Dressing Room Wallpaper at Goop Pop Up Chicago

Dressing Room Wallpaper at Goop Pop Up Chicago

Last weekend Gwyneth Paltrow opened her third goop pop up shop in Chicago and I’m thrilled to share with you that the dressing rooms were dressed with my Dark Floral II Black Desaturated wallpaper!

The interior design is by Kara Mann Design.

Photos of the shop are featured on Elle Decor, including this shot of the wallpapered dressing rooms.

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New Design: Summer Squall

New Design: Summer Squall

The fabrics are almost ready! Thanks to all of you who have inquired. Thank you also for your patience. My web team is busy busy with the custom calculator and I hope it’ll just be a couple more weeks until we go live.

In the meantime, I’m also adding a new design to the web shop in January/February 2015. I’ve been working on it for half a year (I got a little obsessively into all the little details of the leaves, etc.)!

This piece will soon be available as wallpaper and fabric (9 different sorts, including cottons, linen, silks and velvet) at www.elliecashmandesign.com.

Summer Squall has a lot of personal meaning for me. If you want a little background on the design and the process, read on! This is a little piece I wrote about it …

 

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Summer Squall

I started working on Summer Squall at the end of August 2014, when we were descending from the height of summer’s sweetness into the colder, darker months of the year. Unlike the other prints I’d designed previously, I had this one named almost from the very start.

This was a time when I was readjusting to ‘real life’ after spending a blissful three weeks with my parents, my husband and my three children in a quirky summer rental house just a couple of miles from Horseneck Beach, in Southern, coastal New England, not far from where I grew up.

Since I expatriated in 2007, summers have been a particularly special time for me, when three generations of my family are in the same place, when my past, present and future convene on a New England shoreline. It’s a contrast to the rest of the year, when I spend my days in adopted surroundings and don’t often (ever?) feel this connected.

There’s a particular moment I was thinking of as I started work on Summer Squall.

It was an evening in late July, and I was sitting with my parents around a fire pit by a dock on the Westport River. We were, each of us, at distant points on an invisible circle, so far apart that talking was out of the question. The late afternoon light was fading and we formed a ring around my younger daughter, Juliette, who was dancing in the sand, circling the smoldering embers. She was jabbing at the air with a marshmallow stick and licking her tacky fingers. We had just eaten the quintessential summer dessert of s’mores.Juliette had turned four a couple of weeks earlier. For her birthday present, I had put together a photo album for her. I had tried to capture the highlights of her year – vacations, classes, parties, new friends, etc. When placing the photo of her as the new big sister, her three-day-old brother reclining in her arms, my heart broke a little.

When Nathan was born, she became our middle child and, paradoxically, seemed to lose her claim on being the center of attention.

And yet in that photograph, you can read the pride and happiness on her face. For the girl who loved to help take care of all the babies at daycare, this new role was more complicated than she could have known. Three would become a year of tagging along while I picked her older sister up from school, or waiting while I changed her baby brother’s diaper. She would have to entertain herself while I checked my e-mail or answered an urgent phone call.

But on that evening in late July, there she was at the fulcrum of the wheel, pinning us in a blissful orbit around her.

She may have waited all year to be at the axis of my orbit, but here she was now, the middle child at the middle point. Soon, the fireflies would frame the scene, shooting stars buzzing in the brush around us, silhouetted against a watercolor sunset. At long last, Juliette was the center of the universe, and what a universe it was!

Taking a break from her marshmallow, she turned to me. “Mommy, why do we have to wait?” she asked, referring to the fireflies, who hadn’t yet made their appearance.

Looking back, I think she meant, “What’s taking so long?”

But what I heard was, “Why are we waiting for fireflies? Let’s move on.”

And so I answered: ”Because if we’re not here when they come out, their light will be wasted.”

And then I thought, with a heaping dose of mother’s guilt, of how many times Juliette’s spark might have been wasted on me that year. I worried that I had been so busy, so focused on other things that seemed more pressing at the time: big-kid needs, baby needs, my needs. Until this moment, when her light was almost blinding, when it was as if the sunset sky was ablaze with her.

Juliette is my most challenging child. That year, perhaps more so than ever before. She was caught in limbo, between wanting to be big like her big sister, growing into her own personality, or a baby like her baby brother, rolled up in the familiar fold. Somehow, in that moment, it seemed she’d finally found a little peace in her own place, the middle place.

I think we all had.

It had been a long time coming, and it was a moment that I wanted to pause, and place on repeat, if I could.

And yet as an adult, moments like these always come to you coupled with the realization that we will have to let them pass, the way they must, on their inexorable journey from present to past. And the next moment waiting for us – the one in line for Security at Logan Airport, when we’ll all have to say goodbye to each other and go back to our ‘real’ lives – is imminent. This moment will fade to memory like the flames in the fire pit, smoldering to ashes that take to the wind.

