I’ve returned from Amsterdam, and I already miss it. However, I’ve been reunited with Danny & Chewie so it’s not all bad. For the most part it was cold, DAMn cold (get it). I went with my sister Lara for 4 days, our first holiday together, it was bound to be interesting. I’ve spent the few days since returning editing my action camera footage, which is available on my youtube channel HERE. I’ve also been resting because I managed to damage some muscles in my foot, and no it wasn’t because I fell over after a few too many space cakes. It was actually a result of my stubbornness. I prefer to walk everywhere (whenever possible) rather than pay for taxis or public transport. There are two reasons for this, the first is it saves money obviously, the second you see parts of the city that you would otherwise miss and it makes me feel more like a local.
Danny drove us to the airport but the morning wasn’t uneventful. We got stuck behind a seven vehicle accident and then got delayed for over an hour, it didn’t dampen our spirits though. On arrival the first challenge we faced was getting the train to our hotel. I work these things out before I travel, so I knew where we were going. The hotel was just a ten minute walk away from Sloterdijk station, and a 30 minute walk into the city. We stayed at the lovely XO Hotel Park West.
Ahead of this trip I used GetYourGuide.com to book a few activities, it was my first time using them and I downloaded the app so I could access my tickets electronically. They were excellent, I didn’t have any problems and it just made organising stuff so much easier.
Our first day I had booked us to do Europes Highest Swing on top of the A’DAM Lookout. Now I’m used to cold weather (I live in England, the North West to be exact) but it was chilly in Amsterdam with the average temperature being 0. We walked up towards the waterfront and from there took a ferry boat across towards the lookout. Up at the top the views were absolutely stunning, it had gone dark so the city was lit up like a christmas tree. I never get tired of this no matter what city I am in, climbing up to the top of a building and looking out is such a humbling experience. The swing now was quite daunting, we got strapped in and it began to lift us into the air. Then the mechanics kicked in and it swung out over the edge. It was a similar sensation to being on a rollercoaster, those sickening butterflies mixed in with adrenaline, although I think this was a little more terrifying. I would recommend giving it a go, as long as you’re not scared of heights.
We walked through the red light district, took in the peculiar sights, stopped for a couple of milkshakes at the popular Bulldog Palace before calling it a night. My phone died so the walk back was an interesting one, navigating a city I didn’t know in the middle of the night, we managed to make it back though.
Our second day started with crepes, banana and Nutella! A delicious breakfast for what was sure to be a long day. We had a couple more activities booked, so took a leisurely walk in their direction. Stopping to take plenty of photographs, both on my polaroid and film some action footage (although I’m investing in an exciting new piece of kit soon, watch this space). We found The Powerzone where we played a pirate themed, glow in the dark mini golf 12 hole course and ended up spending an hour bowling, we had a laugh particularly as neither of us were very skilled in these. In the evening we had booked the Ice Bar Amsterdam, so we found a cute little square filled with coffee shops and chilled out for a couple of hours.
The Ice Bar was ace, the experience is well put together. You get a selection of coins, to exchange for free drinks in the two bars. The first bar served cocktails which we didn’t resist, my Amsterdamned was juicy. Then a bell rings, a little pirate themed video plays and you’re whisked off to put on gloves and coats before the arctic adventure begins. Now, I thought the 0 degrees was cold outside but down in the bar it was -9.4 degrees! Here your drinks are limited to Heineken or a shot (rum was my choice) because it’s too cold to keep anything else. We posed, drank but once my fingers went numb it was time to leave. A hot shower back at the hotel and I began to thaw out nicely.
Day three was a little more artsy. The Moco Museum had a Banksy exhibit on and so being a graphic designer I couldn’t miss it. We stopped for bagels and hot chocolates before stepping out into the sunshine. In the few days of walking, I realised I’d seen more bikes than I had seen in my entire life, or would see outside of Amsterdam, it’s mad! We stopped by the tourist spots outside the Rijksmuseum, including the I AMSTERDAM sign for another photoshoot, some frites and a little bit of sun. The pictures from the Moco do it more justice than I can, I love galleries and the artwork was thought provoking and in some parts trippy. We spent the rest of the day eating, shopping and relaxing. Another evening of coffee shops (they’ve all got awesome signage) and milkshakes, before we knew it, it was time to head back and pack for our early flight home. I’d love to head back to Amsterdam and explore more of the museums, I also like cities I can walk around all day without getting bored. It just had a chilled, cool vibe (for more than one reason).
