On Creative Uncertainty

I was looking through files from previous talks as I’m currently writing a speech of sorts and at the same time, working on the contents for my new book. I found this “You start by not knowing” slide hiding somewhere from a previous talk I’ve given, and it never felt so real until recently.

This week, I have finally allotted time to write the chunkier parts of my book, the parts where I really need to look inwards (and outwards for other perspectives) and get a good grip of what the creative process should look like. And it’s funny, because for the past few days, I sit at my desk and tell myself, “I don’t know what the hell I’m doing, but I’m doing it anyway.” And while it’s personally derailing to feel like I don’t know most of what I’m doing, it’s not like I have any other choice. I think I’ve conditioned myself enough to know that I’ll be learning as I go, anyway.
(Drafts for my new book. Lowkey dedicated to my 17y/o self who didn’t realize her creative capabilities at that time.)

I wish I could tell you it’ll be easy to figure out where your creativity takes you as you move forward, but I’m going to be upfront and say that isn’t possible. Most of the decisions that brought me to be in this position have been out of curiosity, out of my constant question of “what’s next”, and my (sometimes) impulsive attitude on going after what I want. But it’s not like my creativity easily followed suit. All my life, I always tell myself I am incapable of being creative, mostly because I was raised in an environment that didn’t validate my art. I always knew it was something that would make me happy; I’m more than grateful that now it has its own capability of helping others discover their own skills in the process.

I know planning ahead is crucial; I am one of those excessively strategic people who always likes plotting things out (for the record, I am a Capricorn). But there are just moments where you acknowledge that maybe this is not how things are supposed to go. Maybe it could go somewhere else. Leave a little space to wonder and maybe it’s okay to not have everything all figured out. I mean, if we had everything all planned out for us, where’s the fun in that? Spontaneity is actually kinda fun.

My point is, creative uncertainty is real. What are you going to do with scraps of paper filled with notes and ideas? With an empty sheet of watercolor paper and tubes of paint? With an abandoned manuscript you managed to salvage in your pile of mess? You create. Maybe for now, it won’t matter where it’ll take you; just create. Make something, then figure out the rest as you go along.

Okay, back to writing for me.

Always be creating,

Abbey

 




My Favorite Museums

One of my non-negotiables when traveling is visiting museums. Most of the people I’ve traveled with know this—it’s been an essential part of my itinerary ever since I started to venture out into exploring new places.

I still remember my first museum visit in Musee de Louvre 5 years ago. I had initially wanted to go to the Louvre (who wouldn’t?!), but we were on a tight schedule (tour problems tbh). Luckily, some of our tourmates wanted to go as well, so my sister and I tagged along with their family. The lines were long and we waited three hours in the cold to get in; coincidentally, I brought out a tiny journal and started drawing. That was also the first time I discovered my love for documenting my trips.

Above: my first ever travel journal spreads, 2013.

Anyway, back to the Louvre. Apart from seeing the famed Mona Lisa (which was small…and surrounded by so many tourists), I had goosebumps the whole time as I walked in the halls and saw different forms of art. We didn’t explore all floors but I managed to revisit in 2015, and I fangirled seeing a Monet painting on the third floor, among other things.

In the years that followed, I have associated my liking for art as I spent more time reading up on artists and people I generally look up to: Vincent Van Gogh, Claude Monet, Frida Kahlo, Yayoi Kusama, Juan Luna, Andy Warhol, etc. And because of this, I promised myself that I would be able to see their work in person someday. So far, I have seen most of them—but I’d like to see more and immerse myself further in the world of art.

Here’s a list of museums I’ve visited so far all over the world, which have become my favorites. A disclaimer though, I have criteria that I weigh in apart from the art collections per museum—such as location, architecture, and museum shop (lol #priorities). I also rounded up a list of museums I want to visit in the coming years…and months. If you find something that piques your interest, maybe you can add it to your list as well. Enjoy!

National Gallery of Singapore

Location: Singapore | http://www.nationalgallery.sg/

By default, NGS has been a staple because it’s the nearest one from Manila. Lol. Apart from that, I’ve always loved its architecture both inside and out. Also going to say their museum shop is a trap—lots of books and tastefully curated merch for you to hoard! There are also restaurants and a cafe inside the building, and the location is relatively near Raffles City (mall), beside City Hall MRT.

This museum just opened three years ago, but the variety of exhibitions here are amazing. I was able to see Yayoi Kusama’s Life is the Heart of a Rainbow (June 2017) and Century of Light (February 2018). Their permanent collection features Southeast Asian art (also works by Filipino artists) and do check out their ongoing exhibitions. They change every few months!

Also: get a glimpse inside the exhibitions I was able to see inside NGS below.

ArtScience Museum

Location: Singapore | https://www.marinabaysands.com/museum.html

The ArtScience museum is a visual treat for both art and science lovers. As someone who is generally fascinated with all things art (by default) and science (particularly Physics and things about the universe), I loved the Future World exhibition. The architecture of ArtScience museum is shaped like a flower of sorts, and as you head to the escalator, you’ll see a display of sketches and behind the scenes of the museum’s construction (obvs I geeked out…photo below).

Catch their ongoing temporary and permanent exhibitions and be immersed in the different installations inside the museum. Loved the surrounding walls full of quotes on art and science!

Museum of Modern Art

Location: Manhattan, New York | https://www.moma.org

One of the most famous museums in the world—and for good reason. I was ecstatic entering the MoMA, partly because I am well-aware that the selection of paintings here are by my favorites. How does it feel walking into a room filled with works by Dali, Basquiat, Warhol, Kahlo, and Richtenstein, among others? Quite overwhelming, really. Not to mention a huge Waterlilies painting by Monet and a crowd favorite, Starry Night by Van Gogh welcoming you into one of the halls. My personal favorite was a special gallery dedicated to Frank Lloyd Wright, the architect responsible for the beautiful Guggenheim Museum.

Cross to the other side for the standalone MoMA store if you’re looking for unique items to take home. The MoMA store inside is pretty impressive too; I got a MoMA Highlights book as a souvenir (also a reason to read up more on modern art).

Whitney Museum of American Art

Location: Manhattan, New York | https://whitney.org/

I met up with my book editors on a weekday, and after lunch we went to the Whitney. Newly relocated at the end of the High Line, this museum is definitely hard to miss with its beautiful white architecture.

