An Interview with Naomi Shiek

Custom poster papercut illustration by Naomi Shiek / Available for purchase in her Etsy shop

Artist Info

I remember in one of my college art classes I had to cut a simple frame out of mat board and achieving nice, clean lines with nothing but an exacto knife and ruler was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do in life. It almost ranks right up there with birthing twins naturally complete with screaming and gnashing of teeth Silliness aside, I have the utmost admiration for papercutting artists because it’s a painstakingly beautiful artform.

Meet Naomi Shiek, papercut artist and freelance illustrator of Woodland Papercuts, who started out in fashion design before shifting gears into visual communications, creates some of the most astounding and perfect papercuts. Today she’s sharing her first experience with papercutting, what it’s like operating her Etsy shop full time, her artistic style and influences, and more. Read on to find out more about Naomi and her amazing talents.

Share a little bit about yourself.
I first tried my hand at papercutting when I was getting my bachelor degree in visual communication at the Bezalel Art Academy. I had to do wine bottle labels for a class and for some reason thought papercut labels would be great. I must have only just been acquainted with this art form and was pretty eager to try it myself, as it is a handmade technique that at the very least would get me away from the computer. I’m still surprised I didn’t cut off my fingers, using dull blades, cheap paper, and my wood desktop as a cutting surface. The labels came out great, though.

poppy flowers suite

Poppy Flowers suite featured in Martha Stewart Weddings

 

Share a little bit about your shop.
My first etsy shop, The Time is Now, was opened when I was still in university, and listed not only my papercuts, but drawings and embroideries too. I felt I needed to separate my work from my hobbies and rebrand, thus Woodland Papercuts was opened in November of 2011. Etsy is my full time job, and I take it seriously. However, I did get a bit ahead of myself and started listing before I figured out my brand goals and visual identity, a big no-no. I’m ashamed to say I still hadn’t gotten around to it. It’s been an exciting process, though, which taught me running an online business is only as hard and slow as you make it.

But beside my shortcomings I do like selling on etsy very much. There was a short period I was thinking of uprooting, but the site feels so personable, I knew I’d miss the easy communication users share if I did leave. It’s the only online market site I know where buyers don’t feel intimidated to communicate freely with sellers, and vice versa (customers can be intimidating too!). At least that’s the sense I’m getting from my activity on etsy, and one I fully encourage with everyone who reach out to me.

What’s the story behind the name of your shop?
The story behind my brand name isn’t interesting at all. It was a pretty natural choice, though it took me weeks to figure it out. I was trying to come up with a clever name that would hint at papercutting, nature, and fairy-tales. A pretty hefty task for one name. And then I read somewhere that good brand names for small and new businesses were ones that included the product or service in the name. So a quick oh-that’s-so-simple slap to the head later, I narrowed down my selection to ‘papercuts’, and any word that is associated with nature. Thus Woodland Papercuts was born.

wildflower papercut wedding invitaion by Woodland Papercuts

How would you describe your artistic style and who are some artists that have been influential in your work?
I am a big fan of the Art Nouveau and Arts & Crafts styles. I don’t know how much that comes across in my work, but that’s my reference pool. I’m a fan of Audrey Beardsley and Ivan Bilibin. The work they and their contemporaries produced really taught me a lot about line work, composition, and negative spaces. I’m influenced by the work of Kara Walker and Emma van Leest greatly, I think their papercuts are instructive, both in technique, and in the storytelling. Of course as I mainly do Jewish marriage certificates now I take everything that I love and use it to upgrade and transform the Judaica style you would normally see used.

paper cut ketubahs by Naomi Shiek of Woodland Papercuts

What does a typical day look like for you?
Selling online full time is hard work. Mostly it’s just scary. I’ve been doing this for a little over a year now and I’m still struggling meeting my own demands and goals. While the days are long, I’m doing what I love to do and it’s rewarding. Even if I can’t sleep.

My days start slow. They also start at night, as I found it an easier time to be productive. A typical day for me begins in the afternoon, when most people’s day is winding down. I work from home, so there’s no separation of home and work life. As soon as I’m up I go sit at my desk and work through my to-do list, written the night before. I check my email first thing, to see if I need to add to my list, and hopefully start sketching and drawing and tracing and cutting right after.

stag skeleton papercut by Naomi Shiek

Depending on what time of the day or night it is, I will break to run errands, buy food, get some sun… My creative process is extremely slow in comparison with others’ since its labor intensive, and some days I won’t have a finished piece to show at the end for all my work. Other days I can get four papercuts done, it’s a hit and miss really. When I’m feeling tired enough to sleep (for me that usually happens past the 24 hours mark) I put everything away, recheck my email, and write a new to-do list for tomorrow.

deer head by Horrible AdorablesWhat’s your most-prized nature-inspired possession in your home? 
My most prized nature inspired objects in my home are my deer collection. I have all sorts of small toys and figurines of a stag, but my favorite is this amazing deer head sculpture I commissioned from Jordan Elise. It’s horribly adorable!

