THRIVE: Where Manila’s cool changemakers converge (Inquirer.net)

(Originally published in Inquirer.net on October 16, 2015)

THRIVE MANILA | October 17 to 25, 2015 | Click on the image to visit the THRIVE Facebook page and learn more about this inspiring event
THRIVE MANILA | October 17 to 25, 2015 | Click on the image to visit the THRIVE Facebook page and learn more about this inspiring event

It’s a curious kind of convergence, happening in one of the world’s most complicated cities to navigate and live in. Artists and designers will get to hang around startups, who’ll also get to meet social media mavens and social enterprises, who’ll most likely be enjoined by bike advocates and environmentalists to support their causes. There will be art, music, green and healthy food, bikes, left and right brains, and more conscientious shopping.

THRIVE's "GreenTech Startup Studio Session", just one of the many cool satellite events happening this week | Click on the image to visit the event page and learn more
THRIVE’s “GreenTech Startup Studio Session”, just one of the many cool satellite events happening this week | Click on the image to visit the event page and learn more
Another cool THRIVE satellite event, this time, in the outdoors and on bicycle: THRIVE Open House with VivaManila and Bambike | Click on the image to visit the event page and learn more
Another cool THRIVE satellite event, this time, in the outdoors and on bicycle: THRIVE Open House with VivaManila and Bambike | Click on the image to visit the event page and learn more
How about ethical, sustainable shoe-making? THRIVE has that, too! Learn more about THIS event with Risque Designs by clicking on the image
How about ethical, sustainable shoe-making? THRIVE has that, too! Learn more about THIS event with Risque Designs by clicking on the image

Welcome to THRIVE, a first-of-its kind event series that “celebrates creativity, entrepreneurship, and design for social good and sustainability.” More than just an arts festival, a conference, or a bazaar, THRIVE aims to connect the many dots that make Manila the energetic hub that it is—but all focused on creating a more sustainable future for this megacity and its citizens.

According to Jen Horn, THRIVE director and founder of MUNI, “Manila is brimming with creativity, and dreamers and doers out to create a better world, and I wanted more of these groups to learn about each other’s initiatives, connect, and collaborate.”

This is an excerpt only. READ MORE in Inquirer.net.

Feeling uninspired? Wise words from top creatives (Rappler.com)

(First published on Rappler.com on February 12, 2014)

Graphika Manila 2014 poster | Taken from the Graphika Manila Facebook page
Graphika Manila 2014 poster | Taken from the Graphika Manila Facebook page

MANILA, Philippines – What does it take to live a life less ordinary?

At the recently held Graphika Manila 2014, luminaries from the creative world shared the stage to talk about their creative process, their best work, the mistakes they’ve made, and lessons they’ve learned along the way.

We saw from their individual journeys that whatever the speakers’ backgrounds—whether they hailed from Barcelona or Bacolod, were a newbie or a veteran, worked freelance or in a studio—they all had one thing in common: they openly sought inspiration and designed their lives around what mattered most to them.

You can do it, too—regardless of your profession or passion. Here are 6 ideas to get you going:

1. Commit to your passions. Illustrator and creative director Ash Thorp admitted to coming from “humble beginnings,” and spent a lot of time drawing during his youth because he “didn’t have a lot of toys.

Thorp talked about his “year of complete potential”, during which he endured commutes every day from San Diego to Los Angeles “because L.A. is where the action is; it’s where Hollywood is.” Eventually, he got noticed by Hollywood producers, who commissioned him to do some work for the big-budget remake of Total Recall.

TOTAL RECALL. Screen shots of material produced by Thorp for the movie Total Recall. Used with permission from Ash Thorp
TOTAL RECALL. Screen shots of material produced by Thorp for the movie Total Recall. Used with permission from Ash Thorp

Today, Thorp lives back in San Diego with his wife and daughter, enjoying work and life as a freelancer.

His advice to the Graphika Manila 2014 crowd: “When there’s a trend happening, let the trend go [its] way and just be yourself.”

2. “Take your weakness and make it your strength.” New York-based illustrator and designerSara Blake/ZSO grew up near-sighted and with a “googly eye.”

