My Grandmother, an Illustration from the Heart

My Grandmother, an Illustration from the Heart | By Illustrator and Surface Pattern Designer, Yaansoon
My Grandmother, an Illustration from the Heart | By Illustrator and Surface Pattern Designer, Yaansoon

She was always very special. Her warm smile could change your life in an instant. A halo of light embraced her every move. That was my Grandmother, who passed away several years ago, leaving a trace of Greatness in her wake.

A week or so ago, I felt a strong urge to create an illustration of my late Grandmother. I know that she is looking down on me from her special place in Heaven. Before she passed away, I didn’t really believe in Heaven. But after she was gone, I could feel she was mentoring me on – like she always did – whenever I faced one of life’s challenging situations.

That veil between this life and the afterlife was no longer a thick wall. Because of my love for her and her love for me, it was just a mysterious veil that became a lot thinner with the power of Love.

Love. That’s what distinguishes us from one another as people.

I have met people with thick hearts like stone. Cruel, heartless, and dominating, these people were nothing like my Grandmother. They had status, educational credentials from academic giants like Harvard, and a name among leaders in their field of expertise. But they had no heart. Which taught me that no amount of status, money, or even external beauty, can ever compensate for lack of Heart.

My Grandmother had no status. She was a housewife hidden in her own little Kingdom. But She had wide-reaching influence because of her legendary kindness, deep wisdom, and uniquely crafted character.

She never gossiped, never picked on someone, and was very very accommodating of other people’s failings. Whenever I was annoyed by someone’s shortcomings, she used to tell me that what I don’t like in that person is actually mirroring back to me a shortcoming within myself, that I needed to work on and improve.

She taught me that pointing fingers at other people was counter-productive, because we all see what is within us. So if we see ugliness, that is because we have ugliness within our souls. And if we see beauty, then that is also because we have beauty inside our hearts.

Because of her, I have learnt that the myth about the Power of Love is very real. It’s a universal force that can transform us into better people, which will in turn transform the world.

And as an illustrator, I have been dreading the day I needed to expand my portfolio to include an illustration of people and personalities. I used to feel it was such a difficult task, until one day, my Grandmother’s love helped me overcome my fear. It helped me come up with my first-ever People/Portraits Illustration… and of course, it is of my Grandmother!

Yaansoon hand-illustrated branding and patterns

For the Love of Vintage Mediterranean Homes and Tunisian Ceramics

For the Love of Vintage Mediterranean Homes & Tunisian Ceramics | Editorial Illustrations by YaansoonEver had the chance to live in an old Mediterranean village, away from  tourist centers, and in the midst of tradition and country life? What about spending the afternoon sipping on delicious mint tea, lovingly poured into a beautiful ceramic tea cup, while enjoying the calming view of a blue-turquoise sea? That’s heaven, right? And these new illustrations are just about that Mediterranean dream!

I’m not one for too much modernity. I was once invited to a conference hosted at a state-of-the-art hotel, featuring cutting-edge design and super modern interiors. I couldn’t sleep a wink; the uber modernity of my hotel room was too cold and distant for my taste. It missed the coziness and the dreaminess of a structure built with warm, natural materials, lovingly handmade with love.

The best wanderlust experiences I have ever had were always in unpretentious places, where old traditional houses nestled dreamily beneath orange groves, while the distant sea lent the spectacle a gorgeous blue tint that is both calming and soothing to the soul.

Old Mediterranean homes are not just beautiful to look at, they’re also built with healthy materials that can breathe, like clay. A home that is able to literally breathe can influence everything from your mood to your sleep to your imagination. That’s why I believe the best places to be are down-to-earth, naturally built, and cozy.

For the Love of Vintage Mediterranean Homes & Tunisian Ceramics | Editorial Illustrations by YaansoonThe Mediterranean has always been my prime preference for travel, both mentally with my imagination as well as physically.

