Our latest Featured Designer is Anja Verlaan, the artist behind Zazzle store JunkyDotCom. Check out our interview to learn more about the inspiration behind her store name and her eclectic design style.
Tell us about you!
Hi! My name is Anja Verlaan, Annies for good friends, and I am from The Netherlands, the country of the world famous city of Amsterdam. The three of us, my husband Ed, Golden Retriever Borus and I live in a cozy suburb of The Hague, the classy government city of this country below sea level.
What is your creative background?
As a kid, I was drawing almost all day long! I still have a big envelope with a huge collection of drawings I made as a child that my father collected in those days. For about 25 years I worked as a visual merchandiser and trainer for several fashion brands, developing and creating seasonal styling for wholesale and retail stores around Europe.
After this period, I took a vacation to Cuba and got so addicted to the country that I started a website called Cuba-Junky, which became a bit more popular than I intended! So, I started my own company in Cuba tourism. I missed designing and creating a lot and found Zazzle about 3 years ago. A fantastic way to mix both of my biggest passions: Cuba tourism for my website and designing at Zazzle.
Where do you find inspiration for your designs?
The name JunkyDotCom is a combination of my passion, addiction and the world wide web in one word. I love working with photos, watercolor, hand-drawn text and playing with words and fonts. My biggest “design friends” are Illustrator and Photoshop. It is just about what my mood brings when I want to create new products on Zazzle. Most inspiration I get is when I go to Cuba; I visit this country frequently and take trips to other sunny destinations. I love to travel and take pictures. If at home in Holland, I find inspiration anywhere I look in my daily life and on the web. I do not really search for it.
Do you have any favorite designs or best sellers from your store?
My motto is, “when it comes from the heart, people will love it.” Customers feel the love when designs are made with passion. Besides that, I try to make something different than the usual stuff. No idea why, but I love to design t-shirts, pillows and throw blankets the most.
One thing which gives me a big smile every time I see one is the French Bulldog. They are so cute on many different products – whether on a hat, shower curtain or a phone case, it’s just too funny!
There is just too much to choose from if I have to make a list of what I like most. Besides, today I might like product A the best and tomorrow
it might be product B. If I do not like a design anymore after a while I remove it – unless it is a best seller of course!
What kind of product types would you like to see Zazzle add in the future?
What I would like to design would be curtains and duvet covers.
Do you have any advice for other Zazzle Designers?
My advice to other Designers: follow your heart and make what YOU like. Put on some good music, have a glass of good wine, be happy and create! If you’re having an off day, go offline first. Go outside for a walk in nature, have a cup of tea on a terrace, smell the fresh air, listen to the birds…open your mind with something different, maybe something you forgot you loved a long time ago.