Tag Archives: creative

Challenge Accepted

This week, instead of writing to you from the comforts of my dimly lit dorm room, I’m coming to you from the confines of my childhood bedroom, only about 5.5 hours away with the Georgia Straight being the only thing separating us. Amidst this unique time, I’ve found that over the past week being adaptable is not only a huge part of our lives (yours and mine included) generally speaking, but equally huge part of being creative. To come full circle here, I need to jump through a few hoops and bounds so bare with me as I swear that I have a term worthy ending for you. 

I’m currently enrolled in an upper division Communications course that focuses primarily on sound engineering, putting a critical lens on the history and relevance of podcasts in particular. When I first read the syllabus in January- which seems like a lifetime ago, I was well aware that I’d be handing in a 5-10 minute podcast as my term project worthy of a heavty 30% contribution to my final grade in the course. 

About four weeks ago, my prof David decided (on the fly) that conducting an interview within our podcast was no longer optional, but mandatory. Given the time frame, this was prior to the University shutting down as the severity of COVID-19 ramped up. Within a week of his firm decision, five out of the thirty five of us attended our last in-person lecture and since then, all of us have been now working online to complete the course. Nearly two weeks ago now, David sent us an email to see how we were all doing on our projects. Upon opening the email, I assumed that he would be extremely lenient with our “mandatory interview” or even axxex it, but he didn’t. Instead, he wrote and I quote, “we need to be imaginative about how we respond to our situation.” With the world going into toilet paper bankruptcy, I thought that David would have  been without-a-doubt more understanding of our situation. In hindsight he was, I just couldn’t see it yet.

All during this time period, I planned on staying at the SFU campus until my scheduled move out date (April 26th), and then moving to my grandparents house for the rest of the summer. However, like many things in life, that didn’t go to plan or even remotely so.

I found myself arguing back and forth with my parents on where I’d be staying and for how long, each phone call ending without an exchange of goodbyes, but with the sound of the call being cut in one of my ears. Ideally, this virus and other viral pandemics in the past have been an occurrence that I and many others have been lucky enough to have not yet experienced in their lifetime. I’m completely guilty of underestimating this virus. Like many others, I can’t comprehend what it means for the future, not just my future or your future, but the future of the human race. It sounds extreme when I type it out, but since COVID-19 is unlike any other past pandemic, nobody is really sure what tomorrow will bring. In my mind, it was easier to think about tomorrow being a better day, but with each tomorrow things actually haven’t been getting any better. Due to its increasing severity, my parents made the final decision to bring me home to Vancouver Island. 

At the end of that phone call, my heart started rapidly beating as I saw the life I built for myself flash before my eyes. All I could think was, “How am I going to create from there?” As all of my photographers, videographers, hair and makeup artists, stylists, connections, networks, and brand deals are located in the city, I felt like I was nothing without them. Going back to the island felt like I was being exiled…banished…annexed from everything that I had built within the last year. BUT, at the same time I was having my little meltdown (trust me, I realize how ridiculous I was being), the ENTIRE population was experiencing the exact same feelings as I was. 

As my mom and I drove down the mountain onto Hastings Street- which is my most well known street thanks to the R5, I had a crystal clear view of the city. Since I was a little kid, Vancouver has always held a special place in my heart. I visited lots as my grandparents live there, always having so many things to see and do whenever I wanted, it was so unlike living in a small town. Although it’s true about what they say, “the grass is always greener on the other side,” but it was undeniable that the city offered more opportunities than that of a small town. To this day, my eyes still widen in awe as I’m greeted by the city as it’s always been a place where I’ve dreamt of living. In that moment my heart started to tremble as I realized that living in Vancouver was the one thing I had never once taken for granted, and I believe that’s why leaving hurt so unbelievably bad. We drove and drove and drove as the signs passed us, it was as if every first memory I ever experienced at those places started flashing through my mind one by one. It really put things into perspective for me as to how much I’ve come to grow and love the life that I’ve built for myself out here. My heart started pounding a little less, and it made the hurt go away. I had to remind myself that it wasn’t a goodbye forever but merely a heartfelt, “see you when I see you.”

