Author Archives: By Emily C.

Sweater Weather

Despite the beautiful weather we have been having lately (with the exception of a few downpours), the weather always deceives me as I step outside and feel that cold, crisp air against my face.

It’s time to pull out the sweaters and blanket scarves because the Vancouver fall/winter season is just beginning. To be honest, I’ve always preferred cozy sweaters and trendy coats over the rompers and off-the-shoulder tops. Below you can see my collection of sweaters in my closet, mostly ranging of neutral tones with rosy pinks in the mix. Majority of my sweaters are purchased from Forever 21 or Garage and surprisingly, Forever 21 sweaters have really held up for me considering their reputation for cheap clothing with mediocre quality. Recently, Garage has re-branded themselves and carry more of a “Brandy Melville” feel to their clothes, meaning that their fabrics are super soft.

Wearing a lot of neutrals make it so much more easier to put a whole outfit together because you don’ t have to worry about colour clashing outfits! You can always add a splash of colour through accessories such as a hat, a beanie or a scarf. It’s the easiest way out of having lots of clothes in your closet: neutrals are your way to go.

If any of you know me in-person, you probably know I love my Topshop long coats. In fact, I’ve made my annual Topshop coat purchase the past few years. It all started with my camel coat that I stumbled across in my local Topshop store and I fell in love with it. It was exactly the colour I was looking for and because Topshop carries petite-sized clothing, for once, the coat didn’t look too long for my 5’0 figure. It hit me at a perfect length without making me look like I was drowning in the thick coat.

Last year, I felt like I needed another one in grey and it became another staple piece in my closet. I found myself excited to wear these coats every year as the weather started dropping, and recently, I made my third Topshop coat purchase: ya gotta top it off with black! I’ve always had difficulties finding these coats without being too long or “oversized” on me but these coats fit me like a glove! The best part is that they are not too pricey (CAD $120) compared to other similar coats on the market and the quality is exceptional. Also, if you’re a student you get a small discount enough to compensate for the taxes!

I wore my black coat with my favourite charcoal marl sweater from Forever 21. To brighten up the tones, the slipped on a light wash knee-slit jeans from Topshop. Their Leigh jeans are my absolute favourite: I have abandoned my old jeans and completely converted to Topshop jeans because they are jeans that are closest to feeling like I am wearing leggings! Definitely worth the investment (which is pricier than other jeans but for the fit and feel? WORTH.) and I have never turned back to wearing any other brand of jeans.

I am planning to write about my closet essentials: Fall/Winter Edition so look out for that soon!

-E

My Tools of the Trade — Modern Calligraphy

If you’re like me, I’ve always found videos of calligraphy that show up on my Facebook newsfeed really therapeutic and mesmerizing to watch. And so, two years ago, I began to rummage through the internet for online tutorials and printed out masses of practice sheets to begin my newfound hobby.

I started from my local craft store, Michaels, and bought several nibs, nib holders, black india ink and a pad of smooth marker paper. From there it was practice, practice, practice until I started developing a preferred style of writing that seemed most natural to me.  Below, you can see a layout of the nibs I have collected over the past two years, along with a few of the pen holders that accompany it.

Nibs + Holders

The Speedball/Hunt nibs were the first few I bought from DeSerre’s: they come in a pack with two holders. The great thing about nibs (or calligraphy in general) is that they are really affordable…but keep in mind that they are also fragile if you don’t store them well. The ones I buy typically range ~$1-2 CAD each. My absolute favourite nibs are the Leonardt 40 (I use this one the most) and the Hunt 99. I find that I tend to steer towards nibs that are more flexible (less stiff) because it helps me write more naturally.

Nikko G and Zebra G are the couple I read lots of blog posts on. I was able to track down a couple of small art stores that carry these nibs in Hong Kong, and being super inexpensive they also came in packs of three in the case that one may accidentally be broken or misplaced. Here’s a quick comparison between the raved on Nikko G and my favourite Leonardt 40.

I don’t believe there’s anything special to talk about about my holders. The one you see on the top with a part that sticks out is the oblique holder. It basically helps you write on an angle that some people may find difficult when writing with a regular holder, but I don’t tend to steer towards it. I find that I grab my Tachikama wooden holder the most as most of my nibs fit in it. For my smaller nibs I use the brown Hunt holder that I purchased with the nibs — again, really affordable.

Ink

Ever since I laid hands on my Finetec Pearl Metallic Inks palette I have never let it go. I absolutely LOVE the iridescent glow that it produces when activated with water. Used typically for watercolour brushes, I use a few drops of water and mix it with a small brush for several seconds, then paint it onto the nib. It’s not the cheapest out there, and I purposely purchased it on my last trip to Hong Kong because it was difficult to find in Vancouver. Nevertheless…absolutely stunning.