I have been to ten Mediterranean countries so far, including Cyprus, Italy, Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria, Turkey, and Egypt. One of my great grandmothers is from Morocco and that might be the reason I am head-over-heels in love with this North African Mediterranean country that is rich in every aspect of its arts and crafts lifestyle.

But when it comes to Mediterranean pottery, handmade Tunisian ceramics are my most coveted, owing to their unique, detailed and whimsical patterns and motifs. In the second image above, I have included one of my hand-illustrated Tunisian tea sets in an editorial-style page, featuring a paragraph from this article by the National Geographic: Handmade Tunisian Ceramics.

For the Love of Vintage Mediterranean Homes & Tunisian Ceramics | Editorial Lifestyle Illustrations by Yaansoon

As for the first illustration in this post, it is inspired by a Mediterranean home that belongs to someone dear to me – someone who has taught me a lot about life, inner strength, faith and art.

I hope you enjoyed this post’s story and illustrations, and I do hope to see you soon with another post!

P.S: Turns out this is my 100th post on WordPress! Nice! :)

Yaansoon hand-illustrated branding and patterns

 

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2016 Resolutions: New Yaansoon Logo + Artistic Journey Infographic with Milestones

2016 Resolutions: New Yaansoon Logo + Artistic Journey Milestones & InfographicAs some of you may know, Yaansoon started out as a handcrafts project and has gone through different stages over the past couple of years, before turning into the nickname I’m using as an illustrator and artist. My previous experience in handcrafts has really influenced my sense of aesthetic today as an illustrations aficionado. Yesterday, I launched a new logo for Yaansoon, and I think it’s a good opportunity to create a timeline that documents my journey and the history behind the logo’s development and evolution, which also reflects my growth as an artist.

I cannot start by explaining how much I love illustration, and how joyful the past year has been, ever since I decided to turn my life around and follow my passion for illustration and art! I owe this transformation to handcrafts, actually. Starting out as a self-taught designer-maker has allowed me the opportunity to learn about materials, textures and techniques that came with making handmade jewelry and hand-printed textiles. And I must say that Pinterest has been instrumental in advancing my visual education, and if I had the chance to thank the creators of Pinterest personally I would be more than honored to do so. So without further ado, let’s recap around 3 years of fabulous learning, growth and experimentation in the world of handcrafts and art!

{DIY Packaging} Make your own indie-business tags | By Yaansoon2012

The idea of Yaansoon was launched December 2012 as a handcrafts project. I started working on the branding and launched a website, blog, and social media pages on Pinterest, Google +, and Tumblr. My digital design skills at the time were limited to Photoshop, and this has a lot to do with how the logo turned out to be.

Yaansoon - Handcrafted Copper Broach Collection | Handmade pins and broaches | Copper-plated wire jewelry with beads

DIY jewelry display stand | By Yaansoon2013

My first creations were in copper wire jewelry. I incorporated gemstones and ethnic beads into some of my creations, and I love how quirky my jewelry pieces looked at the time. I sold my pieces at a local brick-and-mortar shop, and spent a lot of time developing handmade packaging for the different pieces, such as brooches, rings, and necklaces – as each needed a different kind of packaging.

Hand-printed paisley pouch, 100% Cotton | Handmade by Yaansoon2014

I started creating hand-printed pillow cases and pouches using 100% cotton. I sold those at a brick-and-mortar shop.

Handmade Tribal-Print Kitchen Oven Mitt | FREE-Shipping | Tribal Kitchen Textiles | Cotton BBQ Mitten | Gifts for Her | By YAANSOON2015

Early 2015, my husband and I started developing a line of kitchen linens with tribal motifs inspired by nomadic cultures. These included oven mitts, aprons and dish towels, and were sold at a brick-and-mortar shop and a famous handcrafts gallery. I also experimented with making handmade soaps (which surprisingly sold out so quickly), felt creations, and clay brooches.

Yaansoon copper and wooden beads necklace

Kitchen linens Etsy shop by YaansoonApril 2015

I opened an Etsy shop, and moved on to introduce beaded jewelry with ethnic beads and vintage center-pieces as well as wire copper creations, along with our hand-printed textiles.

