Inspiring décor and style from 80s and 90s

It’s a lovely long weekend here in Canada and I took some time to watch old movies and search for some decorations and art ideas. I confess, I love decoration and fashion style from the 80s and 90s. It’s a bit over but it feels so cozy and cute. My top picks from this long weekend are:

You’ve Got Mail lovely decoration

It’s been 22 years and we are still in love with Kathleen Kelly house. Lots of botanical art, warm tones, floral pillows, greens and oranges. Walls molding and trims everywhere and a ton of detail. One day I have to do a deeper analysis of her style. Here is a quick peak.

I really love the have French door in the kitchen, the cute little ornaments in her curtains, the amazing china cabinet and the vitral window in her entrance hall. What a dreamy place!

Mrs. Doubtfire warm and cozy house

I actually don’t like this movie and was not able to watch it all again, but I really like the house and the decoration with warm tones of beiges, oranges and greens. It feels very cozy and warm. The movie is from 1993 (click on the images to see details)

I cant get over her cute kitchen with lots of ornaments, the great green sofa cover and curtains everywhere. Super cozy.

Heartburn amazing 80’s style

Last but not list, is not only the décor but the fashion style. Take a look on the amazing clothes Meryl Streep wears in this Nora Ephron movie. I want them all! (click on the images, it’s just so good)

My mom was pregnant from my sister in 1986 and she dressed exactly like that! I’m not sure if I like so much for the nostalgia of those times but seriously, I need that grey linen blazer. Her house was also charming but she never finish her decoration, what is a shame, it would have looked beautiful.

I hope you had fun in this back to the past style and decoration. I’m so inspired! I know my house and my style shouldn’t look exactly like that but I really want to use some of these ideas. Keep in touch and thanks for visiting!


The living room saga

I’m sorry I disappeared again. If you read my last post you know I got back from vacations and didn’t like my decoration – or lack of it. I started reorganizing things and since the basement got acceptable, I decided to organize my living room. I’ve been struggling a lot to decorate this house. In my old apartment we had 2 white sofas, the carpet was light and all doors were white, metals were chrome, balcony was concrete. There was a lot of natural light, decorating was really easy, everything look fine there. My decor was simple and informal and worked just fine.

Now here is a house, there is a tree just in front of my window (I love the tree but it’s a lot of shade), the carpet is a dark, old and stained camel color, baseboards and doors are dark coffee, all metals are brass or black and our balcony is a reddish wood.

Don’t take me wrong, I love living here. It’s great to be in a house, location is perfect, rent is fair and the space has a lot of potential. But I never had such a hard time finding the right pieces for a room. I think it all started with our decision to ditch our old white sofas. They were already second hand sofas and were very worn and stained. When we moved here, my mind was in some crazy mood and I didn’t think too much. We got a grey sofa from Structube and 2 orange chairs at Wayfair. I guess that was the begginning of all the problems.

I actually like our sofa and chairs, but that was not the best decision for the space. The room looked really dark. All my pillow covers didn’t work anymore. All the porcelain objects I had with white and blue started screaming in contrast with the orange chairs (complimentary colors can be quite aggressive). I didn’t want plain grey and orange decor so I decided to add some pink pillows and try an analogous color palette. That helped.

There was also the problem of the dining room. First I placed my table in the kitchen. I didn’t like the yellow and blue chairs so I started painting some chairs light green. I didn’t finish but decided to move the table to the living room. The green and blue chairs look awful with the orange and pink decor. To make things worse, I decided to paint an abstract picture and somehow I got carried on and transformed in a splatter painting and added blue. I can’t explain why and I hated the painting for many months.

So that was the state of the living room when I got back from vacations. Camel carpet, beige walls, grey sofa, orange accent chairs, black media furniture, chrome coffee table, wood old dining table, mismatched chairs in green, blue and black, bad taste artwork. OMG. Did I tell you I study architecture and worked in renovation for many years? How did this happen?

Anyways I decided to act. First I inverted the layout of the room and that helped a bit, now entering the room you see the sofa first, not the huge black figure of our entertainment furniture. This was way more inviting. I removed my old ugly artwork and I’m working on a new painting with light and brighter colors.

Then I bought a rug and that was a mistake, it just made my carpet looks even uglier. The rug looked like a white towel in person, very thin and very white. I returned the rug and try to understand what went wrong and why I keep getting upset about my choices.

So disappointing

This last week I just removed everything from the room and try to look again at it and really see the colors of the room and what will make it look prettier. I realized I’m just fighting with this house colors since I arrived and it’s time to make peace. The palette of this house is warm. My grey sofa, glass table and grey rug were cold, of course they will fight with the house. The orange chairs and all the other colors are too much and too saturated for this place, it needs a more neutral muted palette. The decoration needs less color, less contrast and more texture and layers.

First thing I did was to add some curtains (we cannot make holes in this house but I found a good tension rod that saved my life). I started knitting a cushion cover in light grey and I’ll get more pillows in neutral colors. I also had an old cocktail table a friend gave us and was not being used. That actually helped hide the carpet and gave more structure and warmth to the space. I moved the glass table to the corner, so this is how it looks like now.

I’m so happy about the curtains

Next steps are getting a lamp for beside the sofa, keep getting more neutral cushions and add objects on the shelves under the tv and on the table. Then put some art on the walls. I actually would like to make a cover for the orange chairs in a neutral color and actually even a white cover for the sofa but there is so much to do, so one thing at a time.

I’m just super proud of this, first time I finish a knit project. Now just need to sew into a pillow cover

For the dining room I gave up of my current chairs and table. I’ll buy some new ones and move the old ones to the kitchen. I found some light gray chairs I like and we are thinking about the white tulip table. I’m not quite sure about the white and the design is a bit more modern than what I wanted but I think it the round lines will help keeping the space cute. I simulated with my current chairs on the space, it’s seems a bit squeezed but it fits.

