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Featured Shop: Nikki Strange

Dec 26, 2017

by Simone Jung

Etsy.com handmade and vintage goods

In an era when everyone has a smartphone seemingly stapled to their hand and a slew of apps to help keep track of everything from grocery lists to dentist appointments, you might think that writing things down the old-fashioned way would go out of style. But London-based paper goods designer Nikki Strange has built a mighty successful business betting otherwise—and spends much of her time offline diving into illustrations for her ultra-analog line of notebooks, planners, and journals. Her goal? To help shoppers tap into their own creativity. “People are feeling really disconnected with how much we use the Internet,” says Nikki. “Getting away from the computer is a healthy way of knowing that you’re doing something authentic.”

Explore the Nikki Strange collection

Inspired by everything from walks with her dog in the English countryside to tropical beach vacations, mystical crystals, and faraway stars, Nikki sets out to capture the magic of the natural world and inject it back into digital-age life. “It’s almost like going back to the original source,” she explains. And from address books emblazoned with watercolor palm leaves to galaxy-themed pocket notebooks splattered with metallic constellations, her dreamy, ethereal line offers a refreshingly tactile touchpoint in a world brimming with sterile screens. “It’s so nice to actually put pen to paper as opposed to typing notes in your phone,” says Nikki. “And it’s nice to achieve that quiet time to really write down your thoughts. It would be quite scary if we all went digital.”

Read on to discover how Nikki got started and her tips for avoiding creative burnout—then shop the collection.

So, how did Nikki Strange come to be?

After graduating with a degree in fashion textiles, I did freelance design work for various retailers in London and LA. I was basically finding my feet, and my prints were sold in stores like TopShop, Urban Outfitters, and ASOS. Being very young, it got my work out there and gave me a really big confidence boost. And everyone kept saying, “That really looks like a Nikki print,” so I thought: maybe I’ve got something here.

I just had a gut feeling not to get a proper job, and instead to focus on my own designs. So I found a local manufacturer and got some notebooks made up, and it basically started from there. I was working a lot of jobs at the time and it was a really slow process, but nothing can describe that feeling when you get your first Etsy sale. Everything grew from there.

What does a normal day look like for you now?

I walk to work, which is absolutely lovely and a real treat living in London. My house is only 15 minutes from the studio, so I walk my dog, Mango, to our amazing communal space. There’s about 30 of us in this big warehouse and it’s full of amazing people who do everything from ceramics to film to photography to architecture. We all have our own little spaces—I’ve got a lot of artwork and mood boards on the walls. On a perfect day, I would get all my paints out and work on putting a new collection together.

Where do you find the inspiration for your designs?

I’ve always been into the mystical and nature. Take the mystic mountains, ferns, and sheep in my current collection—they were very much inspired by the British countryside.

I also really like doing crystal prints because I have lots of crystals and talismans that I carry around with me. I’m planning to do more books and journals that are more focused on those subjects. For example, I’d love to do a book about the more spiritual side of using crystals.

Your wellness planners are such a unique item—I’m a big fan. How did they come about?

It’s actually quite personal. When you’re running your own business or you’re freelancing, you’re constantly dividing your time up. During the week I was just churning things out and trying to be productive, but it wasn’t productive for my mental state. So I wanted to create something that would help me have a more balanced lifestyle, and I knew other people would benefit from it too. I’ve also been doing a lot of transcendental meditation, so I’m trying to be more mindful.

Do you ever get stuck creatively? And if so, how do you reset?

You know when things just get really on top of you? Before this year, I’d never really experienced that—I’d always worked at a nice, steady pace. But this year I got overwhelmed. And when that happened, I couldn’t produce beautiful artwork.

What I ended up doing was giving myself a time-out: meditating and trying to go for more walks and finding a bit more quiet. But it’s quite hard to do that when your head is frantic, because it’s completely the opposite of what your brain tells you you should do. Your brain is saying, “You haven’t got time! We need to get this done!” But the big thing is to take time out and give yourself space to get inspired again—then your creative channel will come back in.

That was a really big lesson for me this year, and I think it’s one that will stick with me for the rest of my creative life. I need to take a time-out when I want to work on my new collections and feel inspired. My best prints have come to me when I didn’t really know what I was doing.

