Sunday, March 31, 2013

A Month in Review for March 2013

So one of the lists that I did earlier this month was this.

And I am proud to announce that I accomplished the following...
  1. Complete all 30 lists successfully.
  2. Finish painting at least one painting. (link)
  3. Plan the San Francisco trip.
It's not everything, but hey, at least I have more than half accomplished! I'm still frightfully behind on my photo editing for the Japan trip, and my next trip to Beijing is already looming ever so close. (in less than a week!) But not to fret, I still have a week, I'm not fully prepped but I'm not totally unprepared as well. And so, I shall start the preparations for the trip tomorrow.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

30 Days of List - Mini Manifesto

  1. Be creative
  2. Be productive.
  3. Be curious.
  4. Be honest.
  5. Be kind.
  6. Keep my mind open.
  7. Be positive.
  8. Honor promises.
  9. Not waste time.
  10. Look forward, don't look back.
  11. Don't just say it, do it!
  12. Only shed tears for good shows.
  13. Follow my intuition.
Aaaand that marks my last list. Phew! I can't believe it, I actually finished all 30 lists!! And it had been a busy month with Etsy work + personal life too. I gotta admit, I'm going to miss making these, at the same time, I'm grateful for the extra 1-2 hours freed up to do work each day too haha. I'll still try and free up some time once in a while to dust my typography skills. I had been thinking of making some typography prints for my upcoming print shop. (that I had been planning for years lol) So we'll see how things will go!

Friday, March 29, 2013

Picking Matching Colors

Last but not least, how to pick colors for a poster/list. This is going to be a simple one lol, because my process for this is simple -

Particularly, DESIGN SEEDS

Just a few examples to show you the color palette I used. There are literally millions, maybe even billions of existing color palettes out there, the combinations are endless! So I don't see any reason why we shouldn't utilize them. And of course, HOW you use them is very important too. Unfortunately, my only tip for you is CONTRAST. Learn how to use it to your advantage, practice makes perfect!

Also, you don't need to strictly stick to the color palette you chose. Making some minor changes to the shade may be permitted, as long as it makes your design look good. ;)

So that's it, this is my last post on how to do 'Subway style' typography art. I hope you learned something from me to improve on your own design skills.

30 Days of List - I'm Grateful for...

  1. My parents. Who put food on the table and a roof over our heads.
  2. My beautiful friends. Who continue to support me, inspire me and helping me when I am in need.
  3. My cats.
  4. The existence of the internet.
  5. All the freedom that was given to me to pursue my dreams and live my life the way I want to!
  6. Etsy. For making selling online so wonderful.
  7. All the beautiful things in the world.
  8. And much, much more...
I think this is the first time I write a "I'm grateful for" post, since we don't celebrate Thanksgiving here. But I found out that I have a lot to be grateful for, and for this, I am eternally grateful. :)

Thursday, March 28, 2013

30 Days of List - This week, I chose to...

  1. Put aside Etsy work and finished an artwork. (link)
  2. Be inspired by beautiful artwork.
  3. Quite a Facebook game.
  4. Procrastinate less.
  5. Make an effort to spend more time with family.
  6. Continue on my work in progress to reorganize my room, little by little, day by day.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

30 Days of List - Quotes getting me through the day / week / month

  1. Don't worry, be happy.
  2. Never stop dreaming.
  3. If today was your last day.
  4. Work hard, play harder.
  5. There's always room for dessert.
  6. Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow.
Lol quote #5, makes me look forward to meals hahaha, it's something I live for. Something everyone should live for. ;)

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

30 Days of List - Last year at this time, I was...

  1. A year younger.
  2. Richer.
  3. Still using an unintelligent phone.
  4. Still plodding along at my day job.
  5. Making friends with a stray tabby that started sleeping in my porch. Eventually adopting her and named her Silver.
  6. Very behind with my lists. In the end, I didn't managed to complete all 30 in time.

Monday, March 25, 2013

30 Days of List - When faced with a Tough Decision, I...

  1. Keep calm.
  2. Discuss it over with someone.
  3. Weight the pros + cons for every option carefully.
  4. Ask for second opinion.
  5. Make the decision!
  6. If still cannot make a decision, flip a coin.

