Are You Doing What You Set Out To Do?

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I was having dinner with friends one time, and when I asked what he does, he gave me this wordy title that clearly went over my head, not to mention it was in an industry that I find rather difficult to comprehend. It was a long-winded terminology I can’t even recall what he said.  I replied, “I didn’t know there was such a thing!”.  It was the kind of designation you most likely never dreamed of because you probably didn’t know it even existed.

“Did you ever foresee yourself in this job when you were in school?”, I asked.

He replied, “No. I wanted to be a chef.”

There was a time when we declared what we set out to do. We said it with conviction, with clarity. We knew we could do it because we believed. And then life happened, many of us end up being one of the little cogs of a machinery built on routine, endless paperwork, planning meetings to plan other meetings, days that become years weighing down until our dreams are flattened and pummelled into something that’s barely a whisper of a memory.

When I was 4, there were two things I told anyone who would ask what I wanted to do. I declared that I wanted to be an artist and a teacher.  I count myself fortunate as I actually did and continue to do what I originally set out to do. It did, however, take me almost twenty years to make that switch and commit to my first love: art.  I dug up this book for the first time in a long time.  When I looked at the dedication, I realised it was given to me in 2006, shortly before I hit a creative block in 2007. 

So what took so long, and why did I resort to Plan B and procrastinate my creative dream?  I can think of three things that held me back:

1. Limiting beliefs

As a child born in the 70s and grew up in the 80s, I was told that art was not a job nor is it a career. The idea was never taken seriously and simply was not an option for out middle-class family.  However, they did praise and encourage my art as a hobby and something fun to do, but nothing beyond that.  I was trained to believe that a career meant a fixed monthly pay check, working behind a desk and sticking to one company all the way until retirement. And that’s when they said I should do what I loved.

2. Poverty consciousness

Art was not something I thought would pay unless you are extremely gifted, like the great masters or come from a well-to-do family.  Again, this is what I was taught.  I grew up in the era that fostered the image of the “starving artist”, something I always thought would happen  if I pursued a career in art.

3.  Self-doubt

Being my own worst critic, this is perhaps the most pronounced reason that affected my career. Linking back to my first reason, I always thought art, to be of any value to anyone, had to be serious, perfect and staid.  I compared myself to other classmates who could draw a life-like face with proper shading and shadows, or a landscape with such accurate perspective. I look at my skewed and lopsided scraggly strokes and splotches of bright colors and it never occurred to me that I had what it takes to make a profession out of it.

Well, guess what?  Years and a slew of chances later, and even if I didn’t go to art schoolI finally did!

Are you doing what you always said you would do?

What made you do it, or what is holding you back?

Starting Old And The Emboldened Late Bloomer

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I’ve never been one to shy away from talking about my age. Etiquette dictates that it’s one of the things one should never bring up. Why that is so, I am not really sure. But my age has a lot to do with the story of my work.

This post is dedicated to everyone who set sail in search of new beginnings for a fresh career later in life because not everyone gets to start young.

Since I graduated in 1997, I’ve had a repertoire of jobs in my resume. All are non-creative fields, mostly unrelated but all have a way of unwittingly contributing to my professional backbone You can read about my past life here.

Over the years, I’ve attempted a multiple times to make that one final switch but always with one foot out the door. This explains why my full-time career as a painter and an artist only kicked off two years ago. Most people celebrate 40 with something big, like a glitzy party or traveling to some fabulous, IG-worthy destination.

I spent turning 40 in my studio, furiously painting in preparation for my very first solo, sold-out show here in Singapore last April.

I didn’t realize I have made a number of good friends in the country we now call home and I had to hold back tears as I welcomed each of them who came to the opening night to lend their support. Seeing the red stickers marking the labels of my entire work was just surreal.

What would have happened if I threw in the towel and ditched the whole idea of committing to being a full-time artist? If not for my husband, who sternly told me to stay on track even without tangible results, I would have resorted once again to a mediocre Plan B, C and even D.