How do you home in on being true to yourself and making what’s right for you?

It’s a tough one. I think it’s good to be inspired by other people and trends—obviously you’ve got to keep up to date with what people want. But it’s one thing to be inspired, and another thing to jump on the bandwagon. A lot of my most magical prints have come to me while I’m watching a nature documentary or reading National Geographic on holiday. I try to just go with that gut feeling and create something inspired by it.

For example, there was a customer recently that bought one of my Japanese crane notebooks. He said the print looked just like his view of the crane flight path he can see from his house where thousands of cranes migrate. When he told me that, I think it really helped me reinforce that feeling of magic. I originally made the print because I saw beautiful images of cranes, and when you hear something like that from a customer, it means they saw the same magic that I saw. It wasn’t because I saw it as a trend—it was authentic. It’s really beautiful to create that feeling of connection.

Follow Nikki Strange on Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest.

Photographs by Andy Donohoe.

Shop Nikki Strange

Three A5 Daydreamer notebook Deal
Three A5 Daydreamer notebook Deal
Nikkistrange
$13.30 USD
2019 A4 magical places Calendar with moon cycle overview
2019 A4 magical places Calendar with moon cycle overview
Nikkistrange
$26.59 USD
Freedom feathers pink pencil case
Freedom feathers pink pencil case
Nikkistrange
$15.29 USD
Winter Poppies A5 Notebook with lined pages
Winter Poppies A5 Notebook with lined pages
Nikkistrange
$6.64 USD
Orient garden pocket  mirror
Orient garden pocket mirror
Nikkistrange
$5.32 USD
Mystic Mountains A5 Notebook with lined pages
Mystic Mountains A5 Notebook with lined pages
Nikkistrange
$6.64 USD
Paradise Palms thicker A5 Notebook with lined pages
Paradise Palms thicker A5 Notebook with lined pages
Nikkistrange
$9.31 USD
Crystal healing waterproof travel cosmetic bag
Crystal healing waterproof travel cosmetic bag
Nikkistrange
$33.25 USD
Midnight Nevada landscape waterproof travel cosmetic bag
Midnight Nevada landscape waterproof travel cosmetic bag
Nikkistrange
$33.25 USD
Snowflake ferns waterproof travel cosmetic bag
Snowflake ferns waterproof travel cosmetic bag
Nikkistrange
$33.25 USD
Marble galaxy waterproof travel cosmetic bag
Marble galaxy waterproof travel cosmetic bag
Nikkistrange
$33.25 USD
Pink Phases of the moon phone case for iPhone & samsung
Pink Phases of the moon phone case for iPhone & samsung
Nikkistrange
$26.59 USD

31 comments

  • GTDesigns

    renee and gerardo from GTDesigns said 1 year ago

    Beautiful books! Really digging the one on one water color art! Makes these extra art special!! Congrats on a sweet feature!!!

  • Kashuen

    Kashuen Collectibles from Kashuen said 1 year ago

    Beautiful shop. Congrats on the feature!!!

  • amorebella

    Judy Love from JudithEmilyDesigns said 1 year ago

    I'm obsessed with your palm print design!!!

  • ThreeBarDGifts

    Monica from ThreeBarDGifts said 1 year ago

    Beautiful designs! I still like to write things down! Congrats on the feature and best wishes!

  • pillowlink

    Rosita from pillowlink said 1 year ago

    Amazing works and inspiring story! It is pleasure to read about this seller. Wish you all the best here on Etsy and in life as well!

  • kgarrett1966

    R.M Garrett from ArtisticAcrylics said 1 year ago

    You are right about a lot of us feeling disconnected from our souls and creativity due in large part to the internet, as well as fears and distractions in our lives and happenings in world events. It's wonderful that you use your art as bridges to our spiritual selves, as well as our connection to nature; and to shake off being in auto pilot, and to re-adjust to present moment thinking, as apposed to regretting the past, and fearing the future. It's not about doing it perfectly. Just being aware of when we're slipping, and re-adjusting when we can, brings a lot of positive changes. That's what I've noticed happen to me since I've started meditating. Your art is beautiful and healing. Thank you for sharing your journey with us, and congratulations on your much deserved feature!

