The Everygirl | 3 Things I Learned After Moving to Europe to Pursue a Dream

I wrote this piece for The Everygirl blog, with the intention to expose how it really feels to pick up  a life and move it.  How the days without family and friends can make you feel regretful, but that the good days remind you how free life is, and how much there is to see and do. I don't think I am the same person I was before we moved here to Amsterdam.  I'm more open to the world and what it has to offer me as a person and a small business owner.

Here is the link to the article! Hope you enjoy!

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Happy New Year.


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As I sit here this morning at 8am, December 31st, back in Amsterdam - I realize I haven't written much this fall/beginning of winter.  So many people bought me such wonderful journals for Christmas, all impeccably designed, and the only reason I can think they did so was because of how introspective I've been since moving here.  So thank you to those people for supporting me in that, as sometimes we can feel silly writing our feelings out for the world to see. 

I also realized that this year, while hard in its right, was not hard in the grand scheme of life.  We are lucky that we are able to travel the world, and follow our dreams.  We are lucky we have choices. We are lucky we have each other.  We are lucky we have family, and health and happiness.  There are so many people who were affected in such a devastating way this year through loss of homes, loss of life, loss of a daughter, struggling with addiction, struggling with what's happening in our country, and the list goes on.  I don't want anyone for one second to think that as I post and write on social media, or here, about our life, that I think we are not lucky in every single step we have been able to take.  

I created Al Stampa because I like to tell stories, but am not great with my words.  I have a beautiful, courageous sister for that part (although she's good at words and visuals, god bless her). I hope that this year brings me more stories to tell that impact our world, and help people do what they can't, and I can.  

As we set off into the New Year, and my birthday (!) I want to thank everyone for their amazing love and support for us this year.  It's amazing to me the amount of people who I think are not watching, or interested in what I do, be impacted.  That for me is my biggest success.  I also truly felt this year that sentiment that if you do things from your heart and for yourself, it will be your best work.  It's easy to get caught up in competition, and instagram numbers, but it's harder to make work you truly believe in, so in that regard, this year was one of my favorites from my lifetime.

This year it's not about choosing a "new me" for 2018.  It's more about sticking with the belief that who I am is not about improvements all the time.  We can be happy with who we are right now which will leave room for more greatness. :)

Happy New Year. Thanks for following along. 

Life Abroad + Inspirations

When I lived in Florence, Italy for 7 months studying printmaking and painting, I lived with a family that I became very close to, and still after over 10 years, try to keep in touch with.  I used to go to the book markets and collect children's books to learn the language better, since my host mother at the time did not speak english 100%.  This tradition has been carried through my travels over time to other countries... I have one from our Amsterdam trip last year, one from Croatia, lots from Italy when I studied, one from Paris and one from Spain.  It's not mandatory when I travel but if I love a book in a foreign country that's simple language and has beautiful illustrations I like to capture the essence of the place, and my trip that way.  I hope my kids use them at some point in their life, but for now they are used as illustration inspiration and a token from each city experience. 

Louise Fili, a huge inspiration to me, began her own "library" of sorts by going to Italy and taking photos of signage she loved.  From there she had an archive of inspiration to go back to for her own work.  I have to say, not knowing I had this in common with Louise, in addition to some childrens books across the seas, I love taking photos of signage to bring into my work somehow.  I love the way they are designed, what material they are made in, how they are installed, and lit up.   I hope to someday be better at hand-lettering to be able to really incorporate it into my work more and to most importantly, have an amazingly designed, made, and installed sign of my own on the streets of the world wherever we land. 

Another great source of inspiration to me has been the design of record covers and movie posters in the 50s-60s. Something about the simplicity of the designs, the use of color, transparency, illustration, photography, really call to me and the work I pay homage to whenever I design, or art direct.  For instance the image I used as the thumbnail of this post is so gorgeous but is so deeply rooted in such a sad and powerful story about the way jazz music, during the 18th century, was an outlet for the horrible daily events going on in the African American community... Here's a really amazing article about what was going on, and the background to this powerful artwork.

I used to think I was not a good designer back when I was younger, because I never gravitated to computer illustrated, highly graphic, "in your face" type of design.  What I found as I designed and illustrated more and more was that it's okay to not be bold and loud to get attention, but to have a style that is approachable... that people generally enjoy.  The artwork for the Billy Holiday album talked about above, is a perfect representation of how simple but emotional artwork can tell a very powerful story, and engage your audience. It can even provide peace through beauty, during a hard time.

I think that is why I chose to collect children's books in some of my travels because it simplified my over-the-moon feelings of traveling in Europe, especially, and allowed me to take something that was approachable and joyful along with me throughout  my life.

Here are some inspirations I've found along the way... also follow me on Pinterest to see a daily dose of inspirations flowing through my head and the studio on a daily basis!

Amsterdam Life Begins

So ... We packed up our life, and we finally planted all feet and paws over in Amsterdam.  Kitty Lou made it over okay as well - little rough with the flight!

There are a lot of reasons I'm happy to be here.  The European living adventure I've always wanted since I stepped foot over here when I was 15 ... the time to myself to get my business moving ... investing in some alone time with our little family ... making some interesting worldly friends ... having our family & friends from home experience this life through us ... leaving a job situation that just didn't feel right ... but most importantly, putting myself to the test.  
As I walked around one of my new favorite neighborhoods in this city, Jordaan, I came across a window that had a white decal that stated : 

and at the end of the day
your feet should be dirty,
your hair messy
and your eyes sparkling.

It's easy to work hard, it's fun to dream of what my life should look like, and feel like.  It's hard and rewarding to actually do it - and to potentially fail at it, but to never stop.

I am prepared to jump into the scene we set - it's all here and maybe always has been, but for the first time I feel ready to take advantage of every moment in front of me.

More to come...