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Moving Forward

Happy Monday! I hope you enjoyed a wonderful weekend, and are having a good start to the week! I ended up doing a lot of coding and designing this weekend, in order to move {joycreation} to its next level: I’m switching over to Wordpress (whooaaa!!) :) Now that I have learned more about CSS, Wordpress offers a little much more flexibility and will allow me to dream bigger (over the long run). So, while I’m trying to make this transition as smooth as possible, I apologize for the bumps that may appear along the way. I know I’ll be tweaking quite a bit over the next weeks. 

Wishing you a great week and more details will follow on Wednesday!


Weekly Joy Feed

Happy Friday, everyone! What are you up to this weekend? Tomorrow evening I’m having a girls night out - something I haven’t done in a very long time! So exciting! I’m also looking forward to visiting the farmer’s market, doing some canvasing (the historic election is just around the corner!), tending to our garden and working on a couple of blog posts (and maybe making this strawberry-lime cake? Yumm!)

Wishing you a wonderful weekend, and here’s a round-up of some of my favorite blog posts this week. Enjoy!

Joanna and Alex are just the cutest :)  

How sweet is this Thé & Sucre combo!

I always find so much inspiration on Desiree’s blog!

I’m loving Shoko’s weekly contributions on The Equal’s Record!

Would you decorate your ceiling

This DIY makes me want to buy some clay! 

Speaking of clay: have you checked out my friend Laurie’s Etsy shop, recently? 

Three reminders I’m going to put up by my desk. 

I can SO relate to Rebecca

What a beautiful proposal

Bloggers Send (each other) Something Good

Check out these Seasonal S’mores!

An inspiring interview between Brené Brown and Susan Cain.

Last, but not least: Melanie’s (real-time) series on The First Steps of Launching a (Creative) Business - LOVE!  


photo source

The Sills at RAW

One of the things I love about Madison is the vast cultural scene we’re surrounded by (especially in the area of music). Without it, the city could feel very small, very quickly. But thanks to the many talented bands and artists, there is always something going on.

Two weeks ago Dave’s band, The Sills, played at Segredo, a night club here in Madison, and I’ve been planning to put these photos up ever since! (unfortunately they turned out a little blurry - I need to learn how to use my camera in darker settings). The event, organized by RAW:natural born artists and Segredo, was packed with amazing musicians, dancers and a variety of other artists, who were displaying their work. For “The Sills” it was the first time to play in front of a larger crowd and seeing them perform on a bigger stage was a real treat!

"The Sills" released their first album in April and you can download it here for FREE! Below, also two video recordings of their performances last November and this April. I hope you’ll enjoy their music just as much as I do!

Fun fact: did you know the band Garbage was formed in Madison? When I first moved here, I lived only two blocks away from the "Smart Studios", where bands such as Garbage, The Smashing Pumpkins, Death Cab for Cutie and Nirvana (“Polly" on Nevermind) once recorded their albums. Unfortunately, Smart Studios closed in 2010, but it continues to maintain a website, that invites you to tour the former studio virtually. Just turn the upper radio knob to “Facilities” (it’s a cool website!)   

What looks like a shabby corner complex used to be Madison’s most famous recording studio! The orange building next to it is EVP, the coffee shop I worked for, when I first moved to the U.S. in 2005).

photos very top: {joycreation}, photo very bottom: Dane101

And The Winner Is…

… Caroline G.!  Congratulations :)  I will be emailing you shortly with more details!  

To all the lovely readers who participated in this month’s giveaway and/or left comments for Lilesadi & {joycreation}: thank you for your kind words and support. It means so very much! I will continue to have monthly artist interviews and giveaways here on {joycreation}, so make sure to stay tuned for more behind-the-scenes views of creative small businesses, as well as plenty of chances to win unique pieces of art!

Thank you again for all your support and congratulations, Caroline!



P.S. Winner chosen randomly via  random.org.

