Tokyo, Japan: Art, Books, Culture, & Coffee

True story: I was initially planning to write an “Art and Stationery Shopping in Tokyo” roundup for the blog, but instead, as I browsed for photos to include in this post, I found myself having more on my list that I wanted to share. I’ve lost count on how many times I’ve been to Tokyo, but every time I visit, I always discover new places to check out.

If you’ve been following my blog for a long time, you might have encountered my Art Hoarding in Tokyo post a few years back. Now that I’ve explored more places in the same city, thought I’d share some of my recent discoveries in case you’re planning to visit this place soon.

ART MATERIALS & BOOKS

Sekaido

Nearest station: Shinjuku

My go-to art store in Tokyo. If you’re looking for the full selection of art materials in Japan, this is the place to be. A full floor dedicated to paper and another dedicated to paint? Yes please! Not to mention the very tempting GF full of washi tapes, postcards, and stationery.

(My haul this 2018: a few brushes and this Acryla Gouache Mixing Colors set for only 1500JPY. Good buy!)

Itoya

Nearest station: Ginza

For all things paper, Itoya is your best bet. I always drop by here after shopping at GU and Uniqlo nearby (same street) and it’s amazing to see the different display of tools and stationery available (in twelve floors!).

The best floor for me is the “Fine Paper” floor where your OC self will probably be satisfied—rows of paper samples organized by color scheme! You take a sample and purchase it based on what you need (or want? lol). Different sizes are available for purchase at the Fine Paper floor, so choose wisely.

STICKER PARTY, OMG.

Pro tip: the back of Itoya is an art store called G.Itoya which houses six floors of art materials, pens, and paint. So if you want to do art & stationery shopping in just one area, I recommended going to Ginza. Plus, the whole stretch is filled with designer brands—in case you’re looking into doing some shopping as well.

Daikanyama T-Site (Tsutaya Books)

Nearest station: Daikanyama

Two words: book heaven! Most bookstores in Japan don’t carry a lot of English titles, so T-site is like Disneyland to me—I spend hours browsing through books and magazines (love the selection here!) before deciding which new book to take home. This is also where I get rare titles that don’t make its way to Manila or Singapore.

Plus points for the beautiful architecture and very IG-worthy restroom at the second floor. You’re welcome.

Also, if you feel like introverting before or after book shopping, there’s a FamilyMart inside T-site for your snacking fix.

Kinokuniya

Nearest station: Shinjuku (English books on 7F)

Shinjuku is relatively a big ward, and you’ll find this Kinokuniya branch situated in front of Uniqlo & BIC camera. The books here are a lot, but you’ll only find English titles on the 7F (aka where I shop mostly). There is a good selection of art & design books (but there’s more at T-site), as well as instructional drawing books (of course, I got one) and stationery.

Book Town

Nearest station: Jimbocho

Not really a bookstore per se, but I got to explore this pretty quiet neighborhood with my cousin and fellow artist Val, who’s heard good things about the place. When you get out of Jimbocho station, you’ll find bookstores selling old and used Japanese/Chinese books, as well as a selection of small-scale school supplies stores. This area is where most businessmen reside so it wasn’t as touristy—something you can check out on your next visit to Tokyo.

Also: there’s a paper shop nearby (forgot the name!) and a coffee shop called Glitch (they have the best drip coffee!). Don’t forget to check out those too.

STATIONERY & LIFESTYLE GOODS

Tokyu Hands

Nearest station: Shinjuku or Shibuya (both big branches) 

This place—I always keep coming back! Containing a hodge podge of stationery, beauty and lifestyle goods, you’ll never get out empty-handed here (unless your self-control levels are strong). I’ve been to both Shinjuku and Shibuya branches and they have a complete selection of things you might need: travel goods, bags, kitchenware, homeware, stationery, makeup and skincare, art materials, etc. Oh also, I visited the Shinjuku branch recently and they had a science section. So cool!

*To add: I also regularly go to Daiso and Seria (both 100YEN stores) for cheaper but equally cute stationery and Don Quijote (THIS!) for snacks, gifts, skincare, and makeup.

Traveler’s Factory

Nearest station: Nakameguro (main) / Tokyo (inside the station) / Narita Express (Terminal 1)

This is basically me in store form. I’ve concluded that the minute I stepped in the Narita branch in Terminal 1, but I’ve justified it more when I finally got to check out the flagship store in Nakameguro. It’s tucked in a residential neighborhood but you cannot miss that tiny journal icon and “Traveler’s Factory” sign if you’re a stationery fan like me. Two floors of journals, notebooks, travel goods and ephemera—it’s the best kind of retail therapy! There are also limited edition journals that you’ll only find in Japan, such as their colored journal refills (which I got in all colors: teal, red, and yellow) and Japan-themed covers.

Plus: If you’re short on time and looking to just visit one branch, I recommend the Tokyo station branch (at least while commuting) or Narita airport branch (just come to the airport earlier than your flight). Each location houses limited edition merchandise though, so it’s best to go to all if you want to check them out. I got myself lots of baggage stickers which were only available at the Narita branch. So, my tip? Go to all. LOL.

LoFT

Nearest station: Shibuya

I always say LoFT reminds me very much of Tokyu Hands, but who am I kidding? If you’re looking into getting a Hobonichi, LoFT has a complete selection of diaries and covers for you to choose from. Apart from the coveted B1F (where I spend at least two hours browsing), the remaining floors have a variety of things that you can check out too. There’s a secret (not so secret, but kinda hidden if you don’t walk past that area) door leading to a huge MUJI branch in the same building, so don’t miss that! I’m going to go ahead and say the food selection is huge (I love their brewed corn tea)!

Story time: I dropped by a LAMY exhibit (more on that below) and went straight to LoFT to get myself a LAMY fountain pen that same day. Had it tax refunded (lol) and wrapped beautifully in a gift box (for free!). The Japanese take their gifting seriously, you guys. It’s so pretty, I haven’t opened it yet as of this writing.

niko and…

Nearest station: Shibuya

I first saw niko and… inside Parco mall. Getting to visit the flagship store in Shibuya was another story; I was ooooh-ing and aaah-ing the whole time. Specializing in lifestyle goods (aka nice things you can add to your workspace or room!) and clothing (very Uniqlo-style), niko and… is pretty famous for its branding, as well as its coffee (there’s a cafe inside the store). And yes, there’s really an ellipsis (…) on its brand name. Talk about #branding.

COFFEE & TEA

About Life

Nearest station: Shibuya

In the middle of busy Shibuya is a tiny coffee shop called About Life. There are no seats, just a bench beside the order counter, and they serve some of the best drip coffees I’ve had in my life. Simple as that. Something you can order to-go or to enjoy for a good few minutes before going back to the hustle and bustle of this neighborhood.

