Nihon niha Bōken!

Ok, I'm finally posting the beginning of my adventures in Japan (Nihon niwa Bōken). After scrambling all day to make sure I had everything I needed for my trip, I had a meal with a few of my favorite people, petted Rusti bun goodbye and was whisked away to Canadaland by my best friend, Lindsey. After arriving at the airport, I worked on my newest piece for the What's Up! April cover while waiting for the plane. I also worked on it in the Taipei airport and while in transit between Narita airport in Tokyo to Osaka. I am still working on completing it from in Japan which is great because it was highly inspired by my last trip to Japan. I'll discuss that once I can release the finished art. :)

Anyways, after about 20~hours of travel, we finally got to Osaka Station where we were picked up by Joe-san, our host at the AirBnB we chose based on fantastic artwork alone.

 Joe's super cute & silly AirBnB listings!! 

Joe's super cute & silly AirBnB listings!! 

We knew immediately what fun it would be to hang out with him and from the moment he picked us up at the station, we were off to enjoy the ramen I had been craving for so long! He ordered us a spicy ramen which I was a little worried might be to spicy, but it had a miso flavor similar to that which I prepare at home with just a little extra spiciness than I would usually add. It was exactly what I wanted after such a long trip. We didn't stay up too long to socialize on Sunday night, just long enough to get unpacked and find the convenience store and shower.

 Joe ordered us a couple bowls of spicy ramen and it was everything I could hope for. 🍲

Joe ordered us a couple bowls of spicy ramen and it was everything I could hope for. 🍲

The next morning, Joe planned out an itinerary with a bunch of the things Ian and I wanted to do. He and Tatsuya, his friend, picked us up and brought us to Osaka Castle. There we walked to a local train station to get the Shoryū/Amazing Pass. This pass granted us free entry to tons of places as well as free subway rides for two days. Initially, he had us on a crazy fast schedule, but we decided to take it slow and really explore the area of Osakajo. After walking up the Osaka Castle, reading the history and appreciating all the ARTifacts (sorry, I couldn't help myself, but they really did  have some incredible art), we walked around to see a view of the city. From the top I discovered there was a garden area below and I do love me some Japanese gardens! We snacked on some karaage & Kobe beef, talked to a local, and then were off to explore the garden and turret houses. I should note that between talking to the local and grabbing a snack, I found my first Gashapon machines! If you don't know what Gashapon is, it is basically my greatest obsession and money waster in Japan. Remember those toy machines in grocery stores with crappy toys/candy. Japan does it way better. It also costs a lot more (¥200-¥400 per capsule gift), but I just can't seem to control myself when it comes to these silly things.

After exploring the turret houses, we wandered over to the history museum which was closing up, and I discovered the HQ for NHK Osaka which is where Domo was created as a mascot for. We finally hopped over to Umeda to explore HEP-5 in hopes of going to the giant carousel.

 The beginning of the gashapon collecting.

The beginning of the gashapon collecting.

We wandered around looking for yummy foods. The problem with walking around for food in Japan, however is that you can wander for hours. Not because there isn't any to be found, but there are almost too many options. 😖  After dinner, we shopped around and although I had insisted I wouldn't buy anything at KIDDYLAND, I was paralyzed in excitement, actually hyperventilating when I saw the huge Sailor Moon display (see cover photo.) It could very well be one of the happiest moments in my life. 😂 Needless to say, I knew I would be going overbudget on buying things, sooo I used my credit card instead. After about 45 min of browsing Sailor Moon merchandise, asking Ian if I want "this? Or this?" we finally left and made our way to the top of the HEP 5 building to ride the Ferris wheel. I won't lie, it was a little  scary riding a Ferris wheel that was hundreds of feet above hundreds of people shopping and above a train station, but it was a beautiful sight. We finally grabbed some dessert with a large chocolate cake parfait and then made our way back to Joe's house.

