Yearly Archives: 2019

Getting started on your passion projects

I’ve been meaning to write something about getting started on doing passion projects. While I haven’t been doing that much work recently, I’m still in a better place than I was two years ago.

Passion projects are things you do outside of your usual work and daily life scope that gives you joy. At least, that’s how I see it.

On August 1, 2019, Canva Manila celebrated its 5th anniversary. Our art group, Kamote PH, was invited to speak during the anniversary celebration, The Best of Us. I, along with Jay Santos of Meow Project, represented the group. Here’s my quick take on how to get started on your passion project.

Photo of the author giving a talk during the Best of Us Canva Manila anniversary
Looking legit. Photo by Geryl Minguillo.

Starting from somewhere

Kamote PH began when a few of the designers at Canva Manila decided to sign up for Komiket and sell merchandise. A few of them had already been doing it, and thought to invite people—designers and non-designers (by this, I mean by job description) alike.

I enthusiastically said yes to the invite, but truth to be told, I was scared of failing. These people were mostly formally trained with art and design, or had at least several years experience doing it. It was pretty much a hobby for me, and it had been years since I actively and consistently did anything. Not to mention that I still didn’t have a clear style or aesthetic, while they had. The internal conflict I had whether I should do it or not was pretty strong.

But I did it anyway, and I have no regrets despite the rocky start.

Sticker I made floppy disks cassette tapes cactus video game controllers
Stickers that I made in the last two years. Slide from our presentation. Check out my Instagram.

Quick tips

Be genuinely interested

This must be something you like and really want to do. It is a passion project, after all. The drive to do this will fuel your creativity, and it will show in your work. There’s a huge difference in creating a design in a haphazard-looking style, versus creating work haphazardly. Be in it not just for the likes.

Be prepared to give it time

Time is a precious commodity—something that can’t be rushed, but goes by quickly. No matter how good you are, you’ll need to devote time in cooking up ideas, putting them on paper, and creating the product. You’ll also need time to get the word around and build your following. especially when you’re starting out. Time will also be needed to help you improve your skills (because there’s always room for that no matter what your skill level is).

Art supplies on a table
Image by Dzenina Lucac

Be prepared to fail

Or at the very least, leave room for errors. I always say there’s value in preparing well, but not everything will be smooth sailing all the time. There are factors you ca’t control, and even if you can, there will be some errors along the way. And when that happens…

Be kind to yourself and learn from those mistakes

Because they happen, and what’s done’s done. How you deal with it matters.

Start with what you have, and build on it as you go

I’m sure I’m not the only one who wants to have the best materials or latest gadget to get started. They’re nothing wrong with that, but using it as the ‘reason’ why you’re not doing anything, well, it’s really more of an excuse. This is admittedly a difficult hurdle for me, but you have to push through. I used to think that I needed Illustrator to create vectors, but there were other options available (try Inkscape. It’s free!)

Just do it

Take a leap of faith and start doing things. You want inspiration? Check out kuyaartist on Instagram. He’s 12 years old, around the same age as I was when I started doing fanart, and now he’s making his own stickers. He’s aiming to join his first con selling them next year.

Getting started with your passion project summary list of tips on starting by Kat Sales

Lessons learned along the way

Push yourself to do it

This lesson is pretty much similar to the immediate tip above. Sometimes you can’t wait for motivation, but you just have to push yourself to do it. Don’t be lazy. Don’t procrastinate. No one’s going to do the work you do but you.

Learn to plan

We always think we have plenty of time—until the day of the con or your deadline is near. Sometimes, because I didn’t plan things out, I find myself staying up late the day before a con printing and laminating stickers, then cutting them. I’ll be tired during con day, and I won’t have enough stock to sell. Not a good thing.

Find a community

When I was younger, I didn’t have enough friends who illustrated or drew. The ones I knew who did had different tastes than I do, and for most of us it was really just a hobby.

