Friday, 31 January 2014

The Future Freaks Me Out

Motion City Soundtrack - The Future Freaks Me Out

Before I say anything else, I'd like to thank everyone who's filled up my survey! You guys are awesome and I'm so lucky to have you in my life! Most of them are my friends and family so it was really hilarious going through all the responses. A lot of things have been happening lately and the ground beneath my feet seems to slowly disappear. It's such a scary notion and, trust me, no one is more scared of it than I am. We've all been there before. We're all scared of things we cannot see, mainly the future. On my 2013 wrap-up post, I mentioned that 2013 was very 'real' for me, that it was like a wake up call for the most part. Though the year has ended, growing up is not something I can reverse. Thankfully, I always have people on my side. My best friends, my family, Firu. Their support is more than I can take and I found myself bathed in tears when I realised that they didn't expect anything of me, that I could always fall back on them. And I feel like, maybe I'm not fighting alone after all. Maybe I shouldn't have to. Right now, I can honestly say I don't know what the future looks like and that truly scares me. But whatever happens, if I still have these people, life is pretty good.

Fashion to Any blouse // Primark coat // thrifted boots + skirt // vintage purse // Pieces scarf

So last time I promised to show you guys this blouse as a whole. And here it is! What do you think? Personally, I love the floral detail. It's not too crowded like most floral pieces and very delicately done. As you can see from the last photo, the blouse actually consists of two thin layers. The white blouse layer and the thinner silk layer with the floral design. How classy and beautiful! Before I went out in this ensemble, I hesitated. It feels like I should have waited until spring to wear this outfit - along with new shoes I'm expecting in the next month. But patience was never my forte so I pulled on some tights, shoved my feet into a pair of my favourite boots, grabbed my coat and walked out the door. Thankfully, it has been one of the warmest winters in my life. Okay, I've only experienced 3-4 winters so far, but still. People kept staring at my ensemble - or my unruly hair? - for some reason. They almost looked vengeful. Then again, Germans never look happy. Don't ask me, I don't know why.

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Thursday, 23 January 2014

Let's Talk About Beauty & Body Image!

With a show of hands, how many of you have, at least once in your life, wished you could change something about yourself? I mean, purely physically. You look at that girl across the street or in your class or maybe on magazines, and you wish, you wish that you were more like her. Yeah, we've all been there. We may not even need to look at other people. We could look in the mirror and frown at the one or two flaws on our bodies that we wished would just go away. We all have it, an ideal of beauty. But for some reason, none of us think that we fit perfectly into that ideal. Why is that? Why are we so afraid to love ourselves?

Sometimes I wonder, if Photoshop was never invented, if there was no such thing as photo manipulation or airbrushing, would we have a different idea of what beauty looks like? Dating back to the age of Classicism and Romanticism, where beauty probably only required flawless complexion and inhumanely long legs - body fat notwithstanding. And let's go further back to the Elizabethan era, where people with incredibly pale skin and funky hairstyles are considered stunning. But even then people have come up with all this ridiculous ideas of what beauty should consist of, while no actual human looks like these people they portray. And we end up lusting after human beings who don't really exist, lusting after this idea of how human beings are supposed to look like - as opposed to how they actually do. And, chances are, the idea of beauty will keep changing. A very interesting twist I learnt from Scott Westerfeld's tetralogy, "Uglies." It tells a story set in a post-apocalyptic world, where people will go through surgery to be 'beautiful' when they're sixteen. They have this whole methods and rules of what 'beautiful' people look like - and not like the ones they see from our magazines. Imagine that, all those airbrushed people aren't even good enough.
Illustration by Kelly Bastow
But seriously, why are we so afraid to love ourselves? Why are we so scared to deem ourselves worthy of the word 'beautiful'? Do only certain sets of people fit that role? People always say, "Beauty is not about what's on the outside, but what's on the inside." But most of them don't really believe that. I do, I really do. When I was in middle school, our class did a poll - best looking, funniest, etc. - and I filled one in too. I wrote down the name of this one very kind and friendly girl - who was probably average-looking physically - as everyone else wrote down the name of this very petite, skinny girl - who made fun of all the nerds (including me) a lot. Everyone was somehow surprised the nice girl's name made it to the poll. But she truly was the most beautiful girl in class, in my opinion. Because she was kind, she was friendly, she was smart and she definitely respected other people. So if I had to do that poll over and over again, I would write her name every time.

I would level with you, when it comes to admitting that I myself am beautiful, I also could not do it. When people told me I was beautiful, when I first met Firu and he told me all these things, I decided they were lying. No way was I beautiful! I was fat, unkempt, disgusting. Ugh. But having all these people love me definitely helps, I started becoming more confident with myself. So I have a bucktooth sticking out of my mouth when I smile, so my forehead is the size of Borneo, so my eyes disappear when I laugh. But so what? If I just keep trying to give out kindness to others, if I just keep trying to pursue my dreams, if all my flaws can make my loved ones laugh, I would be so happy. Here's what increased my confidence: In the end, I wear what I wear, look the way I look, it's all because of me and not for others. If I can accomplish what I strive for and become the person I wish I could be - not physically, then I am beautiful. Also, this video below is really inspiring. Ten ladies share their stories of beauty and body image and how they struggle through it all. The poem in the end should really help you break through all that self-doubt. I hope by the end of it, you could all finally say: "I have a beautiful body!"

video taken from Soul Pancake

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Friday, 17 January 2014

Too Bad, Honey, Life Is Anything But Black and White

(But this post is...)

