Category Archives: Personal

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.

Bullet Journal setup for 2019: Simple is the best

For as long as I can remember, I always bring a notebook with me. I use it to jot down thoughts and ideas, sketch, or note something I have to do. It’s usually messy, unorganized, and very random (even if I’m using a dated journal or planner).

A few years ago, I heard of Bullet Journal and was intrigued by the simple system. No frills, no fancy layouts and such. I decided to try it out with a small notebook but instead of using the system as it is, I adapted it. I divided the notebook into sections and added some calendars I printed from Moleskine. It ended up being like any of my previous notebooks: a somewhat disorganized catch-all for everything.

I tried bujo again a year later and while it was slightly more organized, it still ended up being a messy catch-all. I went back to using dated planners after that. For memory keeping, I was still writing long form on notebooks that acted as my journals, but rather than writing daily as I used to, I wrote only when I felt like it.

I decided to give bujo another serious try this year. It fared better than my previous attempts. I was able to log most of the weeks each month, but more or less stopped around August. I used to browse Pinterest and Instagram for bullet journal ideas that I tried. I made a layout that had separate sections for goals and tasks and other things. I made trackers for credit card bills and subscription dues. I made a tracker for my Instagram and my expenses. Honestly? They were tiring.

While I still enjoyed looking at pretty layouts, they made me feel discouraged about bullet journaling. I’m a fairly creative person, and while I know these layouts weren’t necessary to have a successful bujo, I felt a sort of pressure.

When I saw Ryder Caroll’s post about going Back to the Basics, I felt so relieved. It also was timely, as I decided to try bujo again, but this time sticking to how it was originally set. Of course, me being me, I still wanted some sort of design (or non-design, however you see it). I settled on boxes and using my Zebra Mildliners to add some color.

So, here’s my current setup:

  • Goalsetting: I took a quick session with Alessandra Lanot of Life After Breakfast about goal setting. I thought I’d transfer what I’ve written in her workshop to this journal, so I can easily refer to it.
  • Future log: I divided the year into quarters, so that’s three months per page, with a calendar showing the month’s dates. I also separated birthdays from other events and tasks.
  • Period tracker: Something to work alongside the app on my phone.
  • Savings tracker: I feel like I don’t get to save enough because I don’t keep better track of where my money goes or how much I have. I also placed an amount goal.
  • Project tracker: I’m looking to creating more in 2019, but I am a huge procrastinator. My aim with this project tracker is to give myself a visual timeframe to do things before it is due.
  • Month calendar: I drew a calendar grid, but I realized the spaces are too small so for February, I’m sticking to the original suggested setup.
  • Monthly task list: Nothing much for January yet, but we’ll see as we go.
  • Month expense tracker: Nothing fancy—just somewhere I can put in money that comes in (salary and other income) and goes out (expenses/payments made)
  • Medicine tracker: I’m taking medicine to help keep my sugar levels down, and I’m supposed to take it thrice daily. This will help me keep track of whether I took it or not, since I’m not used to drinking medicine on a regular basis.

If you’re trying out bullet journaling for the first time, or have tried before and didn’t feel like continuing, I recommend reading the article about going back to basics. It’s easy to get overwhelmed with the beautiful layouts and many tips available online, but don’t be.

Ryder made the bujo as a basic system you can build on, but if it’s getting too complicated for you, stop and think about why you’re doing bujo in the first place. One of my reasons is to be more organized, make sure I’m not wasting time and money by being all over the place.

And to quote the article:

Strip away everything that doesn’t support your purpose. Start simple. Build slowly. Your practice doesn’t need to be profound, or beautiful. It needs to be real, relevant, and effective. Most of all, it needs to be yours. It’s not about how your Bullet Journal looks, it’s about how it makes you feel. Add only what feels valuable, and give yourself permission to walk away from approaches that don’t.

Ryder Caroll, Back to the Basics

I’m excited to start over, for the experience and the lessons along the way. Wishing you the best!

Semana Santa: Memories of my grandmother

I’m not into the usual Holy Week stuff now, but it feels comforting to see traditions being passed on. Reminds me of the time when my grandmother would pull us kids to join it. Sunday now, the time when Jesus rises from the dead. The Salubong is now happening, and the procession just passed by the house.

