions all by myself, so after our shop finished in February, we only stayed open for two months until things came to an end. We hadn’t even sent out our grand opening invites yet.

The goal
Some of you might know I struggle with fibromyalgia. For me finding another way to earn a living, without having to create every day (but not giving up on the drawing either) was my goal to start this venture. My fingers are not very reliable so I cannot count on my hands to keep drawing for another 10 years. Working on a more sufficient income stream was one of the reasons to get into the process of starting a Little Smilemakers fabric production. My designs are copied so quickly, this was a good way to keep new prints private and only expose them as a finished product. Stay afloat as a designer and keep making a creative living.

The shop was closed a year ago already and has left me empty. Only a giant pit filled with smelly leftover shit to deal with was left. This week my accountant closed the 2017 books. And I had to face it all over again. The financial loss, the financial insecurity that came with investing so much time and energy into the shop and not building the studio. Trusting someone who completely went Houdini on me was another thing to deal with. I felt like I lost my spirit. My little fighter mentality. My determination.

Recovering from scattered dreams
If you have your mind set on something, you take all steps necessary. It is a clear vision that drove me towards building a store for years. And if someone suddenly takes away that future, that vision, and that goal, pretty much everything is up for discussion. It was my own decision to stop, and I think it was the right one. But I felt forced. It is not what I pictured. I was thrown back to my bare foundation. Felt so lonely emptying out the shop, by myself, on a rainy afternoon. And I haven’t shaken off this feeling yet, not even after a full year has gone by. Yeah, sorry this story will not be a very inspiring one. But I receive so many comments from other aspiring designers. Questions about how to successfully build a business. Well, I have felt like a fraud. I don’t have a clue. If anything it is all hard work, determination, setting goals and stay focused, but that’s not all, clearly.

Getting up again
A year has passed, and I am still making up for the financial loss and probably have to keep on doing so for the upcoming two years. My health is getting worse, so long working days are pretty much impossible. That, and the fact that this entire thing has cost me so much energy I can come home completely exhausted after just doing some groceries. So this is not an inspiring story. Just a real one. And I still feel very much stuck in that pit. I have more ‘good’ days that a few months ago. (Breaking your heart is not a very awesome thing to deal with during all this either, minor detail) But I think writing down this story might help some of you that are also not quite ready yet. Stuck in some darkness, feeling lost. Lonely and defeated. Usually, you get out with some big eye-opening epiphany and you look back on it think I survived. There are so many stories they actually make me feel worse, I am simply not there yet. I am not even remotely gone processing this. And that’s OK.

The future
What’s up next is seeing something in my future again. Something that makes my heart tick. Creating a new goal. Going toward something meaningful. It’s times like these when you are thrown to the bare version of yourself. You have to trust your own foundation, and maybe that is what makes it harder, when your foundation isn’t all warm and steady, you have to get that light on all by yourself, it takes a while. I noticed some of the people I had been close with suddenly make me feel worse. They kept asking me why it would feel this mayor. Why I couldn’t just get over it and be happy with what I have. I heard so many things that just made me feel even worse, made me feel I had to apologize for feeling shitty. So at this point, I have stripped my circle to the bare minimum. I have to be OK with myself first before someone tells me they're not OK with where I am right now. If there is any advice I would give at this point is that you can do it alone. It is pretty awesome to get some ‘happy’ injected from others but don’t make other people make you feel even heavier when you’re down. I put some people on hold. Not because they are bad people. I just had to put my own needs first.

I hope with all this said; some of you might find the OK in not feeling OK. For every bad trip, you need time to recover. I am so not there yet. At all. But with the 2017 books closed this now finally feels like a new chapter. Slowly things are moving towards the right direction.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Sources of inspiration // Bouldering // New free climbing inspired art, home decor and fashion items



As some of you might know already I have been struggling with fibromyalgia for as long as I can remember. As a kids I was pretty competitive, I loved sports, and I loved pushing my body. Winning that medal! I used to do gymnastics but when I was a teen my knees and ankles, my wrists, all got in the way of performing on a high level. Eventually I stopped all together and for a few years I didn’t so anything.