The Paper Kites - Willow Tree March

How fun it is to create a strictly black-and-white post! I've actually done that once before, but never for an outfit post. Since I'm wearing a strictly black-and-white outfit this time around, thought it might be fun to turn the whole post into B&W. So you're not missing anything much. This has been one of the warmest winters of my life. It hasn't snowed at all and the other day I didn't even need to put on any winter coat. Ah, it feels so nice. Life has been returning to normal. However, now I'm trying to channel my creative energy elsewhere and would probably post here less. No, in fact, if after this I still post here regularly, you should definitely scold me and tell me to get back to whatever I was working on. I'm sorry but I cannot disclose what project I'm working on at the moment for I will be less motivated to do it the more I talk about it. But once everything's said and done, I'll be sure to let you know. This isn't goodbye or anything, just a heads-up. I might pop in to say hello every now and then, but not as often. I'd appreciate it if you guys would stick around. You can obviously still stay in touch with me through instagram and twitter. Otherwise, if you wish to talk to me, emails are always welcome.

Marks & Spencer coat // Cotton Club top // Houndstooth dress via Someone Like You (worn as skirt) // C&A kitty hat // vintage oxfords

I pulled out my inner posh today. Who would've thought I had an 'inner-posh'? I don't, really. But here's an attempt to feign that I do. What can I say? Whenever I pull this coat on, I feel very posh. The fact that it's from Marks & Spencer probably supports that effect. It probably belongs on a high-end street in London rather than a dirty corner of Kassel, huh? Well, I've acquired it since I was still fresh into high school and was dying to wear it just right. Can you believe I tried to wear this classy beauty to the mall? People could probably already mistake me as a young executive of some sort. Even now, it seems, the 'proper' time has yet to arrive. Also, Houndstooth is a rather classy pattern, isn't it? Suitable to be worn by the governesses and editor-in-chiefs of the world rather than a struggling uni student such as myself. Probably downgrading the ensemble a little with these irresistible oxfords, as opposed to the expected high-heeled boots or pumps. And let's not be too serious! This kitty hat is just to-die-for. Ever since I saw Carrie of Wish Wish Wish wearing 'em, I'm just smitten. Anyhoo, can you believe that it's already January and I can wear this outfit without freezing over? Well, the lack of snow is such a blessing. Seriously can't complain.

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Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Alive as Always Reader Survey

Hey, guys! I know I've only blogged for less than two years and it's not even a monetised blog so a survey isn't required anyway. But, out of curiosity, I'd love to get to know my readers. It would mean a lot to me if you guys could answer these six quick questions below. If no survey form appears here, you can try clicking here, where you will be led to the survey. Don't worry, it will only take 5 minutes. You'll be done before you even know it.
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Monday, 13 January 2014

Let's Hear It for the New Year!

January has long started and the atmosphere and festivities of the New Year's have dissipated. Playing catch-up (or have you not read my Christmas post four days ago?), my NYE post is long overdue. But it's here. Up to 2012, Firu and I always spent New Year's Eve the same way since we got to Germany: in Karlsruhe (either at his place when he still lived there or at one of our friends' places). It wasn't a tradition but 2013 was indeed the time for change. And I've got to say, I'm glad for this change.

Saturday, 11 January 2014

My Closet is Back in Business!

Christmas is long gone and the New Year's has passed. It's time to get back into the work of things. Just popping in today to let you know that my closet store is back in business! Some of the old stuff are still around, in case you missed your chance before. I also added new items to the store. There are plenty of items from Indonesia too! If you're in Germany or Austria, try this page instead. Take a look around and just add items into your shopping bag if you see something to your liking. Have a nice weekend!

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Thursday, 9 January 2014

Late Christmas

Cœur de Pirate - Golden Baby

Hey, guys! I'm back! I know what you're thinking: "It's January! Stop talking about Christmas already!" Don't worry, it's not what you think. I don't even celebrate it - don't know why I make this abundantly clear online. It's not that I never celebrate it, I remember having a blast two years ago. But if nobody invites me to a Christmas party, I would just do nothing. Plus, Germany is such a buzzkill when it comes to the major holidays anyway. On Christmas Day, Firu and I came out to roam around because I was getting far too sick of rotting at home - much to Firu's demise. Nothing was open! It was like a ghost town out here. Seriously, how can these Germans not just kill themselves with boredom? (No offense, but come on!) Even in Indonesia, the most major holiday (Eidul Fitri) still entails the opening of shops and days out with family, instead of getting way too cooped up at home and being total couch potatoes. Maybe Germans don't really know how to be with their families outside of their homes, unlike Asians who can hang out with their family and be cool with it. But, seriously, get with the programme, Germany!