Deer Head Wall Art | Hipster, Industrial, Rustic, Forest Print, Art Prints, Printable Wall Art, Wall Décor, Instant Download | By YAANSOON on ETSY3 Amazing Ways to Use Coffee in Your Beauty Routine + Yaansoon Printable Natural Beauty Planner on EtsySeptember 2015

I started creating printable wall art for my Etsy shop. Followed by printable planner stickers, and kitchen & pantry spice jar labels. I must note that one of my strongest passions in life is spices, world culinary cultures, and herbal and organic ingredients (and all sorts of artistic creations that are inspired by these topics). At around this time, I started my 2016 printable Natural Beauty Planner.

November 2015

I started taking online courses in design, surface design and illustration.

Moroccan Quartz Throw Pillow | By Yaansoon on Society6December 2015

I opened a Society6 shop, especially that my focus was now on surface design and illustration. I started creating artwork for pillow cases, iPhone covers, throws, shower curtains, totes, and other fashion and home decor items.

Yaansoon new logo 20162016 Resolutions: New Yaansoon Logo + Artistic Journey Infographic with Milestones2016

Yesterday on January 9, 2016, I launched a new logo for Yaansoon using the knowledge and skills accumulated from my online training. I based my logo on my hand-drawn illustrations with motifs that are inspired by my culture, as well as my husband’s input and experience.

I feel I am a citizen of the world, which also means that I appreciate different styles and folk cultures. As an x-journalist and a former singer-songwriter in the world-music genre, I have been to many countries and was blessed to see different folk, tribal, and nomadic creations by locals around the globe.

In addition to my travels I have a lineage of ancestors who hail from different parts of the world, but the closest to my heart include my distant Moroccan heritage, my European roots, the nomadic heritage of the country I was born into, and my husband’s Italian background.

Although my new logo has a strong feminine vibe, I am still a strong admirer of the hipster culture and aesthetic, and of organic, minimalist, and industrial forms of home decor, fashion and art. In all honesty, I keep trying to stick to a singular artistic style amid strong currents of styles that I truly love and relate to. I hope with time I will be able to come up with a style that incorporates all of my passions in a consistent and creative way.


With that being said, I hope your plans for 2016 are on track, and that you are fueled with the kind of enthusiasm and positive attitude that will help you realize each one of them!

Yaansoon hand-illustrated branding and patterns

 

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My 2016 Resolutions: Return to Innocence

My 2016 Resolutions: Return to Innocence | By YaansoonMy decision not to set any “physical” goals for 2016 stems from my belief that the most profound goals involve changing ourselves from the inside out. I’ve thought a lot about what gave me a sense of purpose this past year. I have been going through a lot of changes, and my skills as an artist have been evolving in so many different ways. Knowing that I still feel I haven’t found my true voice yet as an artist (as I have been busy learning new skills and new techniques)… I realized that I needed to return to my innocence in order to hone in on my true artistic style!

I have been giving my 2016 resolutions a lot of thinking the past few weeks. I am glad that 2015 witnessed my second attempt to detour from my corporate/musical career into what I really love: Art and illustration.

The process started with identifying and evaluating what I have done so far and where I was headed. I started by asking myself: Why was I so fed up with my career in PR and media (that also coincided with an alternative lifestyle as a singer-songwriter), and what was I hoping to achieve?!

Happiness.

True, lasting, meaningful, deep, beautiful, reassuring, and sustainable happiness… is what I am looking for. I believe that this is what most of us are trying to achieve, but for some reason we are given the wrong tools and clues, and the wrong idea about how we can achieve just that.

Moroccan Quartz Wall Clock | By Yaansoon on Society6Redefining the meaning of success

I have climbed the corporate ladder from a junior reporter to a chief editor, I have also started out as a communications officer in the PR world and my last job was as a director of PR. I have achieved every single one of my goals, literally. In music I have achieved a couple of world music awards, and a bit of acclaim.