Featuring a selection of American art, there’s something worth seeing on every floor of the Whitney. Don’t miss the view on the top floor overlooking NYC, and get yourself some exclusive merch at the ground floor before leaving! Also, go up the High Line and spend some time exploring the area—Chelsea Market is right around the corner.

Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum

Location: Washington, DC | https://airandspace.si.edu/

First thing’s first, this museum has no entrance fee! But what drew me in more is the fact that it’s all about air and space—two things I love fondly. Airplanes and flights have always been special to me because I love traveling, and inside the museum is an in-depth look into the history of flight (from the Wright Brothers to Amelia Earhart to the different wars encompassing this period) and everything about space (and the concept of time). The interiors are reminiscent of being in a space facility, and the real remnants of airplane models are displayed are part of the museum’s interiors.

Also: my ephemera-loving self was so happy to see vintage packaging, posters, and a series of design work from airlines and different facets of air and space. Spent only an hour here (huhu) but I’ve already bookmarked this museum on my next trip to DC this September! I think I need a full day to see everything inside. #geekmode

Musee de Louvre

Location: Paris, France | https://www.louvre.fr/en

Housing a beautiful (and extensive) collection of European art from different time periods, the Louvre is a go-to museum for people visiting Paris. The highlight is of course, seeing Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa amidst a crowd (because it’s always packed in that area) of visitors. Personally though, I found the other paintings more significant than the Mona Lisa.

Don’t miss the iconic triangular structure outside the Louvre, as well as the stores inside the building. There’s also a food court in case you go hungry. I forgot where exactly we commuted but the Metro isn’t far from the Louvre (and if you can, come early on a weekday!).

National Museum

Location: Manila, Philippines | www.nationalmuseum.gov.ph/

The first thing you’ll find as you enter the National Museum is the Spoliarium by national artist Juan Luna—a sight to see with its enormous size filling the room. In the different galleries are artworks, sculptures, and paintings by Filipino artists—all talented and amazing. Look for Fernando Amorsolo’s workspace which showcases his tools of the trade!

Also: Don’t miss the new wing of the National Museum! I haven’t seen it yet but I hope to visit again soon.

The National Art Center

Location: Tokyo, Japan | www.nact.jp/english/

One of my favorite modern architecture buildings! The National Art Center in Roppongi Hills is a visual treat—check their calendar for exhibitions before going. I got to see Yayoi Kusama’s My Eternal Soul (April 2017) in the NAC and it was such a memorable experience.

That’s it for my current roundup. Which ones did you add to your bucket list? 🙂

I feel like one of my life’s missions is to get to visit as many museums as I can, and take in all the beautiful art. I have an ongoing list, which I hope to complete (half???) this year. (Below)

Europe

  • Neue Pinakothek (Munich, Germany)
  • Buchstabenmuseum (Berlin, Germany)
  • Bauhaus-Archiv / Museum für Gestaltung studies (Berlin, Germany)
  • Guggenheim Museum Bilbao (Bilbao, Spain)
  • Van Gogh Museum (Amsterdam, Netherlands)
  • Musée d’Orsay (Paris, France)

USA

  • Guggenheim Museum (Manhattan, New York)
  • New York Transit Museum (Manhattan, New York)
  • MoMA PS1 (Queens, New York)
  • Art Institute of Chicago (Chicago, Illinois)
  • Museum of Science & Industry (Chicago, Illinois)
  • Smithsonian National Postal Museum (Washington, DC)
  • Smithsonian Institution Building (Washington, DC)
  • Newseum (Washington, DC)
  • Smithsonian American Art Museum & Renwich Gallery (Washington, DC)

Everything’s An Experiment (For Now)

I feel like a huge chunk of my 2018 is about experimentations. Lots of trial and error, actually. Not necessarily in the creative sense, but if it counts that I’m trying out new mediums like graphite and gouache for a change (I’m sorry, I love watercolor, but I’m getting a bit sick of it), then okay. Either way, yeah, I’ve been testing the waters on many things and while I should be terrified about it, I’m not. I’m also not as particular anymore with the outcome, just as long as I put my mind into starting it and doing it. The outcome will come…soon. I’m just going to make sure I do my part in making it the best I can be.

As much as I am fascinated and interested with astrology, I never quite felt affected with the Mercury Retrograde until this recent wave that just ended (last April 15). It’s in Aries (I’m a Capricorn) and I’ve read this article saying that you tend to lose control over things (and yourself) during this period. True enough, I got sick, I couldn’t get myself to sit down and work, and I was constantly in a state of apathy up until last weekend’s field trips to Old Manila and Art in the Park. Finally, I’m better today. I’m hoping I get to fix my life more in the coming months.

Here are a few things I’ve been experimenting on…literally and figuratively.

Writing my first self-help book

I never thought a day would come where I’d actually pitch this idea to my publisher (which was approved), let alone get to write it. I’ve been giving talks for around 5 years now, and I feel like all of these sort of contributed to my growth as an artist and as a writer. I’m working on a book to be released in a few months’ time, and it’s a mix of things I’ve learned over the course of my career and a bit of exploration into what it means to live a creative life. As someone who accidentally ended up here in this creative career, I’ve been gathering lots of stories and anecdotes from my past experiences and weaving them into this book. It’s so surreal, and it’s like a self-imposed journey into myself too, so it’s kind of special that way.

I guess I’ll say this project is one of my 2018 highlights. I’m 20% in it and I’m keeping my fingers crossed things will turn out well. (At this point, you don’t really know. Brb, holding my breath!)

Working on projects that scare me

One of which is a set of tarot cards. I casually brought up the idea of illustrating cards after a reading with Chinggay early this year, and now I’ve been working on my illustrations for the said project. It’s exciting! But I’m also doubting myself half the time because I suck at drawing human anatomy (well, to be fair, the elements are less people and more objects). Digital coloring is also relatively new to me but I’m both curious and nervous to see how the final designs turn out. Go, me!

Side note: Love the color scheme of the original Rider-Waite tarot deck!

