Hobonichi Techo 2017

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I got myself a Hobonichi for Christmas! I’ve heard very good things about the paper (Tomoe River), and also I’m a sucker for well-designed objects. I got it from their official online store, and I received the parcel a couple of weeks after through EMS.

nbnh-2017-16_zps2gj9al92What’s in the box. Okay, sorry for the dramatic lighting of all the photos haha. It was that time of day and I couldn’t get any more light in the room.

nbnh-2017-17_zpsgwfl81agBefore anything else, this cute flyer also came with the package. It’s an ad for a social media app for pets, I think?

nbnh-2017-18_zps20ftavstThe planner is paperback, with weeks starting on Mondays, and in A6 size that is perfect for my small drawings and handwriting, heh.

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nbnh-2017-20_zps8wg5vokwhashtag attention to small details

The first pages feature months in different formats, providing ample amount of space for everything you may possibly need and want to do this 2017.

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nbnh-2017-24_zpsflx0hlloThe bulk of the planner features the daily pages, with weekends in red ink. There are also tabs printed on the side of the pages to mark each month. Pretty nifty.

nbnh-2017-25_zpshtcopktwThe back pages have a few sheets of dot grid…

nbnh-2017-26_zpsyontn8wu…and a few more with illustrated guides to Japanese culture.

nbnh-2017-42_zpswqoihzvoThere are quotes on the bottom of each spread. Some are about art and film, some are poems.

nbnh-2017-43_zpsz9osinvfIt spreads out flat but doesn’t crack the spine!

I bought mine a little late already and most of the covers were out of stock. I got this pretty knit cover by Tricote. SO NICE. I think I would’ve gotten this, still, even if the others were in stock, heh.

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How it looks like with the planner. You can hang your pen on the side.

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I love the tassel bookmark, too!

I got the plastic cover to wrap over this, but apparently it doesn’t fit on this knit one because of the size of pen holder. A lot of the other covers have the pen holder set lower.

Aside from notebooks and covers, the Hobonichi store also carries stationery, cutting supplies, and other novelty items to complement the planners. I got an OLFA top sheet cutter (over the perforating knife, which I also had my eyes on). The best utility knife I own is an OLFA, and I really like how it fits perfectly in my hand.

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nbnh-2017-34_zps3fcc07eoYou can slide the blade to control how deep you want to cut into your paper. I can use this to cut out stuff from magazines without damaging the parts underneath the page. It’s small, too, and fits just right in the average pencil case.

nbnh-2017-35_zpsxgwsqbzzAnd lastly, this wonderful pack came as a freebie! A uni multi pen (black, blue, red), and a plastic buttered toast plate WHAT.

nbnh-2017-37_zps81sho3f8I love this so much haha.

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Some pages I’ve filled already. I use Pitt pens and a sign pen. I heard the paper holds watercolor well, but I have yet to try it. The ink does show on the other side of the page, but it doesn’t bleed over. This doesn’t bother me, though. When you write or paint on the other side, the marks get covered up, so that’s fine.

Overall, I am happy with my planner. Here are some pros and cons that might help if you’re interested in getting one, too.

Pros: Well-designed and no-nonsense. You can spread the pages flat without doing damage to the book. Good selection of covers. I really like the paper, I can use this both as a daily sketchbook and a planner. Some find it small, but I like the size just fine because my handwriting and drawings are tiny anyway. Lightweight, very portable.

Cons: It’s on the pricier side of planners. The size is a downside to others; they get the other planner variations on the store instead. I have to wrap my planner in something before I throw it in my bag so the cover doesn’t get dirty way too soon, and so nothing snags on the knitting.

There. *bow*

The Sunday Currently, no. 3

Reading

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I finally (!) have a bit of time to read actual paper books and not audiobooks! I borrowed a few from Abi and family’s library. I first saw Jenny Saville’s work in 2015’s Art Basel HK. She’s so good! And before I left for the other year’s internship, Abi told me about Raymond Ching and his bird paintings. I love the context he paints his birds in. His lighting technique also reminds me of Durer.

Liza also lent me her Hamiltome. She and Jamie introduced me to Hamilton last year, and I’ve enjoyed it a lot, heh. It is a big, big regret of mine that I didn’t get into it when I was still in New York. I could’ve watched a show! Woe. (Another big regret is not getting to taste girl scout cookies which I have heard great things about, but that is a completely different story altogether.)

Listening
Andrew Bird’s “Echolocations: Canon” album, and also the Hamilton soundtrack, both the original cast version and the mixtape.