Instead of looking at her near-sightedness as a weakness, Blake found inspiration in the many patterns she could see up close. Although she was a very shy child, Blake found solace in art and used her imagination and connection with nature to stand out from the crowd.

In a recent interview, Blake talked more about her creative journey and how she “embraced” her weaknesses to develop her own unique style.

Telling TheGreatDiscontent.com that she wasn’t the best illustrator when it came to drawing realistically, she said, “Instead, I decided to embrace that I use my instincts to determine what I would abstract and what I would base [on] reality.”

DON’T BE SCARED. “Skull 3”, pencil on smooth Bristol paper. Illustration by Sara Blake
DON’T BE SCARED. “Skull 3”, pencil on smooth Bristol paper. Illustration by Sara Blake

Blake tells the Graphika Manila audience, “Free yourself from anyone’s expectations but your own.”

3. Experiment. Learn. Have fun. (Rinse and repeat.) Creativity is the twin sister of experimentation. The more you experiment and learn, the more your mind stretches and makes creativity possible.

Each of the speakers talked about learning new skills, experimenting with new tools, and having fun with the process of discovery. Sara Blake even gave the audience a sneak peek into her creative process, showing time-lapse videos of her Photoshop screenshots.

In designing the typeface for her alias, ZSO, Sara Blake took inspiration from a heart, and joined the Z and the S in order to form an upside-down heart. Peacocks, owls, skulls, flowers, and other natural elements and patterns are also dominant in her work.

WEARABLE ART. Sara Blake, a.k.a ZSO, has ventured into designing fashion accessories, such as this peacock scarf. Photo courtesy of Sara Blake
WEARABLE ART. Sara Blake, a.k.a ZSO, has ventured into designing fashion accessories, such as this peacock scarf. Photo courtesy of Sara Blake

(READ: Take it from the masters: What art lovers can learn from experts)

4. Seek inspiration everywhere. Would you work with “Designers from Hell”? “Obviously, we’re not from hell,” quipped Teo Guillem and Carlos Pardo from Barcelona-based studio Dvein, but they were such huge fans of the rock band Pantera that they decided to name themselves after the Pantera album Cowboys from Hell. The word Dvein is an acronym for the phrase, DiseñadoresVEnido del INfierno.

“Ideas come from everywhere, from a mix of everything, like the Philippine jeepney,” Dvein said. “Sometimes you don’t know where your ideas will end up.”

ROCKSTAR DESIGNERS. To push the boundaries of their ideas, Dvein formed a band called The Vein, and created a music video for their song “Magma.” The result: liquid genius. Photo courtesy of Dvein
ROCKSTAR DESIGNERS. To push the boundaries of their ideas, Dvein formed a band called The Vein, and created a music video for their song “Magma.” The result: liquid genius. Photo courtesy of Dvein

Meanwhile, for Fil-Am Eugene Gauran, who now works as Design Director of the award-winning, international visual effects studio The Mill, it’s important to “be inspired by different forms of media.” Although working primarily with visual effects and computer graphics, he said that he finds inspiration in design-based forms because “everything starts with design, and you work your way up.”

5. Go ahead and be obsessed with your craft. “Obsession is the secret to an exciting life,” Bacolod-born Filipino designer Isabel Gatuslao said as she related how her “obsession” with typefaces and identity led her to do work for influential people, including interior designer Chat Fores, celebrity stylist Liz Uy, and, very recently, for Nike and NBA royalty Lebron James.

THE CUSTOM LEBRON X BY ISABEL GATUSLAO. Shoes made for royalty. Photo courtesy of Isabel Gatuslao
THE CUSTOM LEBRON X BY ISABEL GATUSLAO. Shoes made for royalty. Photo courtesy of Isabel Gatuslao

Every element must have a reason for being—else, it has no place in a well-designed piece.

Jessica Hische concurred. “As a lettering person, you get more obsessed with the smaller details,” she says. This attention to detail plays a key role in her work. In designing the cover of the book The Circle by Dave Eggers, which examines the issues raised by use of social media, illustrator and letterer Jessica Hische took inspiration from “the interweaving connectivity of social media sites.” The cover, which featured a cleanly beautiful spherical piece featuring interconnected orange links, was cited by the New York Times online as one of the best book covers of 2013.