And I tell myself that I’m happy that the moment happened at all, that we found that place, recognized it, that we lived it and felt it fully, doing everything short of capturing it and saving it in a jar. Maybe that’s enough to get me through the harder, darker days, the days when we’re feeling less connected. If we felt this peace of place in every moment, we wouldn’t have appreciated this one in the intense way we did, sitting by the fire pit, delighting in marshmallows.

So when I was working on Summer Squall, I was thinking about that feeling, which is so typical for the end of summer. You’ve basked in the light while it was high in the sky, while everything was alive and ablaze, and now it’s time to embrace the passing of the moment, the day, the season and move toward the darker days on the way. Going back to work, to school, to doing things you ‘have’ to do more often than things you ‘want’ to do.

For me, that moment by the fire pit is the smoldering point of light that I’ve taken with me into the darkness. That moment is the perfect white peony suspended above the dark foliage. Behind that flower in full bloom, and behind that moment, the leaves are just starting to rustle with its passing …

EllieCashmanSummerSquallDetail

Months later, on a Friday in the month of December, after close to a half year of arduous work, I finished Summer Squall in my attic studio, with Juliette playing with the puppet theater behind me. She had faked sick earlier that day, and I’d picked her up from school on what would have/could have/should have been a work day.

A few weeks earlier, I had scrapped Summer Squall, dissatisfied with the fact that it had become so rigid and dense and void of color. In the months of painstaking effort I’d put into it, I had forgotten about the warmth and beauty and love that was its inspiration in the first place.

Then I started writing about it, which helped me reconnect to its symbolism and make a new plan for it. Then the repeat burst open, I painted the color and the brush strokes back in to the highlights. It started to look less like a William Morris (my original plan) and more like an Ellie Cashman, sharing, in the end, more qualities with Dark Floral and Dark Floral II than had been my original intention.

Once again, there was joy in the process.

It was fitting then, on that December Friday, with my toddler muse at my back, that I shut down my computer on a completed Summer Squall, feeling that, once again, things had come full circle.

This amazing year had come to an end, marked by professional accomplishments I couldn’t have imagined. It was time to wrap up my work and head off on our Christmas vacation.

I sent the final files to my printer and a week later, I was on the receiving end of the service I’d provided my clients all year. On a sunny Monday morning, a FedEx truck pulled up in front of my childhood home in Providence, Rhode Island, delivering a box of final proofs that had followed us in flight over the Atlantic. I unwrapped each one, savoring the moment that I had worked toward for so long: the moment when I finally felt satisfied.

It is a season, a year, a life in chiaroscuro, the darks more prolific, accounting for most of the time and space, and yet it’s as if their only purpose is to direct you to the light, when it does spark. Framed against the darkness, the highlights reach new heights.

For all her struggles, Juliette pirouetted at the center of the summer universe, and for all the frustrations inherent to the creative process, I unrolled those proofs in late December with a feeling of satisfied completion. In the end, these are the moments that catch the light, while the the rest fade into shadow.

And once you’ve seen one glitter and spark, you’re bound to wait in the dark for another. Patiently, persistently, knowing: it’s precisely when the dark deepens, that the most brilliant moments are revealed.
Otherwise, the light is wasted.

Months before, on that night in July, Juliette lay her marshmallow stick in the grass, before ascending a darkened tunnel path up through the woods and back to our summer home. Her passage was framed on all sides by firefly falling stars, first a few, then many. They had finally shown up to give their nightly performance. It was magical, and seemed as if it was timed just for Juliette’s passing through.

Hours later, after a few motor boats had sped up and down the desolate river, after Juliette’s head had hit her pillow, her eyes had closed and she’d drifted off into a deep, satisfied sleep, I imagine a fortunate field mouse must have happened upon that stick.

Marveling at his good luck, he would have gorged himself on the last remaining marshmallow morsels. That gluttonous little rodent would have stumbled home to his mouse hole with a horrible ache in his belly. He would have tossed and turned through his whole day’s sleep.

And then, at the next onset of darkness, he would have woken up to a new night.

And then, as was all he knew to do, he would have gone off again.

Searching.

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EllieCashmanSummerSquallMidnightBluePhoto&StylingEllenMesu

EllieCashmanSummerSquallDaylightWhitePhoto&StylingEllenMesu copy

 

 

The Fabrics are Coming!

The Fabrics are Coming!

I’ve been talking about it for a while now, but in January 2015, it’s really going to happen!!

I’ll be launching my fabric collection, including 3 cottons, a rayon, a linen, 3 silks and a velvet.

Behold, the Dark Floral on silk charmeuse!