I did start off with using black india ink but it’s been getting old and I haven’t thought of replacing it since I always just use the Finetec palette. With the help of Photoshop, I digitize my writing and invert the metallic ink on black paper which gives the look of black ink written on white paper (#lifehacks).

Paper

I started off using your standard white paper, but found that the sharp (fragile) tip of the nibs would repeatedly catch onto the paper and gave a rigid feel to my writing. I purchased a marker pad from Michael’s that really helps with that problem. The paper is really soft and light, which helps with write smooth, continuous lines so I definitely recommend it for practicing. Typically, I like to use just any card stock I can get my hands on. My mom really enjoys making cards and she has collected a TON of coloured card stock paper, so I usually just take some to use and it’s great for calligraphy too.

 

…And voilà!

Calligraphy really does take time and practice. At one point when I started, there were times when I did feel discouraged because I wasn’t satisfied with it! In the beginning, I had really wonky, awkward strokes and it really didn’t feel right to me. Those are also the times you need to push through and give yourself even more reason to keep working on it because it takes time so remember to be patient with yourself. Once you start to feel progressively more comfortable, you’ll start to develop your own writing style. I still do feel incompetent sometimes and I really do like keeping calligraphy as a hobby because I know I definitely still have room for improvement! Hope this helps.

-E

Finding my Career Path

When I was a young child, I was gifted a workbook that prompted me to draw what I wanted to be when I grew up. To this day, I still clearly remember the colourful butterfly I drew on that page.

Remembering the blissful days of my childhood when things were so much more simple and all I wanted to be when I grew up was to be a colourful butterfly one day. If it was only that easy. If only I could fly off, care-free and explore the world… No, I’m not a butterfly, but that beautiful butterfly I drew may have signified my exploratory phase into the beginnings of my career: venturing further into the world of visual arts.

Thus, I grew up to love drawing: something that had never ran in my family background. I would draw on any surface I could set my hands on (yes, I remember drawing on the headboard of my bed with a ballpoint pen) and I spend hours on the internet looking for tutorials when I was in middle school. My cute cartoons and illustrations became more detailed, attempting to replicate a photograph on a blank piece of paper. Realism drawings of still objects became hyper-realistic until people thought I had suddenly become a photographer. I naturally developed an eye to see the world and the spaces around me differently, converting the three-dimensional world into a two-dimensional realm in front of me. I thrived in it and it didn’t take long for me to find a sense of identity through drawing and sketching. Everyone around me was certain I was going to be the next Emily Carr. It seemed like I had my career mapped out for me after many long nights of practicing in my bedroom: my professional career path had already been set for me.

The last hyper-realistic drawing I have drawn to date. — March 2015

 

So it began: my senior year in high school and I was one of the handful of students who had gotten a letter of acceptance into Emily Carr University on the spot. This was what was deemed to happen my whole life by my peers. Was it fate?

Not too long after I received a letter from Simon Fraser University, informing me of my acceptance into their School of Interactive Arts + Technology (SIAT), I had to make a big decision. I had never heard of this program and didn’t know of any graduates or alumni from SIAT. I spent my whole childhood moving a pencil around on paper, was I really going to make the transition to digital design? I thought, and thought hard for awhile, but I sensed an urge to explore my skillset: where could digital design take me? At the end of the day, I followed my gut and took the leap into the realm of design. This period marked my transition into technology and design, pushing my sketching pencils into the back of the shelf.

I didn’t know what I was getting myself into. I didn’t know how to code and I only had intermediate experience with Photoshop. The summer before my first year in university, I spent hours and days going through online tutorials to learn as much of Adobe Illustrator and InDesign as I could. But I loved it. I loved that making a mistake was a simple and quick CTRL/CMD + Z to fix. Strokes and lines were so much smoother, cleaner and there was no accidental smudging — this was fool-proof.

Illustrations done on Adobe Illustrator for a freelance project — October 2015

Slowly, the time and demand I had for sketching decreased and since my second year, I have not posted a single photo of a drawing. Do I miss it? Yes — I can recall the nights when I was upset and drawing took me into a place of serenity, a place where my worries did not exist. It will still always be a part of me: when I brainstorm for my designs, knowing how to sketch is always at the core and every time, it brings me back to my roots — where I started and came from: pencil and paper.

Rough sketches for a game design.

I have made my transition from an artist to a designer and I’m not turning back.