8 years ago I met my friend Ashni who is also a singer, you might know her from her number 1 hit single Wanna be close. She’s pretty popular at the moment, anyway where was I? Oh yes, my friend Ashni also worked as a dance instructor and during her classes I got back to moving again, enjoying a workout, without struggling as much with my own limits. Dancing became my way to unload and relax. I still love to dance, but unfortunately when my friend decided to focus on her music career I never found anyone so full of life and other dance classes just weren’t as awesome as I was used to.

Finding a new passion
Because I really need to keep my muscles strong due to my fibromyalgia I joined the gym. Oh my lord how much I dreaded to go there. There is absolutely no part of my that get’s excited doing these kinds of work outs. Staying fit is a struggle when you’re doing something you don’t like to I quit and thankfully right after that, a met an awesome dude person who introduced me to climbing. I always thought climbing would be way to heavy for my joints, but after a few tries I noticed it was much more a full body work out that just killing my hands. So I decided to give climbing a go.

I live in a pretty flat country so outdoor rock climbing is not much of an option. And I have to admit the boulders in the climbing gym are way easier on my hands, so climbing indoors has it’s perks. I have been climbing for a few months now and every time I leave the climbing gym I am energized. And my god, it has been a while I found something new that get’s me excited. So as you can imagine there are quite some new bouldering inspired new designs coming up.



Bouldering accessories
I started with some geometric prints, patterns for fabric and wallpaper created in Illustrator. But I also love the abstract shapes and colorful boulders so I decided to create a new series of photographic designs that are available on wall art, home decor like pillows and blankets, tech items like laptop sleeves and iPhone cases like the ones featured. And some really cool fashion pieces and accessories. I love the Society6 leggings. They are comfy, perfect for lazy nights on the couch but the fabric is strong enough to use for bouldering too! Yesssss perfect for bouldering those bouldering leggings. How awesome is that!

Check all bouldering items in our Society6 shop and let me know which ones you like best so we can make even more cool bouldering products. We would love a collab with a climbing gear brand. So if you have any connection please reach out!

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

New Work // Maxomorra Fall Collection 2018



This week new Maxomorra prints for their fall collection were launched. The new Plus Collection contains a range of on trend illustrated print designs. We license our prints to this Swedish organic kids clothing company for two years now and as you expect from us: the new collection contains fun, minimal and colorful new Little Smilemakers prints.

We already launched over 10 design the past two years and we especially loved the past two spring and summer designs. They have been a hit! And even though it is a hot summer day here in the studio, it is time to release some new fall designs. Time for new prints!

We can already show you these two hand drawn original Little Smilemakers designs. Our sweet bunny print, which has been a hot seller at Spoonflower for the past three years, and what do you think of this new vintage car design? Inspired by Maaike's own Fiat, she's a little nutty for that one. How much fun to see this cool vintage style car illustration on the new Maxomorra range! Curious to see the rest of the fall collection? Stay tuned if you are an animal lover. There is still more to come! Super excited to see all reactions on these first two designs. Leave a comment and let us know what you think!

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Made with Little Smilemakers Studio Fabric // Top 5 July 2018



It is so exciting to see a finished project after working hard on a new collection of design or a series of illustrations for our clients. But with finished fabric designs it is even a bigger surprise to see what customers create. To see how final products evolve when people put their own creative energy in there is amazing.

If you browse around on Etsy or Instagram for some kids fashion you are very likely to stumble upon some Little Smilemakers prints. Most creatives that use our fabrics have a small home based businesses sell their projects via internet and tag us via Instagram. But there are also some bigger fish out their using our Spoonflower designs for their business. So we see some amazing things pop up in our feed every month. We love how Little Smilemakers creations are the foundation for other creatives all around the world to work with. So here is our monthly blog post that features some creative results from Canada, Germany, UK and The United States. This month we selected a whole bunch of summer faves turned into the most gorgeous items. Kids fashion, woman’s accessories and fun dog accessories, so much to choose from! We have selected a some cool bags, some on trend kids items and some creations made for you four legged friend! Take a look and see if there is something for your little one too. Have a look and enjoy our July selection.

