Friday, 30 November 2012

New Christmas Cards up!

Just got them printed today, check them out in my shop!

After watching Rise of the Guardians (if you haven't you should), I was reminded again of my fondness for Yetis. So it's no surprise that the Christmas cards I drew after that was monster themed.

I had a hard time figuring out a background for the 3 Yetis huddled around a fire but settled on a deep red since it was a Christmas card. Had fun playing around with the shading for this since they were all seated around a fire and would have shadows cast at different angles depending on where they were seated. I also like woolly mammoths so I had to draw one into the picture.

Was inspired by some of the other great card illustrators on Etsy and decided to try a new style, I quite like how it turned out and decided to have a batch printed out as well.
That's going to be it for my christmas card collection this year. Tomorrow is the start of December so I don't think there's really much time left to try and come up with new designs.

If you haven't already, it's time to start stocking up on Christmas cards especially if you are ordering from buyers based overseas. Happy Christmas Shopping!

I'll take imagination over reality, please

The girlfriend is off on a business trip, which led to this conversation we had.

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Pencil before Pen

Whenever I watch YouTube videos of people drawing, I always see them sketching things out with a pencil first before going over it with a pen/marker. I never liked the idea of penciling stuff first because I feel like it's not as spontaneous as if you drew directly with a pen from the start. I'm finding it hard to find the words to describe how I feel about it.

But anyway, I decided to try it today because I was actually short on time and wanted to get a card done as soon as possible. And man, it makes life so much easier. I'm used to drawing things a few times before settling on something I like but sketching in pencil first will save a lot of paper. Ideally I'll get so comfortable with drawing that I will be confident that every pen stroke was as intended but I don't know if that's realistic. 

So today's 'learn something new everyday' lesson is: sketch in pencil first, save yourself the trouble, save the trees and we will all be happier for it.

Made this congratulatory wedding card today for a couple that liked to bake, cook and ballroom dance. I actually ended up enjoying drawing this one because it's of things I would usually not think of drawing on my own. Looking at wedding cake designs was also probably a first for me. 

Saturday, 24 November 2012

Channeling sales through the unconscious

This morning I woke up and the first thing that came to mind was 'I think I made a sale'. The cool part (to me at least) was when I checked my account, I was right! It was awesome that I made a sale and what made it doubly awesome was the fact that I thought I did even before checking.

Re-reading my last paragraph, it borders on creepy with no life but who cares.

It's very encouraging to see people liking and actually buying my stuff. I feel like I've got lots of growing left to do in terms of my style of drawing but that's a good thing because it means having to draw more stuff which is really enjoyable anyway. Win-win situations are always the best.

While the girlfriend and I were out doing our christmas shopping, I felt like I was going to make another sale. When I checked, I did and that was great especially after walking around all day with my feet killing me and dodging humongous baby prams and what felt like the whole of Singapore packed into the mall we were at.

Speaking of which, when did baby prams get so monstrous. Seems like the babies are held up really high and it looks very unsafe though I'm sure the babypram companies went through a million tests to make sure their products are safe.


Friday, 23 November 2012

Black Friday - Cyber Monday 2012 Sale!

Jumping onto the US bandwagon and set up a listing for the most awesome shopping season of the year in the US aka Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

From now till 26th November midnight PST, buy 2 postcards and get 1 free! Click here to be taken to the listing

Happy Holidays to all who celebrate!

In other news...

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

New Series: Grumpy Cat Cards

And they're up! I really enjoyed doing this new series.

Saggybags was up to her usual antics: scratching at the door at an ungodly hour on a Saturday morning, expecting to be fed. When I got up all groggy and gave her some kibble, she gave me a dirty look and promptly meowed at me in a very disdainful tone. When she saw I wasn't going to give her any wet food, she gave me a 'wat iz diz defiance!' and gave me a very deadpan, petulant look of disapproval. That gave me an idea to start a bunch of grumpy cat cards.

I didn't know how many I'd end up with and just started drawing. I had a lot of fun with this and researching the different colours cats had. I only started liking cats this year because of the girlfriend and I'm glad she introduced them to me. I used to be a dog person, thinking cats were horrible pets that gave no affection but I was very wrong. Saggybags and Fatty provide endless amounts of entertainment, it's a lot of fun to have them around.