– E

Check out my portfolio work!

How I edit my Instagram Photos

 

Once in awhile, I’ll get questions about how I maintain my ‘Instagram theme’ and how I edit my photos. I have to admit: it does take some time and effort but I like to try and maintain a certain branding style to my instagram feed. Yes, I strive to live the #aesthetic life — it’s a part of who I am.

This may not work for everyone and people have different preferences and different tastes, so adjust accordingly to your liking! To keep a theme, I find that editing the same way (using the same filter) helps to keep all your photos consistent.
For reference, I work from an iPhone 7. In my photos, I tend to stick to bright whites, decently contrasted, soft shadows and less saturated photos. It works best when there’s natural lighting going on. Overcast days are the best days for outdoor photos. Bright sunlight creates darker and harsher shadows that takeaway from the photo and is also a cause of over-exposure.

First, I use the Photos in-app editor (found on all iOS devices) and put on the “Fade” filter. I’ll always have to adjust the brilliance, shadows, brightness, contrast, highlights and saturation until I’m more satisfied with it. If there’s any unnecessary distractions along the edge of the photo, I’ll just crop it out here.

Next, I’ll go into my app: Facetune. I really only use it for whitening light backgrounds that aren’t completely white and to de-saturate certain areas. I’ll bring that photo into the app and use their “whiten” tool to go over certain areas that are still too saturated.

After I’ve saved that photo, I bring it into UNUM, a very helpful app that organizes and helps me plan how a photo will look in my feed. Some may think it’s excessive, but I find that it is so useful to ensuring that your photos are cohesive with one another before you post it! Once I’ve planted my photo in there, I adjust it accordingly, using the UNUM in-app editor. And that’s about it!

 

Life after Co-op: Transitioning Back to School

Returning to school after an eight-month co-op placement is not an easy transition and I’ve come across a lot of people have asked me whether I prefer working or being in school. To be quite honest, I don’t have a definite answer, but here are some of my thoughts and opinions based on my experience.

  1. Working was not as stressful as being in school.

    I found a relief from stress the eight months I was working: no studying, no exams, no papers! The work environment was relaxed, flexible and I never felt too overwhelmed trying to meet my deadlines. I would spend most of my day in the office but would go home and not have to think about work rather than coming home from class and still having work in the back of my mind. My weekends were a question of “What should I do with my day today?”.

  2. I found it easier to focus on my own personal goals/growth rather than feeling external pressure.

    My first week back at school, I sat in a lecture while my prof introduced himself to the class and all my mind could remember was him going on about successful students in my program who have gone achieving great things in Silicon Valley. That’s great, don’t get me wrong: it’s an opportunity of a lifetime to work in Silicon Valley. But I find that my program has the tendency to focus on students who have gone off working for large companies that it starts to create a burden for undergraduate students to mold themselves into this standard that somehow Silicon Valley equals success and increased recognition. But the truth is, not every designer/developer ends up working in Silicon Valley and that doesn’t make them any less successful.
    When I was out of school and working, trying to fit into this celebrated mold escaped from my mind and found that I was able to find joy and contentment from within myself. I found it much easier to focus on my personal growth as a designer rather than comparing myself to other students. I was working in a small start-up, but I was proud of what I was learning and how fast I was learning and in that way, yes — I found success in what I was doing and it didn’t matter where I was.

  3. I focused on saving, saving, saving.

    Of course, working meant that I had a source on income and didn’t have to worry about how much I was spending on food or clothes. I wasn’t a broke college student — at least not for the eight months I was working. It doesn’t mean that I splurged on every meal, but generally I wasn’t counting how much I was spending by the dollar. I took the opportunity to build up on my savings so I could have a more comfortable future post-graduating.

  4. I felt disconnected from the school community.

    Working full-time also meant that I didn’t get as many chances to see my friends from school, and I really missed that the most. It took more effort to try and make plans with my friends who were in school, taking classes I was falling behind in because of my absence. It made me realize how much fun school can be when you have the opportunity to take on projects and bond with friends from school. I always felt like I was falling behind on what has been happening in the school community.

  5. I felt like I had more creative freedom in school.

    Working in a company means that as a designer you need to abide by the company’s branding guidelines when creating work. At school, there is a lot more freedom in projects such as choosing your own typefaces, colours and images: most of the time you are free to explore and create in your own style of choosing.

Overall, I’m glad to be back in school but I know I’m going to miss working once midterms and papers hit me. Finishing my first co-op placement, I definitely have a better sense of what I’m looking for for my future co-op placements and what kind of work I like to do. A word of advice? Just because someone is working at a well-recognized company, does not make their life perfect because everyone struggles with different aspects of their life: focus on yourself and your own growth, not on others.