Extraordinary Escapes

I hope you’ve had a great weekend so far. This afternoon I was reading the NYT Travel section (along with the Styles section, one of my favorite things to do on a Sunday), which introduced me to Design Tripper, a website for “design-obsessed travelers who (…) are more interested in thoughtful design than in-room Jacuzzis.” (The New York Times).

Of course I couldn’t resist a visit to their site: Design Tripper has a relatively small roster of unique hotels from around the world (including just a few states in the US), so I was especially thrilled to find Wisconsin on the list. As a matter of fact, Elkhorn just happens to be a 1.5 hour drive from here!   

Below you’ll find some of my favorites (as you can see, it was difficult to pick just a few!). Unfortunately, most of them are not made for a small budget like mine (with the exception of the Hüttenpalast, which runs at $60.00/night, and the Beer Moth, which is roughly $100/night), but they’re worth dreaming about…

Germany: Hotel Hüttenpalast


Italy: Casa Talia

Scotland: The Beer Moth

Sweden: Tree Hotel

The Bird’s Nest

The Blue Cone

The Mirror Cube


WI, USA: Wandawega


Wandawega Treehouse:

Also, check out this Japanese one ”Llove”. WOW - I’m not sure that I’d be able to sleep in the “Llayer” room - would you? It reminds me of the “Princess on the Pea”, only it’s so much more intense!

I think my all time favorite is the Wandawega teepee and treehouse. Don’t they look cozy? However, the Swedish ones are so very unique (especially the UFO and the Bird’s Nest). Which one would you pick?

Enjoy the rest of your weekend, and have a wonderful week!

P.S. Don’t forget to enter the giveaway for a chance to win a cool Lilesadi print!

Weekly Joy Feed

Happy Friday, everyone! Ooh, I’m excited about this week’s Joy Feed (it’s been a while!)!

I hope you had a great week and are looking forward to an extended weekend! What are your plans?

Tomorrow we’re invited to our friends’ new house for brunch and on Sunday Dave’s band, The Sills, is playing at Madison’s Alternative Brat Fest Wurst Times. A crucial election is coming up here in Wisconsin, so we’re going to spend some time volunteering/doing door-to-door canvasing on Monday.

Wishing you a wonderful weekend, and if you haven’t had a chance to check out my interview with the fantastic Studio Lilesadi, make sure to do so :) They’ve got some great advice for creative start-ups and there is also a chance to win one of their lovely hand-signed prints! And now: a round-up of my favorite posts of this week. Enjoy!

How to throw a backyard movie night (part 1)

The National Stationary Fair looks AMAZING!

Children with Swag!

This exhibit looks so cool!

Love the idea of a colorful wedding dress!

Such great advice on raising teenagers! 

LOVE this typography series!

Yumm! This looks so tasty!

Poignant photographic series about excess in today’s society.

Chalkboard Tablets!

Doesn’t Jess Constable’s workshop look tempting?

A valuable lesson on mascara (and more)! 

Thoughts on how to get over a break-up.

Why your creative business should have a monthly newsletter.

Last, but not least: a lovely DIY for the long weekend: adorable finger puppets, and a puppet theater made of a cereal box! Who would have guessed?


photos by Tonje Boganes (Thank you, A Merry Mishap, for making me aware of this blog!)

Featured Artists: Studio Lilesadi

Owners: Dinah and Sarah Smutny

Location: Rotterdam, The Netherlands

Website: http://www.lilesadi.com

Etsy: http://www.etsy.com/shop/StudioLilesadi

Other: Photowall (wallpaper producer)

I’m so very excited to welcome Studio Lilesadi today! Founded by German Textile and Surface Designer Dinah Smutny, and her twin sister Sarah Smutny in 2011, Studio Lilesadi strives to bring “pureness and poesy into chaotic everyday life” by merging natural elements with graphical contrasts. Lilesadi is located in Rotterdam, The Netherlands, and is known for its amazing wallpaper designs, cushions and other accessories. It is such an honor to have them here!

