39 // Catherine Okada ‘An Honest Tune’

Six months after leaving my job I’m slowly starting to update my portfolio. I’ve been so busy I just haven’t had time. I’ll do an update soon because I’ve had some pretty cool projects. Anyway I recently added this live video I worked on for the lovely Catherine Okada to the site! I’ve never really worked on video so it was a learning experience to say the least. Prior to this I’d never edited or used premier pro and somehow I managed to put this together and not have it look half bad. We filmed the footage back at the start of the year at Goldsmiths Music Studios in New Cross in London. It was a really fun day and I roped in a few friends to help with the process. Many thanks to Steve especially as it wouldn’t look half as good without his camera skills.

Anyway, Cathy is a very talented musician who has a brilliant sound and some very interesting stories behind her writing. She’s releasing an EP next month and I’ve been busy working away on the artwork (below) for the release which has been great. We worked on the design together and used pieces of origami to create shapes you can see. Inspired by the shapes of hourglasses and Japanese mountains. We’re also working on a creative music video for her track Hourglass which we should be filming soon, I’m pretty excited to be getting this done.

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Below are some shots I took from in the studio with Shuta Shinoda while recording half of the EP. I hope you enjoy the music video and if you want to listen to some more check her out on Soundcloud and Facebook and definitely have a listen to this wonderful track:

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38 // PIGGY DOODLES

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Inspired by our little Pig the sausage dog, I did some doodles of her just for fun on a whim of motivation. I still need to do ‘the meercat’ but I’ll keep going when she gets into other cute positions that are easy to turn into doodles. Happy Monday! Enjoy for now.

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37 // Barcelona Adventures Part 2

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It’s been such a beautiful weekend and to start off this next week I’m quite excited to finish writing up part two of our Barcelona trip before heading full speed into more work. This time portfolio sorting – there’s going to be a lot of updating going on around here you know. If you want to read part one click here.

DAY THREE: JARDI BOTANIC AND POBLE ESPANYOL

Breakfast was had at our AirBnB

Lunch was Pizza and Sangria at La Oca

Dinner was at our AirBnB

We didn’t have anything booked this day so we did some research and decided to go and check out the Botanical Gardens. It was in an area which had the Olympic stadium and several gardens so we figured we could walk around and see what else we would come across. We caught the metro and then got on a bus to get to the top of Parc de Montjuic and then followed my gps map to find the Botanical Gardens. It’s not that easy to navigate around, we walked around some funny roads that didn’t look like we should be walking on them, walked in a few circles and finally found what we were looking for. It was very pretty, all the plants had names of what they were and lots of varieties of the same plant. Highlights from the botanical garden were the views of Barcelona from the top, the palm trees, the Californian flora section and a pretty great collection of Bonsai trees.

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Once we had taken in all the plants we were pretty tired and hungry, we consulted our map and on the other side of the park we spotted Poble Espanyol: an old fashioned, traditional village that houses loads of craft studios. We set off on a long, hot walk to this place, really looking forward to getting some food. Once we got our tickets and stepped in we found a square that was very pretty, surrounded by restaurants and cafes. We spotted the one that was getting hit by most of the sun so we took some seats and ordered a pizza to share with some sangria just because. It was glorious. We went on to explore the area, tonnes of tiny windows and shops with people making beautiful things. There was a man who had lovely wooden pieces, lots of leather workshops and dress makers, ceramics (we bought a cute little pot to put a cactus in for my new desk) and the best one was a lace shop, run by this lady who seemed like she was 100 years old, she spoke no English and made all the pieces in the shop herself.

