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Monthly email from Marloes De Vries
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Hi First name / dear reader,
You easily overlook it, but I have removed 'illustrator/writer/artist' from behind my name at the top of this email. I am going through life label-free for a while. With the order, I even unconsciously implied what was most important, when it wasn't at all. And I even missed out on an opportunity because of it. You can read more about it in this newsletter.
In this month's installment:
  • Pondering: no labels for a while
  • Nice gifts for the holiday season
  • Personal writings on Substack
  • 8 things I liked

No labels for a while
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There is a change going on in me, and putting labels on myself does not fit at the moment. It is probably because I have written more this year than ever, and now I really feel like a writer/author. And I am increasingly focusing on making autonomous work, such as paintings, drawings, and texts for my own products. I still work as an illustrator (someone who makes drawings to accompany a text, usually on commission), but as these other two are coming more and more to the fore, I will have to organise my time slightly differently.
Shifting again
This is not the first time my areas of work are shifting. Almost 14 years ago, it shifted from graphic design to illustration.
On the one hand, I enjoy stability and long for rest. That makes me stick to what I have for a very long time. But it's like an itch that needs to be scratched. In recent years, I have tasted what it was like to invent, write, and paint, just as I once did. To create something from within myself rather than from someone else, which is what commissioned work usually is anyway.
A combination of autonomous work and collaborating with others would be wonderful. Because even when I create something from within myself, like my book, I notice how nice it is to collaborate with good people, like the editor who made my book a lot better.
When labels are excluding
You might now be thinking, 'Why do you care about those labels'? I would be thinking that myself if you had written this. But people like to put other people in boxes for clarity and peace of mind. And it does actually matter, as I experienced last week.
A while back, I worked hard on two applications for artist residencies in the Netherlands. I thought it would be great to be able to devote a large chunk of my time to my autonomous work for a few months in a beautiful location. Such a residency gives you the opportunity to do so and covers a large part of the board and lodging during that period. A real luxury! But for both applications, I received an official letter saying that I was not allowed to participate. According to the fund, I am not an artist because I also work as an illustrator.
There I was, with my art school degree and hard work. If a fund thinks you are not an artist, you can forget about a residency.
I wondered if all the artists who have a job alongside their art practice (being able to make a full living from your art is very difficult) are being rejected. Maybe they will be told that they should not work as museum attendants or parcel deliverers. Who knows. Labels do determine how people sometimes see you; that much is clear.
Developing without a label sticking to you
So no labels for me for a while, in order not to be pigeonholed. But foremost, to further develop myself. Giving myself some time and space to develop means that I will temporarily put some things on hold. I don't always find saying 'no' easy, especially if it's an assignment I actually really like. But this rest and space are much needed for another reason, because since my burnout diagnosis in 2021, I have never really taken a rest. I'm paying a big price for that, as I know now after two years.
So time to take a step back to get better and to give myself rest. To catch my breath and look around me after all those years of running. What do I want to stop doing? What do I want to continue with? What do I want to start with? Asking those three questions to yourself will give some clarity.
As long as I am in the process of resting and figuring things out, I will call myself nothing for a while. I don't have to do anything for a while. And labels? We'll see about that later.
Nice gifts
(for you or others)
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The holidays are in sight! Having to buy presents at the last minute can be stressful, so there's nothing wrong with buying some in advance ;)
I have something for everyone: travel diaries for the travelling reader, a comic book for that cute kid, calendars for those who like to keep track of appointments, art prints for walls that could use some colour and cards for those who could use a heart to heart.
Please note: the 2024-calendar can be ordered until Tuesday 14 November 8:00 AM CET. I have the calendars printed based on the number of orders to avoid waste.
Read on Substack
I regularly write on my Substack about burn-out, what I have learned as a freelancer and how I am finding my way back to my creative core.
I wrote this the other day: 40 Things I want to tell my younger self
Substack is a website where you can read blogs and subscribe to them. 
When you click 'subscribe', you get every new blog post in your email.

8 things I liked
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1) Evolution of bookcovers of romantic novels I enjoy making book covers immensely (I really should say that more often, because I would love to make more of them). So I found this very interesting and fun to see!
2) Shetland My favourite British crime series has started again on BBC. With a new addition, namely Ashley Jensen. I already liked her in Ugly Betty, and although I already miss Jimmy Perez, I think DI Ruth Calder is a good addition.
3) Friends, Lovers and the Big Terrible Thing Like many, I was shocked by the news that actor Matthew Perry had died. He was my favourite character in Friends, a show I still watch every night before I go to sleep because it calms me down so much. I am currently reading his autobiography (aff. link).
4) The Flatshare I love Beth O'Leary's books, but I was a bit worried that the series, based on her first book, would disappoint. It didn't! Check to see where it's available for streaming in your country.
5) Why Barnes & Noble Is Copying Local Bookstores It Once Threatened Interesting to watch how this big company changed tactics.
6) Brené Brown: the midlife unraveling 'As it turns out, I was right about one thing—to call what happens at midlife “a crisis” is bullshit. A crisis is an intense, short-lived, acute, easily identifiable, and defining event that can be controlled and managed. Midlife is not a crisis. Midlife is an unraveling.'
7) How to feel your feelings A very manageable little trick to allow and understand your feelings more.
8) Nothing compares 2 U I was very moved by this big choir singing live 'Nothing compares to you' by the recently deceased Sinéad O'Connor. A beautiful ending to this newsletter.
“Forgive yourself for not having the foresight to know what now seems so obvious in hindsight.”
Judy Belmont, American author
I hope you enjoyed reading this! Feel free to let me know what you thought. 
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