The First Ever PaperCon: A Recap

Sometimes I still can’t believe that PaperCon actually happened. I clearly remember talking it over last March with Koko and CH over xiao long baos (peak Asians, really) and it was merely an idea they had been brewing for years. Months later, we started to actually get to work. And personally, apart from the daily stress that it incurred, it was undeniably one of the fun parts of this hulabaloo I call my “job”.

Last October 5, hundreds lined up outside the entrance while we made sure the ingress was going well inside the venue—and by 10AM, the booths were flocked with stationery lovers who are up to get first dibs on their favorite makers’ new merch and releases.

I was one of those booths—and we were totally floored. As I’ve been running the shop since early this summer, there wasn’t really any opportunity to join an art fair that catered to just paper, so it was *time* to actually pioneer the idea and make it a reality.

Our shop got two booths, because based on my previous Design Festa experience, one table is not enough to display all my products. Definitely enjoyed putting this up, since I love the color scheme.

Best part of PaperCon is also Kaila coming home to host a workshop and having two booths as well! Thanks always cappy for the support <3

The afternoon swung by so quickly; I held a travel journaling workshop and had a minor anxiety attack before that (long story short, my stuff got lost and up to this day, I have no idea who has it!) but it went well. Thanks again to everyone who attended!

We had over 1,400 attendees that day—WAY beyond our expectations. From our end, it really did take a village—special thanks to all our volunteers for all your hard work that day!

And of course, so so grateful to the PaperCon core team—Chief Logistics Officer Koko, Events Head Rica, and Chief Creative Officer CH! (I’m Chief Marketing Officer lol). It has been a breeze to work with these folks and probably one of the more fulfilling things I’ve helped organized in quite a while.

Special thanks also to our sponsors and partners: CraftEasy, Belle de Jour Power Planner, Digistamps PH, Key Coffee, and our swag partner Papemelroti. And of course, to all the merchants who were so game to apply and take part in our first run. Thank you for trusting us and we hope you enjoyed as much as we did (and I hope you made a lot of sales? hehe!).

On that note, see you next year!

Until then, make sure to follow us on Instagram for updates.

Select photos by Ber Garcia

Visiting the Caran d’Ache Factory in Geneva, Switzerland

Let me start off by saying this trip was the most spontaneous one I’ve had in a while.

After several back and forth attempts to renew my Schengen visa (I thought I had maxed out my 90 days from Berlin—or so I thought) and my anxiety in getting regular phone calls from the Swiss embassy (I really *hate* answering phone calls!), I finally confirmed my trip to Switzerland albeit a week before my flight.

By the time I was packing on Monday morning, it obviously hadn’t dawned on me that I was flying halfway across the world and back to Europe. *Oh well* as per usual, I watched two films in-flight (The Hows of Us and To Love Some Buddy, both Pinoy films; both heart-breaking lol), spent a good four hours of ideation and brainstorming during my layover in Doha, and finally arrived in Geneva.

My vague memory of Switzerland was in Lucerne, and I wasn’t *feeling* it. I love traveling during the warmer season, so it was nice to walk around the area I stayed in (near the Old Town) before settling in.

Long walks in a city always makes it more real. Does that make sense? I’m not the type who favors exploring a city fast—I like taking my time to see all the little streets, the architecture, the vibe.

After downing 3 cups of coffee in total before arriving, I was well-adjusted. LOL.

The next day we headed to the Caran d’Ache factory which was around half an hour from the city center. One step inside the office and you’ll immediately be drawn to the pencils display and the vintage posters (of course!).

Fun fact: Caran d’Ache was founded in 1915, and means “pencil” in Russian. It was also the “artist name” of the famous French caricaturist / cartoonist Emmanuel Poiré, whose signature was also the initial logo of the brand.

The factory was built in 1974, and so far has produced 400 different colors using 100 pigments.

We were instructed to wear these shoes to enter the factory. They’re quite comfy and on brand—red and black!

Annelies and I geeking over *all the things*. I actually follow Annalies on Instagram for a while now and when I found out she was part of this trip, I fangirled!

Inside the factory, we were shown the process of how Caran d’Ache makes pencils—from choosing the right type of wood, picking out the right colors (imagine how many combinations they make, considering they have over 400 colors?!), testing each material’s durability, up to packing each and every product in its box, ready to ship out.

Caran d’Ache is quite a premium brand, but it comes with the quality that is definitely worth its price tag. Each set of Luminance colored pencils are packed by hand by their personnel. I also loved that they hire disabled people to help them with work, as it also helps enrich their livelihood and keep them productive. 🙂

As an artist, my favorite part is the process, of course—especially from start to finish. Above are some Neocolor II wax pastels and Pablo colored pencils being left to dry before they are packaged and shipped out to stores worldwide.

Prior to this trip, I have only been knowledgeable about Caran d’Ache’s Studio Gouache—which has been my go-to set of paints for my watercolor lettering work. I’ve only ever dabbled in watercolor pencils for my illustrations, which is why it was great that Pete instructed us in the afternoon on how to use Caran d’Ache’s different materials. My personal favorite? The Pablo pencils, which is named after Pablo Picasso (he used Caran d’Ache!).