If you like grumps and cats, then hey you should check out my cards!
Check the Grumpy Cat Cards out!

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Web analytics: Get to it

It's probably embarrassing to admit that I'm finding out new things on the Etsy shop seller page even though I've been using it for awhile. I should learn to click around more randomly.

I also completely forgot about getting google analytics for my Etsy page until I stumbled onto people discussing which countries their views were coming from. I was wondering how come my shop stats didn't show any of the details they were talking about until I realized they were using google analytics for that.

Glad I got it implemented but now it means another new tool to obsessively check. 

A guide for dummies: How to use google analytics with your Etsy store

Monday, 19 November 2012

Straight lines are going to kill me

Scoring cards are a right pain in the ass. There must be something wrong with my eyes or my ruler or something because I couldn't score the cardstock properly for whatever reason. Kept scoring them off-center no matter how much I took all the pains to be careful to measure it down to the millimetre, it's nuts.

Finally conceded to the fact that I just wouldn't be able to get it right down the middle and proceeded to try and trim up the edges. Only to find that my cutter wasn't good and left it looking shorn instead of a clean line down. Rummaged around for another one and the new one was so much better. Great, so I had spent so much time on the old lousy one when I could have had an easier time with the new one. The old one was so blunt I had to use so much strength pressing down to make sure it cut through the cardstock. You'd think I was trying to cut through steel or something.

I also found my pair of scissors to be really blunt. What is it with me and sub-par stationery items. You'd think a pair of scissors, which are new no less, would be sharp enough to do the job but I guess you get what you pay for.

Lesson learned. Good stationery supplies are worth paying for, otherwise you'll just end up with more frustration that you need to. Back to the drawing board.

Sunday, 18 November 2012


At the store yesterday, I asked whether they had cardstock which wouldn't let copic markers bleed through and repeated it a few times just to make sure they heard me. The guy looked at me blankly and nodded every time. Even when he passed me the cardstock, I asked him again just to be totally sure and again he nodded at me.

After the productive streak last night, I went to bed feeling good and was looking forward to waking up to take pictures of the cards.

While messing around with the cards before I was going to set them up for photos, I noticed a shadow on the inside. I had a bad feeling about it and true enough when I flipped open the cards, the markers had bled through. Yeap, no doubt about it, it bled right through.

I got really annoyed for 5 mins and then got over it. Tried to think of all sorts of ways to get around it and think I finally found a way that won't be so time-consuming, more use of supplies and acceptable to people buying cards. At least I hope I did.

In other news, the cats must feel like they are in playground heaven surrounded by all these pieces of paper. Fatty can't seem to decide which paper she wants to sit on more so she's taken to spreading herself out as much as she can.

Saturday, 17 November 2012


This weekend started out on a great note. The gf and I were up bright and early (well earlier than our usual) and had a late breakfast in town before trundling down Orchard to stop by various places to check out supplies. There was a book fair going on in Bras Basah complex so it was busier than usual.

Picked up a good book about colours for what I thought was a good deal only to find out it's original price in the US and realized probably wasn't as great as the 50% discount made it sound. The illusion of 50% discounts. Still happy with it because I've been scouting around for a book on colour to learn how to mix and match better. Lots of interesting colour combis I would have never have thought of.

After picking up some art supplies, we managed to just miss the crazy onslaught of rain and ran to the nearest mrt station in the nick of time.

Came home and had a burst of inspiration and starting drawing away on my newly bought card stock. Had a lot of fun with it and can't wait to list it up on Etsy.

Funnily enough I get these bursts of inspiration after I've been doodling around for awhile. They don't just hit me out of nowhere. I guess it's like working out at the gym, you only set new personal records after you've warmed up thoroughly, you don't just walk in and heave up the weight.

Streak, please continue tomorrow as well.

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

murukku ftw

2012 was the first time I ever ate murukku. I don't know why it's taken me this long to find out about this deep-fried goodness that is murukku. It's so addictive, I can literally finish a whole packet but my adult brain tells me to refrain because I will regret it in the long run. My child brain just wants me to eat every fattening snack in sight. The gf introduced it to me along with many other oh-so-bad-for-your-health-but-damnit-y-u-so-tasty snacks that I've never thought to try before as well.