-E

 

Week 3 Process Post

This week I installed and activated Google Analytics and the Ultimate Category Excluder plugins to WordPress so I can easily track my views and prevent these posiel posts from appearing on the front page of my blog. I planned the layout of my blog so that #posiel posts would be accessible on the sidebar rather than the main navigation menu.

One of the readings this week came from Craig Mod, “How I Got My Attention Back”. I would like to share a quote from his article:

“Our measuring sticks for life tend to be optimized for material things, things easy to count. Houses, cars, husbands, babies, dollar bills. Attention is immaterial, difficult to track.” (Mod, 2017)

This quote resonates with me because I can often see how our world is radically becoming more advanced and how visual media is increasingly becoming a the cause of consumerism. In a world where we seem to live thriving off material and physical objects, it is so easy to become absorbed into this culture of consumerism as a means to measure the satisfaction of our personal life. As a result, people are increasingly less aware of the every day situations that are occurring around us as they pay more attention to their own lives and personal obsessions. Attention, like time, cannot be bought or exchanged.

I find that whenever I put my phone down for a few hours, I tend to feel more productive with my time and feel more mentally invested in the work or activity I am doing without constant distraction. That being said, I don’t think I can be offline for a month even if my life allowed it without harming me. For being someone who relies on social media to stay in touch with friends who live hours away, I can’t imagine the time needed to transit to them just to discuss a couple of things with them that could easily and quickly be done in a matter of minutes.

Back to School, Back to Basics

 

It’s that time of the year, when all students bid farewell to the hot weather, tan lines and start the dreadful transition to a new school year, term papers and Vancouver’s bipolar weather.

I’m still in denial that school has already kick-started, but the progression to cozy sweaters, blanket scarves and hot chocolate has me quite excited. Recently, I paid a visit to a newly opened cafe in Burnaby, La forêt — a convenient 5 minute drive from where I live. It is undeniably the most aesthetic cafe in this area: every corner you look is definitely an instagram-worthy shot. The best part? Originally a warehouse, it is extremely spacious with a high ceiling, tons of natural light coming in and accented with greenery to provide for the best instagram shot. If you haven’t gotten the point yet: this is the new go-to space to meet all your instagram needs.
It was a beautiful day and I was treasuring the warm, sunny weather that I will soon miss so dearly.

Since it was still pleasantly warm that day, I pulled out one of my favourite finds from H&M — a black chiffon sleeveless shirt. I actually purchased this from the kids section and definitely has a unique style to it: it has a slightly cropped base layer with loose chiffon that splits at the back. It’s one of those pieces that can be easily paired and makes your outfit more interesting without even trying! For comfort, I paired a pair of light beige dexter pants from Aritizia that I found brand new (with tags!) at a consignment store for a fraction of the retail cost of $145. Being petite at 5’0, finding pants that fit my height is always very difficult, but luckily these ankle grazers fit me so well! Despite the hefty cost, the quality and fit of these pants make it worth it. My go to shoes when it’s not pouring rain outside are my Adidas Stan Smiths that I bought online for only $65 (compared to retail $110), they can be worn with anything really. I’ve managed to keep them decently white the past year I’ve owned these; hopefully that doesn’t change any time soon. Adding to simple pieces, I have been eyeing a gold crescent moon necklace from Topshop but was reluctant to purchase because of the price, but was able to stumble across a similar one Forever 21 that costed half the price!

 

 

 

7 things you probably don’t know about me

  1. If I wasn’t a visual/interaction designer, I would love to pursue interior design!

    I love watching home reno shows on HGTV and if I had much more time in life I would most definitely be interested in learning more about interior design.

  2. I have never in my life like Barbies. Well, just dolls in general. Period.

    I remember when my dad came home with a Barbie wearing a Cinderella-like blue gown one afternoon, I almost gagged out the bok choy that was in my mouth when I saw it. I never played with it and tried all attempts to sell it out at multiple garage sales with no luck. Maybe it was the synthetic look and feel that I’ve always found dolls disgusting. To this day, I still don’t know what happened to that Barbie doll.

  3. I used to make jewelry out of paper clips and a pair of pliers.

    It’s true: I always had a bag of paper clips and pliers with me. I made necklaces, bracelets and earrings from twisting paper clips in different shapes.