Watching
I am on Season 2 of Mind of a Chef.

Loving
-Semi-spicy spinach with oyster mushrooms, and turmeric fried rice. All ingredients found in your friendly neighborhood palengke (market).

nbnh-2017-6_zpsegzohvt9-These hand-illustrated ceramic cups from a Japan Surplus shop along Kamuning that Roja, who I know from INK, pointed out. For good measure, all the ceramic ware were half-price on the day I visited.

-Alsoooo my parents, who just left last week, and who I won’t be seeing until who-knows-when. It’s been ages since I’ve been with both of them at the same time for the holiday. In a span of the few weeks that we were together, I’d witnessed them fight, get along real well, and everything in between.That’s how I realized that A) I know nothing about love. Nothing. and B) My father is a very good man, and I am proud of him. I can only hope to marry someone as kind and patient someday.

nbnh-2017-0_zpswqspelaxHere is a sunset photo from Antipolo to cap off my cheesy sentiments.

-And lastly, I bought a shelf! We changed shelves in the office and I bought the old one we had. This is in my room, and currently houses reference books, some picture books, and graphic novels. So now all my paperbacks can live in the old shelf, where they will be properly stored and sorted instead of just being in piles on a table.

Manila Maker is awesome, check out their stuff and buy a shelf or ten.

Needing
To finish a couple more pending projects and I am officially deadline-free! The first time in more than a year. Lesson learned in not biting off more than you can chew, brought to you by the year 2016.

Also, I picked up my Bible recently and the cover started to disintegrate, hala.

Wanting
I want all these chaos-causing people in the government to just calm down and maybe, you know, go away………

Feeling
OK, at the moment.

Looking Forward To
-I ordered a planner and it’s supposed to arrive this coming week and it’s supposed to have really good paper and I’m excited.

-Along with a couple of Taiyou Matsumoto books that are also supposed to arrive in the mail reaaally soon.

-Getting my computer. I really dislike changing electronic devices and so I have been stalling. But! I’m in the process of checking out the stores where I’ll be getting the pieces of my Frankenstein system, and hopefully by next month, I will start a new chapter of my life wow haha.

-In the past week, I am proud to say that my semi-sedentary self did not pass out while lifting dumbbells and doing planks at home after work, so I’m kind of looking forward to getting through this coming week’s set. I’ve found that a bit of exercise helps me with my anxiety every day and puts me to sleep easily at nigt. I’m really trying to convince myself to just get on with it daily.


Here are some work things!

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Last week I wrapped up some illustrated posters for the Masungi Georeserve and their geotourism and conservation educ projects. I learned so much working on the posters, especially about which species of the animals and plants on the list are endemic to the Philippines, and what they looked like. For instance, the jade vine grows purple in the country, and our local wisteria grows white instead of lilac (European variety). The native impatiens are white, too, instead of the purple and pink ones that look more familiar. It astounds me to learn how much biodiversity can exist in such a small (well, compared to the rest of the country) space like Masungi.

A lot of things feel relatively insignificant compared to this. Nature projects have a very special place in my heart because they are humbling to work on, and they put things in perspective. Carl Sagan was right about the pale blue dot.

I’ll show you the final posters some other time, but here are some style studies. I wanted to render everything in paint, and was a couple of birds in when I saw the timeline, and decided to just draw everything digitally in the interest of time. I’m happy with the paintings, though, and will push through with the other birds someday.

It was my first time to try this realistic style, and I definitely learned a lot of new things about painting with new materials (hot pressed watercolor paper and acryl gouache, which is basically matte acrylic).

Here is a peek of the final drawings that made it to the posters.

nbnh-2017-4_zpsvu5ekmymAnd a peek of a picture book drawing. Not sure when this book comes out, though. Bleep bloop.

And lastly, Studio Dialogo’s latest collab with Prestige Papers is out. I helped work on the illustrations for the covers. I first drew the leaves digitally, then we printed them out, cut each leaf, and composed and mounted them in papercut art style. We had them photographed, then laid them out across the diff products. It was tedious but enjoyable!


Some holiday introspection has brought me to notice how much my life has…hushed. I sometimes find myself missing the more intrepid parts of my early 20s, maybe even wishing I had the stamina and social capabilities to still live like that, but! I also know that taking care of myself in a quiet way is what I have to do at the moment. I need to take deep breaths and sit still for a bit; the adventures can wait for a while longer.

