Wednesday, 31 October 2018

As Red as Blood, As Black as Ebony

Happy All-Hallows-Eve, everyone! Have you celebrated your Halloween on the weekend yet or are you still excited to do something special tonight? Being smack dab in the middle of the week—on hump day, no less—Halloween this year isn't too exciting for me. I mean, that's okay too, since I've been kept busy with various other things lately, so Halloween has been shoved to the back of my mind. This costume, for instance, is obviously a lazy costume. Unless it's not yet so obvious, this is a modern—and low budget, as well as hasty—take on Snow White, particularly the Disney animated version. She's actually my least favourite Disney princess, but her outfit is the easiest to recreate for me. As a Grimm Brothers' fairy tale, though, it's kind of interesting—fun fact: did you know that there were various drafts on the famous mirror-on-the-wall chant before the brothers came up with the famous one we know now? Also, these photos were taken with the brand new tripod—courtesy of my best friends—in the vacant field next to my house. It's quite unkempt and filled with creepy crawlies, so I wouldn't recommend you repeat what I've done here—especially in the last photo.

Borrowed sis's top // old skirt + shoes // Sejauh Mata Memandang scarf // Oh My Bows (closed!) hair bow

How have you spent your Halloween? Or, if you haven't celebrated it yet, what do you plan on doing today? Personally, I tend to just hang out at home. I'm very boring, when it comes to Halloween, actually. But, if you're boring—and a whimp—like me, I've got a few non-terrifying recommendations for you. Maybe you like reading spooky books on this special occasion. Here are some titles I could recommend to you. If you're looking for something easily found online, I'd recommend reading some webcomics, such as The Outer Door, The Boy Who Fell or Blindsprings. But, if you prefer to passively consume your entertainment—a.k.a. watching something—I'm afraid I don't have newly released recommendations for you. I would, however, recommend classics, such as Beetlejuice, Stardust, A Series of Unfortunate Events—Jim Carrey version, mind you—and Tale of Tales. Such entertainment that even a scaredy cat—such as myself—would be able to enjoy. If you have any more recommendations of movies to watch or book to read this Halloween, please leave them in the comment!

P.S: Totally had to photoshop that apple, so it would look red—as we only have green ones at home (lol)



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Sunday, 28 October 2018

How Come We Never Talk About Money

A week ago, as you may know, was my birthday. Aside from the exhibitions I visited with my sister, something interesting happened later that night. While my friend Maya wished me a happy birthday, she expressed her desire to see my 30 Before 30 list. That got us talking about long-term goals and personal finances. Maya is probably the most organised friend I've ever had; she almost always plans ahead and knows what she wants. Her finances are no different. It was really eye-opening and liberating to be discussing such substantial topics with someone. And I realised that I've never really talked about these things with most of my friends. In fact, it seems to be a really heavy and difficult topic to bring up. But why? Why don't we talk about money with each other more often?

Okay, this is my personal reason why: I feel financially inept among my peers. As a 26-year-old who still goes to uni, barely working as a freelancer and never having had any experience with tax, it's hard not to feel inferior amidst most of my friends. People my age usually already graduate with a Bachelor's degree—or even Master's—and work a steady 9-to-5 job, which allows them to have a certain standard of living. They usually don't have to think twice before eating out, maybe even have some extra cash for luxuries, such as clothes or movies. What to them is chump change may actually make a difference in my life. They may never have to weigh whether to pay off their credit card or buy toiletries.

However, whenever I do talk about personal finances with other people, I am almost always exposed to new information and knowledge on the topic. It shows me an entirely different perspective on how to manage our wealth—how little it may be—and what monetary obligations we may have as a law-abiding citizen.

For some reason, though, most of us really just keep to ourselves when it comes to money. Whenever we are low on cash, we dismiss our friends' invitation to go out—even though they may have a zero-expense solution to our quality time together. Whenever we are desperate for money, we work like crazy—not believing that someone else would be able to help us manage it better instead. When we are blessed with excessive wealth, we often stay silent about our savings—without realising that our friends may need tips on how to start theirs. Why is it, when it comes to money, we don't realise that there is strength in number? Why do we think that money is something so utterly unsuitable for discussion that we just refrain from touching the subject altogether? Doesn't it help us a lot more if we make a habit of discussing our finances?

