What we learned from 28 days of making

The other month, we did a creativity squat with Creative Live’s 28 to Make daily prompts and projects. We thought of the journey as a free ride on a train, and Etsi fell ill with a severe cold, probably due to not wearing thick enough coats. In this post we have compiled some lessons learned and our question and answer for the Sunday reflection session.

Lessons learned: have opinions that matter to us

Wear your jackets 

There is no such relationship between good ideas and the weather temperature, but… just because some of our notions are not scientifically researched does not mean that there is nothing there. We have managed to learn to keep warm and avoid freezing to death, because such misery do not allow us the agility required to perform our physical activities. We think there is a connection between warm clothes and the production of ideas. So please, please, please wear your jackets, but not all of them at once.

The day is a container of ideas

We have developed a further understanding of what constitutes a day. We know that when it’s not us, it’s the day! We got the wrong day, Groundhog appeared early again, the day was tired, the day was old, etc. Metaphorically speaking, our day is not over until the assignment is done.

No pre-testing, no overthinking, and no cheating

We didn’t usually try to limit 20 minutes per project, but 28 to Make made us be satisfied with just spending enough time. Anything we drew we limited to 20 minutes per piece, and that was a really valuable skill for us.

The ‘everyday’ is worth celebrating

Definitely what we go through every day is something to celebrate, and in more than one way if possible. This idea is “the idea” that we don’t usually talk about or get excited about. The everyday, more or less, happens every day.

Some questions: reflections for a day off

What makes you want to make?

Specific ideas that are unmissable. You know them. These are concrete ideas that are so detailed and full of useful information (that only you can see), they become actionable. This is something we would like to believe is a result of overthinking, which is what we’re really, really, really good at. We’re also really good at thinking with our hands, and that makes us want to make. When we feel  the “flow” or that state of total playfulness when you simply don’t need to glance at your co-workers with that “what’s next?” look in your eyes. That is the moment makes us want to make.

Which project from this past week most closely addressed that core drive?

We can’t ever say that we’re “powered by playfulness” because that doesn’t communicate what we want to say about ourselves. That state of flow is not an imaginary invention. We certainly didn’t invent it. (Someone by the name of  Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi was credited for coining the term.)

Another reason why it is tough to choose a project that connected with our core drive is that what contributes a day, a week, or even a month for the instructors didn’t seem to correspond to our ideas of what they were. The pace that we went on with the training was not a 1 and 1 comparison. We took the exercises daily, but the next day, when we were supposed to be doing the next projects, we returned to the previous oneEtsi hadn’t finished transcribing the text; we weren’t finished thinking about them yet.

We made it through the first day, worked on that for 1 week, and then had a planned down time for a month preparing for something else. But if we had to choose based on the projects alone, we would say the first project was actually a blast: drawing our beverage. The moral dilemma we faced was in changing the glasses. Etsi had a severe cold and was only drinking water for about 1 month, so whatever glass she was drawing, the content was water.

If you had an extra hour to focus on any one of this week’s project, which one would you pick? Why?

Let’s say that we had the liberty of adding one hour of work to any one of the projects we did last week. We would definitely choose the ‘draw your receipt’ project, because we intentionally left out the handwriting for additional detailing, and in one hour we would probably be able to finish drawing one of our credit statements and mail them  back to the sender so that they can buy them back. The emailing and the sending back alone will probably take 2 to 4 extra days, so actually an extra hour is not that much.

Was there a project this week that rubbed you the wrong way? If so, why do you think that was?

There was this one particular project from the 3rd day that asked us to draw our favorite album. For no apparent reason, we could not find our favorite albums, or our favorite albums have simply ceased to become a favorite because we could not find them. We don’t know who took them, but that was a real bummer. We were left in total darkness listening to podcasts about copyrights and intellectual rights instead. It must have shifted the way we think about our favorite albums, because for sure we no longer have the vinyls.

If you could ask any one historical figure to do any one of this week’s projects, who would you choose and which project would you have them do?

So if there ever was a chance for a redo, we’d like to have Larry Tesler draw our receipts for us.

What creative skills do you wish you were better at?

We wish to be a lot better at Adobe Muse, since creating websites without the coding part just seems so  tempting right now. We love that Adobe has a great community for the learning and support, which we think is the best thing about the Creative Suite updates. Another thing we would like to be a lot better at is creative writing and visual storytelling.

What creative skills do you think you’re best at?

There was a time when we could simply make random strangers buy our stuffs by talking to them non-stop—they’d buy the stuffs just to shut us up, but those moments are behind us. With digital marketing, the traditional artist-centered strategy might not work for everyone. It might not work at all! We think we’re good at creative reading and creative writing, but we still wish that we were a whole lot better at writing.

We know how to do online research, where to look for information, and we can design a quick research for the purposes of our projects, without disrupting our long-term goals. We know quite a few tricks on Illustrator, but we also wish we were a lot better and a lot more into it with the Adobe Community. This is purely due to time constrains, with Etsi taking (wait for it) web design & digital marketing certifications and all.