I picked up a couple of souvenirs this trip, I’ve gotten into patches and my sister pointed out this ace Amsterdam one (it’ll make a perfect addition to my denim jacket, I’ve ordered a few for places I’ve already been too). My mum only ever wants a magnet, so I got this pretty ace one from the A’DAM giftshop, then Danny my boyfriend (who doesn’t want anything) I got this beanie for, knowing I’d probably end up stealing it. I picked up some cute tees in this store called Coolcat and a few sweet treats (mostly because the chocolate packaging in Amsterdam was insane).
At this moment I am already looking at my next adventure, all going to play in six weeks I will be flying to Australia, then I am hoping to book a Trek America in for March of next year and I would love to fit in a trip somewhere later this year. A weekend in Italy or Croatia sounds ideal right now, I’ve paid my last months rent and so next month I have a lot of opportunities to consider with moving home. I want to start saving but I also know that I won’t get this chance to travel again so I want to make the most of it before I have any real responsibility in my life. You only get to experience your twenties once.
🍑 A B Y
It’s been a whole month of puppy madness! I introduced Chewie on here not very long ago, since then he’s moved in, had his second injections, attended Danny Daycare, been spoilt with toys and is ready for a life full of adventures.
His personality is really shining through and he’s found his little voice. He absolutely loves the outdoors! Now he can go outside he tries at every chance to run through doors, he obviously takes after me.
Here’s a few pictures of him, I knew looking after a dog would be hard work but it’s been more than that. I felt like I had my own kid (especially in those first few weeks), he constantly needs observation especially when he's running around because he always finds something to chew on (the names been very appropriate). I had a whole week off to get him settled, then my boyfriend stepped in to help out. Danny took him through the day whilst I was working, then I had him overnight (and we teamed up on weekends). The first couple of nights were definitely hard, he didn’t exactly sleep when I needed to and wanted to play at 3am.
He’s into his own little routine now, and has settled in with my family back home because as I said I am moving home and not allowed pets at the flat (it would have been pointless to have him there anyway for less than 6 weeks). He loved being at Danny’s house because of his Labrador Amber, she wasn’t all that impressed though.
The biggest worry was how Hunter (my sisters one year old Jack Russel x Shih Tzu), would react. There was nothing to worry about as it turns out, the pair are officially best friends. Hunter was definitely missing our old dog, so it’s cute that the pair snuggle into each other when it’s time for bed and spend hours chasing each other around every day. Chewie definitely rules the roost though, stealing the toys whenever Hunter picks them up and hiding them under things that Hunter is too big to squeeze in to get them. It's pretty entertaining to sit and watch the pair playing together. Chewie has already changed so much, he's doubled in size (although that's not saying much as he weighed about the same as a bag of sugar), and his ears seem to have a life of their own.
He has his own Instagram now if you’re interested @chewie_the_woofie
There’s bound to be a ton of new adventures coming up.
🍑 A B Y
Today I just wanted to write a bit about my life as a full time designer. I've been drawing since I could hold a pencil (It's true, ask my mum). I don't think I've ever really wanted to do anything else, apart from a brief stint when I was convinced I would become a best selling author (unfortunately I'm more for living adventures not so much writing about them, except on here of course).
It's not always been easy, college to uni, internships, first jobs, freelancing... there's a lot of work involved and some people hold success against you. I've won competitions and worked hard to get where I am today, as have most of my friends in this field. Every designer is different, I finished university with a group of friends, all of whom are working in completely different environments to me (some not even in design). You come across many types of people working in this field, artsy types, coders, illustrators, those who don't realise how good their work is, those who are never happy with what they produce. Designers are a mixed bag, I've met some who are self critical (I am guilty of this) and others who are self righteous. In such a competitive field it's important not to lose your soul.