Case in point, a few days ago, I was suddenly faced with the single most painful part of adulthood: taxes. This whole time, I didn't know that, even though my income isn't quite enough to require me to pay taxes, I'd still have to apply for a tax ID. In fact, it's a requirement that we do it when we hit 19 years of age. If it wasn't for a client's inquiries, I would've lived my life completely oblivious to this fact—possibly kicking me in the rear later in debt and fines. The thing is, most of my friends are already part of the workforce. They're already paying taxes and, obviously, own a tax ID.  Now, imagine if we regularly discuss finances, imagine if it's such a natural topic among our peers, don't you think the tax ID conundrum would have been casually brought up at some point? Wouldn't that save us from the painful consequence of having to pay fines—or, worse, owe millions to the government?

Of course, we could argue that we don't know what we're doing with our finances—let alone taxes—that we're embarrassed to share or feel that we've got nothing to share anyway. Sure, that makes sense. But none of us knows what we're doing. We're all slowly turning into adults, but our environment forces us to grow at lightning speed. Who knows? What you know and what your friends know may vary greatly. You may learn something different, something you've never thought of before—and your friends may too. By sharing, we actually have a fighting chance.

Do you talk about money with your friends? If not, why not?



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Thursday, 25 October 2018

30 Before 30

Here it is, the list that you've all been waiting for. Okay, maybe not all, but at least I know one person who's excited to see it—and I hope the rest of you would be too. You might've seen this kind of list floating around Youtube and other parts of the internet; so did I. It's been really inspiring to see other people's lists and snatch one thing or two goals that feel just as close to my heart. It may be a tad too late for me to create such a list, now that I'm 26—gosh, I still can't believe that number represents my age—but it's never too late to create goals and pursue our dreams, I'd say. Also, since this list takes longer to accomplish, I would most likely re-evaluate it from time to time—maybe annually?—to change some things that I no longer prioritise. And I will be keeping at least one of the goals private, I hope you'd understand. So here are my 30 Before 30 goals.

Sunday, 21 October 2018

Birthday in Bintaro

As you may know—or maybe not—yesterday was my birthday! It has been pretty well recorded on this blog how I have a love-hate relationship with such a day every year. However, I think this year is an exception—if not a turning point—to that rule, because my birthday was awesome! There were a lot of reasons why, to be honest, but since they will be way too long to dig deep into, I thought I'd mention just one: Bintaro Design District. It is an architectural set of events that I found out only days before my birthday—which happens to be its last day! It offers numerous exhibitions, open studios, talkshows, workshops and more spread out all over Bintaro—which is an area near where I live. The system dictates that each visitor must buy a BDD Pass, which is a book filled with details on each place and activity, maps to each location and space for stamps at the back. Whoever gets the most stamps is promised some enticing freebies. This seems like such a fun concept, that I asked my sister to come with me to view the event. Unfortunately, it was the last day, so we missed out on a lot.

Thrifted shirt + shorts // old hat + sneakers // hand-me-down purse // outfit photos by Sis

Okay, I'm sorry, but I'm not going to talk about each exhibition we saw, because there were too many to fit a proper blog post. I hope you'd find their instagram much more helpful. Here are a few things I'd like to note, though. So, we ended up seeing only 9 attractions spread out between 5 venues. We would've loved to see more, but there were some serious obstacles. The first one is the selling out of the pass at Kopi Manyar—which is basically where they keep telling us to purchase one in their social media—so it set us back 30 minutes. Second of all, the weather wasn't very cooperative, which keeps us from enjoying most of the attractions as they are supposed to be experienced. Third of all, the whole stamp system is thrown out the window, because it was the last day, so we didn't get the satisfaction of getting as many as we possibly could. It was kind of disappointing. That being said, the event was rather great. It's very rare to find spread-out exhibitions in the greater Jakarta area, so it was really refreshing. They'd surely be much better when everything works out, but still enjoyable even with the terrible situations. I'd love to visit it again if there's another one next year!

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Wednesday, 17 October 2018

25 Before 26 List - RECAP

When I made this list last year, I'm sure I was excited about the contents. But, as usual, I didn't expect life to take a great turn. Technically, nothing particularly life-changing happened, but a little surprise came knocking on my door a few months afterwards: Firu came home! It got me rearranging my priorities. To be honest, these lists, for the past few years have felt a whole lot like stalling and keeping myself busy so my mind won't wander to dangerous territory. However, when Firu came and we hashed out so many things and blew everything out in the open, it reshaped my mind and my heart in a way that I haven't felt in such a long time. Long story short, my priorities have been rearranged and it suddenly became clear that there were a lot more important things to accomplish outside of this list, so my will to complete the list fades almost instantly. That being said, I managed to tick a few things off it. Here they are.