Onibus Coffee

Nearest station: Nakameguro

A few meters away from Traveler’s Factory is Onibus Coffee, a quaint cafe with its second floor overlooking the train station. There are some magazines for reading, and it’s a relatively quiet place if you want to camp out in the morning before starting your day. I would have stayed longer but that day, we went to three (or four?) coffee shops, so we stopped by to order and drink before doing our shopping at Traveler’s Factory.

Blue Bottle Coffee

Nearest station: Roppongi / Shinjuku (several branches around Japan)

Fun fact: Blue Bottle is actually from USA! But their coffee brewing style is very Japanese, not Italian—a bit on the lighter side. Went to the Minato branch before museum hopping, and it was very quiet and peaceful in the midst of an urban setting (at this point, you probably understand that I am an introvert and I like my me-time). Also, love their branding forever. There’s a busier branch in Shinjuku (inside the station—NeWoman mall) if you’re looking to buy merch as well.

Also: There are lots of room for seats in Japan vs in NY! In NY, Blue Bottle branches are small (well, at least the one I visited near Chelsea Market) and mostly meant for takeaway orders.

Nana’s Green Tea

Nearest station: Ueno / Urawa

Kaila introduced me to this place on my visit to Tokyo in 2015. It’s such an introvert-friendly spot: think solo booths, outlets, quiet ambiance, and good food. Apart from their famous matcha parfaits, they serve hearty meals in sets, so you can have your matcha fix too. So good. I always go here after a long day of exploring, and do some writing. The more commercialized one is in Ueno inside a mall, near the shopping area.

Plus: Vendo machines and konbini stores (convenience stores) in Japan all have bottled coffee available, so you’ll always be able to get your coffee fix whenever, wherever. The brewed coffee at FamiMa, 7-eleven and Lawson are all good.

MUSEUMS & PARKS

The National Art Center

Nearest station: Roppongi

On my visit to Tokyo in 2017, my friend (and fellow Yayoi Kusama fan—she is the bigger fan, tbh) Koko and I went to the Yayoi Kusama: My Eternal Soul exhibit in The National Art Center. It was my first time there and of course, I loved the architecture! The place was packed (also, 40 minutes waiting time at the souvenir shop…go figure) and the exhibit was so crowded, but it was worth it. All for Yayoi! Do check out the ongoing exhibitions and shows here in case you visit Tokyo. Who knows…your favorite artist might have one.

Plus: This is near Snoopy Museum and Shake Shack! Make your way there if you’ve got a lot of time to explore this neighborhood.

21_21 Design Sight

Nearest station: Roppongi

Dropped by an exhibit here featuring LAMY’s brand history and a special collection of works by one of my favorite illustrators, Christoph Niemann (no photos allowed though). The location is not far from the Roppongi station—it’s beside Oakwood hotel, and there were a lot of directional signages leading to the place.

But what impressed me more was the small park in front of 21_21 Design Sight. Rows of sakura trees in full bloom, as well as benches where you can sit and write, and maybe have lunch? I spent a good few hours introverting before heading back to the Snoopy museum to fetch my mom and siblings. It was the best!

Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum

Nearest station: Ueno

On my fall visit to Tokyo (for work), I was lucky enough to catch the Van Gogh x Japan exhibit at Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum. I LOVE Van Gogh and I had goosebumps the minute I entered the exhibit hall and saw his self-portrait painting staring at me. No photos allowed inside but I’m going to go ahead and say that it was the best experience seeing his work in real life.

The museum is located inside Ueno Park, so if you’re an animal-lover, you can check out Ueno Zoo on the same area. A short walk from Ueno station, too.

Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden

Nearest station: Shinjuku

I’ve been here twice, and I enjoyed my first visit more because it wasn’t as crowded, and I had time to sit and draw and basically just spend quality time alone. Every year, sakura blossoms here are what people flock for, and you can definitely understand why when you enter the park premises—rows or sakura trees lined up on all areas, ample space for hanami (picnic) under the trees, and strategically situated in the middle of Shinjuku.

Pro tip: Maybe go here a little early to get a good spot. Or take a sidetrip first to Sekaido or Tokyu Hands (both in the same area!) before or after staying at the park.

Other parks to check out in Tokyo: Ueno Park and Yoyogi Park (both free entrance; Shinjukugyoen requires a park ticket)

Tachikawa Park

Nearest station: Tachikawa

Going here during autumn was lovely—rows of gingko trees and a couple of Japanese maple trees in yellow and orange hues make it such a sight to see. As someone whose favorite season is fall, I was all heart eyes while inside the park. This isn’t as popular as Shinjukugyoen, but again, if you want to explore more offbeat places, go here. You won’t regret it. On a good day, you can bike around the park (it’s that big) and have a picnic as well. (It was raining when we went and let’s be real, I can’t ride a bike. Haha!)

Always fun going to parks with my fellow “tita” friend, Kaila <3

Disclaimer: I didn’t visit all of these places in one go. LOL. These are from three trips and I decided to compile them together so you can choose how to plan your “art, books, and coffee” adventure when you go to Japan. I’ll be in Osaka / Kyoto in a few weeks after writing this, so I hope to check out places there, too, and share them on my blog. 

Hope you enjoyed reading through this post—had so much fun recalling my personal experiences from these places I’ve visited on my trips.

Have you visited Tokyo? Any of these places you plan on going to soon?

PS: Special thanks to two of my favorite people (and fellow Japan lovers) Koko and Kaila for recommending some of these places! 

Starting 2018 Right

Happy New Year to you reading this post!

For the first time in twenty four years, I feel good about starting the year. You’d be surprised—the past few years (especially after my 20th year) were difficult. I was at a place where I either wanted to attain something (and couldn’t sit still) or I was just too busy to even care about how to “start the year right”. Don’t get me wrong, though—I love January. It’s my favorite month! It’s my birthday on the 14th, so I’m always at a general cleaning phase during the first few weeks of January. That also means, I’m more keen to jot down my new goals in time for a new age. (I have to admit though, 25 scares the hell out of me.)

Blame it on the fact that maybe 2017 was that bad (okay, it wasn’t thaaat bad, but it wasn’t good in general), the optimistic part of me is hoping this year will be better to some extent. NGL, I ended last year on a pretty good note. Being in Europe, meeting new people, celebrating Christmas & NY in an unfamiliar city—my kind of thing.

(Anyway! Back to 2018!)