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I must admit I get a little emotional looking at these curtains. It’s been an intense process of sourcing, testing and ultimately producing them. At long last, there they are hanging in Dutch light, complete with raindrops on the window pane. Leave it to Mother Nature to add just the right touch :)

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Floraliën Flower Show

Floraliën Flower Show

On Monday I whizzed through the Floraliën flower show here in ‘s-Hertogenbosch. It’s Europe’s largest plant and flower expo – at 40,000 square meters – and I only shot a few hundred photos that will provide me with inspiration for months to come!

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Would have loved to have stayed longer but Nathan can only postpone his afternoon nap for so long …

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Here are some impressions of the floral arrangements and plantings we saw.

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Wish we could somehow replicate the smells too because it was heavenly!

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These gardens were so lush and expansive. I can’t imagine how long it took to set this all up, just for an 8 day show. And I’m left wondering where all these flowers go when it’s over …

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As seen on …

As seen on …

The web shop has been live for a month now and I’m so happy to share with you that the wallpaper has appeared on/in several blogs and publications this past month.

THANK YOU to the following blogs and newspapers for the lovely exposure!

It was a huge surprise to see my Dark Floral last Thursday on Australia’s #1 design blog, The Design Files.

The wallpaper appeared twice in a post about the appointment of a new Director, Tamara Maynes, at The Establishment Studios in Prahran, Melbourne. The Establishment Studios are, in the words of blog author Lucy Feagins “part photographic studio, part events space and part prop store.” Lucy says: “The Establishment Studios is a dynamic space that changes all the time – the creative team here are forever re-painting their walls with various wallpapers and textures, creating new surfaces and investing in new props to ensure great variety for the events and shoots which take place here.”

Tamara was one of my first clients, before the web shop was even live. It’s so inspiring to see what she has done with the wallpaper, styling it so beautifully for these photographs. Here is an excerpt from the Design Files post (to see the full post, click here):

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I think I will adapt that caption: “INSANELY beautiful new wallpaper” and find a place for it on my website. Love that!

There was also an appearance on Design Love Fest, a blog written by LA-based art director Bri Emery. Bri has been featured in publications such as Elle Décor, Apartment Therapy, HGTV, Lucky Magazine, Martha Stewart Weddings, The Los Angeles Times and more. Here is an excerpt from her post (to see the whole post, click here):

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“So rad.” Love it!

It’s also an honor, as a certified Francophile, to be included on the French blog Deco Crush (see below). For the full post, click here.

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My high school French teacher would be happy to know that I can kind of figure out what this says: “an ode to femininity.” I like that!

On Friday of last week I was the Featured Designer over at the Pattern Observer blog. Michelle Fifis and Chelsea Densmore do a wonderful job over there, providing countless opportunities and resources for surface pattern designers, and it was an honor to be featured. Thanks guys!

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The wallpaper was also in print in the UK’s Daily Mail on Sunday‘s Decorating Blueprint on January 19th.

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It’s great to see it getting out there!

And I can’t wait to release my next Dark Floral in just a couple more months!

Once again, many thanks go out to all these bloggers and editors for the lovely exposure!

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The Hangover

The Hangover

Unfortunately, this post probably isn’t going to be as funny as the movie that shares its title, arguably one of the funniest movies I’ve ever seen. Last week when I posted I was on a tremendous high, anticipating that all the hard work I’ve been doing over the past years was finally coming to fruition. The (perhaps inevitable) follow up to that post is, not surprisingly, the hangover :(

When those maternity nurses I talked about last week come to work on the 4th day of their 8 day stay, they know their ‘patient’ is going to have some kind of terrible, embarrassing crying fit. They told me this 4 days after Nathan was born, when I was in the middle of one such fit.

It makes it all the worse to know you’re that predictable. You’re a hostage to your hormones, a sad cliché …

And I found myself in that place again this past weekend. This web shop is like my 4th child. Last Friday it finally went live/was born at www.elliecashman.com. Unfortunately, it hasn’t (in my book) earned a 10 on the Apgar scale of web shops – yet. A few things are still missing/not functioning properly.

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I was so looking forward to sending out my big MailChimp (birth) announcement and writing gleefully about the whole experience on my blog. I was expecting a marching band, Arsenio Hall fist pumps … I wanted to spike the football in the end zone and run a victory lap, trophy in hand. Then top it all off with some embarrassing dance moves.

But it just wasn’t quite there yet.

Last Friday, I realized I would have to refrain from all-out celebration, just a little bit longer …

And there I was, sort of in limbo. The site was live, but at the same time I wasn’t ready to take it full speed to the masses, shout it from the rooftops, etc.

So I decided to devote my afternoon to the design I’m currently working on. I’m about 2 months in and have at least that many months to go. It’s such slow-going, but I’m hacking away at the thick brush of it. If I’m lucky, I have a couple of (consecutive?) hours to work on it each day.

Here’s a super sneak peek:

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Last Friday my husband took the afternoon off of work so that I could have some glorious, uninterrupted time with it. I was finally getting somewhere, was starting to think ahead to relaxing on my living room couch with a glass of wine and a good movie, when my Mac froze and I lost 3 hours of unsaved work on it! Argh!! Can’t you just feel the anxiety in your chest?? I thought I was going to throw up!