More like steps perhaps? And the coin flipping actually comes up quite often when we're having difficulty deciding something, usually petty things like where to eat and whatnot lol.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

30 Days of List - Pets (Past & Present)

  1. Silver, my skillful rodent hunting tabby.
  2. Patches, my fierce but smart paralyzed kitty.
  3. Ginger, my long haired princess that passed from old age last year.
  4. Topi, an indian star tortoise.
  5. Countless dead goldfishes from my childhood days.
The only ones alive right now (present) are Silver and Patches.

Osaka Castle

Continuation from the Garden of Osaka Castle post. The building itself had been converted into a museum inside, telling the history of the Osaka Castle. Interesting fact, did you know that this is not the original Osaka Castle? In fact, it's not even sitting on a site where the original one sits. The original one was burnt down to the ground in the mid-1600s. This was a reconstruction they built according to architectural notes, blue prints and artworks that was done at the time. It was built on the same land, surrounded by moats.

Don't this look like some post-apocalyptic setting?

Saturday, March 23, 2013

30 Days of List - Past Injuries

  1. Abrasion in my left cornea that took a year to heal.
  2. Bitten by my cat. Puncture wound on my left arm that still has a visible scar.
  3. Pulled leg muscle on my lower right leg, multiple times.
  4. Crushed big toe nail, resulting from a 2 pound rock falling onto it from 6 feet above.
The last one happened when I was a kid. I was playing at a stream with a few other kids, then one of them thought it was a good idea to throw big rocks down the stream when I was standing in that direction. My toe nail was washed away by the water... The abrasion in my eye was one of the most traumatising events. I've sworn not to wear contact lenses now and has a small mirror with me most of the time to make sure nothing foreign get in there.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Tips on how to use your fonts - For beginners

Now you have picked your fonts, it's time to use them. Below are some tips to a good typography design, and at the end of the post there is a link to another page that will explain further on typography pairing. (for beginners!) However, please note that my rules are not the holy grail to typography design. Rules can be bent as you see fit, these are just my rules, for myself.

Please note that I use Adobe Photoshop for my designs for the 30 Days of Lists. Photoshop is pixel-based and great for digital use, but if you want to make something to be printed out or to be sold, it's best to use a vector-based program like Adobe Illustrator. To learn more about the difference between vector and pixel, you can read about it here, or you could google it up yourselves to do research.

    This is a basic rule to any design. Adequate spacing is needed so that your texts or graphics wouldn't feel too cramped or suffocating. The first thing to do is set a perimeter around the design, like the red lines in the image above. The green lines are called 'leading' in typography terms, or the distance between two lines. It is most important to keep a consistent leading throughout the design.
    If you look at my lists, you'd notice that they are all arranged in neat little horizontal rows with consistent leading. Even when there are different fonts in the same line, or more than one point, I always keep their sizes similar in terms of height. This keeps the design looking neat.
    Use fancy fonts as the emphasis in your sentence, to emphasize on the important points or words. Good fancy fonts that I often use are Mesquite std, Metropolis 1920, (as shown in the picture above) Homestead, (display and inline) among the few. However, some less fancy fonts can be good emphasis too, such as heavy fonts like Impact.
    Don't use fancy fonts for your ENTIRE design, that will make it too... gaudy, in some cases. You need a good, quality body font too to tie it all together. Body fonts are the not-so-fancy fonts, mostly sans serif fonts like the ones I use to explain or expand the main points made with the fancy fonts.

    My personal favorite is Helvetica, which unfortunately, is not a free font. But Arial is a good replacement, although it lacks in weight variety compared to Helvetica. Not to fret though, there are tons of great sans serif fonts out there free for you to take. Such as League Gothic, (that I used above) Franchise, and even Homestead (regular) are great body fonts. Not to mention the fonts that already came default with Microsoft Windows such as Times New Roman and Tahoma, those are great too!

    Use fonts of different shape, size, weight and height to make it visually interesting. Even if the 3 sentences above were in the same color, it would still look interesting. Here is a sample of it if all 3 sentences were of the same font. (and in same color)

  • Okay, admittedly it still doesn't look too bad, only because of the size difference. So format or 'layer' your sentences nicely so you could allow a range of font sizes for your design. Keep some lines long and some short.
The most important thing is to practice and experiment. Try out different font combinations and see how they work together. Trial and error is the key here, and practice makes perfect. The more you do, the better you get. (don't be lazy like me sometimes!) And as promised, here is the link to a Beginner's Guide to Pairing Fonts, for some extra reading on typography. :) Enjoy!!