Whilst at university, a memorable moment was winning the Cosmopolitan Ultimate Creative Talent Award. I think this was my first time getting recognition for my work, especially on such a large scale. I had to go down to London and compete with other talented designers of different backgrounds, it was such a huge step because I was only used to showing my work to family, friends and tutors. Winning was an amazing feeling and getting to work on the editorial team of a professional and highly recommended company (Hearst) was exciting. It was my first time exposed to the design industry at such a competitive level. A design I had created was seen by thousands of subscribers and used to theme a huge event, attended to by influential people and some incredible individuals. I was proud to be involved in this and almost didn't even enter!
After University I went down to London for a few months working as a digital intern, this really shaped me as a designer. The impact was lasting, my first time away from home and whilst Cosmopolitan had given me a glimpse of the industry, here at Conde Nast I was thrown in at the deep end. We worked on Tatler magazine, Conde Nast Johansens and even Glamour pages, meeting the teams who put this content together day in, day out. The offices are filled with life, fashion, sweat and tears. One night involved a major technical glitch but we stayed late and got the content out, because the teams are so passionate about what they do. These people have to love what they do or they wouldn't put in the hours. I knew from that moment that I had chosen the right path. Publishing is definitely an area I find fulfills my design needs.
Now, I'm happily back up North. Living in my own place (although I am moving home to save for a house very soon), at a company that have been such a pleasure to work for (three years on). I enjoy getting up and going into the office, then in my evenings I can doodle on my iPad, work on editing photos, write blog content and even try video editing footage from my life. I work for a company that encourages creativity and gives me so much to occupy my working days, with a variety of projects happening at any one time it's quite a buzzing environment.
For me being busy is what inspires me, whenever an idea comes along I tackle it straight away. Pages like @OneMinuteBriefs supply a platform for people to have fun and not take design too seriously. Creative briefs that aren't about deadlines and contracts. Then there's competitions to enter (you can always find something fun to tackle), Instagram is all about design, share your photos, take arty shots. People don't often realise that what I do comes into consideration in every aspect of life. From the adverts we are exposed to on television , the title sequence of that new American hit show you love to the millions of covers in a bookstore (or the pages in your favourite magazine).
Everything you buy from the supermarket packaging to that birthday card for your sister, it's all designed.
When I post a picture on Instagram, read a menu at a restaurant or simply take a walk down the high street. What font is that? I wonder who designed it? I wish I'd thought of that. From the minute I wake up in the morning, to the minute I go to bed it consumes my life, more so than that of a regular person. Things that are out of focus, pixelated or incorrectly kerned will grate on me, sometimes it's physically uncomfortable, and although that sounds ridiculous I'm sure plenty of other designers can relate.
Nowadays, when I'm not working at my full time job, I'll doodle illustrations of things I enjoy (not often for money but for pleasure). I sometimes look for freelance opportunities whether this is working on promotional materials for WWF (I was extremely humbled to get this chance) or designing a logo for friends setting up their own business. My new website was a major highlight this year as it's been on my to do list forever! I'm not a designer who is looking to earn the big bucks (although that would be nice), being in a field I enjoy and getting pleasure from my work has always been my main goal. I want to travel and take in the design culture of other cities, museums, galleries and all that sort of stuff really excites me. If I can also enjoy my day to day working life then I would choose that over getting paid more every time. I find sites like Society 6 and Thortful are perfect for people who want to sell their designs but more just for exposure in the early days, you don't pay anything to use the sites but get a small cut of your sales. The best thing is you know when someone buys your work and even if you only earn 50p from it, it's a wonderful feeling.
I'm still finding my feet, as every designer knows, this industry is constantly evolving and there's so much variety that picking just one path to travel down can be extremely daunting. I like to dip my toes into everything, so I don't limit myself. Clients can be both a nightmare and push you creatively, the truth is every project teaches you something and that's not to be ignored. I went from illustrating, into graphic design (which I used to think was just branding), into website and app publishing. More recently, I've been given projects to create videos in my job (as well as putting my only little vlogs together, in my free time).
I'm excited to see what the next 5 years hold, who knows what I could be doing next.
🍑 A B Y
Aby, 24. Northerner.