Starting old comes with humility.  By this stage, friends and contemporaries are already at the prime of their careers and lives The idea of starting from the ground up past 35 was very daunting, to say the least. And the thought of having to learn something new all over again and the risk of not being up to par was downright terrifying. So when someone closer to mid-life makes that choice to switch industries, that person has made a conscious decision to leave their pride behind as much as they can, with a large dose of humility as their ticket into unfamiliar territory.

Starting old is a privilege.  There is no point wondering how differently my journey would have been had I started right after school. That ship, for a fact, has definitely sailed 20 years ago. The privilege now, however, is the conscious choice to move forward out of your own accord.

When someone decides to venture into a completely new profession, I consider it a privilege because that choice was made knowing that you’ve been around the block and that it will take so much more than a negative comment or lack of results to unnerve and break you. 

By the time you’ve made this choice, you would already have something to back you up, be it a previous career or simply years of expertise in handling adversity.  There is confidence running in your veins, knowing that even if there is a slight chance this might not take off, you have already established that you are good at other things.

We’ve tried new things before and we can definitely do it again.  And there is honor in trying because we choose to take that chance.

Starting old comes with dignity.   By starting late, we’ve earned our medals from the school of hard knocks. We know pretty much how the real world works. We know how to conduct ourselves properly, be it facing a client, negotiating prices or writing a well-voice correspondence.  More than being an artist, we are, above all, professional. 

Not everyone will like our work, we won’t always get a call-back, and not everyone will respond favourably, or if they do at all.  It’s impossible not to be affected, and of course it will annoy and frustrate me for a day or two.  But I’m not going to drag it out and sulk, and neither am I going to whine incessantly or drown my sorrows over a good bottle of wine.  That’s because I know I’ve dealt with far worse over the years and this is but a glitch in the bigger scheme of things. Really. 

Defeat is nothing new. It is inconvenient, it is uncomfortable and it can be extremely disheartening.  However, we know for a fact that this not something new and because of age, it is not unfamiliar.  With age, however, we know how to gracefully move on as excruciatingly as it may seem.

And grace is but a gift that truly comes with age.

Make Instagram Work For Your Art (And Not The Other Way Around)

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It’s been almost a month since the opening of “Myriad”, my first solo gallery sold-out show. The response has been nothing short of breathtaking, with paintings moving even weeks before the opening. Even after the last piece was declared sold on opening night, the gallery informed me that inquiries were still pouring in from places as far as Greece.

I am overwhelmed, elated, humbled and anxious all at once.

Overwhelmed by the wonderful response.

Elated that my work is appreciated.

Humbled by others’ faith in what I do.

But anxious as I wonder where I go from here.

My husband just shook his head and reminded me to stop, relax and relish the moment.

It started in 1997.

My story as a professional artist began the moment I left university with a BA in Psychology in 1997, and tried being everything else other than myself. Since then, I made half-hearted efforts to break into the art industry but always with one foot out the door, ready to bolt whenever things didn’t go as planned.

And that’s exactly what happened.

When things hit a slump or did not yield the desired result, I quickly went back to my comfort zone and sprinted right back to Plan B, C and even D.

Although I had an exhibit in a bistro and another one in a fine-dining restaurant in 2003 and 2004 respectively, it wasn’t until last year, 2015, that I sold my first work through an art gallery.  While I juggled 3 to 4 non-creative part-time jobs while trying to do part-time art after 2004, my half-hearted efforts would pretty much produce a half-baked career. This was how it was up until I hit my creative block sometime in 2007 and had my breakthrough in 2012.

Fast forward to April 2017, after a long and excruciatingly slow journey strewn with hits and misses, twists and turns, I found my way back to myself.

A body of new work up in my first solo gallery show has come to fruition.

Climb a wall and commit.

For a brief moment, I got into wall-climbing. At that time, I also had the good fortune of coming to the facility whenever the national team came for training.  On my first evening,  I passed the halfway mark of a 40-foot wall, when I was met with a 1-ft indentation jutting directly over my head at a 90-degree angle. I could’t figure out how I could hoist myself up. While I was trying to find a grip, I yelled down below “I can’t!”. Others who were resting heard me and yelled “Commit! Commit! Just commit!”