Recently, I’ve learned a few things about how to calm myself down and/or distract myself from bad thoughts. Particularly useful ones that maybe you can use in times of anxiety too, include:
-taking longs breaks from social media
-only thinking of the people within a 100m radius
-consciously remembering good memories from people who genuinely care
-recalling kind things strangers have done for me and for others
-a bit of exercise every day
-and a personal favorite, food show/documentary binges on Netflix heh

A very happy new year to you all, and here’s to a productive and quietly content 2017. I know last year dragged us all by the teeth into the dirt, but as the Rilo Kiley song goes, our bruises are coming / but we will never fold.

The Sunday Currently, no. 2

2016-nov-1_zpso87d8adwHello friends.

Reading

Type has (once again?) been all the rage for the past few years and everyone’s been exploring it, but one of my favorite designers and letterers still remains to be Jessica Hische. Through the years I’ve been a fan of both the development of her work (from her early illustration days up to now when she’s made font systems already) and her perspective about work and life. It’s true what they say about excellent work standing out, no matter how many others do or try to do the same kind of work she does. At some point I went through this phase of getting sick of type because it got so popular that there came a point when it was being used way too much for everything. There had been a lot of work that looked nice but were out of context.

I borrowed this from Rommel, but I really want to get myself my own copy. I’ve enrolled in her Skillshare drop cap class years ago, and this book reminds me a lot of the things she taught there. The book has so much more insight, though, as she writes more extensively about her process and also about her daily life as a designer.

Jessica is always a source of joy for me as a designer because of how energetic and gung-ho, not to mention level-headed, she is about work and life in general. No pretentious gimmicks, just hard work and the eagerness to share and educate others, and the occasional hilarious anecdote.

Listening
More Jessica Hische!

Watching
No time to watch anything now, but I did start Midnight Diner: Tokyo Stories on Netflix recently, and the first episode was pretty good.

Loving

Dinner is served. 😆 #steak Meat 24″ x 36″ designer paper Swathe X J. Pacena

A photo posted by Swathe (@swathe.manila) on Oct 29, 2016 at 3:07am PDT

Swathe Manila’s meat cuts pattern

Needing
Swiffer refills, AA batteries, Frontline flea spray for the cat #adulting

Wanting
The year to not end yet? Teka lang, ang dami pang hinahabol!

Feeling
So much better. Besides the fact that local and international current events have been driving everyone crazy these past weeks, I think most of my anxiety is just leftover quarter life crisis, and also brought about by all the deadlines. And…also the thought of turning 30 in a few years. But really, I could choose to A) fret about it and grow ever more wrinkly and grumpy before I even have to OR B) not let the weight of other people’s judgments burden me or dictate what I should do with my life and career. *triple bicep emojis*

Church has also helped. I know the higher powers aren’t exactly the most popular things in the world right now, which I completely understand. The world as we know it feels like it’s about to implode any time now, and it’s just a really miserable time for everyone. But after much thinking and questioning and all, I think I still do believe in God. I still have tons of questions but all the good things still very much outweigh all the doubt. It took me a while to get back in this state and I don’t think I want to let anyone or anything take away this feeling of peace from me.

The Sunday Currently is by Sidda Thonton

In other news!

  1. I have been told that all my zines (well, there were just a few, but still!) were sold out during day 1 of Komikon yesterday! This makes me so happy, thank you world. And extra special thanks with ice cream and leche flan on top to Eva and the rest of the table friends for carrying my zines!
  2. I tried to finish painting some old drawings yesterday as warm-up for real work.
  3. And here is a peek of some plant sketches for an ongoing conservation education project. The beautiful jade vine, locally known as tayabak , is native to the Philippines.
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Changing minds

Hello, it is I, arising from the hiatus. A little long weekend has allowed me a bit of time to stop and get myself together.

fruit picking _____ #illustration #waxpastel

A post shared by Fran Alvarez (@nobeesnohoney) on

Life lately has mostly been work, which is a good and bad thing at the same time. Good because I like the kind of work I do very much, but also a bit bad because I know that somehow, I thrive on activities that aren’t work / art / illustration / design related at all. This tail-end of the year requires me to shuffle harder than ever, however, because there are bills to be paid and a computer to be replaced. I need to suck it up extra until things are stable again.

