I've been wanting to put together an FAQ page for the longest time, so here it is finally! These are just some of the questions I get asked a lot, and I want to continue updating this page with information that may be of help to you. If you have a question that's not answered here, please check my Q&A on my Instagram Highlights or feel free to drop me a line.
What art materials do you use?
Since I mostly do digital artworks nowadays, I mainly use Procreate app on my IPad Pro and the Apple Pencil. I also use Adobe Photoshop on my computer, with the help of a Wacom Intuos drawing tablet for artworks that require more detail and editing.
From time to time I still do traditional work. My medium of choice is gouache (opaque watercolor) or acrylic gouache (technically acrylic paint but dries matte). My go-to brands are Holbein, Turner, and ShinHan Pass. I also like experimenting with colored pencils (mainly Faber Castell Polychromos) and brush pens (Zebra Super Fine).
I am an advocate of creating your own palette, whatever medium you use. I do not like getting paint sets because I find that I gravitate toward certain colors (pinks, yellows, certain shades of blues and greens) and leave other colors unused (reds, oranges, greens, purples), which I think is a waste. Whenever I get new art supplies, I buy one or two colors per brand I want to try. Once I am able to test them, that’s the only time I get more colors that will complement my existing materials.
As for paper, I am not very choosy. As long as I can write or draw on it without feathering, I am happy!
How long have you been a freelance letterer/illustrator?
If you asked me this question last year I would have said I’ve been freelancing for two years, but now I see my journey in a completely different light.
Technically, I went freelance when I quit my last full-time job in 2015, but at that point I had been juggling my stationery business and my day job for two years already. Shortly after I left my job, I started working on my small business—developing and prototyping products, handling actual production, managing the admin work, and everything in between. I accepted freelance lettering gigs and taught workshops sporadically during that period, which meant that I was still only freelancing on the side while managing my business full-time.
Earlier this year (2018), I made the decision to pursue freelancing more intentionally, and that’s the reason why I’ve been taking lots of online classes for illustration and updating my portfolio constantly.
What advice can you give to people who are just starting out?
The best advice I can probably share is to be a sponge and learn as much as you can. Read books, watch tutorials, attend workshops, ask experts, practice on your own. While you are slowly building your brand or your body of work, keep learning so you don’t stagnate and you can adapt with whatever comes your way. Progress in business and in art take time, so you have to be patient with yourself.
What is your art routine like?
It differs day-to-day and it depends on what I am working on. I usually start working at 11am and begin with admin tasks (answering email, preparing delivery forms, packing products, etc.) as a warm up since I only get my art juju at around 2-3pm. When I don’t have admin stuff to do, I warm up by playing with my traditional art materials because most of my work now are done digitally. I take a mini break at around 4pm then immediately go back to work and wrap everything up at around 8pm. It’s like having a regular office job!
I set weekly goals and monthly targets for myself, and then I break those down into smaller daily tasks. I keep a to-do list with me at all times because it feels so motivating to cross off tasks. I make sure to have a monthly review a few days before the new month begins so I know which goals are more urgent and which can be moved back.
Who are your favorite artists?
I can’t really drop big names here because I do not know a lot about art history! (I know, I know, I need to study!) I am partial to some art movements, though, like the Impressionists and the Pre-Raphaelites.
I make up for my lack of knowledge in art by taking inspiration from lots of contemporary illustrators, letterers, and artists. Here are some of my ultimate idols: Julia Rothman, Helen Dardik, Jessica Hische, Lauren Hom, Mike Lowery, Aiko Fukawa, Mary Kate McDevitt, Fran Meneses, Yelena Bryksenkova, Gemma Correll, Risa Rodil, Soleil Ignacio, Mark Conlan, Dinara Mirtalipova, and many, many others.
What books do you recommend?
It really depends on the genre. My favorite non-fiction book remains to be Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert. I think it’s a marvelous read for all artists. Other notable non-fiction reads are Show Your Work by Austin Kleon, Essentialism by Greg McKeown, and The Crossroads of Should and Must by Elle Luna.
My favorite work of fiction is if on a winter’s night a traveler by Italo Calvino. It was the book that made me fall in love with reading. My favorite literary period is the Victorian era, which could explain why I like crime and mystery a lot.
How do you deal with burnout?
There are days when I feel so meh and I see everything I produce as crap. In order to avoid the pit of self-doubt, I take a break. This doesn’t mean I sit around all day like a couch potato (although I do that sometimes, too!). I try to find activities that will inspire me to get back to making art. This is particularly important if, like me, art is both your job and hobby. I visit museums/exhibits, watch online tutorials/classes, read books, have an art tambay with friends, explore a medium I don’t normally use, try a new restaurant/café—basically anything that will shake up my routine.
Periods of rest as just as important as periods of productivity. We need these times to recharge, recalibrate, and reassure ourselves that we are on the right path. :)