Artist Francine Schokker has many talents, and teaches a range of craft skills such as bookbinding, sewing and screen-printing, too. What’s more, she also sells all the lovely things she makes in her Etsy shop, COWstudio. 

Can you tell us a bit more about yourself?
“I’m a quiet person, with a head full of ideas. And as that keeps my hands busy, I’m able to sit still for hours on end! I attended the Art Academy in Kampen, where I took a teacher training course specialising in drawing and painting. I also went to Birmingham and did a Master’s degree. Both my parents are Anglophiles, so ever since I was 4 years old, we spent our holidays camping in Britain. As a youngster, I felt at ease there. I was always dressed quite differently than everyone else, which in England led to many compliments, but at home in the north of the Netherlands, only resulted in lots of insults. So, when I turned 20, I took the leap, emigrated to the UK and continued to build my business over there. In 2008, with the help of a former boyfriend, I started up a mini-studio in called Creative Open Workshops (COW Studio).”

So how come you’re now back in the Netherlands?
“A twist of fate. In 2013, my younger brother died in a house fire. So I immediately returned to the Netherlands, and then had no desire to rush back to England. When something that drastic happens in your life, you tend to look at things differently. Being near my parents and family was – and still is – the only important thing.”

What is your favorite item in your shop?
“At the moment, it’s the ‘sleepy hare.’ I think it’s so sweet and cuddly! My preference may well have something to do with the fact that we’re expecting our first child early June. My boyfriend and I met each other when I came back to the Netherlands and we don’t yet live together. But we’re busy looking for a house now and it’s all very exciting. Going forward, I want to spend more time making forest critters and colorful accessories, which will enable me to stay at home with the baby and work from there.”