A Week of Rooftop Parties – BIW 2014

In which I account on the fun shenanigans that happened and awesome people at the Bali Illustration Workshop 2014


I flew to Bali a month ago to attend this workshop. Had a few people and friends asking about it and how it went. It’s hard to sum up in words everything that happened in that one week and just saying that ‘it was awesome!’ or ‘so fun!’ doesn’t do it enough justice.

…Oh, to hell with it, it was REALLY FUN.

But! I thought I should write my personal experience and what I got out of it, and hopefully give an idea what it was like, and also to those that might be interested in going to their future workshops. (I think I should note that Alejandro, Putri and Long Pham did an AMAZING job. Props to them. They’re too cool.)

I found out about the workshop through cool-art-friend Jacob, who went to their event last year with other-cool-art-friend Damian, and both of them said it was great. And after looking at the lineup of artists they had teaching for the five days, the price and schedule, I didn’t even hesitate. Plus, it felt like something I needed to go to: I was familiar what concept artists are like after my experience in LA, but I really wanted to meet illustrators: especially those who are freelancing and making a living through using the Internet since I wanted to grow and get better in that area, and the business and networking side to art. Plus I was a really big fan of the artists that were going.

I was also really nervous and scared because the workshop was going to be very VERY character focused – my weakness.

Exactly what I needed.


The event was held in Jimbaran, Bali, and the workshop was being held at this one hotel where all the attendees were also staying at. It was cool because before you fly over, you connected up with others who are going to the workshop if you want a roommate to share a room with at the hotel. For me, that made the experience a lot more awesome because hanging out with other artists almost 24/7 really made it feel like home.

For five days straight, it was like a massive explosion in my brain and heart. Seriously. You meet others and it’s too easy to make friends because everyone has this one same thing that connects us all: passion for art. Whether it’s for freelance, to get into a studio, to make your own IP – it’s all that same passion. And the openness to share and learn from others no matter what stage you are at in your artistic journey.

No boundaries, no judgements.

Just support and giving.

Making friends and connections and having a goddamn awesome time.


Meeting the instructors too in person was another thing that was very impacting on me. It’s breaking that barrier of the online realm and actually meeting them in person to see what they’re really like behind the artwork they create and post. Their advice and the way they approach work and their technique. For me personally, I was more interested in the networking and exposure side to art, so those were the types of questions I was trying to ask and they were THE people for that. It was great to hear their perspective.

The schedule of the workshop really worked out by having one instructor per day to teach because it meant you could really connect and get to know and meet that artist without a whole time restriction because you had that whole freaking day. I found that really good because past workshops I had been to usually would only be a couple of hours with one artist, and with a room full of over 40 people, it’s hard to meet them and actually connect with them in a limited amount of time, aswell as amongst a flurry of people who are pushing to the front. This was waaay better. It was relaxed and everyone was chill and calm. And having a cap of 30 students too made everything much more intimate, everyone ends up bonding and getting to know each other so well.


Because this workshop was portfolio entry, the people attending were not art-beginners which really benefited those of us that are already working in the industry because we could have the time to ask design related questions, work, about business, IPs and getting known as an artist instead of time being taken with questions like ‘What brush do you use?’ We could actually ask things that were more targeted to the things we wanted to know.

All in all it was a fantastic week, and I did get emotional returning back to Perth and had post-workshop sadness for a week after it. But if you’re an artist, I highly recommend that if you’re thinking of going next year: go. Especially if you are wanting to or are already freelancing, because this is the workshop for you. These guys know their stuff. Oh also, stay for both of the two weeks, even if you are only attending one week of the workshop. You want the time to chill and explore and hang out with people – I wish I stayed an extra week for that.

Not to mention eating loads of awesome food and exploring Bali, endlessly chatting with friends, drawing, photos, being stupid, sharing. Those were the best parts. (I think I annoyed Kekai Kotaki too much by asking invasive questions, but it was my second time seeing him since Sydney 2012 and I wanted to break the ice with some laughs. Forgive me, Kekai! Because really, you helped me become the artist I am today, I owe you a lot! And you can annoy me back next time LOL)

I really enjoyed it, and after getting advice from the instructors and friends there, it really gave me a lot of ideas of where I want to head with myself and my work. I also no longer feel afraid of doing character design now, in fact I really like it! Had the best time, made some great memories and friends, and loved it! There were TOO MANY ROOFTOP PARTIES TO COUNT. But it was pretty much every night.


Oh, and had a near-death experience in the car where we nearly rolled off the cliff while driving after having dinner. That was fun. But terrifying. But more so funny!