Decision fatigue is a normal thing for me, especially every year when I shortlist the journals and planners that I will be using. I’m picky with my notebooks; I have specific guidelines. They have to be dotted, cream, A5 size minimum, etc. They also have to be adaptable for specific purposes. (OMG I hope you’re not judging me lololol) I think I’ve had my fair share of good and bad journals. I think I never used the same thing twice (except for #ABCDailyJournal because I’m biased AF) because I still haven’t found *the* perfect journal for work, for personal stuff, etc. Also, I think keeping things varied makes the routine less boring, you know? To each his own. I can’t commit to the same thing every year. I can’t even commit in general to anything else except my job (for now). OOPS OKAY MOVING ON

Here’s the thing. All my life, I have confided in notebooks to record my dreams, goals, work notes, personal essays, everything basically. From my 2007 Monet journal filled with high school angst to my 2015 notebook of plans & ideas for The ABCs of Hand Lettering (my first book), notebooks have become my best friends throughout my lifetime. I use at least 3 notebooks simultaneously – one for work, one for maybe a book or big project, and another one for personal endeavours. And since I’m a natural introvert, I feel like it’s become an extension of myself in written form.

This year, I’ve handpicked these notebooks to keep track of my (crazy) life. I’ve divided it into DAILY & TRAVEL. Watch the vlog below for more about my 2018 journals  😀

Also, a comprehensive list from the video above:

DAILY

PLANNERS

  • Ban.do Agenda 2018 – work tasks (available at National Book Store)
  • Hobonichi Weeks – personal errands (purchased in Japan)

JOURNALS

  • Noted Journal A6 size – mini travel journal (more info below)
  • ABC Daily Journal – daily happenings (available at National Book Store, SM Stationery, and here)
  • Sunday Night Journal – weekly recap (available at yoursundaynight.com)

TOOLS

  • Ephemera notebook holder (from Traveler’s Factory Japan)
  • Ban.do washi tape set (available at National Book Store)
  • Kate Spade stamp (available at National Book Store)
  • En Route washi tape (available here)
  • Make Things Happen washi tape (available here)
  • Deco tape (from Kaila / rainbowholic.tv)
  • Ban.do sticker booklet (available at National Book Store)
  • Ban.do sticky notes (available at National Book Store)
  • Kikki.K sticky notes (available at National Book Store)
  • Enjoy The Journey clear stamp set (available here)
  • Leather card case (from Kaila / rainbowholic.tv)
  • Kikki.K Paper Book For Everyday Inspiration (available at National Book Store)

*Note: I forgot to show my Bullet Journal in the video—but here it is! It’s Leuchtturm 1917. Available at National Book Store.

I used a Rollbahn notebook for work prior to BuJo but since I really wanted to give this a try, I’m finally breaking in my BuJo. Thanks to National Book Store for the gift! I actually got this last 2016 but I was scared to open it. LOL. Gotta face my fears at some point!

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TRAVEL

As for my travel journals, I’m using only three. Only?!? Hahaha. I’ve narrowed it down to the most useful ones for my preferences.

ABC Travel Journal

I’m using the ABC Travel Journal (a journal I produced in collaboration with IFEX) for sketches and mini collages. This is made of watercolor paper so it’s easy to use for painting and sketching. The paper size is quite big as well, making it suitable for illustrations.

Fun fact: I usually draw/sketch and paint on long trips (like Europe, USA etc) or trips that have a lot of downtime in transit (ie: train / bus rides). I almost never draw after a trip; it’s usually before or during. I end up not touching my travel journal when I get back lol. I usually do my collages after a trip.

*The ABC Travel Journal is available at National Book Store, Fully Booked, SM Stationery & online here.

Traveler’s Notebook (Regular)

For places that have a lot of memorabilia like tickets, brochures, cards—I use my favorite TN in regular size. I find this lengthwise layout pretty fit for what I will put in: Instax photos, labels, stickers, tapes, and the aforementioned ephemera. I do a little writeup after sticking everything on each page.

*I got my TN from Japan but it’s available locally at Scribe.

Noted Journal A6

I recently got an A6 sized journal cover from Noted Journal and it can hold a lot of notebooks! I’m so amazed. I brought it to my Eurotrip + the ABC TJ so it was easier to take along. I particularly like the size of this, and I have 2 inserts: 1 for collages and 1 for daily notes about places visited.

*Available online at Noted Journal PH

Since we’re here, thought I’d share that I have a book on journaling called The ABCs of Journaling. It’s turning 2 years old this year whaaat?!?! If you’re quite iffy about documenting or don’t know where to start, get a copy of my book and learn as you go. There’s also an #ABCsJournalingChallenge on Instagram in case you need some support! My book is available at major bookstores nationwide and online here.

What journals are YOU using this year? Let me know in the comments below!

Always be creating,

Abbey 🙂

2017 Favorites: Books, Films, Music

Hey, everyone! Dropping in a few year-ender posts before we officially close 2017. To be honest, it’s not sinking in that the year is actually ending. But here we are—and another year will say hello in a few weeks.
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This year was different for me. Apart from working on a new set of projects (and being thrown into a lot of challenging situations in the process), I’ve found that my personal taste and interests have changed over time (see: 2016 Favorites here). I therefore justify that creating some sort of yearly roundup determines the state I am in (life-wise?), and the type of content I like consuming. Here are a few of my favorites, all compiled in this post. Read on to find out more.
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Books
Being an author has made me extra curious about authors and the work that they put out. Sadly, I wasn’t able to read much this year—something I vow to change once 2018 kicks in. Blaming it on my inability to focus on analog tools now that I check my phone frequently than ever. (Ugh, social media. Ughhh. Anyway)
Although, for a change, I stopped reading instructional books and settled more on self-help and other things that are far off my range of work (I write non-fiction, instructional books). Here are my favorites:

Flow: Love & Life

Always a loyal fan of Flow because their articles focus on mindfulness and being in the now. Every so often they’d come up with special issues such as this one called “Love & Life”, which I particularly enjoyed. The book tackles about love (lol), friendships, family relationships…I love it. It’s very insightful.

Daily Rituals by Mason Currey

I was arguing with myself in Strand Book Store as I was deciding on getting this book or not. Of course, I got it—and it’s been an interesting read. I’ve always been generally curious about a person’s routine, and this book talks about how people’s daily rituals shape their creative process. The takeaway I got? Most of the prominent artists, writers and musicians take naps. And wake up earlier than the rest of the world does.

*asks self how is that possible*

Things Are What You Make of Them by Adam J. Kurtz

I’ve been reading Adam J. Kurtz’s columns in Design*Sponge since last year and was wondering why it wasn’t turned into a book. (Lol, #marketing much) Well, here it is in book form! I love how this pocket-sized book contains tidbits of advice that I often forget especially since I do creative work 24/7. Also: I got goosebumps reading the last part of the book. It’s that good.