What are a few things you enjoy about nature?
I am hardly an outdoorsy type person like my brother and sister. My appreciation of nature is more aesthetic than anything else, I’m afraid. But there’s nothing like the fresh air under shading trees, or the sunlight twinkling through the tree tops to dapple on the ground, to reenergize me. While I prefer to sit on a bench than on the ground, I love how sitting in the sun and listening the the wind go through the trees can relax me and make me smile.

About Donaville Herrick

Donaville is the Founder of Dearest Nature and also Co-Founder and Creative Director of Hello Hello Hi. When visions of nature and web design aren't dancing in her head, she enjoys spending time with her three munchkins, baking cupcakes, and trying her hand at various crafts. Follow her on Twitter to stay updated with her day-to-day musings.

Outdoors In: Simply Yvonne

Living room photo by Yvonne Huynh

Graphic designer, photographer, and mom Yvonne Huynh, who blogs at Simply Yvonne where you can find a handful of charming DIYs, is sharing her darling home with us today. I fell instantly in love with Yvonne’s home — it’s sophisticated and warm and the type of space that sparks inspiration. The neutral walls in Yvonne’s home are the perfect backdrop for her bright furniture, her art prints and portraits, and other pops of colorful accents like yellow blooms and other bright plants throughout her home.

An introduction from Yvonne:

HELLO! My name is Yvonne Huynh and I am a graphic designer born in Vietnam, raised in cold, chilly South Dakota. I am currently residing in beautiful Virginia Beach with my wonderful husband, beautiful baby, and our crazy, sassy girl Yorkie and two laid back boy Chihuahuas. I have always been fascinated with all aspects of design, whether it is fashion design, interior design, or web design. After giving birth to my daughter last year, I became very passionate about photography because I wanted to capture the sweet moments of her forever. I work in a corporate world as a web graphic designer, however I also I blog over at simplyvonne.com on simply beautiful things that inspire me creatively. To me though, the most rewarding job is being a mother to our sweet little baby girl.

We purchased our first home 4 years ago and both my husband and I were pretty clueless on how to get started on decorating our home. We have different tastes in style so decorating was a bit of a challenge at first. Luckily we decided on a muted, neutral color scheme with pops of color and texture to create a relaxing but also a welcoming environment.

living room in Simply Yvonne's home

[images above]: Living room

What I love most about our living room is the chandelier decal. It’s the first thing you will see when you walk into our living space. Painting our wall chocolate brown was a risk taking move but with the wall decals, it gives it that chicness and modern look. I love hunting down good deals, my favorite finds was the white chair that we scored through Craigslist.

dining room in Simply Yvonn's home[images to the left] Dining room

Our dining room has a contemporary look but a traditional feel to it. I wanted to make the dining room a cozy space that we would want to use every day.

My parents gave us the two large vases and the Chinese frames were gifts we received from my brother, which help bring out the cultural look we were going for.

Since the room is quite small we don’t have room for a buffet table and using floating shelves is a great way to substitute for it. We found our dining chairs through Craigslist and was fortunately found a matching table through Overstock.

nursery from the home of Simply Yvonne

[images above]: Nursery

The nursery is my favorite room in our home. The style we created for the nursery is modern, fresh, clean and functional. Baby clothes are so adorable, why hide them in a dresser? We have them in an open closet that we simply adore. Surprisingly she is not interested in pulling them off yet! I love adding personal touches to the room by designing different fun artworks throughout.

About Donaville Herrick

Donaville is the Founder of Dearest Nature and also Co-Founder and Creative Director of Hello Hello Hi. When visions of nature and web design aren't dancing in her head, she enjoys spending time with her three munchkins, baking cupcakes, and trying her hand at various crafts. Follow her on Twitter to stay updated with her day-to-day musings.