I really don’t like the open kitchen. I want to cook more and I avoid making certain foods because I know the whole house will be smelling for hours. So my priority now is to find a way to close the door (making no holes and keeping the budget!). Not easy but I have a few ideas.

I’m still dreaming about buying rugs. I would love a large sisal one for the dining room, covering that round cut on the carpet and making everything look larger… and of course a nice patterned rug for the living room. We will get there!

How about you? Do you have any room in your house that you struggle to decorate? How is it been? Let me know on the comments


The basement make up: Part 2

Do you get upset at your house when you get back from vacations? I usually love coming back home, but I went to visit some relatives for a few days and when I got back, I found my house dark and sad. That can’t be good!

I feel house decoration is always an ongoing project. Especially if you are renting and have a tight budget. How can you make it cute and cozy without spending a ton?

I started moving some furniture in the living room. Then we decided to move some things in the kitchen as well. The basement got loaded with random things and I thought, enough is enough.

Here is my new studio / sewing room. I got this machine just before the pandemic but so far I just made face masks. I want to make a quilt for my bedroom and some clothes for me, so it will be good to be able to move around the table.

The white shelves behind the desk have been traveling around the house. They started at the studio, moved to the kitchen and now they are back to the studio. I think it looks good here. All my art supplies are now in boxes and the mess is finally hidden. The clothes rack will be used to dry projects or hang works in progress.

A few details to make everything neat. I added cute lamps to the clothes rack and re-use some baskets as storage for my yarn. The plant behind the sewing machine hides the electric cables. White cardboard boxes hide most of my art supplies and work as “vertical drawers”. And I finally got a place for my brushes and they are not spread all around anymore.

The gym is still there, on the opposite side. The main change was this white curtain to hide the furnace (it’s actually a large table cloth hanging from the ceiling). I’m still thinking what to do about the floors, but that’s ok for now.

Nowadays I rarely use this computer, so I decided to make a vertical station . It looks neat and we can watch Netflix from the treadmill. My old framed paintings and canvas are hidden behind the bamboo divider and some of our books are now on those shelves.

Here is a panoramic of the whole space. It was a battle but I think it’s done for now. If you don’t remember how it looked like before, please check The basement make up: Part 1

I still would like to cover some walls with wallpaper or fabric and hide the floors a bit more but the other parts of the house need some attention and I have my illustration projects to work on. I’m happy for now. What do you think? Leave me a message in the comments!

Like this post? Share it! 🙂


The collection saga

Remember when I said I was going to postpone the launch of my collections for 2 months? I thought that would be enough. Guess what? That won’t be enough!

I was working on my Halloween collection last week and I was really enjoying and having tons of fun. But yesterday I realized it’s already September 3rd and I don’t have any completed drawings. Not even 1! You might think, oh you have almost 2 months to Halloween. But I actually don’t.

  1. I have a full time job
  2. I’m going to visit my husband’s family for 10 days
  3. Halloween collection should be released about 2 weeks before Halloween…

So I calculated and basically I have 20 days to do everything (16 pieces, between stickers, illustrations and handwriting quotes). I started to think about cutting some of the drawings and making a smaller collection. Then I thought about skipping Halloween completely and start working on the Christmas collection. But I didn’t like that idea. Why would I publish the whole Thanksgiving collection for September/October and then spend again another month and a half without posting anything again and then suddenly post a ton of Christmas drawings? People want some consistency!

Well, yesterday I was painting the floor of one of the art studios I work at. I love those days when I can do something mechanical, it helps me put my mind back in place. I thought a lot about many things.

Pushing myself so hard is destroying my creativity

Drawing takes time! While it’s nice to work with a sense of urgency, I can’t keep like a machine. I need to be kind to myself. So I took a hard decision, but this will give me peace of mind. I postponed everything for the next year, including the Thanksgiving collection that is already done.

I’m going to create enough drawings to have a “savings account” of drawings. I want to have 6 months of drawing collections ready before starting posting on social media.

This might not make sense for most people. You might be thinking: why don’t you just draw and post like you did before? Why make such a big deal?

It’s been a while I like to work in collections (astrological signs collections, months collections, holidays collections, etc). I prefer to work in collections because it allows me to tell a complete story and I feel very accomplished. The other reason is that collections help organize visually my portfolio and offer a variety of products on the same theme. It’s pretty much like a fashion collection. I’m pretty much inspired by fashion, so it makes sense to plan collections like a fashion designer plans for the runway.

So that’s what’s going to happen. I’ll keep posting behind the scenes here and I’ll offer a few isolated drawings online until I get my collections organized and well stocked. Best news I got this week, I was approved on Giphy, so soon I’ll make lots of gifs available for Instagram and Facebook. Keep in touch!

I love gifs and stickers! 🙂

Florence, a city with a soul

It’s been a while I feel our lifestyle is too fast, too focused on the mundane and too immediatist. I’ve been reading some amazing books about art history, myths and ancient legends and all this makes me think a lot.

I studied architecture at the university and I remember reading this huge and great book called The History of the City, from Leonardo Benevolo. One of the most interesting things he said was about the way we organize our cities. In the beginning of our history, we organize everything around the temple. For centuries the temple was in the center of our villages and cities. Much of our lives was focused on the divine. If you think about it, we had ziggurats, Greek and Roman temples, Gothic churches, Renascentist churches, Baroque churches… all the other styles that came after had amazing churches and they were in the center of the city, many times the largest and most important building of the community. But that all changed starting with the industrial revolution and modernism. Skyscrapers took over and business towers became the largest buildings in the cities. The sky line of a city was not focused on the divine anymore, a new power took over and changed the way we live forever.

Florence skyline

I was born in this lifestyle. I never lived in a city where the church is the largest building. Nature was not the center of my life either. All the cities I lived in were typical 20th century cities, life rotates around the commercial center, a conglomerate of towers with offices and stores. We live for work and immediate pleasures. There is no bigger mystery or wondering.

