2015: The year of taking charge

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I had taken two weeks off from everything: teaching, family, this blog, everything.

And what did I do? What did I spend my 14 days doing prior to ringing in the new year? Was it something productive like sorting out my receipts and re-arranging the mess of a corner that I call my workstation (I work just fine, thankyouverymuch, and things are where they’re meant to be.)

Nope.

Here’s what I did instead: I was binge-watching The Mindy Project because I had just discovered the show, oh only after it ran for 3 seasons. I was laughing and giggling over the chemistry between Dr Mindy Lahiri and her colleague Dr Danny Castellano while nodding my head whenever she was talking about how other things can wait when it comes to food. Or that you’re crazy not to have seconds of anything. Oh yes. That’s what I watched. For some her voice might be grating enough to turn them off, but for me, I had to control myself from snorting out food through my nose whenever the punchline kicked in (did I also mention I didn’t stop watching even when it was lunchtime?)

So yes I binged watched for the entire 2 weeks while I was off. And I’m not embarrassed to say that I enjoyed it. That and oh, chocolates.

I deserved it.

That, for me, was the act of taking charge of my time.

And I want to do more of that in 2015. Not the binge-watching TV show bit, but the taking control bit.

But wait, doesn’t taking charge mean doing something proactive? Something useful? Yes, it can be that too. But that’s not the point. The whole point of taking control is to be able to exercise your choice – irregardless of what other people might think. You need to know what you’re doing and what you’re doing has to be purposeful. And that is totally different from merely slacking off.

I didn’t feel an ounce of guilt while I was reclining on my sofa, cradling my laptop to the tune of crazy nurse Morgan as he deadpans about his dogs. I emptied my mind and let myself do nothing for a change. And while I do watch my favourite TV shows from time to time – having 2 weeks of pure uninterrupted bliss time to call my own is just what I needed to recharge my exhausted batteries. Your methods may vary, and so will your mileage.

Because society and life in general puts too much pressure on people to do things all the time. Sure, there are times when you can’t afford to take a break. Or maybe you’re not into The Mindy Project like I am. The point isn’t about reclining on sofas and watching comedies while popping Picnic bars. It’s about taking charge of what you want, and ultimately what you need to do to move forward.

I knew that I had been through a bit of an emotional roller coaster in 2014. One of my first dogs ever died. I ran another fun, successful second session of Work/Art/Play. There was also the 2014 Artists and Illustrator survey. I did a redesign of my blog. I participated in a local zine fair where I peddled my zines and gave a talk among other great designers. I took on a part-time stint as an art director at a regional PR firm. I was at the Asian Festival of Children’s Content as a moderator for several keynotes and a one-day workshop. And a few other wins and losses that I can’t seem to remember right now, but that’s okay.

2014 was a relatively slow year, truth be told. And I didn’t mind it one bit. There are times when we surge and forge ahead, and there are times where we back down a little – not out of defeat, but to prepare for whatever life throws at us next. We lick our wounds and treat our pain – physical or emotional – and get ourself ready for what’s to come.

And 2015 is going to be one exciting year, I can guarantee you that.

Just make sure you get off the sofa like I did.

So here’s my question for you:

What will you take charge of this year?

Maybe it’s taking charge of your time so that you can finally spend that time on learning that new technique you’ve been meaning to try out; or it means taking charge of your art and business so you can do what you love and be rewarded for it.

I’d love it if you would share with me (and I read every comment):

  1. What does taking charge mean to you?
  2. What’s your focus for 2015? What do you want to change?
[Illustration by Tyler Feder of Mindy Kaling on The Mindy Project. Available as a print in her Etsy shop.]

Reflection

Marika Maijala

 

Throughout the year, I usually end my evenings (and nights) with a to-do list for the next morning. When December rolls around though, it becomes a little different. I’ve stopped writing down to-do lists for the rest of the month. Instead, I write down more goals, more ideas, and allow myself more time to dream. It’s a to-do list still, but one that’s rooted in possibility. It’s a time where I focus on regrouping my thoughts and to reflect on things that have transpired over the past 12 months and turn what I’ve learnt into something tangible. All the emotions, energies and ideas that have come my way; reinterpreted, and renewed.

2015 is a year in which more adventures will be had, and more learning to be done.

52 weeks to make things that count, and to be of service to others.

365 days filled with new possibilities every single day.

Happy holiday friends, and thank you for being a part of Pikaland this year.

Here’s to more peace, love and creativity; from our family to yours.

What about you? What’s on your to-do list for 2015?

[ Illustration by Marika Maijala ]

The Pikaland Gift Guide for All Seasons: part 7

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The Pikaland gift guide for all season has come to the end – and to cap this year’s edition, I wanted to do a bit of recap of the books that I’ve featured here on the blog, which has been some of my favourites. They’ve opened up new horizons for me, inspired me and to a certain extent, changed my life. I still flip through them from time to time, and I do think that the ones here have stood the test of time. (P/s: this list is done in no particular order!)

Enjoy!

