Variant Cover Project: Vagabonding by Rolf Potts

Whew… it’s been a really long time since I’ve posted anything. Funnily enough a year later I’m still making a post on… you guessed it, more books!

I’m happy to share with you all my variant cover project, where I design my each of my own versions of five of my favorite books. 

So why variant covers?
To prevent myself from falling into a summer break slump, I decided to pace myself by continuing my “one book a week” routine from last summer and I wanted to share these books without giving a full book review and I decided that a variant covers were the way to go. “Don’t judge a book by its cover,” admittedly is something that most people don’t do. A great cover can pique someone’s curiosity and give them a general idea of what kind of vibe and mood the book is about.  Another plus side for me is that I can continue to work on illustrations and improve, especially since book cover design is something that I want to get into. 

So without further ado, the first of the five illustrations:

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Vagabonding by Rolf Potts

Admittedly I have only listened to Vagabonding via audiobook, but it is one of the audiobooks that I consistently revisit and I actually enjoyed the audio version so much, I bought the physical book for when I want to look a specific fact or idea up.

Apart from calling to your inner Kerouac, it definitely surprises you with how accessible short-term, and even long-term travel, really is. Vagabonding guides you that initial fear of diving into travel, essential things to know whilst traveling, and the long-term impact that travel has, which is beyond the travel itself and is almost philosophical in nature where you can apply it to everyday life, even if you aren’t on the road. 

If you haven’t read this book (or listened to the audiobook) I highly recommend it! Whether you are a traveler, dreamer, or a philosopher.

Weekly Reads: War of Art

First of all thank you so much for the positive response to last weeks post on The Power of Habit! The post definitely got a lot more attention that I anticipated and I hope that you can find the book as insightful as I did.

This week I finally got down to reading The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles, by Steven Pressfield, which was recommended to me by a friend a very long time ago. I have to say, I definitely have mixed feelings about this book but a book I still fell is worth sharing and talking about. Although before we start, what does “War of Art” actually mean?

There is a force that Pressfield describes is within all of us as Resistance. This force can be described as the “inner voice” that prevents us from living our higher selves. Higher self? To put it another way they are the goals and dreams we want to achieve. These goals can range from writing that book that you told yourself over and over that you would write, starting a business, or in my case creating a blog and posting my thoughts, my passions, and my art. However, whenever we are on the verge of creating or doing something great, there will be Resistance. It can come in the form of fear, procrastination, or distraction, anything to put you off from committing to your long term goals. Most important is the fact that you’re actually going to be doing something worthwhile and true to who you are.

Those who are brave enough will be at a constant war with Resistance so that they can do the things that they love. The simple irony to defeating said Resistance is to simply make that one small step of beginning your goal, then the rest becomes a lot easier.

Right when I began reading this book, I immediately fell in love with the way it was written. Every word about Resistance struck me and I could relate to it all. Being an artist, I definitely have a lot of moments where I don’t want to do art. Not because I don’t love it, but for various reasons, the most common one being fear.

Ultimately it is actually a fear of succeeding. Why? The thought that actually getting there means that the present me has been making empty, unfound excuses because the future me, despite all the difficulties that I had anticipated, still achieved her goals. It’s the fear of discovering that I am actually capable of being better than I am right now. Kienan Lafferty, one of my favorite artists on Youtube, explains this feeling extremely well in one of his videos and I highly recommend that you check it out and maybe even watch his other insightful “Thoughtful Thursday” videos as well: The KNKL Thoughtful Thursday 154: Sabotaging YOUR own SUCCESS!

As much as I related to this book, I had a couple issues when reading through it, especially the final chapter. This book covers the nature of Resistance well and can pinpoint the emotions and thought processes that a person goes through in the state of Resistance, however it had trouble in pointing out a clear direction as to how to use this information and to overcome the state of Resistance. Some people can interpret this as “let the reader decide what to do with the information,” but the first half of the book was written so well that I wanted the book to elaborate on Resistance even further. The last chapter felt like a bit of an unnecessary tangent and I would actually say that although there are a couple of gems to be found, it could have been left out and the book would be just as fantastic a read, if not better.

You can find insightful gems throughout this book, all woven together with Pressfield’s amazing use of language. Due to the reasons I’ve listed above, I would recommend it especially for those who already have a game plan on what they truly aspire to do, but need that small extra boost to take action.

Let me know what you think! 

Also, I’ll be posting more varying forms of content soon, so stay tuned because there will definitely be more art related posts coming up!

Weekly Reads: The Power of Habit

This summer I’ve started a habit of starting to read a book a week and and funnily enough I decided to start my book reading habit with a book about habits- The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg.

So let’s get right to it- the nature of the habit into three simple components- the cue, the routine, and the reward. Put another way, the cue is what will trigger a routine to begin. Let’s use the fact that the first thing I do when I wake up is scroll through my smartphone (not a great habit I have to admit). The cue in my case would be a need to catch up on the happenings of my friends and, to some extent, stay in the loop. This triggers the “routine,” which is to scroll through my phone. The “reward” would then be that satisfaction that I am up to date on who has messaged me overnight and any upcoming events for that day. Since my brain has registered that scrolling through my phone every morning brings that satisfaction, it slowly becomes ingrained as a habit.

Duhigg also touches on what kind of a responsibility we have when we know our habits, which I find fascinating. When we are consumed by a particular habit (Duhigg uses compulsive gambling as an example), are we fully responsible for our habits, given that we naturally start running on a autopilot when given a particular cue?

