Interview: Dani Eijkelenboom

Dani runs her own online shop, whilst studying art and design. I was lucky enough to have an interview with Dani about her new online shop and artwork. 

Hello Dani! Thank you so much for letting me interview you. How are you?

Hi Rhiannon, it's so lovely to talk to you! I'm doing wonderful, thank you!

Tell us a little bit about your background.

So my name is Dani, I am 21 years old and currently living in Rotterdam, The Netherlands. I grew up in a tiny little village close to the sea in the countryside in the south of the Netherlands. When I was 18 years old I moved to Rotterdam on my own to study art and design. In just a few months time I will be done with this course! 

I adore your business. What made you decide to set up Novacaeli?

Thank you! People, especially women, who set up their own business have always inspired me. I think they're such an empowering and gratifying environment, and I very much wanted to be a part of that and to be able to create. 

Why did you call your shop Novacaeli?

Nova Caeli is Latin for "fresh air". I stumbled upon it on accident while randomly translating words on google translate. I am very passionate about crisp, fresh air! I grew up very close to the sea, so even when I wouldn't be near the beach I'd still be able to smell it. This has always been such a relief for me, it's one of the reasons why I decided to stick with this name. 

How has your creative process changed since the start?

When I started drawing again I was afraid to sketch and erase, make mistakes. Everything I drew had to be right immediately or I would give up. I'm still not the biggest fan of sketching and still try to get everything right at the first try, but I know that it's an important process to go through. 

How did you manage to learn and hone your craft? 

By trying and trying again. Truly, just beginning and doing it is the best way of learning it. 

Have you always been into painting and illustration?

Not always, no! Like so many people, as a kid I would paint and draw in my free time after school, and like so many others it stopped. When I was fifteen though, I came across the artwork of Mirtle, from the shop Mirtlemakes, and their illustrations inspired me so much that I automatically started to draw again. Shortly after that I bought a little watercolour palette and started to experiment with that.  

If there were no resource restraints, what would be your dream project? 

My dream project would be to do some murals on huge buildings in cities! What I would also love to do is to decorate big cakes every once in a while - my parents used to have a bakery when I was little and I am still in love with baking. To combine baking and illustrating would be an absolute dream. 

What equipment do you use for your work?

For my lino cut prints I use my gouge and a huge, olg printer from like 1850 that they used to print papers with. For my illustrations and paintings I use my watercolour palette from Winsor and Newton and lots of different fineliners. 

What tools or materials could you not live without?

My gouge and watercolour palette! They are both very dear to me

Why has social media been an important platform for you to use?

It has been able to let me show my art and processes to the people who are interested in that - I have always been a shy person so thanks to social media I do not have to feel uncomfortable while doing what I love! 

Who inspires your work?

There are so many amazing artists that inspire me. First of all I'm gonna say Mirtlemakes again because they inspired me to get back to drawing again and I am so grateful for that! I adore Phoebe Wahl's work a lot. Some other artists that inspire me are Kate Pugsly, Taryn Knight, Paloma Smith and Andrea Lauren. 

Do you have any favourite pieces of work that you adore at the moment from your shop?

Due to me being very busy with my final projects in uni I only have two pieces of art in my shop, but I love my lesbian print a lot! It's very close to me and a personal work. 

What do we hope to see in this up and coming year for your Instagram and your work?

I will develop my style even more, the last year and a half has been very important for my development and I'm really excited about it! I can't wait to see where I will be next year. 

What are you currently working on?

There are some handmade patches that have been needing my attention for ages! Now that I have finished a few lino cuts I might continue with those again. I would love to bring back some felt pins I made last year. 

What’s your typical working day?

Going to uni very early, some days I finish early and those are the days I usually try to get some painting, drawing and printing done! 

What’s been the biggest struggle in getting your business off the ground?

The biggest struggle definitely has been getting people to visit my Etsy shop. I am very lucky to slowly gain a bit of a following on both Instagram and Tumblr, they are massive help in getting people to visit my shop. 

Do you have any exciting plans for this year?

In a few months there will be an open day at my uni and me and some friends will be doing workshops in gouging for anyone who's interested! It's not huge, but I haven't done something like this before and who knows, if I like doing this I could start doing workshops for small groups of people!

What are your career plans with your online shop?

When I finish uni in March I hope to be able to make a lot of work that I can put in my shop. After a while, I will finally be able to fully focus on this! It would be great if I eventually could live off the money from my Etsy shop.

What advice would you give to people looking to define their own style?

Don't stop drawing! I know it can be discouraging when you look at all the other artists out there, but comparing yourself to others is the worst thing you can do. So try to focus on your own capability and opportunities. 

Do you have any advice for anyone starting their own online shop?

Look around you, see what other people do with their online shop, how they promote it, how they take pictures of their work, how they make their online shop catch your eye!

Do you have any advice for anyone wanting to start making their own products? 

Make what you love, not what you think other people will love. 

What’s next for Novacaeli? 

Lots of growing in every aspect! I'm excited to see what 2017 will bring for me - this past year has been bigger for me as a small beginning artist than I could have hoped for.  

What's the best piece of creative advice you've ever been given?

My art teacher from when I was fifteen told me to never stop being curious and trying out new things. It's quite a general piece of advice but I do apply this to my creative processes a lot! 

Please follow Dani on her wonderful Instagram 'Novacaeli' and Etsy shop 'www.etsy.com/shop/novacaeli'. She is constantly posting updates about her artwork and university projects.