A dream came true for illustrator Nienke Vletter when she turned her hobby (drawing) into her profession: she creates illustrations on commission, hosts workshops and, with more than 15K followers on Instagram, she can rightfully call herself a creative influencer. And now she can tick another thing off her bucket list. Together with Vaessen Creative, Nienke developed a beautiful collection with everything you need to make your creative dreams come true. From a planner journal and a sketchbook with different kinds of paper to a journaling tool, a stationery set, a journal corner punch, cardstock and a label block in beautiful, fresh colours. Entirely in Nienke's style.
As a child, Nienke was already quite creative. She danced (ballet), loved singing, was even in a band and... drew. "I started drawing when I was very young. I remember enjoying it so much that I could spend hours doing it. My mother would sit me down quietly at the table with paper and crayons and my walkman on. An hour later, I would still be happily drawing," she recalls.
After secondary school, Nienke started studying and working, which pushed her crafting into the background. Nevertheless, she always kept looking for creativity in her work: "I worked at an advertising agency, for instance, and then again at a design agency. I watched the designers and after 10 years I started missing being creative more and more. When hand lettering came up, I picked up the pencils and started drawing again."
From then on, things moved fast for Nienke. The company where she worked wanted a mural by her, followed by more requests for murals and illustrations from colleagues, friends and family. After 2.5 years, she quit her job and started her adventure as a self-employed illustrator. Now, she says she has the best job in the world: drawing, painting, testing materials and then sharing all that knowledge in workshops and on social media.
These days, Nienke does not leave the house without her sketchbook and pencil case. She prefers to draw people and the city (urban sketching). Her style is "fresh and bright" and lies between realistic and illustrative. "My style is especially colourful," she adds. "Colour makes me very happy, but also the colourfulness of people in the city. I find it fascinating to see what moves people, but also that everyone looks so different. It's important to me to show this diversity in my work."
Nienke also likes the diversity in her work activities. "If I only drew, or only gave workshops, I would start to find it boring at some point. But it's the combination that is so nice because I like drawing, but I find it just as fun to then create a workshop around that drawing." Still, there is one thing that stands out. "I get very excited by working with materials, which is also reflected in everything I do! In workshops I talk a lot about the materials, because they are an important part of it. When I draw for myself, I am testing materials at the same time. In turn, I share that knowledge online. I also collaborate with well-known creative brands, which means I now have a wonderful collection of materials. That is truly a gift of my work!"
So when Vaessen Creative asked her if she would like to help develop her own products, Nienke didn't have to think for long. "That was so awesome! It had been on my bucket list for a while now. Whenever I saw a beautiful stationery set in a bookstore, I thought, how cool would it be to have my own stationery products!"
In collaboration with Vaessen Creative, a beautiful line of products was created, the Nienke Vletter Collection, all in Nienke's fresh, colourful style. The collection includes a paper cutter, a label block, a journal corner punch, cardstock paper, a journal tool, stickers, a planner journal, a sketchbook, a pencil case and stationery set with a ruler and paper clips.
The idea behind the collection is that you have everything you need to get creative but also to get organised. "Hence the motto Dream, Plan, Do. It stands for creativity (dreams), but also for putting work into those dreams. After all, we often have great ideas that we then don't follow up on. This collection contains all the tools to carry out those great ideas and make something beautiful. In addition, all tools and materials can be combined," Nienke explains. "Get started with the journal tool* and stickers in the journal planner*. Then make pretty tabs with the journal corner punch and label block, which you can in turn use in the sketchbook. Create beautiful colour wheels in the sketchbook with the journal tool. I use the stationery set and paper cutter for essentially all my creative endeavours and that last one is, of course, perfect for cutting cardstock!"
Nienke is most thrilled with the sketchbook*. "That one was really at the top of my list! I like working with different kinds of art mediums, but each one needs a special paper. For example, you need different paper for alcohol markers than you would need for watercolours. This special sketchbook contains three different types of high-quality paper, which allow you to work with many different materials. So I'm super happy and proud of that!"
Although Nienke had a good idea beforehand of what she wanted in her collection, there is one product she did not expect. "I had never used a punch before, but together with Vaessen Creative, I developed a new journal corner punch that I now use for all kinds of things: quickly making tabs with the label block for my planner, or making tabs for the different types of paper in the sketchbook. I used to cut those tabs by hand, but it's so much faster with the corner punch. I also use the punch to round off corners, for example for small illustrations I've made and want to send or sell as cards."
Another specially designed tool is the planner journal. Nienke explains what exactly makes it so special: "I always used paper planners or bullet journals. But I missed room for creativity in a normal planner and in a bullet journal I often missed that the upcoming weeks weren’t already in it. For me, the planner journal is the perfect combination of the two! What makes this journal unique is the mix of overview and creativity. The monthly and weekly overviews are already pre-printed, but without dates, so you can start at any point in the year. Each week also has a page with space for your own interpretation. So you can use all your creativity there, but the planner journal is also suitable for people who prefer to keep their diary minimalistic. At the back, apart from the weekly overview, there are 40 pages with a dot grid. You can use these for notes, to-do lists, bullet journaling, drawing, doodling, etc. Whatever you want!"
Despite having already managed to cross quite a few things off her list, Nienke continues to dream. "I would like to create more of my own work. Right now, my work is mostly for social media or workshops. That's why I started taking painting classes last year. First with acrylics and slowly also with oil paint. To keep learning new things."
To this day, Nienke still appreciates the fact that she was able to turn her passion into her work. "Sometimes it's hard to sense what you like and to go for it. So I'm proud that every day I do what makes me feel happy, cycling to my studio with beautiful materials every day makes me really happy. I'm also proud that in a relatively short time I've become an expert in my field and that I can inspire others in turn."
Finally, for anyone who would also like to learn to draw, Nienke has one last piece of advice. "Above all, enjoy playing. We are often very focused on the result, we want to draw that perfect Pinterest picture. And if it doesn't work out, it immediately feels like a failure. It's not: just enjoy playing and see what happens. Because when it doesn't have to be perfect, you'll have fun and grow naturally in the process. Give yourself time to learn things and enjoy the 'dirty' fingers from paint or crayons. I was a tremendous perfectionist myself, so I know it's not easy. For example, I really couldn't draw portraits three years ago and now I’m teaching people how to draw them in workshops. You simply won’t learn drawing by scrolling, but by doing it more often!"
*The sketchbook, journal planner, journal tool and pencil case will be available in early 2023.