Girlboss by Sophia Amoruso

Don’t kill me—I only managed to pick up this book around May this year, despite hearing so much good reviews about it. WHY? I don’t know. But I’m glad that I did—definitely one of my favorite books (of all time) because like Sophia, I was that girl who dreamed big but was underestimated when I started running a business at a young age. X years later, I still remember my 17-year-old self and I’d tell her she did good.

Also: can we all take a moment to love Sophia and her badass self? I think that’s why her business ventures end up being successful (after numerous challenges and obstacles). So much respect for her.

Show Your Work by Austin Kleon

Reread this book as I was doing some “readsearch” and working on my Graphika Manila talk. It’s still one of my favorite creative-centric titles. Always been a loyal fan of Austin Kleon (I read his blog every day!) and this book is always a good reminder to never stop doing art and—wait for it—showing your work. *pun intended*

Lost in NYC

Bought a copy because I was going to New York then (I have, here’s a post about it.)

Definitely a good short read, featuring offbeat places in NYC (not the usual). Also love that there are free postcards at the back!

Turtles All The Way Down by John Green

[my only fiction book this year lol]

After sooo long, John Green finally released a new book! Imagine my excitement when this was released last October—I immediately went to NBS to get a copy. I locked myself up for two weekends and finished it and it was just so good.

The story tackles a more sensitive topic—mental health. I think that’s why I appreciated it more. There’s still the whole YA/teenage thing going on but I find that it has more mature thinking and for someone who’s not a teenager anymore (lol) I really liked the book.

Also, trivia: Paper Towns is my favorite but I’m going to go ahead and say this is now my favorite John Green book.

On Love by Alain de Botton

So, I read this for personal reference. Personal reference? HAHAHA

While I’ve never been in love, this book gives a clear account of what it feels to be in love, and the complications that come with it. I started reading this (bought this way back in 2014) in the hopes of getting a better concept of what having a relationship looks like—and it’s definitely not like the movies, for sure.

Series + Films

I have my friends to thank for all the series recommendations. Again, I never really have time to watch series unless I am properly convinced (forced???) to do so. So my attention span probably stayed when I started watching these earlier this year.

Abstract

Finally, a series about creative professionals!

My favorites are Paula Scher (Episode 6: Graphic Design) and Christoph Niemann (Episode 1: Illustration). Both such inspiring individuals.

The Handmaid’s Tale

Full disclosure: By all means, I am not a fan of dystopian-themed films (except The Hunger Games lol) or series but this one was highly recommended by my best friend (she was like, “Ab! You HAVE to watch it.”) so I gave it a shot and….I finished in 2 days?!?

I think overall the thing about The Handmaid’s Tale is there’s a big probability that it may happen IRL. Which is why it’s so scary (but okay for the record love the color grading and cinematography. And of course, the way the story was presented.)

This Is Us

I don’t remember exactly what made me watch this. A friend was giving me suggestions on series to watch and he mentioned This Is Us and Person of Interest (below). So I started watching and…my feelings were out of hand. Doesn’t help that some episodes were centered around fathers (I lost my dad at an early age). So yeah. But it’s really amazing; I highly recommend it. Great cast, amazing story (and plot twists omg), beautiful message. I’ve yet to finish Season 2 but I’m saving my feelings (lol) when I’m ready (aka: when I have time).

Person of Interest

Again, full disclosure: I don’t watch action series or things that involve murder or police investigations (does Castle or Chuck count?) but I managed to watch POI after much convincing. I actually liked it? I’m just on season 2 though. I still have 3 more seasons…so, we’ll see.

But also: I have a soft spot for series with good music. So there’s that. And for using New York as the setting. Me and New York…yep.

Fight For My Way

I was initially planning to put Weightlifting Fairy here but let’s be real, I liked Fight For My Way more. Mostly because I’ve reached a maturity level (lol I’m an old soul tbh) that made me appreciate this kdrama more. Also, adding to the fact that the characters here are adults already and the topics covered are more close to home—such as getting a job, surviving adulthood, etc. Can we also talk about how cute the lead actors are? After 20+ years of friendzoning each other it finally dawned on them that they’re actually perfect for each other. *insert cheese emoji here*

As for films, I managed to watch different genres this year. Here are some on my list:

The Grand Budapest Hotel

While I will always be a Moonrise Kingdom loyalist, this film is probably Wes’ best film EVER. The overall Wes Anderson aesthetic is clearly portrayed in this film, as well as the different scenes that encapsulate the storyline. I love the fight scenes accompanied with the witty musical scores! Also: A+ for typography, always.

5 to 7

This has been on my hard drive for the LONGEST time but I never bothered to watch, until my friend (hi Maka!) told me to watch because we were going to discuss after. Haha. I love that it’s set in New York, and that the characters’ complexities are shown in the film. Not to spoil but this is surprisingly a good ending. One thing definitely led to another (in a good way!).

Everything is Copy

No idea how I encountered this documentary but I copied it from a friend’s HD (hi Koko!) and found out that Nora Ephron is the screenwriter for When Harry Met Sally, and a lot of popular romcom films (Julie & Julia was one of her recent ones before she passed away). This documentary talks about the beginnings of Nora, how her career has shaped her life, and the beauty of inspiration turning into her success as a writer.

Coco

Everyone says this is the best Pixar film. While I disagree to that (I have my favorites!), I have to say: Coco is AMAZING. As in. All the graphics, the plot, everything. Doesn’t help that it talks about loved ones that have passed away…I am a fragile person. Huhu. But really, worth watching. Disney knows how to tell stories, hands down.

Loving Vincent

Being a huge fan of Van Gogh made me watch this film. But also because it took six years for this film to be produced because every scene is handpainted (!!!) in Vincent Van Gogh’s style (which I now know is called Impasto painting).

The Founder

A gem I found while on the plane to New York. A must-watch if you’re an aspiring entrepreneur or business owner. Also: love McDo 5ever lol.

Music

Let’s be real. I’m a pop junkie, among most things. I love my music though: from alternative to indie to acoustic. But this year, pop ruled (haha). Here’s my 2017 Wrapped (according to Spotify):

To add to that: I really loved these albums which were released this 2017:

  • Ed Sheeran’s Divide (Hearts Don’t Break Around Here is my favorite!)
  • Paramore’s After Laughter (Fake Happy, Rose-Colored Boy)
  • Lorde’s Melodrama (Supercut, Hard Feelings/Loveless)
  • Taylor Swift’s Reputation (End Game, Getaway Car, Delicate)

*Check out my 2017 playlist: Your Top Songs 2017

My favorite indie songs:

  • Someone To You – BANNERS
  • NYC Girl – The Orion Experience
  • We’ll Grow – Libby Kash
  • Killer Whales – Smallpools
  • Into The Night – Carousel

*ABCDiscover playlist can be found here. Yep, all those indie songs above are there. 🙂

Talks

While most people like watching TV, I like watching talks. It’s my way of learning and getting new ideas, as well as to hear words of wisdom from people in the creative industry. I’m a loyal watcher of TED talks, Creative Mornings, and 99u videos. Here are two of my favorites:

(99u) Debbie Millman: Anything Worthwhile Takes Time

Debbie Millman: Anything Worthwhile Takes Time from 99U on Vimeo.