Make sure to enter our giveaway for a chance to win one of Lilesadi’s beautiful prints! You’ll find instructions on how to enter at the end of this post! Enjoy this interview with Dinah and Sarah Smutny!

Note: this interview is published in German (original Interview) and English (translated version). I’ve placed the photography in a way, so it highlights where the English version begins and ends. I hope this helps :) 

Can you tell us a little bit about yourselves and your artistic backgrounds? 


As twins, Sarah and I share the same kind of passion for design, as well as for all things related to poetry and graphics. We pretty much like the same things in all areas, really! However, we’ve made it a rule not to go shopping together anymore, because our wardrobes would inevitably look identical. Strangely enough, we don’t tend to fight over men.  

Another thing we have in common is the “globetrotter gene”. After graduating from High School, we both went to Italy. I studied textile design in Florence, and Sarah went to Bolzano to study International Tourism Management.  Then, after graduating from college, we continued to work in different cities – Sarah in Santiago de Chile and Rotterdam, and I worked for various studios in Hamburg and Vienna.

Yet, it was a dream of ours to live in the same city again some day. We never thought we’d be working together, too ;) We’re really well attuned to one another and make a great team. Sarah pulls me out of moments of “artist crisis” and I offer Sarah perspective, when she gets lost in too many projects at once.

As twins we’re often asked, whether it’s hard to work together, but all we can say is: “It’s fun!” If we do argue over something, it usually doesn’t last long and you’ll find us drinking coffee and coming up with new plans five minutes later. We can be completely honest with each other, without having to subject ourselves to the diplomacy and politics you would find at a 9-5 office job.

Könnt ihr uns ein bißchen über euch und euern künstlerischen Hintergrund erzählen?  


Sarah und ich teilen als Zwillinge diesselbe Leidenschaft für Design und poetische und graphische Dinge. Eigentlich gefällt uns in allen Bereichen so ziemlich dasselbe.  Wir haben uns allerdings die Regel auferlegt, nicht mehr gemeinsam shoppen zu gehen, weil wir sonst zwangsläufig die gleichen Sachen im Kleiderschrank hängen haben. Bei Männern haben wir uns komischerweise noch nicht in die Haare bekommen!

Was wir auch gemeinsam haben ist das “Globetrotter -Gen”. Nach dem Abitur hat es uns beide erstmal nach Italien gezogen. Ich habe in Florenz Textildesign studiert und Sarah International Tourism Management in Bozen. Nach dem Studium haben wir beide in verschiedenen Städten gearbeitet, Sarah in Santiago de Chile und Rotterdam und ich in verschiedenen Studios in Hamburg und Wien.

Aber unser Traum war es immer eines Tages wieder in derselben Stadt zu leben. Dass wir nun auch zusammen arbeiten, war eigentlich nie geplant;) Wir sind echt ein eingespieltes Team. Sarah zieht mich aus einer meiner “Künstlerkrisen” und ich hole Sarah aus den Wolken, wenn sie sich mal wieder in zu vielen Projekten gleichzeitig verrennt.

Wir werden oft gefragt, ob es nicht schwierig ist, als Zwillinge zusammenzuarbeiten und wir können nur sagen “Es macht Spaß!”. Wenn wir über etwas diskutieren, trinken wir 5 Minuten später schon wieder Kaffee und schmieden neue Pläne. Wir können grundehrlich miteinander sein, ohne die Diplomatie und Politik, welcher man sich im üblichen Büroalltag unterwerfen muss.

What does creativity mean to you? Has art always been an important part of your lives?

Ever since we were small, we’ve been interested in art. In pottery class we would create pigeons, sheep and bowls for cress, and in aquarelle class we’d make silk scarves for the women in our family.

But really, it wasn’t until my time in London, where I worked as an au-pair for a year, that I discovered my artistic streak.  With its flea markets, festivals and extraordinary people, London continues to be my absolute favorite city.

Sarah has always had a soft spot for interior design - she loves to build or convert furniture on her own. Although some pieces are somewhat unstable (sorry, Sarah!), they really give her apartment character. Ever since she took a class in analogue photography, she’s been walking around with her antique Canon and she takes incredibly poetic photos!