There are two processions: One with the men and the statue of Jesus, the other with the women and the statue of Mary (which was, IMO, creepy covered up with dark cloth). They go in different directions and meet up at the town plaza.

There, a little girl dressed up as an angel is lowered from a high platform. The statue of Mary is placed directly below her, and as she descends, she’ll take the cloth off Mary. Her mourning is now over as she sees her son alive.

When I was a kid, my grandma would wake us up to see it pass by our house, then we’d go back to bed. Only once did I recall actually joining it with her. She woke us up early, then we waited for the women’s procession to pass by. My brothers, young as they were, joined us.

I realise that the length of time my grandma is gone is almost as long as I’ve had her. Her influence is still strong though. Miss her terribly at times like these.

November 2014 Summary

I’ve got a horrific backlog of posts for this November. Work and school kept me busy, and they have their own backlog too. Quick summary of what’s happened so far, starting with the latest.

NaNoWriMo Winner!
50,312 words in 30 days. Validated my words on November 3o, 2014 10:30 PM (GMT +8). About 20k of those words were written in 14 hours of Nov. 30. I do not recommend it. Story’s not done, but I’m putting it aside until after my finals on the 13th.

Winner-2014-Web-Banner

Canva Creatives Conference
I feel lucky that I was able to attend and I got to meet the people behind this online tool. I love the site, and it has been an invaluable tool for me at work. A proper post with photos to follow.

#CanvaConference kit. Had an awesome time.

A photo posted by Kat Sales (@saberkite) on

Filipino Reader Con
My second year to volunteer! Got great books, met awesome people and had a really amazing time. Post and photos to follow as well.

#FilReaderCon volunteers. Had a wonderful time. Next year ulit! Photo from @fantaghiro23

A photo posted by Kat Sales (@saberkite) on

There’s still a lot in between, but that’s it for now.

Oh my, it’s December already!

All the Doctors at Cosmania 2014

Well, we finally did it. All the Doctors and the FemmeDoctors in one event.

All Thirteen - Homme & Femme Doctors
Photos by Cali Ynoviel & Bex P., background edited by BJ David. Yes, we are aware we made a mistake with the ordering.

I tried to recall how this all came about. My research brought me to a post in the Whovian PH group where a few ladies talked about making a group for the femme Doctors. It grew from there until we had a complete line-up. The girls were able to debut an incomplete roster last May during NexCon.

In the months that followed, everyone (and by that I mean the guys and the girls) worked together to complete all twenty six. We found people who were willing to play the Doctors, and helped them get their props and costume together. There were many sleepless nights where people stayed up to finish things, fueled by coffee and a lively Facebook chat group.

Somehow, we pulled it off.

And it wasn’t just the cosplayers. It was also friends who worked with us in shopping for materials, making accessories and the like. We had a trip to Divisoria to buy cloth and other stuff. Some braved torrential downpours just to help sew coats. Others actually learned how to sew, and even got their families onboard to finish things. And then there were the photographers.

Our companions were awesome too. We had Amy Ponds, Clara Oswalds and a Rose Tyler. We also had a Dorium Maldovar (hi Moses!). We were in the minority during the event as the crowd was mostly into anime, but we got recognized by a few people, and that was enough for us.

More photos from Day 1 can be found here. I’ll discuss the costumes and how everyone made theirs maybe in the comments. 🙂

10 Reasons Why NexCon Rocked: Part 2

Continued from 10 Reasons Why NexCon Rocked: Part 1

5. The awesome panels
Most cons here are about the merchandise, cosplay and stage events. It’s only in book or comic related cons do I get to see any panels. NexCon had three of them, and each one was something worth attending. I managed to go to the Komiks Reborn and Cinema Fantastica. I know a lot of people were hoping to see foreign guests (actors particularly), but the NexCon panels were jampacked with Filipino greats in the field of comics, movies, and literature.


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4. Geekfight
Geek trivia game amped to the higher level! Fellow Whovians made a group of six and named it “Gallifrey Stands” (represent, Torchwood Manila as well). We didn’t win, but it was a respectable finish all the same. It was also their 5th anniversary, so the game was pretty intense. Lots of laughter and shenanigans, and thankfully I don’t have to turn in my geek card.


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