I know, I know, how could I be so stupid? I usually save every half hour. This was just bad, bad luck.

And, at the end of a disappointing day, this was enough to push me over the edge, into the deep, dingy pit of postpartum blues.

I was determined to claw my way out, but that meant foregoing that glass of wine. Every ‘free’ moment I had this past weekend was devoted entirely to stubbornly trying to turn my Mac misfortune into a blessing in disguise. I decided to grant myself a reprieve from this huge undertaking of a design and do something ‘fun’ (albeit at my computer).

A few months ago, my cousin-in-law, who will be only the 15th midwife in the history of Netherlands to receive her PhD, asked me if I would design the cover of her dissertation for her. It’s an honor, of course.

She was envisioning two birds as symbols of the cooperation between mother and child/mother and midwife, etc. So this weekend I left my Dark Floral #2, monstrous 17th-century floral still life wallpaper design on the shelf, and I cranked this out.

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We still want to play with it, with the colors, scale, maybe remove some elements. But at least it felt good to ‘finish’ something in a short period of time. Which has me thinking that I need to work on quick, loose designs like this at the same time I’m working on the meticulous monsters. For the sake of my mental health!

But now, it’s time to get back to that beast!

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Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving

This year, at Thanksgiving, I’m compelled to reflect on the year behind me, even though it’s not over yet. That’s because so much has changed for me this year, in a way I’m especially grateful for.

At 36, I feel more complete than ever before in my life. Not because anything is finished. Quite the contrary, I have this amazing feeling that things are just beginning. It’s just the foundation that feels complete. Many times over the last (almost) 7 years, since I relocated to the Netherlands, it’s been heavy lifting. But I chose this life. I think I chose it because I knew it would be hard … to start my life over again, in a new land and a new language.

Design sketches from 2007.

Hand sketches from 2007.

In February of 2007, I took a one-way flight from New Amsterdam to Old Amsterdam. And I made a deal with myself. When I set foot on this side of the ocean, I wouldn’t speak English, a language that, after 30 years, felt like a form-fitting suit lined with cloud fleece. If something was going to come out of my mouth, it would be in Dutch, a language which I’d been studying once a week for a couple of years. In New York City, I’d found a native Dutch speaker who met me in Starbuckses all over Manhattan, sending me home with long lists of vocab. And I studied, I did, but I had a head full of words and no idea how to put them together. I had a box of beads, but no string, no clasps … no grammatical grasps.

I don’t know why I was so adamant about quitting English cold turkey (a fitting phrase for this time of year, don’t you think?) I had visions of immersing myself in Dutch for 6 months, at the end of which I would awake from a Dutch dream, knowing myself to be truly ‘fluent.’ Oh, how warped was my notion of learning a second language?? All these years later, I’ve only woken from a number of Dutch dreams (a number I can count on two hands) and what they all had in common was a feeling of stress and struggling to express myself.

What happened in those early months is that I started to say a lot less. I couldn’t express complex thoughts in Dutch. Telling stories was highly challenging; telling jokes was all but impossible. I didn’t know how to say things, so I didn’t say them at all. My personality changed: I became quieter, more serious.

Design sketches from 2008.

Hand sketches from 2008.

At 30 years old, I was starting over, laying down the first stones of a new foundation. In my new world, I felt like I child. There were so many things I didn’t understand, so many ways in which I felt out of my depths. Everyday tasks of doing groceries or going to the post office forced me to confront my incapacity, my uncertainty. Standing in line, I would look up just long enough to observe that the Dutch people around me were so much better adapted to their surroundings than I, with their native language skills and their totally sick biking abilities. I ejected myself from conversations the way I ejected myself from my bike seat on the Brouwersgracht, for fear of making mistakes, for fear of crashing.

While I disengaged from the outside world, I was escaping to an inner one, where I had another language. It wasn’t English, it wasn’t Dutch, it wasn’t even made up of letters or words at all. It was a language of images, of colors and forms, textures and patterns. It wasn’t a new language for me, but the way I needed it was new.

Design sketches from 2008.

Hand sketches from 2008.

This led me, in 2010, to establish Ellie Cashman Design. I started designing surface patterns for an agent in the US and an agent here in the Netherlands. I loved it, and whenever our two daughters (Ruby, then 2.5 and Juliette, then newborn) were at daycare or asleep, I was at my laptop (I can’t believe it now, but my first designs were done on a laptop with a 17″ screen. How spoiled I’ve become since then, with a 27″ iMac and a large Wacom tablet!)