Organizing more classes (and closing the shop)

Okay, last of the work updates in this post. First of all, let’s put the sad news out first: I’m closing Shop Abbey Sy. I just can’t manage it anymore with all of my workload, and I don’t have the courage to complete leave it to someone else. I’m still opening USA orders though, and I’ll be running the shop while I’m in New York. So if you’re from the US, you can pre-order here.

I’m making use of my weekends this summer for workshops, mostly because people have been requesting it for the longest time. I still think teaching is one thing I love doing, and I told myself this year to keep doing it and to make art more accessible to everyone. For a list of my 2018 classes, click here.

Last week was so much fun! I got to spend a Saturday morning with a few readers for Coffee & Creativity at Common Folk. It was lovely discussing about journaling and basically the beauty of documenting things. Of course, with a little chat of random things in between.

Doing daily draws

I purchased this Art Oracles deck in Singapore because WHY SHOULDN’T I? LOL. Kidding aside, this set of oracle cards features artists and prominent historical people and their corresponding “messages”. You know me and my love for these people, right? Well, Yayoi Kusama was on the box. Of course, I had to get it!

I never quite opened it because it’s too pretty, but just because I’ve been curious about these daily draw things, I decided to pull out daily this week. Whether it’s to set an intention for my day, or to serve as a reminder for my creative pursuits, I’m looking forward to doing my daily draws to keep myself inspired every day.

Practicing yoga

I’m actually just writing this for accountability. I’ve been meaning to enroll myself in a yoga studio since two years ago (haha) but never managed to. I felt like I wasn’t flexible (I’m not!) and I’m not skinny…so I don’t think I can carry my own weight (I’m sorry I really have issues with myself). I did Bikram yoga for awhile (I liked it for a time), but the repetitiveness just didn’t appeal to me (also, it’s so hot in Manila right now, I don’t want to suffer in an equally heated room). I started practicing at home (thanks, Yoga with Adriene!) last February and I really enjoyed it. With a bit of encouragement from friends, I finally signed up for class. It’s just two weeks, but I’ll definitely enroll again when I get back from my Osaka trip.

There’s a different feeling after yoga that I can’t quite explain. But I felt it. And I feel 100x more alive than usual, so that’s cool. So if that’s going to make me have a happier and more productive disposition at work (and life, in general), then of course I’ll do it.

I’m obviously way far ahead when it comes to headstands and balancing poses (sorry, I can’t strain my hands because ~werq~) but here’s to taking baby steps to finding inner peace and listening to my body more. It’s been mad at me for mistreating it since forever. Haha!

Reading new books

I saw a lone copy of On Writing by Stephen King on display at a nearby bookstore and I knew I had to get it. Mikka has mentioned this book briefly to me a few years back, so I picked up that same copy and it’s now beside my bed as I try to read through it as often as I can after work. I’m halfway through it and I love it so far.

Tricie gave me a copy of Your Illustrated Guide To Becoming One With The Universe for my birthday. I asked her to choose from three books I linked out from Amazon (one is about adulting and the other one is about Hygge, I think) and she does know me well for getting this Universe book. It’s an illustrated book by Yumi Sakugawa, and I told myself I wanted a copy when a kindred soul sent me photos of the inside pages. There were stories about having a cup of tea with your inner demons, and I was particularly attackedt (with a T) when he sent a story about letting things grow (which directly translates to just putting yourself out there and make your way into the world, and eventually you will succeed in due time). It hit me right in the feels, like real hard. #feelings

I’m excited to read this tonight before going to bed. I’ve been consciously turning off my wi-fi every night (and mostly during the day now) in order to focus more on real life. I love my digital tools, but let’s be real, analog forever.

Also: I’ll share a few more of my summer reads in a separate post. Writing a book means I read more at this point of the year, so watch out for my list soon!

Fixing my life (for real)

Okay, literally, this means clearing out things at my HQ. I’m moving houses soon (not moving out) and I’m moving to a new room which excites me a lot. I love my HQ and its charm, but the space isn’t enough for my work requirements (I need to shoot most days and it gets dark here easily) and I just really want to lie down in a couch and read books by the window, HUHU. I still have my books here, but I’m slowly getting rid of other things to make way for the move, which IDK when will happen. Hopefully before I go to school.

In a figurative sense, I did mention a few posts back that my 2017 was toxic. After having experienced several issues (money, trust, etc), I’ve decided to just cut myself out from people who no longer serve a purpose in my life. I keep my relationships with people private, and now that I’m “clearing out” things that no longer “spark joy” (Marie Kondo reference, you guys) in my current state of living, I’ve decided to give myself the freedom to choose who to stay close to, and who to keep in check with. Let’s just say it has paved the way for better things. 🙂

Planning future trips

Every time I feel like thinking negative thoughts, I try to visualize myself in my dream destinations (two of which I get to visit this fall!) and remember that I will be there soon. I know, I know, so superficial. My work breaks now consist of intense researching on the best museums, art stores, bookstores, parks, and tourist spots in these locations (which I will not talk about yet until I book my tickets). I still am also waiting for enrolment to open for the fall classes so as much as I’m looking forward to be in New York soon, I’m constantly telling myself to sit still here in Manila and make do of all the work I have pending here at home.

But yes, I’m excited. It’s one of the reasons that’s been keeping me on my feet as I work through my deadlines and take a few deep breaths in between this crazy few months. I’ve posted a few sad accounts of being overly busy and my constantly recurring overworking state (still something I carried over from 3 years’ of maintaining my career, ugh!), and I’ve gotten messages from readers and friends alike about taking care of myself in order to not feel burnt out. Thank you, I appreciate it! I’m okay. I’ll be better.

Maybe I just need a legitimate break from everything. That’s one more thing I’m experimenting on…not sure how or when. But I’m working on it.

Abbey

En Route: #ABCngapore Year 4

En Route to Changi airport via SMRT East West Line | 10:34PM, Thursday, March 1

I visit Singapore every year since 2014.

Okay, I visit Japan every year too (since 2014 too lol), but this is different. Four years ago, I flew to Singapore a few months before my college graduation (and after thesis—around summertime) to do some “soul searching” at 21 years old. No, really, I just wanted to go café hopping and buy a few art materials to get me started with my creative pursuits (I was just dabbling into hand lettering at that time; nothing serious—just a hobby). Singapore seemed to be a safe choice—only three hours away from Manila via plane, looked like it was a safe place (visited last 2013 as a “layover” from Paris with family), and luckily, my cousin had a unit at that time (aka: I could stay with her and my mom had no choice but to permit me to go—I paid for everything anyway!).

