November 26, 2014 - 1 comment.

It’s All About the Sides

If you've heard me talk about food (or eat a whole pizza), it should come as no surprise that I am head-over-heels in love with Thanksgiving. It's an annual holiday filled with great company, memorable times, and copious amounts of food. Nothing compares to a good old-fashioned Thanksgiving dinner, not even a 50% off sale during Black Friday . But what makes the dinner so special? Is it the turkey, the mascot of Thanksgiving, or various gourds? No, it's the sides, which are given equal—if not more attention—to the turkey. With so much time management and passion behind-the-scenes, the meal becomes a great standalone experience, enhanced by friends and loved ones.

As creative professionals, we're known for what we deliver well: our "turkey," so to speak. But what makes a good creative great is what he/she decides to do out of the office. I write . My girlfriend practices Japanese and acts as an unofficial tour guide. But I'm amazed at how far people have gone outside the workplace. Since I've graduated, I've gotten to known some really great people who go above and beyond to follow their passion, creating a business on their own. And I've gotten to reach out to others who had taken a similar path. To celebrate them in the spirit of Thanksgiving, here's a list of side ventures run by my fellow peers:


Kae Q: Ran by Nicole Fiori, Kae Q is a collection of homemade bodycare products straight from Nicole herself. She makes all her ingredients entirely from scratch. I was mindblown when I found out the coconut oil that goes into her lip balms come from coconuts that she cuts open herself, from a local farm in Florida.

Happen Clothing: Ran by Valentin Saqueton (Veej), Happen Clothing is a urban wear clothing brand that aims at the possibilities initiative can achieve. While he occasionally collaborates with illustrators and other creatives on a few shirts, it's impressive knowing that he manages everything with Happen. Photography, website layout, and prepping orders are all done by Veej himself, and if that weren't enough, his shirts are comfy (I snagged a couple shirts).

Sari-Sari Books: Ran by UF alum Christina Newhard, Sari-Sari Books is an initiative to support Filipino language and culture using the powerful storytelling and medium of children's books. While the books are still in the production phase, I'm eager to see how the stories serve as tools to teach children Tagalog and other Filipino languages.

October 23, 2014 - 1 comment.

Tackling San Francisco Housing: A Guide for the SF Move

I've been in San Francisco for about 4 months now. While living here can be pretty spectacular, moving here isn't. Most people who agree with that statement would also agree with my thoughts on why it's so difficult: competition. In a casual setting, competition can be fun and a chance to learn and grow as a person, but finding affordable housing in SF is far from casual—it's a second job.

When my girlfriend and I moved to San Francisco back in July, I was fortunate enough to already have a sublease thanks to a /r/SFBayHousing post. But a couple months in, fortune soon turned to hardship as we learned that our master tenant put in his 30-days notice and in turn, so did my girlfriend and I. It seemed fine; I thought it'd be easy to find a decent, safe place for Lexy and I.

Nope. Lots of stress and panic slowly creeped into my day-to-day as we kept responding to countless Craigslist posts with zero replies. So we consulted our local friends and the internet to find out why we weren't getting replies. Lots of help that'll get us a "yes," right? Nope. More stress tacked on as each reply confirmed how unsuccessful we had been. "No couples. Sorry." At one point, moving back to Florida was a serious option.

We're still in San Francisco, so we managed to luck out on a happy ending to this story. But no one should go through that much hardship as we did, so I thought I'd share what I learned for you SF prospects. Keep in mind, the following isn't going to guarantee you a spot, but it will give you a chance.

  1. Craigslist is your friend. Before, my college-old self would've thought that apartment hunting on Craigslist was seedy (it still is). However, Craigslist is the medium-of-choice for San Francisco landlords and tenants ready to leave. While there's still a ton of scams and heavenly deals in hellish locations (I'm looking at you Tenderloin), there's a ton more places up for grabs. One of the most useful tools I've luckily used was Padmapper, a tool.
  2. Have a resume. I wasn't joking about apartment hunting being a second job here. Having a renter's resume with basic information, a brief autobiography, and landlord references is necessary to getting the place you want. Brownie points for including your credit score and income.
  3. Open yourself up. Strangers don't survive the house hunt, friends do. Your potential landlord and roommate(s) want to know the person who's going to be occupying that vacant space up-for-grabs. When you're sending an email reply to a Craigslist post, include links to all the social media you're on, from Facebook to LinkedIn and Twitter to Instagram. And if there's a phone number, reach out to them and call saying you're interested.

For those who really want to know why SF househunting is a nightmare, there's a ton of articles on the housing crisis. This one is my favorite.

September 8, 2014 - 2 comments

An Intermission for After Effects

It's been a couple weeks since I've made a full blog post and my personal projects have been a little like Abbey Road post-Beatles lately. While I still have content trickling through the likes of Dribbble and The Noun Project, I've been more focused on Medium articles and the latest tweets about the iBeacon, UX principles, and workflows. Now I have been picking away at some lengthier blog posts, but at the rate I've been completing my own stuff, it'll be another couple of weeks before it sees the light of day. That being said, I've been compiling a list of handy After Effect channels that gave me a helping hand in making solid UI interactions and creamy-smooth GIFs.