Anyway, this thing called surface design seemed to combine my fine art and graphic design background. But it was such a big field, and I was just beginning to explore its many possibilities – to design for fashion, home interiors, wrapping paper, stationery products, quilting fabrics, tech products, you name it! I was looking at blogs like Print and Pattern and Pattern Observer and I was overwhelmed by all the inspiration I found there. I tried to emulate lots of styles as a path to finding my own. That’s what I was doing then, finding my style, experimenting with the technology – hardware and software – to see what was possible. Selling a design here and there.

Design made during a class in hand/digital techniques at the Textile Museum in Tilburg, 2009.

Design made during a class in combining hand/digital techniques at the Textile Museum in Tilburg, NL, 2009.

Because it was something I did in my ‘free’ time, something I loved to do and did for myself (not for a boss) and because I wasn’t making any money to speak of, it still felt like a hobby. It was hard to explain to people what I was doing. I had no finished products to show. When my agents sold my work, it was out of a portfolio of dozens of other nameless designers. I was anonymous. I felt disconnected. I knew I wanted to get to these trade shows myself, that no one would do a better job of representing me than I could, but with two young kids at home, I didn’t have the time resources to create the volume of work that would make going to a trade show worthwhile. My big goal for 2013 was to do Surtex for the first time (a few months before Nathan was born) but halfway through the pregnancy I decided to take that pressure off of myself and I canceled my booth reservation.

My early designs were mostly made using Adobe Illustrator.

From 2010-2012, I made my designs using Adobe Illustrator.

Then, unexpectedly, in April of 2013, several months after I’d posted it, an image of one of my dark floral wallpaper designs went viral on Pinterest. I started getting several e-mails a week from people who wanted to know where they could buy it. At that time, I was talking to a potential manufacturer. I’d been waiting for years to be ‘discovered’ by a manufacturer, and it looked like it was finally going to happen! But then that partnership fell through. I think because the interest I was receiving via social media gave me the confidence to ask for an advance, which scared the manufacturer off. I’m so happy about that, in hindsight, because each week brought more e-mails.

Some of my first digitally painted flowers, 2012.

In 2012, I moved on to Adobe Photoshop. These are some of my first digitally painted flowers, 2012.

More digitally painted flowers, 2012.

More digitally painted flowers, 2012.

More digitally painted flowers, 2012.

More digitally painted flowers, 2012.

At first, I didn’t know what to tell people. The wallpaper wasn’t available, yet, but I was working on it. I thought, “OK, if there are actually people out there who want to buy it, maybe I could look into having it custom printed.” And I posted a discussion on the Dutch Designers’ Association Group on LinkedIn, asking if anyone had good experience with wallpaper printers. I got lots of good tips, several of which I followed up on, and I ended up with a fantastic partner, a printer with a lot of experience, even a bit of a specialty, in wallpaper. The team there has since contributed to my creative process in ways I couldn’t have imagined! It changed everything when I started to design for a specific product, for a specific context and industry. My early work was missing that. I needed a focus, and in the early summer of 2013, I knew it was wallpaper.

Detail of the dark floral wallpaper that went viral on Pinterest in 2013.

Detail of the dark floral wallpaper that went viral on Pinterest in 2013.

In August, I started shipping out my first rolls of that dark floral wallpaper, and in the months since I’ve tracked packages online as they’ve boarded trucks, trains and planes on their way to other continents (5 so far!) I watch, literally in a state of giddiness and awe, as the wallpaper journeys from loading points to check points to delivery points. The UPS guy and I are becoming fast friends, as he’s patiently teaching me best practices in printing shipping labels, customs invoices and running a little business from the storefront of my front door.

This has been the perfect primer period leading up to the launch of my web shop, which really should be this coming week. The builders say they’ll be done by Tuesday. Then we’ll run a couple of tests, and be live by Friday. And, as I think about that, as I look back on the last (almost) 7 years and the last year in particular, and I feel incredibly thankful for what feels like the completion of a foundational stage, I think about a particular moment on a particular day of this past year.

It was in the early morning hours of August 19th, around 1:00 a.m. I was in a hospital parking lot, climbing into the passenger side of our silver minivan.  My husband was in the driver’s seat, and our new baby Nathan, only three hours old at the time, was strapped into his car seat behind us. It was pitch dark and there was no one else around, just our two maternity nurses in their cars behind us, ready to follow us home. In the Netherlands, there are no hospital stays after normal, uncomplicated births. They send you home as soon as you can stand up again. That may sound strange, but the trade off is these maternity nurses who come and care for you for 8 days in your home. It’s a good trade, as there is just nothing like your own bed, especially when you’re cuddled up with your newborn in it, and someone is bringing you breakfast in it :)

When I closed the car door in that hospital parking lot, my husband and I were alone for the first time since all the delivery room drama had gone down. Suddenly, there were no doctors, midwives, or nurses telling us what to do. So there we were, in the darkness and the silence, searching for words while the still images from those few preceding hours rolled by on a mental reel.