1 // Daily Objects
Next to phone accessories, laptop cases and notebooks, Daily Objects now also launched a new collection of tote bags, hand bags, laptop sleeves and pouches in different sizes with beautiful high quality leather detailing. We love those new bags! They make a perfect birthday gift. In Holland they have banned plastic bags, so a cool shopper is a must but this Love bag must be our fave. They also added some cool home decor to their range of products. Our prints are now also available on pillows. Oh yes and of course Daily Objects offers world wide shipping on their products too. Click here for their collection.

2 // Thea Fashion
This German clothing boutique has a soft spot for clean Scandinavian designs. We stumbled upon their creations on Instagram and we are totally hooked ever since. Our ice ream, train and abstract bubble mint prints were used for the summer collection. They offer adorable kids items, t-shirts, dungarees, sun hats and lot’s more. So if you are based in Germany take a look in their shop.



3 // Bambino Mio
We love seeing those tiny human butt cheeks pop up in our feeds. After working for Bambino Mio the past year finally we can see the result of our hard work. The new swim nappies were launched this summer. Perfect for those warm summer days, and much more comfy than those regular diapers. Breathable and soft. We love how these whales turned out. These and more prints are now available. Check their website for all local retailers world wide.

4 // Tough Little Piggies
We love soft sole shoes. Perfect footwear for those tiny feet crawling around the room. Protecting those tiny toes. Tough Little piggies is a small shop that specializes in flexible soft sole shoes for those little ones. The soles have a little extra grip, making those first steps a whole lot easier. For this months made with post we selected our cacti print. Perfect for summer! Take a look in Ashly’s shop to browse all cute models.

5 // Le Big Dog Couture
Did you know we had a canine helper in the studio the past week? We had to take care of one of our friends super adorable pup. So we wanted to add a little dog to our monthly post. This months we selected a fun shop specializing in dog bows and bandanas. We love the fun colorful range of prints and selected one our our most recent fave summer designs: the parasol print. Isn’t it adorable? Take a look at the shop for more cool bandanas and dress up your pup with a splash of color.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Little Smilemakers Studio Moved // New Address



Finally we're all settled in and ready to focus on work again instead of scoring that perfect ochre carpet, shopping for some lush green in one of our local shops in our new street, or searching for that perfect cabinet to hold the printer we only use for doing taxes. Anyway it is back to work again! And we have moved into the best place to do so.

The new studio is located within an old swimming pool building. The facade has it’s original Art Deco detailing and signing from 1920. Back then the swimming pool was the largest in-house pool in Europe. But it closed up in 1995. 5 years ago De Nieuwe Regentes opened it’s theater doors. There is a main stage, built above the old swimming pool. Under this main stage area is the 'under water' area, still in tact. With it's old tiles and diagonal floor. This is an area for presentations and also used for art exhibits. You can still see the showers and changing rooms, original details are still there, making the place one of a kind. The building has transformed into a cultural hotspot and new parts were added to the old structure.

"4 years ago, I started doing volunteer work in the theater. Working from my home was driving me bonkers and I needed to be around people. I work as a volunteer, behind the scenes on our kids mornings. And I love being around the creative buzz that is constantly going around. So when my colleague asked me if I would like to move into the building with the studio everything screamed YES!"

We are working in the old changing area that is turned into three offices. As you can imagine, working inside of a theater can be hectic. Suddenly a woman starts to sing opera, practicing for her performance later that day. Kids run around finding their way to our weekly toddler concerts. Watching dance rehearsals during lunch break. Every day is different. And that is exactly what is needed to keep creatively inspired.

Feel welcome to visit us in our new office! We have a great tearoom to host and meet up with clients and some proper coffee to get you through the day. Or check the the website to see what's going on in the theater.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

New collab // Licensed work // Bedhead Hats summer collection



We all want to protect our little ones when they’re playing out in the sun. Wearing a cute half is half the work of getting your little ones get used to wearing something on their hats. I know those things can be a struggle to keep on!You have to admit these three look pretty adorable right? Getting your kids to wear a hat can be such a struggle! So Bedhead Hats created hats with the most adorable prints, with a great fit for all kids sizes and soft detailing.