My favorite technique was mixing permanent colored pencils and water soluble pencils to create this mask effect I did on the “make things” quote.

Here I am with Catherine (from Caran d’Ache), Annelies from Korea / Netherland, Crystal and Ray from Taiwan, and Steven from Hong Kong. Thank you, Art Bar Philippines and Caran d’Ache for choosing me to represent the Philippines!

If it isn’t any obvious, I’m actually wearning a terno top from Anthill Fabric. I wanted to wear something a bit Filipino and since I went to Artefino the week before, I got myself this top. It’s a Yakan weave and I love it so much!

On our last day, we took a tour around the city—had chocolate fondue, walked around the Old Town, and got to know more about the city. Thanks Juliane of Local Flavours Tours for taking us around.

You can check out more about my trip on my vlog below:

Selected photos by Igor Laski for Caran d’Ache

My Faber-Castell Experience

Last October, I was sent to Nuremberg, Germany to visit the Faber-Castell headquarters. Initially I had wanted to just see the castle and maybe take a tour—that was what I had planned on doing—but I extended my stay and managed to make the most out of this quaint city. It’s been a few weeks since I took a detour to Germany, and it’s only now that I’ve gotten the time and energy to sit and write about this once in a lifetime experience.

A little backstory: so, early this year while I was planning my schooling schedule and fixing my trip to New York, I had an event for Faber-Castell in Manila. And then a wild idea came through: what if I visit the headquarters in Germany? I did hear there was a castle and looked up their website for possible tours of the factory, museum and castle. I could document it and show it to you, my readers. That was a long shot, I told myself. Tricie and I pitched the idea and I kept my fingers crossed for months, up until I had received a call (I remember this was March and I was out of Manila) saying it was approved. I was going to Germany! OMG. It took me awhile to say that out loud. I couldn’t sleep for weeks!

This was also my first time flying alone to Europe (and taking the train), so I was kind of nervous. What would Germany be like? I have briefly visited Heidelberg a few years back and I had no memory of this country. I can’t speak German, and I look 100% Asian. I was scared but also so excited. Surprisingly things went well and I managed to arrive in Nuremberg at sunset, just in time to catch the last few moments of daylight as I walked to my hostel in Nuremberg. I realized I forgot my universal adaptor (yay, me) so I rushed to get one after checking in. Then, I was greeted with a nice dinner from Sandra and Kirsten from Faber-Castell (sushi, no less!).

Can you tell how amused I am? Wes Anderson approved train machine (and branding, tbh).

The next day, I took the underground train and bus to Schloss Faber-Castell in Stein—and was in awe as I stepped out of the bus and made my way inside the complex.

But since I’m such a good navigator, I got lost (lol). The front part of the complex was under renovation, so I had to pass through the back entrance and luckily found my way inside. First, Emelia (my tour guide) took me to the pencil factory where Faber-Castell’s world famous pencils are produced every day.

I have long been a fan of Faber-Castell—I remember saving up my allowance to get a set of Classic Color Pencils in fifth grade. So imagine how overjoyed I was to be able to work with them now that I’m an artist?

The factory windows are painted in primary colors (quite apt, if you ask me), and each floor is dedicated to each department for production. I got to know more about how a pencil is made—from sourcing the right type of wood (the wood used for the pencils are from the forests they manage in several parts of the world—particularly in Brazil, because Germany is generally cold), cutting out the wood chunks into pencils (did you know that Faber-Castell is famous for its tri-grip pencil shape?), to coating each pencil with the right amount of paint (exactly six color coats, and two clear coats), to seeing it foil stamped at the pencil printing department, up until it is time to dry each batch and pack for distribution out in the market.

It’s quite amazing to see all this happening all in a day’s work in several rooms here at the factory—and I’m always amazed at how things work from start to finish.

Before they are left to dry, the pencils are sent to the printing department where each pencil is foil stamped according to its type (colored pencil, pencil, etc).

The pencils take around a full day to dry. They are kept in a fixed temperature to make sure each pencil batch dries at the same time.

It’s so satisfying to be able to see these pencils in the drying room all sorted out by pencil type and color. (I may be geeking out too much, but come on, I love pencils!)

After drying, they are packed in boxes for distribution out in the market.

That’s my giddy “I can’t believe I’m in a factory” face right there ^

After lunch, Emelia took me inside the Faber-Castell Castle, where Count Alexander and Countess Ottilie and their family used to live. Emelia told me all about the family history and how the oldest pencil was created. I also found out Vincent Van Gogh used Faber-Castell pencils, because I’m a true VVG fan (lol). The castle is huge—especially the bathrooms (wow). There was also a clinic and home school inside to make sure all their children lived in comfort. Imagine living in luxury and having a house in the form of a castle?