We didn’t know anything about Nathan before he was born, besides that he got hiccups a couple times a day and kicked most at night. We chose not to know his gender. Because, we said, we’ll know it someday, and sometimes in life it’s actually nice not to know. And so we spent 9 months wondering, as we’d done with his sisters before him. In that way, I think our kids were just dreams to us, so abstract, until the moment they were there, and we could see and touch them, name them, and drive home with our dreams in the back seat. Healthy. Boy. That moment had come (again) and it was incredible.

In the silence, we scraped our minds for the words to describe it, and the word that came was “complete.”

And then there was nothing more to do but hit the gas, and go.

Ruby, Juliette and Nathan.

Ruby, Juliette and Nathan, September 2013.

And that is how I feel now, about my family and about my work. The foundation has been laid. I’ve spent the last few years digging the hole, gathering the stones and putting them in place. So much of the activity was underground and unexciting, but at the end of 2013, I feel I’ve reached the surface, am maybe even breaking it and starting to build on top of it.

In 2013, there was an image.

In 2013, there was an image, and behind that image, I found words again.

In 2013, there was an image, and behind that image, I found words again. I’m engaged in conversations, with my customers, my photographer, my printer, my web builder. On this side, I have something to say, and a language with which to say it.

Last Wednesday, after Ruby’s ballet class, one of her classmates gave us a baby gift. We came home, put Nathan in bed, and Ruby and Juliette did the honors of opening ‘his’ present for him. It was a book called Meneer (Mr.) René by Leo Timmers.

Meneer René, by Leo Timmers.

Meneer René, by Leo Timmers.

We quickly settled into our spots on the living room couch, with Ruby on my right arm and Juliette on my left, and started to read the story of Réné, a dog who is a painter. He goes to the market every weekend and tries to sell his paintings, but no one ever wants to buy them. One day, a magic man shows up and tells him that if he cuts his paintings out, they’ll become real. So he cuts out a painting of an apple, and in an amazing instant, he’s holding a real, edible fruit. Then he rushes home and paints cars and planes and big house, which he’s sitting in a short time later when a rabbit named Rose comes to the door and rings his bell, asking to buy one of his paintings.

Rose ringing René's doorbell.

Rose ringing René’s doorbell.

He says he doesn’t paint anymore, that he doesn’t have any paintings to sell, and he sends Rose home empty handed. But that gets René to thinking, and eventually, he paints a painting of the magic man, cuts him out, and asks him to reverse the spell, so that his paintings will no longer come to life. Then he paints a regular old painting – a painting of a rose – and he heads off to the market and gives it to the rabbit named Rose.

To me, the message is: having things that you can keep is great and all, but given the choice, wouldn’t we all – as Réné did – give those things up to have one thing that we can give away?

I feel so lucky to have cast my line of life questions into a pool of possibilities, and to have had these answers come back to me. I feel so lucky to know what it feels like to bring life into the world. Nothing will top that. But as an artist, a respectable second place goes to knowing what it feels like when a rabbit named Rose rings your doorbell.

And now there’s nothing left to do but hit the gas, and go.

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Rose Decay wallpaper. Available later this week via www.elliecashman.com.

Rose Decay wallpaper. Styling and photography by Ellen Mesu. Available later this week via www.elliecashman.com.

 

Moonlight Meadow wallpaper. Available later this week via www.elliecashman.com.

Moonlight Meadow wallpaper. Styling and photography by Ellen Mesu. Available later this week via www.elliecashman.com.

 

Twisting Tulips wallpaper. Available later this week via www.elliecashman.com.

Twisting Tulips wallpaper. Styling and photography by Ellen Mesu. Available later this week via www.elliecashman.com.

 

In 2013, there was an image.

Dark Floral wallpaper. Styling and photography by Ellen Mesu. Available later this week via www.elliecashman.com.

 

Stepping it Up

Stepping it Up

I’m all giddy and excited about attending the Meet the Blogger Amsterdam conference next Monday and Tuesday.

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I know it’s a little crazy to be attending a conference when I have a 6-week old baby. But luckily this is possible thanks to my mother-in-law, who’s coming with me (and Nathan) for an Amsterdam babysitting adventure! I’m not sure how it’s all going to work out, but it will involve feedings during coffee breaks and possibly attending the Woonbeurs with Nathan in the ErgoBaby!

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I guess it’s also possible due to the fact that Nathan is such an EASY, angelic baby! I think he’s known for some time that I am on a mission with my work right now, and he is cooperating like the little sweetheart that he is. It started, I think, when he got notions about being born on August 14th. I started to have some pretty serious contractions that night, but then we had a short conversation about my appointment at the printer’s on August 16th, and he agreed to stay where he was until August 18th. I don’t know that I would have dared to drag Ruby or Juliette on this kind of an adventure, but I guess that’s what happens when you are 3rd in the family line!

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There’s his royal highness, at 4 weeks old.