(99u) Christoph Niemann: How to Overcome the 3 Fears Every Creative Faces

Christoph Niemann: How to Overcome the 3 Fears Every Creative Faces from 99U on Vimeo.

Articles

My other guilty pleasure is saving lots of articles and reading them on my free time. Here are a few notable ones:

That’s it for my roundup this year. Hope you find something you end up consuming too—because after all, these things are meant to be shared. 🙂 Let me know in the comments below if you find something similar in your own list!

Always be creating,

Abbey

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? 😀

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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. 🙂

Books:

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.

Articles:

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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.

Music:

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 shop.abbey-sy.com.


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,

Abbey

Summer, So Far (+ Faves Roundup!)

Way back in my younger years, summer always had to make sense. Mostly because as students, it was a way to unwind from the daily grind of going to school, accomplishing homework, and making sense of a well-balanced school life. I was always making art and “playing outside” with my neighbors, and we spent our summer doing Mother’s Day plays and baking, and all those fun things. Fast forward to growing up years—after my thesis defense in college, I spent my summer interning, working on freelance projects, and eventually landing my first and last corporate job.

These past few years have been entirely different though, and I’m very well assured that they will always get more interesting as every year goes by. One thing’s constant though—I find myself working on very important projects at the first half of the year. I wonder why…:P

Anyway, I’m not here to talk about work, so let me just slip in and share some snaps from my summer (so far) this year. Enjoy the photo diary below! Also, keep reading because I’ll share some of my favorites (podcasts, books, films, you know the drill) at the end of this blog post. 🙂

Went to Hong Kong during the Holy Week! Not much has changed. I always like how busy the streets are.

Me time at Cafe Mido~

Love how they preserved the cha chaan teng style interiors. Also, nothing like good ol’ milk tea and toast. And some writing.

ABCoffee? Lol.

Hong Kong was a nice breather. I was feeling out of myself already (see: previous post) for the past months and I just needed to wander elsewhere, far from home. It was nice also that I got to spend it with my family, as I always travel either alone or with a friend. 🙂


The week after I returned from HK, I attended to a few things: a shoot for #ABCReadSearch and the media launch of my new book, Hand Lettering A to Z. So grateful for National Book Store as they are exclusively carrying copies of HLAZ in their stores!

Above: my proud mommy moment 🙂 It takes a while for me to appreciate whatever I put out (imposter syndrome I guess) so it was nice to celebrate the release of my new book!

Thanks to the fun bunch of students I got to teach during the launch!

Hand Lettering A to Z is available at National Book Store here and Amazon here.


The week after, I left for a week-long trip to none other than Tokyo, Japan. Again???? Yes, I go to Japan every year. Hahaha.

KOniSYwa! Koko makes the best puns. 😛 Also makes for one of my favorite travel buddies, good friends, and achis. <3

(That’s our “coffee while chika” photo, by the way. Selfie sticks are cool.)

This particular Tokyo trip is one of my favorites, because we visited so much places in a week! Art museums, bookstores, coffee shops, and if that isn’t enough, we went to see flower gardens and Mt. Fuji outside of Tokyo! Not to mention our excessive craft shopping (I even bought wood planks, WHAT) at our favorite stores. No regrets! More on my next En Route post.

If anything, I’ve been to Japan seven times already and there is always, always something new to discover in this country. I can’t wait to be back soon for *work stuff*, fingers crossed!

I’m so so happy to be reunited with Kaila as well. We met up last Saturday and spent the day doing our usual life talk sesh, had purikura shots, and explored Nakano and Tokyo with Koko. So. Much. Fun! <3

Kaila has been one of my OG friends since college. She’s always been a constant source of positive energy (#LDRfriendship y’all) and we’re both Capricorns, which explains how much we get along together (about absolutely everything). So happy to see her after so long!

Check out her vlog below for some clips of our fun day together!

Also: watch until the end and see our funny antics while taking photos of the rainbow ice cream in Nakano. LOL.

So much for going abroad to and fro; I’m looking forward to my La Union trip this month! It’s mostly for work but hopefully I get to spend quality time wisely while I’m there. 🙂

Since we’re here, thought I should share a few new things I’ve been consuming lately! Needless to say, my taste has changed. LOL. But I guess that’s part of me maturing into a new person. Let’s leave that topic to another post, then. Hahaha.

THE SCHOOL OF LIFE (YouTube)

Always been a fan of Alain de Botton (On Love is my favorite book!) so The School of Life (which is run by Alain as well) definitely adds to one of my go-to resources. I love watching their videos on YouTube which run from 5-10 minutes and talk about everything from relationships (important!) to work and to self-care.

Check out their YT channel here.

ROOKIE (Podcast)

Rookie magazine in podcast form? Yes please! Tavi Gevinson totally rocks this as she interviews amazing people in various industries. My favorite episode is “Never Settle for Less” which guests the two ladies from Another Round. I love how they’re very open to talking about not just creativity, but also mental health awareness. Also: love the Life Skills part of every episode!

Check out Rookie’s podcast here.

ADULTHOOD MADE EASY (Podcast)

If you’re like me who is still in a love-hate relationship with #adulting, this podcast is for you! Haha, guilty of listening to episodes about relationships and dating (lol because I am uneducated) and things like career changing, handling money in your 20s, etc.

Listen to Adulthood Made Easy here.

HAPPIER (Podcast)

Best known for her book The Happiness Project, Gretchen Rubin and her sister, Elizabeth Craft, tackle about daily issues and finding happiness in this podcast.

Check out Happier’s podcast episodes here.

PERSON OF INTEREST (Series)

Me, watching a crime-drama? Yep, it’s real. Lol. I was convinced to watch this after a friend recommended it to me, and surprisingly, I’m hooked. Something I like watching when I want to deviate entirely from creative work because the cases really get me thinking, and I get transported into another world. Also: their soundtrack is amazing (Intro by The XX wew and many more) and love the quotes in every episode (I took notes because #readsearch lol).

GIRLBOSS (Series)

Despite lots of people disliking the adaptation of the book, I actually liked this! I’m reminded of my early days as Sophia was struggling to build her online business, and telling people it’s an actual business (been there!). Except I’m not as mean as her, I think. Haha. Britt Roberson totally rocks all the outfits, and I love Sophia and Annie’s friendship. Goals!