  • gardenmis

    Priscilla from Gardenmis said 1 year ago

    So thankful for inspired notebooks and yours are gorgeous! Congrats on the feature and best wishes for achieving all your dreams :)

  • msbijouxbeads

    Cathy from msbijouxbeads said 1 year ago

    Beautiful art! Great feature, congratulations on your lovely shop

  • funkystacks

    RitzaGlitza from funkystacks said 1 year ago

    gorgeous work!!!

  • 7fhii26t

    Bonnie from PeekaBooPeanuts said 1 year ago

    Gorgeous work and Congrats on your feature (: Best wishes!

  • kellydamon1

    Kelly Siegel from KellySiegelArt said 1 year ago

    Beautiful work. So inspiring. Congrats on the feature.

  • kaSHIKeee

    Rada Danilovic from RadArtaDesign said 1 year ago

    Lovely shop and items :) Congrats!

  • accentonvintage

    accentonvintage from accentonvintage said 1 year ago

    AWESOME WORK! CONGRATS!

  • p06thomas

    Tricia from Triciastreasurers said 1 year ago

    Beautiful art work. I still use a notebook and date planner, no matter how many new gadgets there are. I’m a visual person and prefer to see and touch with paper and pen.

  • farragio

    farragio from farragio said 1 year ago

    I switched back to an "analog planner" last year and love it. Kudos to this shop for striving to keep people creating and connecting offline. Great feature!

  • tlpjenpierce1

    Jennifer and Gary Pierce from LoftAtticEarth said 1 year ago

    Your planners are such a great way to step back from technology but still be proactive with your day to day activities. The colors and scenes inspire me! Thank you for sharing your gift with the world. Best wishes for 2018 and beyond, really love the wellness planner:)

  • monicabalan1

    Monica Balan from BalanMonica said 1 year ago

    Nice work! Love it! <3

  • naturasilver

    Pardar Chia from NaturaSilver said 1 year ago

    Inspiring story & really great working environment. Keep it up! :)

  • infinitlit

    Farideh Nouri from FlairPaintings said 1 year ago

    Beautiful shop. Congrats on the feature!!!

  • PokutniaAnna

    Anna from FairyToysWorld said 1 year ago

    She is so talented! Great design!

  • arcotexture

    jelena from ARcoTexturePaintings said 1 year ago

    most beautiful!

  • StyleGraphicDesign

    Maria from StyleGraphicDesign said 1 year ago

    Beautiful! :-)

  • LadyInPurple

    Jennifer Tyson from LadyInPurpleBoutique said 1 year ago

    Your work is so lovely Nikki! Congrats on the feature!

  • RandMhandmade

    Renee from RandMhandmade said 1 year ago

    Beautiful planners!!

  • rhondastubbs2

    Rhonda Stubbs from RhondaCorner said 1 year ago

    Great colors and great story. I wish you the very best on your journeys.

  • suzannerorick

    Suzanne Rorick from SRorickArt said 1 year ago

    Congrats on your success Nikki! Your designs are beautiful and I love your notebooks. I agree that in today’s digital world we are more inclined to use electronic devices to communicate via texting and we are slowly losing our penmanship skills. However, having beautiful notebooks such as yours will certainly inspire us to write more!

  • hernandezamy02

    Christine C. from PyriteSOL said 1 year ago

    Wow! So beautiful! It's amazing what you can do with such beautiful colors!

  • aumdrcm7

    Michael from MHWatercolors said 1 year ago

    Congratulations on the feature! Thanks for sharing.

  • gertrudeharriet

    Christine Munroe from GERTRUDEHARRIET said 1 year ago

    Wonderful notebooks, I could buy them all!

  • elizabethforster

    elle and belle Forster from elleandbellejewelry said 1 year ago

    Love your ideas, Nikki,... your work is beautiful! All the best.

  • natddk2016

    Natalya Ashkina from MagicKnittingNeedle said 1 year ago

    It is always nice to meet someone who is really into the work. And it is obvious that Nikki is really enjoying what she is doing and it makes her happy. It can be seen from her art masterpieces.

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