It took me a while to admit this to myself but I have been struggling a bit with illustration recently. I’m not sure why but I’ve been rather unhappy with the things I’ve been making, and I keep on redoing them with the constant hope of coming up with something worthy of being put out there.

img_0806patch by Stay Home Club

This has got me to thinking about where I might have gone wrong in the process, and about how my work habits have changed over time. I really want to make the best work I can with my current skill level and insights, and being stuck in this slump is driving me mad haha. Work and life goes on though, graciously or mercilessly, weather weather lang. Despite my frustrations with myself, I am still grateful.

Maybe I need to change my mind about things.

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I remember a time when it was quiet in my head and in my work. That is where I hope to go back to.



The Sunday Currently, no. 1
dun dun dunnn

Reading
Cabinet of Natural Curiosities by Albertus Seba
It’s this wonderful book of illustrated forms and creatures from nature. Makes for an excellent reference book, but also it’s just really soothing to go through. I found it at the Interior Design section of a National Bookstore branch, just because it has “cabinet” in the title, woe.

Listening
Regina Spektor’s new album Remember Us To Life
Stellar. I love it so much. I’ve always been a fan, and this new album is such a treat. My favorite tracks are Bleeding Heart and Small Bill$. Additional fact: I made a Spektor-inspired rap song in college to join a songwriting competition of the Filipino Department. It was kind of a secret and only told just one friend about it. I didn’t win though I was secretly happy anyway haha. Ok, moving on…

Watching
Elementary Season 5, Ep2

Loving
These Pitt pens from Abi!
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Needing
Advil. I’ve been getting these headaches upon waking up from weekend naps, and thanks to Google, I now know that there are such things as sleep headaches. I get headaches because my body isn’t used to daytime sleep, and my bodily fluids get disoriented and won’t coordinate with everyone else. Me in the year 2016, resistant to change inside and out.

Wanting
Capital for new merch I want to produce. Dear God, help me get my act together, amen.

Feeling
Anxious but hopeful!

The Sunday Currently is by Sidda Thonton

Animals

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I have been thinking about animals lately.

One of my biggest personal takeaways from my stay in Ithaca last year is all the perspective I gained about the natural world. However brief, staying in an environment where I can go into the woods everyday or go for hikes whenever I wanted to did the city girl that is me a ton of good.

Thinking about it now, a lot of the people and friends I met there were either conscious about their meat consumption or were vegetarian. It makes sense as our work revolved around animals and, ultimately, conservation.

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I admit that I have been ignorant about why people actually become vegetarians, and I’ve never really taken the time to learn about it properly. Meat is a very big part of Filipino culture and cuisine, and that is the reality I grew up with. We have big commercial animal farms, but a lot of people (especially the ones in the provinces and the small vendors in the markets) just raise enough animals to sell, or for their families to eat day to day. It’s also a reality in our developing country that so many people have nothing to eat that it’s a shame to be picky with food, and to refuse whatever is served at the table or whatever you can afford.

However, I really appreciate having gained a wider perspective about eating animals these past months. Reading about it, having conversations about it, and watching conservation documentaries have taught me a couple of things:

A) meat consumption at the rate and scale that the world runs on now has adverse effects on the way the environment works. Overfarming, horrible industry practices, illegal trade. They say the biggest step we can take to reduce our carbon footprint is to stop eating animals (and to reduce air travel!). Also, I learned that the reason some restaurants in Hong Kong don’t allow photography is because they use illegally harvested ingredients in some of their dishes.

B) Most of the creatures we eat ARE sentient beings. Octopi and pigs, they taste very good, but they are also very intelligent animals.

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OK. I’m not going to pretend: I can’t go vegetarian, at least that’s how I feel now. I still need and want meat. But! I guess my more immediate goal right now is to eat in moderation and opt for more naturally-prepared food. Be more conscious about my fish choices, and, especially when I do get to choose, try harder to eat more plants than animals. Learning to cook good food (versus the easier route of having instant junky food all the time) for myself during my internship, I found that vegetables are easier to buy and cook if you’re just making food for one, so that’s something that worked out well to get me to eat less meat.

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On a different note, I’ve also been thinking about the other things besides food that relate to animals on some level: toiletries, cosmetics, and art materials.

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A lot of toiletries and cosmetic companies test on animals, and it’s always a very good idea to be conscious of this. Here’s a good list of cruelty-free brands and those that do test on animals. Now you know~

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As for art materials, I’ve read a lot of things about the regulation on Kolinsky brushes in the US, and this really made me change my mind about getting another one. Kolinsky brushes are amazing, there’s no doubt about that, and they last a long time if you take good care of them. I’ve had mine for years and was looking online to get another one in a different size, but now I know I’ll go for the synthetic ones instead. The weasels aren’t endangered, but they are on the CITES list of animals that may be endangered or extinct due to international trade. Read more about the regulation here.