Mt Mograph: The beginning tutorials, a.k.a. summits, are rough around the edges (they were Matt Jykka's very first videos), but the content is 100% intact. I've referred to Mt. Mograph the most since the summits are flat-oriented, embracing 2D and low-poly styles.

School of MotionJoey Korenman's humble website sports a wider range of tutorials than Mt Mograph. While some of his results are subjectively hit-and-miss, his tutorials are valuable for the process. Important AE features, such as the graph editor and expressions, have their own video while other features and animation concepts are included to streamline your workflow.

Greyscale GorillaThis very active creative community focuses more on Cinema 4D, but if you're working with C4D assets in After Effects, or simply want to experiment with both at the same time, they're definitely the go-to place.


August 20, 2014 - No Comments!

Remember the Summer: Cotton Bureau T-Shirt

It's nearing the end of August and along with it—summer break. Though the beginning of those pesky college courses are around the corner, that doesn't mean you have to completely ditch summer. You can now buy a T-shirt I designed to remember the joyous wonders of summer on Cotton Bureau! The sale is for a limited time, but the spirit of summer shouldn't be.

August 13, 2014 - No Comments!

Stay Hyped

Personally, it’s hard to stay hyped about personal projects. You write down a great idea for an app in your Moleskine, stoked at the potential app names and array of wireframes ready to exit your mind. As you get ready to throw down some sketches, you realize that it's 2am on a weekday or you need groceries from a market several blocks away. No worries, you'll do those sketches later. But then you have a long workday or a lengthy catch-up with friends, and these daily aspects deplete you and your time while you continuously put aside that app idea for another day. Eventually the potential app you were once excited for gathers enough dust, you move it to your mental creaky attic as it becomes a forgotten remnant of the past.

It's a tragedy that happens all too often to me and other creatives I've talked to. We go from a rewarding productivity run to a saddening rut, not because we're tapped out of ideas but because we're exhausted. Physically, mentally, and sometimes emotionally, we tire out (we're all people) as we lose pep. Rather than focus on finding a personal charging station or power through exhaustion, preserve that energy like there's a drought. It's easier to manage your energy, and the more you manage, the better your chances of getting those personal projects done. Jessica Hische has some great thoughts on scheduling and time management, but if you want other thoughts, here's my advice on how to stay hyped:

  • Have some “me” time. It’s important to reserve some time for yourself and hone in on that project. Ideally, that personal project shouldn't feel like work. If it does, do something else for a bit. It’ll help clear and rest your mind, which is as important as eating meals or paying bills. If you're more on the forgetful side, reserve some time slots on Google Calendar.
  • Plug in your headphones. Pump up the jam. I listen to Waka Flocka whenever I need to whip up handlettering, and for longer design sessions (like web design) I play the entire Kanye West discography. Design feels effortless when you're in a groove. Even podcasts help flex my critical thinking muscles if I'm stuck on a concept.
  • Don’t be a Yes Man. It’s silly to state the obvious, but don’t feel obligated to say yes all the time. If you do, you’ll be piling on more food than you can chew, and that introduces unnecessary stress into your life. Be efficient and happy: focus on what works for you.

August 3, 2014 - 3 comments

One Month Mark

It's official. After a jam-packed July crammed with badge-making, pixel-pushing, fresh groceries and West Coast adjustments, I can put the one-month milestone at Majorminor under my belt. Truth be told, my time at Majorminor has been everything I thought it would be: a tight-knit studio culture with interesting hands-on projects, feedback sessions, pop culture convos, and talented studiomates, similar to FAC314 (shoutout to my UFGD 2014 fam). I'm proud to work on projects I can get excited about, and I'm fortunate to be in a place where I do what I love as a living. And in a couple months, I'll be stoked to see websites I've had a hand in come to life. In some ways, this new chapter in my life feels like an extension of my time at UF, with late nights being replaced by enticing amenities like free organic coffee and draft beer. Instead of enduring coursework, I spend my spare time exploring San Francisco and capturing its many offerings through Instagram. Though real world responsibilities remind me that this is the beginning of adulthood, reality is that I'm excited for the future.

For those graphic design students entering the last year of college, don't be afraid to make the big move to a job you want, whether it's in San Francisco or New York City. Even though there's a bit of planning involved, especially with apartment hunting, the effort will be worth it. If you're worried about finances, also keep in mind some companies offer to pay for your relocation.

June 1, 2014 - No Comments!

The First

With graduation now a near-distant memory and the real world completely set in my mind, I figured today would be the day to carve the first notch into my blog (about time).

July 1st will be the first day of my three-month internship at Majorminor, a neat boutique design firm located in downtown San Francisco. I’ve had the pleasure of bonding with my new studiomates (through Skype and email) over talks of cool dumpling restaurants and local concerts in SF. Weekly food truck meet-up next to the studio? Check. Pho place across? Check. Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival with Kanye West headlining the first day? Got that covered too. All-in-all, I’m excited to make the jump over to the west coast with my lovely girlfriend. Everything seems to be set!

Except for housing. Apartment hunting in San Francisco is killer, especially with its lack of couples-friendly subleases. Luckily, more options pop open as UCSF students are finished for their spring semester. But then it presents questions of “Should I live in Sunset?” “Or Richmond?” “What happens if the neighborhood doesn't suit me?” I've been fortunate enough to get some stellar advice and opinions from the people out west, but simply put, I’m excited for when apartment hunting is over.