Loved the light coming in at this area of the castle, where the history of Faber-Castell was explained through photos, ephemera, and…vintage packaging! *heart eyes*

I particularly loved this Polychromos packaging they used from way back. Can you believe most of the packaging in the old days were hand-drawn? I love it.

Mirror selfie at Countess Ottilie’s waiting room. This was where she’d ask visitors to stay in before meeting with them (reminds me of Versailles in France!).

Fanciest staircase ever. Did you know people book this castle for weddings, too? I actually saw a newlywed couple taking photos as I made my way out this castle, lol.

In historical facts, the castle was also used during the Nuremberg Trials as a place for refuge for artists and writers. They would organize parties and events inside the castle to keep them busy and entertained.

The next day was spent at the Faber-Castell Academy, just a few blocks away from the Faber-Castell complex. I was assigned to a printmaking class with Clemens Lang, who has been doing printmaking since the 80s and has been teaching at the academy for quite some time.

Inside the printmaking studio. That’s a monotype printing machine on the right.

I honestly had no idea what printmaking was, so when I was tasked to experiment on different materials, I was terrified. As someone who’s always been very concise about her process, the spontaneity of printmaking was so eye-opening. I loved it!

By lunchtime I was glued to my work area and was working on bigger and bigger canvases, until Clemens eventually told me to work on my final piece (which I managed to take home). I love how printmaking made me rethink making art—and that while planning is also important, it’s also good to just keep experimenting and seeing how things go.

After the printmaking class, Kirsten took me out to see Nuremberg’s Old Town.

We went to Albrecht Durer’s house (fun fact: Faber-Castell watercolor pencils are aptly named “Albrecht Durer” to pay homage to the same artist!) and got to know more about his work.

There was also a castle and we crossed one of the oldest chain bridges in the world. Nuremberg feels very medieval compared to other European cities, and that’s what sets it apart so much. I had some beer and schnitzel for dinner like a true German (it was good!).

My last day at the Faber-Castell HQ was spent teaching a hand lettering workshop to fellow artists.

Never did I imagine getting to teach in Germany! That was such a nice way to end my stay in Stein.

Apart from getting to see this side of the world, I loved meeting new people and exploring an unfamiliar city that I unexpectedly loved. Nuremberg is low key but also quite hip, and the food is so good (I spent all my dinners tasting all the good food in Nuremberg—drinks included). Most of all, this experience is something I’ll never forget. Sometimes I still pinch myself to see if this all really happened. 

Kirsten took care of everything during my visit to Faber-Castell. Thank you, Kirsten!

Thank you so much to Faber-Castell Philippines, and to Faber-Castell Global (especially to Kirsten, Sandra, Annika, Joel, and everyone I met from the Faber-Castell team) for this amazing opportunity!

My DIY Birthday Party #ABC25YAY

First things first, omg I’m old. Haha. Thanks everyone for the lovely messages and greetings! 😀

I’ve always wanted to organize a party over the course of my twenties. Not sure if it’s entirely because of quarter life in a general sense, but I never really got around to celebrate the little wins I’ve had so far in my life—the best one may be, of course, pursuing this career. But also, being grateful for the people who have been part of my life and made it a meaningful one. (Too much emotions and we’re just in the first part of this blog entry. Geez!)

So a few months ago (joke I think it was November after my Tokyo trip), I brought up the idea to my best friend Den and we both started planning #ABC25YAY. This meant: endless messages of ideas, nights spent drinking wine and playing the guitar, and lots of bff bonding. We live literally near each other (since we were born) and growing up, we used to have these programs (LOL) in her attic with performances, speeches, etc. I directed a Mother’s Day play if I remember correctly. Haha! We still carry the same imaginative spirit we had in our younger years.

In this post, I’m sharing with you how we pulled off this party in less than 2 months (on a tight budget). I’ve been getting requests about this so I hope you get to take notes and snag a few ideas from my own party! Enjoy!


Initially we were going for a hippie theme but as we eventually did our Pinterest board, I realized that I wanted the theme to be more inclined to either Vincent Van Gogh (I love his Sunflowers series—and sunflowers in general) or Wes Anderson (I LOVE Moonrise Kingdom. LOVE.), so we decided to use this concept instead. (Shoutout to my friends Maka & Meme for suggesting this!)

Above: my Save the Date invite (designed by yours truly!)


We decided to cut costs with this and used our (new) house’s living room / dining room area (ground floor) for the venue. I think the only downside of this was the post-cleaning we had to do after the party. Our house is still not 100% done so we can’t leave anything behind since there will be construction going on in the next few weeks. Either way though, I found this the most efficient venue since we didn’t have to rent out a space and worry about parking since it’s a compound with a lot of (empty) units (as of now). Haha!


I made sure my guests came in Abbey colors, aka: autumn colors, and a bit of pastel hues. So I posted a bunch of outfit inspirations for them to follow. So proud; everyone came in mustard, aka Gen Z Yellow. LOL.

Food / Drinks

We got Verleo to cater for the food. Quick backstory: I come from a big family (as in we’re 30+ cousins) and we usually have Verleo do the catering for our reunions and events, so I was pretty familiar with the food (which I love) and their service.