Group Giveaway: Jewelry For Mother’s Day {CLOSED}

All images via Tangs and Tines, The Home Ground, and Jacaranda Designs

Giveaway Entry Details

  • Pin the image below to one your pinterest pinboards and leave a comment with a link to your pin
  • Eligibility: open to readers worldwide
  • Open from April 30th - May 6th
  • See additional entry details below

Mother’s Day is just around the corner and if you’re still shopping around for a unique gift for that amazing woman in your life, might I suggest checking out The Home Ground, Jacaranda Designs, and Tangs and Tines? These three shops are each offering an item for a fabulous giveaway that will dazzle your mom’s eyes.

To enter this group giveaway, simply pin the image below to one of your pin boards on pinterest with the caption: Enter to win a group giveaway on Dearest Nature from The Home Ground, Jacaranda Designs, and Tangs and Tines: http://bit.ly/IDYSpR 

Mother's Day group giveaway from The Home Ground, Jacaranda Designs, and Tangs and Tines

1. You might remember The Home Ground from a couple weeks back when we interviewed shop owner Brittany Campbell. Brittany’s kindly a set of eclipse earrings made of freshwater pearls and thai silver, valued at $32.

2. Shop owner Jane of Jacaranda Designs is offering one of her sweet handcrafted bird’s nest necklaces, valued at $22.

3. And the wonderful folks of Tangs and Tines are offering one of their upcycled vintage silver spoon rings (photographed by our contributor Abigail Bradshaw of The Notion Creative Labs), valued at $22.

winner: erin lawrence

About Donaville Herrick

Donaville is the Founder of Dearest Nature and also Co-Founder and Creative Director of Hello Hello Hi. When visions of nature and web design aren't dancing in her head, she enjoys spending time with her three munchkins, baking cupcakes, and trying her hand at various crafts. Follow her on Twitter to stay updated with her day-to-day musings.

An Interview with Celine MacKay

Photo by Ever Images from Celine MacKay's personal archives

While flipping through issue 13 of Uppercase magazine, an advertisement for Pure Green magazine caught my eye. An independent quarterly print publication created by a team of eco-conscious creatives from Ontario, Canada, Pure Green brings diversity in green design to the forefront. It’s a gorgeously designed and curated magazine that emphasizes the beauty and style of green living and highlights small businesses

and green designers worldwide. It kind of reminds me of Carter Oosterhouse’s HGTV series in 2008, RedHot & Green, but with so much more to offer in print form.

Pure Green is deeply rooted in the idea that being green has a lot more to do with recycling paper, plastic, and tin cans as many of us were taught in grade school. Being and living green also involves using products with environmentally-friendly

contents and hones in on reducing our carbon footprint by embracing and supporting our local communities — like buying locally-grown food, which Editor-In-Chief Celine MacKay explains in our interview with her. Read on to find out more about Celine who shares her inspiration behind Pure Green, a few easy tips about being and living green, and who shares what she enjoys about nature.

Share little bit about yourself.
Well, I’m a small-town girl through and through. I was born and raised in a town in central Ontario north of Toronto, Huntsville to be more exact, which is in a beautiful region known as Muskoka, a summertime refuge for many — surrounded by lakes, Muskoka is cottage country. Bordering the town is Algonquin park, a national park that is known around the world for its beautiful lakes, trails and natural habitat that covers 7,630 km²!! Its a serious camping destination that I’m lucky to have in my backyard. After having explored a wee bit (I lived in Florida for a few winters where I was riding horses for a living and competing) I found myself back in Huntsville, where I met my husband Jonathan (also Pure Green’s food editor). The two of us operate another business called Sustain which specializes in green building and design.

Pure Green Issue 2

Photo by Christian Mouzzard

Share a little bit about Pure Green.
Pure Green began from my desire to share how stylish and accessible green living could be. We cover style, homes, design, travel, books, food, recipes and more. It grew from a blog, then an online publication and finally, most recently, a quarterly print magazine. In many ways each issue feels more like a book than a magazine — we work hard to keep the content timeless and relevant so that it can be collected and referred back to again and again. The design is simple yet every detail is carefully tended to so that the final product feels cohesive and pleasant to read. No matter which page you land on you know you are reading Pure Green. This is thanks to the amazing team that I work with. We’re a small group, but the core is composed of myself, Jonathan, Anile Prakash, Design Director, Michelle Carangi, Style Director, Erin Monett, Director of Photography, Bess Callard, Illustrator, Erica Midkiff, Copy Editor, and then a team of contributors we are delighted to work with each issue. Our audience is anyone interested in living stylishly and living well.

coriander girl from Pure Green magazine / photo by Joseph+Jaime

Photo by Joseph+Jaime

 

Lastly, Pure Green is printed on uncoated paper that is 100% post-consumer recycled, manufactured in Quebec with bio-fuel and chlorine-free. We print in Toronto using waterless processing with vegetable based ink.