We were pretty exhausted with achey feet by the time we got out of the tiny village and made our way back to our apartment. We were very appreciative to take off our shoes and spent our evening watching terrible films on Netflix… Including Sharknado which took us to a whole new level of strange before passing out…

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DAY FOUR: BARCELONA ZOO

Breakfast was at our AirBnB

Lunch was at Barcelona Zoo

Dinner was at our AirBnB

On our fourth day we took a trip to Barcelona Zoo which was super fun. I always find zoo’s a little odd, but I really enjoyed our trip to this one. The animals seemed to be pretty happy and there was such a great array of animals of every shape and size to see. I would highly recommend going. We managed to spend about five hours wandering around, and when we left we walked through the beautiful Parc de la Ciutadella – saw someone walking their pet pig, and then walked up to Arc de Triomf which was stunning. Feeling pretty starved we tried to find somewhere to eat but everywhere was closed as it was a Sunday. In our efforts to find food we ended up walking all the way back to our apartment and finally finding food there. With whatever energy we had left we somehow found the drive to go out and find dessert at the ice cream parlour on the corner of our street before ending our day with another bunch of terrible films and funny chatter before sleep.

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DAY FIVE: PARK GUELL, A CHOCOLATE MUSEUM, A PERFUME MUSEUM AND WANDERING

Breakfast was AirBnB

Lunch was Ice Cream and Sangria at Park Guell

Dinner was a feast at Patron

On our last day we had booked time to visit Park Guell. We made our way up there and just kept going up and up and up. After queuing for a little while we finally made it in to the park. The architecture is very beautiful. I’d seen loads of the mosaic parts online before, which were lovely but I found the whole flow and structure of the space more interesting. It was very busy even though we were there pretty early on a Monday morning in early March. It literally took about 30mins to walk around and see all there is to see which wasn’t that great but it was still a pretty fantastic piece of design. My favourite part of the park was actually the diamond shaped windows on some of the buildings, they had these watermarks that had run down from the bottom of them on the wall which made them look like kites. We ended up having some ice cream to cool off after our walk around and then made our way back to the metro station.

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On our walk back we came across a really cool little t-shirt shop called Typographia, I decided to get Mikee a little gift from there and bought myself one which has the botched Spanish fresco painting in a 2×2 pop art print, it is most probably the best t-shirt on the face of the planet. So good. We still had a lot of time to spend on the rest of the day, once we had consulted our guide we decided to visit the chocolate museum and the perfume museum. Both which were lovely, very small and very easy to get around. The entry ticket to the chocolate museum was a chocolate bar which was one of my favourite parts.

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During the week my mum had mentioned she’d never had a proper cocktail and wanted to try one, so we decided to make it our mission to find somewhere for cocktails and dinner to wrap up our trip. We ended up going to Patron, which was really quite beautiful inside, and I was a fan of the branding. We decided to share a couple of starters and split a paella, followed by some chocolatey desserts. Really really tasty food and we had a great walk to our apartment after, finally packing and then heading to bed as we had to be up at 4am to get to the airport. All in all a really lovely trip, and a pleasure to spend good time exploring a brand new place with my mum. Hopefully an experience to be repeated.

36 // Barcelona Adventures Part 1

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I can’t believe it’s been four months since my mum and I went on this little trip to Barcelona and that we’re already halfway through the year. Crazy times hey! Finally I have time to do blog updates! Yay.

Me and Mikee really wanted to thank my mum for all the help she gave us last year when we were going through the whole crazy buying a flat process. She came and looked at almost all of the places we viewed, she was all hands on deck when we moved in, she helped us with some of the financial stickies of buying your own place and we basically wouldn’t have been able to do half the stuff we have done without her guidance and knowledge. So I booked the trip as a Christmas gift, for the week after her birthday and just in time for Mother’s day meaning I could triple celebrate with her. I’ll try and do this a little like my San Fran post however I know how long these posts can get so I’m splitting the trip in half. Part two shall come soon.


HOW WE GOT THERE:

Our flights were booked via Norwegian airlines, direct to Barcelona from Gatwick. The flights were around £75 per person.

We met each other at Gatwick, after both getting the train. I got the overground and then a national rail train from London and mum got a train direct from Eastbourne.


HOW WE GOT AROUND:

WALKING – We actually averaged about 17k steps per day!

METRO & TRAM – We bought a 5 day Barcelona Card, it allows you unlimited transport for five days, and free and discounted entry into some of the museums and exhibitions, as well as offering discounts for certain restaurants. The card itself is €60 per person. You can also get 3 and 4 day passes which are slightly cheaper.

TAXI – We got one from the Airport to our AirBnB when we arrived, it saved us time and cost us about €30

AEROBUS – As hard as we tried to book a taxi to take us to the airport it didn’t work, so we found where there Aerobus left from, got up at 4am and walked the 20 minute walk with our hand luggage, it was quite speedy, comfortable and only cost €5,90 each so we were able to get some breakfast at the airport with our change.


CARRER DEL ROSELLÓ AIRBNB

We stayed at a lovely airbnb which was pretty central while still being quiet enough to be residential. It was super close to everything you might need like shops, two or three metro stops and ice cream… It was a fifteen minute walk from the Sagrada Familia and in the opposite direction you had the main strip with shops and restaurants so all in all it was a pretty great location. It had two rooms so mum and I had our own beds, which were pretty comfy – I think it’s the first time I’ve achieved close to 100% of sleep quality on sleep cycle. The host was Tamari and she was very helpful when we needed to figure some things out and gave us some recommendations of places to go when we got there.

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DAY ONE: LA BOQUERIA MARKET AND THE GOTHIC QUARTER

Brunch was had at Gatwick preflight

Dinner was oddly Italian food from Restaurante Italiano Rossini in Plaça Reial

After we arrived mum and I decided that it would be a great idea to stock up on some food for the week. I’d read about La Boqueria and thought we might as well do some sight seeing in the process of topping up our food. We used our Barcelona card and navigated the first metro station without too much trouble. We mostly just got single lines to make the getting around more straightforward and made the most of the walks and seeing the environment around us. Once we got to our stop we walked through some beautiful back streets around the Gothic Quarter which reminded me of the tiny streets in Como in Italy, it looked like we were surrounded by some interesting shops, I loved the umbrellas on the building in the picture below. The market kind of reminded me of Borough Market in London but bigger, more colourful and with fresher fruit. We picked up some veggies, cheese and bread and wandered around looking at all the food that was on offer. Once we were done we decided to walk back to the metro and stumbled upon Plaça Reial where it was so pretty we decided to stop and have some food in the sun and I convinced my mum to have some wine before we made our way back to the apartment to get in a good sleep.

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DAY TWO: SANT PAU RECINTE MODERNISTA & SAGRADA FAMILIA

Breakfast was avocado, cheese and tomato on toast Al La Me

Lunch was dessert and €3 wine at 1902 Cafè Modernista

Dinner was tapas and sangria as Taller De Tapas

Our first full day was quite full on. We’d booked tickets online for the afternoon to go the Sagrada Familia. But we had a morning to kill and ended up on a whim visiting what I would say was the best bit of the trip. Sant Pau Recinte Modernista is a former hospital and the world’s largest Art Nouveau Site. All I can say is I wish hospitals looked like that now. It was stunning. The attention to detail that had gone into the design and quality of everything in the buildings on the site was amazing, even in the former wards you had beautiful tiles decorating the walls and ceilings. When it was designed the mental well being of the patients who were going to be admitted there was taken into consideration, you can see that with the amount of space: a single patient had something like 140sq feet to themselves. There were underground passage ways made so you could get to each of the buildings without having to go outside during times of bad weather, and the garden used plants that would also offer an element of therapy through the smells that surrounded the hospital, with the added benefit of fresh, seasonal produce.

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Once we were done at the hospital we had a quick break with some sweet treats and could see the Sagrada Familia from where we were so we decided to walk there even if we were going to be early. On the way I realised I’d left our tickets at the apartment so we walked right past and went to pick those up and then walked back on ourselves. We were pretty happy to have booked the tickets online as the queue to get in was huge, even on a weekday in March. Book online friends, and deffo book a tower trip just for the views. The building is as stunning as everyone says. It’s huge. The scale of everything is mesmerising. I loved that the stained glass windows were just glass and not depictions of anything, and that they ran in colour gradients along so at every time of day you’ll end up with a completely different experience of colour within the space. Saying that though, my favourite parts were the parts that were just plain white. The amount of detail that’s gone into every element of it is mind blowing. We took a tower trip, which involved a lift to get to the top, a bit of vertigo and long walk down a tiny spiral staircase. The views across the city from the top are amazing. I can only imagine how incredible this building is going to be when it finally gets finished. We’ll have to go see the final thing when it’s done.

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Once we were done, we walked back to our apartment, then decided it was late enough to grab dinner. My mum had never had tapas before so we went to grab some tiny dishes from Taller de Tapas and some sangria just because we felt we deserved the treat after walking all day! Check back for the part two and I’ll give you the deets of the Botanical Gardens, Barcelona Zoo and Park Güell.

35 // A CRAZY FEW MONTHS

13288262_10154175326842482_1098222786_o copyIt’s been so long since I wrote a blog post it’s crazy. January?! Hello! Where have I been?!

Honestly I’ve done so much since I last posted I don’t know where to start to tell you about it all. I guess the biggest thing that has happened has been a long time coming really. It’s what I’ve wanted to do for years but not really been in the position to do until recently: I left my permanent secure job to jump into the world of freelancing uncertainty, the starting point for this experiment being my 27th birthday.

I’ve been freelancing as a side hustle since 2012. It came about as I was in a job where I felt quite depressed and unappreciated. I wasn’t in a position where I could just leave and needed to find another job before I could move on so I looked for freelance work at the same time. The work I found gave me back the confidence I’d lost in that job and also reminded me of why I love what I do. Gradually it’s just grown to keep me busy enough in the evenings and weekends that I no longer really had any spare time, wanting to regain some more work/life balance the idea formed in my mind.

13324016_10154175326557482_483169834_ddIt was a really tough decision, I’d done a lot of researching and reading and the more I read it seemed like it would be a good fit for me. I’d been toying with the idea for six months before I decided to commit to it. I wanted to do this smartly as it’s quite a risky thing to do and I wanted to be prepared. Luckily I hadn’t touched any of the income I made from my side hustle so I had a good little pocket of savings to cushion my jump. I calculated that if I only made enough money every month to cover my own expenses my savings would pay for my share of our house costs and food for a year – with the ideal situation being to make enough to cover all of my outgoings and not really have to dip into my savings.

Along came February 29th and I took the leap (so punny)… I handed in my notice, exactly one month before my birthday. I worked the four weeks and now I’m full time freelance. Funnily enough, I returned to Ogilvy on a freelance contract a week and a half after I left. I’m currently covering a content art director while they look for someone to fill the position permanently. It’s been a nice, familiar way of dipping my toes a little further into the pool and I’ve had the pleasure of working on a really fun project during my stint there. I should be wrapping that up in three weeks time, just before a quick trip to see my family in Finland. Yay!

In other news I took my mum to Barcelona at the start of March, to say thank you for all the help she’s given me and Mikee. It was a really nice trip and it was so great to spend time with just my mum, exploring. It’s the first time we’ve gone anywhere other than Finland together by ourselves, I think the future will call for more trips like that. I’ll do a full post on the trip when I have time to go through the photos.

13324016_10154175326557482_483169834_odI went to Sketch for afternoon tea on my birthday with my mum and my nieces and I would really recommend it. The venue is beautiful, the food is delicious and the tea was lovely. My nieces were sceptical about the size of the food but they were soon defeated. It’s amazing how tiny cakes and tiny sandwiches and tea basically make you feel like you’re going to explode you’re so full!

13324016_10154175326557482_483169834_o copyWe’ve also started doing bits and pieces in our flat which is exciting. Our toilet broke in November and we finally got it replaced in February along with refitting some of the pipe work so we could rearrange our kitchen a little as we want to replace that. We also painted our front door pink last weekend. Mikee was fine with my colour choice and now we have the happiest door on the street. And we FINALLY got a desk. I’ve been doing all this freelance work without a proper desk for the last four years. I’m so happy with it, both Mikee and I use it with Piggy asleep at our feet on her blanket.

13324016_10154175326557482_483169834_dWork wise, I’ve been pretty busy, if you couldn’t tell. I’ve illustrated for a colouring book for a friend who works at a publishers, I did eight drawings in total. They were pretty time consuming complex drawings but also lots of fun. I had a quick little job designing a wedding invite for a lovely couple who were getting married in Amsterdam, it was such a nice little piece of work to do and I wish them all the best for their marriage. I’ve contributed some small bits and pieces for SagittaMed, started by the lovely Sabine who I used to work with. It’s a destination for healthcare info and tips. The website should be launching soon so there’ll be more work to do on that when it goes live. I finished designing an annual report for First Story and worked on a book cover illustration for them as well. Most recently I’ve been doing an illustration for Eve’s Watch. I made and photographed some food for Craved where Mikee works for some social content which was quite fun to do. I really miss photography so I hope with some free time coming up I can crack out the film camera a bit more.

Craved Food PhotographyCraved Food PhotographyLastly I’ve been working with Catherine Okada on her visual bits and pieces; there’s the live video where I’ve been teaching myself premier pro. I should be able to share this soon. I’ve also been working on her EP artwork, logo and am finding time to work on some photos and the proper music video.

Anywho, I know this is a bit of an essay on where I’ve been and what I’ve been doing. I have three weeks left at Ogilvy, a week in Finland to look forward to (bring on midsummer, fishing and saunas) and I’ve been speaking to some people about potential work so keep your fingers crossed for me. I haven’t even had any time to update my portfolio so I’ll have that to do too. I’m hoping this jump I’ve made will give me more time to do personal work as well as being able update this blog on a more regular basis. We’ll see!

34 // Music Video Making

12576353_10153829614332482_2071692965_nOne of the fun projects I have going on this year is working with the lovely Catherine Okada to help with some music videos. I’m not experienced with film at all but some lovely people from work agreed to help out on the project. She needed a live video for one of the songs and a creative fun music video for another song. Yesterday we helped out with the live recording and here are a couple of the stills from the shoot. It’s the first time I’ve really used my camera to film and I’d really like to learn how to use it more and see if I could create some fun little videos just for creative purposes. We had to make it work with a really basic lighting set up but I think we got some stunning imagery for her. Keep an eye on this space for the actual video.

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33 // CHALLENGE WEEK 2

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And the 52 week challenge continues. I’ve actually made a calendar for the year if you want to join in or just have a nifty calendar – each page is downloadable or get in touch if you want a PDF!

52WeekChallenge-02Go to bed by 1am and wake up by 7:30am during the weekdays. I am a night owl, it’s something that’s been burned into the core of my soul and isn’t something that’s easy to break. This isn’t an easy task.

52WeekChallenge-03I successfully got to bed by 1am 3 nights our of 5 which I would say is pretty good running for me. I think I got out of bed by 8:30 most days though, an hour later than I was aiming for but I like bed too much. I’m not fussed about this as Piggy still got her walks, even if they happened to be in the evenings.

52WeekChallenge-04Getting to bed by 1am was probably a good thing, although I did find myself shutting my computer down at 1 and now 12:45 like I should have. I’m going to be inundated with work soon so I’m not sure if it’s a realistic goal to continue with this while I’m working full time too. I can survive on little sleep but I think I will aim to have 1am as my target bedtime and not feel too bad if I don’t hit it. I will still aim to get piggy her 30min-1hr daily walks though.

52WeekChallenge-05I’m not looking forward to this but I think my next challenge will be ‘no refined sugars’ natural sugars are cool. I have the worlds biggest sweet tooth and any sense of willpower I have around sweets disappears. I’m completely addicted. This last week I have eaten cake several times, cookies, I annihilated a packet of smarties and a packet of malted milk biscuits by myself, had ice cream twice, two chai lattes, jam on toast for breakfast twice, possibly had sugar in my tea on the odd occasion, Mikee brought home chocolate truffles on Friday for me, and I made a chocolate mousse earlier (granted it was made with avocado and dates but hey). I have a problem and I am not afraid to admit it because that’s an obscene amount of sugar.