As my journey continued back to the westend of the coastline, I checked my phone notifications. I had about 15+ missed messages from my CMNS 357 group chat about our individual podcasts- the three of them were debating whether or not they should complete the final assignment. One of them said that they were willing to nix the assignment completely taking an overall pass with 60% (due to our circumstances, this was approved by SFU as a “P” grade) as we no longer had access to a professional sonic studio, the other one was saying that we should complete our podcast for David (as he’s our homie and has been extremely good to all of us), and the last one admitted that they were too lazy to even bother with the assignment.

As I read the incoming messages I realized that my theory about the island being the reason why I lose my creative touch was just about as backwards as my classmates debating our final assignment. After that, I stopped asking myself, “why…”

“Why didn’t David excuse the interview from our term project?”

“Why did COVID-19 have to banish me back to Vancouver Island and ruin my creative streak?”

…and I started asking myself what. 

Specifically, what I was going to do, not only to produce a term-worthy podcast (with an interview) but to remind myself and my classmates that we as individuals were the only thing we needed to be creative.

In the very first lecture for this class, David said, “the podcast is one of the oldest acoustic artefacts to date, and yet still remains, and continues to grow in popularity.” He encouraged us to think outside of the box and told us that this virus was an even greater reason to go above and beyond, to show him that not only could we use the software, but we could use it in a way that told a story- a human like experience. And this is exactly the state of mind I have when I create, limits don’t exist, COVID-19 can’t and won’t stop me from being creative. Yes, It can take me out of Vancouver, it can take me away from the skyscrapers and the urban landscape, and it can take me away from my photographers, videographers, hair and makeup artists, stylists, connections, networks, and brand deals, but what it can’t do is take me away from being creative. I mean unless I actually am unfortunate enough to catch the virus… but for the purposes of this story, the only thing that can stop me from being creative is myself. 

And then the aching stopped, and I realized how happy I was to be home, with my family, and most importantly in a safe space rather than being cooped up in my dorm room for the next however long.

Creating content out of the island is something I haven’t done before (at the level I’m currently producing content at now), but I’m willing to accept the challenge. As a creative you need to be adaptable, and since my brand is myself, it shouldn’t be too hard bringing that with me unless I stop myself.

I picked up my phone and began hastily typing back to classmates. I’m glad that I could not only get them to reconsider their assignment for David (he really is a homie), but more importantly, for themselves. We don’t need access to sonic studios to create term worthy podcasts, and I don’t need Vancouver to keep creating. Instead we need to focus on telling meaningful stories that encapsulate human-like experiences that relate with our listeners, which believe me can be done with all but the very devices we hold so dear. I hold every ability to create within the palm of my hand, and so do you. 

So what’s stopping you?

Small Town Living with Uptown Dreams

As the days go by, I’m finding myself in a love-hate relationship with this self-isolation thing. On one hand, a part of me is frustrated that I’m being cooped up inside, forced to sit and relax and the other part of me is stoked that I finally get some time to catch up on the hundred and one things I’ve been putting off. I’m torn.

Prior to the world being taken over by COVID-19, I used to meet up with local photographers and creatives on a weekly basis, all while taking a full academic schedule, making time to hang out with my friends, making sure I went to the gym everyday and forcing myself to get a reasonable amount of sleep every night. I have to hand it to myself, for the first time I was actually balancing my life pretty well (the best I ever had), but now I worry that with all this free time on my hands I might not be as productive as I used to be. I’m a very scheduled person, I need tasks and directions to fully function because without those I find that I have no purpose. However, I’ve decided to look at this situation as optimistically as I possibly can.

A part of me is actually really excited to take some time off to teach myself the things that I never had time to do like, learning how to play the ukulele again or the piano, I want to get back into working on flair (practice of bartenders entertaining guests), but I also want to continue expanding my brand in the ways I never could. Primarily speaking, I want to direct my focus from Instagram and bring it towards building an audience on TikTok as well as YouTube. I also want to reach out to local brands based both in Tofino and Vancouver in order to collaborate with them in the near future. And lastly, I have massive plans for my blog! Since this has been a space that I originally built for school, I am actually quite interested in moulding it into my own little space as I’ve found some free time. Generally speaking, I’m thinking I want to redesign it entirely, keeping the same colour palette but adding more to the menu, like an advice column and content not just relating to modelling, photography and videography but rather to beauty, health and aesthetics. 