30 Days of List - Roadtrip Playlist

  1. Helena, Planetary (Go!) and I Never Told You What I Do For A Living - My Chemical Romance
  2. Sekai wa sore wo ai to yobunda ze (That's what the world calls love) - Sambomaster
  3. Pop Star - Ken Hirai
  4. Numb, Easier to Run, Linkin Park's Meteora album.
  5. This is Gonna Hurt, What Happened To Us - Hoobastank
  6. Unbreakable - Fireflight
  7. The Pretender - Foo Fighters
  8. Soundtracks from Phantom of the Opera, Suckerpunch and Silent Hill.
Yes, give me loud rock songs for my road trips please! I love to blast them real loud in the car so I could stay awake and focused. Sekai wa sore wo ai to yobunda ze by Sambomaster is one of my all time favorite songs, always make me feel energized and awake. It's actually my alarm song too! Pop Star by Ken Hirai is also one of my favorite, the video makes me smile every time. (it does help that he's so cute lol)

Thursday, March 21, 2013

30 Days of List - Today's Weather Reminds me of

  1. My craving for ice cold delicious cendol.
  2. The headaches I suffered from being exposed too long under the raging sun.
  3. The blue hat that I love that went missing.
  4. The weather in past chinese new years.
  5. That time I woke up from an afternoon nap from a nightmare that I was drowning in my own sweat.
Yep, I don't have a lot of fond memories of sweltering hot weathers hahaha. The last memory was rather... memorable, horrible too. Happened over 10 years ago and I still remember it well. Since then, I try not to nap in the middle of a humid afternoon.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

30 Days of List - I Do Not Regret

  1. Going to art college.
  2. Quitting my stinking day job.
  3. Splurging on a DSLR.
  4. Splurging for every trip I took.
  5. Rescuing my two cats from the streets.
  6. Being a lazy ass in high school.
  7. Spending thousands of hours in video games.
Haha, yeah I was a lazy student in high school. Education in Malaysia is different, I had to pick a science stream so I could get into good classes in school, where all the smart kids and decent people are. The other streams like art or economics streams, those are filled with gangster types and bad kids. Unfortunately I was not a good science student at all, I liked physics, but I sucked terribly at chemistry. Didn't even bother to memorize the periodic table. It's a miracle that I did not fail all my subjects in SPM. I spent most of my free time then playing video games though, which contributes to #7 on the list.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

30 Days of List - In the Next Year, I will...

  1. Continue to work hard for the small business.
  2. Creep ever closer to the big 30.
  3. Hopefully have a bigger room.
  4. Plan for more adventures.
  5. Try to save more money.
  6. Be more successful than I am now, hopefully.
Very modest, but hopefully achievable goals!

High Quality Free Fonts

Quite a few people had asked me to make a tutorial on how to make the subway-style typography posters I did for the 30 Days of Lists. However, since it's kind of difficult to explain it step by step, I decided to make a few 'tips' posts instead. :)

The subway style posters are still essentially typography, to make them interesting, you need a variety of high quality fonts. And here are a few great sites to download high quality fonts for free.

Lost Type is one of my favorite websites for fonts! It's created by only two guys, Gorgeous fonts and great variety too. Personally I use quite a few fonts from their website, including Homestead, Geared and Franchise. If you are feeling generous and want to thank the creators for their beautiful fonts, you can opt to donate some money when you download their fonts too.

Dafont is a great site for free fonts, simple to use too. But like most free font websites, not all their fonts are of high quality. You'll need to know how to find the better ones. (hint: You can sort by 'Popularity' when you search for fonts) Please note though, not all of their fonts are available for commercial use.

Smashing Magazine is more a design magazine than a font downloading website, but I check their free font section once in a blue moon to see what swanky new free fonts are available now on the market. This is a great way to discover new fonts!