This is all just a quick summary of what Duhigg discusses (and which he explains a whole lot better than I do) and I highly recommend it to anyone, whether it be for someone who is wholly committed to changing any habits they may have or even as a recreational read. Duhigg brings up experiences of companies, organizations and individuals that will keep you curious throughout the entire book. Put it this way- this is no science textbook. For whatever the reason you’re reading this for, you’re going to enjoy it one way or another.

The only downside to this book- there won’t be any more excuses for me to not following up on New Year resolutions anymore.

If you have read it, let me know what you think!

Nanliao Bike Trip

Prior to coming back to Taiwan I told myself, and multiple friends, that I wanted to go on a biking trip with a group of friends and bike around the entirety of the island. So when my friends suggested we take a 17km bike trip along the coast I thought it would be a great trial round and a great excuse to exercise and take in some of the gorgeous sights that the Nanliao beach is famous for.

Since we didn’t have access to a car, we took the number 50 bus right outside of Xinzhuang Train Station and made our way towards Nanliao.

We stopped for a quick snack of grilled sausage and tempura right before we headed down to the bike store to grab our bikes. It was a surprisingly cheap, 100nt for the entire day, which is the equivalent of  $3.20 USD. (Check the bottom of this post for the address of the place if you’re interested!)

The heat was relentless and it was unusually windy, according to my friend, for most of our trip. We stopped at several locations to take a break and breathe in the sights and sounds.

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Reaching the 17km mark was such an exhilarating feeling, especially since I had to go through heavy winds to get there. The final destination included a small tower in the shape of a windmill where tourists could walk up and get a quick view of the beach next to it. The sand was a gorgeous white and warm from the hot sun and my friends and I buried my toes into the sand. We took a few quick photos then we headed back because the sun was getting too strong.

The 5 hour trip was definitely an exhausting one- given the fact that I haven’t exercised in about a whole year thanks to college and procrastination (except for one crazy night when one of my best friends called me up at 12am to go on a run to Berkeley with him, where we only got halfway through). I got a couple of great photos and some pretty severe tan lines for souvenirs (something we all got for biking too long) and a great time to bond with friends that I haven’t had a lot of contact with (we got to a point where we were drooling from laughing thanks to the huge gusts of wind in our faces, which did nothing to quell our laughter).

RESOURCES
Bike store:
http://www.nanliaobicycle.tw/fengxi/front/bin/home.phtml
No. 1, Lane 55, Haibin Rd, North District, Hsinchu County, 300

The Devil is in the Details

After almost three months here at CCA, I’ve definitely been through a lot of fresh, interesting experiences. Meeting new people, going through experimentation of different materials and different types of art pieces are two of the many things that I’ve gone through. But there is something that has definitely heightened my idea of what it is to make art. And that is DETAIL.

I always agreed with the comment that detail is certainly what makes or breaks an art piece, but I don’t think I have ever fully grasped what it truly meant to IMPLEMENT detail into my work. For most of my past work, I have just worked in watercolor and digital art. And for me, the detail came in a very literal form of the word- add more detail into the object that you’re painting. Clearly draw out the fine lines of the fur on the fox’s face. Add tons of minute windows to add intricacy to the building you’re painting. Add more shine to the piece of armor.

Looking back on that now, it seems a little naive of me to think of the idea of “detail” in such a finite way.

To put it as simply and concisely as I can, it means how one aspect of your art piece can strengthen the message that you want to portray.

So every detail matters. The funny thing is, EVERY class here seems to emphasize this one way or another.

In sculpting class- the shape that is being portrayed (smooth rounded shapes? sharp, contrasting, angular ones? a mix of both). The materials being used. Where the space it is installed in will affect the perception of the sculpture.

In 4d class-  the angle that a video is being filmed in. The colors and tones of the footage. How audio choice enhances the emotion of a particular scene.

In 2d class, the usage of color. How the harmony (or clashing) of different color schemes will affect your piece. The use of multiple mediums in an art piece.

It feels to me that this overwhelming amount of thought that artists give makes me think that they tend to OCD over little details. At the same time, this amount of care for the little things is EXACTLY what you need to give your art piece deliberation and quality to your piece.

And I feel that all this is applicable in a lifestyle perspective, which I will do on a follow up blog post. So stay tuned!

Collecting Dust & Pottery Experiments

It’s been months since I’ve touched this blog and it has pretty much been collecting dust on the edge of the wide internet universe. I’m back and hopefully I’ll be updating regularly (and possibly very irregularly).

To get back on track with the blog posts, I’ve been having trouble finding inspiration for my artwork and I think that this video from the very inspiring and very hilarious Anna Akana sums it all up:

Essentially Anna states that “quantity over quality” when it comes to improving yourself and your craft. It reminds me of an experiment my friend explained to me a few days ago. Basically a ceramics teacher splits his class into two groups. Group A will be graded based on the amount of ceramics that they produce, and group B is graded based on the quality of one piece of pottery that they produce. And in the end, guess which group ended up with the better quality of pottery?

Yes, group A.

Group A was busy working on making physical pieces of pottery and learning from their mistakes as they continued to make more and more pieces of pottery. On the other hand, group B was too busy focusing on the mere THEORY of making the pottery perfect so they weren’t able to gain enough real experience and actually improve.

After all this info, I’ve been carrying around my big, bulky sketchbook, doing random sketches that pop into my head, jotting down random thoughts or scribbling down mind blowing facts I hear. Hopefully it’ll become a great mix of sh*tty art and random written shenanigans that will evolve into one uber pretty butterfly of art and writing.