I really want to take this time to reflect on all that I’ve done but at the same time continuing to stay positive and optimistic towards the future. Ideally, I’m really trying to focus on building a true fan base and increasing my viewership based on what I stand for rather than just what I create. My main goal is to start building a community of like-minded people who not only come to see what I create, but get inspired to create themselves. 

Although I’m incredibly heartbroken that I’m no longer living in Vancouver for the time being, I’ve realized that the city didn’t give me all the tools I needed to create, I already had all the tools I needed to create, I just needed to figure that out for myself. 

Even though it’s back to small town living for me, I promise you that I’m never going to forget my uptown dreams. 

Not a Goodbye, but a See You Later

Recently, there has been a whole lot of controversy surrounding the topic of going outdoors and meeting up with friends as we’ve all been encouraged to socially distance ourselves. Up until this week, I’ve been shooting up to three times a week with different local photographers, however I’ve decided to switch up my fast paced lifestyle and start slowing it down. At first, I didn’t see much of an issue with shooting as I’m not in close contact with my photographers, but with the vast amount of time I spend on transit going to and from shoots, I decided to rethink my weekly shooting routine.

Since SFU got shut down on March Friday 13th (quite ironic if you’re the superstitious type), all of my creative projects have come to a screeching halt. As I’ve been focusing primarily on photo shoots in the past few weeks, I’ve decided that I will also be self-isolating and reverting back to working on videos as that’s something I’m able to do from the confines of my dorm room. 

I walked into my last shoot on March 19th, on the SFU Burnaby campus (one of my favourite places to shoot!). I was shooting at golden hour with Nicolas Scott (@nicolasscott_), a photographer whom I’ve worked with on numerous occasions for his clothing line, Call the Girls Co, as well as our most recent Calvin Klein studio session. We kept our distance and shot as we normally would, but as we walked around the AQ pond, I felt a sense of emptiness wash over myself. The place was absolutely dead, so much so that you could hear the drop of a pin. Although it was my last scheduled shoot, without seeing other people around me, it really made me feel as if I shouldn’t be outside, or if I was doing something wrong even though Nic and I were far more than 2 meters apart at all times.

We wrapped up just after the sun had set on the top floor of the visitors parade. We said our goodbyes and I walked off into the milky sunset making my way back to Shell House. Although I was completely bummed out to be putting a stop to my modelling career, I tried to look at the positives of all of this- that I would be able to really start growing my brand and putting more work into marketing and management as well as producing YouTube and Tik Tok videos. Walking off into the beautiful blending of colours in the sky reminded me that now was the time to think outside of the box and really take this time to reflect and think about alternative methods to create. 

This is not the end, rather it’s the beginning of a new form of creativity. I can’t wait to show you what I come up with!

VOGUE ITALIA

I thought this Monday was going to be like every other Monday, but to my surprise, it didn’t. I woke up at 8:30 am, made my way to the bathroom and when I came back to my room, I got changed for the gym. I spent about an hour in there targeting my arms, and as I was taking a break from my lat pulldowns, I got a DM from a Disney Animator and aspiring Photographer named Marc (@marcrovich), whom I’ve had the pleasure of working with before. Like most messages I get in the morning, I ignore them until at least 9 am to make sure I’ve had enough time to wake up and spend some “me-minutes” with myself.

When I came home, I immediately showered and as I began to towel dry my hair, I opened up the messages. I would have never guessed what happened and neither could Marc.

A photo we had taken together in late January was published on the Vogue Italia website! I couldn’t believe it, even asking several times over and over again sounding like a broken record, it wasn’t a joke.

As I made my way to the bus station to head to an appointment in Surrey, not only did I miss the 145, but within minutes hot tears started streaming down my face and I can assure you that it wasn’t because I missed my bus. I’m not much of a cryer, but I still couldn’t believe the news. It was starting to seem as different doors were closing in my life, other doors were starting to magically open. 