Bedhead Hats is an Australian run family business that offers comfy and cute hats from the smallest new born baby sizes to outdoorsy and adventurous kids ready to go to school fashionably. We love their baby buckets and swim hats. Such a clever brand! For this fun kids hats brand we license some really cute designs. Unicorns, cacti and our fave: kangaroos. We adorable the little kangaroo hats. What about you? Curious what else this fun shop has to offer? Check out their website and browse around these cool kids pieces.

https://www.bedheadhats.com.au

Friday, June 15, 2018

Made with Little Smilemakers Studio Fabric // June: The Rainforest Wanderlust launch // Bambino Mio



A little different than our usual monthly post. This months we have a ‘Made with’ completely devoted to our new Bambino Mio collection we have worked on the past year. With a strong visual consistency and the colors and joyful characters we know and love.

Bambino Mio is a company known for their re-usable baby diapers and they have been around for 20 years. Selling nappies with print designs is rarely new to them. We started working together 4 years ago and within the past years the print collection has been growing rapidly.

Signature research
But with this rapid growth, Bambino Mio was searching for the consistency within their print designs. Therefore we met up and talked about the importance of print designs, and how they could be a trend setting party in the eco baby business instead of a company that just follows the pack. We created a strong design signature. Including guidelines in using colors, composition, shapes and form. The new Rainforest collection is the first collection launched with the new Bambino Signature. With this signature we are creating a strong series of designs, all visually linked to the brand.

Trend research
For the Rainforest wanderlust collection we researched global trends too. Bambino Mio sells it’s products world wide and the prints should attract customers all around the world. A pretty big task. But we created a fun, colorful collection, appealing to a large audience but also with a distinctive unique Bambino Mio touch. The prints are already pretty popular. We already had so many sweet comments from Australia to Canada come in and new images are popping up on our social media feed every day. They look so damn cool!

Rainforest Wanderlust
So we are proud to show you these 6 print designs exclusively made for Bambino Mio. For this collection we were inspired by the tropical vibes of the rainforest. We created some adorable animal characters, sloths, snakes, toucan birds, wild cats and hummingbirds. There is a cute creature for everyone!

Curious to know more about licensing designs? Or is your business also in need of a clear visual language. Please send us an email. We are happy to guide you through this process.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Let's celebrate yellow / 5 reasons why we all adore this color of joy and sunshine



Colors have a strong but also subconscious effect on our everyday lives. During my design studies, studying color was our most demanding and time consuming subject. As a visual artist I was taught how to influence and effect others with my use of the color spectrum.

Yellow is the color of sunshine, joy, vitality, happiness and creativity. Yellow is bright and warm and often used for light, breezy and joyful subjects. When I think about yellow I think off sunshine, vacation… But this color is also symbol of courage an confidence, boosting energy and self esteem. And with a little hint of black, bright sunny yellow turns into a trendy mustard color. With a little touch of red, ochre. All gender neutral colors that are very popular right now.

1 // I love yellow personality
I personally never liked yellow. Up until last year I wouldn't use this color in my designs. Only a little hint every now and then. Now I create full yellow, mostly mustard colored, designs and I really love these shades of yellow, but still I would never add a 100% yellow color to my work. I still have this inexplicable aversion towards the bright yellow color. Maybe it is just a little too energetic, draws a little too much attention, and with this ingredient it is hard to balance out colors in a design too? According to spiritual studies the color represents our self worth and in stressful times can be too vibrant. The color always makes me feel a little agitated.

2 // Yellow & branding
Yellow has often been used as a signal color. Like red is used for caution, bright yellow is often used to stand out and bring attention to the subject too, think about urban signage or the numerous cabs that circle around Manhattan, they are easy to find since their color pops out. And what about post-it notes, a brilliant color to remind you of things to do. A great color for attention without the heaviness of danger. Yellow loves to talk and is a color that can speak for itself. It is not often used in logo design but if we think about yellow branding we all think about cheap, outlet companies. Can you come up with some?



3 // The color of creativity
Yellow also lifts our mood and increases brain activity if we are surrounded by the color. It is the color of new ideas, while activating us it puts the brain at work and can give us a new perspective, create new solutions. Yellow activates in al lot of ways.