So I did, and so it began. Let’s just say I came home from that trip (also my first time getting drunk and hungover haha I was twenty one then!) with a new perception of what travel was for me—a reminder that I’m just a tiny dot in this universe and that there are so many things to still see and make sense of. That I can discover the world through my own way of seeing—no need to be all touristy, because apparently, all I really needed was caffeine (by default!) and a good dose of culture in the form of museums and galleries, bookstores, libraries, and visiting offbeat places and quaint neighbourhoods.

Years passed and I would impulsively book flights to Singapore on odd occassions: a sidetrip during a 30-day backpacking trip to Southeast Asia (also a soul searching trip lol), and an instant destination when a piso fare popped up on my feed and I decided to book on the spot—both of which were just my attempts to get out of Manila on my own terms. (Looking back, what was I thinking?!)

And then opportunities suddenly came in for work. I started teaching a few lettering classes, and ended up going to SG thrice to do that. How this Manila-based artist got ahold of the Singapore market is something I’m still trying to figure out (hi, Singapore-based readers!). In the process of flying back and forth to Singapore, some of my close friends have moved to this place I call my second home—and it’s because of that that I’ve given more reason to find a piece of what I call “home” here. And as they say, home is not a place—it’s really the people in it.

Lately, Singapore has been a justified excuse for “research”, as I’ve been going here more often to see exhibits, restock on art supplies, and stay in their library.

(Side note: below’s a vlog featuring my favorite art and bookstores in Singapore!)

I’ve seen Yayoi Kusama’s exhibit last June (aka my shortest trip to date—two days! Impulse booking never felt so real) and it was a visual treat. Last January, my big sis Mikka tied the knot and I came to SG for two and a half days…and while commuting, I saw a poster announcing the Century of Light exhibit at the National Gallery, which had just started at the time. Here’s the thing: I love exhibits, but I’m particularly picky. But I saw both Monet and Luna in fine print and I knew I had to go. I only look up to a few artists (Van Gogh, Monet, Kahlo, Warhol, to name a few) so give me at least a few moments to process the fact that I’ll be seeing a lot of Monet’s work in real life. Yup, sold.

The Colors of Impressionism exhibit was my favorite, and what I’ve been looking forward to viewing. I loved the transition of color as refelcted in the works of several impressionist painters. From black to white to snow-themed sceneries, to blue and greens and finally, to incorporating pastel hues with their work. Between Worlds was another visual treat. I loved seeing most of Luna’s works exhibited beautifully in pink-colored walls. There was an art activity outside which I enjoyed too. Galleries with post-exhibit activities for the visitors are always a good idea.

Also, made a vlog compiling two exhibits I visited at NGS: Yayoi Kusama’s Life Is The Heart of a Rainbow (June 2017) and Century of Light (February 2018).

Spent a quiet morning writing and being a full-on introvert in Drury Lane. Above is a snap of their beautiful wall full of coffee packaging.

Two afternoons were well-spent reading piles of books and taking lots of notes at Library@Orchard. Was also surprised to see my book as part of their library! So kilig. You can check out my pile of reads here. My favorites were Way More Than Luck and Lonely Planet’s book on Travel Writing.

Apart from the usual visits to Bras Basah Complex, IKEA, and coffee shops around the vicinity of Singapore, I was really looking forward to see my friends in SG. There’s my best friend Nicole, my long-time high school friend Peter, and my “big sis” Mikka. Usually I book these spontaneous trips in the middle of deadlines, and this was no different. I ended up getting a good fix of life catch-ups and self-care while I was away. Long distance, low maintenance friendships are the best, really. Idk if it’s just me, but I find myself significantly closer to those farther than me, geographically. How ironic.

This trip has been both fun and tiring, and emotionally draining. I had a panic attack inflight and that’s something I rarely get nowadays, so I really had to fix it up once I arrived (through meditation). I also had to deal with a lot of work errands in the middle of the trip so I tried to keep myself together as the days went by. All was well.

I’m going to head home with a reassurance that nothing is permanent. Even episodes of anxiety that may seem like a long stretch to recover from (aka me when I landed in Singapore last Monday) feel like something I’ve deliberately forgotten. And I’m going home feeling more than excited to dive in to writing my next book—about self-enrichment, which is coincidentally what I did mostly on this impulse trip away from home.

*70% of this post was written in transit.

Related posts:

En Route: Out and About

Workshop Weekend in Singapore

Singapore Roundup: Art, Books, Crafts & Coffee

En Route: Singapore 2016 Photo Diary

Life in Transit: Highlights

Art Hoarding in Singapore

Soloing Singapore

Soloing Singapore: Year 2

 

Life Lately: (Still a) Work in Progress

Before anything else, thanks Tippy for my headshot 🙂

I just realized I never carried over the Life Lately series from my old blog to this new one. (Why, self?) Anyway, thought I’d share a bit about how life’s been so far on my end. It’s October, and well, usually, at this time of the year I’m supposed to panic. But I’m not, and luckily, I’m at my calmest (less anxious, to be specific) self so far. Is that a good thing? I hope so. 😛

The last couple of months were really crazy, work-wise. I felt like the universe just wanted to test my limits and throw me a multitude of challenges to seamlessly get through it – carrying a stronger sense of being after the storm. That being said, I’m happy that some things never last. And that most of my deadlines are over.

In other news, my second book, The ABCs of Journaling, is finally available nationwide! If you’re wondering what went down during my launch, check it out here. So happy with the positive feedback I’ve received so far about this book. Thank you for the support!

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I promised to share more about this book in the coming posts (yes I’m keeping that promise, lol). For the meantime, sharing a few photos from the book 🙂

ibc workspace

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So happy to have worked with such talented individuals who made my ideas come to life 🙂 (photos by Pat, and Tippy, styling by Aleyn)

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BTW, copies are available over at the shop. Click here to order a signed copy!