This meant that I should release my grip, and without fear, hoist myself up with everything I’ve got and commit to another grip with the free hand. It also meant to let go and have faith in the movement.

When I moved to Singapore in 2010, I eventually saw it as a blank page, a fresh start, and a chance to reinvent myself as an artist. It was this brand of commitment that I took to heart that changed everything. I stopped doing things that were not-related to my art. Then, I closed down my Etsy and Society6 shop because that wasn’t what my work was about anymore. I said ‘no’ to a lot of offers which no longer fit my vision.

I narrowed my focus, buckled down and did nothing but paint, paint and paint.

Social media helped. By a mile.

Let social media work for you and not the other way around.

I joined Instagram in 2014 when I got into calligraphy, a craft with a very strong and supportive community around the world. Unfortunately, this was a short-lived hobby but I learned that being part of a community, even though we’ve never met each other in person, made a world of difference. So I stayed on Instagram.

Being on social media gave me a chance to grow my work in anonymity.  It gave me a different kind of validation knowing that my art is valued simply for what it is, and not something born of friendship, affiliation, or a favor.  In 2015, I joined an Instagram class by Melissa Camillieri. This was a game-changer. It gave social media a purpose, a direction, and showed me how something seemingly fun and mundane can otherwise be a powerful tool to connect with the world and build my work.  If there’s one thing that made IG work for me, it would be the sincerity behind both what I post and the art that I do.

Oh, and hey! A little bird told me that she’s holding her next class in a week or two! To see what this class is all about, click here.

Perhaps one of the biggest pitfalls of being on Instagram is relying on it solely  to build your business. While this can totally work  it is an unfair expectation to think that Instagram will do the job for you.  Instagram is merely a tool to be heard by the universe around you. Instagram did not create my art. My art existed independently of social media except it’s like I was handed an extraordinary megaphone to tell my story, loud enough to be heard across the planet.

And, gratefully, they did.

When Art Becomes A Little Less Fun (Part 3 of 3)

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In an earlier post, I delved into the changes that happen when art is no longer something you do for fun, when it’s something you have to do because it’s your life, and it’s your job.

Things change when you do art professionally.   When things shift from hobby to industry, we become our own boss. Thus, parameters need to be defined and, like any other 9-to-5, work conduct must be upheld in all our transactions.  The goal of our craft is not simply about getting messy and mixing paints for its own sake.

It becomes about someone adding value in the world.

Art is not free

When I was 14, I hand-painted posters for an event in my local country club. It was something I personally pitched to the manager, and something I wanted to do because I was on summer holiday and I was running out of things to do.  The deal was they provided the materials, and I drew. I honestly think that was the start of my professional career! 🙂

One would think twice about asking a lawyer, a doctor or a carpenter to do work for free.  However, and quite sadly, many people will not hesitate in assuming that artists will be okay to do things pro bono. Up until recently, I still got offered mileage as payment, good golly.  In my opinion, mileage does not pay anymore, not in this era of social media with today’s generation of outspoken artists.  You can read my thoughts on this  here.

I’ll understand if it’s for a charitable cause that is in dire need of support, and it’s also your prerogative if you want to accept work  in exchange for goods and services that will be of use to you.  Be open to negotiations but refrain from doing things for free.  Doing things for a free meal? I say no.

I’ve also read about a lot of people on social media reaching out to designers and artists asking them for free items in exchange for a blog post and an Instagram feature.  It’s easy to get excited at the idea that someone else will talk about your work.

But here are some key questions to ask:  Who are they? What do they promote? How wide is their reach? And most importantly, how robust is their engagement? It’s not always about the number of followers that makes the difference so I’ll talk about this at a later post.  Always be on your guard when offers like these come your way because people who sincerely want to promote you on social media will do so out of their own free will because they truly believe in you.

The practice of doing art for free should be obliterated from our paradigm.