The next day, I went to lunch to catch up with a group of doom mates that I met in first year! Before I had even sat my butt down, they were shouting at me from across the way about the news. It was one of the most gratifying feelings in the world to celebrate and be celebrated by the first group of friends I made in University. They’ve seen me grow into exactly the person I’ve always wanted to become and they’ve supported me since the very beginning of me moving out here. It’s crazy to think of how many nights we spent on the 7th floor of the common room in Shadbolt House talking up until all hours of the night about where we saw ourselves three years down the road. At the time it was incomprehensible, but in current time we were all together celebrating who we were now. As we toasted to celebrate, I was so incredibly happy. Not just about the publication, but because I had people out there supporting me no matter what I decided to do. No matter how many changes I’ve undergone in the past three years, I’m still the same small town kid, but with the people I’ve met along the way, I’ve been able to build the life that I’d dreamt about three years ago in that common room.

Week 5 – Design

The website I will analyze is none other than Apple, that company is has a phenomenal web design. Just like their products, the website is simple and clean. The use of neutral colours further amplifies their products which is the primary focus for the viewers. When you go on the homepage you can clearly tell the featured product apple is trying to advertise. Moreover, what I love about their website are the pictures of their products in HD and how they have made everything interactive and responsive when you scroll down the page. One thing I noticed the most is the typography on the website and how it changes with the background, the font sits really nicely on top of the background making it a smooth transition.

The icons on the menu of Apple are simple, because for a user who is not familiar to the website can easily navigate just by clicking on the pictures associated with the product.

For example, when I visit their AirPods section from the menu, as soon as I start scrolling you notice every inch of the product explained through pictures. You will see the the product stretched out to explain the technology used in the product. Texts come up and disappear as images take over and the transition from white to black background is seamless. The interactive feature is brilliant that it has the capability to make you buy their product in a heartbeat (or at least that is me).

Overall, the website is beautifully made and perfectly balanced, it fully captures the essence of the product. The colour palette compliments the products and makes them stand out from the photography. It is consistent throughout the website, one can even say you could spend all your time on the Apple website, playing with the interactive features and not get bored. Personally the website still manages to amaze me with their attention to detail.

PHOTO PROMPT: Domestic Re-Imaginings

A simple exercise to improve your visual eye, without leaving the house.

The premise is pretty straightforward; if you’re in a photographic funk, parameters are your best friend. These images were created within the constraints of my own self-imposed challenge. In just 15 minutes,  I produced over 30 images without leaving the house (therefore averaging less than 30 seconds per image). What can be gained from this kind of activity? By imposing limitations to time and setting, I was able to explore unique choices in content that may not have occurred to me otherwise––achieving this creative mindset is sometimes trickier than you would think.

This is both a useful and liberating exercise for anyone looking to expand, reinvigorate, or practice compositional techniques. For myself personally, there have many upsides the more I have trained my artistic mind to approach the world in this way. Because oftentimes when I am in the midst of a creative block, this is due in part to existential struggles that are infiltrating the rest of my day. So the beauty in this exercise is that it is also a kind of mindfulness strategy as well. Life is a little easier when we can see the beauty in our humble surroundings. 

TIPS & TECHNIQUES:

Here’s what you should keep in mind to get the best outcomes:



  • Use a convenient, portable camera instead of a fancy one. This allows you to focus on the frame instead of technicalities such as ISO and depth of field. (I used my phone.)
  • Imagine that you are creating a sculpture or an abstract painting.
  • Investigate all possible angles: top-down, bottom-up, and eye-level, amongst others. Approach things abnormally. 
  • Combine those unusual angles with odd cropping. Ignore perceived beginnings and ends of objects.
  • Turn your attention towards appealing combinations of texture and negative space.
  • Avoid pre-grouping images in your mind as you shoot. Avoid thinking about thematics or symbolic interpretation. This is about producing and following instinctual impulses.
  • Remember, these images don’t need to be capital-A artworks. It’s okay if you never show these to anyone. But I don’t recommend deleting these; stash them in a sketchbook, virtual or printed out.
THE AFTER: Groupings & Gestalt

Although you can leave this activity after the shooting stage, I recommend taking a moment to review the photographs. I find it useful to bundle these images and begin to experiment with their interactions amongst one another. Personally, I find this secondary stage to be very relaxing and rewarding, so I encourage you to arrange and rearrange your snippets. Good consider-ations include colour palettes, textures, and leading lines. If you’re confused by that last term, hopefully the images down below
give you an idea of what is meant by this.