For the drinks, we went straight to DIY and I had Tricie mix up sangria and spiked ice tea for the guests. (Special thanks to Trixie, Maine and Karen for being parts of the drinks department!)

Photo Wall + Photo Booth

Knowing me and how much I love my decorated walls (I have most of them mounted up on my events!), I printed out posters (from and the Vincent Van Gogh museum website) and some stills from Wes Anderson’s films, put them all together, and voila, photo wall!

At the side is my Instax SP-2 printer and a table full of Instax films (thanks to my Instax Philippines family!) where guests can snap and take home a print from the party.

Dedication Book

I used a kraft notebook refill as a dedication book for friends to write birthday wishes. I asked them to decorate the pages too, because I will eventually use this as my birthday scrapbook. The prints from my Instax printer will go inside this journal, so check out my channel soon for a DIY project on that. 🙂

Cake Table

Let’s be real: I love my yellow-colored desserts. Lemon bars, cheese donuts, banana cupcakes…and I specially requested Macy to bake these gorgeous sunflower cupcakes for the party. You can check out her website for inquiries. I ordered mini cupcakes from Cup.K to add more color to the set-up (and also: I love carrot cupcakes too!). And of course, the highlight of the cake table is this beautifully painted Van Gogh-inspired cake from Lovelots Cakes. Thanks so much to Mel for making this! I sent a detailed brief of Van Gogh’s colors and strokes and I loved how it turned out. Of course, by default, I hand-lettered my own cake topper. Thanks Gelo for the polaroid snap!

For the set-up, we found these pretty streamers at Party Celebrations in SM Megamall (these are 2 combined) and the “CELEBRATE” banner is from Kikki.K’s Paper Book for Everyday Inspiration. Jean lent me her vintage lantern (Wes feels!) and the crates, trays and wooden holders are all mine. I guess my props were put to good use, so yay? Lol.


My friend Christie was the party host, and I did a super simple program flow. We were supposed to play parlor games but I think everyone was more concerned with chatting, so we decided to leave it out at the last minute.

Den and I performed towards the end of the party—something I haven’t done since my debut seven years ago. Haha. That was a surprise. We performed “Leave the Pieces” by The Wreckers, aka a fitting song to play as I welcome my quarter life and…leave the pieces behind. I played another song: “Fall to Pieces” by Avril Lavigne, an all-time favorite. I dedicated it to my future crush because 1) idk who he is and 2) he isn’t in the present yet, if you got the context right. 😛

Party Favors

I designed a set of button pins for the guests to take away. I especially loved Van Gogh’s quote: “I feel that there is nothing more truly artistic than to love people.” and of course, the TLR camera was an ode to Wes Anderson’s films.

I ordered these gift boxes from Shopee which were, of course, on brand! Love the world map print.


Here’s a video recap of #ABC25YAY as captured by my good friend, Gelo (also: can I just say—I asked for a Wes-inspired video and omg this is way better than my expectations?! HUHU)

Leaving with you some tips on how to DIY your own party below!

  1. Pinterest is your best friend (no, really, it is, promise). Make a board, save up some inspiration, and pin away!
  2. It helps to create a PPT / Keynote to compile all your ideas (sorry, type A Capricorn self coming through) from the Pinterest board.
  3. Schedule your tasks accordingly. Before the event day, we ran errands—from decor hunting, to supermarket shopping, to doing initial set-ups for the venue.
  4. Don’t overthink it. I know that feeling because I have a creative job too, but I didn’t stress myself out too much while fixing my party (except on the day before lol) and it’s really helped me feel less pressured to “deliver”. Again, this isn’t a client project. Haha!
  5. Enjoy! I think that’s the key part of this. Sure, we do all the labor, but it’s the kind that you’d enjoy, you know? That’s how I’ll always remember it. And of course, the whole event was super fun—I got to see all my favorite people under one roof.

Planning a party anytime soon? Let me know in the comments below!

Always be creating,


Photos by Aira Dizon

Never Stop Learning: A Roundup

Hi, all! I’m back with a quick update + roundup of current favorites. And see you next weekend at MIBF, yes? Read through the end. 😉

As a creator, it’s important to immerse in new learnings every now and then. I find that my curiosity in different topics really helps me get a glimpse of how things work in the world (in general). You’d think by now that I’m doing lettering as a career, have written books and published a magazine that I’m pretty much done with learning new things. But no, learning never stops. And of course, aren’t we all Students of Life? 😀

A post shared by Abbey Sy (@abbeysy) on

Funny enough, recently my interests have shifted to a ton of other things that make me question (my existence, maybe) a lot of things. I may have graduated from school already (ack, old age hits) but the best source of learning is and always will be outside the four walls of the classroom. And of course, experience. Nothing beats it.