  4. I was put in an ESL class when I was in elementary school.

    If I recall correctly, in Grade 1 or 2, I was pulled out of class by surprise and dragged to an ESL class. I was born and raised in Vancouver and had never thought or been told I had any problems with my English. Luckily, I was never put back in that class after that one time. In fact, in high school I actually got a lot of compliments from my teachers on my writing and academically did very well in my writing classes.

  5. I wasn’t born into an artistic family.

    I don’t know anyone in either side of my families who shares my artsy side, yet I have always loved drawing and creating. At a very young age, I have always been known as “the artist” of the class. From drawing anime and cartoons to hyper-realistic drawings, I never enjoyed the drawing classes my parents put me in, but preferred teaching myself through practice and experience.

  6. I can’t ride rollercoasters.

    I have a calm and soft heart that can’t take no adrenaline. When I was in middle school I went to Playland for my friend’s birthday and we all went on the well-known wooden rollercoaster. I don’t even know how I was even tall enough, but it was one of the worst decisions of my life. There is only one long bar that comes down in front of your waist (not secure at all!). Being a petite person, I did not feel safe and thought I was about to fly out any minute. I still don’t know how I survived that ride, but I’m glad to still be living.

  7. Being a rhythmic gymnast was one of the most impacting decisions of my life.

    How was it impacting? That’s a story for another time.
    I started recreational gymnastics when I was probably as young as 4 years old just “for fun”. In Grade 3, my school offered an after school rhythmic gymnastics classes so I gave that a try and fell in love with the sport. I continued to train pre-competitively for a short period before entering the competition world for the next four years. I loved — and placed very well in competitions. I had no limits to the way my spine could bend and I took it for granted.
    It wasn’t until I injured my spinal cord during a training — at the age of 12 — when I had to accept the fact that I would never be able to perform the same moves I used to so easily do. I never had a desire to compete in the Olympics, but I still had a raging passion for the beauty of this sport so I continued to compete for another 2 years with an injured spine. I stuck out the pain with many visits to different doctors and physiotherapists before deciding to focus more on my academics and pursue my passion for the arts. To this day (10 years after my injury!), I still occasionally struggle with back pain and I’ve gotten to know my physiotherapist like a friend.

Stranger Danger?

In a technologically advanced world, it has become the norm to for our eyes to be glued down to our mobile screens wherever we go: whether it be on the bus, on the street or in class. Consequently, it has undeniably caused us to be less aware of our surroundings and the people around us. It’s much easier now with easily accessible technological devices and social media platforms to engage and interact with “strangers” because we no longer need to carry the same feeling that may come with rejection or awkwardness in-person.

The difficulty of speaking to a stranger in public mainly comes from unknown motives; I’ve been approach by many strangers who tried to sell me a product, ask for cash, or for using me as an ear. I’ve almost been accustomed to creating a social barrier between me and the people around me when I am on the street alone because of unknown intentions and out of fear of being taken advantage of.
A stranger to me is someone who I don’t know personally and if I was asked, I would not be able to describe their personality or interests to someone else. I consider a person known when I have had at least one engaging conversation with them to really get to know who they are aside from recognizing a familiar face. Being a shy and reserved individual, once I get to know someone on a deeper and more personal level, I find it easier to approach them and feel more inclined to speak with them again, thus passing the notion of just being “strangers”.

 

My Vision Board + Process

For a lifestyle blog, I really aimed to develop a theme/palette that represents who I am.
Being a crafty individual, I decided to go back to my childhood roots and take out my scissors. I can’t remember the last time I created a vision board or collage, but I had fun with this. I really only had two magazines to work from, but IKEA magazines really did it for me. Besides the journalling images (thanks Google), I found that IKEA really speaks to my overall aesthetics. In fact, I get a little giddy whenever the new IKEA catalogue comes in the mail.

I always love to “embrace the white space”. A minimalist, I strive to stay simple while showing some natural/earthy and light tones: pastel pinks, blues and green tones from nature. I want my platform to be a space that inspires, is easy and enjoyable to read.

I’ve always wanted to have a platform to write about my passions and my hobbies in hopes to inspire my fellow friends and peers. Oh, and I love coffee. No — I’m not an addict… I can survive a day without coffee; I love the smell of freshly brewed coffee which is why I drink it. The energy boost is just a plus.
I’ve recently developed an interest in modern calligraphy probably because I love writing. And I don’t mean writing essays, I mean the action of writing. I love writing neatly and being structured, which leads me to my hobby of note-taking (wait, is that even considered a hobby?) and journalling.
I love to create, and I love to share what I create. And most of all, I love to help people. So that is what I hope to bring to this blog: a space for me to share inspiration, tips and advice on living a fulfilling and influential life.