Refrain from apologising

I think a good number of artists have an issue quantifying work. It’s uncomfortable and makes people queasy. But over time, I learned to do this as gracefully as possible, with conviction and dignity. After all, art is work, mine and yours. The best advice I ever came across was in an article on the internet.  I cannot remember whose article it was but she said this: Never apologise for your prices.  

I used to be guilty of this when asked about my rates, ending it with “For the project, it costs $_____.  So sorry!”.   Now that I think about it, I can’t exactly remember why I was being apologetic yet it rolled offf my tongue quite easily.

Like I was apologising that I had to charge for art.

It was only when I accepted and embraced the full scope of my work and that it IS a job,  a profession like everything else and thus requires equal treatment like all other industries. Thus said, setting our professional fees respects global industry standards, ideally. It is rooted on size and materials (if it’s something like a painting), experience,  merit and scope of work. This makes your pricing clear, reliable and fair because it’s objective.  It’s not some numbers you pulled out of a hat or priced based on the level of emotion attached to your work.

The idea of a starving artist must die a swift and instant death right now and never be heard from again.  It is a poorly romanced idea of what makes an artist “real’.  When it comes to being a professional artist, there is much weight on the word “profession” as much as there is on “artist”.

The goal as working artists, aside from making beautiful art, is to make a living by being fair, sincere, trustworthy and credible across varying projects and clients. What our art means to people is just as important as who they’re dealing with, and our sense of commitment and purpose in all our endeavours.

To read Part 1, click here.

To read Part 2, click here.

When Art Becomes A Little Less Fun (Part 2 of 3)

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As artists, why do we have to talk about money? Because we have to and because it’s our job to do so as a working artist.

In my opinion, this is, perhaps, the trickiest part when it comes to art: pricing your work. Money is something many of us enjoy having, but not necessarily something we enjoy talking about. This is the part when art becomes a little less fun.  I remember being taught that it’s something you simply don’t talk about at all, and asking for money is just a big no-no.  This mentality is perhaps what feeds the guilt and the lack of confidence many of us have when it comes to commanding rates and prices because art is not exactly a straightforward product you can reduce to a number, like a bag of flour or a bottle of shampoo that can be easily and objectively quantified.

But really, how do we expect to be paid if we don’t have the initiative to even talk about the value of what we do?

Pricing method

There are some ground rules you can set for your body of work. For painters like myself, one can price art per square inch, per linear inch or by the hour plus costs. Personally, I use the square inch method because it’s what I was taught and  it has worked for me since.   Now knowing the multiplier without overpricing yourself will require a lot of research.  Study the different prices of artworks across varying work experience, exhibits, art background (I have none, don’t worry), size and medium.  The internet makes this part rather easy.

Setting the tone

I think this is where having a non-art background helps.  In an earlier blog post, I talked about my years of experience wearing many non-creative hats and how this provided a solid backbone from which  business ethics and protocols were born. These non-artsy elements are key in being a reliable artist.  Our decorum affects people’s perception of our  transactions, whether on paper or in person.  Do you hesitate when asked for pricing? Do you exude conviction?  Ditch the emojis, the smiley faces and the multiple exclamation points.  Refrain from making jokes or giggling nervously, and try not to get flustered in the client’s presence when money is now the focus of the discussion.

If, however,  you feel you can’t blurt out a price at the drop of a hat, be honest and say “Could you give me time to review your requirements?  I’ll get back to you within the day”.   This will buy you time but do not delay. Keep the turnaround time very swift and be ready to draft your own contract if the client won’t provide any.

Oh, and when dealing with clients face to face, remember to dress smart and neat.  There is immense power in it.

Dealing with low-ballers

Up until recently, I still got offered “mileage” as compensation.  Seriously. It’s 2017 in the age of social media where artists have direct reach with their audience.  Unless it’s a major publication, a relevant TV feature, a globally recognised blogger  or Oprah, the offer of mileage does not always compute.

I also noticed the term “collaboration” being  distorted to serve other people’s own purpose. If you are asked to shell out your time and give your products for free in exchange for foot traffic and exposure yet the establishment you are “collaborating” with benefits financially and directly from the project, I wouldn’t call it a “collaboration” anymore.