Kamote PH to me is like #romanceclass: I’m surrounded by people who are doing something similar and see value in it. Instead of competing, we inspire. We all may be doing stickers, and there may be several of us who likes the same things—like cats, dogs, Broadway shows, or Kpop—but our styles and aesthetics make them unique from each other.

Your community is a great place for support, encouragement, and learning. Knowing that there are people who understand what you’re doing and why is a big deal. I probably wouldn’t have done what I have in the last couple of years if I didn’t have a community.

GIF of young men in football jerseys doing a pre-game pep talk

You will learn new things and your process will change

When I first started out, I didn’t know how to do vector art. I crammed learning it in a month, and rushed the printing three days before the con. A few months later I was a little more confident with it. Later, I realized I could do away with vector for some designs and use watercolor. Sometimes I combine them, sometimes I experiment.

I also learned how to print my own stickers, and in the process learned about the best paper to use, the kind of inks, how to laminate, where to buy, etc. Most of all, I learned how to deal with people because as introvert as I am, I’m still the shopkeeper and I need to sell my work.

Someone will like your work

We’ve been hit with imposter syndrome one time or another, and it’s something that becomes a blocker. When I first started, I made designs that I wanted. I knew there will be a few who’ll like it (namely my friends haha) but I never expected enthusiastic reactions from strangers. It never fails to make me feel good, and want to make more cool things.

Have fun

I started this because I liked drawing, and I wanted to make something that I didn’t see from other artists. I didn’t expect others to like it, and that I’ll make money from it. Now I enjoy making it—and making money from it is a huge perk.

There will be days when you’d rather not do anything, and that’s ok. But if you really want to make a success of your passion project, you have to make time and do it.

Getting started with your passion project summary list of learnings by Kat Sales

Balancing act

Here are some questions that we were asked after the talk:

“How do you get word out about your works?”

We rely on social media. For most of us it’s Instagram, as it’s visual and easy to share. We also rely on word of mouth, especially if we’re going to be selling at cons or other events. Some of us cosign with stores like Common Room or La Local PH. Others market at our personal social media pages, and have family and friends buy our merch.

“How do you balance your passion project with work/daily life?”

I said that you have to make time, not just find it. I said something earlier about planning, and it applies to that. You plan what you need to do so you won’t have to rush things, and you find time in your daily routine that lets you do these tasks. I like to brainstorm while in transit, and if I can, write or sketch things down. Then on weekends, I make stuff. Sometimes, I even use my vacation leaves to do it.

Share your thoughts in the comments section!

My top 5 podcasts (1st quarter 2019)

I started listening to podcasts instead of music at the start of the year. The most basic reason was that I didn’t have a subscription to Spotify so I couldn’t download music, and I didn’t always have data. I discovered that you can download podcast episodes from Apple Podcasts, so I went with that.

Podcasts for me are much better to listen to on the commute than music. With music, I don’t have to really engage my thoughts—I just let the tunes flow and it helps me with my work. Podcasts, on the other had, needs me to be engaged with the conversation. It’s like you’re in class listening to your professor, or if you’re in a TED Talk.

My podcast topics these days are mostly about art, side hustles/business, and romance (novels, including the author and reader community). Here are my top 5 (in no particular order), selected mainly for the quality of the episodes, the speakers, and the frequency of their updates.

1) 3 Point Perspective

The 3 Point Perspective is a podcast hosted by illustrators Will Terry, Jake Parker, and Lee White. They talk about illustration— “how to do it, how to make a living at it, and how to make an impact in the world with it.”

Logo of 3 Point Perspective podcast

What I love about this podcast: They talk about things beyond actual illustration skills: How you can be a better student, lessons they learned (yes, they still are learning!), the importance of finishing projects, and so on.

My favorite episode: Episode 2: Am I too old to get started? Though I’m far from a beginner, I’ve still got ways to go. This episode was great because their examples were for people past their 20s who were able to make it as illustrators.