4 // Yellow & food
Studies have shown that people that were eating in a yellow room would eat a lot more than in rooms that were painted in other colors. So maybe painting your dining room in a shade of yellow might not be a good idea if you want to watch your weight. I do not eat at fast food joints often, most of these 'restaurants' have yellow interiors to make you eat a little more. A clever way to generate more cash right? One of world's largest fast food joint is well know for it's screaming yellow logo. The go to place to stuff your face.

5 // Girls & boys
This year yellow has been making a come back in fashion design. Yellow is a perfect color for gender neutral interior accents and is perfect in fashion for both boys and girls. Right now ochre and mustard are two shades that are very trending in print and fashion and also two shades we love to work with. We have made an entire new mustard colored series for this summer season. Go shop for sunshine at Spoonflower.

Friday, May 25, 2018

Sources of inspiration // Living at Sea



My home is located only a 10 minute bike ride from the beach. During the warmer season I love cycling through the dunes and stare at the sunset. It is such an amazing way to finish the day. Get some fresh air and clear my mind. During these warm days I notice my creations get influenced by the re-found calm. My designs get a little more minimal, soft and clear. I love this time of the year and I would love to live in a climate where visiting the beach on flip flops would be a possibility all year long. But for now I will just soak up the sun and try to store some energy for the colder season.

I love living close to the beach and therefore love to work with customers who make products for the ocean. Splash About, LSea Swimwear, Bambino Mio... We have licensed to numerous swimwear companies and love seeing our designs used for beachwear and sun protecting kids items. Batoko, Little Mermaids, Quinn & Belle, are a few companies we collab with. But we have a lot’s of sea themed prints still available. Maybe something for your business?

The sea has been a great influence for me ever since I moved to this city 10 years ago. The city is packed and busy and the beach offers a great ease on crazy days. I even created a -beach- series, soft abstract prints influences by the sea and the life around the beach, parasols, waves, seagulls. The collection is named ‘Miami.’ A little more catchy that naming the prints after this small Dutch city The Hague. These prints are great for woman’s fashion and accessories.

Two years ago we also created our ‘Ocean Life’ series. A fun range of prints for kids. With sea turtles, fish, sea horses and shells. Dedicated to the colorful imagination of your little one. We are still in love with our octopus print. Which one do you like most?

All prints shown here are available on fabric and wallpaper in our Spoonflower shop. The Miami prints and Ocean Life series are available for licensing. If you would like to use one of the prints featured here or any other designs you see in our feed just reach out and send us a quick message.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Finished Product: Lsea Swimwear // Flamingo two-piece bikini



Oh yes, I am a little water rat myself and love that the temperatures are rising again. Cannot wait to put on my bikini and take off to the beach when everyone else is working. You can imagine how super excited we get to work with fashion brands that focus on swimwear. We have worked together with several beachwear companies in the past and we wanted to put a little extra light on this cool fashion brand based in Florida.

Swimwear made with love
We loved seeing these images pop up in our social media feed. So fresh and fun. We just couldn’t wait to share them with you. But it is not only the awesome flamingo bikini we love. Also the story behind the product is very interesting.

Bethany is the owner of Lsea and she and her husband visited the Dominican Republic back in 2015. She totally fell in love with the country but also witnessed Dominican youth, the problems, the poverty. After this trip she decided she wanted to do something more meaningful and created a brand that would make a difference. A portion of the income is donated to educate and nourish Dominican children, giving them a proper foundation to build their future on. Bethany wanted to offer them the same opportunities she had while growing up and while her swimwear brand is rapidly growing, her dream of helping these kids becomes reality.

Support her cause
So if you would like to get your hands on a new two-piece for the swimming pool or if you are planning a trip and dip in the ocean. Take a look at her website and support her sweet cause. She has some fun tropical prints to choose from and there are also some one-piece bathing suits available if you are a little reluctant to wear these minimal bikini’s. I know they can be a little challenging! Enjoy browsing around Bethany’s online shop.

