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Studio Tour with Ksenya Samarskaya

A brief, yet stunning tour of Brooklyn based designer Ksenya Samarskaya's loft.

Set in a former factory in an industrial section of town, Ksenya has beautiful floor to ceiling windows and a gorgeous collection of books, artifacts, gigantic plants, and dusty furniture that adorn her home. 

Have a look at her equally thoughtful and interesting work here.

Studio Tour: Jennifer Young of I ART U

Wow, a studio tour with one of our favorite bloggers and photographers, Jennifer Young! Jennifer runs a blog that needs no introduction, I ART U. Read on to learn tips of the trade from Jennifer along with secrets from her studio.

Meg: Is your current studio space ideal? If not, what would you like to do to make it perfect?

Jennifer: My current studio space isn’t ideal, but it works for now. My husband and are renting a tiny one bedroom house, and since there wasn’t an extra room, we converted the small dining room into a creative working space. Ideally, I’d love to have my studio be in a separate room—it’s so easy to get distracted with the way things are set up right now! I can’t complain though…I’m lucky to have a space to work and be creative/inspired in!

Meg: How does your client photography work differ from the photography you feature on your blog?

Jennifer: My style when comparing the two is similar across the board. The main difference with my client photography work is that it showcases people—real emotions, beautiful and raw moments, connection, etc. A lot of the work on I ART U is just capturing what I see and the beauty of the daily. 

Meg: My favorite thing about your photographs are how incredibly intimate they feel. Can you give our readers some tips on how to take intimate photographs?

Jennifer: Thank you so much! My favorite way to create more intimate images is by shooting what is in front of me—pulling out the camera on a whim when something catches my eye. I like when things are not overly styled or posed. This, in my opinion, helps create that intimacy and also captures the rawness of current happenings. 

Meg: You seem pretty involved in Pinterest and have an amazingly extensive collection of Pinboards. Has Pinterest helped you to get more readers or even more personal clients?

Jennifer: Pinterest is so great! I use it mainly as a personal tool to catalogue inspirations. I don’t post a lot of my own work so I’m not too sure that it has helped direct more readers/clients my way. 

Meg: Most of our Studio Tours aren’t photographed by professionals, they’re usually photographed by designers and illustrators with a keen visual eye. Do you have any tips for great interior photography for our future studio tourees?

Jennifer: I’m still learning a lot in this area! Shooting interiors is fairly new to me. I’d say use as much natural light as possible. Also, capturing wide shots as well as vignettes help show off the character of a space!

Studio Tour: Tim Boelaars

Next up on our Studio Tour programme is Dutch graphic designer and iconography superstar, or iconography icon if you will, Tim Boelaars. Tim has a world class portfolio and a gorgeous studio. Read below for our discussion on Ritz Crackers, Ryan Gosling, and Nina Simone.

Meg: Hi Tim! Tell our readers a little about what you do…

Tim: Hi Meg, thanks for having me. My name is Tim Boelaars, I’m a 22-year- old designer and illustrator from Amsterdam, The Netherlands. I’m also founder of Frame Inc., my design studio in Amsterdam.

Meg: You’re currently living in Amsterdam, but you seem tightly connected with the American design industry. Is staying connected with U.S. design something that has really helped your career?

Tim: Yes. When I was 17 years old, I visited aunt and uncle who live in San Francisco. I stayed there for three months, studied English and got to travel around a bit. Beforehand, I was fairly skeptical about America. I honestly don’t remember precisely why—maybe because I was a whiny little teenager and felt the need to be skeptical about everything.

However, during my stay I got to know San Francisco really well and fell in love with both the city and its mentality. There was a certain motivation, a passion that I felt by walking down the streets. People were nice to each other, random strangers told me I had nice shoes, stuff like that. Although in most cases it felt somewhat superficial, once I started participating, I noticed myself smiling more often and a change to far more positive disposition.

Perhaps it’s very typical for SF only, but this wasn’t something I wasn’t all too familiar with. It was certainly something I hadn’t experienced on a daily basis in my country—not that everyone’s an asshole here, just more reserved. Next to the fact that there are so many fantastic designers living in the U.S., this is one of the reasons I love working with and being connected to people in America. It has really helped my career as well. Since most people in The Netherlands speak and understand English, it’s easy to stay connected (on Twitter for example) with people from my country as well as people from the U.S. at the same time.

Meg: Do you think being a Dutch designer makes you more desirable to Americans?

Tim: I’m not sure. I’ve never really noticed anything that would imply that, so I don’t particularly think so.

Meg: Do you prefer working with a local client and meeting face-to-face or working remotely for a faraway client?

Tim: I enjoy both, it can be a little bit of a hassle being so many hours into the future, but most clients don’t really mind. For instance, when I send something off at the end of my workday and the client is located on the West Coast, he’ll be just waking up. This can be quite efficient when working together.

Working with a local client is very nice as well. Being able to meet with someone face-to-face definitely has its benefits. I can’t really choose which I prefer because I like both, remotely as well as meeting face-to-face, even more so when there’s a healthy balance between the two.

Meg: Your logo looks like a Ritz cracker. Do you have Ritz crackers in The Netherlands?

Tim: Nope, I do believe we have the Ritz-Carlton though.

Meg: Where could I find you on a Wednesday evening?

Tim: I’m either at home, watching a series with my beloved girlfriend or in a bar with friends drinking beers and watching a football match, or as American call it: soccer. Damn it, I wish I had something more of an intellectual answer here. I think I need to step up my game, read more books, listen to experimental jazz, smoke a pipe or something.

Meg: What is your studio space/workspace like? Is it ideal?