But as I have worked my self to exhaustion, I realized that by continuing to do what I always did ended up keeping me in the same place: Stressed, exhausted and basically unhappy! Money bought me things, but never a sense of contentment. My definition of success was like everybody else’s: Better pay, prestigious place to work at, awards, acclaim, connections, and a flashy title. But those things never made me happy, because I was never in tune with who I really was… and that made me basically miserable.

That’s why I started to search for true happiness, the kind of happiness that “tasted” happy! And in this search I found out amazing things about life, about who I am, and about why I was doing it all wrong the past few years.

The One framed wall art by Yaansoon on Society6On following the trends

The media is ever so resourceful in giving us the wrong clues about what could make us happy. Fashion magazines are expert spin-doctors who paint a fleeting illusion about how make-up and new trends can leave us all in a true state of happiness. Social media tricks us into believing that the more followers we have and the more we engage in posting about our lives the happier we will be.

But non of these fleeting moments of being someone we’re not is ever going to give us a true sense of happiness and joy. When we are following the trends, we are not truly the masters of our own unique voice. As artists, our own unique voice is the very soul of our work. And as people, our own unique self is the source of real happiness.

City in the Mirror by Yaansoon on Society6Facing the mirror

I’m not the master of my own unique voice (yet), and this I know for a fact. But I am aware of it now and I am trying to change that, and that’s a huge step in the right direction.

Leaving my job early this year (2015) after becoming head of the first PR company I joined several years ago as a mid-level manager, was a crucial decision that I had to make. As I said before, achieving status was such an empty pursuit, especially that deep down inside I hated the media and I was always at odds with PR.

The decision to leave has given me the chance to do what I love to do here at Yaansoon.

In 2015, I started an Etsy shop, and then a Society6 shop, and in between I learnt a lot of things about illustration, color theory and pattern and surface design. I have been going through a lot of changes as an artist; I have learnt new skills, I akso face-lifted Yaansoon’s brand identity a few times as my skills and interests have evolved from hand-making crafts and hand-printed textiles, into designing printables, wall art, and home decor accents. And now I am about to embark on more than just a facelift for Yaansoon – but I’ll keep this one under the wraps until it’s time for the big reveal :)

My 2016 Resolutions: Return to Innocence | By YaansoonReturning to innocence

Today, it hit me that to create art with my own unique style I had to return to innocence. I had to shed all of those trends, all of that learning. I had to look deep within my heart for the answers.

Returning to innocence is so much more than just honing in on my true unique style, it’s about finding that organic, beautiful, and natural self that has been maimed by years of fake meetings, fake suits, and fake goals. Returning to innocence is about washing my self from all those fashion-magazine articles, PR tactics, and pop-culture knowledge that has stopped me from growing into the person I truly am.

For this reason my 2016 resolutions involve being mindful of what I consume visually, personally, and ideologically as a person. It also involves an attempt to find that Utopian place within myself that is pure and beautiful and child-like, and that is filled with a sense of wonder and discovery and an innocent appreciation for the beautiful things in life.

I wish you all a Happy New Year, and a journey into wonder… and possibly a conscious return to innocence!

Image Credits: The home decor products in this post can be found at my Society6 shop. You can also click on the images to check each item out.

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3 Things I Love About Jennifer Lawrence’s New Women Empowerment Movie, ‘Joy’

3 Things I Love About Jennifer Lawrence's New Women Empowerment Movie, 'Joy' |By YaansoonLast night, I watched Joy, a new movie by David O. Russell featuring Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro, and Bradley Cooper. Although the movie, which has premiered on December 25, seems to have received mixed reviews, I believe it will prove to be a classic that will continue to inspire women the world over for a very, very long time. The fact that Jennifer Lawrence received a Golden Globe nomination for it a few days ago, is just the tip of the iceberg. I truly believe this to be one of the best movies I have ever watched.