Interested in licensing our prints for your business? We license our designs to fashion brands, home decoration suppliers, we'll anything you can out a print on, so please send us a message and find out what we can do for you.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Made with Little Smilemakers Studio Fabric // Top 5 May 2018



It is so exciting to see a finished project after working hard on a new collection of design or a series of illustrations for our clients. But with finished fabric designs it is even a bigger surprise to see what customers create. To see how final products evolve when people put their own creative energy in there is amazing.

If you browse around on Etsy or Instagram for some kids fashion you are very likely to stumble upon some Little Smilemakers prints. Most creatives that use our fabrics have a small home based businesses sell their projects via internet and tag us via Instagram. But there are also some bigger fish out their using our Spoonflower designs for their business. So we see some amazing things pop up in our feed every month. We love how Little Smilemakers creations are the foundation for other creatives all around the world to work with. So here is our monthly blog post that features some creative results from Australia and The United States. This month we selected a whole bunch of summer faves turned into the most gorgeous items. Kids fashion, nursery accessories and fun dog accessories, so much to choose from! We have selected a some cool summer leggings, some on trend kids swim wear and some creations made for you four legged friend! Take a look and see if there is something for your little one too. Have a look and enjoy our May selection.

1 // Waggin’ Tails
Our fabric gets used for all kinds of fun projects and used by various creative businesses. We love seeing our fabric being used for pet accessories. So seeing these cool images pop up in our feed made us all excited. Holden the Golden is wearing his super adorable kawaii ice cream bandana. The colors really look good on him right? We love seeing these kind of finished projects pop up. It makes me wanna run to the shelter and get myself a pup too. Curious to see more Waggin’ Tails handmade accessories and wanna get you hands on this cool summer bandana? Check the shop.

2 // Little Eskimo
We love the summer season and all those cute summer pieces popping up in our feed made with colorful summer themed fabric. These fun new born leggings were made by Little Eskimo, a small Australian shop filled with baby and toddler essentials. She offers a great selection of Little Smilemakers designs on beanies, bibs, blankets, rompers and a whole bunch more fun baby and toddler items. And new prints are up in the shop every few months. So for all you down under looking for fresh and fun kids wear, take a look!



3 // Pipolli
We wanted to show some more pet related items this month. And we stumbled upon this brand a few years ago. Pipolli creates fun dog home accessories. And we especially like the dog teepees they offer. The cactus print was licensed via Shutterstock when we still licensed our prints through this company. We love the companies fun style, Scandinavian minimal and on trend. So if you are looking for a fun doggie hang out or blanket check their website and see what they got to offer.

4 // Clamfeet
Those tiny soft soles. Only the cutest feet can wear these! Looking for some soft and comfy footwear for your little one? You might wanna check out this shop. They create the most adorable printed soft sole shoes. They are super soft and all handmade by Julie, who was inspired to create these after struggling to find suitable shoes for hew little boys. Her soft sole shoes are all vegan and easy to wash and dry. Very important! Tiny feet like puddles and mud! She also offers these cool prints in adult sizes, so you can mix and match with your little ones. So clever! Wanna support her little shop, take a look and see what’s there. These shoes make the most adorable baby shower gift. I know I am hooked!

5 // Quinn & Belle
This Arizona based shop has a cute range of girls fashion. Rompers, dresses, leggings and accessories, you name it. We love their colorful range. And there are lot’s of Little Smilemakers prints to choose from. This year Quinn & Belle launched their cool swimwear collection. We love the mix and match swim suits and triangle bikini’s. We love this little girl with her pineapples & monochrome grid combo. Did you know you can use the sports lycra to create swim fashion like this? if you are not that handy yourself you can always grab one of these cool swim wear pieces. Take a look in the shop.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Trend Alert // Botanical watercolors



We started creating prints and patterns 12 years ago already and we started out creating mostly vector based designs, followed by hand drawn prints, using our sketches made for vector design. We also created some custom watercolor designs in the early days, but for regular licensing; watercolors were impossible to sell.

But ever since the conscious trend, slow design kept growing, raw materials, abstracts, textures, use of paint, chalk, paper cuts and there it is watercolors. We are so happy to see this trend taking off and we have been making four new collections in watercolors the past three years. Our summer fruits, boho series, our abstracts and most recently, because how could we not…. our new watercolor botanicals.