I’m relaunching my shop again this October and it’s both exciting and nostalgic. When I started blogging in 2010, I initially ran an online shop selling tote bags and hand-painted items. Six years later, here I am still eventually going back to my entrepreneurial roots with my own published work to boot. Some things never change. 🙂

inside_book

On another note, I recently shared some insights on Frankly Radio, a new weekly podcast created by Eden and June. One of the founders is my good friend Chiara, and we got to chat about creativity, travel, life updates, and mostly things that led me to become who I am now. 🙂

Some key topics include the importance of traveling, taking calculated risks, documenting your life and why it matters, and a few snippets behind the making of my latest book. I also share my current routine (which is still a work in progress), random facts about me, and a bit about my creative journey over the years. Give it a listen here. Personally, I love listening to podcasts (my faves are The Lively Show, The Great Discontent, Design Matters, and After The Jump), so recording this podcast was really fun!

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The lovely people of Eden and June are also giving away copies of my new book and a few merch from the shop! Click the link above to join the mechanics. 🙂
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Speaking of merch, I was able to work on a passion project this year: The ABC Daily Journal. I got to create, edit, style, and layout this journal in the way I’ve always envisioned it — and I’m really glad with how it ended up looking like, stitch binding + debossing and all 😛 🙂

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This journal is meant for daily entry – it’s undated but numbered (1-31 for 12 months), contains a date/time/location prompt per day (aka #priorities), dotted pages, monthly quotes, and journaling tips. Thank you to IFEX Papers for making this possible! 🙂

I’ve always been keeping track of my dailies through photos / writing / making art, and I’ve been setting a life goal of making my own journal since I was seventeen (haha). I guess timing did its job this time. 😀

We recently released the journal during the SM Stationery Art Fest last weekend. There will be one last leg for SM Stationery Art Fest and I’ll be there this October 15, 11am, at SM Mall of Asia. More details on that soon but I hope to see you!

dailies_sep-copy

Quick recap of September involved juggling between attending / being part of events, lazy weekdays (+ watching films in between), and spontaneous weekends with my favorite people. I also got to (finally) focus on collabs that are coming out this year. Yay for personal projects!

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Earlier today I shot a video using the ABC Daily Journal. I got inspired shooting my journaling videos thanks to Kaila‘s videos on YouTube. I always tell myself I’m short on time but I honestly think that’s just a mindset. Funny though, it rained today but thanks to my trusty camera (bought a new one, yay!) it didn’t look like the rain was pouring like cray in the background. 😀 More on that soon!

If you’ve been following my whereabouts on Instagram or Facebook or Twitter for awhile now, you’d know that my preference for certain colors has really played a part with the work that I put out. That being said, I got to work on a project that ultimately tested my eye for color, illustration, and…making more art, of course! A bit of writing since I volunteered to be the resident editor for this collaborative project. 😀

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I got to work with talented artists June Digan & Tippy Go of Googly Gooeys for a book that’s coming out…sooner than you think! 😉

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Here are snippets of the work I did for the book. Obviously a sucker for these colors, specifically!

Stick ‘Em Up Book hits stores real soon. Reaaaal soon. I’m so excited to show you what it looks like.

Oh, before I forget, for those based in Cebu, I’ll be visiting your hometown this October 🙂 Hope to see you! Do check out my other accounts to stay updated on events I’ll be part of.

Well, that’s it for now…ish. Here’s to hoping I get to write here more soon. Hope you’re having a great October so far!

Always be creating,

Abbey 🙂

Singapore Roundup: Art, Books, Crafts & Coffee

Hello!

Picking up where I left off at my recent trip to Singapore last June, here’s a roundup of my favourites and new discoveries from one of my go-to countries. Most of you have requested this post so here it is, summarized in Art, Books, Crafts, and Coffee. Enjoy! 🙂

Art Materials & Books

ArtFriend_Out

Art Friend

Bras Basah Complex

A staple amongst art students & professionals, Art Friend carries almost all types of materials for specific mediums – from paper, paint, pens, to other DIY tools. (Website)

Straits

Straits Art Co Pte Ltd

North Bridge Road

A small shop along North Bridge Road, Straits Art carries a good quantity of painting materials (e.g. I get my Holbein paints here as it is not available in Art Friend) as well as paper and other drawing tools. (Facebook page)


Basheer_Out

Basheer Graphic Books

Bras Basah Complex

Located at the top floor of Bras Basah, Basheer has the best selection of art books and magazines in Singapore. (Facebook Page)

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Other bookstores to check out:

  • BooksActually (Yong Siak Street)
  • Wood in the Books (Yong Siak Street)
  • Littered with Books (Duxton Rd)
  • Kinokuniya (Orchard Rd)

Library_Out(this is not a book store, but I’m putting it here so you can visit)

Library @ Orchard

Orchard Gateway

Library_Shelves

This library houses a good selection of books from various categories. I was surprised to see a big shelf of type books at the 4th floor – something I rarely encounter at libraries. Architecture is beautiful, as well as the interior design layout of the place, making it a conducive reading spot. (Directory)


Stationery & Lifestyle Goods

BYND_ToolsOut

BYND Artisan

Holland Village

Specialising in custom notebooks, binding, and leather goods, BYND Artisan store has been running for quite a long time now, with conserving the art of handmade goods at the forefront of their vision. (Website)
Monocle_Books

Monocle Shop

Holland Village

A homage to all things Monocle – their magazines, books, march and apparel. Oh, and they serve coffee too!

Monocle_Cafe

CatSocrates_Tin

Cat Socrates

Bras Basah Complex

Quaint Zakka-Style shop you shouldn’t miss in Bras Basah Complex. (Facebook Page)

Gallery&Co_Paperbag Gallery&Co_Arch2

Gallery & Co

National Gallery of SG

Beautifully curated books, clothing & stationery items inside the National Gallery of Singapore. They also have a cafeteria (which looks like a lovely work-friendly area) and cafe run by Plain Vanilla.