2) David Tennant Does a Podcast With…

Actor David Tennant has a lot of fans, thanks in part to his work with Doctor Who and Harry Potter—more so now that he’s done Broadchurch and soon, Good Omens. Venturing into podcasts with David Tennant Does a Podcast With… seems to be a casual move, but on the other hand seems fitting.

Photo of David Tennant's podcast

What I love about this podcast: David’s voice is just wonderful to listen to, and each episode goes right off the bat—no long introductions, no advertisement or sponsorship spiels. Just David and his guest, and their conversation is very much like one between friends. Honest, heartfelt, real.

My favorite episode: It’s a very new podcast, and I loved every guest David has had so far. This far, I’d say my favorite guest is Whoopi Goldberg. I enjoyed listening to her story about how she stumbled upon acting, her encounters with other actors, and how important it is to be kind.

3) Overtime Design Podcast

Dribbble’s Overtime Design Podcast goes behind the scenes with designers and artists. Hosted by the site’s co-founder, Dan Cederholm.

Logo of Dribbble's Overtime design podcast

What I love about this podcast: As with the 3 Point Perspective, this podcast is about design, illustration, art, and everything creative. However, Dan talks to different people and they share their journey as creatives—how they started, the challenges, how they got to be where they are now. You’ll definitely pick up a lot of learnings, and find that perhaps you’re not alone in your journey.

My favorite episode: Lauren Hom. I love how she talks about how her passion projects opened up opportunities for her to earn money and step out from the rat race. She’s realistic but encouraging, and while she doesn’t pretend it’s not easy, she makes you feel that it is possible to do.

4) Smart Podcast, Trashy Books!

Smart Bitches, Trashy Books is a community website of people who love romance fiction—but the discussion here is so much more about that.

Logo of the Smart Podcast, Trashy Books!

What I love about this podcast: Aside from the very obvious fact that it talks about my favorite genre, it explores a lot of other topics that fall within the periphery of it. There’s the usual author interviews, but conversations can cover art, the publishing industry, plagiarism, racism, gender and sexuality, etc. Even if you’re not a romance reader, there will be topics that may be of interest, but are discussed within the world of romance fiction.

Favorite episode: I’m pretty biased, but I really enjoyed the episode when Mina Esguerra was a guest. It was great to hear about #romanceclass, and how it’s creating waves across the romance writing and publishing industry. I also enjoyed the episode with Regina Flath who talked about designing book covers (which lead me to reading new YA books).

5) Getting Curious with Jonathan Van Ness

Like most people, I got to met Jonathan Van Ness through Netflix’s Queer Eye. I didn’t know he had a podcast until I started listening to podcasts in general. Getting Curious has no particular niche. Rather, the topics are just about anything that Jonathan is interested in, including the environment, self-care, current affairs, and figure skating.

What I love about this podcast: The description of the podcast is “A weekly exploration of all the things Jonathan Van Ness is curious about”, and he is curious about a lot of things! While he asks a lot of questions, you’ll also know how smart and prepared he is because of what he asks. I’ve listened to episodes with topics I didn’t think I’d be interested in, but I come away a bit more informed about things that are relevant. He talked about how separation affects families (during the time when immigrant families where being broken up and children detained for months), the difference of British English and American English, trans rights, and if your vote makes a difference.

My favorite episodes: Honestly, I started listening for Jonathan’s interviews with his fellow Queer Eye cast—Antoni Porowski, Karamo Brown, Tan France, and Bobby Berk. I continued to listen because Jonathan is an engaging host, his topics are timely and relevant, and his guests are people who really know what they’re talking about.

I’ve since added a few more shows to my list. Maybe I’ll make another post, for the 2nd or 3rd quarter of 2019. Do you listen to podcasts, and if you do, what do you listen to?

#StickerConMNL2019 recap

Nearly a month after #StickerConMNL2019 and I’m still on a bit of a high. While I tried not to have expectations (particularly with how much I’ll sell), I couldn’t help but hope that it would surpass last year.