Happy Deepavali to all who celebrate. I bought murukku to partake in the festivities. (Actually, that was just an excuse to buy it.)

Monday, 12 November 2012

many forks become a tree

It seems that every time I move past one decision, another one pops up in front of me. Just when I think I'm past having to think about printing,  I'm wondering whether I should invest in a good home printer and print just a few copies of cards and be able to list up more designs frequently. Googling leads me to many contradicting views. A brand is awesome! B bombs! A brand is the pits, B is ok. A brand and B both suck go support your local printer, etc. And nowadays, anyone who can google seems to be an expert on whatever subject they are talking about, who knows, maybe a chimp is actually punching away behind some computer as a lab experiment.

Saturday, 10 November 2012

A lending hand

The people on the etsy teams have been nothing short of helpful. I was pleasantly surprised at how much advice they doled out for a newbie and it actually made me feel glad I decided to open up shop on there. It was nice to see people so ready to be helpful. It's a refreshing change from hearing the tired and beaten down rants of people not wanting to help others because they don't know what's in it for them. Humanity and karma, that's what.

I think it's great that etsy started out as an online avenue for artists to get together and sell their wares and they made it a welcoming, supportive environment from the get-go instead of a competitive one. Business is business but art and design is so subjective. 2 people may draw the same thing but the style is always different and you'll have a different audience for each one. 

It was interesting to see that there were so many people from Singapore on etsy. That probably means I need to get out of the house more. I had no idea that we had so many handmade type flea markets in Singapore until the gf introduced them to me. Which is actually really exciting because it's fun getting to see people showcase their stuff. It's always interesting to see the products with their creators and the similarities/disparities between them. 

There are 3 flea markets going on Friday and tomorrow but I'm down with a real nasty bug and decided to rest up at home and not spread the germs around. It really knocked the wind out of me. I hope to catch the next round of flea markets before January comes around.

Looking forward to brainstorming for new ideas this weekend. The insane monsoon weather is the perfect excuse for cooping up at home. 

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Scoring board

Bet you didn't know that there was a tool out there just to help you get the deep crisp crease in the middle of your greeting card so you can fold it over itself nicely. If you did, well, just amuse me.

You learn something new everyday. I'm thinking about printing greeting cards and googled around for how-to videos and stumbled upon one that showed this lady talking about a scoring board and I wondered what the heck that was.

Googled around somemore and turns out it's a tool to put the crease in your greeting card for you. No more mucking around and hoping you won't mess up your fold or else you waste a perfectly good piece of cardstock.

I'm really bad at folding stuff so it would to handy to have it if I plan to print cards from home. Which leads to another thing I've been thinking about lately: to print greeting cards from home. I don't think my printer (which I paid in the region of the low one hundred for) is up to the task. I'll give it a test run just to make sure. Someone once advised that I could consider investing in a good printer so I could have better control over the print quality/outcome of my work if I got serious about it. For now, I just want to make the most of what I have since I'm just starting out. I don't know if I'm being overly meticulous about watching my cost but I think it's good to be vigilant from the start.

Monday, 5 November 2012

Uniform theme

Now that my Etsy store is up and running, I check the shop stats one too many times. It's awesome how they have a tracking tool to see where traffic is filtering in from and what's being liked etc. I also realize that my website is not one of the top hits when I google for it. In fact, I don't see it on any of the pages which is bad. Not surprisingly also because I have done zilch in terms of SEO. I thought chucking in a little metadata code with keywords will allow for better hits but nope, that didn't do anything for it. Then I searched around and realized that metadata code is apparently archaic and so yesterday. The frog that lives in the well that is hidden under a rock, that be me. For all of 10 minutes I thought I was kind of clever for finding out about it, then it got promptly squashed. At least I had that 10 minutes to feel good.

Shop/listing views have trickled to a few instances here and then but I'm wondering if that is the weekday slump. It will be interesting to see if there is cycle in shop views. Like weekends it will be higher while weekdays might be a little slow. Would be cool if they amassed historical data split by types of goods/wares being sold by the people on Etsy. That's an analyst's dream come true and something I would definitely enjoy splicing through.

Since I decided to start this process of bringing my works to the market, I suddenly feel like I want to make all sorts of stuff. I'm seeing all these things that I would have a ton of fun making but it would make my shop seem like a mix-up of everything and anything and would leave my store being very unmemorable especially since it's just starting out and has barely etched out an identity of it's own. Reading around the forums, it seems that it's important to focus in on one thing you are good at so people remember you. I suppose there are already so many creative talented people out on Etsy, why not pick the person that does say, just wood carvings than someone who does that and maybe painting or drawing, etc. It makes sense to pick the specialist over the generalist when you have a specific item in mind.

In a such a competitive space, branding and your brand identity is very important. Leaving an impression is another.

Who knew running a little web shop could bring about so many thoughts. I wish I had done this sooner, it's quite fun. It would be a lot more fun if sales started coming in, hurhur.

Inspiration and effort

Before I decided to really get serious and sell my work, I used to think that artists must have been such creative sorts that were inspired all the time and were perpetually overflowing with ideas. I thought that maybe I wasn't as creative as others because I'd face days of dry spells where nothing would really inspire me or make me feel like drawing or making stuff.

I started to read around and realized that artists do go through dry spells but the key to it was sometimes you just had to set aside time to draw or do something. Even if you don't feel like it, sitting down just to randomly doodle or draw might sometimes surprise you with what you end up with. One of my favourite illustrations came out of one random doodle that led to another and it grew very organically.

I also came to the realization that it was important to surround yourself with art or crafty things when you can. You draw inspiration from the works itself but also from the appreciation/awe of the creativity these artists possess and this in turn encourages me to want to draw and create more art.

Having had no formal education in art, I feel like I'm missing out on a lot of the basic knowledge that many others have and I hope this doesn't mean I'm setting up myself for bad habits but instead maybe adding a new twist to the approach. Time will tell.

The weather's been swinging from searing heat to endless downpours but I like rainy days best for drawing. It really feels like my room is a stand alone with the falling rain blocking everything in the distance from sight and the sound of the rain hitting my windows providing white noise.

Then again, I'm also more prone to falling asleep to take naps because of the cool weather but I shall end this post on a high note.

Saturday, 3 November 2012

Official Shop opening

This post is actually 2 days left but better late than never. Thursday was spent fiddling around with the html codes on the website and uploading and editing the contents and prices of the postcards. I expected that the pricing part would be difficult but didn't expect to bounce back and forth.

Watched a lot of videos which I found helpful but sometimes all you want is a concrete formula to just follow, which doesn't exist because hey, this is life and it's all trial and error. The underlying message was not to undervalue yourself as it's a disservice to your products and also to fellow sellers trying to sell their wares and not to overprice yourself such that you turn people off from your products. People said it's easier to lower prices than it is to raise them but having seen videos on Etsy of popular sellers, they seem to have done the opposite, which I found interesting.

I suppose the crowd sees a good thing, values it and believes that what they are paying is worth it. Then again, there are times when I see something I like and go 'wow this is damn cheap for what it's worth' so I suppose that's how the crowd saw those undervalued products at the start and were still willing to pay when prices increased because they saw it's value.

It's fun and interesting to check out the shop stats to see how my cards were found and where the traffic is coming from. So many things to learn.

Thursday, 1 November 2012

horizontal rule

That line that goes across the page in a neat fashion to seperate chunks of words/paragraphs? The horizontal rule. <hr>

It kept escaping me so I wanted to make a post to remember.

Steak and Egg series

What's a blog called steak and eggs please without some blog posts about the wonderful dish itself?

This fine specimen of steak and eggs was had at Fine Palate. A small unassuming cafe tucked away just off Orchard Road in Singapore. There were generous helpings of tender steak, the butter was good(I love my butter) and well, fried eggs are always almost delicious to me. The tomato chutney was something new but added that nice sourish, sweetish kick every once in awhile if you wanted to clear your palate. Breads are baked in-house too.

The girlfriend and I enjoyed our time there and look forward to returning to try other dishes though I'll most likely succumb and have the steak and eggs again, as I always do at places that serve up good ones.