Lastly, a roundup of films I loved watching this first half of the year!

Angus, Thongs, and Perfect Snogging: The ultimate coming-of-age flick especially for teenage girls. Also, Aaron Johnson is swoon-worthy, aaagh!

20th Century Women: A beautiful look inside the lives of three women in the 20th Century. Annette Bening was amazing!

The Pursuit of Happyness: A reminder that persistence and hard work is always key. Loved this film so much, even if it was so heavy, haha.

The Cutting Edge: You’ll get kilig with the love-hate relationship of the two mains, promise. Also, always love watching ice skating films for some reason, so this was no excuse!

The American President: Not your typical love story. NGL, was SUPER KILIG while watching this film.

Dave: Watched this while in Tokyo and I really enjoyed it. It’s similar to American President because it has something to do with the (fictional) President of the US. Must watch, too!


If ever you find yourself checking out my recommendations above, let me know what you think! Aaahh, felt so good to write here again (out of impulse). Hope you’re having a great summer so far 🙂

Abbey

2016: Year in Review

Where did the past 12 months go? 😮 This question suddenly popped out of my head as I am typing this in my favorite cafe, tucked in at my favorite spot on a quiet Thursday morning.

Every year, I try to put up a little “personal essay” of sorts sharing tidbits of life and overall how things have transpired in a span of a year. (Read: 2014 Highlights / 2015 Highlights)

When I first started blogging at 13 in my (already dead) Multiply account, I had always been fond of keeping records of daily adventures and misadventures, growing pains, and literally anything under the sun I wanted to talk about. That never seemed to change 10 years later, but I think, at this point, it’s more important to write about things that I really want to impart to you, my readers.


NGL, if I were to describe 2016 in one emoji, it would be this: 😮

Read on to find out more about what made this year a memorable one for me.

Becoming an (artist and) author

“You’re such a celebrity now, with all your bestselling books! Wow!” is just an example of something I’d regularly get from someone who attends my events, or people I haven’t seen in so long. It’s so pretentious — this whole “celebrity” thing. And truth be told, I have never even bothered to think of myself that way. At all.

2016 was a patience-testing year, to be honest. It was so overwhelming to take everything all in; and at the same time, be thrown into unknown circumstances. I am so happy (and was a tad bit scared to begin with) that I was given the opportunity to write my second book, despite telling myself at first that I couldn’t do it (my inner critic is horrible). Also, they’ve both become bestsellers here in the Philippines (??? huhuhu) and it’s been amazing, really. I am also grateful to be able to write my first international book, which is coming out in July of 2017 in the US. 🙂

Apart from that, I got to produce my own journal! I have been dreaming this since I was a teenager, and always failed to do it because it wasn’t right enough yet (at the time). Making the ABC Daily Journal come to life was such a rewarding experience. I also got to collaborate with amazing brands and people, and checked off some dreams from my bucket list (such as: my CNN interview!).

A big chunk of this year trained me to be tough, courageous, and logical into putting my mind (and heart) into my work, because I had to snap into the fact that this is my job now. I am both an artist and an author. And I’m looking forward to seeing how this goes in the coming years. 🙂

Related Posts:

The ABCs of Journaling Book Launch | The Making of: The ABCs of Journaling

TEACHING OVERSEAS

Earlier this year, I got to visit Singapore again to conduct my first two overseas workshops. Little did I know, we had to open another class to accommodate another batch of students! 😮 It was great that I met up w/ my friends as well. Thanks too to Jo of The Letter J Supply for the warm welcome. 🙂

Last month, Tippy & I both spent a weekend teaching in Singapore, but this time, bringing our collab workshop overseas: Letters & Colors. 😀 It was a fun experience! Definitely worth remembering. (Thanks also to all the lovely people I got to meet in class!)

Related Post: Workshop Weekend in Singapore

Creative Retreats

My ~wanderlust~ self wouldn’t be quite pleased since I didn’t travel a lot this year. But I’m okay with that. Last year I was always out and about and I didn’t prepare for it, and overall it wasn’t cool.

This year I prioritized on having “creative retreats” every time I leave home, because it gave me more reason to see what’s out there and be wary of the beauty that this world (still) has. Oh, and I got to experience autumn for the first time (in Korea), so, I’m crying contented. 😀

But I guess the best trips this year involved my 2-week vacation in Japan last Spring (where I learned more about myself, tbh) and a quick peek of South Korea last Autumn 😀

Related Posts:

En Route: Tokyo, Japan

En Route: Singapore 2016 Photo Diary

Singapore Roundup: Art, Books, Crafts, Coffee

Stationery Shopping in Korea

Road to self-discovery

With all the challenges and work-related endeavours coming at me this year, they all paved the way for me to know myself more, among other things — and I think it’s pretty much a good way to discover things I haven’t figured out about myself and my behavior in the past years.

I’ve always been an advocate of being a better version of myself, and I think 2016 showed that to me. So, I just discovered how much I loved working out and how it has been an important part of my week (haha, thanks Den & Tippeh!), and staying introverted on a regular basis (does spending a whole day painting alone in the HQ count?) especially after people-filled events. I started listening to podcasts (y’all should listen to Girlboss & Creative Pep Talk), surrounding myself with positive energy, finding time to unwind (ahem, watching movies and One Tree Hill), writing, relaxing, and spending more time with friends and family. For the first time in my life, I’ve never felt freer.

I’ve also never been a settler: I moved to a new website this year, aka the platform you are reading this blog post from. It’s been great so far. I’ve been putting off blogging every once in awhile but I realized that I can’t, so next year I’m planning to expand this more and spend more time writing, since I’ll be on “hibernation” from work early next year. 🙂

Related Posts:

Gratefulness | On Settlements | 2016 Favorites

Meaningful Friendships

There are people who just breeze past your life and leave without any note. And then there are people who constantly check up on you and ask how you’re doing, how you’d like to spend a day outside work. Or people who’d invite you for a lovely conversation-filled day over shopping, coffee, or maybe, a spontaneous workout session. Or notable people whom you can virtually call your “officemates” because why not. 😛

And then there are low-maintenance friendships that have always lasted from the very beginning. Friendships that have been built on fundamental ground. People who don’t necessarily send a “hello” but when you meet up from time to time, it’s like you’re transported to 10 years ago, and nothing seems to have changed.

There are also friends who become family, friends who remind you that at the end of the day, it’s a good life. And that it’s definitely worth living for. 🙂

I have always felt like I was okay being alone, but it’s also perfectly okay to have people to turn to and talk to. This year taught me that — and I’m grateful for every kind soul I’ve met, exchanged life talks with, people who have become my constants, best friends who have always been there since day one — since that day in 2007 where I stopped walking alone in the halls of my alma mater back then (long story). Things have never been better.