Going back to creating watercolors has been so much fun. I loved using this medium when I was still studying, but as a graphic designer, using watercolors was always pretty difficult, very costly and difficult to integrate into graphic items.

Watercolors are only interesting to create and sell in between jobs. Since creating watercolors is pretty specific and takes a lot more time to create and to process and digitalize. So for now we are not looking for any custom watercolor jobs. But we do have a whole bunch you can license for your business in our non-exclusive library. Just send us a quick message to find our more about our licensing structures. Hope you like the new collection! Is is also available in our Spoonflower shop on both fabric and wallpaper.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Sources of inspiration: Recharge // Getting back to nature



April has been a good month, travel wise. Just before moving the studio we decided to take a little break and travel. We visit Spain and Italy and came back recharged and full of inspiration.

As a designer I need to create my own bubble in order to make new work. But too much solitude also blocks creativity. Spring time is an amazing time of the year to get out more, see the leaves grow, trees turn green, flowers blossom. Such an inspirational time of the year. As you can imagine lot’s of nature inspired surface patterns will be in the making.

This year I booked two short trips to Spain, Siurana: a lush area, popular for climbing and hiking. I had a little peek into the world of rock climbing there. And I already signed up for a bouldering introduction course back home. Being outside all day, under the trees, watching the landscapes change, the dramatic mountains, the soft warm breeze. Living in a city is pretty challenging sometimes, the chaotic streets, so many people, cars, noise. So a 5 day all day green experience was an amazing way to recharge, absorb some sunlight to return home with some refreshed energy.



After Spain I travelled to the Amalfi coast. Nature has so much to offer. I love the dramatic rocks, the contrasting bright color of the water. The Amalfi coast is truly mesmerizing. But of course traveling to Italy means awesome food! I love being in the woods and enjoy being outside but I do love a little culture too. Italy will always be one of my fave European countries to visit.

Now we’re all back in the studio and also renovating the new studio space where we will be moving into within the next two weeks. Curious about the space and how we are turning it around into a new creative business office? Check @littlesmilemakers stories on Insta to get a little peek into what we are doing.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Made with Little Smilemakers Studio Fabric // Top 5 April 2018



It is so exciting to see a finished project after working hard on a new collection of design or a series of illustrations for our clients. But with finished fabric designs it is even a bigger surprise to see what customers create. To see how final products evolve when people put their own creative energy in there is amazing.

If you browse around on Etsy or Instagram for some kids fashion you are very likely to stumble upon some Little Smilemakers prints. Most creatives that use our fabrics have a small home based businesses sell their projects via internet and tag us via Instagram. But there are also some bigger fish out their using our Spoonflower designs for their business. So we see some amazing things pop up in our feed every month. We love how Little Smilemakers creations are the foundation for other creatives all around the world to work with. So here is our monthly blog post that features some creative results from Latvia, Poland, the States and France. This month we selected a whole bunch of favorite fabrics turned into the most gorgeous items. Kids fashion, nursery accessories and home and interior decoration, so much to choose from! We have selected a cool cute abstract rompers, some on trend kids bedding and some other fashion items you’re going to love! Take a look and see if there is something for your little one too. Have a look and enjoy our April selection.

1 // Wuf Kids // Baby Teethers & Fashion Accessories
This Latvian shop has some cool things to offer. We love their range of leggings and we adore their fun little hedgehog fabric teethers. So clever! But they have lot’s more cute things to choose from. And lot’s of Little Smilemakers designs! Triangles, flamingo’s, teepees, ice cream cones, grizzly bears, and our minty feathers of course. I bet we forgot to mention some other designs but take a look at their Facebook page and see them all!



2 // Milutka // Bedding & outdoor accessories
Milutka is a company specialized in kids cottons. From soft winter hats to mommy hand warmers, pillows, soft toys and stroller gear, if you'd like to have one print for your entire nursery and kids outdoor gear go visit their online shop. They have our cute little raccoon cactus print in their collection but also our colorful pirates, elephants, squirrels, dachshund puppy, plus sign and owl prints. And last but not least: They have a great selection of kids bedding in all those prints mentioned above. Take a look!