So there you have it, these are the places I get my fonts from. :)

Oh and as a little gift from me to you, Linotype is offering some fonts for free on their Facebook fanpage here. Nothing better than free high quality fonts right? :)

Monday, March 18, 2013

30 Days of List - So Far This Year, I...

  1. Had already planned two trips, and am super looking forward to them!
  2. Had cleared my student loan, and am now debt free!
  3. Had finished one game : Assassin's Creed.
  4. Finished watching 5 seasons of True Blood.
  5. Sold 62 items in my Etsy shop.
  6. Have spent more money than I should.
Admittedly, today's list was sort of rushed because I was busy making and packing orders. (still need to) However, in overall, so far I think I did quite a bit already this year. (including the spending part) I still have one more major item that I want to splurge on, but hopefully I won't spend so much anymore this year hahaha.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

New Cake Charm Necklaces with Colorful Chalcedony Stones!

I've had these cake roll charms for a while now. Truth to be told, I bought them because they were cute! But now I finally found a use for them haha. I only have limited amount of these, mostly due to the chalcedony gemstones more than anything. So if you want it, get it soon! Here is another 4 more in different colors. :)

30 Days of List - My Biography Would Include Tales of...

  1. My travel adventures.
  2. My grand adventures on the road.
  3. How I started my small business.
  4. How despite objections, I quitted my day job to run my handmade business full time.
  5. My cat rescues.
  6. The mistakes I did in my life, and how I still thrive and live on positively.
That is... if I ever write a biography hahaha. I don't think I'm the book writing type. I may want to publish an art & design book in the future perhaps, but not my writing lol.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

30 Days of List - This Month's Soundtrack

  1. Skyfall - Adele
  2. I knew you were trouble - Taylor Swift
  3. Varuo - Sigur Ros
  4. S.A.D (Single Awareness Day) - Joseph Vincent
  5. This is gonna hurt - Hoobastank
  6. Strangers - Yoko Kanno
  7. Love is the drug - Carla Gugino & Oscar Isaac (Sucker Punch Soundtrack)
Just some tunes I love listening to lately. :) I had fun looking the songs up on youtube and linking them all here! You should totally watch the ones for Varuo and Love is the drug, (if you haven't seen the extended movie) those videos are AMAZING and I lost count how many times I watched them. Still get teary eyed every time I watch Varuo.

And haha, Joseph Vincent's "S.A.D". I found the song last Valentines, and got hooked somehow. Still playing it on my iTunes!

The artists are colored in grey on the list, to differentiate from the titles. :)

Friday, March 15, 2013

New Bracelets!

I've collected a bunch of lampwork glass and different Czech glass beads over time, so I thought it's about time for some of these new bracelets!! Each is unique with beads from everywhere, some are limited in amounts too. So if you like it, get it before it's gone. ;)

30 Days of List - Ways I Save Money

  1. Only buy things I need, not things I want.
  2. Immense self control.
  3. Keeping track of my spendings.
  4. Not give in to effective sales persons.
  5. Set a budget when planning to buy things.
  6. Forget it's there.
  7. Being stingy.
Lol I am a pretty stingy person, counting penny by penny as best as I can. Though I am more willing to splurge on things that I love, such as travelling! And it's quite true with #6, if I forget the money is there, then I won't spend it haha.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

30 Days of List - My Role Models

  1. Hayao Miyazaki of Studio Ghibli.
  2. My dearest dad + aunt.
  3. My lovely friends.
  4. Patches, my paralyzed cat. Who despite her disabilities, still has the strength to live and the will to fight.
  5. Dr Chan from
  6. Characters from One Piece.
  7. Lecturers from my college days.
Dr Chan and an animal lover friend of mine were the key people that inspired me to start rescuing animals. (that and my first cat Ginger) And boy am I glad that I took that road. :)

The Garden surrounding Osaka Castle

Moving on with the trip to Osaka! Our first stop was the famous Osaka Castle! It's actually a rather long walk from the main streets, we have to pass by a huge garden before we reach the building nestled in the center of it. But it was a very pleasant walk with all these flowers to accompany us. :)

My friend managed to spot this huge fat cat snuggled behind a tree among dried leaves, preparing to take a nap in the warm sun. It was soooo cute! I don't think it was a stray since it's so big and fat! (twice my cat's size) Or maybe cats in Japan are just fat? Haha.