Anyway, the reason I feel I couldn’t miss this conference is because one of the key note speakers is Tricia Guild, founder of Designers Guild.

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As surface designers go, she is an icon, a legend, a celebrity, and I’m so curious to hear what she has to share!

Of course the MAIN focus of the conference is blogging (specifically, blogging about interior design) so I have been checking out the blogs written by my fellow attendees, and I’ve found some great new sources of inspiration which will be feeding my Pinterest boards and my blog from now on. I’m so excited to be among such an amazing, creative and entrepreneurial group of women.

So in preparation for this event I did a little re-design of my blog. That’s why it’s looking a little different. I wanted to step it up, so I would fit in with this crowd!

Also, my web shop should be going live in about 2 weeks. Here’s a sneak peek at the tulip wallpaper I wrote about last time, styled and photographed by Ellen Mesu. I’ll be writing a whole separate post about her soon!

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The web shop will also be linking to this blog, so that was all the more reason to polish it up. And to start writing more regularly, which is my autumn resolution! I’ve been thinking a lot about the course of my business and I want to keep it personal. This blog is a major piece of that. If possible, I want to continue to have personal contact with my customers, even though the purchasing process will become somewhat automated. It’s really valuable to me to hear from people about why they like the wallpaper, where and how they want to use it. Yes, more valuable than mass sales and piles of money! It helps me to learn and grow as a designer, and to feel fulfilled by what I’m doing.

Well, a certain little man has been waiting patiently as I write this, so that’s all for now! I’ll be back next time with lots of new inspiration from Amsterdam!

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Out there, at last

Out there, at last

So, it seems that something totally fantastic has happened … One of my designs has gone viral on Pinterest and I have been getting tons of requests for it, from all around the world, every day since! It’s a designer’s dream!! Certain media entities (rather large ones at that!) are also showing interest in publishing information about the papers …

This is giving me a rapid heartbeat, just writing about it!!

There is only one piece to the puzzle that’s still missing, and that is a manufacturer. Right now the wallpaper isn’t yet available for purchase, although hopefully that will change soon. I’m looking for a partner to produce and distribute it. There are some developments on that front too, but so far nothing to report officially.

 

Ellie Cashman Wallpaper

 

Over the past few years I’ve definitely doubted myself multiple times, and struggled to have faith that this passion of mine, to create art for everyday objects, to be part of an art/design dialogue that is interwoven in daily experience, would ever be appreciated or lead to anything concrete. I’ve struggled, at times, to believe that this was more than just something I loved to do, that it had greater meaning out there in the world, to anyone other than myself.

That’s why it’s so gratifying to hear from so many who have found me via Pinterest, and who see something in the work. Thanks to all of you who have taken the time to contact me and share your enthusiasm and encouragement for something that I truly feel amounts to a personal expression of me.

This experience has reaffirmed for me the reasons why I believe in this path that I’ve chosen, and I’m now inspired to pursue it with redoubled passion and vigor.

It’s important to me that art is something we have access to on a daily basis. I was frustrated in art school that all our talk seemed so detached from what was really going on in the world, that paintings in a gallery or museum setting remained so inaccessible to so many. Commercial art has its drawbacks too (no doubt), but I like to feel my work answers a need that exists in the tangible, everyday world, while also adding beauty to it. And does that in a way that is a unique, authentic expression of me, while still being accessible and affordable to others.

I see my wallpaper designs as artworks. I put my whole heart and soul into them, from the concept/planning stage to the execution.

In the end, instead of hanging an artwork on your wall, your wall itself becomes a work of art.

But I am only half the equation of course, and the realization that an end user, that a market for this kind of wallpaper is not just an imagined fantasy of mine but actually exists, is electrifying. The last couple of weeks have taught me once and for all that this market is real, and that I can (and will!) have a place in it.

Yesterday I got a lovely message from Shanan Kurtz at the Symmetric blog. She had just posted Oh, The Drama: Dark Wallpaper and included this design of mine. It’s lovely to be part of a post like this, so thank you Shanan for helping to get my work out there, at last …

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P.S. If you’re a Pinterest person (or addict, like myself) and would like to follow developments and see the latest additions to my porftolio, please become a follower of my Pinterest board { ellie cashman wallpaper }.

 

Sandy, Dutch Design Week and Poppies

Sandy, Dutch Design Week and Poppies

The past couple of weeks have had me struggling with another bout of homesickness. Strangely, the images of tragedy striking New York City (again) made me feel like I should be there … I’ve missed my New England roots many times over the last 5.5 years, but I haven’t missed New York like I have these past weeks, seeing my old neighborhood (Tribeca) in pitch darkness, my old Subway stops under water … Ah. Sandy’s winds are pulling on my heart strings …

But then last week I found some comfort in this beautiful letter from Emmy McCarthy, an expat to Amsterdam who founded the Amsterdam Mamas. As she says, as an expat, your definition of home shifts. Basically, it’s wherever your kids are!