What does a typical day look like for you?
Busy! I work between both businesses Monday through Saturday. One of the best parts of my day is walking our dog, Rusty (a Viszla), on trails near our home. The evening is usually spent preparing food together at home and I’m guilty of having to answer emails, blogging or working on the new issue most nights. Peppered in each week are photo shoots and scheduled appointments/meetings/interviews, and the odd event or business trip. It’s a very busy but fulfilled life.

Organic Kitchen via Pure Green

Photo by Ever Images

What are some simple ways to be/live green that you would encourage others to try?
For me living green is about finding things that you can incorporate into your everyday life. I want it to feel effortless and sensible. I want to feel proud of my efforts, not guilty that I’m not doing more. I’ve found the ways that make sense to incorporate into my life and the challenge those things presented led to new discoveries. Find the things you are passionate about and start there. A good example for me is food. Clearly, as Jonathan is our food editor, a lot of our life revolves around good food. It’s something you must consume each and every day, and when you look closely, our food system isn’t very sustainable. Find local sources and subscribe to a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) — trust me, its awesome! Good organic veggies are great, but include meat too! We’ve found a meat CSA that we love as we now have constant access to healthy, ethically raised meats which we eat 1 to 2 times per week.

Another area that is easy to change is your household cleaners. Avoid chemically laden cleaners and go for natural options like vinegar, baking soda and lemon juice. There’s a ton of resources out there to help you do this.

Another way that is super important to consider are the personal care products that you use, in particular skin care and cosmetics, which are filled with chemicals that are really hard on your body. An amazing resource to find out more is http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/. You can seek out the products that you currently use and see how they stack up in terms of toxins, as well as search for better options.

sprouts from issue 2 of Pure Green magazine / Photo by Ever Images

Photo by Ever Images

Are you planning on introducing any special green-related projects/activities through Pure Green?
I would very much like to! We’re working on a few things at the moment but I must master my current workload before adding more. Building community is hugely important to what I do and what Pure Green stands for. We are quite involved locally and in Toronto with smaller groups and organizations. Our current issue, which centered around urban farming, introduced us to a lot of fabulous groups that I would like to continue supporting. I’m finding that as the magazine grows so does our network and I’m constantly finding new ways to engage with and support amazing initiatives.

What are some things you love about nature?
Just being a part of it. I find it very grounding and I need a little bit of it each and every day. Walking on trails through the forest is a very important part of my de-stressing routine and I’m constantly inspired by what I see. Animals too are a big part of that, both my dog Rusty and my horse Annie. Finally, I have a super rustic, off-grid camp that’s been in my family for a long time in Georgian Bay. The rough landscape and open water creates an environment like no other. As soon as I arrive I leave everything behind me and just enjoy.

You can subscribe to Pure Green online through their website or in stores at these locations.

Catch a daily dose of Pure Green on their blog that not only presents you with a behind-the-scenes look at the magazine, but is also overflowing with stylish ideas for green living.

About Donaville Herrick

Donaville is the Founder of Dearest Nature and also Co-Founder and Creative Director of Hello Hello Hi. When visions of nature and web design aren't dancing in her head, she enjoys spending time with her three munchkins, baking cupcakes, and trying her hand at various crafts. Follow her on Twitter to stay updated with her day-to-day musings.

Sprout Notes

Photo by Sarah Hart

It used to be that finding stylish and eco-friendly paper goods were hard to come by. But lately, talented designers have been coming out of the woodwork with brilliantly designed environmentally friendly stationery.

Case in point: our very own friend and contributor Sarah Hart who sells a variety of greeting cards and a notebook, all of which are elegantly designed and illustrated and encourage making the earth more beautiful.

sprout notes by Hart to Heart

Sarah offers a unique variety of 10 different cards that contain flower seeds that are symbolic to each card. Be sure to check out the rest in Sarah’s shop and leave a kind note on her facebook page for the beauty she’s creating. Or tell her in person! If you live in or near Nova Scotia, you can see Sarah and her Sprout Notes at the Halifax Crafters Spring Show on May 5 – 6.

About Donaville Herrick

Donaville is the Founder of Dearest Nature and also Co-Founder and Creative Director of Hello Hello Hi. When visions of nature and web design aren't dancing in her head, she enjoys spending time with her three munchkins, baking cupcakes, and trying her hand at various crafts. Follow her on Twitter to stay updated with her day-to-day musings.