The Workshop (
James Zapata (
Saskia Gutenkunst (
Dave Rapoza (
Dan Warren (
Karla Ortiz (
Kekai Kotaki (
Alejandro Mirabal (
Long Pham (

Other super cool artists that went there whose work you should check out: 

Jacob Janerka ( (Check out his project Paradigm:
Angela Liu ( (Check out her project X-Breeder:
Naomi VanDoren (,
Michelle Ran (,
Joseph Wibawa (
Gerry Arthur (
Jaka Prawira (
Sam Dutter (
Zachary Tullsen (
Anastasia M (
Shirley Sys (
Jasmine Surkatty (




Cleaning like Cinderella, Moving and Upcoming Stuff

What’s Going On: Episode 1

Hey. It’s been a while. I’ve been MIA for a bit because for the past two weeks, I’ve been busy moving. Moving house by the way is a big predicament that requires a lot of time and energy, and also stress. Everything in life goes on hold for this one process at hand: to get everything you have from one place to another.

That means a lot of tasks. Like throwing out junk that I never use.



Packing a billion boxes full of junk that I still use.


The moving of the junk itself.


Then the fun and most time-consuming part – cleaning.

And I mean REALLY CLEAN. Not spray-Windex-and-wipe-that’s-clean-enough. I mean as in get-on-your-goddamn-knees-with-a-scrubbrush-and-disinfectant and scrub tiles Cinderella-style and into the minuscule gaps where mould is hiding with a toothbrush. This is cleaning the vicinity you’ve lived in for the past few years, it’s gonna be gross one way or another. Kinda like how Chihiro in Spirited Away cleans that giant tub in the bathhouse full of muck all by herself. Except there’s no bath salts and River Spirit. Just boring cleaning products instead. And germs.


I think I developed an intimate relationship with mould during this period. So intimate to the point where I scrubbed the hell out of it to oblivion and wished it would disappear from my life forever, so that I could cry woefully and then it comes back to reunite with my bathroom which it ALWAYS DOES. IT ALWAYS COMES BACK.

Other tasks included disinfecting, scrubbing, mopping and sweeping dust to the point where you can’t breath. Also hay fever doesn’t help in this whole thing. Tip: wear a mask, don’t do what I did and stuff tissues up each nostril. It’s not an attractive look at all. Or maybe it is. I dunno.


One whole week of that and boom! It’s done. Except you need to unpack everything, transfer stuff and connect Internet and stuff. But hey! It’s all done now.

Change is always good. Previous place for some reason everyone wanted to cut down their trees, I’m not a fan of the suburban thing, it makes everything feel dry. This place there’s more trees where we live and we’re kinda on a hill, so the wind and height feels pretty awesome. There’s so many areas outside I want to paint and draw, I’m hoping I can eventually do that in between work.  However more trees means more Australian nature, which is fine but I’m woken up every morning by the magpies that nest about our house for the spring with their entire family, and the the neighbours’ loud chickens. Every morning I just hear BOOK BOOK BOOOOOOK. It’s lively. I like it.

Anyway! That’s mainly been what’s been going on in my life for the past couple of weeks. And work. Had a looooot of work because I had to take a week off for the move. I also took a break from the Internet even after it got connected again because I just wanted time to focus on work and myself without being distracted by social networks and the community online (it actually feels really good).

One of the things coming up for me in a couple of weeks time is I’m flying to Bali for the Bali Illustration Workshop, which I’m really looking forward to – I’m quite nervous at the same time, but I have a feeling it’s gonna be really cool!  (if you’re an artist reading this and you’re going too, yay!) Because it’s only weeks away, it’s really the main thing I’m focusing on at the moment as well as doing as much client work as possible before then. Once I get back from it I have lots of things I want to, most in relation to my personal projects – one of them being another digital book to give to you guys. Big stretch for the end of the year.

But yeah. I’m back. I hope your past couple of weeks have been awesome. Feel free to comment what you’ve been up to, I hope it was better than mine at least and didn’t involve mould! Keep being awesome.

Also, if you’re curious because I’ve been away for a bit: the talk I did at Central Institute to Graphic Design students is online now! Click here to view more about it.



Follow Your Passion – A Talk for Central Institute’s Students

In which I did a talk at the college I used to study graphic design at and you can watch the video of it and laugh at me being a dork.

Never thought this would happen to me but it happened, and I really enjoyed doing it!

I did a talk at Central Institute of Technology to the Graphic Design students to share what concept art is, what I did after I left Central and tips for the students that I wish I knew when I was studying.

BIG NOTE: I’m not an expert at everything and I have a long way to go to get better at art, and as good as the artists that are killing it in the entertainment industry. A lot of what I say has been what other artists have taught me and ones I’ve met have shared with me, so I’m just sharing it with you guys as well because why the hell not. I’m still learning and growing so take what you can from this and in the end I hope it helps you. Because you’re worth it.