CraftA_Wide CraftA_Out2

Craft Assembly

Haji Lane

Inside Craft Assembly you’ll be able to check out SG finds made by local indie shops. Got a local-designed washi tape here! (Instagram)

Tokyu_Wide Tokyu_Pens

Tokyu Hands

Orchard Central

Japanese goods from art materials, notebooks, stationery, to home and lifestyle goods and beauty needs. Always a must-visit both in SG and Japan. (Website)

SuperMama_White SuperMama_Out

Supermama

Bali Lane

Handmade goods and selected SG-themed souvenirs are in this little shop brimming with beautiful designs along Bali Lane. (Website)

Naiise_Goods Naiise_Home Naiise_StoreNaiise

Orchard Central

A selection of curated brands, SG souvenirs, clothing, and other lifestyle goods inside Orchard Central. There’s a separate one containing homeware, children’s toys, and a selection of delicacies. (Website)

IKEA_Out IKEA_Pens

IKEA

Alexandra Rd

The mothership! I always go here to buy boxes or organising tools, apart from having their meatballs and checking out their showrooms. (Website)


Craft Tools & Materials

MadeWithLove_Out

Made With Love

313@somerset

A must-visit for craft lovers, this store houses a multitude of scrapbooking products, art tools, ephemera and itsy bitsy craft tools. I get most of my scrapbook paper here. (Website)

PaperMarket_Wide PaperMarket_Out

Paper Market

Plaza Singapura

Another scrapbook store containing stationery, tapes, and a wide selection of craft materials for scrapbooking and memory-keeping. (Website)

Monoyono

Other craft shops to visit:

  • Kikki.K (ION Orchard)
  • Monoyono (Plaza Singapura)
  • Typo (313@somerset or Wisma Atria)
  • Spotlight (Plaza Singapura)

Coffee & Desserts

SF_Logo SF_Coffee

Sunday Folks

Holland Village

Known for its long lines on peak hours, this coffee and ice cream establishment serves one of the best waffles + ice cream desserts in Singapore. (Facebook page)

CSHH CSHH_Coffee

Chye Seng Huat Hardware

Tyrwhitt Road

A hidden gem a few meters from Lavender station, this is one of the meccas of coffee lovers in SG. Must-try: earl grey cheesecake & mocha. (Website)

Oriole_Out Oriole_Taisho

Oriole Coffee

Somerset

Best cold brew I’ve tried so far! I got the Taisho White – although my friend Mikka says the Taisho M.A.D. Milk is the best. I have yet to try that. (Website)

Stateland_Coffee Stateland_Peter

Stateland

Bali Lane

A small cafe along Bali Lane, Stateland serves quality coffee paired with a really conducive space for meeting and catching up with friends. Plus: their truffle fries are really good. (Facebook page)

GT

Other cafes to check out:

  • Shop Wonderland (Haji Lane)
  • Forty Hands (Yong Sick St)
  • Tiong Bahru Bakery (Tiong Bahru)
  • Group Therapy (Duxton Rd)

Related posts:

I hope these helped in case you’ll be visiting Singapore anytime soon. I got a request to do a Manila version (ironic because I’m from the Philippines), so that’s probably up on my sleeve for my future roundup posts!

Always be creating,

Abbey 🙂

Journal Roundup: Volume 2

(Long time no update on this series! Agh, @self)

Hello there!

Here’s a quick roundup of my recent discoveries while documenting daily. Last month, I shared some tips on daily journaling (which I hope helped some of you!). I’ve never been consistent with a format on journaling but keeping this diary going on since April seems like a commitment I’ve been keeping, which is…good, I guess. Haha. Today, I’ll be sharing a few pages from my current spreads and some stories in between. 😀

Cover-2

Here’s what my cover looks like. You can obviously tell I like stickers and tapes…a lot. 😛

Organizer

I recently got this plastic organizer from IKEA in Singapore. It’s now home to my washi tapes, ephemera, and other small paper things that I can’t seem to place elsewhere. Also, I received this Almond Roca tin (thanks, Tippy!) which now stores postcards I’ve received from friends overseas. 🙂 So happy because I’ve been struggling with containers (since my washi collection is growing too, lol) for the looongest time. True fact: I am a sucker for boxes and containers. Daiso is my best friend. Lol. Anyway.

Tools

I have one of my Letters from ABC boxes as containers for stickers and post-its. If you’re wondering where I get these, I usually get my stickers abroad and at art fairs / craft stores in Manila. The other day though, I scored the glasses stickers at National Book Store. Har har. My recommended shops in Manila are Papemelroti, Hey Kessy, and Common Room. 🙂

Okay, let’s talk about some of my journal pages!

Little Bear

July-4

JUNE 2016, WEEK 2

June was a deadline-heavy month (well, so is this month). I had a hard time adjusting and finding that balance between being sane and doing good work. So I had to realign things and put my energy into my personal growth by being efficient with work.

On a lighter note…am I really that desperate that I actually paste receipts on my journal now? Lol. Yes. Well, Little Bear was pretty good! I also like the logo’s typography. 😛 #biased

We also had the Creative Talks + Art Sale 2.0 at Pi Breakfast and Pies! It was an awesome afternoon. Thanks to everyone who came and listened to our stories, and help de-clutter our workspaces by purchasing our pre-loved materials! Until the next. 🙂

Reason

An afterthought: I realized how much people I’ve been meeting / spending time with and I’m pretty happy. I’ve never been the sociable type but I really am grateful to be friends with selected people who matter in my life. (That was a very introvert sentence but it is true. Lol)

IMG_9349

July-5

SGEnRoute

JUNE 2016, WEEK 3 & 4

This was a great de-stresser from Manila’s craziness. I got to teach three classes in Singapore (more on that soon!) and went on a mini vacation while I was there. 🙂

Most days, I didn’t bother getting all crafty (tbh when you’re too busy painting and writing 24/7 you kinda lose the energy to actually do personal work) and I just wrote important statements on my daily entries. It was a good break since I really like unloading my inner thoughts every so often.

Note: I actually have a separate “brain dump” notebook for my feelings. It’s not in this Hobonichi because I like writing really long stories and recaps of life in general. (Nope, I don’t like writing. I really don’t. But my brain kinda needs it every once in awhile, lol)

July-1-Close

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JULY 2016, WEEK 1

Tried watercoloring on my Hobonichi because I was curious how the paper would react. Surprisingly, it cooperated 😀 I had fun working on this spread. Coincidentally, I enjoyed the first weekend of July as it was spent making art (that matters, lol) and spending time with family, despite the heavy workload I had to deal with on those days.

