Exciting News: The Countdown to the Launch of My New Website Has Started

Exciting News: The Countdown to the Launch of My New Website Has Started | By Yaansoon IllustrationI am so excited to share with you all the long-awaited ‘soft launch’ of my new website, Yaansoon.com. This self-hosted blog and website is still in the making, but I do hope to make the official launch in the coming few weeks!

If you would like to stay in touch and receive future blog posts from my new blog, please don’t hesitate to subscribe to my newsletter. You can do so over here: http://eepurl.com/b5RyjH.

Although I’m planning to keep my current yaansoon.wordpress.com blog online as my “beta” blogging experiment, I’m feeling a little bit emotional about leaving it. I have met such nice people over at WordPress.com and I feel like I have a small family in so many countries across the world.

WordPress.com is such an excellent blogging platform. It has so many customization features, a community, and some really cool blogging perks. But staying on a free blog platform also means that you are limited in your options.

I will be posting one more time on this blog and it will be about launching my new website. I don’t want it to be a final goodbye but more like a “see you again” kind of post.

I miss you already and look forward to seeing you all in the next chapter of my blogging journey! Meanwhile, here are the online addresses that you can find me at, so don’t be a stranger!

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What Victoria Beckham Can Teach Us about Reinventing Ourselves as Women | Illustrations For Women About Women (E. 3)

What Victoria Beckham Can Teach Us about Reinventing Ourselves as Women | Illustrations For Women About Women (E. 3) | By Yaansoon IllustrationVictoria Beckham does not get a lot of respect when interviewed by “veteran” media personalities or design gurus. This is evident in the YouTube videos I had the chance to watch the past few days, where she’s treated like a 15-year-old, at best. Even when she gets praise, there is always that underhanded message about how she might be just another flash in the pan. And there’s also that quick reminder about how she has “surprisingly” outlived the many short-lived brands that were started by pop celebrities like herself.

Victoria Beckham is probably the fashion industry’s top underdog! I don’t know why YouTube decided to put her in my path via their Recommended Videos section, but I’m grateful for this serendipitous coincidence that made me see that even “rich” and “famous” women get to be treated badly, even in an industry that is primarily created for women – i.e the fashion industry.

What Victoria Beckham Can Teach Us about Reinventing Ourselves as Women | Illustrations For Women About Women (E. 3) | By Yaansoon IllustrationVictoria Beckham is no flash in the pan. She is a hard-working woman who has learned from her past experiences, and who deserves to be acknowledged as an inspiring and entrepreneurial fashion designer with a great taste and a piercing vision!

This 40-something mother of four, and husband to former British football player David Beckham, has paid every effort to reinvent herself – and I believe she did it with real grace, determination, and style. What’s most important to me in her journey is that she has reached the heights of success “despite” the way she has been treated by fellow fashion designers (who seem to feel like they were too important to be in the same boat with her) as well as other design personalities and fashion magazines.

What Victoria Beckham Can Teach Us about Reinventing Ourselves as Women | Illustrations For Women About Women (E. 3) | By Yaansoon IllustrationA Fashion Industry Dominated by Males

Although in each of her interviews there is great emphasis on how she couldn’t have done it without “the team” that surrounds her (another way to say she couldn’t stand on her own feet), I believe this hardworking fashion designer is so smart and strategic that it can elude the most experienced of fashion gurus in her field.

Simply put, Victoria Beckham is the first-of-her-kind in the fashion scene and there is no blue print to compare her to.

When I told my husband I was thinking of creating a series of illustrations about Victoria for my “Illustrations for Women about Women” blog series, he made an interesting comment about how she was a woman who was being super successful in an industry that is mostly dominated by men.

Any driven and hardworking woman is probably too familiar with the way egotistical men undermine women in their field, and may also treat them like an easy target. The sad thing is when women treat women that way out of jealousy and insecurity, and other maladies of the heart. To see a young woman like Victoria start a brand, lead it from a 10-peice collection in 2008 into an international brand in a matter of years, and be able to successfully wear two hats (as a designer and as a businesswoman) is probably too much for fashion-industry egos to handle!

What Victoria Beckham Can Teach Us about Reinventing Ourselves as Women | Illustrations For Women About Women (E. 3) | By Yaansoon IllustrationPeople Grow and Change, They Don’t Stay the Same

Asked by Chief Editor of British Vogue about whether she finds any similarities between her mindset as a former Spice Girls performer and her current vocation as a fashion designer/businesswoman, Victoria answered with an emphatic, yet polite, “No.”