So what’s #StickerConMNL? Well, it’s the biggest and only convention dedicated to stickers. Artists from all over the country showcase their works and sticker enthusiasts come to meet them and buy stickers to add to their collection.

I love the theme of the poster. StickerConMNL does feel like a carnival of sorts.

While the venue was still Bayanihan Center, StickerConMNL now occupied both halls allowing more tables and more artists to join. Over 200 local artists have signed up as exhibitors, some even coming from areas around the country like Bicol and Cebu.

Guests weren’t just from Manila either. I’ve seen posts from people who said they came from Cavite and Batangas, and maybe some came from further places.

Not an idle moment.

The bigger venue also afforded for bigger number of attendees. By 3 PM, there were 2,000 guests (based on the number of tickets sold), and the total number of tickets sold for the day reached up to 2,700.

Artists old and new

#StickerConMNL2019 featured a lot of the artists who were present last year. I don’t know the ratio of new and returning artists, but with over 200 there probably is a whole lot of first timers.

Last year, I had the experience of selling on my own on the behalf of my group because they were suddenly sent off on a business trip. This time, they got to sell and their experience was overwhelming. They were worried at first that they might not sell much, but I assured them they will. I guess it’s safe to say that all their expectations were blown out of the water. Even mine, to be honest. The sheer number of people were overwhelming, but I’m really grateful for everyone who stopped by and bought a sticker.

What I loved

  • It’s all about the stickers. Duh. People come to the event for it, and you won’t really be competing with other products like comics or toys (even if there will be some available). Even if you think what you made is pretty obscure, there will still be someone there who will appreciate it.
  • The bigger space! Like I said earlier, the bigger space allowed not just for more artists to join the event, it also allowed for wider aisles for people to move through.
  • The games. StickerConMNL isn’t just a marketplace. The organizers made sure that everyone—guests and exhibitors alike—were not bored. There were several ‘Bring Me’ games, and a sticker cutting contest that showed one’s dexterity and skill in handling scissors and paper.
  • The 1:1 ratio of displays to artists. StickerConMNL is pretty strict about having each individual artist sign up for a space, rather than sign up and sell as a group. You can still sign up under your group name, but you have to list each participating member. I like this because it allows each artist to showcase their work and become more known to newcomers.
  • My location. The tables assigned to us were towards the side and near the exit. Was worried at first because we feared that maybe by the time people reached us, they’d have no more money to buy our stickers. Fears unfounded though. And since we were by the wall, we had space for our things and not had to worry about having it in anyone’s way. Bonus: There was a nearby power outlet which I used with my extension cord.
  • It’s a one day event. I know a lot of attendees are clamoring for StickerCon to be a two-day event. As an exhibitor and with the con’s 1:1 rule, it’s difficult for us to sell two consecutive days. We don’t have assistants, and practically all of us didn’t get a break. Doing it two days in a row takes a toll on our health, and unlike Captain Marvel we don’t have an unlimited well of energy to tap. While a two-day event will definitely bring us more money, I think most would just love a break—especially since we’ve mostly been up days before preparing for the con. Thank you for your understanding.
Photo by Raphael Angelo Salen. Thanks for getting this sticker, and for the amazing photo! PS. I should fix my hair.
With Landlee, Pat, Thea, Kitkat, Neobie, and Christine.
stickerconmnl2019 table exhibitor stickers katsales
My display of stickers

Can’t wait to see what #StickerConMNL has in store next year! For more photos, do check out the #StickerConMNL2019 hashtag on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.

Announcing #StickerConMNL2019 year 2!

Remember #StickerConMNL last year? Well, #StickerConMNL2019 is happening this Saturday!

On it’s second year, and I’ll be here too!

I’ll be joining it again this year, and this time my friends will be with me too. Under Kamote PH, we’ll be at tables 13, 14, and 15.

We’ll also have friends The Meow Project, The Offbeat Cat, and Gian Wong at table 83.

From the entrance, turn left and walk towards the exit. Our table is right there.