I would simply call this unjust.

In the second part of the blog post, let’s talk about doing art (and other creative things) for free and why this practice should be obliterated from today’s world. It’s about time, don’t you think?

Click here to read Part 1.

Click here to continue reading Part 3.

When Art Becomes A Little Less Fun (Part 1 of 3)

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When my husband came home one night, he asked me how my day went and I responded distractedly with “Oh, the usual. Just work.”   To which he replied “Sounds like a day at the office.”

Don’t get me wrong   I jump out of bed each day eager to start working so I count myself very, very, very lucky.   However, there are some days when it’s just a little less fun than it used to be. Here’s why:

1. It’s a job.

And just like any line of work, you now have real and defined responsibilities and deadlines.  Now that it’s not something I do leisurely, it’s a true discipline. There’s also a huge difference between painting versus doing design work for clients.  When we do the latter, get ready for multiple revisions. In both cases, it’s best to clarify limits and conditions in writing and stipulated in a contract.  As mentioned earlier, it’s a job.

2. We’re not always inspired.

Unlike doing art as a pure hobby when I would pick up the brush when a wave of inspiration washes over me,  I now make art not because I want to  but because I really have to.  In the real world, I don’t always feel inspired day in, day out all times of the day. That’s the truth.

The challenge of being a professional in the creative field, I realise, is finding ways to inch forward and make art even when I don’t feel like it.

3. It’s not always 100% spontaneous.

Yes, there is still a lot of liberty and expression in my work, but creativity has now become slightly calculated.  Now that I’ve agreed to a theme or to a concept, I must deliver accordingly.

4. It’s a commitment.

I owe it to myself and my clients to continuously hone my craft.  This means I must continue to try, to experiment, to be better, to practice and ultimately deliver. Being a professional  demands discipline and accountability. This is also why, in an earlier blog post,  I talked about why it’s also good to not become an artist from the very start.  There are many things one can learn first from a not so artsy background.

5. We need to talk about money.

Money. It’s something I need to gracefully talk about with every transaction — with dignity and conviction. Whatever price I assign for services and/or paintings must be consistent so that remunerations are fair and reliable across all clients. One can’t exactly keep changing fees depending on how one feels about a body of work.   This is the part that makes my stomach queasy and something I wish to ponder on further in another post.  Artists, we’re gonna talk about this more!

To continue reading Part 2, click here

A List Of Sketchbooks

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For the longest time, people have been asking me about sketchbook recommendations and what brands I use.

Finally, two new things today:

  1. a video, and
  2. all the sketchbooks and journals I use.

I hope this helps! Sorry it took so long but I’m glad I soldiered on and put this together 🙂

Next video coming up answers the question: “What pens do you use?”


Make Room For Your Life

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Breathe in.

Breathe out.

Out with the old, in with the new.

Whenever I have loads to think about, the first thing I do is clean up. And when I say “clean up”, I mean I use it as a time to de-clog and de-clutter my energy by sorting, throwing and donating stuff.

This is a habit that I built for myself since I was in high school (that’s an almost 30 year-old habit to date!), long before Konmari Method became a thing. I have a mental quarterly purging system, one that started when I used to throw no-longer-needed quiz sheets, activity papers, circulars and scratch paper. The ability to purge has become automatic that I don’t notice that I do it quite regularly.

For those who find this to be a gargantuan task (it’s only massive if you allow lots of stuff to pile up), here are some ideas how to go about it without freaking out:

