Monday, May 25, 2015

Sketching at IKEA


A couple weeks ago I organized a sketching event at IKEA. It's an idea I got from another urban sketcher in Sweden and I thought it would be a great option for us when it's cold outside. It was my first time visiting the IKEA in Toronto, which his weird because I used to be there all the time before moving to Toronto. It was great to be back and see all the decor and items. Made me want to come back, specially considering how easy it is to get there. There's also an IKEA shuttle bus from the subway station directly to IKEA, even though you can walk from the station to the store in about 5-10 minutes. 

I sketched one of the set up they had at the entrance as well as a portion of the self-serve area on the main floor. It was interesting to hear the conversation going on while sitting at the patio display. The comments on the patio furniture were all positive.  I recorded snippets of it while sketching (shown in the photo on the right). 

Saturday, May 23, 2015

My Coloring Book is Now on Amazon


I did it! I created my first coloring book and it's now available on Amazon. The process has been a very interesting experience and by going against my previous habit of planning more than accomplishing, I was able to get it done. Jack Canfield in his book The Success Principles, talks about the idea of shooting first and aiming second, as no amount of planning can ever fully prepare you for any endeavour. You have to take a leap of faith and trust that you will figure it out as you take action. This coloring book is the manifestation of me taking action. I imagine there's still a lot to learn, but it's very satisfying to be able to see an actual product made by me. I also created a little video (shown above) about it to show what it looks like inside. Again, I'm new to making videos, but I learned as I worked on it, and I'm quite happy with the results. 

The amazon version of the book was made using CreateSpace. It's a great platform that enables creators to self publish and print physical books that are printed in the US. I ordered a couple proofs, that came in no time and enabled me to check the book before making it available online. I'm quite impressed with the quality of the book. I also printed a "homemade" version of the book at a local print shop to see how it would look like using thicker paper (65-lb). It's quite nice as well and perfect for markers. It's a little more expensive but I'm thinking about selling them directly as a special edition if there's a demand for it. I also created a free sample version of the book as a trial. If you're interested, just sign up below to get the file.


You can also find out more about this project here.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Fear Is the Weak Chain Holding Back the Powerful Elephant That Is Your Life Dream

Fear quote by MJ
Ever been in a position where you have something important to do for yourself but you keep doing everything else to avoid doing it? That’s something I constantly have to fight through in order to get certain things done, like writing a blog post, organizing an event, painting an idea, starting or finishing a project, exercising regularly and even writing this. Why?

Fear : fear of the possibility of failure, fear of not reaching my goals, fear of disappointing myself or my peers, fear of the unknown, and even fear of being wildly successful. Each goal is like a powerful elephant held up by discouraging thoughts. And although these thoughts seem convincing, they are no match to our ability to overcome them. Fear will never go away, it will always be there, because it has its place in our lives. Still it shouldn’t stop you from accomplishing the things you would like to accomplish. I think the difference between those who seem to fearlessly live their dream life and those who wish they could is in the way they react to their fears. I’m not an expert, I’m learning from others who found a way to overcome their fears and accomplish great things and I would like to share what I’ve learned so far and what has been working for me (mind you I still have work to do):
  • Acknowledge your fear for what it really is 
  • Take action in spite of your fears 

1. Acknowledge your fear for what it really is 
What is fear anyway? Is it rational? Can it really hold you back or did you decide to give it the power to hold you back? 

I was listening to an interview with artist Ann Rea a little while ago and she was talking about a friend she used to work with and who was a cancer survivor. Her friend dreamed of becoming an interior decorator but was working a soul sucking office job instead. She had no debts, no kids and a supporting husband but for some reason she was more afraid of starting a new career in a field she loved than to go through chemotherapy. She died unfortunately without ever giving herself a chance to at least try. This was a wake up call for Ann Rea who decided to turn her own dream into reality. She quit her job, moved to her dream city and started earning more money doing what she loves: painting. Now she also coaches other artists on how to thrive while doing what they love. She faced her fear and came out the other side a better and stronger person. 

If you don’t take the time to really face your fears and to evaluate them, chances are you’ll perceive them as being much bigger than they need to be. Think about something you've been dreaming about but have been avoiding out of fear. Now think about one of the worst things that has happened in your life. Is your current fear of something that could happen worst than what already happened? I'll guess it's probably not. Not only did it happened, but you faced the worst and you survived. Chances are you’re probably stronger because of it. So could it be that you’ve been giving that fear a little too much power over you and that by going ahead anyway, you’ll find out that you are stronger than you think you are? No matter what the outcome is, you’ll learn something and grow. As far as I know, no one ever regrets facing their fears in the long run. 