1. Read all the Harry Potter series

Probably the first thing on this list I checked off. It was done quicker than I thought and not as painfully insufferable as I had anticipated. To be honest, it didn't intrigue me so much that I couldn't put the book down and needed to race through the series. It wasn't bad, sure, but it was, frankly, not one of the best series I've ever read. However, I did get a much deeper understanding and appreciation for the story as originally written—although I do believe reading the books and watching the movies bring the story together nicely. You can read the full review here, if you want.

3. Design merchandise and start selling them online

I think I mentioned this before, but I actually have a Tictail and Tokopedia store. You can order stuff that I made on either of those stores—one for international orders, one for local orders. To be honest, it's not successful at all. It wasn't until I attended Comic Frontier XI did I manage to sell anything—and, yes, only on the spot. It was a sudden decision on my part too, but a lot more fun than the previous time so I was happy. Afterwards, although I updated my stores, nothing sold at all. The only thing that has ever sold on my Tictail was the commission—and only once. So, if you like my work, please take a look around.

4. Come up with a consistent workout regime

For the past year or so, I've been re-joining my Stepmom's aerobics class across the street from my house. It is the first thing I do on Wednesday morning—and, yes, only meets once a week. Probably not the most optimal of workout regime, but it's as comfortable as I want to do at the moment. And, even then, I still sometimes skip it, with various excuses on the tip of my tongue. However, I've stopped doing that for the past month, so I'm looking for a fresh, new way to work out.

5. Set a monthly budget

This is a tough one. At first, I wanted to do it to manage my money better. Unfortunately, I should've reminded myself that freelancing is hardly financially stable—especially at my level of expertise. But I went with it anyway. I determined the size of the budget and how much would that amount to per month, if I were to meet all my needs. At first, I went easy on myself and added in entertainment budget—for eating out and other luxurious needs—but it turns out to swell up the monthly budget. It was still doable, though I went over it a few times. Later on, as work starts to trickle and money becomes scarce, I ended up not even making enough to fulfil my budget. But at least I did it.


6. Set aside time to work on personal projects

The silver lining to the disaster I brush on above is that I've got plenty of time to do this. In fact, I feel like I've managed to create the most personal work—most of which I end up being quite proud of—in such a long time. After creating a separate instagram account for my illustrations, I became a whole lot more driven to draw and make art. There were various art-specific hashtag challenges that attracted me, including #betterthangold_sketch, #drawinyourstyle and #komik10tahun. They have inspired me to draw and invest my time in my personal projects a lot more. Also, in August I opened a booth at Comic Frontier XI with a few friends, and that really fired me up to create worthwhile work—more on that on no. 14!

7. Create a weekly schedule (and stick to it!)

One of those things that works only at first. I was so excited to do this one, made a template, printed it out and stuck it on my whiteboard behind my desk. Then, unfortunately, it quickly became tedious to change the accounts every week. It probably would've worked better if I had used the whiteboard in itself, but it was already full with numerous illustrations and magnets on it. In the end, I made daily to-do lists instead and it works so much better, although it may not be a good time-management exercise.

8. Take time to take care of my tool and space

This was the year I started to actually take a look at my tools—specifically my laptop and camera. Although, unfortunately, I haven't been able to set aside money to take the camera for a service or buy kits to take care of the lens, I've been really letting my laptop take a break from time to time. For instance, when I know I'll be out of the house for a while or after working it like a horse, I often let shut down my laptop—while I unplug completely and/or go to sleep. It definitely help my tools work better and, especially after organising my desk, it really helps me keep my peace of mind too.

9. Only buy books from my to-read list

I would say this is the most successful one, except for two loopholes. One, if I buy a book that I swear was on my to-read list—and due to some issues, I couldn't check—I would just put it there afterwards, if I couldn't find it on the list. Two, I never say anything about books that I borrow or being given to me by some means. Fortunately, a lot of the books on both these categories have been sitting in my to-read list for a while now. It almost seems like fate! Also, super proud of myself this year for only buying less than 10 books this year. A whole year of only 6 books bought? That is surely unheard of from a bookworm.

11. Do more volunteer work!

I think I made this goal vague on purpose. Now, since I hardly ever do volunteer work anyway, one would literally count as more. Yep, that is the number of volunteer work I managed to do in the past year—and it came to me by pure chance too. One day my friend Rama suddenly asked me to teach a class for children; a creative activity that can produce a sellable item. That was tough. I'm an illustrator, you know, it takes a lot of time and process to be able to sell what I make. In the end, I decided to teach—or more like encourage—the class to draw on tote bags, pouches and t-shirts using their material of choice. As I understand it, they get to sell the products in the end and keep the money, to teach them money management at such a young age. Does that count as volunteer work?