I’m sharing a few of my favorite sources of learning for the past couple of months. Actually, since I’ve been in Manila (aka travel-free lol) last August, I’ve been reading a lot, watching a lot, listening a lot. There have been a few things that I had to sort out mid-2017 and it surprisingly gave me the best luxury I could ever wish for: more free time. Yay! So, here are a few of the things I want to share with you that I’ve been learning and gaining insights from over the course of the last quarter. 🙂


Here’s what’s on my desk this week.
My current reads are self-help and travel-related. Not much creative books since I’ve been investing more time learning other things for a change (also, I just finished writing another techniques-based lettering book so yeah, I need a break from that!). I’ve been reading Originals on and off, and it’s very interesting. My favorite would be Keri Smith’s The Wander Society (a must read!), and the beautiful layouts inside The Stylist’s Guide to NYC (thanks Val for lending me this!).

Van Gogh is my favorite artist so getting this VVG book (thanks Tricie!) was a treat. I have a couple of travel guides here that I have yet to finish (including the brightly colored NYT one which is also #layoutgoals) before I leave, and that “Travel Pad” book is my visual reference for new merch I’ve been brewing up for the shop.



Podcasts / Talks:

Picking out a few favorites from Good Life Project, Being Boss, and TED Radio Hour. Been on a deadline spree the past couple of weeks so listening to these really helped feed my knowledge while drawing or painting.

Good Life Project | How Kindness Boosts Health. Waiting for a Sign. click to listen

I’m one of those people who believe in signs. Haha. If it’s the right person, the right timing…you know the drill. This episode made me feel more comfortable in waiting, and knowing whether “signs” really exist or not.

Good Life Project | Elizabeth Gilbert: Curiosity and the Passion Fallacy. [Best Of]click to listen

Because of this episode, I learned that staying curious is much more important than staying passionate (her TED talks are also very insightful). I love eavesdropping on beautiful conversations and this exchange between Elizabeth Gilbert and Jonathan Fields (host of GLP) is just A+.

Being Boss | Energetic Boundariesclick to listen

I especially loved this episode because it talked about how to create your own boundaries in a world full of connections. #relate!

TED Radio Hour | Success click to listen

What I like best about TED Radio Hour is that they extract some thoughts from different talks and present a range of perspectives on a specific topic. Of course, this one was my favorite! Thanks to one of my podcast-loving friends, Maka, for recommending this.


Disclaimer, I don’t really listen to top hits (except when my favorite artist/s release new music). Here are a few that are currently on repeat on Spotify. Don’t forget to follow me (Abbey Sy) if you like my curated playlists! 🙂

Freedom Child – The Script

Okay, my two cents on this album: it’s not as great as the previous ones (Science & Faith is my forever favorite) but it’s good. Songs are pretty catchy (not digging the EDM vibe on some tho, like Rain!) and it’s nice that they shifted the theme to something else other than love and heartbreak. But, to be fair, I still wished they retained some love songs because that’s where their distinct sound shines.

Side note: spontaneous me booked a ticket to their New York concert! I’m not crying…even if it will be my third time seeing them live. #fangirlmuch

Anyway, take a listen below and let me know what you think!

ABCDiscover – Playlist

Every Monday there’s a Discover Weekly playlist which Spotify curates especially for each of us. I found most of these from my own Discover Weekly and some from Koko’s KokoJam (which is still my favorite indie playlist to date).

Educational Videos:

My favorite hobby apart from watching talks online or discovering new music is viewing educational videos. It fascinates me how you can consume and learn something new in just 5 minutes. These pockets of educational content are what we need in a sea of content on our screens, tbh. My favorites are School of Life and TED-ed.

How To Process Your Emotions

I loved this because I have a tendency to not try to feel a certain way because I know it’s not “accepted”. This gave me a better understanding of why we act like that.

The Philosophy of Stoicism

Always been interested in philosophy and this is my favorite! It’s about being complacent with what you have. 🙂 Haven’t done further research though, but that’s something I’ll be looking up on in the coming weeks during my free time.

Okay so that rounds up my current “consumptions”. Haha. Check out my past roundups here. Planning to do more of these posts both here and on YouTube — whatcha think?

Also, learn more about my roundups on music, films, podcasts and more inside ABC Magazine, available at bookstores nationwide and online at

See you at Manila International Book Fair 2017!

I will be signing books and merch from 1-3PM at the Manila International Book Fair 2017, Summit Media booth. See you on Saturday! You can purchase all of my books and merch at the venue. And if you spend a minimum of P800 (any Summit title), you get a free bag (below)

Let’s support Philippine literature, so see you next weekend! A lot of new titles will be out at the book fair so be sure to check out the event. I heard that it will also have 2 floors (!!!) so that’s heaven for us bibliophiles. See you!

Always be creating,


On Being a Student of Life

Photo by Shutterpanda for my cover story inside ABC Magazine (Life Lessons)

Hey, hey! Today, I’m sharing some tidbits from ABC Mag’s launch and my two cents with regards to being a Student of Life—and the reason why we chose this theme for our first issue. 🙂

Above: My first ever “readsearch” attempt. Also known as, I don’t really know what I was doing so I whipped out my notebooks and started brainstorming past 1AM. 