2. Take action in spite of your fears 

Fear will never go away. It’s part of the process. However, the more you take action, the smaller your fear becomes and the more powerful you'll feel. 

I used to be scared of driving alone across the border but when an opportunity for a sketching event came up, I started to think about it a little bit more rationally because I really wanted to go. So I thought “What exactly am I afraid of? I have a cell phone if I get lost. There are road signs along the way. I can prepare and see the entire trip on Google map before going. I speak English. Many people will be going as well. It’s not like if it’s in the middle of nowhere”. I really was running out of reasons to be afraid. So I went. I drove 5 hours to Ithaca, New York by myself. My first solo drive across the border and the longest I’ve ever driven to date. And yes, I felt very empowered once I conquered my fear. Now it doesn’t seem like such a big deal anymore because I took action. Not only that, I met a lot of great people and learned a lot of new sketching tricks. I’m even thinking about doing it again this year. 

Fear keeps you from moving forward only because you think it’s stronger than you, not because it is. What fear are you willing to face and conquer this month?

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Peek inside my sketchbook

I love watching other artists' sketchbooks, online and offline. They always inspire me. I get to do this a lot during our urban sketching session in the city and it's something that I think most artists love to do. So I figured why not share them online as well. A couple days later, here's my first video showing the content of my tiniest sketchbook in a little over four minutes. 

I received this little sketchbook while attending the urban sketchers symposium in Barcelona back in 2013. I really like it because it used to fit in my pockets or purse, so I could easily sketch anywhere at any time. In this case, most of the sketches were made while riding public transport in Toronto. There are some sketches from restaurants and bars as well. I also brought it with me on my way to Montreal while riding the train. Since we were stopped for a long time, I had a chance to sketch and colour some of the scenery on the way there too. 


Thursday, May 07, 2015

SHOP / BOOK



Color Your Stress Away : Geometrical Pattern

Coloring Book for Adults
May 7, 2015 | Paperback

$19.99 

Remember when you used to color as a kid? You just picked up a pencil and filled in the pages however you wanted. You didn’t worry about anything, you weren’t overwhelmed by your thoughts, you were just enjoying coloring. Turns out coloring is one of the easiest, most affordable and effective way to give your mind a break, whether you’re getting ready to go to bed, on vacation or during a lunch break. There are no rules when it comes to coloring for adults, just go with what feels good to you in the moment. Pick up a couple pencils and bring the pages to life. Don’t worry about matching colors, coloring inside the lines or even finishing the pages. Let your subconscious guide you to release your stress and replenish your energy. Includes 50 one-sided coloring pages of black-and-white prints at various levels of details.



DETAILS

Format : Paperback 104 pages
Dimension : 8.5 x 0.2 x 11 in
Published : May 7, 2015
Publisher : CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
Language : English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:
ISBN-10: 1512103500 
ISBN-13: 978-1512103502

Tuesday, May 05, 2015

You Know It’s Art When the Check Clears

The Artist Project Contemporary Art Fair
A couple weeks ago I went to check out The Artist Project Contemporary Art Fair. It’s a great little exhibition enabling artists to connect directly with potential buyers. Part of the exhibition this year included a competition where artists were invited to create a piece of artwork involving typography. The winner for me was the one shown above by artist Jim Bourke of a portrait of Andy Warhol and one of his quote : “ You know it’s art when the check clears”, answering the question : What is art anyway ?

Jean-Michel Basquiat’s checks started to clear when he was in his early twenties. He had a dream of becoming a famous artist, and went on to make his dream come true in a relatively short period of time. The Art Gallery of Ontario is currently exhibiting some of his work (the show ends on May 10th) , so I went to see what art is from his point of view.

Viewing his art felt like seeing a portion of the North American culture through his eyes. Most of his work was not about him but about people and events around him. I think that’s a clue to what makes art valuable to others enough for them to pay for it. This reminds me of what many successful entrepreneurs promote : the importance of taking yourself out of the equation and find ways to be of service to others. In the case of Basquiat, I think it was more about his message and how his art made people feel when viewing it as opposed to how perfectly one color blended into another or how perfect the canvas was stretched over the frame. I try to keep that in mind when I find myself seemingly hypnotized by the minute unimportant details taking me out of focus from my main goal. Perhaps that was one of Basquiat’s strengths and that’s why he succeeded.

Art is an emotional trigger that changes shape from one point of view to another. Art is in the eye of the beholder. If a person sees value in the artwork, that person will gladly pay for it. So I think Andy Warhol said it best: "You know it’s art when the check clears".

Basquiat at the AGO Basquiat at the AGO