Not everyone will love Jennifer Lawrence’s new movie, Joy – just like not everybody will love Caviar, or enjoy mango ice cream. This is a movie that will hit a soft spot if you have led a difficult life as an entrepreneur, a visionary, or an artist… or if you are someone with a passion blazing inside you, but who are surrounded by people who cannot see what you can see. It’s a movie for extra-ordinary women with difficult families, or maybe who live within a community that is used to mediocrity and that cannot appreciate or understand where they come from.

3 Things I Love About Jennifer Lawrence's New Women Empowerment Movie, 'Joy' |By Yaansoon

Here are some of the main messages that make “Joy” a great movie and a great inspiration for those who are seeking to change their lives:

1. It’s never too late to change! And whatever you want to achieve you have to do with you own hands

The one important message that Joy has given me is that it’s never too late to realize your dreams and to change course. It’s never too late to challenge your surroundings and forge your own unique path in the world… and to follow your heart, your calling. Joy started the process of following her calling after she has turned 30. There are a lot of stories about women (and men), who have started to change their lives at later stages in their lives, even in their 50s. Simply put, change can happen at any age!

What’s also beautiful about Joy is that for her to succeed she had to protect her idea and carry it through her self. She did not rely on others to take action, to work hard, or to achieve what she has set out to achieve. She did it all by herself. She nurtured her idea from A-Z, and knew she was the only person she could trust with realizing her dream.

2. Never surrender your fate to people around you. Stop seeking approval!

Another important message, which I have applied in my own life, is to always listen to your inner gut feeling, your inner conviction, and to never, ever surrender your fate to people around you… because, even though you may love and cherish them, they are flawed, and they do not know what you know!

There is a particular moment in the movie that really affirms this point and that is when Joy is told by her father (Robert De Niro) and his girlfriend (Isabella Rossellini) that it’s over, and that she should surrender and file for bankruptcy. If Joy were like most people, she would have just surrendered and “believed” the people around her, who spoke with such authority – as if they were the experts on life, and business.

Being a true leader of her own life and fate, Joy decided to read every contract (hundreds and hundreds of pages) to understand where she stood and why things ended up the way they did. She was no lawyer, but she was a determined person with a huge dose of faith and conviction. She realized that her biggest mistake before that moment was listening to the advice that came from the people around her.

The minute she believed in her inner knowing, she changed the course of her life and ultimately her destiny. She found a way out, and she continued on the path that took courage and faith. Most importantly, she stuck to her convictions and stopped seeking the approval of the people around her, who might be older, with more money and maybe more experience, but who do not know what she knew.

3. It’s all about choice, a great deal of faith, and taking responsibility for your own actions

You can choose to change, or to be the victim, and whatever you ‘choose’ will materialize in your life. Choice is an important message in ‘Joy.’ This extraordinary woman was presented with a challenging family and many, many challenging situations. How she chose to react to these situations made her who she is.

There are a lot of people around us who love to play the victims of their surroundings (I have a few in my own family). They spend a lifetime pointing fingers at others for their own failures. They blame everything that has happened to them on others, and they do not have the passion or the drive to change their lives… and that is a choice they have made. They are also often filled with feelings of envy and jealousy towards those who seem to be following their dreams. Such people often like to pull everyone down, and cannot see change or success even if it stared them in the eye.

And there are those who are presented with far more challenging situations than those who complain, but who emerge triumphant in every way.

I’m not talking about becoming a millionairess, which is what happened to Joy. There are endless ways to triumph over your circumstances and to change the course of your life. It can be by choosing to follow your dream and become who you are meant to be, or to fulfill your calling. Or it can be by transcending the twisted family you have been born into, or change careers, and maybe countries.

Whatever change you embark on, it all starts and ends with how you view the world, how you keep the faith no matter what, and how you know that what you know is real.

Joy is a great reminder that no one can live life for you; no one can heal you, or change you. You, and only you, can choose your life, and work hard for it. And that with faith and determination miracles can start to happen!