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My secret project … revealed.

Though many times I claimed that doodling stuff is not my passion, sometimes, I think I run towards words as a profession because I believe my illustrations will never truly represent the stories I’m telling.

But no matter how good a craft the wordsmith creates about his subject, we visual beings can all agree that a picture is always worth a thousand words.

Consider the following quote from food critic Anton Ego, a character in Pixar’s 2007 box-office hit, Ratatouille:

In many ways, the work of a critic is easy. We risk very little, yet enjoy a position over those who offer up their work and their selves to our judgment. We thrive on negative criticism, which is fun to write and to read. But the bitter truth we critics must face is that, in the grand scheme of things, the average piece of junk is probably more meaningful than our criticism designating it so. But there are times when a critic truly risks something, and that is in the discovery and defense of the new. The world is often unkind to new talent, new creations. The new needs friends. Last night, I experienced something new, an extra-ordinary meal from a singularly unexpected source. To say that both the meal and its maker have challenged my preconceptions about fine cooking is a gross understatement. They have rocked me to my core. In the past, I have made no secret of my disdain for Chef Gusteau’s famous motto: ‘Anyone can cook.’ But I realize, only now do I truly understand what he meant. Not everyone can become a great artist, but a great artist can come from anywhere. It is difficult to imagine more humble origins than those of the genius now cooking at Gusteau’s, who is, in this critic’s opinion, nothing less than the finest chef in France. I will be returning to Gusteau’s soon, hungry for more.


I wouldn’t consider this project anything more than a novelty, but the whole process of drawing everything was extremely daunting for me. Though I haven’t literally ran a distance of 26.2 miles, I felt that running a full marathon would feel the same way as the process I’ve gone through out of executing this project.



The process: It’s all in your mind

Many times while doing the project, which took a little over a month, I would doubt endlessly and ask myself: “What’s the purpose of all this? Why should a tissue box be here, and how do I show the reader that this piece and that piece matter? Why here, why now, why am I the one drawing all these things?” It’s like a constant battle between the angel and the demon in my head, and most of the time I have to consciously remind myself that this is done with love, for love, in order for my hand to continue working its magic. Then the demon would go on saying really mean things, things that would always call upon my self-hatred, like “everybody will laugh at you and see no value in this junk”, “why waste so much time chasing something that won’t generate your income?”, “you won’t be able to perfect this thing, it’s going to be subjected to scrutiny, why bother printing your crap?”, or “you don’t friggin’ have a full-time job, why bother doing something as useless as this?”. Well, hello mean girl, because I love love and thanks to you and your hate messages, I finally acknowledged that I am a cheesy person. I love making stuff that cannot be bought with money, and I believe love will never fail me and everyone else I love.

Sorry for the intermezzo, but my self-talk is starting to become positive ones these days.

Out of this over-a-month-long experience of battling the hypercritical, 24/7 fault-finding inner demon, the most important lesson I learned was to love myself first before I love anything or anyone else. When you don’t, you give power to the fear and let it become bigger than you.

Now I understand what they’re talking about when they say, you cannot give others what you don’t have.


So what is this secret project?

It’s a little accordion book, 100% handcrafted, to illustrate the simple poem my love once wrote for me during our long-distance relationship.

Dedication page

Preview 1
Preview 1

Preview 2
Preview 2


Everything in Apart from cover to back was drawn digitally with Adobe Illustrator CS5, fitted into a resolution of 6×8 inches.

IMG_7340 1




The aftermath

I felt true happiness seeing him all smiles when he received the big surprise :D






Obviously I asked him to pose for me in the pictures above. They were taken way after I gave him the book. I had the pleasure to be the only one who’ve witnessed his glee :p

Although I achieved the foremost goal I’ve done it all for, I was not quite as happy as I could have with the final result.

Uh huh, it’s a classic perfectionist’s dilemma.

Some colors went wrong on print, and during the final stages of the project, I mindlessly deleted a full spread of my original Illustrator file right after I finished it. I was cleaning up my desktop while listening to a podcast, and it just happened.

Stupid, right?

Thankfully from the very beginning I already set my mind that nothing I do will ever be perfect, including this project, and I’ve got nothing to lose if I actually do it. So I might as well do it anyway and make it as best as I can.

The thought spiraled and thrived, giving me the confidence to continue doing the future ‘secret projects’ I’m preparing ;)  If there’s one thing five years in an art college has taught me, is that done is better than perfect. I know I psychobabble a lot on this blog and developed a cathartic habit to spot the reasons behind my own mistakes and regrets. But after I finished this project, I’m more curious about what me and my abilities and talents can do, instead of remaining in a place of self-blaming and self-hatred.

Limited as humans are, nothing you and I can do will turn out exactly the way we want them to be, but I’m feeling the perfectionist in me is slowly slipping away because she really can’t get anything done and just wants everything she does to be perfect. It’s dangerous to trust herself sometimes, and she can really get into  some serious s*** when she’s being too hard on herself, which is, like, all the time. She’s starting to loosen up and decided to put her trust God.


The purpose

I intended for only one audience in this book. That person is my lovely 10, who loved me and believed in me even before I do in myself.

As I marched on through the creative process, I gave myself the opportunity out of this project to reach out to all the long-distance lovers out there.


Here’s my message to you lovebirds: Love never fails. Even when you’re oceans apart, I promise it’ll work out till the end when you do the work and keep believing in each other :)







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