Artist: Tiel Seivl-Keevers
Web site: Tsk Tsk Illusation and Design
Etsy: Tsk Tsk
Blog: Tsk Tsk
Where are you located?
What do you create?
For a few years now I have been creating personalised artworks for children called ABCme Designs. I came up with the idea when trying to think of a personalised present for some friends who were first time mums. The works illustrate a child’s name and underneath each letter of the name is an image starting with that letter. For example, S is for Socks, A is for aeroplane, M is for Moon. I have over 70 illustrations that the customer can choose from and several colour combinations. Once the customer has chosen the design, I render them all individually to make them original and unique. The works are designed on paper and can be bought with a frame, or larger artworks can be placed onto canvas. Basically, I don’t like mass marketing and commercialism especially when directed to children, so wanted people to have an option where they could purchase something original.
In addition to this I have started to produce other paintings that are also suited to children’s décor. I’m working on one for boys called with a monster theme and one for girls with a Matryoshka theme.
When time allows, I design greeting cards and small paintings on paper and sell them to my customers and also through my etsy shop.
Apart from that I just freelance when I can. Mostly editorial illustration and brand identity.
How did you come up with your company name?
After some initial brainstorming and research I decided to work with my initials. T S and K. Hence, tsk tsk. Some people initially thought it might be some erotic, adult company…something naughty. So I added the design and illustration part on at the end. It is far from erotic, but I do like making people think. I also wanted something generic so I could expand into other products later if I wanted to.
When and why did you decide to start your business?
When?…About 4 years ago. We moved interstate when #1 was 9 months old and I was pregnant with our second. Because the children are so close in age, and given the time of the year, I didn’t want to go and hunt for a new teaching job and then leave it once #2 was born.
Why?... I was bored being at home with a baby and needed something creative to do. I enjoy being at home. Getting out daily can be too difficult when you have a small child…too stressful. I battled with the idea for sometime. I didn’t have a happy second pregnancy, and was very tired chasing #1 around all day. I knew it would be difficult. I didn’t make any initial promises to myself that I would start a business. I just had a few ideas about a product I wanted to make. So I made them for friends and the response and support was inspiring. So somewhere in the big blur of #2’s first year, I started making more and selling them. Now, almost 4 years on I want to better the product and make other ideas come to light.
Where do you get your inspiration for your projects?
I hate this question, and probably because I feel as if my answer should be something intelligent and unique. Quite simply, I look where I can. The internet, magazines and art books. I don’t get to see much contemporary art or design in galleries because I just don’t get to those places as often.
I like seeing what others are doing, but I like altering, changing and developing what I see so that it becomes different to what everyone else is making. I take parts of things I see and blend them with other parts and images in my head to create something new. Well I try. There are plenty of artists and designers I look at… I have a few favourites for each genre, but there are so many. I have always loved the simplicity and beauty of Scandinavian Designers.
Which of the tools you use is your favorite?
The computer and printer. I would love to do more painting but it isn’t working in my life right now with little inquisitive hands always in the way. I have just returned to some printmaking and am enjoying that. I majored in printmaking at university so will always have a passion for ink and paper.
I love textiles, so fabric and paper are always apart of what I do.
What keeps you motivated?
Mess. I see it and walk away. I say to myself, ‘Go and make something, this can wait’.
The Children. Most of my artwork is for children. I wonder if this will change as they grow older? My husband. A great man who supports my mad, creative mood swings. Other creative people from all around the world.
How do you get the word out about your business?
Advertise in magazines for children. Word of mouth. Direct emailing. I have samples in hospitals, cafes and centers for children. My website, and blog site. Online baby/children shops. Good friends with big mouths.
Where do you see your business in 5 years?
Mmmmmm. I was supposed to write that business plan wasn’t I? In 5 years, I will have more time to dedicate to the business on a daily basis. I would like to have more exposure… a little shop would be nice with my products and perhaps other artists/designers with similar goals.
What advice would you give to someone starting a creative business?
Don’t set your goals too high initially. Small steps are best. Be very aware of what you are making and what others in your community are making. You will need to balance the creative part of the business with the marketing/finance side. Keep all your receipts and don’t leave your tax until the last moment.
What's your favorite quote?
I never really remember quotes or use them in my life. My father always says, ‘Waste not, Want not’ Good advice in this consumable world we live in. But I love Lewis Carroll’s work so this is a favourite.
‘Sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.’
Can you recommend a good book or great music?
Book: Any of Nick Bantock books are truly beautiful to hold and read.
Music: Camille and Emiliana Torrini are 2 artists I am currently listening to.
Who is your favorite indie designer/artist?
Just one? Right now I’m loving Amy Huddleston and Lotta Jansdotter.
Thank you Tiel!