Personally, I find inspiration in anything I’m surrounded by: nature, magazines, photographs, books on architecture or, as for our new Collection “Look Through Me in Silence”, the geometric structures and different light displays in the church windows of Mont Saint Michel in France.   

Sarah is very important for me in the design process. She inspires new ideas and encourages me, but she may also respond to a sketch with “I don’t think it’s good.” Hearing those words can be tough at times, but it prevents me from losing myself in some sort of pipe dream. 

I would describe the Lilesadi style as nordic-poetic with a touch of Japanese. Always a little naive, but graphically vivid. I love contrasts!

Was bedeutet Kreativität für euch? Hat Kunst schon immer eine wichtige Rolle für euch gespielt?


Wir waren beide schon von Klein auf künstlerisch interessiert. Beim Töpfern stellten wir Tauben, Schafe und Kressebehälter her, beim Aquarellkurs Seidenschals für die weiblichen Familienmitglieder.

Aber eigentlich erst in London, wo ich für ein Jahr als Au Pair arbeitete, entdeckte ich meine artistische Ader. London ist immer noch meine totale Lieblingstadt mit seinen Flohmärkten, Festivals und außergewöhnlichen Menschen.

Sarah hatte schon immer ein Faible für Einrichtung, sie liebt es Möbel selber zu bauen oder umzufunktionieren, manche sind zwar etwas unstabil (sorry Sarah), aber sie geben ihrer Wohnung wirklich Persönlichkeit.  Seit sie einen Kurs in analoger Fotografie besucht hat, läuft sie mit ihrer antiken Canon durch die Gegend und macht wirklich poetische Fotos.

Ich finde eigentlich Inspiration in allem um mich herum, in der Natur, in Zeitschriften, Fotografien, Architekturbüchern oder wie für die neue Kollektion “Look through me in Silence”, in den geometrischen Strukturen und Lichtspielen der Kirchenfenster des Mont Saint Michel in Frankreich.

Sarah ist sehr wichtig für mich im Designprozess, sie bringt mich auf neue Ideen und ermutigt mich, andererseits ist es auch möglich, dass ich zu einem Entwurf als Feedback höre “ Find ich nicht gut”, das ist manchmal hart, aber es hält mich davon ab, mich in irgendwelchen Hirngespinsten zu verlieren.

Den Lilesadi Stil würde ich als nordisch-poetisch mit japanischem Touch bezeichnen. Immer ein bisschen naiv aber sehr graphisch. Ich liebe Kontraste!

Tell us a little bit about your business. What inspired you to become entrepreneurs?


Witnessing the success of the Swedish Designer Lisa Bengtsson gave us the push to start our own label.  We find her romantic-modern style very beautiful and thought: “We can do this, too!” But it wasn’t until Dinah moved to Rotterdam that our plan became more concrete. At the time I had been working in Marketing for an international company for a few years and my wish to build something of my own was becoming stronger and stronger. At the beginning Dinah was a little skeptical, like so many artists, who are self-critical and reluctant to show their work. Until then, all of these beautiful sketches had been hiding on Dinah’s computer and were just waiting to come to life.

We started out small by supplying friends, acquaintances and family members with pillows, and by participating in Design Fairs. The amazing feedback gave us the confidence to believe we could make it work. We told ourselves: “Nothing ventured, nothing gained - let’s go for it!” 

Erzählt uns ein bißchen über euer Unternehmen. Was hat euch dazu bewegt, euch selbständig zu machen?