I’m not sure how the rest of my art materials fare in terms of being green. I do use a lot of paper, so that in itself I guess is sadly not too friendly on the trees?

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So. A lot of energy goes into the production or harvest of everything that we use,  but I think conservation has more to do with balance than just giving up everything. It’s always good to know more, and be aware of where the little things we do and buy are in the grand scheme of things.

Here’s to more informed decisions and conscientious consumption!

 

ITH, part 2

ITH, part 1 here

I was in line to be interviewed at the US embassy last year for my visa, and this guy behind me and I chatted a bit. He was from New Zealand, currently a student from Columbia. When he saw I was headed to Cornell, he told me that Cornell had the highest rate of suicide incidents across the Ivy League schools. I remember being told about this when I got to Ithaca also, along with warnings of how the winters got very, very cold.

Coming from a busier place like Manila, I found Ithaca relatively much smaller and also kind of secluded especially if you don’t have a car. Also, I could only imagine how much pressure there is on the students to stay and excel in such a prestigious institution. People traveling from all over the world, a lot of them with only one shot at it. Like me, I guess, on some level. I admit that this is something that added to my constant nervousness during the first part of my stay there. It was a great experience to share my art for conservation and to learn, and I was so happy to be there, but I also knew I only had one shot at it. I couldn’t disappoint. I had to nail it. It’s like seeing how beautiful the gorges and riverside trails on campus were, then you notice that the bridges all have nets around them.

I arrived in the summer, and the Ithaca I met was this sunny city with stunning trails and parks and lakes and gorges. The flowers and vegetables were thriving full on; I felt so ignorant and slightly shamed because I’ve been staying in the metropolis all of my life. Birds in all colors: the blue jay, red northern cardinal, bright yellow goldfinches. Also, since it was a college town, Ithaca is progressive in its own way. Highly intellectual, but also weird and dorky.

I had been very homesick and tried to hide away during the first days, just because it was tiring to be a stranger and be on my toes constantly. Then I saw that the city quietly had its arms opened wide to me all along. The sun and birds. All the people I met who turned into friends. The kindness of strangers who taught me how to be myself, do my thing, relax, ask for help, and above all, have a lot of damn fun. Despite my nervousness and the pressure of doing good work, despite the nets under the bridges, despite the impending winter. Everything was special and important, but nothing was too precious, and that was perfectly fine.

And so. Last couple of things before the photos:
a) I did learn a ton of things, and I keep thinking of how Ithaca taught me this and that, but then I think it was more about encouragement than education. It  wasn’t “This is how things are. Do it this way and it’ll work out.” but more like “Gurl, we believe in you! Do your thaaang, we got your back.”

b) It only snowed for a total of 3 days while I was there. Heh.

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Continue reading “ITH, part 2”

ITH, part 1

I know I haven’t posted in such a long time, not once since life tossed me into the past few months’ adventure that was my internship at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. The internship ran from the end of July until just right before Christmas, and it was A BLAST, to say the least.

I always find it overwhelming every time I try to write about my experience, mostly because I can’t figure out where to start. I am still kind of getting used to not being in Ithaca, going about my routine and all. AKA still getting used to being on vacation, at least for the most part, because I still do have some deadlines and things. It really does feel strange, especially because my project ended so abruptly, and then the holidays were suddenly upon us. After all the months of drawing everyday, it’s only now that I’m starting to slowly settle down.

Well. I’m not sure I want to wait for the high of it all to wear off before I start sharing, so even without all the words, I thought I’d maybe share last year’s biggest adventure through the photos I collected since July. Looking through everything I saw that although my stay in Ithaca was mainly because of my internship, the picture book, the conservation efforts for the Philippine Eagle, most of what actually happened were about so much more than work.

For me, the work part was what I was actually prepared for. I had a portfolio for drawing, I applied for the internship knowingly. But what did I know about suddenly being in this completely new place at the other side of the world, with people I didn’t know, whose culture I had to figure out? Nooooot much.

These were the in-between moments that have made this chapter of my life bear much more weight than just being something about work. These are those people and those places and those days that pulled me out of my head and taught me that sometimes, things fall into their places if you let them land where they ought to.

ith-1_zpswzfqjokbJuly 25

Continue reading “ITH, part 1”