How different my life would have been if I had grown up in a city focused on the divine or focused on nature? A city that focus on the human soul and it’s mysteries? Can I slow down and change the way I think? Can I stop focusing on now and start focusing on larger and more permanent things? All these questions motivates me to read about ancient times and different ways of life.

I’ve been to Florence in 2018 and visiting the Cathedral was a magnificent experience. I wish I could go again and again, there is no feeling like entering that church. The contrast of the rich sculpture outside with the austere inside is the first surprise, then you slowly walk across the nave and visualize the unbelievable duomo from the inside, getting higher and higher, as if you can reach an infinite sky of angels.

The duomo from inside

This weekend I watched some documentaries about Florence and it’s Cathedral, Santa Maria del Fiore. The first one is a friendly touristic overview of the city, showing a bit of it’s attractions and history.

The second one is a technical and fascinating investigation on the methods of construction for the duomo.

Thinking about how long the great masters took to create their masterpieces and how life was at that time was very interesting for me. Things took years of dedication, study, perseverance. Art was made for eternity. I want to bring this spirit to my life and be more focused on the soul and less in the everyday things.

How about you? Do you feel life is always rushing? What makes you wonder? Let me know in the comments!


Turning point

Improving a skill requires constant effort. As an illustrator, I’m always trying to find interesting ways to tell stories through drawing. After a long gap without producing art, I finally felt inspired again and started a series of illustrations in late May. I was motivated and happy but in less than two months I felt trapped and had to stop again to reorganize my plans. What happened?

I’ll tell you the truth. I’m addicted in social media.

I need to draw, post on Instagram and see the reaction of people immediately. I even started to post videos everyday sharing not only the completed drawings but also the process and each part of what I was doing. The result? In one month I got stressed and bored. Every time I was not producing fast enough, I would feel guilty and on my videos I would repeat just “I’m stuck, I’m stuck, I’m stuck”. So annoying! Not having time to reflect about my work led me to make a lot of mistakes and bad choices. In the last week of July I chose some very strange colors and did some really weird patterns. Not proud!

My last Instagram Story before noticing I was stuck for a weeks in the same drawing

Making these mistakes helped me realize I needed more time. I decided to draw 2 months in advance, so in August I started to draw for Canadian Thanksgiving , October 12. That was a great decision. I finally got time to breathe and see a full collection finished before I started posting. It’s been challenging to stay away from social media and don’t see interactions everyday, but I believe this will be very important to start producing good quality artwork.

On Writing, Stephen King. I listened to the audio book, it was really fun!

I recently finished reading On Writing, from Stephen King and it’s a great book! Here is something he said that was important for me (on drawing on my case)

Write with the door closed, rewrite with the door open. Your stuff starts out being just for you

Stephen King

I think I opened too much of my process and the truth is that most people are not interested, except for my artist friends. That limits too much my potential and reach. Also makes me insecure about my choices and I feel very inconsistent, as I rush things to show in public fast. I also notice I don’t give myself time to review my work.

If you are in the creative career, either writing, painting, music, anything artistic, I really recommend this book. I’ve never read other books from Stephen King because I’m not into suspense stories but I really enjoy learning about his creative process and where he gets inspiration for his projects.

The September Issue is available for renting on YouTube

I also watched the September Issue again. I love this documentary about Vogue and Anna Wintour. I really love Grace Coddington participation, Anna and Grace are both really inspiring women in very different ways. It’s great to see how they prepare the fashion editorials, how the teams plan the stories and what happens in the edition room. I like how they take their job very seriously and how sometimes hard decisions are made to keep the magazine aligned with their ideals. One thing I noticed is that they started the plan for the September issue about 5 months before the launch! I didn’t know they start so early.

A picture from the board at the edition room. I really love how they print the pages and see the whole magazine together before publishing!

All this helped me regain my focus. I finished my fall illustration series and I’m ready to start the Halloween series. I will post on Instagram only in September but if you are reading here you can see my fall illustrations before everybody! Just visit my portfolio page –> here.

That’s it for today! Thank you so much for reading and we keep in touch!


Creating interesting stories: YouTube video analysis

2020 is going to be remembered not only like the COVID year, but also as the year when virtual connections became prevalent. On top of Zoom meetings and FaceTime calls, everybody started to record their lives, publish TikToks, post hundreds of stories on Instagram, and online connection happened like never before. Videos with personal stories are everywhere! Some of them are very good and I can watch them over and over again. In others, I feel something is missing.

Story is king. Everything else is a slave to the story.

Casey Neistat

When I started recording videos for my Instagram stories, I made it as easy as possible. I never followed a script, I simply would wake up at 4:50 am, grab a cup coffee and while still half sleeping, I would start recording the videos, around 5:00 am. After a few weeks of constantly recording my artist diary from Monday to Friday and not missing a single day, I started to see room for improvement. I started to think about how I could tell my stories in a more interesting way. I notice my stories lack structure, my motivations sometimes are not clear and some videos are not dynamic enough. I decided to analyse a documentary that tells a story in a fun and interesting way so I can identify techniques and start using them as well. My goal is to be able to tell better stories on my videos and blog, and also, bring some of these storytelling skills to my illustrations.

What makes a video story interesting?

Today we are going to analyse the documentary “***: Do you need to be one to be a successful leader?”, directed and produced by Max Joseph. Max comes from a background from MTV, his style is young, fresh, full of action and tons of references. He regularly works with YouTube sensation Casey Neistat and he is deeply connected with Hollywood. If you are OK with some bad language, don’t mind one tiny graphic image and a few bits of political bias, go ahead and watch this amazing documentary.