She does reiterate this in other interviews, as she obviously is struggling against an industry that can’t move beyond first impressions and has no ability to acknowledge people’s growth and evolution.

Today, Victoria Beckham is a responsible, serious, and very inspiring woman, who is looking to create something real. And for this reason, I have great respect for her and wish her more success in all her future endeavours. I also hope that the media and the fashion industry would re-set their judgmental glances at her, and follow The Guardian‘s lead by starting to appreciate her journey and her evolution as a woman.

NOTE: Although my blog series, “Illustrations for Women about Women” was initially about female heroines I have met in real life, I now feel this series can grow to include other inspiring women I haven’t met.

About this blog series by Yaansoon

Early May 2016, Yaansoon launched her new series, “Illustrations For Women About Women,” featuring portraits of ordinary and extra-ordinary women from the 20+ countries she has been to, including matriarchs from her own family. Although the series was originally about real women she actually had the chance to meet, the series will now start to include stories about inspiring women who can teach us something about inner strength, their searing vision and tireless dedication, despite of adversity and/or hardship.

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Hand-Lettering Illustration: Real Beauty, Makeup, and the Soul

Hand-Lettering Illustration: Real Beauty, Makeup, and the Soul | By Yaansoon IllustrationI grew up in a family where one person only had tonnes of foundation on, and she did not represent the family’s norm. I personally was deeply influenced by my late grandmother’s kind of thinking – and that is: Real Beauty is Beauty of the Soul. So, I created these hand-lettering illustrations to put this kind of logic out in the world – especially that we seem to be going through a “heavy foundation era” (that acts more like a “mask” to our inner insecurities than anything else).

The other day I was on YouTube watching video after video about ways to apply foundation, contouring, highlights, and the latest fad, strobing. These videos all seemed like elaborate tutorials to help you look like someone you’re not (and to entice you to buy more and more beauty products).

I hated those videos and started to look for something that looked more natural, toned down and earthy, and I found it. It’s called “French Girl Makeup,” which is the complete opposite of what some like to term as “American Girl Makeup” (which probably excludes New York, San Fran, and Portland).

Hand-Lettering Illustration: Real Beauty, Makeup, and the Soul | By Yaansoon IllustrationI also came across this article on Brit + Co., which sheds some light on how our attitude towards makeup is pretty much a representation of our attitude towards life in general, and towards ourselves. I like this particular intro:

“No one lives the ‘less is more’ lifestyle better than French girls, especially when it comes to beauty. Appearing in what seems like constant #wokeuplikethis state, they basically wrote the book on lazy girl hair and makeup — fingers through bedhead, a wash of foundation (if any) and maybe mascara + lip gloss to get out-the-door ready. So it comes as no surprise that the one makeup trend they swear off is one of the most heavy-handed techniques around, and one for which *we* American girls have become globally notorious: contouring.”

The article goes on to quote a known French makeup artist in saying: “The main beauty philosophy in France is to accept who you are.”

Hand-Lettering Illustration: Real Beauty, Makeup, and the Soul | By Yaansoon IllustrationHow we use makeup is in deed a sign of a certain “mentality” that we need to be aware of, to be able to address the issues beneath.

The “French Girl” school of thought (and makeup) does teach us a lot about how to approach our skin: If we have bad skin, why make it worse by suffocating it under loads of makeup? Maybe we need to try and see if there is something internal going on that is causing all the inflammation or the uncontrollable zits. Maybe we need a drastic change in our diet or lifestyle, or maybe we need to be more mindful of our stress levels and mental health.

That’s one layer of the argument. The deeper layer is our soul.

As young teenagers it is pretty normal to live on the “surface” of things, to be shallow, and maybe easily taken by the glitz and glitter around us. But as we grow older, we might need to try and figure out the deeper meaning of life, who we are, and things as they truthfully are.

Our definition of beauty is probably one of the surest signs of our ability to mature and grow, both spiritually and mentally. It’s not easy, especially if we live in a culture that is heavily invested in outer beauty. But we can always make the choice to break out of these molds, and chart a more truthful and healthier path!

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Travel Illustration: 10 Things to Pack When You’re Traveling to Morocco

Travel Illustration: 10 Things to Pack When You're Traveling to Morocco | By Yaansoon IllustrationEverything about Morocco is exquisite and special! Its architecture, home decor, food, local fashion and traditions, are all a delight to the senses. Rich with colour, motifs and patterns, Morocco is not like any other country. This North African gem is steeped in tradition, yet very hospitable and welcoming of visitors from all corners of the globe. To make sure you are prepared to experience the Moroccan culture, here are a few fundamental packing tips to help you pack.

