Just Creating


Not much happened this week. I was mostly either creating or thinking about creating.

The first two days, I finished the illustrations for my friend Zuck that I actually started doing at the start of the month but sort of stopped because I encountered a bit of a technical challenges...

Zuck wrote an article on the idea of “Super Free Will,” which I think is an awesome mindset to have. To me, it is essentially the same logic to any creative process, but instead of an art project, it is life. There are often an infinite amount of options to what we do with each decision we make because we can make up an option for ourselves. So why restrain yourself to the few options that are the most common?

I am pretty happy with how this collaboration turned out, mostly because I appreciate Zuck’s article a lot, and Zuck shared a very similar vision when I proposed the illustration idea to him, and I imagine this is pretty rare to happen -- so I feel grateful for this experience! Even though I can see how the illustrations could have looked better, I genuinely think I did the best I could at this stage of my skill level. There are always more projects to work on and more opportunities to improve my skills!

Wednesday I started off with an 8am class on video mapping. I’m very excited about it because it teaches the basics of a few softwares that generally don’t have many tutorials available online: TouchDesigner and MadMapper.

The above image is a list of softwares I want to know. The green dots are softwares I have learned in some capacity but don’t feel confident enough about using them... The pink ones are the ones I can comfortably say I can use and have a good idea of predicting how much it takes me to do x thing with the software. I hope in the next four months I get to mark a few more items in pink~

Thursday and Friday I encountered some challenges with exercising my creative freedom while working with others. But I guess it happens in all design projects with a client. You are different human beings and you think and envision differently. As simple as that. So it is always about finding something that everyone agrees to work with. Encountering a bit of friction was good for me overall -- I’m learning about how to work with others instead of just being completely in my own head. 

Saturday, I started the day off with watching the Dedeuze’s Blender livestream, and just was in the mood for something “unproductive”. I saw an ad for Upload, and started watching the series while I did 3d modeling of a Mexican style home.

It turned out to be so fun that I just wanted to do the same thing for the whole day. I had a 2 hour call with Keld, whom I talked to twice last summer and we caught up and talked about VR and gaming technology. then dinner happened and I talked to Alex briefly. Then I worked more, had a 1.5 hour call with Mike from QRI. Then I just did more 3d modeling and watching Upload for the rest of the night till 3am.... I didn’t finish my model but I did finish the entire season of Upload!

It was honestly such a fun time. I didn’t read messages from any social media (besides instagram) and just took a lot of time to be my anti-social self. 

Thoughts on creating

Throughout the gap year I have been thinking consistently about the relationship between fame, accomplishment, and sense of accomplishment in creative professions. 

Recently I started to think that, honestly, no one cares. 

Sunday morning I spent an hour in bed reading Chinese celebrity gossip. When I turned off my phone and got out of my bed, I thought to myself: even though I spent a whole hour reading about two people, how much do I actually care about them, not as images, but as real people? Not that much. 

What I mean by “care” is “serious attention.” When someone fails, makes a fool of themself in the public, achieves success,  the greatest majority of those that even hear the news will most likely only devote a few seconds or at best a few minutes of their attention to this person. Then people forget. Their own life is already too much for them to think about. 

So if I do anything for other people’s attention, then I am bound to fail my expectation because the reality is that, even if I become very well-known, people probably spend way less time actually seriously thinking about me or my work or my life than what it appears like from the figures (number of views, reads, likes, page visits, etc)

In the end, as a creator, what really makes my life worthwhile is what I create: did I have fun creating them? Did I experiment with new techniques? Did I appreciate what I ended up with?

Like this gap year newsletter I have been keeping. It always takes me several hours to make each page that only takes a few minutes to read. I’d be surprised if each time more than 10 people actually read the page from start to finish. But I’m still doing it, for my own sentimental values.

And because so much creative process is more than just a person sitting in her room drawing something, what really matters is the people I create with. Did we vibe together? Did we have fun creating together? Are we proud of what we made?

I don’t want to say that my life is only cool when really good collaboration happens, but amazing collaboration is something I look forward to every day and gets me excited to improve myself. I have always suspected that the more skilled I am, the more I can flow with people I create with (only if they are also experienced in what they do, though). And I yearn for that kind of experience.

With the ending of each project arise more possibilities of synergistic collaborations. It never really ends. Even when I die, if anyone feels like it, somehow, they can still create with what I have left off. If no one feels like it, I wouldn’t know anyways.

Thinking about these things, I really appreciate the people I met from Sundance, even though I only got to spend a few hours or even less than that with them. Having met them in physical reality, seeing their posts in my instagram feed has a different meaning than any other random artist I find online. 

Especially Kira and Sutu, two extremely creative artists that I admire a lot. Ahhh!!! They have both been creating so much so consistently, and that motivates me a lot to create more in my own life. 


And, there’s no better way to end a week with a breakdown... 

My dad wouldn’t let me take another gap year for the Arctic Circle residency. For some reason, taking gap years to him equals “falling behind,” and he could not tolerate me graduating a few years after when I’m “supposed” to graduate. 

I was very angry and frustrated because I had told him that I dreamed about this opportunity to travel to the Arctic Circle with artists and scientists since three years ago. He said he supported me doing it, but just not before I graduate. 

I started thinking about the possibility of me paying for the program myself, and realized how important it is to have some emergency money in my bank account so that I can make decisions for myself a bit more freely. I don’t have $7,000 to spare in my bank account for sure, but I do have $1,000 for the program’s initial payment, and I thought I should try to earn the rest of $6,000 in the next year, somehow... I don’t know. It wasn’t very realistic thinking because even if I pay for the program myself, what if my parents don’t pay for my tuition anymore? Then I will actually be fucked. 

It is not the first time this year that I cried myself to sleep because of my financial situation (or possible financial situation as an artist). I really want to start earning some income even if it is unstable freelance design jobs. I want to have a better understanding of what I am getting myself into by planning to be mostly an artist (sort of) freely creating what she wants to create. 

Then I started to think about the next three years I have before I graduate and supposedly should be financially independent. What the hell am I going to do? How the hell do I even plan my career at all if a huge part of it is just creating great art and being discovered and knowing the right people? 

And that’s a wrap for my week. 

show recs

Midnight Gospel


This show!!!!

If you love me enough to make it through this part of the newsletter, you may as well check out this show because you probably will love it :P 

In each episode the main character talks with someone about the nature of reality, buddhism, meditation, drugs, the life-death cycle, etc. But absolutely CRAZY things happen in their world that illustrate the main point of the characters’ conversation in that episode. 

I also just love the aesthetic so much, too, that I made dozens of screenshots of the first episode and did this palette to study how colors are used in the series. 


This is a really fun series and I finished it in a day.

Upload is set in the near future where people can be uploaded into different digital afterlives (with different qualities, given how much money your relative or spouse is willing to pay).

This show is very light (20-30 min per episode, the plot isn’t super dramatic) but deals with some existential questions about personhood and ownership of the self. 


scent qualia sampling session
smelling 20 bottles of essential oils

good food

honey bbq fried chicken dipped in gochujang (with a bit of soy sauce + garlic salt), with cucumber and 3 pieces of cinnamon-flavored cheerios. 

pillow throwing & catching with our feet

got some abs workout done