For professional creatives, what matters to a client is to show work that reflects a clear and insightful strategy, a focused mind, and a clean, disciplined hand.

6. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Every creative knows that his first draft or study will not be his last.

A simple tip for those who are afraid to get started out of fear of making a mistake? Start with a pencil sketch of your ideas before committing them to ink or a digital rendering. Pencil sketches or doodles get the mind’s creative juices flowing while being clear that “this is just a work in progress.” Plus, it’s easy to erase, making it less painful to undo an error.

Jessica Hische put it another way when she said, “It’s hard to get clients to believe you’re good at something unless you do it over and over.” Make those mistakes. Assess why they happened. Note that for the future.

This applies even if you’re not an artist. Make your ideas real by writing them down, examining them, and consulting the relevant parties.

In creativity, and in life, practice makes perfect – and profitable. – Rappler.com

TED Talk: “Your elusive creative genius” by “Eat, Pray, Love” author Elizabeth Gilbert

(Originally posted in the blog, Out of the Universe)

Thanks to this great playlist by TED, we can watch more videos related to the birth and spread of new ideas, the discovery and cultivation of creativity, and other videos that are sure to inspire creativity, innovation, or at least the challenging of the status quo.

This next video I’m featuring on my blog is a TED talk by Eat, Pray, Love author Elizabeth Gilbert on our “elusive creative genius.” One line that struck me during her talk is when she pointed out how we’ve been taught and conditioned to think and believe this line:

“Creativity and suffering are somehow inherently linked, and that artistry, ultimately, will always lead to anguish.”

She talks about the dangers of this “odious” assumption and of how a simple change in perspective–rooted in the ancient Greeks and Romans, and shared even by today’s contemporary creatives–can “change everything” and make the creative process a little less daunting and a little more awe-inspiring.

This made my tear up a bit and recognize some wildly creative minds around me. Do watch the video–especially if you’re in need of inspiration–and do share your thoughts here. 🙂

Dreamboarding: Cutting and Pasting Dreams onto Reality (Homegrown.ph)

Dreamboarding: Cutting And Pasting Dreams Onto Reality

Published on February 7, 2013 in Homegrown.ph

To make a dream come true, some action is required. Creating a visual plan may be what you need to help you achieve your success goals.

/ by Niña Terol-Zialcita /

Much has been said and written about visualizing your goals in order to make them real. The late great Stephen Covey, whose Seven Habits of Highly Successful People has guided millions of driven individuals on the path of success, said it best when he said, “Begin with the end in mind.”

You need to know what success looks like for you to know when you’ve already achieved it—much like an architect needs to first create a blueprint, then a 3D rendition or a scale model, of the structure he or she wants to build before the actual construction takes place. Similarly, any traveler will need a map to locate his or her destination and to know the pit stops and potential pitfalls along the way.

It would be difficult to get exactly what you like or where you need to go if you don’t even know what it looks like.

The first step, then, to creating a blueprint or a map for your goals is to create a dreamboard.

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This is an excerpt only. To read the full article, visit the Homegrown.ph website

Dreamboarding and “The Power of Cut-and-Paste”

In the movie The Secret, based on a book by the same title by best-selling author Rhonda Byrne, a man relayed his astonishment when he realized that the new house he had just bought was the same one whose image he had clipped from a magazine and tacked on a corkboard several years earlier.

In Chicken Soup for the Soul, actor Jim Carrey was said to have written a multi-million dollar check to himself as a way of affirming his aspirations to someday be wealthy. This was years before he achieved superstar status in no less than Hollywood.

Many inspirational and self-help books around the world attest to the power of positive, creative visualization. Some suggest writing lists; others recommend reciting daily positive affirmations to oneself—but one of the most powerful methods for affirming and visualizing one’s goals, by far, is using “the power of cut-and-paste” through Dreamboarding.

What is dreamboarding?

NTZ's dreamboard circa April 2010
NTZ’s dreamboard circa April 2010

Dreamboarding is a creative process of putting together images in a collage to manifest one’s aspirations and intentions. On the surface, it looks easy enough because all it seems to involve are some magazines, a board and glue, and some art materials. But the internalization process in a Dreamboarding session can be quite powerful and can help today’s busy, multi-tasking individuals de-clutter and see what truly matters to them.