When this project first came into the picture, I’ve never felt more scared in my entire life (true story). Maybe because I loved magazines so much that it terrified me to be given such a huge responsibility to make my own. I kept it under the #abcreadsearch hashtag because “readsearch” was my way of learning the ropes of this project (through reading and researching), in the hopes of being able to effectively use this platform to further contribute to the creative community here in the Philippines.

Related post: #ABCReadSearch is not a book

So grateful I got to work with my editorial team (The A Team), as they have so much experience in the magazine industry. We instantly connected and had the same vision for this publication—it gave me more reason to do my best and give it my all as we slowly churned out content, reached out to contributors, and eventually make this magazine come to life, and become what you have in your hands now. 🙂

What is ABC Magazine?

ABC Magazine is a magazine for artists, crafters, and makers. There’s nothing like it—the first of its kind here in the Philippines, that talks about art, creativity, passion, dreams, travels, and things that pique my personal interests. I’ve always been keen on finding kindred souls, and I believe this publication does just that. I also believe in giving opportunities for others to showcase this work, which is why I personally handpicked each and every person that went into the pages of ABC Magazine.

Also: You might think ABC is Abbey Sy but it’s not (for this particular project)…ABC means to begin (think The ABCs of Hand Lettering and The ABCs of Journaling, lol) or ABC can also mean Always Be Creating, a mantra I’ve been putting out in the open for everyone to remember as they go along with their respective creative journeys. 😃

The magazine is divided into 4 parts: Artspiration (roundups, recommendations, and inspiration), Aesthetic (creativity and design-centric content, travels, productivity hacks and tips), Advice (wise words from fellow artists, real talk, creative issues), and Activity (DIY projects).

“Student of Life”

Art by Gian Nicdao for ABC Magazine

While I was working on the magazine, I had to admit that I was super pressured to make it the “best”. The whole concept of Student of Life didn’t really occur to me until we started to plot out the content and tie it together with my experiences as a self-taught artist. Nowadays, there are just so many ways to learn new things, to become a student again. That’s something most people forget as they grow up. This issue tackles the beauty of beginnings, finding inspiration in the little things, and having that wide-eyed wonder of learning something for the first time.

A Student of Life is…

A Student of Life is Ambitious. But not in the ways we would initially expect. Being ambitious enables you to dream big — and do great things. We all have our own definitions of success, and it’s up to us to acquire the right level of being “ambitious” in order to get to where we want to be. Society right now has shaped us to believe certain factors that contribute to success – don’t listen to them. Listen to what your heart says, what you really want to aim for. Remember that success is not a one-way street, and it varies for everyone, for all walks of life.

When I was young, I never thought that I’d end up here. When I first started, it wasn’t my initial goal to make a magazine. It was one of the things I wanted to do, but it wasn’t what I initially set out to do. I tackled each goal one by one, making my ambition grow, to be the best version of me and to share my art with others.

(Tbh, it still feels surreal that I got to write books and have my work published)

A student of life is Brave. Brave enough to take on obstacles that bring out the best in him or her.

My favorite Disney princess is Mulan – partly because I’m Chinese (lol) but mostly because of her bravery and ability to defy what people thought she couldn’t do (as a girl). I grew up having to prove people that they were wrong about me, and by being brave enough to pursue what I wanted, all they could do was keep quiet and watch from the sidelines.

“You’re so brave, grabe!” my friends would tell me when they found out I quit my job at twenty two, in order to “make art” and “pursue a creative career”. Three years in and I still feel surreal to be able to claim that this is actually my job already. There were definitely a lot of growing pains, transitions, and adjustments that I had to go through. I never saw myself as “brave”, really. I just knew what I wanted and went for it, without looking back.

It’s a vast world out there and to be honest, so many things in life are so uncertain. But you have to be brave enough to face them in order to see what’s on the other side. “Consider pursuing the things that frighten you”, they said. Because after all, these might lead you to realize what you are truly capable of.


Lastly, and most importantly, a student of life is Curious. Constantly asking questions, doing “readsearch”, and always eager to learn something new.

In this “School of Life”, we make our own curriculum. There’s no grading system, no set format on how to learn. As we grow older, we become less and less interested of new things and adapting to the times because we say “graduate na ako eh”. But that’s not the point, really. It’s important to always find curiosity in your own life, in what you do. Even on my part, I know that there are still so much things to learn, and so much that I still want to create.

On some days I like taking “field trips” to the grocery, to the bookstore. It may seem like petty things, but they help me discover the neighborhood I live in, the places that inspire me, the things that fuel my creativity. And as an artist, I feel that in order to create more, I have to be more curious to transform what I see into something that I can share with others.

Here are some of my recommendations in books, magazines, websites, films, music, and podcasts:

I spend a huge amount of my week consuming articles and reading things, mostly because I’m one who likes to snoop in on other people’s minds (lololol) and one who likes to find kindred souls on the interwebz. Kidding aside though, this is easily my favorite way to gain new knowledge. 

