victoria siemer

The feeling of I wish I had done that hits me every time I see Victoria Siermer’s (also known as Witchoria) work. I was amazed by her creativity and the way she uses her graphic design background in her images.

She’s a Brooklyn-based graphic artist who focuses mainly on photo manipulation. Her inspirations come from the idea of “emotional fragmentation” or “fragmentation of the self”. Basically, she does f*cking magic using her creative vision + camera + photoshop.

Her work has been very inspirational for me & a big influence on my creative work.

Victoria has an amazing Instagram feed where she sometimes posts her creative process (and she’s really a sweetheart, already answered a few questions I had). You can also see more of her art here.

brush lettering

I fell in love with calligraphy in 2014, when I was working with a dear friend who’s a wedding planner. I just used to run random errands (try saying that fast) like getting props at rental shops, calling vendors, doing some DIY stuff, etc.

One day I saw sitting in her desk a bunch of place cards with beautiful calligraphy on them. Do people really do that? I had never seen it outside of the Pinterest world. I was amazed by the precision of the strokes and with the flow of that handwriting. I asked who was the person who had done it, and soon contacted her to see if she would teach me her magic.

I soon was attending one of her awesome workshops in Laguna Beach. The beginning wasn’t easy – it was my first time using a dip calligraphy pen, I didn’t know how to hold it, how many times I should stop to dip it in ink… I was basically thinking too much. The beautiful thing about being a beginner – at anything – is the permission to be terrible and make mistakes.

I started practicing every day for at least 15 minutes. It was like a ‘me time’, a therapy. I loved doing it and I’m glad I stuck with it, because my strokes consistency got much better with time.

Soon I was a bit tired of the dip pen and started looking for brush pens to spice things up a little. I was HOOKED from the start. Although I still like the classic calligraphy pen, I love the organic and undone look that a brush pen has.

The principles are the same as calligraphy: little pressure on the up strokes, and pressure on the down strokes. Soft hands when you go up & heavy hands when you go down. Simple, but requires practice. When you feel like you mastered a medium – a specific pen/brush –, go to the next one to explore the thousand possibilities brush lettering has.

Practice, practice, practice is the way to learn brush lettering. Just 15 minutes a day is enough to make good progress – 1 week from the day you start you’ll be amazed by your hand lettering.

If you want to know what are my favorite brush pens & brushes – seriously can’t leave without them –, here they are:

Pentel Color Brush Pen (black and other colors)

Pentel Arts Pocket Brush Pen

Winsor & Newton Round Brush #2

Brush #4 (got a cheap one at Michaels and really like it)

Sumi ink

Hope you give it a try! 

#2

11.16.16

Sometimes I wonder how long is going to take me to truly feel successful. I wonder if that’s even possible. What is success? In my head it means being recognized for the work you do, but I know that this perception is totally wrong. Maybe success is being able to inspire other people. Maybe success doesn’t even exist – sometimes I think that when I get to the point I want I’ll ask, what now, and that question concerns me. I don’t want to be one of those people who always want more, neither I want to be stuck in my comfort zone.

The best thing to do now is enjoy the learning, enjoy the lessons, and live in the present moment. The journey is the best part.

life without facebook

Is there life after quitting Facebook?

That’s the question I kept asking myself whenever I thought about deleting FB.

I’ve started thinking about it for some time before I actually clicked “I’m sure” when the pop-up message asked me if I really wanted to delete my account. Yes, yes, yes, a thousand times yes I do.

Some people asked me why, some people were even angry at me because of that, a lot of people didn’t care either or just didn’t notice I opted out. Deep down, even though I felt anxious about doing that, I knew I was doing the right thing.

I’ve always had a love and hate relationship with Facebook. I signed up in 2007 – holy cow, almost 10 years ago, I’m just realizing.  In the early days I didn’t spend much time browsing through my timeline because 1) I had a shitty phone, and 2) FB wasn’t so interesting back then (or it was and I didn’t know). At that time, we still had lives outside our little screens, I guess.

The last two years that I was on FB were really intense. Brazil was going through a hard time politically & I was constantly seeing horrible news on my timeline. I used to feel so frustrated because I’m so far away, not able to help or join the protests. Our president was impeached, we were going through a coup-d’état, and I was here, obsessively swiping through my feed and crying because people were just too stupid to understand the real situation.