What’s one thing you can do from start-to-finish in the next 28 minutes to demonstrate that? Write that down.

Okay. First, we’re going to create a ‘buy us coffee’ link to get people to help us with our goals. Making a PayPal donate button is not that difficult, but we’re going to make a link, and not a button. We’re not going to put that shiny button on our site just yet. What we want to make is just a short link to put at the bottom of this blog post.

Did any friends, neighbors, or family members came to mind while you were working on any of this week’s projects? If so, write their name down. Don’t feel pressured to share this with them, just make a note and let yourself be more aware of the human connections associated with the stuff you make.

Absolutely. We’ll even let them buy us some coffee!


What to do when you’ve got a drawing tablet in mind

Working on one of our minimals has brought us to the  decision of adopting a drawing tablet. It’s sort of like choosing a kitten at the animal shelter, but harder.

We’ve been seeing Microsoft Surface Pro 4 giveaway contests and ads for Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga 14 online, but on every YouTube video we watch the instructor seems to be using a Wacom pad.

Figure out more details

We knew we should get a Wacom tablet straight away because we’ve been exposed to sooo many digital artists, young and old, new and veterans, that are using a Wacom tablet. This made up our mind for us. We just didn’t know which one to get.

Wacom has re-introduced the new versions of its Intuos Art, Draw, Photo, Comic and 3D late 2015. It was crazy to think that we were only a tablet away from a mega mind masterpiece, but we sure felt like that.

The pressure sensitivity of a Wacom tablet was 1024 for all of its Intuos series. Some other drawing tablets, such as Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga and Cintiq13 HD, has higher pressure sensitivity. This level of sensitivity means the harder you press onto the tablet, the thicker the line would be.

Or, you could just get the pen…

Flowed with a Wacom pen

If we were not getting a Wacom Intuos tablet, we knew what we would do. We’d just get an Apple Pencil and draw on an iPad! Ta-da! Brilliant idea! This was never an option before, because our iPad was always busy with other things. Always busy. A-l-w-a-y-s.

So, maybe get one of those digital pens for sketching for a change. Here are some that caught our quick glance:

Apple Pencil 

The Apple pencil costs US$99 and can be purchased from the Apple Shop under Apple Pencil. It seems to be generating positive reviews. But it’s not a pen, it’s a pencil.

Moleskin Smart Writing Set

For US$199 we get the new generation Moleskine Paper Tablet, Pen+ and companion app. One of Etsi’s favorite brands in the past for notepads. Replacement notepads for the set costs about US$34.

Adobe Ink & Slide

We have no idea where we could get one of these. They cost $29.99 for a stylus pen and a Slide or ruler, and the package is called Adobe Ink & Slide.

What we’ve learned so far is that there are many more new brands that are providing affordable digital drawing tablets online. We checked out Amazon, and the reviews were fantastic (4 to 5 stars) for these brands: Ugee, Turcom, Monoprice, Huion. We’ve never heard of any of them before.

Design your own??

Oh, you meant you wanted to design your own drawing tablet set? Why don’t you?! We’d be more than happy to try it out and review it for you. (By more than happy, we mean in a good way.) Just be sure to include us in the beta testing phase.

Responding to Daily Prompt: Protest.

We don’t know everybody

responding to Discover Challenge: One, Two, Three!

We tend to remember better when we see in clusters of three to four words. It’s the classic cluster reading—unpredictable in practice, easy in theory. Knowing that this in theory is easier than in reading practices, we can imagine when the teacher broke the news, “Cluster reading improves your reading comprehension and reading speed!”


It’s not the same with sketching. We don’t draw 3 drinks in one go. Not for speed, and not for comprehension. On the contrary, everything is drawn one by one even when everything is a cluster of things. And we draw layer by layer. That way it’s easier to focus on the right things.

Our list of things that come together in threes:

123 car, keys, driving license

456.png glass, water, straw

789 coffee, sugar, cream

101112.png the Bronte sisters

There will be good-looking cakes

Why, Etsi is a digital artist. And this website is launching soon.

There is no rush to get this project off the ground. It has been on the work for a few months. In October, Etsi started the planning process and came up with an idea for a website.

By September, 2014, there are already about 1 billion websites on the world wide web. That was how we were pretty sure that we wanted to keep things at the very minimal. Etsi’s idea of minimal is anywhere between 1 and 100.

So here we are. Let’s be friends.


The next couple of days will be all about getting our content on the web or content inventory. The process is like syncing our materials with the requirements of the website. It’s going to take a couple of days, maybe weeks, but when we’re all done it’s going to be worth every sleepless night.

So far we’ve got 3 minimals and Etsi decided to keep the Trade tab as is. Our big projects and collections, however, will now be child tabs under the Minimals.

If you’ve been following our very minimal from the beginning, you might have missed the Minimals. They just got in.