That being said, I had a blast from doing it and speaking in front of 80+ students. Also had many messages asking about a video of it since some people missed out on attending it and just wanted to see how it went. So here you go buddy. With the help of my awesome sister who recorded it because she’s into the whole film thing, you can watch it now.

Also, the talk went for about an hour but we cut it down to about 50 mins, just so you’re aware. Click the image below and it takes you to the Youtube video.




What I wanted to achieve giving this talk to the students is to be as honest as possible, let them see different options and being realistic about the journey of an artist and how tough it is but also how awesome and rewarding it is as well. I wanted to give them a positive kick up the butt, because I wish someone did that to me when I was a naive student at Tafe.

Enjoy watching me be a complete dork, and hope you get something out of it. I learnt a lot while doing it and hope to improve next time I speak in front of humans again.


Artists mentioned that are way more awesome than I am:
John Park:
Kekai Kotaki:
Jason Scheier:
Ben Mauro:
James Paick:

Concept Art School websites mentioned:
CDW Studios:
CGMA Academy:
Concept Design Academy: 
Scott Robertson’s Gnomon DVDs that I used for self-studying:
Design Studio Press Books:

Artwork mentioned at the beginning:
Pixar’s Up:
Up artbook here:
Last of Us:
and also these guys: and
Last of Us artbook here:

Lemme know what you think in the comments, would love to hear what you thought! Otherwise have a freaking awesome day, you amazing individual, and I’ll see you in the next one. Heartsign.


Each individual’s path is different.

In which I think about how we get frustrated and anxious on our paths of learning but in the long run it’s awesome as hell. 

Today I did a thing where I spoke in front of a group of students at the college I used to study graphic design at, and told them about myself and what I went through to where I am today. Quick note that my path isn’t as awe-inspiring or big tearjerkers like some; I’ve had positive support along the way from family and stuff, it’s not as tough as what others have gone through, and I still have heaps to improve on to get better as an artist – I’m still figuring things out, and tripping and stumbling like a dork.

Speaking in front of people into a mic and being the centre of attention for an hour wasn’t something I thought I could do, or heck something I’d like – I’m a very introverted person. Not to the point of anti-social, I love networking and making friends. I get super talkative and even really loud and stupid with people I click with, but that tends to be with only certain others. I do like my own space and can only take so much from hanging out with humans because it really drains my energy. I don’t do the whole party-drinking thing like most young adults in their early twenties –  the solidarity of resting at home or going out to dinner with those I’m close with – that’s more my thing. In terms of standing in front of a bunch of college students, giving a presentation and talking for a full hour about one of the most precious things in my life, I didn’t think I could pull it off.

It ended up going way better than I expected. Turns out if you talk about what you’re passionate about, it’s super easy. I really enjoyed it.

Years ago if I had got given this opportunity to speak in front of people, I most likely would have screwed my face up, said how I didn’t know anything; that I hated my own work, and would say no to the opportunity. But today, after growing as a person and becoming more confident in myself, I was excited about it and said ‘Sure, I’d love to.’ The best part really was actually talking to the students afterwards and hearing how some of the stuff I mentioned helped them out a lot because they were feeling lost and uncertain about which direction they wanted to go on their creative path.

Which got me thinking back to when I was first getting into concept art.


(Sketch from back when I was studying foundations. And yes, I’m aware Snoopy flies a Sopwith Camel, this is an example of one of the mess-ups
I did amongst the thousands while I was learning. Tip: do research before drawing.)

Back then my self-confidence was extremely low; both as a person because I used to be very shy and closed-in, and as an artist when I saw how much my drawings sucked compared to artists in the industry. Sometimes I still get thoughts like that today. It’s very easy to get caught up with seeing what others are achieving and declaring to the world, and we get anxious because we feel that we’re not doing enough in comparison. People are more fickle in this age of the Internet; attention spans shorter and patience isn’t being cherished as it should be. Everything is wanting to move so fast to the point it creates this tornado of worry for the future and what we want to do with ourselves.

Unlike back then, when those low self-esteem thoughts would hit me hard, the difference nowadays is that I’m able to turn them around and become more encouraged because I’m aware of something important I wish I’d known a lot earlier.

Everyone has individual paths and each one is unique.
You’re going at your own pace and there’s no rush.
It’s not a competition, there’s no race to the finish line – because the finish line doesn’t exist.
It’s a never-ending path of growth.