And that’s a big problem with Facebook: we are exposed to a trillion of information and news; good, bad and horrible stuff, altogether.

Another big issue is that we judge people there. A LOT. I used to judge what people posted all the time, and I’m sure they used to do the same to me. That’s human behavior and that’s completely normal, but I just don’t want to that person anymore.

I really didn’t like the ‘Facebook me’. I was judgmental, I posted so much useless stuff; just thinking about it makes me cringe a little. And that’s another thing: the guilt after a FB post. I shouldn’t have posted that. People must think I’m so stupid. Why do I keep exposing myself? It was a constant battle & it made me feel so anxious. Life is already so complicated, why add another layer of stress to it?

Also, my concentration level was really weak and inconsistent. Social media does that to us: we are constantly checking our phones, refreshing our feed, even though we’re in the middle of an important task – driving, working, writing. We just want a little high to go through the day; that like, that comment, that funny video a friend just posted. We are in a constant need of that little compensation to fill a void we don’t really know we have.

My only fear about my decision to quit was becoming isolated from the world. But a funny thing that happened after I left Facebook: I started meeting up more with friends and colleagues! FB gives us the illusion of knowing what’s happening in our friend’s lives, and we end up not catching up in real life as often. That’s a huge problem. Social media is not connecting us, it’s quite the contrary: things like judgment, comparison and the feeling of already know what’s going on with people & with the world end up separating us even more.

Why then give these corporations my energy, my power of concentration, my brain capacity, my time, my relationships? They’re getting more rich and powerful and I’m getting dumber.

I won’t allow that to happen to me anymore. I want to be free, I want to be able to do stuff without the need of letting the world know about it, I want to love people instead of judging them by their FB posts, I want to meet up with my friends, I want to live in the real world.

The time I used to spend of FB I’m now using to read the books I want to read, to go outside and sit on the grass, to lay in bed and simply listen to music, to talk in person with interesting people. To just live, really.

So, is there life after quitting Facebook?

Yes, there is. And it’s beautiful.

(if you want to quit as well but isn't sure yet, I really recommend watching this TEDx Talk)

 

 

 

my home studio

Since I started freelancing full-time, I began thinking about having a proper photography studio. Getting all my lights and backdrops in the garage downstairs is quite time consuming – and I have to make, like, 3 trips to get all my junk, and it’s 3 flight of stairs. Now you get my problem.

I thought of two solutions: 1) renting a small studio, or 2) eventually moving to a bigger apartment so I can have a room I can turn into a studio. I did my research and realized that number 2 was easier and less expensive.

The thing is, our lease expiries only in October. It is also cheaper than renting a studio (and having to drive there every day), but it stills sucks having to pay more than we already do. Living in Irvine is crazy expensive and just thinking about it makes me kind of sad.

I felt a bit stuck realizing that my little studio would take more than expected to become a real thing. But I had to do something; I felt the block getting bigger and the creative energy going lower every time I thought about this fact.

In a random afternoon, I decided to get my husband’s computer out of our office/guest bedroom, together with his 2,187 cables and gadgets, and put it all in our bedroom. I knew he wouldn’t mind because we have the perfect spot in our master to put computer stuff.

The transformation started: backdrop in place, lights and umbrellas in place, props and background options in the closet, little desk to put my laptop and books/magazines. Nothing huge, no extreme makeovers, but I absolutely loved the result.

It’s ok not having a specific place to get work done, but when you do – especially when you have tons of crap like me –, things flow more easily. Everything’s right there in your face, so you don’t have any excuses not to go there and just work.

And your working spot doesn’t have to be fancy either – just make sure you have everything you need, make it a little cozy with little touches here and there, and you’re good to go. Even if it’s just a tiny space in your bedroom our living room, you’ll see the difference when you have a spot where you sit down to work. It feels like the energy changes.

I can guarantee my little photography studio is a big success. My cat Charlie is here to confirm that:

#1

11.17.16

Today I’m doing a photoshoot in a not-so-glamorous restaurant. It’s located in a super weird plaza, with weird little

I stopped writing this because the guy from the restaurant came in with the dishes I have to photograph. I can’t tell what’s his vibe when he approached me; not super friendly, I thought.

The photoshoot went on, and I started to like him better after a few shots. He grew and grew more friendly each time he would come out of the kitchen. By the end of the shoot, he was already helping me out with the reflector and stuff.

