Anne Olde Kalter | La Farme
In a small town just north of Amsterdam, Anne Olde Kalter has set up the creative and letterpress studio
(no, not an
actual farm but a metaphorical one). Just four years ago, Anne left her agency job to start for herself. The farm represents her desire to create, to make, to work with her hands; her
Ma’am Step Away from the Computer
’ print just about sums
it all up. Anne now creates designs by hand and can often be found at the
Grafisch Werkcentrum Amsterdam
(for which she
this great video
), getting her hands dirty using old letterpress techniques. We met up with Anne in the quiet
of her home in the country to talk about what handmade means to her and how we would all benefit from taking a break from our screens once in a while.
What’s your story?
I always wanted to work in advertising, even when I was in high school. I studied communication science for two years but missed the creative side of it. When deciding what to do next I found the JUNIOR* Academy for Art Direction and Design in Amsterdam Noord. I learned a lot in those three years, but it was quite difficult to find work after graduation. I did find a job at Rich and worked there for two years, then moved to Hamburg, and worked at another agency when we moved back to Amsterdam. I was working on the Volvo account in an office next to the highway; I watched cars pass all day everyday, and on top of that, I had to work with cars and it didn’t make me happy. I was starting to do a few freelance projects on the side. The brother of my boyfriend was opening the restaurant Radijs in De Baarjes and asked my boyfriend and I to create their brand identity. I loved that; it was great to be in contact with the ‘clients’ myself and really ‘making’ instead of ‘thinking’. I realized that I missed that in my work; I really like thinking of concepts but I like realizing those ideas even more.
So what did you do next?
I took that step. I quit my job. At first I thought it was quite exciting. Then I started to panic and think, “I’m never going to be successful!” I decided to create a client wishlist of people or things I would like to work with/on someday, like the catering company my friend works at or publishing an illustration in flow magazine. That provided a lot of structure, and when I doubted myself, I would just work start calling and emailing people on that list. At first the jobs came in waves but now they have become more constant.
Have you developed your own style?
I find it difficult to pinpoint what that is but some people say, “Oh, I could tell immediately that you made this!” I don’t see it. I see every project as a new one. But there must be something that connects all my work. I create handmade designs. With everything I make I ask myself, how can I move away from the computer and create something really special. Maybe that’s a trend right now but I think people really appreciate that. Of course, sometimes you have to make something using your computer but there has to be a good balance.
What techniques do you use?
I use letterpress techniques. Just after quitting my job I went to New York City and stumbled upon a weekend course in letterpress. That’s when I came up with, “Ma’am step away from the computer.” I really enjoyed working with letterpress techniques so when I started researching where I could do that in Amsterdam, I found the Grafisch Werkcentrum Amsterdam . It’s such a great place; once you’ve done a course you can just get straight to work. Letterpress is a technique you do with your hands but I’ve also combined it with illustrations, like the Cottoncake moth. Sometimes I bring these handmade elements together on the computer, then make a plate and press that. There are interesting ways to combine the digital and the handmade.
What kind of projects have you worked on?
I work for clients (mainly branding) and create my own work (illustrations). Recently I created the logo and packaging for Hammam34 . I created a book for them with my friend who is a creative and a stylist. I really enjoyed that. It’s great seeing your work contribute to creating a successful brand. I also make posters and cards using letterpress techniques.
So it’s going well?
I have been working for myself for four years now, and sometimes I stop and think, “I’m still here!” I’ve been on vacation to Bali and to Japan, I recently purchased a house, and I still get to do what I love.
Would you say that the city of Amsterdam inspires you?
Things are really happening on a global scale right now. It’s not just happening in Amsterdam, but also in cities like London and New York. A few years ago everything had to be straight and slick (created on the computer), and although I experienced that in the design world, it was happening in other industries too. Now we see people have moved away from that. There’s this universal trend towards authenticity; people are drawn to artisanal crafts and making. Back to the basics, if you will. And this renewed interest in handmade designs is a part of that. People want to create. People want to make something of themselves, and it’s a good time to do that. I’ve worked with many startups so I seem to be drawn to that desire to start something. And of course, the Internet has given us the freedom to communicate and reach large audiences. It’s incredibly easy to start a company today. It’s almost like once you’ve created a Facebook page you’re ready to go!
What does a typical day look like for you?
My boyfriend usually leaves the house by 8am so I try to get up with him and get to work early. But my days are all so different. I create deadlines by scheduling appointments with my clients, which could mean that I’m up working till 2am the night before. Some of my days start at home and end in the city, while others start in the city for a workshop or a meeting and end at home. A little while ago I had a studio in the city but I prefer to work at home. And I try to keep my weekends free.
Can you name a few of your favorite places in Amsterdam?
If I need to catch up on emails or meet with clients I like working at Friday Next on the Overtoom or at Vinnies Deli on the Haarlemmerstraat. I also love the area over by the Noordermarkt. De Pijp, of course, and Oud West is booming with new places like De Hallen. But when the new hangout Frits opens in the Baarsjes in a few weeks I’m sure that will be my new favorite!
I’m looking into setting up my own brand next to La Farme to work more freely and develop my own ideas. I honestly don’t have too many concrete plans; it’s all gone quite organically until now. I want to continue learning and right now, with every new project and every new client, I still feel like I’m learning something new. I’m actually just really happy with how things are going. And I’m not sure how things will be in two years from now but we’ll just have to wait and see!
Thanks Anne for this interview! Find out more on her website , buy one of her letterpress prints on Etsy or follow along on Facebook , Pinterest or Twitter .