Fashion to Any dress // DIY infinity scarf // Yumi coat (sis's) // gingham tie (as hairband) // thrifted boots via Kleider Kreisel // Photos by Firu

This was the outfit I was going to wear for Christmas - or in a post as a sendoff for you all. But for reasons beyond my control, this dress was within my possession only after Christmas (hint: it's thanks to yet another German enigma). As I've mentioned before, this dress was acquired through a giveaway from Fashion to Any x Kittenhood that I won two months ago. It was such a dilemma picking out the items I wanted but, ultimately, I picked 2 out of the desired 6 items. I realise just now that this dress is also the one Daria was lusting after. So glad I picked this number because it's such a comfortable and flattering piece. I especially love the quirky backless detail - despite my lack of knowledge in wearing a backless piece. Here, I donned a tan camisole underneath which was supposed to create the 'backless' illusion. It kind of failed but who cares? The scarf is the one I knitted for Firu several months back. Red, tartan and green: such a fitting combo for Christmas, no?

P.S: I love Firu's shots and love how he helps me even though he really doesn't want to!

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Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Illustrators Arise: Nathalie Ragondet

Hello, people! So I'm back in trying to attempt the Illustrators Arise feature a monthly column. If you're puzzled as to what it is, it's basically a feature where I interview some of my favourite illustrators from all over the world. This month I am introducing an illustrator whose work I've seen floating around tumblr quite recently. Please give a warm welcome to the magical Nathalie Ragondet!

A: Hi, Nathalie! Thanks so much for the opportunity.  First of all, could you please tell our readers a little bit about who you are and what you do? 

N: Hi Bivi and Bivi’s blog readers. I am a French illustrator based in Lyon. After 4 years of studies in the Applied Arts School Emile Cohl, I started working in illustration, mainly for children's books (Flammarion Père Castor, Fleurus, Usborne…).

A: Why did you want to be an illustrator?

N: I never really thought or planned to be an illustrator before my last year in high school. I simply followed what I felt like doing and decided to study Applied Arts after my art teacher told me I should consider working in that domain. I liked drawing but, without him, I don’t know if I would have made a career in illustration that soon. I visited some art schools and I rapidly felt at ease with the idea of working in that domain is so varied, manual and creative.

A: Which are your most prized works so far?

N: None in particular, I am very critical about my work, each project gives me new ideas or improvement for the future. Sometimes I have the feeling to have made a step while doing an illustration, even if I am not satisfied with the illustration, the fact that I understood or discovered something new make it more special than the others.

A: Do you prefer to work digitally or traditionally and which materials do you usually use?

N: Both techniques have its advantages, but I still prefer working traditionally with watercolors, inks, gouaches and pencils. You can’t always control these techniques, it can be tricky but I like the way it surprises me sometimes.

A: If you have to choose between commissioned works, personal projects and competitions, which would you choose?

N: If I had enough time I would do everything! For the moment I usually choose commissioned works first and then, if I have some time, work on personal projects or for competitions. I like to discover new stories, new themes, and think of how I could translate them into images.

A: Are there any artists who inspire you?

N: Yes, just to name some : Ivan Gantschev, Carson Ellis, Lisbeth Zwerger, Jill Barklem, Quentin Blake, Kitty Crowther, Marc Boutavant, Marion Montaigne, Raphaële Barbanègre, Emile Bravo, Nicolas Marlet, Tomi Ungerer, Sempé, Franquin, Klimt... and others…

A: Do you have any goals you want to reach as an illustrator?

N: I would like to be more confident with my work, I have the feeling I am still looking how I would enjoy my work the best, which style I should use, which technique… I am not planning anything special otherwise, there is a lot of possibility in Illustration, there are many things I would like to do or try.

A: If you weren't an illustrator, what would you be?

N: I would be pastry cook, taste everything and be very fat :D

A: All right, thank you for your time! One last thing: what kind of advice would you give novice illustrators out there?

N: Well, we all have different stories, it is hard to give some global advices…maybe remember that we are each learning at a different speed, it’s not always working as we would like, when we would like, it can be difficult sometimes, but if you are motivated, if you pay attention at what is said about your work, if you are curious, you’ll find a place where you can enjoy yourself.

Part of the collective project "Jeanne"
"An Extraordinary Christmas" ("Un Noël Extraordinaire") for Delcourt
Pocket map for Geneva tourist offices
What is so incredibly immaculate about Nathalie's style: There is this inevitable harmony between the colours she chooses, the materials she uses and the lines she strokes. It creates a soothing feel as well as eerie atmosphere, accordingly. Yet, she can still work rather well with geometric structures and inject soft pastel-like colours into each object. The best part is, she illustrated children's fairy tale books, which is a suitable situation, given the fact that her works always seem rather magical - but not in a sparkly, Disney-princess kind of way, thank God.

"A Little Princess" ("La Petite Princesse") by Frances H. Burnett

Thanks for stopping by! Don't forget to stop by her website. Also, check out the previous feature here.

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