Den Anstoß unser eigenes Label zu eröffnen gab uns eigentlich der Erfolg der schwedischen Designerin Lisa Bengtsson. Wir finden ihren romantisch-modernen Stil sehre schön und dachten, was sie kann, können wir auch. Aber erst als Dinah nach Rotterdam zog, wurde der Plan konkreter. Ich arbeitete bis dahin seit einigen Jahren im Marketing einer internationalen Firma und mein Wunsch, etwas eigenes aufzubauen, wurde immer stärker. Dinah war anfangs skeptisch, wie viele Künstler oft zu selbstkritisch sind, und Schwierigkeiten haben, ihre Arbeiten nach außen zu tragen. Bis dahin schlummerten all diese wunderschönen Entwürfe in Dinah’s Computer und warteten darauf, zum Leben erweckt zu werden.

Wir fingen in kleinem Rahmen an Freunde, Bekannte und Familie mit Kissen zu versorgen und auf Designer-Märkten teilzunehmen. Das tolle Feedback gab uns Zuversicht, dass es klappen könnte. Wir sagten uns: “Let’s go for it - no risk, no fun!”

What advice do you have for other artists who are thinking about selling their work in the community and/or online?


All beginnings are difficult, but when it comes to founding a small business, you can say: all beginnings are overwhelming! You simply don’t know where to start. That’s why a good business plan can really do wonders for the sake of structuring your business and keeping track of all the details.

It’s also important to keep your fixed costs down. We chose to start out with the webshop and we continue to pre-produce small quantities, only. This allows you to gage your customer’s interest, without having to immediately spend huge amounts of money.

And I can only emphasize: media, media media! Try to be represented by as many blogs and magazines as possible! 

Good photos are key - something we unfortunately saved on at the beginning. It’s worthwhile hiring a good photographer for your product photos. After all, next to your product description, your photos are the only clue for customers and the media to gage your work.   

And lastly: patience! Things take time. On an average, it takes a minimum of two years, until you’re able to live off your business. For us it’s been a year now, since Lilesadi was founded, and both of us continue to work on the side, part-time. It’s our goal for Dinah to be the first to work full-time for Lilesadi and for me to follow later.

Welchen Rat würdet ihr anderen Künstlern geben, die darüber nachdenken, ihre Arbeit in ihrer Umgebung oder online zu verkaufen?


Aller Anfang ist schwer, aber bei der Gründung einer kleinen Firma kann man sagen, aller Anfang ist überwältigend! Man weiß nicht, wo man anfangen soll. Daher hilft ein guter Plan wirklich Wunder, um alles zu strukturieren und nicht den Überblick zu verlieren.

Wichtig ist auch, die Fixkosten niedrig zu halten. Wir haben den Weg gewählt, mit dem Webshop zu starten und nur kleinere Stückzahlen vorzuproduzieren. So kann man das Interesse erstmal abpeilen, ohne gleich Unsummen auszugeben.

Und ich kann nur sagen, Presse, Presse, Presse! Probiert in so vielen Blogs und Zeitschriften vertreten zu sein, wie möglich.

Gute Fotos sind der Schlüssel, ein Punkt an dem wir am Anfang leider gespart haben. Es lohnt sich, einen guten Fotografen für Produktfotos zu engagieren. Die Fotos sind schließlich für die Webshop-Käufer und auch für die Presse der einzige Anhaltspunkt, neben der Produktbeschreibung.

Zu allerletzt, Geduld! Alles braucht seine Zeit. Im Durchschnitt braucht es mindestens zwei Jahre, um davon leben zu können. Bei uns ist es jetzt ein Jahr her, seitdem wir Lilesadi gegründet haben und wir arbeiten beide noch Teilzeit nebenher. Ziel ist es, dass Dinah als erstes Vollzeit für Lilesadi arbeitet, und ich später nachziehe.

Bleibt eurem Stil treu! Verbiegt euren Stil auf keinen Fall und probiert nicht, es allen Recht zu machen, sonst geht ihr in der Masse unter. Wichtig ist, dass euer Stil wiedererkennbar ist.

What are your endeavors for 2012?


There are plenty of exciting projects coming up this year. For instance the ceramic collection…shhh… and a place mat and kitchen towel collection. We also want to offer more scarves. 