  • Always start within, and start in the farthest corners of our closet by evaluating clothes I have not worn in a year or two. This does not include seasonal travel clothes, however. I’m talking about clothes I say I’ll fit into one day but I know I just won’t, clothes that have seen better days, or idle clothes I’ve been holding on to for no reason at all.
  • I donate to the Salvation Army or to communities who accept second-hand clothes. Anything that’s torn, ripped, stained, snagged or hole-y gets turned into rags. I never give away clothing I myself will not wear.
  • Another space you can go to would be drawers where you stuff bills and receipts. I’m pretty sure many of us have that drawer. Yes, that one. I typically keep monthly bills good for a year for whatever reason. After a year, they all have to go. Receipts from restaurants, take-away, taxi cabs or whatever — if you still have them in your pockets or the inner sleeves of your wallet, ask yourself ‘Why am I still holding on to these?’ 🙂
  • I only buy what is needed, what is necessary, and never in excess. Cabinets are not bursting at the edges. How many pans do I really need? Check the pantry. I’m pretty sure some bottled dried herbs are 6 months to a year past its shelf life.  I just spotted two and disposed of them over the weekend.
  • The only stuff I have a lot of are my paints and sketchbooks, but that’s because they’re consumable and used for work. I also don’t buy more paint as necessary as they will dry up if stored too long.  When people look inside my closet, they’re shocked. Why? Because there’s so much space, and to think it’s a shared closet I have with my husband.
  • I donate and give things away while it is still in working, usable or presentable condition. If you have gadgets, appliances and other household stuff you no longer need, give it to someone who can make the best of it while in good order.
  • Finally, I only buy what fits in the house and things that have a direct purpose or function. If there is no room for it at home, I won’t make room for it if it’s not a necessity.  I simply won’t buy it. When you live in a building apartment where you have a booth for a kitchen, then there simply is no room for that air-fryer  or that dehydrator I’ve been eyeing for quite some time now.

Breathe in.

Breathe out.

Out with the old.

In with the new.


Empowering The Professional Artist

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What do professional artists have today that we didn’t, say, 12 years ago?

Answer: Power.

Today’s artist is a lot more empowered than he or she was in 2005.

The artist of 2017  has the strength to reach his or her client directly easily and effortlessly.  

Back in the day, we were at the mercy of mainstream media editors and TV producers.  Most, if not many, were supportive of fledgeling artists and I found myself fortunate.  Cold calls led to a big break in a major broadsheet, and being spotted in an art fair led to TV features.  For the most part, it was a struggle to be seen and heard as an artist during those times.

What gift do we have at this very moment  that we didn’t over a decade ago? Social media.

2004 saw the birth of Facebook, followed by the inception of sites like Etsy in 2005. These two factors were enough to break some of the barriers that prevented artists from reaching their clients directly.  The biggest game changer was born in 2010. It’s called Instagram.

I regret not joining sooner but luckily I had the chance to catch up.  This, perhaps, is the biggest factor that helped me get back on my feet after a 5-year dry spell of  creative block and absolutely no art.  I became active on Instagram in 2015 and by December of 2016 I have grown to a community of 28k on @thejarofsalt. The numbers definitely mean something because it opens a number of doors and builds highways to clients near and far across the planet at all times of the day. It was when I met Melissa Camillieri that I was able to make heads or tails of Instagram. It was midway through her class when a lightbulb went on in my head that I fully realised my direction and completely re-branded myself as an artist.  I know she has an online class on January 16 and I promise you it will be one of the best things you can do for yourself if you want to be more present online.

The artist of 2017 has more resources today than any time in history.

There are no excuses anymore at this day and age. When we needed to do research before, we needed access to an actual library that holds all these heavy but fantastic art encyclopaedias.  Today, anyone with access to the Internet on their phones or laptop can easily peep into museums through their websites or artist’s personal sites from wherever they art. There are also lots of mainstream articles and blogs dedicated to art and artists (such as this very post you’re reading), offering varying and mostly candid opinions about  topics you might be looking for. Blogs offer a more honest (but not always necessarily accurate) source of information.  It was through a blog that I learned the perils of re-posting photos (even with credits) and how she was sued for it. Now this leads me to my third and last point.

The artist of 2017 is informed.

12 years ago, I didn’t have the luxury of all the information swimming in the worldwide web today. Now, even art lawyers, editors and artists have blogs where I have learned a lot from. If you’re doing research about galleries (I’ve discovered that one that reached out to me was a vanity gallery) or online classes you are keen on, there are so many personal reviews available to take into consideration. Lots of things are listed online today, including material that is in the public domain versus those protected by copyrights, sample contracts, etc. I personally do not undertake a project without a written and signed contract that stipulates all the terms and agreement.  I suggest that all artists and creatives equip themselves with written documentation because it goes a long way and this is what professionals do. Full stop. 