Instead of a finish line, there’s just ambitious fiery motivation of wanting to get better, and happily collecting the gems along the way. Then you smile with nostalgia when you look back at all the struggles you went through to get to where you are today, and see how much you’ve learnt. Sometimes the path changes and goes on a complete tangent. Sometimes the path goes down into a deep hole and you only discover why it dipped down when you get out of the hole. Sometimes you’re just following the path; you have no idea why and if it’ll work and it feels scary, but it also feels so right. It’s all about the journey and wanting to keep growing and improving in ourselves, and taking little baby steps to getting somewhere new.

We’re told this by many that have been doing this for a long time, that are in-tune and have experienced a lot more than us, but sometimes it takes getting to a certain point and going through the trips and falls to realise and go, ‘Dude, this is what it’s about. This.’

And it’s exciting.


Ever had these feelings too? Feel free to share in the comments; would love to hear and see how you picked yourself in times of struggle and what got you back on the road.

(PS: Also, kinda recorded the talk I did at the college since I knew some of you would probably interested of the stuff I mentioned to the young students. I’ll be uploading the video of it next week after I finish with this kerfuffle thing in my life called moving house. You know how it is. Okay, have a good one.)



Happiness is internal, not external.

In which I look back on some stuff that occurred to me earlier this year.

Also wanna give a big thankyou for the tremendous support when I first launched this website. Thankyou so much. You guys know who you are. It’s because of you that I’m more motivated to work harder towards my goals. Okay, back to real talk.  

Here’s something I’ve been thinking of in particular this week that I feel like sharing. There’s this saying people say where it’s ‘Home is where the heart is’ or whatever, we all know it. It’s interesting how many people don’t fully grasp the quote’s meaning. Or we think we do but we really don’t.

Up until probably a while ago, I’ll admit I was one of those people.

There are many reasons for this. In this case, one example was after I travelled to America last year and returned back home to Australia – it didn’t feel like coming back home. I felt I was leaving my home, because I believed my idea of ‘home’ was back in the United States. I had experienced being in an environment full of like-minded people. Amazing artists everywhere. And coming from the most isolated city in the most isolated continent in the world – that’s not something I come across everyday in my life.

And experiencing that was awesome. Even if you’re not staying in a place like that for a massive amount of time, that kinda thing changes you.


When I returned back home to Perth in Western Australia at the end of last year, for a few months I was homesick. I was frustrated being in an environment where I couldn’t walk to an art workshop down the road. Where I couldn’t nerd-talk about composition, anatomy or form language to people around me because they’d say stuff like ‘what’s a drapery study?’. Where I couldn’t physically go to my roommates and friends and ask them to critique and overpaint my work and in our free time we’d art-creep inspiring artists together online.

Not to mention Perth being the most backward city in Australia didn’t help with my mood. I was pessimistic and cynical about everything.

Then I realised. I was the one creating this frustration.

It was my brain and mental mind talking. These disappointments in myself. Replaying past events and thinking it’ll be the same only when I go back. Into yearning the future and wanting it to happen because I hated where I was right now. In believing that another city on the other side of the globe was the only source of my happiness, and I would never be content unless I physically lived where I believed I would be happy.

No. That’s not how it works.

Happiness doesn’t come from a place, a material possession or another person.
Happiness comes from inside of you.
When you change how you are on the inside, your outer world changes with you.

Inside I think we all know this, but I think we forget it. A lot. And it’s one thing to know it and another to actually DO it.

So I shifted my way of thinking when being in Perth, and looked at the positives. There wasn’t smog here for one, and I could see the blue skies of Australia, and hear the birds. The air is cleaner and the smell of gumtrees was prominent. I had more time to myself to focus on my personal journey for art without being distracted by peers. I was closer to my family. I connected with a couple of good artist buddies that were just as passionate as I was. I educated myself about business because I had time to learn about it. I moved my ass and pushed into spreading my art online. Freelance was the only way to go and I had to work even harder because I couldn’t rely on getting a studio job since there’s no industry in Perth. Food was better here, I could eat properly again. I could fall asleep outside on the grass with my dog. I became more motivated to work harder towards my goal of being able to travel the globe again. I enjoyed the quietness.

There was so much here that I missed out on and not seen before. It felt like I had returned home – home being in my heart. And then things around me would occur and happen in my life that were pretty amazing.

There is still that urge to get back on a plane again – I’m not afraid of leaving my comfort zone and exploring the rest of the world, but for now, I know I’m needed here at this current point in time. Everything happens for a reason, and this period is only temporary. I know I’m going to travel again for my career and art, I have complete confidence in that. It won’t be the same as the first time I went – I’m not attached to the past or future anymore, it’s going to be different. I’m looking forward to it. But until then, I may as well make the most of these moments and enjoy everything right now while I can.

Because the past and future aren’t real, the only thing real right at this very moment is the present. I’m not gonna waste a second of it.

Been through something similar like this?  Feel free to share your experience and thoughts in the comments.