My preferences for films are always intertwined with music: I like watching biopics (Nowhere Boy is about John Lennon’s childhood! I also like The Social Network and Steve Jobs. Aaron Sorkin is a terrific screenwriter, tbh. Also, Saving Mr. Banks!) and coming-of-age films (Moonrise Kingdom, nuff said! Also, Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist, Juno, Perks of Being a Wallflower, Paper Towns, Submarine), also films that are musically-inclined (Sing Street, Begin Again…you know the drill).

I like a lot of music genres. Even HSM is part of my go-to songs, lol. You can check out my picks on Spotify: Abbey Sy.

Always had an affiliation for stunning visual frames, so Wes Anderson is one of my favorite directors. For obvious reasons. Ask me what my color scheme in life is and I’ll answer Moonrise Kingdom, any day.

Above: a few of my favorites from podcasts to talks. Forgot to add, do watch Abstract: it’s a series on Netflix about design. IT’S AMAZING. Thank me later. 😛

Being curious is not just about books or reading, or “readsearch”ing. It’s about seeing the world around you, going places, and discovering new things in the process. The world is your oyster, and it’s up to you to figure out what you want to know about it. Never stop exploring.

And, leaving you with a quote from Seneca, a Stoic philosopher:

Special thanks to my manager, Tricie Amador, for being my forever editor with writing personal essays and my talks. 😃 (Find her articles inside ABC Mag’s first issue!)

PS: You can catch the live version of this talk on FB below:

Also, sharing some snippets from the launch last Saturday, June 17, at Art Bar! Definitely one of my favorites as it was very intimate. 🙂

Above: Students of Life 🙂 Congrats to the winners of #ABCMagPromo and thanks for attending the talk!

Enjoyed seeing familiar faces and meeting new readers during the signing portion. 🙂

One of the reasons why this launch was so memorable was having some of my closest friends over to celebrate with me. My thesismates from college (aka favorite people) came, as well as my previous interns from my first batch of Team ABC! 😀 Thanks also to my family for always being present. 🙂

A huge thanks to the Summit Books and Events team for helping mount this event…and making this whole thing possible. Huhu!

Thanks also to my current batch of assistants for all the help and making sure the program went smoothly.

ABC Magazine is now available at major bookstores and newsstands nationwide for P250. Published by Summit Books. Follow us on Instagram for updates:

See you at the ABC Magazine Launch!

Hey, hey!

In case you missed my post yesterday, I just shared my newest venture as Founder and Creative Director of ABC Magazine. We’re so excited to share this labor of love with you guys as it hits bookstores and newsstands this month. 😃


We’re officially launching ABC Magazine this June 17, Saturday, at Art Bar in BGC, Taguig. Click here to RSVP. Hope you could come! Read on to know more about what we have in store for you that day.

Student of Life talk

 I will be sharing insights and experiences about creativity, my learnings as an artist and author, and the process behind the making of ABC Magazine.  The slots are limited to 30, so we will be choosing 50 winners via Instagram before June 17. We will announce the final attendees list on June 12, Monday.

Here are the mechanics:

  • Follow @abc.mag and @summit.books on Instagram.
  • Post a photo with this theme: What does “Student of Life” mean to you? Don’t forget to add the hashtag #ABCMagPromo and #ABCgiveaways.
  • 50 winners will be chosen and given a free slot to my talk. Participant must have purchased a copy of ABC magazine at any National Book Store branch or Art Bar in order to qualify.
  • Participant must be in Metro Manila on the event day (June 17, 2017).

There will also be a surprise gift for the attendees, so all the best and good luck! 😃

Meet & Greet

After the talk (around 2PM), all guests get to enter the venue and have their magazine/s and book/s signed by me! Would love to meet you all and extend my thanks for always supporting my creative endeavours! See you then.

Tote Bag Promo
Get a free tote bag (designed by me) from Summit Books when you purchase either of the following at Art Bar on June 17:
  • ABC Magazine + Letters from ABC postcards
  • ABC Magazine + Stick ‘Em Up!
  • (2) ABC Magazine copies
Registration Guidelines

[For “Student of Life” talk]

  1. Each guest must present their purchased copy of ABC Magazine to enter the venue. A numbered sticker and sticky note will be provided upon registration.
  2. We start accommodating guests for the talk (30 guests) at 12:00PM. No waiting outside the venue before said time.
  3. 50 participants from the Instagram contest will be accommodated for Abbey’s talk. The rest may form a line for the signing portion of the program.


[For meet & greet]

  1. Registration starts at 1:30PM.
  2. Each guest must present their purchased copy of ABC Magazine to enter the venue. A numbered sticker and sticky note will be provided upon registration.
  3. From 2PM onwards, we will be accommodating guests based on their number as it will be called.
  4. One guest may have a maximum of 2 items signed by Abbey (1 magazine + any Abbey Sy book published by Summit Books).
  5. Only one photo per person is allowed.
  6. Cut off time will be at 4:00PM or until further announcements.