 

We asked if he wanted to hang out and were up til about 3am chatting. We even did a FaceTime with his children and wife who were next door while he was drinking with us. Our language barrier is sometimes difficult but I think we definitely have an amazing friend in Joe. He is very kind, has an interesting history, and is open-minded and friendly. I am looking forward to years of friendship. So that's essentially day 1-ish.

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Super Tuesday

I know you think I'm going to talk about politics, but I'm not. Really, I just want to talk about how super my Tuesday has been personally.

First of all, today was the first Tuesday of the month. I love first Tuesdays because at my job it means we have a work meeting. I know, I know, most people hate work meetings, but at the office I'm in, it's really just an excuse to take a break at a local hotel restaurant and eat lunch together. We take this time to discuss what we accomplished in the last month, our upcoming goals until the next meeting, and maybe laugh about clients we consider "red flags." Sorry, but if you're a difficult client in any industry, you're probably going to be mentioned among coworkers from time to time.

Anyways, the point of this meeting is to allow us to reconnect, reflect on successes and plan for additional success. Think of it as a monthly workplace Thanksgiving! This is something I think everyone should do in their lives on a regular basis, so this is my mission to you:

Give it a try. Once a month, take a step back for a couple hours and evaluate your goals, whether they're personal or business-related. Take yourself and/or a trusted confidant out to lunch. Discuss or write down all the accomplishments you've achieved in the last month--this will likely be a gratifying experience because we don't always see our successes daily, but when you look back at the bigger picture, you'll find you've done so much!

After you give yourself a pat on the back, go ahead and figure out what your goals for the next month are. If there are any goals that you didn't reach last month, don't beat yourself up. Consider why you didn't reach your goals (not enough time, not implementing enough social media presence, distractions, health, etc) and then create a new plan of attack.

Since I've already reflected on how super things are for me, let me share my successes with you. In the last month I have been able to secure more client work in my freelance design business, which I am about to dive into full-time. I even updated my social media profiles and website, and created a blog despite being ill. This week is my last week with the company I've been working at for almost two years. I will still be helping out the company, but on a freelance basis, which I'm very thankful to have the opportunity of, as well. And finally, I just released my first EP, Incoming Transmission with my band, Tin Foil Cat, and recorded vocals on a song with a local musician, Daisy Propane. As I said before, I'm so thankful for having such a great month.

And this upcoming month's goals? A trip to Texas to work with one of my main clients. The official beginning of my full-time freelancing design career. Finishing up a cover design for the April issue of What's Up! Magazine. A trip to Japan towards the end of the month through May where I plan on working on art, meeting musicians and other awesome creatives, train in my Kung Fu, and focus on my business goals. Be sure to follow me on that journey; I'll make sure to keep you posted, particularly in the ramen department.

 

From an Undead State of Mind

Greetings, I’ve finally gone ahead and made myself a blog. Of course, it took feeling deathly ill (I’m talking about you, Flu) for me to actually make it happen. Something about being unhealthy always gives me a push to do the things I “meant to get around to.” Perhaps it’s the result of agonizing over my state of pain & discomfort and the fact that when I’m not thinking about that I usually use some sort of design idea as my mantra until I pass out. For example, as I lay lucidly between consciousness and “death” as it certainly felt, I couldn’t help but wonder what it would be like to “brand” famous animated characters. What would they do for a day job in the real world?

Ever an obsessive Sailor Moon fan, I thought about Mamo-chan (or Tuxedo Mask). Perhaps he would run a flower shop. After all, where on earth does he get all those perfect roses to throw at just the last moment? I imagined him running all around Tokyo, peeking in people’s yards as he runs to the battle scene searching for the perfect rose. Hence why he’s always late to the scene. Must be hard to come by during the winter.

In any case, I decided while I think he’d be adorable running a flower shop, it would be easier to come up with a cool brand for a tuxedo rental shop. I decided it would be called Mask & Cloak Tuxedo Rentals. One of these days, probably when I’m sick, I’ll find the time to actually create this whole brand. But until then, you can enjoy this silly comic. By the way, I’m not a comic artist and have no aspirations to be (though I did as a teenager).