Tim: I moved in here last November so not everything is how I’d like it to be yet, but I really like it so far. I’m currently working together with Tomas, who is basically my silent partner in crime. We’re both excited and quite proud of how our studio looks and enjoy working here. Before, I used to work from home which was great, but I noticed a tendency to get lazy and distracted to often. It’s nice to grab my bike in the morning, drive off in the fresh morning sun, get to my office and “open up the shop.”

Meg: If one musician/band personified your work, who would it be? (Mine would be ABBA)

Tim: Dang, good question. This is going to be difficult, as I enjoy all kinds of music. I listened to a lot of soul, jazz, blues and funk when I was younger and still really like those types of music. I don’t know, there’s probably a lot of people who’d probably disagree with me on this but I think my favorite singer of all time is Nina Simone. She’s difficult to categorize but she labelled her style as ‘Black Classical’. There’s something in her voice that always strikes me and always gives me the chills. If one musician personified my work, I think it’d be her.

Meg: How has your work changed (if at all) over the past two years?

Tim: My work used to be a lot more playful. I’ve started constraining myself more and more and I think it’s become more simple by setting those constraints. I’d love to go back to that more often in the coming year.

Meg: If I made a film of your life, who would play the lead role of Tim Boelaars?

Tim: Haha, during the last Build Conference in November people were saying I look like Ryan Gosling. I didn’t really know the guy until I saw Drive. He’s a good actor. I’d love to do a casting session for laughs first and eventually call up Gosling and tell him: “What. Up.”

Meg: What would the film be called?

Tim: The Flying Dutchman. 

Tim Boelaars

Studio Tour: Satsuki Shibuya

I’m so pleased to invite you into the studio of one of our very favorite ladies! Satsuki Shibuya is such an amazing designer and has a beautiful line of products. She’s been a huge supporter of Studio Sweet Studio from day one! Let’s see what she has to say about her space…

"With things finally settling down since moving, I’m so happy to be able to share the new studio space with you! Before, the studio was located in a high rise in the middle of downtown Los Angeles, with a corner of our living room set up as my office and views of another building right outside our window. For some, the hustle and bustle of the city is a nesting ground for artistic energy, but I’ve always been one to be inspired by quiet, peaceful, nature-esque places for creative imagination. Now, in the mornings, I wake up to birds chirping, the ocean breeze flowing through the windows and can enjoy a cup of freshly picked spearmint tea to start the day. Just being in a new environment has allowed me to see different perspectives on how I’ve been approaching work/life and has spawned new ideas that I would love to adventure into! It truly is my sanctuary and I finally feel like I’m in my element. 

With the new company name (Zakka Nouveau is now Satsuki Shibuya!) & Fall/Winter ‘11 collection coming out soon, it’s been a bit crazy behind the scenes, but when I look out the window while working, it always reminds me to take a break, catch my breath and enjoy the quiet moments. Thanks for visiting!”

Images: Jennifer Young

Studio Tour: Kelsey Dake

Phoenix, Arizona based illustrator Kelsey Dake boasts an impressive (and grotesque!) portfolio of anything from Dick Cheney satires to a realistic decapitated horse head (ala The Godfather) and an equally impressive client list. Kelsey’s on our list of new graduates to watch like a hawk, we’re in love with her hyper realistic, ghetto-shiny-slick style, and disgusting sense of humor—Want more? Check out her portfolio here.

Studio Tour: Meg of Studio Sweet Studio

Over the past few months Tuesday and I moved to new states and new studios! Tuesday moved from Minneapolis to Brooklyn and I moved from Chicago to Minneapolis. Needless to say, we both nearly lived in the same city…but not quite!

"My new studio is the best thing ever. For the first time I finally have a room dedicated to being a home office/workspace in my apartment. Formally it is a sunroom, but I’ve filled it with some plants, electronics, and even some lanterns! It’s such an inspirational space that I’ve made into my own by adding some of my favorite colors.

Until I can start coworking, this space will do just fine! It certainly makes going to “work” a lot more fun. Even though I just moved in a month ago, and the space is certainly still in progress, I think I’ve made it into a special creative space quickly!”

Images: Meg Lewis

Studio Tour: Space Dog Books

We first found Space Dog Books because our good friend Tymn Armstrong has recently become their art director! This amazing company has such a great culture and philosophy. They aim to bring a gorgeous visual approach to some of the best classics in literature! I can’t wait for their first book to be released this Christmas via iPad!

“Space Dog Books is located in San Francisco’s Tech Gulch across the street from the bay in a decidedly modern corporate building, but step inside their office and it’s Gattaca meets Roger Rabbit. A large framed Todd Schorr limited edition dominates the space along with vintage collectibles, 1st edition books, terrariums and vinyl toys. All the furniture is either glass or lucite with Philip Stark armchairs and all the latest Apple toys. The space has a distinctly futuristic but homey and cool vibe. The office has floor to ceiling windows on the exterior wall that looks onto the Embarcadero and on rare sunny days the park outside serves as a workspace.

If you asked the people who work there what Space Dog does, they might tell you that they make magic books and go on to say that more accurately they are interactive storytellers. Their first title, a reimagining of Robert Louis Stevenson’s swashbuckling classic Treasure Island, will be out at Christmas this year on the iPad’s App store. The two women behind this company, CEO Victoria Davis and Creative Director Jenna Gurka, have backgrounds as an artist and screenwriter respectively. The space reflects their love of the things that go into their products — cool and cutting edge meet nostalgia and humor all based on fantastic contemporary art. Well-known indie designers, illustrators, and animators make up their stable of artists. Writers, musicians,and programmers round out the company, but the girls work remotely with all from their SF headquarters.”

Images: Space Dog Books