The documentary step by step

Max basically divides the documentary in 3 parts, introduction, development and conclusion. Lets start with the introduction


Here Max explain how he discover something new, how he formulated his question, the methods he will use to answer his question and the answer he expects to find. Lets take a look on his timeline and some resources he used on each part:

  • Quote from famous person

    Max starts with with a quote related to the theme he is researching.

    Resources: Fun vintage animation, opening theme music

  • Title

    Loud, proud and shocking

    Resources: use of bad words to shock audience, mix of video and letters coming from behind an object (revealing possible truth), high point of the music, narration reinforces idea

  • Introduction

    Introduces the theme and explain the reality he sees at this moment, before learning. He sees 2 types of mindset:

    • Mindset 1: Friendly behavior
    • Mindset 2: Unfriendly behavior (seems best for a leader)

    Resources: pictures and videos paired with text, fun and dramatic frames, classic music with sound effects

  • Show own experience in the subject

    Establish he comes from Mindset 1. Faced with Mindset 2, start questioning self

    Resources: fast videos in quick cuts vs. slow cut for highlights, sound effects

  • Faces the problem

    Max don’t know enough about leadership and needs to study

    Resources: large text, change of music

  • Explain method to solve problem

    He will interview directors, writers and thinkers who have knowledge on the subject

    Resources: mix images/videos with text. Heroic music

  • Goal

    The question: “What do you need to become a great leader?” – needs an answer in the conclusion of the documentary

    Resources: huge typography, heroic music, sound effects, personal signature shows commitment

Summary of introduction: Start with a quote, shock with a strong title, introduce the subject, speak briefly about you own experience, present the main question (what am I trying to learn here?), show the tools for investigation and set goal of the story.

End of the introduction.


In this part Max shows his learning process and challenges until he reaches the highest conflict and turning point that will lead him to the conclusion. HE uses 4 types of characters:

  • The Hero: Max, the person learning and telling the story
  • Approachable Person: people he interviews who are neutral. Max sees them in different lights as he learns and develops his character
  • The Best Friend/Mentor: a person who Max trust and helps him see the third way
  • God/Villain Mythical Character: someone mysterious, strong and not approachable. Max thinks he is a villain but he might be a God. Max go through internal and external struggles while trying to approach this unreachable but key character

Lets take a look on the timeline during the development:

  • Describe reality

    Max starts demonstrating he is on Mindset 1 and he thinks Mindset 2 might be more effective. He uses interviews with approachable people to investigate this reality.

    Resources: Check interview structure for approachable people after the timeline

  • Find the first challenge

    Introduce God/Villain Mythical character. It seems like this person is a Mindset 2 person but they are not available for interview. This fact creates a challenge to get to the conclusion

    Resources: (Check God/Villain Interview structure after timeline).

  • Explain the theory

    Max talk to writers about famous leaders. Their vision might be good or bad. Seems like theory confirm Mindset 2 is the right for leaders. Use other famous books to collaborate to this hypothesis.

    Resources: stop motion animations with text, pictures or leaders with text , use humor, toys, pop culture refs, sound effects, funny narration.

  • Get glimpses of a resolution

    One person shows him there is a third way but he doesn’t really understand. He sticks with his current view of reality. He is able to schedule his meeting with the God/Villain and do other interviews that starts to open his mind.

    Resources: Check interview structure for approachable people after the timeline

  • First defeat

    As he examine himself, he discovers people who are Mindset 1 cannot change to Mindset 2. He thinks was raised this way and will never change. Try to accepts he will always be Mindset 1 but feels he is a loser

    Resources: funny music, videos from when he was a kid, humor, self degrading talk, use all neutral interviews to reinforce the point

  • Seek comfort – start recover

    He talks with a person who he trusts. He believes his friend is a successful Mindset 1 and feel comforted. However, he discover his friend is not Mindset 1 and get surprised and confused

    Resources: text, brilliant classic music, fable, illustration, fantastic narration, angel sounds, funny sound effects. Also check comfort interview structure after timeline.

  • Change paradigm – goal is visible

    He learn there is actually a Mindset 3 he never thought about it. He now can see this in all the other people he already interviewed.

    Resources: testimonials, sound effects, illustration and a shocking image

  • Major defeat = Knockout

    He prepares to meet the God/Villain character but faces major defeat. The meeting is disappointing and the God/Villain use a tool (book) that hit him in a deadly way. The Mindset 2 looks like the winner. Seems like everything is lost. This is the highest point of conflict

    Resources: dramatic music, race, dramatic pauses, scenes from movies, battle scenes from classic painting

  • Last resource

    Max create a plan to recover and achieve his goal: a Trojan horse.

    Resources: follow the book with the camera like it’s a “bomb” ready to explode, sound effects, suspense/fun music

  • Dramatic pause before conclusion

During the development, the interviews have 3 types of structure, lets look at them:

Approachable people interview
  • glimpse of personality on present moment (person open door, test sound)
  • show who he/she is (use past facts)
  • what does he/she do (show pieces of their work)
  • opinions are edited according to Max understanding of the reality
God/Villain Mythical Person interview
  • no glimpse of personality on present moment (not authorized, this person is not available)
  • show who he/she is (use past facts)
  • what does he/she do (show pieces of their work)
  • not available for interview. All interactions during development points he is Mindset 2 (unfriendly/villain). Create suspense

Comfort/mentor interview
  • no glimpse of personality on present moment (not necessary, this person is a friend)
  • show who he/she is (use past facts)
  • what does he/she does (show pieces of their work)
  • interaction makes Max understand there is a mindset 3

Summary of hero trajectory during development: hero demonstrates there are 2 types of mindset, he is on Mindset 1 and differentiates himself from Mindset 2. He faces the first challenge and get defeated (can’t reach the person he thinks is Mindset 2). Use Theory to investigate, get glimpses of a 3rd mindset. When he discovers he can’t change, he is defeated for the second time. Seek comfort with a friend and discovers there is 3rd Mindset. That’s the happiest moment of the documentary. Just after that, a book make it seems like Mindset 2 is the winner, the hero suffers a major defeat in the most dramatic moment of the video and come up with a plan for recovery.

End of Development

Conclusion of the Documentary

This is the last part of the video and starts with the confront between the hero and the villain/god character. Lets take a look on the timeline:

  • Revelation

    After some anxiety, Max discovers the mythical person is actually a Mindset 3 and there are many ways to achieve that.

    Resources: Suspense music, awkward camera angles, animated illustration, hopeful music after discover, testimonial from other characters to reinforce revelation. Max records the God/Villain from far away every time it seems he is Mindset 2. He approaches the camera when seems he is Mindset 3. Also check Interview structure for God/Villain

  • Answer to the Question opened at Intro

    To be a better leader, a person needs to have a vision and can be true to oneself. All other characters reinforce the answer and make analogies

    Resources: hopeful song, repeat interview with approachable people and videos that reinforce what’s being said

  • Closing

    Refers to the Intro. Mindset 2 is not the way, although some behaviors from mindset 3 looks like that

    Resources: use text for bullet points, new music related to theme, repeat images already used to explain each concept

Summary of the conclusion: Moment of revelation, answer to the question opened at the intro and a bullet point list with the main actions to reach the goal.

End of the documentary.

My own conclusion

I had a great time learning about leadership with Max Joseph and an even better time studying how he tells his story. I love the use of classical music and typography highlights. Following a structure, making your motivations clear and using all resources possible to illustrate your points makes communication easier and more interesting.

What made Max Joseph story interesting was the fact that he followed his own leadership guidelines while creating his video:

  1. Max was authentic in the whole video
  2. His motivations were clear all the time
  3. He used all his resources, including structure, illustrations, videos, music, sound effects, typography, visual effects
  4. He accepted change and he grew throughout the video

I see clearly what I need to change in my videos and illustrations and how much work, planning and edition is done to create a good story. I’m currently reading a few books on this same subject and I’m planning to analyse other documentaries, like the Netflix Abstract Series. Thanks for learning with me and stay in touch!


A career may blossom to some unimaginable outcome

We often hear stories about people who change their careers for something completely unrelated and become extremely successful in their new areas. One of my favorite examples is the business entrepreneur Sara Blakely. Sara got a degree in law but was not able to pass the LSAT test. She spent seven years selling fax machines door to door until she finally invented Spanx and today her company is worthy one billion dollars. In numerous interviews, she looks to her past and explains how being repeatedly rejected and learning to deal with failure set her up for success. I also like Steve Jobs’ journey. In a very famous speech at Stanford University, he explains why dropping college and enrolling on a random calligraphy course was essential for the success of Apple later on. Even being fired from the company he founded contributed for his success, as he used this time to start other creative companies like Pixar, today a multi billion animation company.

Sara Blakely
Steve Jobs

I’m fascinated by this kind of journey because I’ve been in a career transition as well. Although I graduated and worked as an Architect, it’s been 5 years since I decided to become an artist. During this period I worked at a coffee shop, clothes store, department store and finally at an art studio. In 5 years I got some praise but also I heard multiple times I was wasting my talent. The fact that I served coffee at Starbucks for 2 years was a source of much controversy. Why would an architect with a masters degree decide to serve coffee? How would this contribute in any way for the development of an art career?

Deep inside me I knew I was learning from this experience but since I couldn’t see the outcome, many times I got anxious or frustrated during my journey. Looking back, I can finally see things coming together and the more I work, the more everything makes sense.

You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards.

Steve Jobs

Focus on what you can control

When I decided to become an artist, I got a part time job at Starbucks, and started classes at the Alberta University of the Arts. Every morning I wore an apron and served coffee, all afternoons and evenings I was drawing or studying. I had big dreams and was full of creativity and motivation. I couldn’t see clearly where I would reach, but I was happy and focused.

The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter into one of the most creative periods of my life

Steve Jobs

People around me couldn’t understand. I remember introducing myself to a new person saying ” I’m studying arts” and some friend discreetly would add “but she has a masters degree in architecture!”. I used to get upset at these reactions because I thought my friends were embarrassed from my choices. Today I understand it was not their fault. If I couldn’t see clearly the future, why would I expect other people to be able to see? This was beyond my control. In these past 5 years I learned to focus on what I can control, that means, what I want to study, how many hours I can dedicate to my practice, how I respond when I face a challenge. People’s reactions to my choices are beyond my control. I choose to don’t get upset anymore.

Keep track of your progress

I spent my whole first year exploring the city with a sketchbook and a black marker. In the beginning I used my phone to take pictures of my work and the environment around me. After a while, I noticed other artists presented their work in a more clean way. I got a scanner and stopped sharing pictures that were not art related. All my drawings were based on the reality around me and I was afraid of colors.

Studying colors was the biggest change of all. I went from simple black and white sketches to very colorful compositions. The architectural style gave way to experiments. Acrylic paintings, pastel drawings, watercolors, pointillism, chalk markers. Animals became my favorite theme because they could be so colorful. I learned a lot. Working at Starbucks made a huge impact in my art. Since I was constantly drawing chalkboards for them, I brought the black background to my paintings and also started learning about typography. The experience of working in this huge company also taught me many business lessons, the most important of all was understanding what a vision is and why I should have one if I wanted to grow.

In the beginning of 2018 I developed my own vision, I want to make the world more interesting. Everything that contributes to my vision is given priority, anything that doesn’t help me achieve the vision is abandoned. Many times I discarded artworks because I didn’t think they were interesting enough. The vision should be something huge and abstract, not a simple goal. I’ve been following this vision since then.

Looking to the past I noticed I didn’t have a consistent style. I was all over the place. I decided to experiment again until I could find “my style”. I also wanted to understand the meaning of “interesting” for me. At this point I already knew I wanted to work with limited colors, mix them with some black and white and use more patterns. First I got inspired by fashion illustration and later for art for kids. I tried digital drawing, unexpected colors, printmaking, stamps and stencils. Experimenting and going out of my comfort zone was essential to discover what I liked or not.

Much of what I stumbled into by following my curiosity and intuition turned out to be priceless later on

Steve Jobs

I finally understood what I consider interesting. My whole life I loved to read and I have read lots of books. Many years ago I even had a blog about books and movies, I used to analyse how people tell a story. I discovered the most interesting thing for me is storytelling. All my illustrations should be part of a story or be the story on itself. The techniques and style has been compressed to just follow the story. This is what I’m working on now.

Looking back to move forward

Keeping track of my own art, constantly reviewing it and comparing with other art I like was essential to identify opportunities for growth. I archive my drawings and the process to arrive at the final piece. Stephen King expresses this idea much better than I when he speaks about writing. The same could be applied to any form of art:

“You have to read widely, constantly refining (and redefining) your own work as you do so. It’s hard for me to believe that people who read very little (or not at all in some cases) should presume to write and expect people to like what they have written, but I know it’s true. If I had a nickel for every person who ever told me he/she wanted to become a writer but “didn’t have time to read,” I could buy myself a pretty good steak dinner. Can I be blunt on this subject? If you don’t have the time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.
Reading is the creative center of a writer’s life. I take a book with me everywhere I go, and find there are all sorts of opportunities to dip in …

Stephen King, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft

In 2015 I simply copied the reality around me, without thinking so much. The exercise of studying other people’s art and process lead me to improve my own process and make it much deeper. Today I define my theme and start with some loose sketches and simple written notes. As I get to the first concept, I study what other artists did, as well as explore my own memories. When I feel I have a stronger visual base, I advance on my drawings and add more details, while I transform my written notes into a text. The process is a collaboration between memories, references, drawings and thinking. For me, an idea is a person climbing a narrow gap between two buildings. It departs from the pavement, made from my memories and references. It puts the feet on the wall of the first building, my drawings. Get some impulse and put a feet on the second building, my writing. It keeps climbing dangerously with the support of both building, writing and drawing, never losing sight from the floor, my memories and references. Will the idea trip and fall back to my mind? Or will it reach the top? Can my ideas fly?

Be excited about what you don’t know

Understanding there is so much to learn is the best way to discover new techniques and approaches to solve problems. My career changed in some unexpected ways, one discovery led to another and I’ve seen myself walking on paths I’ve never imagined before.

Don’t be intimidated by what you don’t know.

 Sara Blakely
An open circle with no limits

Improvement can only exist if I’m willing to see new ways of doing things. As we plant the seeds of our destiny, we imagine and plan where we are going to reach but so many discoveries on the way lead us to unexpected paths. The circle of choices is open but it’s my mind that closes its border. I’m the one who creates this invisible ceiling and says – here is where it stops. What if I could see there is no end? 

Changing the mindset is the most interesting way to grow and discover value in our own experiences. Imagine how many combinations you can make with each piece of the knowledge you already have. 

Good story ideas seem to come quite literally from nowhere, sailing at you right out of the empty sky: two previously unrelated ideas come together and make something new under the sun. Your job isn’t to find these ideas but to recognize them when they show up.”

Stephen King, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft

Today I feel I’m combining everything, there was no right or wrong path. Skills from all my previous jobs, ideas from all my hobbies, memories from all my travels, slowly all my life experience is getting compressed and molded into new matter and transformed in illustrations. The unexpected is great. The mystery and vastness of the future are fascinating for me.

Do you wonder what the future holds? Do you ever wonder where you will be in 5 years? If I could look through the crystal ball, I would visualize an immense maze of ways and possibilities. The maze of our destiny is so vast it simply doesn’t have an end. It’s infinite. Walking on the roads of my destiny, every single day I discover new possibilities, every single moment I can make a new choice.

All these experiences together brought me where I am now. Working with large companies and learning about business helped me understand how I should guide my own career. Being open, trying with different art supplies, techniques and ideas helped me improve the quality of my artwork. The love for reading made me understand how a good story is important for me. Being excited about the future motivates me everyday. 

Would you like to see your career growing in ways you never imagined before? Here is what I see so far:

  1. Focus on what you can control
  2. Keep track of your progress
  3. Look back to move forward
  4. Be excited about what you don’t know

I hope you enjoyed reading this post! Leave a comment or share, I would love to know how you are approaching your own career growth. Thanks for your visit!


Joy and Challenge in the Artwork Process

Hi! How are you today? I hope great! For me it’s been a very productive week with so many insights and personal growth. I drew a lot, wrote a lot and learn so many things.

I’ve been inspired by an online game called Covet Fashion. It’s a funny online game where you dress your “doll” according to a description of a story. You need to use certain clothes or accessories to “pass” a challenge. The game is telling the story of Etta who crossed a portal and now is travelling in the sky. When she arrived in the sky everything was very weird, she saw this strange woman walking on top of the clouds and her pet was an alligator. The game challenge us to style a look using leather boots and acrylic sunglasses. Now I cannot imagine… you cross a portal, fall from the sky on a cloud and there she is, this very cool lady walking her alligator. Ha! Ok!

Covet Fashion Game

I decided to create an illustration based on that. I started to think about how I could show the shoes and have something dynamic with the alligator. I remember those modern paintings from the moderns times, like the Abaporu, by Tarsila do Amaral. I wanted the woman a bit in perspective, feet large and head far in the sky. I didn’t want to exaggerate too much her proportions, so I tried to remember examples in real life. Suddenly I remember this advertise from Nike from many years ago and I was so happy I was able to find a screenshot I took at the time. Nike really knows how to feature their shoes!

I got her some Miista boots with an amazing snake pattern and then all I needed was her pet. After a bit of researching I found a crocodile from an old Peter Pan book and I tried to draw it more playfully and sassy. I also added some pattern to make it connect with the boots and of course, I put it on a leash since it’s a well behavior alligator.

My idea is to create free wallpapers for iPhone and other mobiles. I started using as a background my own lock screen and it’s just so awesome, makes me feel very cool. I imagine I’m this giant woman, facing up the sun with my mind distracted in another universe. My alligator friend tells me something spicy, look how his hand is all sassy, we are full of attitude. We have hours of conversations in the sky, traveling between pink clouds, there is nothing else in the world. Life is really cool! ⠀⠀

The best thing about this illustration is how much I achieved and how well I used skills I’ve been working on. Click on the images to see some of the skills I used in this image.

Drawing on iPhone

I think it’s so cool to create art for iPhone directly on my iPhone! I’ve been drawing all my artwork with a strange (but wonderful) stylus called Pony, using Procreate Pocket. When I downloaded the Procreate app last month, I started by doing a ton of studies with just my finger. Drawing with my finger helped me keep one eye on the scale of the project and have an overall feeling of the artwork. My amazing painting instructors always taught me to start with my largest brushes. Do you know why? Because it gives the feeling of the painting, it directs the composition, fills quickly the canvas and avoids overworking or getting lost in details. Drawing with the finger is like that, your finger is that super large brush. It’s a great start, but at a certain point, you need a smaller brush. That’s why I got a stylus. Buy why this stylus is so strange?

Take a good look on that tip!

IPhone surfaces are designed to react with your finger, a wide surface that transmits energy to the screen. You can try a stylus with a sharper tip and they won’t work, your iPhone is not capable of understanding. So Pony found a great solution, this style with a transparent disk! The disk is wide enough to transmit the information for the iphone, and is transparent, so you can see what you are drawing. It’s connected to the pen by a flexible piece, allowing you to incline the pen while you draw. I love my Pony stylus! People who are familiar with the iPad pencil might get a hard time with a Pony. It’s definitely harder to make precise lines or really express your strokes with that tip. But I got used very quickly and I just love the freedom of making art anywhere at any time. Can you imagine changing all art supplies, tons of brushes, pigments, pencils, papers, canvas, sponges, easels, boards, all that volume of things for something that you already have in your pocket? I love my traditional art materials, but I’m seriously hooked by the digital art and all the freedom and possibilities I see here.

Dreaming about hidden worlds

Imagining different realities has been an amazing source of inspiration. While I was thinking about clouds and sunglasses and strange new things, I started to retrieve memories from a long long time ago, when I was about 7 and my mom hired a girl to help her babysit my sister. This girl was a very funny and was always dreaming about having the perfect boyfriend. She would spend all the free hours of her day looking at gossip magazines and admiring all these guys from the movies and advertisements. This happened during the 80’s and the standards for men were quite different from today, their faces were quite angular and their presence felt a bit distant, sometimes even robotic. In one of her magazines there was an advertisement from RayBan where the guy was standing there, very masculine, with all these clouds reflected in his sunglasses. It was so cool! When I thought about sunglasses and clouds, that was the image that came to my mind. I decided to use this reference and mix with something more current. After searching how people advertise sunglasses today, I found an ad from Lanvin that I liked, the girl was cool and the composition was simple but well done. I especially like the plant on the right side or the picture, it brings a bit of mystery to the story and softens her expression.

I choose to base my drawing on this picture because it is somehow connected but opposed to the energy from the RayBan ad and it was fun to play with these concepts. The guy was facing forward, outdoors in the sun, nothing in front of him. The girl was behind a plant, indoors and in the shadows. But both look distant and in another world. Mix and match with a bit of line drawing and here it is, this designed a cool lady ready to escape to new hidden worlds.

My own version of a person lost in thoughts in an universe of clouds

I found it funny how I mixed an online fashion game with memories from the 80’s and advertisements and got here. I love thinking about the creative process and all these associations of ideas.

Multiplying an idea

Every time I create an illustration I want to create a set of other illustrations that are inspired and related to the main work. It’s an exercise I’ve been doing to multiply my art and transform one concept in many interconnected works. I love the idea of collage and during the quarantine I discovered an app called PicCollage. I stayed hours and hours creating silly collages with any image that attracted my mind, escaping to a world with no limits and full imagination. The main purpose of the app is to add a frame and stickers to your picture, or use it like a scrapbook. There are thousands of backgrounds in all colors and textures, and the stickers are designed by many illustrators around the world, in all kinds of styles and themes. There are also fonts and other features I didn’t discover yet. I started to use the app everyday just for fun and then I wanted to have my own stickers and backgrounds to make even more collages and create compositions with my own works.

While studying how to represent snake pattern, I drew over the boots design by Miista. Then I thought, hey, I can transform these boots in a sticker! So I mix some stickers from other artists and my own and create a silly but awesome PicCollage. Is this a masterpiece? For sure no, but it’s so much fun and helps me release the power of my own imagination!

Creating a collection

In the same idea about multiplying my art and getting more out of the same theme, I’ve been creating simple patterns that brings happiness and hope for those who see them. I plan to design those patterns fast and don’t worry too much about details, but in reality, I actually struggle. The pattern for this collections was particularly challenging. I started with the idea of drawing a swamp full of alligators. I chose my colors and composition, searched for references and started drawing. The more I drew, the less I liked the results. It’s not that the drawing was bad, but it was not communicating what I wanted to tell. After 3 days working on the same idea, I had an “A-ha!” moment. I finally realized my mistake was placing the alligators floating horizontally on the water.

Although that was a fine image, it had nothing to do with my theme, it was too static and realistic. Looking at my own works I saw that I needed to keep the composition more dynamic and that the theme was all related to the clouds and imagination. Alligators on a swamp is common place, what is new is alligators on clouds. The concept was wrong and I was telling the wrong story, no matter how good was the drawing, I would never get the result I wanted.

I spent so much time thinking and researching about alligators I started to see alligators everywhere! I’m very happy about what I was able to achieve and this was important to stay within the concept.

Free wallpapers

Drawing this collection was just so much fun and I feel I’ve been travelling with Etta in this strange new world. If you loved the concept and would like to travel too, you can use one of my wallpapers on your phone as well. Send me a email requesting the image and I’ll be happy to send you. Just choose one or all of the 3 wallpapers below

The joys and challenges of this art process were immense and added so much to my life. I feel I’ve been to a real journey. If you enjoyed learning about all this adventure and had fun while reading, leave me a comment, push like or share this post. I want to know more about your dreams and what makes your head get lost in the clouds. Thank you so much for reading and see you in the next adventure!


New Normal

These last 2 weeks, although I’m working full time, I produced more drawings than the whole year of 2019. Being busy was not pushing back my art career, it was my emotional state.

Working in Canada has been intense

Being an immigrant is no vacation. Since I moved to Canada in 2014 I’ve been always working very hard and rarely take some time to evaluate my life and goals. In my first year as an immigrant I just survived, and it was tough. I had 2 jobs and lived in 4 different addresses. It was exhausting. At the end of that year I quit my job and went to Brazil for 5 weeks. I didn’t want to do anything, I just wanted to rest. That was when I had my first insight, I wanted to change my career, I wanted to become an artist.

I was travelling in Buenos Aires and I wondered… how artists make a living?

I got back to Canada and enrolled in a visual arts and illustration program. I applied for a new day job and I got 5 job offers for management positions in retail. Salary was reasonable but all jobs were full time and seemed like a lot of responsibility. At the same time I also applied for a part time job as a barista at Starbucks because I felt that just making coffee would leave my creative energy free for my art production. Starbucks called me. That was one of the hardest decisions of my life. I remember long conversations with my family and friends about how I could make my art career possible, how to balance day job and dreams. My mom was the one who reminded me that I could get a management job in retail anytime, but “if you want to be an artist, you need to try it now”.

Making coffee and drawing boards

So I got the job at Starbucks and started studying at a local university. In the extra time I worked on my own drawing projects and yes, it was tough. Awesome, but tough. I did that for 2 years and one day after a stressful shift I just quit. I was already doing exhibitions, got a few small commissions and a local newspaper even wrote an article about my work. I thought, ok, I can survive as an independent artist. I counted my savings and boosted my work for 6 months. It was great but I made some mistakes on the way. I got in debt when I did my first solo exhibition, I invested money on equipment for taking pictures of my art work, custom frames and art supplies. These things were necessary but my inventory didn’t move as fast as my expenses.

Living the dream as independent artist

At a certain point, I had to get another day job. That’s when I started teaching at an art school for kids. In the beginning it was part time and I was still producing a lot of illustrations and funding my independent career. I paid my debt, I got my work at an art gallery, pieces started to sell here and there, I was happy. I got married, moved to a cute house, things were moving well and I was moving towards my dream. But personal challenges came on the way. Last year, in April, I faced something devastating emotionally. I didn’t notice at the time, I didn’t see how it would affect me, but it did and it was very deep. I pretend nothing happened. When the art school offered me a position to become a manager full time, I accepted and I started working very intensely. I abandoned my drawings and illustrations. I lost all my hope. I firmly believe I would never be happy again. When people asked me what happened and why I was not drawing anymore I would blame it on the job. “I’m too busy”.

For one year and a half I didn’t touch a pencil

Then the pandemic came, I was temporarily laid off. Suddenly there was so much free time! But in my first month at home I just watched the news and got upset about everything. I didn’t touch one art supply. On my birthday, in April, it had passed one year after the tragic event from 2019. It was like someone was slowly turning on the lights of a very huge building, switch after switch. I started to eat healthy again, exercise daily, I lost 3 quilos. I did fun things like playing online games, watching cute movies. Suddenly, boom! Something turned on all the lights at the same time in my head! All the pain stopped. My drawings ideas were back. My art goals hit me like a thunderstorm. I realized I’ve been mourning for a full year and that was what stopped me. It was not my job, not my new routines, nothing. It was my emotional state.

Fênix out of the ashes!

Since things got clear, I see inspiration everywhere. I’m inspired by the stories that are happening now, the game I was playing, the movie I was watching, the advertisement I saw in a magazine. Ideas are flourishing everywhere. In the last 2 weeks I produced more than the whole last year. I am working full time now, exercising 5 times a week, eating home made food practically everyday and I’m on a spree of energy and creativity.

One of the works I did in this new spree of energy

People don’t see when depression takes over. It happens so slowly, we think things just changed for good. We changed. We gave up. That’s not true. Now that it’s over, I see clearly how I was affected by my emotional state. I’m finally happy again. I feel powerful and motivated, I feel I can do anything again. It’s just beautiful!

Healing takes time, don’t give up!

It’s hard to believe I’m drawing again. Now that it’s over, it just feels I had a bad dream. Emotions are important. I usually pretend things doesn’t affect me and then they stay in my subconscious poisoning everything. Some things we can face and deal with it, but others, we need to give time to heal and there is no way around. If I didn’t ignore what was going on, I wouldn’t feel so guilty about not making art, or feel so pressured about my routine and goals. I would have been more patient to myself and accept I was healing. I wouldn’t try to blame other people or other things for my lack of initiative. I didn’t produce because it’s was not possible due to my emotional state and I needed the time to heal. I’m happy I understand that.

From now on I’ll start posting these new illustrations here on the blog and speak more about my process and what I’m doing. I’m so happy about this new spree of creativity I can’t wait to start sharing everything. Keep posted and again, thanks for reading!