Welcome! I’m so glad you're here. I’m Andra, a marketing fairy, freelancer, art enthusiast, world traveler, beginner painter and, wannabe adult fiction writer.
Since I quit my corporate job in 2016, I’ve spent the past four years broadening my horizon, teaching myself new skills, traveling the world, helping with branding projects and, with launching a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter.
During this time, I met quite some struggles, mentally and financially, but I can only be grateful for all of them. Without them, I couldn't have experienced all the wonderful parts that eventually shaped me into the person I am today.
But life wasn’t always like this. The story of how I got here is...not as crazy as one might think. And because it seems that nowadays a lot of people are going through the same things, I'm hoping that you'll be able to relate to my story and start working on yours.
Originally from Bucharest, Romania, but living in Amsterdam for the past seven years used to be my default answer until two years ago. Being as curious as I am and always wanting more from life, I couldn't settle for too long. Now, I'm a global citizen, going wherever my heart (and money) takes me. I haven't found yet everything that I'm looking for, but I'm definitely getting closer. Sadly, my mindset wasn't always like this.
Since I can remember myself, I have always been an A student, working hard and “doing all the right things” to succeed and have a great future. My dream job was to work in one of the big companies as a brand manager so that I can have an impact on the world. Cute thoughts, right?
After finishing my studies, I was more than excited to finally get started with real adult life and start making things happen. Unfortunately, my graduation synced perfectly with the effects of the 2008 financial crisis. And so, my dream of having this cool, impactful job in a big company went down the drain. Nobody wanted to hire fresh graduates. They were just not productive and not worth the money it seemed.
What I ended up doing, for more than three years, was to take on short-term contracts for maternity covers. Everyone was happy with me and the work I did, but no one was able to hire me due to, yeah you guessed it, limited budgets.
All this professional and financial uncertainty teamed up with living by myself in a different country, and my strong desire to make my dream come true took a real toll on my health. And so, one day, I cracked. I was 25, and I was having a full-on burnout.
Even though only seeing the office building made me sick to my stomach, I was too embarrassed to admit that I wasn't feeling well. So I continued to show up and work every day.
For at least six months, every day was a struggle. I hated waking up and dreaded the moment I had to leave for work. Even so, I continued to push forward with the hope that soon, everything will be better.
And it did.
My perspective about life changed 180 degrees, and I understood how important making myself happy and being healthy (especially mentally!) was.
Even though I was mentally and physically exhausted because of the burn out I was dealing with, all of the things that I experienced in that first trip outside Europe, are still vivid in my memory.
I remember feeling depressed, tired, hopeless, and sleepy. Yet, I also remember the beautiful nature I saw everywhere, me dancing in the heavy but warm rain, the sunset that I wanted to last forever, the tasty food, the smiles on people's faces and, opening my eyes and heart to art.
This was the trip that healed me. That gave me back my life and made me promise to myself that no matter what I do from that moment on, I have only one goal: To always be in love with life.
I decided that it was time to make things right in my life, so I started by joining a group of friends going on a trip to Indonesia.
That’s where I made my proper acquaintance with Art.
To this day, I still love the painting and think it says so much about me and reminds me of my journey, both in Indonesia and life. I never regretted it. I paid for it the equivalent of 150 euro, which is nothing compared to the value it now has for me.
I remember just sitting there and thinking about her answer and realizing how simple and true this was. That’s when I bought my 1st painting. A moment that I remember as being a unique experience. I finally owned an original art piece!
But seeing my friend being so comfortable in such a place, made me think and wonder about the process of buying art. How come I felt so out of place, and she was so at ease in the gallery? How much art knowledge did she have? What about money? How did she know what to buy and what not?
So I asked her about her secret. She just looked at me, smiled & said: “I just buy what I like. Is there even more to it than this?”. Her answer was very straightforward, but it struck me and stuck with me all this time.
I was looking around the gallery, not knowing what to do or what opinion I should have regarding the paintings around me. Even if I saw something that I liked, I was a bit ashamed to ask for the price because I thought, by default, that I couldn’t afford it.
Thoughts like: What if I buy something that other people find stupid? Or even worse, something tacky that will only attract criticism from people that actually know something about art? How does one even shop for art? Where do you start?
Yes, this is an actual art gallery in Ubud, Indonesia, called Sudana Art Gallery.
Did I go in and checked it out?
Yes, I did, but not because I had a sudden urge to buy art. I went inside only because my friend, a person very much in touch with her artistic side, said: “Let’s go in and see what they’re selling!”.
If I had been alone, I wouldn’t have gone in. Not because it looked like just an ordinary house, but because I thought I don’t belong in a place where they sell art. I never studied art, didn’t know anything about art styles & techniques…I thought I’m not knowledgeable enough to buy art of any sort.
Love Pasta and Pizza.
I think carbs might actually be my soulmate.
Dancing tango has been one of my fav activities for the past 7 years.
Most of the money I save goes into the "My Next Trip" jar.
For the past year, I've been taking classes on how to write a fiction novel.
Japanese Anime movies (Ghibli Studio ones) are my feel-good movies.
Yotam Ottolenghi's books are my go-to cooking books. Everything turns out so yummy!
Love traveling & organising trips to places I've never visited.
Reading books is my haven. I usually read 1 book per week.
When I travel to new places, I buy art made by local artists instead of a mass-produced souvenir.
In the end, what I hope Artstanding will do for you is to inspire and empower you to express yourself through art. Because ultimately, everyone has a story to tell, so don’t let the lack of art “knowledge” stop you from showing it!
I discovered that the most significant thing about art is the fact that you can express yourself freely without being judged. And that’s one of the best feelings ever! To go crazy with your imagination and say what needs to be heard!
All this happened in the spring of 2014. And since then, I realized that art shouldn’t be as exclusive as it’s portrayed.
Since buying my first painting, I continued buying other art pieces as well, and I even started painting myself.
Check out some of my favourite resources that you can find here: