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Yvonne de Jonge

Me, in some foliage. Photo by Mario Aspeslagh.

After being asked by several people why I didn’t share anything about myself here on visual strands, I decided to write about how I found my own path and started visual strands. Grab a cup of something, we could be here a while…

 

THE HOW

Looking for a new challenge, I decided to think of a name first. Visual strands just came to me, in about two minutes and I immediately fell in love with it. To my surprise the url was still available: I was so going to do this! That was a year and a half ago. I started overthinking things. So nothing happened.

Towards the end of 2104, I set myself the fictitious yet definitive deadline of January 2015. Worked on what the site would be about, while trying very hard not to overcomplicate things again. Evernote proved very helpful. Stopped looking at what other people were doing, and started focussing on what I wanted to do instead. (Aren’t we always our own worst critic?)

To formulate something resembling a mission statement was the hardest thing! But it helped me clarify the answer to the question that was keeping me awake at night: what exactly do I want to share with the world? It’s still not perfect, but mission statements can develop as we do.
I started asking people if they were willing to participate (a sort of mission statement comes in handy there, too). Opened a Mailchimp account and made a newsletter. Kept. On. It.

When the deadline arrived, I just put visualstrands.com online, thinking: ‘If I don’t do it now, it just isn’t going to happen’, and forgot about a big media launch all together. I mean, it’s just me, with enough deadlines on my plate already. Also, doubts: is it good enough? Am I doing this right? (then again, how wrong can you be, doing what you love?)

Growing a steady blog/site following can take up to two years anyway. It involves a lot of work and determination behind the scenes, there’s no such thing as ‘overnight succes’. I don’t mind that it takes a while, I’ll always have more learning and growing to do myself. It’s about enjoying the journey. I feel truly grateful that so many talented people are getting on board and are so supportive. You really are wonderful!

 

Yvonne-de-Jonge_IndiaInk

My trusty dip pen and India ink.

 

THE WHO

Yvonne de Jonge. That’s me. I started my online experience with mouseblossom.nl (wordpress.com at first), just as an incentive to draw something every day. Mostly silly water colour or ink doodles, which I then posted on my blog (even though I wasn’t really sure what a blog was, back then). Very surreal to get my first comment from someone I didn’t know.
I figured out the blog thing as I went along. Until Pinterest happened, I had a category there named Featured Fridays, featuring a different artist every week. So the foundation for visual strands was already there, in a much simpler version: just some pointing and saying: “Look at this! It’s beautiful! Here’s their website.”

Flashing even further back now… (go on, grab another cup of something. what are you having anyway?)
After abandoning my childhood dream of becoming a detective (I blame Miss Marple), I decided to ‘do something in fashion’. Now I can still get overexcited about a beautifully executed seam and a strategically placed asymmetric neckline, but I’m not exactly fashionista material. Anyway, I started studying fashion and then discovered Graphic Design, so I went on to study that. Coming June it’s been 19 years since I became a self-employed graphic designer.

Drawing is something I’ve done since childhood, with a 15 year gap (graphic design deadlines can do that for you), until I picked it up again only a few years ago. Etsy and other platforms became a way to get my work seen and, as it turned out, to connect with like-minded people. Don’t even get me started on social media! Yes, you could say that I’m a late bloomer.

Back in primary school I made a funny little newspaper, together with two of my classmates. There was no school newsletter: why not make something ourselves? Jumped straight into that niche ;) So I was an editor early in life. Impressive.
What else? Oh I love nature and plants. Somehow that keeps creeping into everything, so I’ve decided to embrace it. Our design studio is named after a bird, my husband’s a keen birder (not a twitcher, mind you) and we both love taking long walks in nature (also: we’re very much cat people). I get excited about plants and their names. And when Urban Jungle Bloggers came along, the madness really kicked in, ha.

To sum up: curiosity, (fashion, industrial, graphic) design, illustration, art, handmade, nature, plants, featuring talented people… Do you see things coming together here? So do I! Let’s call visual strands my personal playground, and the best thing is: you’re all invited to join in (I have cookies ;))

 

THE WHAT

The reason I started visual strands was to share stories about talented and inspiring people, and discover new talent. It’s the most amazing thing. Creating an online zine is a whole new learning curve for me. In fact, the first ‘issue’ of visual strands looks nothing like it. Nor does the second. I’m allowing it to evolve over time. I feel that content is more important than a huge volume of articles anyway. You know when you’re trying to read something online, but your eyes are constantly drawn to other things? So, just 1 new article each week. Sounds relaxed?

 

Wings_download-web-image

AND THE WHEN

That’s my question to you.
What was the incentive for you to choose a different path, or are you on the verge of one? If so, what’s holding you back from starting right now? I’d love to read about it, do share in the comments.

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