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AvH Graphics brings fresh ideas to table


Anke van Heijningen

From the Netherlands to Brooklyn; from cows to graphic design, Anke van Heijningen has followed her dreams.

Van Heijningen, a graphic and Web site designer, recently opened her own graphic design company in Brooklyn this past July. Before she started her business, Van Heijningen Graphics, she helped her husband with the family dairy farm.

Van Heijningen and her husband, Willem Hartman, came to the United States from the Netherlands in December 2006 to start a dairy farm, but Van Heijningen knew she wasn’t going to be very involved with the endeavor.

“When we started the farm, I was going to help with the bookkeeping part of it, but I didn’t help with the dairy part of it,” she said. “I knew I wanted to continue with graphic design.”

Shortly before coming to Brooklyn, Van Heijningen finished school in Utrecht where she earned degrees in graphic design and multimedia. After completing school, she worked for half a year with a sign company in the Netherlands before coming to Iowa.

Once Van Heijningen and her husband got the dairy farm up and running, she decided to continue with graphic design on a freelance basis. Van Heijningen said it was easier than she thought to find work within the small community.

“I think it helped that we were the first couple to start a dairy farm,” she said. “People would ask me what my role was in the farm and I would tell them that I’m actually into graphic design. It wasn’t as hard as I expected to find clients.”

And since she started, Van Heijningen has found many clients in the Poweshiek area and abroad. Most of her clients are local, but she said she has a few back in the Netherland, one in Germany and a big client in Wisconsin.

“I would like to spread out through Poweshiek County,” she said.

Van Heijningen designs logos, brand identity, publications, letterheads, business packages, business cards, promotion packages, bookmarks, postcards, calendars and many other items. She designs for both companies and individuals.

Upon opening her business in Brooklyn, Van Heijningen has added Web design to her resume.

“I’ve always been interested in Web design,” she said. “I always wanted to combine graphic and Web design, so I’m excited to have that included in my business.”

When designing graphics or a Web page, Van Heijningen said she can work from her clients’ suggestions or from scratch.

“Some clients come to me with an idea of what they want or they tell me to use my imagination and come up with something,” she said. “Either way, when I first show them what I created, I like to give them several options to choose from.”

Some clients already have an established logo or brand design, but would like some new, fresh ideas, which Van Heijningen said she can provide.

“Sometimes it’s better that they not show me what they already have so I can work from scratch and give them something completely new,” she said.

And her clients are pleased with the creativity she shows in her work. According to a testimonial from Kurt Brannian, director of marketing for SoyClean, on her Web site, “We’ve been very pleasef with the work Anke has done for us. She is very creative and efficient and her work is crisp and effective. We highly recommend her.”

AvH Graphics is located at 125 Jackson St, Brooklyn. Van Heijningen can be contacted at 641-522-6210 or at Her hours are from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. You can see her portfolio on her Web site at

Van Heijningen lives in the Brooklyn area with her husband, Willem. In addition to graphic design, she also enjoys painting, fitness, going to art museums, watching movies, visiting new cities and shopping.

Van Heijningen said she is happy she and Willem chose to live in Brooklyn because of the landscape and the people in town.

“Our house has a beautiful view of all the hills and pastures,” she said. “And the people here really made us feel at home, which is really special when you don’t know anyone or the language.”

UPDATED October 8, 2009 12:50 PM

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