July-2

JULY 2016, WEEK 2

This time 2 years ago, my close friend-turned-manager Tricie and I went backpacking across Southeast Asia (after graduating college). You can read more about that here. 🙂 It felt nice to reminisce on those days and how worry-free we were (you can just imagine how much of a different person I was when I was twenty-one; I’m now twenty-three). Anyway, we finally had one of those “no-work meetings” during that weekend, where we usually just talk about life in general (sans work). It was great 🙂 I had the best time.

I’m also looking forward to our next backpacking trip in 2017! *time to save up*

July-3

JULY 2016, WEEK 3

This was literally hell week – I had to battle 3 deadlines in a week. A week! Imagine how stressed / tired I was (to the point where I have bad dreams and wake up in the middle of the night, yep). It was nice though because I was able to 1) beat my deadlines and 2) sleep well eventually. *confetti*

Anyway, I was pretty relieved I took a day off and went to Nayong Pilipino (well, that was partly for work but twas okay!) and National Museum. It was fun to actually just worry about the simpler things 🙂 Read more about my Manila mini adventure here.

Well, that’s it so far for my journal roundup this time. You can check out volume 1 here. 🙂 Hope you’re having an awesome weekend so far.


Also, I have a few announcements!

Cover

I’ve worked on lots of projects this year that I cannot disclose (YET) but to give you a clue, here’s a photo below of what I’ve been working on this month.

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I art directed / wrote / styled / laid out all the pages for a *wait for it* product coming at you in the next months. I also worked on a “thesis” that involved personal things (you could imagine, I spent the first half of the year working on it and now I’m feeling all the separation anxiety in my system sinking in) and I can’t wait to show you guys what it is!

That’s it for now. I’ll keep you guys guessing. Haha.

So, how’s your journaling going so far? I’ll be sharing a few tips on travel journaling (+ tools I use) for my next roundup. Do you have any questions or suggestions? Let me know your thoughts on the comments below!

Abbey 🙂

Manila Hits + Nayong Pilipino Sketchwalk

Hello! Today, I’m rounding up a post on Manila because after several En Route posts (which consisted of travels abroad), I realized I have several photos of my hometown which I never (ever) got to share on my blog.

Funny how I grew up being a Manila girl (I studied in Saint Jude Catholic School & De La Salle University-Manila). I used to spend most mornings having breakfast at Binondo (so much for being a Filipino-Chinese) and running errands with mom before class, but with all the work I’ve been doing recently, that hasn’t been possible in a very, very long time.

This year though, I’ve been blocking off days visiting Manila. Oddly enough, I like the rarity of it all. Now that I seldomly go there, it seems to bring out more charm and personality than what I remembered it to be.

INTRAMUROS

Went to Intramuros last summer for Design Week Philippines. It was charming and brimming with historical wonder – especially for someone like me who doesn’t frequent this part of Manila.

Silahis

Tradewinds

Alessa introduced us to Silahis, a local crafts store (which was full of amazing things!) during our ocular. I ended up getting a vintage map and other ephemera. 🙂

Intramuros-SW

Photo 17-04-2016, 7 12 32 PM

Last April, I was able to hold my first sketchwalk as part of Design Week Philippines’ activities. Had fun sharing my knowledge on sketching to students during that afternoon. 🙂

NAYONG PILIPINO

A month after DWP, I was tapped by Parkfest PH & Nayong Pilipino to draw on a kalesa – one of the many fun and interesting projects I got to work on this year.

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IMG_9853-re

Making the kalesa was definitely an experience for the books. More on that soon when I get to update my portfolio 🙂

Last Friday was my day-off this month (okay, half day-off). I had 2 deadlines to turn over and I was panicking over morning stress BUT let’s not talk about that. I went on a field trip to Nayong Pilipino and a quick sidetrip to National Museum.NP

Of course, we had to say hi to my kalesa there. 😀

Bridge-2

The area, located at Rizal Avenue (behind Rizal Park), is a huge space filled with trees and lots of places to look at art (we still have our installations there) and take in some quiet time in the midst of a bustling, busy city.

We ended up spending a few minutes sketching from a hanging bridge (yep). I realized I haven’t sketched in a really, really long time after working on several deadlines. *gasp*
Jean-sketch

My assistant, Jean, in her element.

Me, in my element. Lolz. (Thanks achie Koko for zee photos!)

Sketch-SQ

A quick sketch I did from the view I saw. I did an ocular around the area for my upcoming sketchwalk (more details at the end of this post!) and I’m pretty excited to show you guys around the park.

NATIONAL MUSEUM

After walking around NP we decided to walk the opposite road and head to the National Museum. Entrance is free (yay!) and it’s good to know that more people have taken interest in visiting museums in Manila.

Koko-blue

I really like Amorsolo’s work so I always enjoy visiting the hall where his sketches are exhibited (above). There are surrounding buildings as well (which we didn’t get to visit but I hope to, soon) that are more specific on the types of exhibitions (Planetarium, Museum of the Filipino People, etc).

NM-closing

Closing time light. I love the architecture! I hope next time the museum would allow sketchers to draw inside the museum though.

Chika

I was dead tired after that day, but something about walking along the streets of Manila reminded me how much I really like living here despite the craziness and chaos. 🙂


Anyway, as I was saying, I’m having a sketchwalk!

Some notes:

  1. We will be walking around the Nayong Pilipino park complex.
  2. I will be sharing tips on sketching, using watercolor, and finding your personal drawing style.
  3. Participants must have a background in sketching or drawing (not necessarily advanced).
  4. Please bring an umbrella, towel, and extra shirt as the venue is open-air.
  5. A waiver will be sent out as part of the workshop.
  6. Entrance fee is part of the workshop fee already, and all materials + snacks will be provided.

That’s about it! Hope to see you there. Click here to sign up. 🙂

Have you been to Manila? Let me know what place/s you’ve visited. I’d love to know in the comments below!

Abbey

Tips on Daily Journaling

If you’ve been following my posts (on Instagram, mostly), I’ve recently rekindled my love for documenting daily – and for good reason. My work schedule has been crazy since last year, and I found this to be a way for me to appreciate my day-to-day activities and being grateful in the process of creating.

