The joy of being unimportant

(That’s not me – but it’s Mr. T, and we’re in Zakopane)

I feel almost apologetic when I have to say that I was busy, seeing how the word has turned into a bit of a reviled creature that’s brought up to the table from time to time in an immodest show. But to be honest, it feels like I’ve woken up a bit, and I’m happy to report that I was busy (not in a look-at-me way, but in a look-I’m-really-running-around way).

I’m also now aware of how unimportant I am (woohoo!) and therefore should not take this blog as seriously. It seems like all the cool people are on Instagram, Facebook or Snapchat, so it’s a moment of revelation that’s very liberating!

And so here I am, breaking a bit from my usual format to do a quick recap lest I myself forgot what I was up to:

I was away in Poland (Warsaw, Krakow, Zakopane) and Singapore. The former was for a much-needed break, and the latter was for teaching, and learning (although I have to say the learning never completely stops for me, even while on vacation).

(Utagawa Hiroshige – Sudden Rain in Shono)

In Poland, I went to an exhibition that featured rare ukiyo-e prints from Japan, and featured the works of Utagawa Hiroshige, Keisai Eisen, and Katsushika Hokusai among many others. The exhibition also showed how each imprint was made (wood-block carvings) and then layered together to form a complete print. It blew my mind to be able to see these prints so up close, along with the artist’s sketchbooks and other books, most notably Hokusai’s books.

We went to a lot of places in Poland. The Army Museum, the Poster museum, the Chopin Museum, Flying Tiger, etc. We ate a lot. The food was so, so good and we’ll go again in a heartbeat!

I also went to Auschwitz. It made me angry.

An article I wrote for Communication Arts came out in May, where I interviewed collectives like Peepshow, the OIC in Singapore and the wonderful ladies of Parallel Universe, on how they run their outfit. Seeing my name in print never gets old!

(Koji Yamamura image from Raksasa Print)

I was fortunate enough to attend a talk by Koji Yamamura, an animator from Japan at Raksasa Print’s animation fest, and came away from the session with a fresh appreciation for moving images (he creates them by drawing. every. single. frame. WHOA).

I facilitated a workshop at the Asian Festival of Children’s Content, where I spent 4 days with other amazing facilitators and equally inspiring participants, where we talked, breathed and just soaked in stories and images. The conference after, where I also spoke, that was the icing on the cake as well – it’s where I met with many other amazing illustrators and teachers, where we chatted over coffee and lunch breaks.

I took part in a zine workshop, held by one my favorite artists – PiXin in Singapore while I was there too. I wrote poetry, and created a 8 page zine in 15 minutes (because I had to rush off). It reminded me of how I wasn’t creating enough, since everyone almost always has 15 minutes in a day.

I’m currently teaching my first every online class after 2 years, it’s called Find Your Personal Artistic Style, and I can’t believe how long I’ve put it off.

My students successfully ran their very first bazaar, selling products that they’ve carefully crafted, with stories behind their collection. I’m very proud of them for coming this far, since it was done on their own volition. To be extra sure – since it happened the last time – I collected $20 from each student for safekeeping to make sure they don’t flake out or renege on their word. I’m happy to report that they all got their $20 back.

Semester at the local art college has also begun, and I’m guiding students on creating abstract work for their first assignment, and gearing up for their final assignment – a personal story turned into a zine.

On Skillshare, I’ve re-learnt new things through video tutorials – very useful tools like using the Shape Builder Tool for Adobe Illustrator (where have I been?!) and also the basics of Adobe After Effects to see how I can use this for new projects.

I’m also researching quite a bit about illustrative branding, illustration in tech and in use for mobile apps for a commission I’m working on, and it’s a fascinating niche where I’m enjoying myself while learning new things along the way.

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If the months of April, May and June have taught me anything, it’s that I can do a lot more everyday. I’ve never created so much in the past 3 months, and I’m trying to see if I can keep up the momentum of making.

Especially the part where I create just for fun. Because that’s a lot more important.

Now that’s harder to do.

What have you been up to lately?