Hey, 2016. You did good. It wasn’t all picture-perfect, but it was a good year overall.

So, how did your year go? 🙂

Abbey

2016 Favorites: Films + Books + Music

Hello! Okay, so this is my first time to do a roundup of sorts and because I wasn’t able to curate these every month (huuu time where are you), I’m sharing a roundup of my favorites from 2016. Read on to find out more.

Films / Series

I promised to watch 100 films this year (I did…I think?) so every time I had a free day or night, I’d spend hours reading reviews and watching films. If you know me well, my preferred genres are coming-of-age, indie, period films & biopics. Here were some that made an impression for me:

Submarine

This may be six years old already but movie critics did say it is the “quintessential coming-of-age” film. I really loved Craig Roberts’ character as he tried to decipher his transition to adulthood, finding romance, and discovering himself by being openly curious and a person full of questions (like me).

Okay honestly I feel like I am him sometimes that’s why I really enjoyed the film (lol). Apart from that, Alex Turner’s songs really set the mood for the film. 

Sing Street

Anything that involves making music or pursuing one’s passion always, ALWAYS goes into my favorites list. Throw in a cute lead guy and his journey to win a girl’s heart and I’m sold.

Won’t spoil much about this film but watch it! Same director as Once and Begin Again.

(Listen to the OST, and thank me later.)

Nowhere Boy

I’ve always been a Beatles fan ever since my cousin bought a Rockband set (Beatles edition!) and we started “playing” on a regular basis during my teenage years. I can also remember freaking out upon seeing Abbey Road in London a few years back.

That being said, I’m not a big fan, but I am a fan. I am particularly drawn to films that are bits and pieces of a famous or notable person’s life before they became big, and this was one of them. It’s interesting to see John Lennon pre-Beatles and his adolescence, and how he shaped his future from there.

(Bonus: Aaron Johnson will make you swoon. Also, the color tones are very European so that definitely makes the film worth watching too.)

Steve Jobs

As I mentioned in Nowhere Boy, I like biopics in general. This was a good rendition of Steve Jobs’ life in three parts…but I’m not sure if they’re 100% true (there are lots of arguements in various articles about the genuinity of the facts).

(The last part of the film – which I won’t spoil – played a Maccabees song, “Grew Up After Midnight”. It’s my current fave.)

Pride & Prejudice

Keira Knightley, you slay. I love her strong & independent personality and at the same time, her vulnerability when it comes to love and relationships. Must watch if you’re period film buff like me! 

When Harry Met Sally

After watching this film (a reco by my best friend), I’ll never look at love stories the same way again. This was so honest and real, and it goes to my favorites instantly.

Younger

Series

Aside from Hilary Duff being part of the cast, what kept me hooked with this series was the fun characters and the setup – because it’s set in the publishing industry (where I sort of am in…) so it was really eye-opening. That and I’m #TeamCharles for Liza.

(Watch! The Season 3 finale just aired so more time to catch up.)

One Tree Hill

Series

I grew up with One Tree Hill (here is an artwork inspired by it). I remember first discovering Jimmy Eat World & Fall Out Boy thanks to this series, and my life has never been the same. Now that I’ve rewatched it (at a more mature age hehe) I learned to appreciate it more especially on the issues they faced as they transitioned to adulthood.

Fun fact: I always research about the songs used in every episode and I’ve curated my favorite ones in this playlist: OTH Feels

Also, check out the different monologues on every episode. Swear, so many feelings.

(Also, Leyton FOREVER. Relationship/soulmate goals!)

Music

I have a wide range of music preferences. Mostly indie folk, but I have a soft spot for other genres too. I’m warning you, my fave songs are not all in the same music genre 😛

Tracks:

(in no particular order, lelz)

→ Fire Escape – Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness

→ 29 – Run River North

→ Grew Up After Midnight – The Maccabees

→ Feeling a Moment – Tender

More here on my “Your Top Songs 2016” playlist 😀

Favorite playlists:

(click the links to access to Spotify!)

Folk Pop

KokoJam (since last year! HAHA)

Indie Faves

Discovered Weekly

Michelle Branch Tho

Books

I spent more time reading magazines this year (heee sorry) and it also didn’t help that I wrote 2 books this year. But I did devote some time reading more non-fiction self-help books and one fiction book.

Books have always been my favorite investment — I feel like there are so many worlds I can enter with a turn of a page. And I like peeking into people’s thoughts too, coincidentally. Here are some of my favorites from this year’s batch of books that I was able to read. 🙂

→ Your Inner Critic is a Big Jerk by Danielle Krysa

(published by Chronicle Books)

Tippy told me about this (and she gave me my copy! Yay!) and wew, so much tough love. A little reminder on those days when you feel like your art doesn’t matter and you need that reassurance that it’s all just a phase. This always ends up on my bedside as my favorite to-read when I can’t sleep. (Also: I’m a new fan of Danielle Krysa! She is amazing!)

→ Coming of Age anthology

(published by Summit Books)

This collection of stories about turning 18 made me remember how my 18th year became a huge turning point in my life (haha, more on that on a future post, maybe). My favorites are The Bucket List & Andrea.

→ Lessons from Dad by Lance Gokongwei 

(published by Summit Books)

Finished this in one sitting; that’s how good it is. A compilation of life lessons (in categories) by Lance Gokongwei (son of business tycoon John Gokongwei), this little book packs a lot of insightful learnings and snippets into the life of John Gokongwei himself. I loooove 1) reading about successful people’s lives and 2) vintage Chinese photos (yes, specifically Chinese because I am one too) so this was definitely an instant favorite for me.

Disclaimer: This isn’t available in bookstores. (Thanks Summit Books for my copy!)

→ Want More Energy? by Dr. Libby Weaver

(published by Kikki.K Press)

A random find from Kikki.K Singapore (it was on sale!) and a very worthy purchase. If you need a little pep talk on how you’ve been living your life, read this. I was at a very depressed state when I picked this up and I felt better reading it. A super quick read (you can finish in less than an hour) but a reminder on things that you tend to leave out when you become extra busy with your life.

Write Here Write Now by AA Patawaran

(published by National Book Store publishing)

I picked up this book at the Literary Festival in the hopes of getting more insights about writing and improving my non-existent  writing skills. I also love AA Patawaran’s take on teaching readers how to look at grammar, sentence construction, telling stories, and the world of writing through his own eyes. (Eeek, I’m not done reading, but *almost* done)

→ Maximize Your Potential by 99U

(published by 99U)

The second installment of 99U’s trilogy of books, this book highlights the importance of making connections, finding the right tools to make your work matter, and other entrepreneurial things most often disregarded by other design or business books. I love 99U because they value the freelance lifestyle, and always know how to share tips on that particular industry.