14. Practice going out of your illustration comfort zone

When I wrote down this goal, I don't think I expected to make something so out of my comfort zone to sell—and it actually becomes quite popular among all my work. It is this set of prints for Comic Frontier XI. They are set in a commuter line train and the city bus respectively, depicting my original characters as the main focus. Not only did I use perspective—which I'm not particularly good at—I also played around with the colour in ways that I've never imagined I would use. To think that they are still my usual colour palette too! Granted, for the perspective, I still used photo references, it was quite an experience to have. I can't say I'm now an expert in perspectives, but I do feel more inclined to use more of them in the future. Ahem, they're still available on my Tictail and Tokopedia, if you're interested.

16. Learn how to blog design from scratch

This one wasn't intentional at all. Well, it was something I've been meaning to do, but never got around to doing. Then this semester—yes, the semester that just started last month—I have a class on web building and designing. It's probably not going to make me really good at it from the get go, but the goal was to start learning and that's what I'm doing. So far, we've only gone so far as to learn html and CSS. I'm already pretty experienced with html—and, apparently, some CSS—through this blog, but the class helped me understand the logic and system behind each code. We've only had like 4-5 meetings so far and I already feel my intelligence level raising. We'll see where this leads.

17. Participate in Fanart Friday at least once a month

21. Create an illustration for every "holiday" of my choosing

Okay, this is where I make an executive decision to cancel this goal. I did try doing this for a while. I was quite pumped to start drawing various fanart and illustrations for—well, not holiday, it turns out—important dates. It was really a lot of fun, I must say. The problem arises when it comes to the temporal limit that I set for myself. You see, drawing a Fanart Friday once a month would require perhaps a week to finish—including sketching, revisions, colouring and finishing. That's just not a viable option for the long-term. The same goes with the greetings illustration, as—it turns out—the number of important dates that intrigue me is quite large and frequent. Keep on going on this track, I feel, will actually keep me from growing as an artist. That being said, I feel like the experience taught me a lot—especially in regards to colour study and composition. It won't be the end of me doing this kind of thing, though, just not as often.

18. Take one photo a day (and organise in a folder!)

This was quite impossible and, frankly, patronising of past-me. I probably do take photos everyday—or, at least, most days—but to spend more time on organising these photos on a folder is just ridiculous. I'm not entirely sure what the point of this task was either. Maybe I should appreciate my days more? Maybe I'd like to look back to this year through these snaps? Well, at the very least, let me show this random photo I took from godknowswhere.

19. Discover new places/events to visit

I went crazy with this goal last year—can't believe the number of places and events I managed to visit. Aside from the usual ventures in Surabaya that my sister and I undertake—we visited the Tugu Pahlawan park, which was new for us, by the way—we also visited a lot of places and events that we've never gone to before. In terms of places, we tend to try new restaurants—which you can just see here—but we also managed to do that, by visiting new events. We visited two film festivals in the past year, including Japanese Film Festival—actually caught one of the screenings on my own near midnight—and European Film Festival. We also paid some good deeds in events, such as book for good's Ruang Buku—where we donated a few of our books—and Eco Market—where we donated our waste to waste4change and bought some low-impact tools from the vendors. Even with very little money, we experienced a lot, huh?

20. Watch all Wes Anderson/Satoshi Kon films

Satoshi Kon and Wes Anderson are among my most favourite film directors—and I think it's fun how different their approach to filmmaking is. The amazing thing is their movies are often regarded as bizarre, with a definite unique touch that makes them distinguishable from the crowd. I haven't managed to watch all of their works yet, unfortunately, but I did catch quite a few titles that I hadn't managed to before. From Satoshi Kon, I watched Perfect Blue—which sent chills down my spine the whole time, it was so unsettling—and Millennium Actress—which got me all emotional throughout. From Wes Anderson, I caught The Darjeeling Limited—ever since my former roommate Adit told me this was his favourite, I became intrigued—The Royal Tenenbaums—watched it in three parts as I caught it by pure chance on separate occasions on TV—and The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou—I don't know whether to laugh or cry at this one. Definitely will watch more!

23. Organise my working space

Don't really know what to say about this one, so I'll let my earlier post just do it for me.

I think it's about time that I change it up a bit on this front. This year, instead of creating a yearly list titled, as usual, "26 Before 27," I think it's about time that I actually make a 30 Before 30 List. It'll allow me more time to really accomplish some of the big goals and tackle some of the major tasks. It'll be filled with the most important things I want to tick off—my bucket list of the decade, if you will. It's been really inspiring to see this list float pretty much everywhere on the internet, and I think you should make one too—even if you're not sure if you can accomplish them all. If you're curious, my list will be up later this month. Watch this space!

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