Illustrated planner

A monthly planner is always a good thing. It keeps us organised and helps us see what the month has in-stored for us. Moreover, a planner allows us to monitor where we are at. But most importantly, it gives us control and let us manage expectations better. I can clearly see when I’m trying to overwork myself and try to cut down on some tasks. This helps minimize frustrations.

I like to keep an illustrated planner. I created it digitally on my iPad but this can also be printed and pin on my board. I can then continue working on it by hand. With this planner is an actual calendar where I can be more specific when a task needs to be done. An additional explanation on what a task entails is also important. Personally, I find an illustrated planner more fun and engaging. It somehow makes my month lighter and more manageable.

Have you started your own illustrated planner yet? If you like more tips in creating one, don’t hesitate to reach out. Have fun!


The year that was…

My December illustrated journal and thankful thoughts for 2020

2019 was one of the best years of my life. It was the year when I decided to be a full time visual practitioner, establishing my own business in the beginning of February. It was a year full of hope and many wonderful things happened that year. I upgraded my iPad and mastered it. In a couple of months, I created more than a hundred illustrations. I joined the European Visual Practitioners’ community and became a part of the core team. Two of the highlights for that year were facilitating a visualisation workshop in the Philippines and co-facilitating a leadership retreat in Sweden. And of course, there were exciting plans for the coming year. However, 2020 didn’t perform as expected. I realised during my review of the year that I was very much affected by the pandemic.

Well, 2020 ended. Thank God! Although, I can’t honestly say that I’m full of hope for 2021, that things will get back to normal, that we will take back our lives, there are things that I’m looking forward to. As we have been creating a new normal over the past months, I would like for this new normal to be simply the normal. It will be a new thing that springs up and becomes alive. There is hope and I’m actually looking forward to what 2021 will bring. But to be fair, whatever good things that will happen in 2021 are founded on the experiences of 2020. Having created illustrations that went viral and inspired many; being able to feel so satisfied and happy with a visual recording; and being able to sell designs online are just a few of the experiences that will solidify 2021.

How was your year 2020? What are your hopes for 2021? May 2021 be better that the year that was!


And so I draw more…

I always wanted to draw. I remember as a child, we had a big blackboard (the green one!) at home. My niece, who was three years younger than me, and I used to draw girls on the board. We enjoyed designing their clothes. I also enjoyed drawing clothes for my paper dolls. I looked for every inspiration from the television, drawing carefully and as much detail. I was around 6 years old.

But like every other wise Asian parents would say, drawing is not a proper profession. I should not stray away from the mainstream. By then I don’t remember drawing anything aside from a visual interpretation of a poem in high school where I drew a farmer plowing the field full of rice stalks. I had no idea! And then in dental school where we had to draw and learn by heart the dental anatomy. I was also told once when I drew a birthday card that why draw a card when there is hallmark!

And that was it – some sporadic moments when I had to draw. Other than that, I drew nothing until that day when I wanted to draw. This happened when Ari gave me an iPad mini 2 on my birthday in April 2014. I started drawing with a cheap stylus then later my niece in Canada gifted me a Pencil53. Then I just drew everyday. I have this idea that if I have learned to read and write, I can also learn to draw. Drawing became a way for me to relax. And it was fun to be featured by Paper53 on their web page. I was featured three times!

So while others say they have been drawing since the first time they held a pen (which I think we all did), I can honestly say I learned to draw later in life. Most of the time, I still think I don’t really know how to draw. I still believe I’m bad at it. And so I draw some more!

How is your drawing journey? I really want to know!


The postman saved the day!

Looking forward to something keeps me going. Whether it is about a cool new project, a consultancy work, a training, travels or even to be sat at a charming café. This year, most of this looking forward to has been stamped out. There were barely any consultancy work or giving trainings for they mostly include travels and gathering of people. Even those relaxing moments at cafés became a source of uneasiness as thoughts wander off from laze to haze.

However, one person who hasn’t failed is the postman and the friends behind the mails. It’s always a joy to receive something from the postman (except for bills!) whether it’s a handwritten letter, a postcard, hand-drawn cards or adorable gifts. They sure light up the day!

Lately, I have been interested in recreating a childhood craze – stationery collecting. But this time, I made these stationeries myself. Please feel free to download them here, print them out and write someone a “real” letter. A handwritten letter will not fail to bring a smile to someone’s face. And it’s not actually corny! 🙂


Visuals speak in the days of COVID-19

Everyone is talking about COVID-19. The disruption to the normal days is huge. Some people are understandably concerned about elderly or vulnerable relatives. Many entrepreneurs are worried about the financial consequences. Multiple work contracts are being cancelled at an alarming rate. The security of being fully booked over the next months has suddenly been replaced by great uncertainty about the future.

Some are looking on the positive side. They hope it might be a time of healing for the earth as there are less flight emissions and less air pollution from factories. Some even see it as an additional occasion to spend with the family, a moment for self-learning, for re-evaluation and even, an opportunity for the elusive, but much needed rest.

For me it brought multiple sides. Being an introvert and an entrepreneur who works mostly from home, the effect was subtle, almost difficult to describe. My small entrepreneur endeavour just turned a year old when the pandemic started. I was ready to apply what I learned over the past year and I was certain that this year will be better. My small business was being established. I had a line-up of work. And after all, Wuhan is far away from Helsinki.

By March, the borders were closed. Since most of my work involves travelling and the gathering of people, I knew that most of my work are cancelled. Any possibility of future work is now unforeseen. The present reality became overwhelming. I had to find the best way to manoeuvre in this new situation. However, as a visual practitioner, I know visuals have no borders. Visuals are not confined to the four corners of my flat. Visuals have spoken words. With these in mind, I created letterings with messages of hope. I drew fun illustrations to get to the lighter side of the pandemic. I made illustrations to portrait the heroism of the front-liners. I even drew hands to remind people of personal hygiene! Drawing each day gave me the peace and stability I needed. My illustrations gave me a way to communicate to the world.

Then I was asked to draw illustrations for COVID-19 prevention materials. Many resources are already published by international organisations but illustrations that will speak to the local context are needed to reach out to people who belong to the lesser known languages. These illustrations are now being used by different organisations as they produced COVID-19 materials for local languages.

In a very unexpectedly way, visual creation became my small contributions in times like this. Visuals speak in the days of COVID-19.

As a visual practitioner, what is your unique contribution in this time of crisis? How can your visuals reach out to others?


Print on demand

How does it feel to wear a shirt that you know no one on earth has the same or even similar shirt to what you are wearing? Well to be honest, it feels totally amazing! The print on demand is really a great concept where things are made per order. It’s said that in the near future, production surplus will not be an issue anymore. Those storage full of unsold stuff will be a thing of the past. Offline shopping might even disappear. Things will only be made to order. And there’s a uniqueness to that. Soon the days will also be over where you might see someone wearing the same clothes as you. Furthermore, it will be the new normal for everyone. Think about it!


A Stamp brush maker?

I never knew that making Stamp brushes for Procreate will become a natural part of me. I enjoy making them. I actually love the process. Very simple, such fun! My collection could easily be up to 50 designs now. I’m happily sharing the link here to access them. Although at the moment, there are only very few designs uploaded because I’m still testing the proper way to distribute them. In time, I will upload more.

Are there Stamp brushes that would be useful for you? Let me know. I’ll see if I can create them. My hope is to come up with a set of Stamp brushes that would be useful for our work as Visual Facilitators, designers, illustrators but also as hobbyist. This fabric design, for example, was made with Stamp brushes.

A Procreate Stamp Brush maker? Well, I’ve become that person!