Podcasts

I don’t remember stumbling upon Creative Pep Talk but ever since I did a few months back, I’ve been keen on listening to podcasts almost every day. It’s become a good way for me to take in insights from artists & creative entrepreneurs on a regular basis without having to sacrifice time (because usually I’m on a painting marathon while listening to them).

Note: Find these all on iTunes or at the Podcast app on your iPhone.

→ Creative Pep Talk

by Andy Miller

My ultimate favorite. Andy always gives so much insights on creativity, making a living with art, and stripping down the nitty gritty things not many people talk about when it comes to making art and pursuing a creative career.

Faves: Quit Pursuing Other People’s Dreams with Chase Jarvis | Gemma Correll on Anxiety, Humor & Pugs | Timothy Goodman on Vulnerability

→ Chase Jarvis Live

by Chase Jarvis

(If I’m not mistaken) these are recorded live and uploaded on Chase Jarvis’ YouTube. But transforming it into podcast form made it more valuable (for me). Chase shares insights together with fellow creatives and notable entrepreneurs on making things happen.

Faves: Sophia Amoruso | Arianna Huffington | Austin Kleon

Access all the podcast episodes here.

→ Girlboss Radio

by Sophia Amoruso

I’m such a fan of the whole #Girlboss movement but it’s only recently that I found interest into the girl behind it — Sophia Amoruso. I love this podcast which generally taps on the lives of “girlbosses” and talks about the journey behind their road to success.

Faves: Emily Weiss, Founder & CEO of Glossier | Brit Morin, Founder & CEO of Brit+Co

→ Pardon My French

by Garance Doré

Garance is such an amazing woman (#goals) and I really love her episodes interviewing famed people because it usually feels like a conversation and I love eavesdropping on them (lol what). I’ve yet to listen to more episodes but it’s on my list!

Fave: Grace Bonney & Anna Bond (these two are my favorite creative entrepreneurs!) 

→ Art For Your Ear

by Danielle Krysa

Danielle (who is also the author of Your Inner Critic is a Big Jerk) gives sound advice on various creative topics from her fellow artists and friends and overall, Art For Your Ear is an avenue into learning more about the process, workflow, tips and other deets concerning a wide range of creative topics.

Faves: Bunnie Reiss | Lisa Congdon | Kate Woodrow

Okay, so that ends my roundup for the year. 😀 Quick shoutout to my friends for inspiring me to consume more this year — it feels overwhelming but at the same time very eye-opening for me, because I found my personal taste to be more refined now that I think about it.

So, what was your favorites this year? Let me know in the comments below 🙂

Abbey

Holidays 2016 (+ Free Downloadable Gift Tags!)

So, it’s December — the last month of the year. Time flies so fast! I’m popping in to share a few updates in time for the holidays. Don’t forget to scroll down below because I’ve got something special for ya! 🙂

#BEMOREIMAGINATIVE WITH TOBLERONE

First off, I got to design a limited edition Toblerone sleeve this Christmas! Here’s a peek at how it looks like:

toblerone

Pretty excited to share my art in the form of chocolate packaging. Who would’ve thought? 🙂 You can get this + designs made by fellow artists Solenn Heussaff, Valerie Chua, Alexis Ventura & Tokwa Penaflorida at selected supermarkets nationwide.

Drop by SM North Edsa next weekend and meet me for an afternoon of art & DIY! #BeMoreImaginative and design your own sleeve with me this December 18 / Sunday / 5PM, at SM North Edsa’s Snack Exchange. See you there! 😀

ABC BOOKS + MERCH

Heading out to shop for Christmas gifts? Don’t forget to check out National Book Store & Fully Booked for copies of The ABCs of Hand Lettering, The ABCs of Journaling, Stick ‘Em Up Book, and Letters from ABC postcards.22
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journals

Of course, if you’d like to check out most of my books + merch, drop by selected SM Stationery stores (inside SM Department Store) and spot the Always Be Creating sign. The ABC Daily Journal, My Lettering Progress Keeper and other nifty art tools can be found there as well.

You can find ABC stalls at SM Mall of Asia, Megamall, Makati, North Edsa, Fairview, Dasmariñas, Bacoor, San Lazaro, Bicutan, Marikina, Sta. Rosa, and Marilao inside SM department store.

FREEBIES? YES PLEASE!

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Shopping at Robinsons this December? Purchase a copy of The ABCs of Journaling & Letters from ABC at selected Robinsons Supermarkets & Department Stores and you can get a tote bag or backpack I designed for free! 🙂

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Promo’s valid until December 31 so do check it out while you’re running your holiday errands. 🙂

EXCLUSIVE HOLIDAY SETS + SHOP ABBEY SY PROMOS

Did you hear? We have new things up on the shop! If you want to save yourself the hassle of Christmas shopping, expect us to do the work for you 🙂 Check out our holiday deals:

freebies

Get your ideas together with the Create Today set (left), which consists of two notebooks and a handy pouch. And for every purchase of my new book The ABCs of Journaling, you get a free washi tag (right).

For the first time (ever!) we’re introducing two limited edition holiday sets for gifting…because the best things always come in boxes. 😀 Both of these sets cost less than P1000 each so it’s definitely a great buy this Christmas.

lettering

Learn the art of hand lettering with the Hand Lettering Set, featuring my book The ABCs of Hand Lettering, nifty art tools, layout worksheets, tote, special bookmark, a notebook, and My Lettering Progress Keeper. Click here to order.

journaling

Discover the joy of documenting with the Creative Journaling Set, featuring my second book, The ABCs of Journaling, a box of Letters from ABC postcards, a pouch, special bookmark, washi samples, and more. Click here to order.

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Lastly, our tote bags are 4+1. Get 5 pieces for the price of 4. Great deal right? Go get them until stocks last. 🙂

We’ll also add in some freebies and gift tags for you as a bonus for the holiday season. Shop now: shop.abbey-sy.com. We’re open all December. 🙂

FREE DOWNLOAD: GIFT TAGS

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Speaking of gift tags…thank you for making your way to the end of this post. Har har har. Congrats! I made three gift tags for everyone to use. Hope this keeps your holiday gifting more fun 🙂 Enjoy! 😀

Some notes:

– All designs are (c) Abbey Sy. You may not copy or reproduce without permission.

– You can find (3) PDF files on the .zip file. Use this for printing on stock paper or sticker paper.

– Do tag me on Instagram @abbeysy when you post about this!

CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD

So, what are your holiday plans? Keep me posted! 😀

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

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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)


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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

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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!

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Cat Socrates

Bras Basah Complex

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

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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.

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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)

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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)

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Supermama

Bali Lane

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

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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)

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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

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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 🙂