Thank you, 2016, for all these things

2016 was the year that seemed to fly by quickly yet drag on endlessly at the same time. For the most part I hated it because of what was happening all around me, but when I take into account all the wonderful things that did make their way into my life, it's not such a bad year after all. I cannot possibly list down everything I am grateful for, but here's a rundown of things/events/people/opportunities that made the biggest creative impact on me this year.

My trip to Taiwan

Before flying to Taipei in March, there were only two items in my itinerary: to visit the 24-hour branch of the Eslite bookstore chain and to drink my weight in milk tea. But Taiwan proved to be more than just the land of Chatime. I quickly grew fond of it because of our mutual love for cute, local handmade goods. I went home full of inspiration. I'd even go as far as to say Taipei is my new favorite city (sorry, Tokyo)!

If I could summarize my trip into four words they would be: rain, tea, books, art

If I could summarize my trip into four words they would be: rain, tea, books, art

Summer of learning

I didn't have a lot of client work and product dev to do over the summer so I signed up for A LOT of e-courses. It felt great to be a student again and to incorporate new techniques to my usual process of making. One of my goals for the new year is to carve out more time for learning and improving!

One of my projects for the Make Art That Sells course, done with the help of things I learned from Skillshare

One of my projects for the Make Art That Sells course, done with the help of things I learned from Skillshare

The 100-day project

I think I've said it numerous times before that I work in bursts, so to stay committed to a project for 100 days seemed like an insurmountable task. But thanks to my friend and project accountability buddy, Ria, I managed to stay on track and finish my #100daysofanimalsdoingstuff. I worked on another project after that, and while it's in limbo right now, I plan to continue working on it once the holiday rush subsides.

Group selfie for Day 100!

Group selfie for Day 100!

Parkfest

One of my dreams is to work on large scale pieces, and 2016 proved ready to grant my wish. This year I worked on multiple mural projects, starting with the very intimidating Parkfest wall for Nayong Pilipino. Why did this scare the hell out of me? First, it was a permanent exhibit at a public park. Second, it was in collaboration with artist June Digan. Third, we only had a couple of days to finish. Waaaaah panic attack! I managed to complete my piece but honestly, I wasn't 100% satisfied. That experience taught me to work better and harder on my next murals!

Parfest mural in progress

Parfest mural in progress

Providore

I personally think my mural at Providore in SM Aura was my best lettering work in 2016. Earlier this year I was thinking of transitioning to illustration and forgetting about lettering altogether, but this project made me realize how much I enjoyed lettering. And it also taught me that it really makes physically and logistically difficult work enjoyable when you and the client are on the same page.

One of the areas I worked on for Providore

One of the areas I worked on for Providore

Art demos with Simbalion

Being an introvert, holding a workshop for 15 people is nerve-racking for me. So when Simbalion approached me earlier this year to hold a watercolor lettering demo for them in a mall, I said yes before I could even overthink it. Aside from confronting my public speaking fears, this opportunity made me want to go deeper into my exploration of traditional, analog art so I can share more information with future students.

SM Southmall demo. Photo by @smstationeryph

SM Southmall demo. Photo by @smstationeryph

Common Room Rockwell

When Ate Roma and Ate Maan told us that we were opening a six-month Common Room pop-up at the Powerplant Mall in Rockwell, the thought of having another branch was just so exciting. But then in dawned on me (and maybe the rest of the partners as well), that it meant double the work of making stocks for the holidays. Looking back at how I handled this challenge, I would say I was much better at keeping my shelves full this year compared to 2015. Thanks to the constant encouragement of Ate Roma and Ate Maan, I think my business sense took a big step forward in 2016.

Rockwell ingress. Photo by @commonroomph

Rockwell ingress. Photo by @commonroomph

Big Magic, revisited

After completing my first 100-day project, I felt a little lost because I didn't know what I should do after. I picked up Elizabeth Gilbert's Big Magic a little less than a year after I first read it, and I'm glad I did because it gave me the creative boost to get on with the rest of 2016. It reminded me that the act of making should be a joy in itself, and that the results should not matter. This was just what I needed, because I was starting to feel conscious about making designs for my holiday products. To this day I keep excerpts of it in my phone to read whenever I need a little pick-me-up.

I hand-lettered one of my favorite quotes from the book

I hand-lettered one of my favorite quotes from the book

#RealTalkTambay

Undoubtedly one of the main highlights of my year, #RealTalkTambay was something I didn't realize would have such an impact. It started within my group of friends, which then expanded into a slightly bigger group on Instagram. I still couldn't believe we managed to get people together to share their experiences, struggles, and stories about creativity and inspiration (or lack thereof). I hope we can continue to build a positive, creative community in 2017!

The first ever #RealTalkTambay session

The first ever #RealTalkTambay session

The Japan trip that never was

I am ending this list with something that didn't happen this year but left me feeling hopeful for next year. I was supposed to fly to Tokyo in late November, but I decided to cancel the trip at the very last minute. And by "at the very last minute" I meant that I was already waiting to board the plane at the airport when I decided to head back home. I was worried about an upcoming art fair I had in BGC and my December stocks, and I could not possibly enjoy my time away with all these concerns in mind. I didn't even mind that I "wasted" my fare and just focused on how I could earn it back. I felt like this was the most mature decision I made this year, prioritizing by business over personal whims. One of my goals for 2017 is to be more financially and business savvy, and I can't wait to see where I can take my brand this coming year!

I know during New Year's eve many of us feel empowered to make our lives better than the year that was. I am no different, but this time I feel like I am more ready. Instead of resolutions, I have goals. Instead of dreams, I have plans. And with conviction I can declare: 2017, I am ready for you!