Also, our new wallpaper collection “Look Through Me in Silence” will be available soon via Tapetenagentur and our webshop

In addition to these online stores, it’s a goal for 2012 to sell our work in brick and mortar shops. We’ve been eying quite a few beautiful stores in the Netherlands, but also in other European cities, such as Copenhagen.

Was sind eure weiteren Pläne für 2012?


Aufregende Projekte für dieses Jahr gibt es genug, wie z.B. eine Keramik Kollektion… psst… und eine Platzdeckchen und Küchentuch Kollektion. Wir möchten auch noch weitere Schals anbieten.

Unsere neue Tapetenkollektion “Look through me in silence” wird auch bald erhältlich sein via Tapetenagentur und in unserem Webshop.

Ziel für 2012 ist zusätzlich zum Webshop, in Läden zu verkaufen. Wir haben bereits einige schöne Läden in den Niederlanden, aber auch in anderen europäischen Städten, wie Kopenhagen, ins Auge gefasst.

THANK YOU, Dinah and Sarah, for this wonderful interview and for all your time and effort! I’m so glad I had the opportunity to connect with and interview you!

How can you win? It’s simple! 

All you need to do is LEAVE A NICE COMMENT for Dinah and Sarah below AND «LIKE» Lilesadi and {joycreation} on Facebook. The giveaway ends on Monday, MAY 28th at 11:59 CST.

Thank you so much for your support and GOOD LUCK!! xoxo


Translation (German to English) by Lisa Sperling

344 Questions by Stefan G. Bucher

Happy Monday! How cool are these pocket-sized self-help flowcharts by designer Stefan G. Bucher! You can find these and many more in his latest book 344 Questions: The Creative Person’s Do-It-Yourself Guide to Insight, Survival, and Artistic Fulfillment, a creative guide to finding answers to life’s biggest questions.

Here’s a little excerpt from his book, found on Brainpickings:

"We are all different people, but we face a lot of the same questions. The point of this book is to give you lots of questions you can use to look at your life — in a new way, with a different perspective, or maybe just in more detail than you have before — so you can find out how you work, what you want to do, and how you can get it done in a way that works for you. Specifically.” ~ Stefan G. Bucher 

Doesn’t this book sound great? I hope you had a wonderful weekend! We enjoyed a picnic in our “new” backyard, did some door-to-door canvasing for the upcoming elections here in Wisconsin, caught up on some work and had plenty of cozy times, too. It was a lovely weekend! Wishing you a great start to the week!

images: Brainpickings (initially found on the awesome site Explore

Backyard Project: Part 1

Dave and I live in a neighborhood that is - in many ways - perfect. We are within close walking distance of a botanic garden, a ton of amazing restaurants, bars, coffee shops, bakeries, local supermarkets, and not to forget: both lakes! But there is this one downside to our location: a big fat parking lot, that can feel as if it’s inside our house! Whether we are working in the study or trying to enjoy the outdoors, the experience is always accompanied by cars driving in and out of the lot, and people having loud conversations. 

Thanks to the wonderful help of Mena Cimino, owner of Turtle Island Landscapes, we have now taken the first steps towards more privacy! I met Mena last year, when I was just starting to learn a little bit about web design, and I had the honor to design and develop her company website. 

Last Saturday Mena and I went to one of the nurseries outside of Madison and shopped for Arborvitae. It was so great to have a plant expert there with me to guide me through the process! 

Yesterday she and one of her wonderful workers came over to plant the arbs and put all of our older plants in their appropriate spots (the previous landscaping company had mistakingly planted them in the sun, causing them to burn!).

It will take about 2 years for the arbs to reach their full size (and provide the coverage we’re hoping for), but we’re so very happy with the first results! As a matter of fact, Dave was so excited, he welcomed every shrub with an individual hug! :)

The space looks much cleaner and cozier, and we feel like this is a wonderful first step towards making our backyard homier this year.  Thanks again to Mena for her wonderful work, and to Lacy over at "Living On Love" for giving me the necessary push to get started on this project! Your monthly challenges rock! Tomorrow, I’ll be doing some weeding!