Today, to end the #ABCsBookChallenge (Day 21 is, yes, create a journal page), I’m sharing a few tips on the said topic – I realized I’ve been keeping journals for more than 10 years now (gasp), but I kept hopping on different styles to find a method that was convenient for me. So here are some tips to get you started on your own journal. 🙂

1_Washi

Use what you have

I collect washi tapes, stickers, and lots of memorabilia (calling cards, tickets, etc) from daily events and experiences. I also happen to have an arsenal of pens here for work, so those are the materials I often use for my spreads. They’re simple and easy to find. I also strategically placed them in boxes and containers so I just whip them out when it’s time to journal (which, by the way, for me, happens early in the morning or late at night).

For those asking: my current journal is a Hobonichi (A6 size) which I got in Japan 🙂

Related post: Journal Roundup 2016

2_Brush

Choose what to share

Since this is a personal journal, you have the capability to write and share about anything you want. My suggestion is to draw out important parts of the day you want to share. Did you find something interesting? Any exciting news you received today? Or maybe you’d like to share a few anecdotes about a certain experience? It’s your call.

In a nutshell, my daily pages contain: a film / album I listened to, what I did, what unusual thing I did, and a short takeaway from how my day went.

(Yes, there are days that I just write on it. No artsy crafty stuff – I like to play it up sometimes.)

3_Stickers

Get crafty & creative

The fun part about using stickers and other craft materials is that you get to play dress-up of some sort. Sometimes I can choose to make themes based on colors (maybe a red and black combo, a vintage all-brown spread? something like that) or patterns – but normally, I don’t like thinking about it too much.

There really are no limits to creating what you want and coming up with new ideas to jazz up your pages. Just remember: don’t overthink too much. No pressure!

4_Lettered

Limit your font choices

A tip for letterers out there: try to keep your fonts limited to around 2-3 styles. This creates uniformity for the page. I also like to use 1-2 colors only to make everything look cohesive. If you’ve seen some of my type-heavy journal entries (a sample above), you’ll also notice that I follow grids or keep it in straight lines – this is for convenience, of course. You can also opt to change the size and shape of your letters to fit certain areas of your spread.

Related post: Tips on Improving Your Lettering

4_Week89

The best part about lettering your journal spreads is the convenience of using any pen you want – fineliners, ball pens (yes, the regular ones), markers, or brush pens. I personally use a fineliner pen in thin weight to make sure I get all the details of my letterforms.

You can add small elements and doodles to complement your letters as well. Get creative!

5_Week 10 WIP

Experiment

News flash – my journal is inconsistent. In fact, I’ve kept so many journals that were half-finished, or were in different formats. And that’s perfectly fine, because it allows you to experiment on whatever style you want to try. Some days, I’d fill a spread full of photos and stickers; on others, doodles – it really depends.

These days though, I mostly find myself printing photos (I have a photo printer at home) and putting stickers on most pages. Yay for instant decorative pages, lol. I also have a habit of keeping notes from friends (which I eventually stick on the pages) and other random things I end up saving on a specific day.

Related post: Journal Roundup: Volume 1

5_Week 10

Anyway, hope these tips helped in some way! I’d also love to know how you chronicle your daily events. Leave a comment below 🙂

[EDITED: November 2016]

By the way, have you gotten a copy of my new book The ABCs of Journaling?

journaling_bk inside_book

Inside the book I share tips on documenting your own life creatively, and gathering inspiration from different types of people on how to journal. There’s also a sticker sheet included 🙂 Copies are available at bookstores nationwide in the Philippines, as well as online on Shop Abbey Sy. Limited stocks are available for pre-order (internationally) at Rainbowholic Shop.

Related post: The ABCs of Journaling Book Launch

Tips on Improving Your Lettering

Hi everyone!

Just a quick update on the ABCs Challenge. So far, everyone’s been doing great! You can check out more work at the #ABCsBookChallenge hashtag on Instagram.

I’ve been doing lettering for quite some time now – but I always say that there is always something new to learn. Most of the time, I get insights from students in class because they give out a fresh perspective on how to draw letters.

I’ve compiled some of the best ones here from the challenge and I’ll be sharing tips on how to improve your lettering for today. 🙂

Experimental Drafts

Featured work by @kateilao & @jissamari

Before working on your final artwork, it’s important to experiment with a lot of drafts – it opens up options on different ways to create layouts. Aside from having a lot of choices, doing drafts also exercises your creative juices and not limit yourself to just a particular set of font styles.

Font variety

Featured work by @ggprudenciado @nellaventura

After working on your drafts, it’s time to play around with your fonts – opt to add patterns or mixing up your serifs, sans serifs & scripts – you’ll be surprised at the infinite combination styles you’ll come up with. Fineliner pens are handy tools for this since they come in different weights (from thick to thin), making it easier to add variety to your letters.

Gradient Colors

Featured work by @aimrhodora @jazicka

If you’d like to work with color, watercolors are your best bet – take it up another notch by working with gradient styles. Gradients can be a combination of colors within the same family (analogous) or the total opposite (complementary). This effect can be achieved by incorporating water and “pulling” the colors as you move from one letter to another. Takes a lot of practice but the possibilities are endless!

Watercolor Washes

Featured work by @yamibears_ @aletejah

I’ve recently discovered the beauty of adding watercolor washes to your background. Instead of just having a plain white background, adding washes makes your work even more vibrant and put together. My tip is leaving it out to dry for at least 2-3 hours and use heavy duty watercolor paper (300GSM).

Illus Lettering

Featured work by @abeplr @jen_mandia

Lastly, level up your letters by making them illustrative, or adding illustrations. Think outside the box and compose different elements that could represent letterforms. Letterforms come in different shapes and sizes so it’s a great avenue to try doodling and drawing.


 

If you’re participating in the challenge, we have a few more prompts to go until Day 21! I have a big announcement on the 21st day so for those who have been part of the challenge since Day 1, stay tuned. 🙂

On another note, I have opened 2 lettering classes this July & August. Click here to sign up!

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This will be my last few classes for the year to make way for other projects and events. Hope to see you!


covre

And in case you haven’t gotten your copy yet of my book, The ABCs of Hand Lettering, it’s still available at major branches nationwide, on Amazon, Buqo, and at the shop.


 

Hope these tips helped in improving your lettering. You can join the ABCs Book Challenge to help hone your skills and track your progress.

Any tips/questions you’re curious to ask? Leave a comment below.

Abbey 🙂

PS: Featured photo by Christie Lim, “Abbey Road” font by Mikko Sumulong.