I tried giving it up last year, it took me two weeks to get over the desire to want to eat a cake everyday even though I do barely actually eat cake. I think I managed for three weeks and slowly introduced it and then completely fell off the wagon again. It was fantastic to give it up though. Refined sugars impacts on acne which I have suffered from, when combined with trans fats they really don’t do your body much help. And to think about what this does to my teeth is horrifying. There are only benefits to giving it up, ultimately I would introducing a restriction of how much I can eat when I feel it’s a good time to bring it back. This week is going to be a toughie.

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32 // A 52 Week Challenge

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THE IDEA
Alongside trying to do #100DaysofDrawingMemories I wanted to set myself a year of really simple weekly challenges, think setting time to floss, exercise at home three times a week, cut sugar out. So I’m starting 52 weeks of small steps. One of my overall goals is to make my life a little bit more healthy, I’ve already started over the last year finding food I love that’s healthy and easy to make and trying to figure out what kind of exercise I like, because I’m the last person you’ll find in a gym. I once had free access to a gym, I think I went three times in two years, there was also a swimming pool and I spent all my time in the sauna – sitting on my butt (although I do love swimming). I really don’t want to fork out the money on a gym so anything exercise related to my challenge will most likely revolve around figuring what I can do outside or in the home. This isn’t just about exercise though, it’s about overall body wellness. If I find something I like I’ll try and add it to my daily/weekly routine. Lets see this goes, time to experiment.

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For this past week I decided to ease myself in and do something I already do pretty regularly. Walking Piggy for at least thirty mins to an hour everyday (this added with my daily walking time will mean I’ll be walking between an hour or two every day). I ideally wanted to take her out in the mornings so I can spend my evenings focusing on my nightly work sessions and just incase I need to stay late for my day job. It also means I’m a little more awake when I get to work.

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Turns out that it’s not as easy as I hoped, I am not a morning person in the slightest (the current time of writing this is 01:46am). I successfully walked her three weekday mornings this week and I walked her two weekday evenings, plus this Saturday we took her for a long walk around the docks, through the park and up to Rotherhithe and back. It’s been really nice when we’ve gotten outside and she’s been super happy to go for a walk. I’ve also felt really good doing it, I genuinely love walking – I used to walk an hour every day while at college and I loved it and I was pretty fit at the time. The only thing is finding the motivation to wake up early is really difficult, especially this time of year when it’s still dark and I literally think ‘NO’ to getting up or completely sleep through my alarm.

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52WeekChallenge-04I can’t see any downside to doing this everyday so I’m going to carry on as it’s something I want to build into my routine for the future in any case. It keeps me & Piggy healthy and will give me a reason to get out of the house even if it’s raining. I will try to go to bed by at least 1am or earlier on a weekday to make sure I can wake up early enough to take her. Which leads me on to…

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Go to bed by 1am and wake up by 7:30am during the weekdays. I know it’s only 6 and a half hours but my body is able to function on that. Wish me luck! If anyone wants to join in with me on this challenge I’ll be using #52WeeksOfSmallSteps to see the progress.

31 // 100 Days of Drawing Memories 1-7

Happy New Year! I hope everyone has had a wonderful first week. I had a lovely first few days at home and returned to London a week ago ready to go back to work on Monday. I think within two days of getting back all my energy has been zapped and I already feel exhausted again. I wanted a challenge for the new year, something to keep me engaged creatively as I don’t get to do a lot for myself, as I’m usually doing it for other people.

Way back in April last year The Great Discontent started a project with Elle Luna called #The100DayProject. The idea being to dedicate yourself to creating for 100 days in a row. I wanted to participate at the time but the day it started we had gone to San Francisco and I was ultimately distracted and never ended up starting. So here we are with a new year and I decided to start now. I was flitting between drawing a dog everyday or restarting my Everyday Opposites, but I thought it would be good to focus on something new, so I settled on drawing my memories.

I’m really enjoying it but boy it’s hard to keep up everyday already, I admittedly have had to catch up a couple of times, but hopefully as I continue it’ll get easier to do and to find time for. I’m going to post them here every week, so here’s numbers one through 7. Feel free to follow the project on instagram, even better take part yourself!

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