Hope to see you on the 17th! So excited!

 Always be creating,

Abbey 🙂

Letters & Colors: Workshop for a Cause

This time last year, Tippy and I just wrapped up our first leg of Letters and Colors in Manila. We decided to collaborate on this workshop as a way to further educate aspiring artists on the importance of both watercolour and lettering as part of the creative process. Little did we know, we were fortunate enough to have two more classes and an overseas one in Singapore last year.

The best part about this workshop (apart from making art, of course!) is getting to create new opportunities for everyone to learn new things. Even I was able to pick up a few tips from Tippy (ha, pun intended!) as we both worked on the exercise sheets and lesson plan for this joint workshop.

As much as learning is a part of the class, we’re very happy to be able to participate and give back in an upcoming workshop for a cause this May 27th, Saturday, at The Venue Function Rooms, Iloilo City. Letters & Colors Workshop for a Cause is happening this coming weekend, May 27, 2017 from 8:30AM to 4:30PM.

The workshop will tackle different topics like: lettering, creating layouts, mixing colors, watercolor washes, guided project making, and brush lettering. Workshop fee is 1,800 Php for early bird rates until May 18, 2017 and for regular rates is Php 2,100 on May 19 until May 25 but if you bring a friend there’ll be 10% discount for both. Inclusive of 2 personalized name tags by Googly Gooeys and me (for early bird participants), materials to be used in the workshop, lunch buffet, morning and afternoon snacks, exclusive tote bag, take home kit, certificate of attendance, raffle entry, and more surprises.

Proceeds will go to charity which is the SOS Children’s Village, Zarraga in Western Visayas. It is about 20 – 25 minutes from Iloilo City. The SOS Children’s Village has been working in Zarraga since 2003. They provide different kinds of support to the local population. Children who have lost parental care can find a loving home where up to 120 children can be looked after by the SOS mothers. The children grow up with their sisters and brothers in a familial environment full of love, respect, and security.

We will also be selling some of our books + merchandise on the event day, so don’t miss it! See you, Iloilo City!

Sign up for a slot via this link. Follow @ggxabciloilo on Instagram for updates 🙂



Coffee & Creativity at Common Folk

A day before my birthday, my friends brought me to Common Folk (and surprised me in time for my birthday salubong huhu) — a little cafe along White Plains, Quezon City. First step in and I loved the place at once; not to mention I’m a sucker for places that serve good coffee. 🙂

So this coming April, I’m inviting you all for a little get-together with me at Common Folk!


For your P500 entrance fee, you’ll get access to:

Coffee and snacks by Common Folk, a short talk by me;

Access to pop-up stores by Shop Abbey Sy & Sea Mountain Co (handmade watercolors);

A craft buffet of paper, washi tape sampler sets, stickers — and an afternoon of journaling. 

Note: this isn’t a class/workshop, so feel free to bring your own journals and get creative with fellow enthusiasts! 🙂

Hope to see you this summer!


Journal with Me this January!

Happy New Year! Hello 2017! Can you believe it? I can’t. 😮 But here we are.

The start of a new year is always the best time to journal — admit it, I’m sure some of you have started turning to a new leaf and wrote about your first day of the year (I just finished mine. Lol). And in the midst of it, you find yourself feeling ecstatic and enthusiastic about chronicling another 360+ days’ worth of memories, adventures, and experiences. After all, journaling is such a fun intrinsic activity, I encourage everyone to try their hand at it.

With that, I’m so excited to share that I’m having a journaling workshop to kickstart 2017! Details on the poster below. 😀

The best part? You simply have to purchase a copy of the ABC Daily Journal at any Fully Booked branch, keep the receipt, and present it at the venue entrance.

Note: We will only be accommodating 50-70 people maximum. Please come early (around 12-12:30) so you can register and secure your slot.

What to expect at the workshop

I will be sharing tips and showing videos on how to journal on a regular basis. There are usually a lot of styles involved, so I will be tackling each and giving you prompts in order to apply it to your own documenting process. 🙂 All you need to bring is your ABC Daily Journal (purchased at any Fully Booked branch)this will serve as your official ticket.

Art materials from Faber-Castell, stamps, pens, and other journaling materials will be provided for use at the venue.

Free washi tape samples and stickers (from Stick ‘Em Up! and more for you to choose from) will be available at the craft station.

I will walk you through the journaling processes I use, how I set-up my documenting tools for this year, and will answer all your journaling-related questions. There will also be a signing session at the end of the workshop. I’d be happy to sign copies of your ABC Daily Journal!

Lastly, we’ll be selling a few merch from Shop Abbey Sy — our limited edition tote and pouch will be available for purchase at the workshop. 🙂

For more updates and announcements, head on over to our event page and RSVP there:

This is a little event I co-organized in lieu of my birthday month and as a thank you to everyone who has showed their support for my art. 🙂 Hope to see you there! 😀

This event is brought to you by Abbey Sy, Fully Booked & International Fine Paper Exchange.