The following suggested list includes the very basics, but you can always build on it. It’s also a list for the ladies, as I am sure men have different needs that I myself wouldn’t know very much about :)

  1. Souvenirs: Bring along a few light-weight souvenirs that reflect the culture of your country, but make sure nothing in there is too controversial or culturally offensive (I drew a Dala Horse in my illustration above, assuming the traveller in question is from Sweden). Moroccans are very hospitable, so don’t be too surprised if a total stranger insists on inviting you over to a family meal at their own home. Be prepared with a few interesting trinkets as a thank-you gesture.
  2. 1 pair of sneakers: You will need them for hikes and long walks around Morocco’s beautiful souks and markets.
  3. Socks
  4. 1 pair of flip-flops
  5. 1 pair of loose-fit jeans: Baggy jeans are your best bet as they won’t attract unnecessary attention in public souks. Since it can get very hot during the summer, a loose-fit will also help you stay cool. The general etiquette in Morocco for Women usually involves modest clothing.
  6. At least one long-sleeved shirt, that is also loose-fitting: If you’re planning to visit one of Morocco’s beautiful Mosques, you will need modest clothing for the occasion.
  7. A scarf: Having a scarf on hand is a great idea, especially if you happen to pass through a religious corner (Zawya) or district.
  8. Sunscreen: The sun in Morocco can be very intense during summertime. You will most probably get a tan by just walking down the street during daytime!
  9. Your mobile phone
  10. Your charger + adapter

My enchantment with Morocco began as a little child. Back then I had no idea I actually had Moroccan ancestry from my mother’s side. I found out relatively recently that I have a great great grandfather from Morocco, and then one of his descendants married a Moroccan lady. I couldn’t be happier knowing I actually had roots in a culture I so admired and found to be so inspiring and resourceful.

I hope you’ve enjoyed today’s illustrated post. I look forward to seeing you in my next one!

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Watercolor Illustration: Rose Water for your Beauty, Culinary Adventures, and Home

Watercolor Illustration: Rose Water Bottle | By Yaansoon Illustration

With summer fast approaching, rose water with its lovely scent and endless beauty care and culinary uses is a must-have product to be placed strategically in both your pantry, and your makeup bag! I’ve been using rose water for years now, and I thought I’d create this watercolour illustration to celebrate one of my most favorite natural ingredients!

Rose water is the distilled essence of rose petals. There are different grades of rose water – and so it is important to buy a brand that is all natural and that is known for using the best of ingredients. Look for Lebanese brands as those are known for making some of the world’s best varieties. And make sure the bottle you are ordering is in a glass bottle or container, not a plastic one.

Rose Water and Natural Beauty

Let’s start with the marvelous natural beauty benefits of rose water.

I for one like to spritz a little rose water on a cotton pad and like to use it as an all natural makeup remover and toner. My grandmother once told me that rose water can add a nice warm glow to one’s skin if used for at least once a week. That’s because the antioxidant properties of rose water can actually help strengthen skin cells and regenerate skin tissues. It can also help heal a number of other skin conditions, such as scars, due to its anti-inflammatory properties. Rose water can also help hydrate, revitalise and moisturise your skin giving it an unmistakable refreshed look.

Watercolor Illustration: Rose Water Bottle | By Yaansoon IllustrationRose Water and Middle Eastern Cuisine

In Lebanese and other Middle Eastern cuisines, rose water has been used as a flavouring for centuries. Confectioneries have traditionally used it to scent sweet syrups, puddings, pastries, and ice creams. Lebanese Baklawa (aka Baklava) and the most delicious Turkish Delight (also called “Rahet el Halkoum” or “Raha” in Arabic), are two dishes that have rose water as an essential ingredient.

Watercolor Illustration: Rose Water Bottle | By Yaansoon IllustrationRose Water and Your Home

The aroma of rose water is said to be a powerful mood enhancer as it can rid you of feelings of anxiety and can also promote emotional balance and well-being. That’s why pouring rose water into a spray bottle and using it as a natural home freshener can not only add a beautiful scent to the air but also positively affect the mood of the people in the house.

I hope you’ve enjoyed today’s post! Thanks for stopping by and looking forward to seeing you in my next illustrated story!

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