It’s true, there’s no force of nature bigger or stronger, when it comes to my heart strings, than Ruby and Juliette. And, this is their home. So, I continue to do my best to grow my own roots here, roots that don’t give in to hurricane gusts of homesickness.

And, it’s working, slowly but surely.

A couple of weeks ago I went to Dutch Design Week in Eindhoven, but I really failed at taking good photos. I just didn’t have the time or the right state of mind to enjoy it and to go to the two places I really wanted to go: the Graduate Projects Exhibition at the Design Academy Eindhoven and the studio/store/restaurant/city-unto-itself of Piet Hein Eek. Oh well … Next year.

 

 

I did snap this photo of a billboard featuring the legendary Mr. Eek that I took from the train platform, overlooking the Strijp-S location at DDW (an old Philips plant which has now been converted into studio/office space for lots of creative businesses, a skateboard park, restaurants, cafés and event locations, a Farmer’s Market, etc.) I think its footprint is as large, if not larger, than the entire downtown area of Eindhoven, and the city is subsidizing it in some pretty exciting ways.

What do you think of the quote on the billboard? It should have started with a “He …”, but other than that, is this true for you? Is your environment your studio, your neighborhood, your town, your city, your world?

 

Map courtesy of www.brabant.nl

 

Well, as environments go, I think mine is a pretty good one. For almost exactly 4 years now, I’ve lived between Eindhoven and ‘s Hertogenbosch, two of the major cities that comprise the Province of Brabant (seen on the map above) in the South of the Netherlands. Brabant is a candidate for European Capital of Culture 2018. From the always trustworthy Wikipedia:

“The European Capital of Culture is a city designated by the European Union for a period of one calendar year during which it organises a series of cultural events with a strong European dimension. Preparing a European Capital of Culture can be an opportunity for the city to generate considerable cultural, social and economic benefits and it can help foster urban regeneration, change the city’s image and raise its visibility and profile on an international scale.”

I read through the application while at DDW and I was truly impressed, both by its content and presentation. It is really amazing to think about all the things going on here, between Eindhoven being ‘Brainport’ (the city with the highest average IQ and largest number of patents per capita) and home to the world-renowned Design Academy, Philips and ASML Headquarters, the Textile Museum in Tilburg, Vlisco in Helmond, history and beauty and charm in ‘s Hertogenbosch … And I know I’m forgetting a lot of things. I could have picked a worse place to expatriate to, that’s for sure.

One thing I did accomplish at Dutch Design Week is that I met with an interior designer who is developing a product line comprised of different ranges: rugs, tablecloths, tableware, vases, wallpaper, etc. We may become partners in producing a line of wallpaper! Last week I spent about two hours learning about licensing contracts for artists, as ours would be a relationship where I would be paid royalties on net sales. It’s all described very clearly in a handy reference I can recommend: Licensing Art & Design by Caryn R. Leland.

 

 

After just two hours, I felt like I went to law school, at least on this subject. Some other great references on art licensing are Maria Brophy’s blog and the Art Licensing blog by Tara Reed. These two experts on the subject have recently collaborated on this book, which has also gotten a lot of positive reviews.

I’m also working on a commission for a private home (my first one!) and learning that this is my favorite way of working with clients: visiting their spaces, hearing about their inspirations, their stories, looking at their furniture and coming up with a unique solution for their walls. Then wallpaper becomes much more that just decoration; It becomes a truly personal and unique reflection of the spaces and their inhabitants. It becomes and experience and a story in and of itself, as all things in our homes should be …

Over the last month or so, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about my natural focus and how I want to approach this massive market of surface design in a unique and authentic way, and it’s all beginning to take shape. Now I’m toying with the idea of (one day) finding a little shopfront in the village of Vught here and turning it into my studio/gallery/shop, where customers can walk in and have a consultation, request a commission, see past projects on display, etc. How’s that for putting down some roots?! I think the ‘seed was planted’ (so to speak) when I read this post about bloggers opening brick and mortar shops (a new trend, apparently). But then last week I was biking by some of the charming village shops in Vught after dropping Juliette off at daycare, and I suddenly saw myself moving in (someday) …

 

View of Vught as you approach from ‘s Hertogenbosch. The church whose steeple you see here is currently being renovated to house the public library, the Vught Historical Museum, a café, etc.

The ice cream shop in town where we always treat ourselves on Queens Day (April 30).

Vught is home to one of the best patisseries in Europe: de Rouw. A very classy place that makes me feel a bit like I’m in Paris.

 

What do you think? Pretty charming, right?

These past weeks I’ve been so busy that design work has progressed slowly, but here’s a peak at the poppies I’ve been pondering …

 

 

Or, perhaps you prefer a more dramatic, dark and mysterious palette?