When grouping your images, consider the famous Gestalt principles relating to perception. In case you’re unfamiliar, these are very helpful guidelines when it comes to UX and design more broadly. (Check out DePaul University’s online resource for more detailed information––the site design itself is extremely outdated but it does provide comprehensive explanations with art historical examples.)

Though all the principles may be at play, I want to draw your attention to a few key interactions:

First, closure tells us that our brains seek out a connection, regardless of whether the elements touch. So we read all these images as one, in part due to their proximity as well. Both closure and proximity are virtually inevitable due to my snapshots up being lined up in this row/column structure (something to be aware of if you choose differently).

However, you will find that various potential arrangements within this structure will provide equally varying levels of compositional success. What you should aim for is a good sense of continuity, so that proximate images almost “talk” to one another as the eye flows from one area to the next. Again, have a look at my visualization of exactly this, below. 

Overall, experimenting with the order of your snapshots within a grouping structure can lead to a really satisfying visual impact. 


Enjoyed this post? Check out my other photographic challenges:

FIGHT CREATIVE BLOCK: 3 Unusual Experiments in Photography

SELF AND SKY: Digital Collages

MINI ASSIGNMENT No.4: Remix
Women silhouettes jumping over a mountain range

Jellyfish with eyes overlooks a tent

Little boy looks out the window at the cosmos

Photographic sources (links):
DANCING ACROSS MOUNTAINS:
> the women > the mountain range
THE GREAT JELLYFISH:
> the jellyfish > the outpost > the aquatic eyes
COSMIC DAYDREAMER:
> the child > the cosmos

Hope you found these my new collages to be enchanting. Which is your favourite? Let me know in the comment section below!

Between the Stripes — A Review

Jenny Chan’s blog, “Between the Stripes”, is a beautifully simplistic space to explore new worlds of music while being within the comforts of home. Especially at a time of the year where I would be sitting inside, by a window, while the weather can do whatever it pleases outside. The design reflects this, as if the sun or the natural light was peering through the window trying to see what I was doing.

 

Exploring the site itself, I first notice there is a strange “social media & sharing icons” link that brings me to a page for plugins with WordPress; I’m not sure if you can get rid of that or not, it’s at the bottom of the page, so it’s not the biggest deal if you can’t. However, it looks a little off just because it isn’t aligned right with the blurb above it that reads “BETWEEN THE STRIPES Powered by WordPress and FancyThemes”.

Like I mentioned before, I love the colors, not sure if you could add a bit more shadow around the title and play around with that a bit more? As for the menus and categories, I also think the Home About and Captures sections would benefit from and stand out a bit more if it was placed on the black stripe, but if that was the point to be in between the lines, I would add shadow to that as well.  As for the content, I love how you incorporated all the different senses in the “About” section. Keep up the Captures page!

Your “Recent Posts” section keeps repeating every time you post “song of the day” so maybe change that somehow, or number the title in each one? As well, as a reader who may want to comment, it was hard to understand that the“post comment” button was there because it is highlighted black, so it was a little confusing until I hovered over it to make a comment. I would change that so it’s not highlighted black. The mobile version of your website looks very nice as well.

I’m loving the social media outreach on the site; it makes it very interactive and builds more dimension to the simplicity of the site. My one suggestion would be to use specific social media pages as the blog, instead of your own personal Instagram, or your own personal Instagram. With a Between the Stripes Instagram, you could post your song of the day, maybe a blurb with it. You can also purchase InstaReport to keep statistics on that as well! I know some music-based social medias post parts of songs and perhaps you could do the same on behalf of the page. My confusion with Pinterest leads me to ask if there is a specific page on Pinterest you’d like us to look at that is relevant to your blog? Because there are many boards related to your Pinterest. Maybe make sure it just links to a specific board or perhaps a completely different Between the Stripes Pinterest account instead of your whole Pinterest profile. Otherwise, I have definitely been inspired by the social media interactivity and aspire to reflect that in my website as well!

If anyone is feeling adventurous and has a craving for new music, definitely check out Jenny’s blog here: http://triangularzebras.com