Category Archives: Creative

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!

#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.

Event Recap: StickerConMNL2018

It’s been a little over a year since my colleagues at Canva and I have embarked on this journey to sell our creations, mainly in the form of stickers, but we also sell a few pins, postcards, keychains and whatnot. We started at Komiket last February 2017, but have also dabbled in the BGC Art Mart and other creative events. We joined Komiket as well this year, and StickerConMNL.

What is StickerConMNL? Check out this article by When in Manila to get caught up! Fandom Feels PH Presents Sticker Con MNL 2018!

I heard about StickerCon last year, but I didn’t know it was my friend Grace of Fandom Feels PH who was spearheading this venture. This made me more excited. I rallied my officemates, and finally got a list of who will join me in this adventure.

I have to say that I was very unprepared for StickerCon, despite the long lead time. I left a lot of things at the last minute, thinking that I’ll be able to do things in two, then one, week. Nope. Instead of getting new stuff printed, I ended up hoping that my remaining stock will suffice.

Then came the news that my fellow artists will be going away for a business trip. That left just me to man the booth. The good thing with StickerCon it was just one day, unlike Komiket. However, I’ve never manned our booth for a whole event just by myself. Usually I’d pick up from the last person, but this time, it’ll be from start to finish. Thankfully, Drew and Ryan came by and kept me company for a bit.

I wasn’t expecting the crowd. A quick chat with my friends and they said it was totally unexpected too. Their last count was about 1,700 people (based on the number of tickets sold), and that didn’t count the number of artists, assistants, staff, and complimentary tickets. Towards the end of the day, they let in the attendees of another event happening in the same venue.

The sales were amazing. There were always people at the table, buying one or two stickers. One lady had an amazing haul of nearly 20 stickers. Another guy got all the retro gaming stuff we had, and quite a few dropped by to get more of their favorites. Almost all of the stock I had on hand were gone, and many last minute buyers were disappointed that we ran out of stuff. [Lesson: Come early as possible].

stickercon_bryan

With the organizers and staff of StickerConMNL

Congratulations to the team of StickerConMNL! Hope this will be an annual event, and maybe have some small pop-ups too?

Komiket2017 Part 2: Bigger and Better

Komiket held its second event in Manila last October 14 & 15, and the crew of Kamote Kollektiv was again there. This time, we were present for both days, making the most of the weekend crowd (many of whom likely just got their salaries and/or allowances).

We’re a lot more organized now compared to last February, thanks to our experience then and the few other bazaars we’ve joined in the last few months. We have more stickers, and we also have a few more people in our group selling. We also have a better inventory system, where we can keep track of what sells and who owns them, as opposed to the old one when we did it willy-nilly.

I made more designs too!

katstickers2017

Compared to last February.

According to sales, the best seller was the Don’t Forget to Save one. I should print more of it for next time.

Verdict? Sales were much better this time. I’m inspired to do more fanart stuff.

Art inspiration

I was able to go around a bit to check on other artists. It was great to see the tables of popular artists who became popular online like Hunghang Flashbacks (their table was right behind us) and Libreng Komiks. Artist favorites were also present, like Manix Abrera (also a table neighbor) and Pol Medina Jr. I missed Gerry Alanguilan, as I only went on Sunday.

I also found new artists to look up: Corinne Caro (who does this really great illustrations of Filipino streetscapes), and Victoria Tadiar a.k.a. Haitori who wrote Sagala, a Filipino steampunk comic.

The best thing about this? We were tablemates with Fandom Feels PH and Numinous Studio, both of which are run by my friends Grace and Rai, respectively. I didn’t miss out hanging with my friends while trying to earn money, which was awesome.

sepanxkomiket
Sepanx magnet at work at Komikon!

Kamote Kollektiv will be back at the BGC Art Mart this November 24-25!

Komiket 2017: Post event

I’m no stranger to cons. I’ve attended a lot over the years, and have gone to so much more since I got into Doctor Who and met my Sepanx friends. However, it was my first time to sell something last February 25, at the Komiket in Centris Elements.

I can’t recall how it all started, really, but suddenly a few of my officemates and I were talking about getting a table at Komiket and selling stickers that we designed. Next thing I knew, Kate was getting us a table, and everyone was preparing for it.

As usual, I procrastinated, thinking that I had enough time. Unlike my friends, I wasn’t a designer and dabbled only in drawing and graphic design. Not only did I have to brainstorm sticker ideas, I had to learn how to create them in digital form using software like Adobe Illustrator.

Long story short, I crammed. I finalized my designs barely two weeks before, and had things printed less than 36 hours before. Stayed up all night to cut them (because I didn’t go for the digital-cut service) and woke up early on the 25th to set things up.

Thankfully, things worked out well despite all the rush. My simple designs actually got sold, and I managed to earn back the amount I spent for printing. We even had a lady inquire about our commission prices (to which we all replied with a blank stare). It wasn’t perfect, but I’d like to think we learned a lot from this venture. We’re now planning to doing this on a regular basis, setting up a collective name and all that.

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Stickers galore!

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Here’s mine.

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Thanks for checking out our work!

Photo by @steldevera
Artists and friends

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Legit

Lessons learned:

  • Having a brand helps get people to buy from you, or at least have a way to reach out to you if the want to avail of your services and buy more of your products.
  • Have an inventory of your products, and clearly label the price of each one.
  • If you can have a system of how you sell and split the cost, that will help.
  • Signs and display cases are hella useful.
  • Promote, promote, promote!

I’m excited to see this grow. It’s a great way for me to keep creating and improve on my designing chops, and who knows how it’ll grow as a business? Too early to tell, but hey, all the possibilities!