“When we conducted a corporate Dreamboarding session early this year, we were surprised to see that participants hardly showed anything work-related,” shares Nikka Sarthou of Writer’s Block Philippines. “Some of them made collages of travels that they wanted to embark on, others assembled images of goals for their families. One executive surprised the group by putting together images of babies and saying that she was already excited to be a grandmother—and her son wasn’t even married yet!”

“Dreamboarding allows us to get in touch with ourselves again and connect with that side of ourselves that is often buried underneath deadlines, multiple roles, and a long list of expectations,” says Niña Terol-Zialcita of Writer’s Block Philippines, who facilitates the group’s dreamboarding sessions. “When I was much younger, I created dreamboards and ‘vision walls’ to express my goals and aspirations. Now that I wear multiple hats and often have to deal with competing needs and wants, I use dreamboarding to process and prioritize what really matters to me at a particular point in time.”

According to Martha Beck, who has written on vision boards in Oprah Winfrey’s O Magazine,” When you start assembling pictures that appeal to [your] deep self, you unleash one of the most powerful forces on our planet: human imagination… The board itself doesn’t impact reality; what changes your life is the process of creating the images—combinations of objects and events that will stick in your subconscious mind and steer your choices toward making the vision real.”

Aside from helping people fulfill personal goals, dreamboarding also unleashes creativity and helps people think laterally and in images rather than in words, bullet points, and linear methods. According to Ana Santos of Writer’s Block Philippines, one corporate client uses dreamboards (also called “inspiration boards”) to get employees to think out of the box and see connections in seemingly contrasting elements. “After seeing the results of an initial dreamboarding session, one CEO mandated that, henceforth, presentations were to be done via dreamboards than by boring Powerpoint presentations. There’s a lot more creative energy that’s unleashed when a team works on ‘analog’ materials than when they use familiar technology, such as presentation slides.”

The “power of cut-and-paste”

And, indeed, the “power of cut-and-paste” works not only to unleash creative energy, but—more importantly—to make dreams come true.

When the ladies of Writer’s Block Philippines made their own dreamboards in January, the major themes that emerged were: financial rewards for one, international recognition for another, and the “white picket fence dream” for another. Just six months after that exercise, one lady had already surpassed her financial targets, another is on her way to New York to speak at an international women’s conference, and another got engaged within a few weeks of the dreamboarding exercise.

Other Dreamboarding participants have likewise attested to the “power of cut-and-paste”—whether it was in getting that much-coveted Rolex, the dream project, or even a satisfying relationship.

“Your dreamboard is by no means a magic pill that will make everything happen for you,” Terol-Zialcita cautions. “But it will keep on reminding you of what your goals are and, therefore, how you should focus your time, energy, and resources.”

Dreamboarding by Writer's Block Philippines | July 21, 2012 (Saturday) 1-4PM at Fully Booked Bonifacio High Street
Dreamboarding by Writer’s Block Philippines | July 21, 2012 (Saturday) 1-4PM at Fully Booked Bonifacio High Street | Click on the image to view the event FAQs

On July 21, 2012 (Saturday), Writer’s Block Philippines will open a public Dreamboarding session for individuals of all ages and backgrounds. The three-hour session will take place at The Forum in Fully Booked Bonifacio High Street, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig, from 1 to 4PM, and will be an opportunity for participants to set the tone for the next half of 2012. A registration fee of Php1,200 covers all materials and snacks for the afternoon.

“The first step to achieving your dreams is to visualize them,” says Sarthou.

Meanwhile, Santos says, “Anytime is a good time to start making your dreams come true. Who knows? Some of those New Year’s Resolutions that you’ve already given up on just might get a new lease on life when you make your own dreamboard.”

Writer’s Block Philippines leverages their combined experience of over 20 years in conducting writing and creativity workshops for aspiring writers, creative communicators, and corporate communicators. To reserve a slot for Dreamboarding, or to inquire about other workshops and services, interested parties may email[email protected] or call (0927) 850 8280. More information is also found in<www.writersblockphilippines.com>.