Nathalie Kalbach

How did I find my art?

As a young girl, Nathalie Kalbach, dreamed of becoming a writer. She loved making up stories and thought it would be cool to be a journalist.  Family convinced her that it was too hard to make a living as a journalist, so she changed her focus to law. Today she works part-time as a paralegal and devotes the rest of her time to scrapbooking.

Nathalie was born and raised in Germany and fell in love with a guy from the United States. They had two weddings. One in Germany and one in the United States. After her July, 2004, wedding in the States, Nathalie was presented with a ton of pictures. She told her husband she wanted to get an album and do something nice with all the pictures.  Her husband suggested she make a scrapbook. 

There is no word in the German language for “scrapbook” so Nathalie had to do a little research on-line to determine what the heck he was talking about. Back at home, Nathalie found Kit Clubs. Besides sending you all the paper, ribbons, stencils, etc., you need to do your layouts, the kit club Nathalie chose had monthly technique classes. Everything from stiching to stenciling, finger and faux painting were covered in these classes. The first class Nat took was in molding paste and she loved it.  She knew she was hooked.

Nathalie started with cards. Small projects to maximize the precious supplies she had to get sent to her from the States. It was three months before she did a real layout. As she worked on her own techniques she began learning more about the scrapbooking community which has a huge on-line presence. Message boards and websites galore are out there waiting for you to share your layouts, which was a scary thought to Nathalie. Would people like her layouts?  What comments would they leave?  But wanting to get better, Nathalie dove into the on-line community. Encouraging words from two of scrapbooking’s prime players Vicki Chrisman and Cat Matthews-Scanlon was exactly what Nathalie needed to keep going.

Nathalie was now consistently posting her work and thought it was time to take her hobby to the next level, to be published.  In 2006, Nathalie submitted her first layout for publication to a very popular magazine, Simple Scrapbooking, and it was chosen to be featured in their magazine. Not the norm for most first time submitees, but another needed confidence booster. That same year, Nathalie decided to create a blog, Scrapbook-Trends.  It was a vehicle for her to feature techniques she loved, designers she admired and her own work.  It also served a very important function, that of networking.

A German scrapbooking message board saw her layouts and asked for her to join their design team. She built her own on-line community and joined others in the form of blog challenge teams and guest blogging. Her network was growing and so were her skills.  Soon Nathalie would begin teaching.

To date Nathalie has taught in  seven different countries. She lands her workshop gigs by actively networking with shops and people she would like to work with, but also is approached by people who have seen her work and invite her to come to teach. Her networking has brought her across the ocean to New York City, across Europe, Israel and even to the worldwide web. Just recently Nathalie was contacted by a new on-line teaching university called CraftEdu. The owners contacted Nathalie because the were looking for people “who were known in the business.”

In 2009, her networking brought a different kind of creative challenge. Nathalie was approached by a French paper company, Sultane, to design a line of paper for them. She was referred to Sultane by one of her favorite mixed media artists, Julie Fei Fan Balzer. Julie had designed a line for Sultane and was asked who she would recommend to do the same. Julie suggested Nathalie and now people are sending pictures to Nathalie of the work they created using her papers.

But wait, what does scrapbooking have to do with Nathalie’s dream of becoming a writer?  Scrapbooking made it come true. It has provided her means to be a writer. It started with a German magazine, Scrap Artzine. Nathalie knew the women who were starting the magazine. They asked her to join their design team. Along with her layouts, soon Nathalie was writing book reviews and articles for the publication. Her writing is even published in the United States. 

Nathalie had developed a great relationship with the editors of Somerset Memories,  a magazine that features one of Nathalie’s favorite styles, heritage layouts. They loved her use of old family photographs and her journaling that they selected her to be a featured artist in February, 2008. Along with her layouts, they asked her if she would like to write an article. The editors loved what she submitted and now Nathalie has a regular column in the magazine called “Nathalie’s Studio.”

Nathalie attributes her success to being brave and being connected. Having the guts to take those first steps. To show her work and the feelings, emotions and personal relationships that accompany it. Connecting to those like-minded people who support, encourage and promote each other. Connecting to those people who feed her soul and the dreams of her younger self.

SOUL Survey Questions 

  1. How do you stay focused and motivated?
    It is not really hard to stay motivated since Scrapbooking and Mixed Media have become a natural addiction to me. If I do nothing creative for a couple days I get really moody. The problem is to stay focused since I have to work on the computer a lot and that means I get distracted by reading blogs, surfing for inspirations and editing photos and such. So I do have my rules (that I break constantly J ) that I only surf at certain times and I write everything down I want and I have to do as a to do and calculate the times when something has to be finished. As a paralegal I pretty good in organizing and keeping deadlines- I guess this helps a lot.
  1. How do you deal with naysayers?
    I try to not listen to much to them. That said – it is not that I do not listen at all – sometimes naysayers have valuable thoughts that you forget with your super optimistic approach – but in general I’m a person that believes “that everything works out perfectly” as long as I’m informed about all the possibilities that I have and as long as I do not fear to step forward. Sometimes this means I do not end where I wanted to be – but most of the time even a different outcome was the best thing that ever happened to me.
  1. How do you blur the lines between work and play?
    I would say that is the hardest sometimes- with all the wonderful opportunities to write and travel and design come many commitments and deadlines and it is a lot of work. I try to stay true to myself and do what I love which means that even if I design for a company I create in a way that I love to. I have the wonderful opportunity to work for some of my favorite manufacturers which makes it really easy to have fun while creating for them. I also have certain time-outs. I call them the MOJO-Less time. When Mojo is missing I just do something else- reading, watching a great movie, hanging out in the hammock. It all helps to get the inspiration back- because Inspiration is everywhere in your life- even in a wonderful conversation with your friend!