3 // Woodbean // Baby Rompers
If you are looking for some unique snuggle wear for your little one this shop is the place to be. Lisa, who is based in Minnesota, creates the most wonderful soft pieces for your little one and we love her style of mixing and matching prints and uni’s. Her style is like no other and we wanted to share one of her custom made orders with you for which she has used our Abstract Bubble design. These soft little rompers are just to die for. We love how Lisa mixed the print with the contrasting earth tones. Check out her Etsy shop where you can see her wonderful collection in a series of beautiful, soft photography. Check out all her wonderful handmade creations.

4 // Pistol & Arrow // Leotards
We just adore the ice cream leotard made by Brittany Kleiss who runs her small Pistol & Arrow Etsy shop from Fair Oaks. The ice cream print has been around for a while but we found this adorable baby girl in her leo a few weeks ago. Since we have a little bit of a girly theme this month this webshop is def worth a visit. She has some adorable items for your little girl. So go take a look.

5 // Ty Mom Studio // Kids Fashion
Charlene is based in Paris and has a great eye for thinking in collections. Her fabric choices have a steady ‘feel.’ She has a fun collection of on trend gender neutral fabrics and she is working on a big collection for her webshop launch. Even though her webshop is not quite open yet, we wanted to share some of her cute pineapple and cacti leggings and those gender neutral rompers with you. For now you will have to try and have a little more patience until she opens up her shop you can follow her on Instagram. I already have my eye on these cool cacti leggings. Click here is you want to follow this brand new small business.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

New collection: Recharge // Botanical Pop // New fabric and Wallpaper & Art License available // Tropical destinations turned into a new colorful collection of surface pattern designs



Spring is such an inspiring time of the year. I live in a four season country and even though I am an autumn child I do prefer the warmer seasons. Actually the only season I do not like is winter. But the cold comes with crisp clean, sober ease as well. Anyway back to spring. Where the flowers blossom and the trees turn green again. The time of the year to release a whole bunch of new tropical print designs.

During the winter I usually travel to a tropical country. I go somewhere lush and warm. I have visit Indonesia, Costa Rica, Sri Lanka, all during Dutch wintertime. And past winter I traveled through Vietnam, where I got the botanical buzz. When I got back home early January I just had to sit down and create. Make a new series of botanical prints. And this time with a strong palette of colors that pop. Usually I just don’t have enough time and sit down and make an entire new collection when I get back in the studio after my month long winter break. It is all about responding to new emails, picking up new custom work for clients. But this time I just needed to create, I put all my inspiration, everything collected from those tropical destinations into the new tropical series. With as always a little touch of childhood.

We now have some gender neutral botanical pop garden prints available on fabric but we also added some kids themes, dinosaurs, flamingo’s to cover our tiniest target group too. Curious to see all prints? Check out our Spoonflower shop and enjoy the entire new collection! If you are interested in licensing one of these new designs, or any other print designs you see pop up in our social media posts and online shops. Please reach out and send us an email for more information about using our designs for your products.

Monday, March 19, 2018

New Work // Milovia cloth nappies spring 2018 launch



Have you seen the new monkeys over at Milovia? We are very proud to be part of their newest collection once again. It has been a while we have made some new designs for this fun cloth nappy brand.

We started working together when they were rebranding their business. Cloth nappies were not all that common 5 years ago and their business took off and grew rapidly. From a small Polish company they grew into an international brand selling their products world wide and the company was in need of a more international name, appealing to their global customers. So they changed their name from Male me to Milovia and we have been making print designs for them every now and then.

Last year they expanded their collection with home decoration and accessories. We love seeing those pillows and blankets! How perfect is that? Your favorite prints are no longer limited to your babies bum. We are very happy to give them a little shout out here on the blog and of course we really wanted to show you this new Monkey print we made. We love seeing the end result. We hereby want to congratulate Milovia with another fresh collection. Curious and want to know more about cloth diapers? Check out their website for more info and products.

If you would like to license on of our designs for your products? Send us a quick message! Click here.