Today is as good a time as any to uphold our rights and value as a working, professional artist and be accountable for making things happen for ourselves in this succulent new year.  Stay equipped and enjoy the creative journey up ahead!

Going Online And Onto The Real World

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2016 was a turning point in my career as things revved up and switched gears.  It wasn’t easy, but it was definitely onward and upward ever so steadily, excruciatingly slow but ever so surely. Putting my work online was, perhaps, one of the best things I’ve done for myself because of the personal and professional ties I’ve built over time.

With gratitude, here are some of the best people I’ve worked with, thanks to the magic of Instagram:

Working with Stabilo has been very inspiring. To have my work acknowledged by a brand I’ve been using since 4th grade (and that’s a loooong time!) has been very humbling and empowering at the same time.  My new sketchbook classes use Stabilo products in our Singapore classes and the results are simply fantastic! One of the “highlights” of working with them is being one of the first to try their soon-to-be-released color palette in 2017!

I’m not exactly someone who shops a lot and I keep a very lean wardrobe but my jaw dropped,when I saw this steampunk ring on my feed one day. Created by Inspired By Elizabeth, these rings are crafted from watch parts (the grooves move!) and Swarovski crystals. I don’t have an SLR so it’s difficult to see the intricate details. Her site, however, has all these inspiring photos of her works of art so pop in if you want to see details up close!

I conducted several sketchbook classes called “The Big Blank Page” in the latter part of the year and can I just say I am absolutely blown away by the support here in Singapore, and more so for people who made an effort to meet me here during their travels!

Will I have online sketchbook classes for The Big Blank Page? The answer is one resounding YES. See you online in 2017!


I have an affinity for vintage, retro jewelry and fashion. For those who follow me on Instagram, my rings have become synonymous with my creative process and regular sketchbook entries. Sometimes I really wonder if people follow me on Instagram for my art, or my rings! -_-  You can only imagine my surprise when Daniel Wellington sent me this old-fashioned leather watch.  Their simple, clean and classy large-face watch speaks volumes.

I love trees but I also love paper. It’s a bit of a personal conundrum but I make sure that I justify my paper usage as best as I can. Thus said, it was an honor seeing my work on Bookblock‘s journal. Stitched with ivory pages and rounded corners hardbound with a matte-laminated cover, Bookblock created my very own personal journal with a fire-engine red satin bookmark and elastic band. You have to feel the notebook in your hands to appreciate quality paper and fine craftsmanship.

The idea of working as a surface and textile designer never occurred to me until two years ago. For almost all my life, I always thought illustrators were limited to graphic design and/or children’t book’s illustration.  Having my work shown in New York in Printsource’s  surface and textile design show is, indeed, a dream come true. And it’s thanks to Jen of  Zoejo Design, who came across my work on Instagram and saw value in the imperfections of my work.  Thank you, Jen!

One of the keys to working effectively, in my opinion, is based on sincerity — both online AND offline. This is perhaps the most important lesson I can impart with anyone who’s keen on getting their work online and into the real world.   I’ve written about the importance of staying real on social media  and being a true professional as a working artist.  It makes life and work easy for you because posting on Instagram, or whatever platform you choose, is merely an echo of your daily life.

Although I was already online two years ago posting random kitchen escapades and late posts from travels, it wasn’t until I took a closer look at social media that I found some direction in my online existence. Melissa Camillieri did an incredibly fantastic job in helping me with the ins-and-outs of Instagram, teaching concrete steps how to make Instagram work for me.  A little bird told me she’s holding another class on January 16 so click this link to sign up!  I entered her class with 700 people in my IG and today I woke up to a 27k-strong community on Instagram.  Do know that these are not “just numbers” to me.  27k means all the breathing, thinking souls living daily lives who share their thoughts and with whom I have significant dialogue with.  This, for me, is what Instagram is all about.