Lighter Than My Shadow by Katie Green

 

Lighter Than My Shadow (Amazon UK) is Katie Green’s first graphic novel – a tale of struggle and recovery; of abuse, betrayal and awakening. I’ve known Katie online for several years now and while I knew she was working on her first graphic novel about her eating disorder – I didn’t anticipate the range of emotions that bore into me as I turned each page. All 500 of it. I was curious, confused, shocked, angry – some of them all coming together in a flurry of emotions that caught me off guard as I devoured it in one sitting. It was beautiful, uplifting, and most importantly – incredibly brave of her to put her story out into the world.

Read my review here.

Draw Paint Print Like the Great Artists by Marion Deuchars

 

Marion Deuchars has done it again. In 2011 I reviewed her book Let’s Make Some Great Art (reviewed here) and it was a unique book which made me squeal with delight when I peeled open its pages back then. In her latest book, Draw Paint Print Like the Great Artists, she reprises the original concept of inviting the reader (or in this case, the artist) to dabble their fingers into some paint and let loose in between the pages of her book.

You can read my review here.

Birch field Close by Jon McNaught

 

The brilliant work of Jon McNaught is captured beautifully in Birchfield Close – a book that describes frame-by-frame of the suburbs in all its mundane glory. Each scene seems to blend into one another effortlessly, much as the day turns into night in places such as these – behind the subtle chatter of neighbours to the quiet unsymbolic passing of days. Throughout the book there’s no conversation; just sounds and noises against backdrops and textures of subtle color. Jon’s a genius.

Read my review here.

An A-Z of Visual Ideas by John Ingledew

 

If you’ve been stumped for ideas on how to push the envelope in your work or to add context by twisting thing ups a notch, then you must, absolutely, get The A-Z of Visual Ideas:How to Solve Any Creative Brief. What this book does is to link, connect and inspire new ways of thinking and creative solving. From A to Z and start to finish, the book not only outlines how to breathe new life into your ideas, but show you many examples of how others have done them.

Read my review here.

Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell

 

Malcolm’s mind is like a giant repository of ideas, questions, answers, and the magic lies in how he tells and links all of them together. Facts that I never thought of learning are brought to life so vividly; facts that never crossed my mind and facts which seemed insignificant at the time — all of them were carefully dissected and presented in simple, layman terms. And in Outliers, he talks about success and the makings of it.

You can read my review here.

Different: Escaping the Competitive Herd by Youngme Moon

 

Thought provoking and written in a conversational style, you’ll feel as though you’re sitting down with Youngme herself for a chat about the topic of how to differentiate yourself from the crowd in Different: Escaping the Competitive Herd. While the title sounds like a business how-to, she mentioned that this was precisely why she set out to write a book that eschewed the norm of dishing out one-liners and pep talk. Instead, she manages to maintain the interest of the reader to delve into the subject matter further to decipher for themselves the points she puts across so eloquently in her book.

Read my review here.

The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use it for Life

 

First, a little background. Twyla Tharp is a choreographer who has created 130 dances for her company and many others like Joffrey Ballet and London’s Royal Ballet. What shines throughout The Creative Habit, is how Twyla talks about creativity in the way she knows. Although choreography is a different way of expressing one’s ideas through art, the formula to achieve creativity in all levels of your life is a common thread that binds all creative types together. Drawing, writing, performing, singing and even business — she doesn’t discriminate what field you’re in. Rather, she offers learning through her eyes and opens up the reader’s mind via her experiences.

Read my review here.

How to be an Illustrator by Darrel Rees

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I first reviewed this book  in 2010, and a second updated edition was just released this year which contains updated information about the field of illustrations. The past 4 years has seen big changes in how artists market themselves (which is reflected in updated interviews), and they’ve added in sections on social media presence as well. \

You can read my review of the first edition here.

Whatcha Mean, What’s a Zine? by Mark Todd & Esther Pearl Watson

 

As a simple start off point for wannabe publishers, making a zine is surprisingly simple, yet effective. Staple together (or fold) a stack of papers with your idea in it and you can get your message across to any audience you wish! As one who came from the glossy publishing world of magazines, I loved the smell of paper hot off the press. I loved flipping through pages of my hard work and seeing the eyes of others lit up as they consumed each page. As I struck out on my own however, I thought that would mean the end of publishing for me as I knew it. Boy was I wrong.

Whatcha Mean, What’s a Zine opened my eyes to a world of zines and you can read my review of it here. It’s easily one of my most favourite books ever.

How to be an Explorer of the World by Keri Smith

 

How to be an Explorer of the World is Keri’s fourth book after so many other inspiring creativity-inducing books such as Living Out Loud, Wreck This Journal and The Guerilla Art Kit. I was always interested in the topic of creativity, and its many manifestations throughout my daily life, but Keri brought clarity to my thoughts and inspired me with one of the articles from her blog that first caught my eye: How to Make a Living Doing What You Love.

Read my review here.

And that brings an end to The Pikaland Gift Guide for All Seasons 2014! Thanks so much for sending your recommendations – you guys are amazing!

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