When I was done with the photos, he invited me to sit down and eat. That was much appreciated because I was starving, and the food smelled incredible. I sat down to eat; he went on taking care of the customers that were coming in. He was so warm and friendly with each one of them, like each of them mattered. He’s a cool guy and the restaurant is not shitty at all.

turning a hobby into a full-time job

Is it a good idea to turn your hobby into a job? Apparently that’s one of the biggest questions of our times.

I’ll start by saying that I do not have the answer to this question. Although you won’t find the answer by reading this blog post, I invite you to just join me thinking about it.

So, you have a hobby and you absolutely love doing it. That’s awesome! Having a hobby is having quality time with yourself. Nowadays, with all of this noise happening around us, it’s super important to go and do your thing. Just yourself, your thoughts and your craft. It reduces stress, you feel more confident, your creativity sparkles more each time you do it. You just feel good.

And we want to feel that good all the time, right? That’s why some people want to turn their hobby into full-time jobs. That’s exactly what I did.

I won’t tell my whole life story in one post, so let’s fast forward to 2016, the year I truly decided to become a full-time freelance photographer. The thing that fueled this decision was what everyone who freelances aims for: freedom. I also don’t like the corporate 8 to 5, one-box-fits-all corporate system, and I really don’t want to be in it.

Decision made, let’s do this freelance thing now! That’s such an exciting phase. You plan the stuff you want to do, you have big hopes and dreams. Like all processes we go through in life, it is totally normal to be high or low in the progress chart. And in this phase, you’re oh so high. It’s a great feeling & you should enjoy it! Because it won’t last. Kidding. It’s lasts. Kinda.

Things start happening. Since you’re so exciting turning your dream into reality, you make things happen. You build connections, network, meet new people, get new gigs. This gives you an even greater high, because you also start making money.

Then, later on, things start to get a bit slower. You continue reaching out to people, but they don’t get back to you. You apply to different gigs, but as much as you check your inbox, the only emails you receive are from Bed, Bath & Beyond. You start feeling bad. Really bad.

Two things can happen at this point: getting a day job or getting depressed.

But I’m here to say that neither of these need to happen – that is, if you get into the freelance world with a specific mindset.

That mindset is: you won’t feel good all the time. Things won’t be busy all the time. Isn’t it like that when you’re working a regular 40-hours a week job? Sometimes you don’t even have time to go to the bathroom, and sometimes you browse Facebook and Instagram all day long. Sometimes your creativity will be flowing and sometimes you’ll feel stuck.  And that’s completely normal.

I feel like writing this is pretty common sense, but surprisingly, it isn’t for some folks. I’m writing for people like me, who day-dream all the time & have a romantic vision of life. I tend to to that a little bit as well, but the freelance life has been teaching be a lot of things I didn’t know.

You just have to accept the craziness and the nothingness of this kind of life. Don’t have anything coming up at the moment? Go create with that spare time that you have. Don’t stop reaching out to people and looking for opportunities, but don’t get too obsessed. Go for long walks, meditate, do stuff you like, and more important than anything, ask yourself: what can I create now?  

Of course, the freelance thing has to happen in a planned and well thought out fashion for it to work out. Don’t quit your day job if you don’t have other types of income or without saving enough money to support yourself for a while. If you have a partner who can financially support both of you for a while, the uncertain beginning won’t drive you (too) crazy as well. I’m impulsive, but age and maturity is coming, and with they’re bringing with them more common sense into my life – good for me, right?

So I highly encourage anyone who wants to quit their day job to do what they love – as long as people don’t do anything too crazy. The more you plan it, the more you’ll feel good about your decision. When you have tranquility and peace of mind, your head is clear enough for you to be able to create stuff and get shit done.

I feel really good about the decision of not having an “office job”. I’m glad I got one, and although I didn’t stick around for long, I learn new things about myself. Now that I know that freelance is what I want & what fits my personality, I’m up to fighting for it. Sometimes it is a battle – you stay too much at home inside your head sometimes, and when things are slow you question yourself and think everything you do is crap and that you’ll never make it. I embraced that and am learning each day how to fight these little monsters. But sometimes – I like to believe most of the time – things just flow. I’m creating more than ever, I’m experimenting with new medias, I’m doing my thing, I’m growing. And that’s what makes me not giving up.