I Have A YouTube Channel!

My focus has been offering graphic design and small business tips

but I’m open to experimenting with lifestyle features, too. I’ve tried a mukbang video where I ate and reviewed White Castle’s Impossible Slider in response to the growing Impossible Foods craze. I’ve also shared my deepest feelings about Growing Up Filipino American to celebrate Asian Pacific American Heritage Month in May.

My goal is weekly uploads every Sunday.

I’ve been keeping it up so far with 9 videos in, all of which you can watch below. I’ve been thoroughly enjoying the discipline of keeping up with a weekly upload.

I’ve also really been loving the steep learning curve diving into the world of video!

I’ve worked with iMovie in the past, but taking strong recommendation from my pro editor/director brother, C.J. Arellano, I transitioned to Adobe Premiere Pro CC, which was SUPER intimidating at first, but now we’re like familiar friends getting to know one another over frequent in-depth life discussions over a series of parties that we just happen to keep getting invited to.

Here are all my videos so far!

Please like, subscribe, and hit that notification bell as well! YouTube’s algorithm has it so that even though you subscribe, you may NOT get notifications of when a creator uploads a video *unless* you hit the notification icon next to the subscribe button. I appreciate your support! Thanks for coming along with me on my video and YouTube learning journey!

Find My YouTube Channel Here

My First Inktober: What I Learned

If you just want to look at the drawings and skip reading about the valuable lessons I learned during this art journey, then visit my Instagram page, or click here.

I’ve recently gotten back into the groove of doing personal sketches and creating analog art for myself, and I’ve obtained enough confidence from doing so that I decided to take on Inktober for the first time ever. For those uninitiated, Inktober is a daily drawing challenge started by artist Jake Parker.

There are 4 rules:

1.) Make a drawing in ink.
2.) Post it online.
3.) Hashtag it with #Inktober and #Inktober2017
4.) Repeat every day of October.

Mr. Parker also provides a prompt list with words assigned for every day to help spark ideas. I wanted to stick with an overarching theme for the month, so I opted for my own theme: Daily Noms. That’s right – food! I figured this way, I will have concrete daily references so I wouldn’t get stuck on ideas, therefore no excuses in missing a day of drawing. It was already going to be challenging making time to draw everyday, so I wanted to do anything I could to help set myself up for success.

I drew every day, but I didn’t post every day. During the last couple weeks, I got into the routine of drawing in pencil at night and then completing color and ink in the morning. Then I posted. Although I didn’t post every day, I’m going to call it a win, since I have been setting aside time every day to draw. And that’s really what this challenge is all about, isn’t it?

Two surprises:

1.) My discipline.

When I decided to do Inktober, I was in the midst of frantically packing for a family vacation to Disney World from October 3rd to the 11th. How does one fit in daily sketching amidst an oppressively hectic schedule of pool time, cocktails, and rubbing elbows with Mickey Mouse and Harry Potter? Ohhhh, the PAIN! 😛 But seriously, though, I was fully expecting to come back to the hotel each night exhausted, cursing myself for announcing my Inktober participation, but I worked it in. Nightly sketching became a way for me to unwind at the day’s conclusion. It was a valuable lesson in commitment and discipline. I see it as an investment in my personal wellness and development as an artist for myself and for my clients.

2.) How long it took me to complete each drawing.

I thought each drawing would take 1 hour max. Instead, each drawing – between penciling it out, coloring, and then inking – took 2-3 hours. Yikes!

What I learned:

1.) Where there’s a will, there’s a way.

I *can* make time for drawing daily.

2.) Next year, focus on 1-color ink.

Although I set myself up for success by focusing on a theme – Daily Noms – I was quite overly ambitious by throwing color into the mix. The color is what took the most time. It didn’t take me too long to pencil and then ink after I colored, but DANG, the coloring! I got sucked into the trial and error of using the correct colors from my boxed set of Faber-Castell Pitt Brush Pens for each food piece. My goal for each drawing was to have each food item ooze major appetite appeal, and picking out the perfect colors was crucial to achieving that. I’m extremely happy with how each piece turned out, but since the idea of Inktober is to set aside time – no matter how small – each day to draw, I’ll give myself a break next year and focus on inking only.

3.) I got better!

I noticed an improvement in each sketch, day-to-day. When I compare my October 1st sketch to my October 31st sketch, wow – there’s quite a difference there. I can see there is more confidence in pen strokes and color choice on Day 31 vs. Day 1. I have intentions to continue daily sketching after Inktober (as I’m seeing a few fellow artists are saying), so we’ll see if I can follow through on that. It’s been rewarding to see my Inktober sketchbook quickly fill, so perhaps that will be another incentive to keep up the habit.

Did you participate in Inktober or know someone who did? Did you like it? Hate it? What did you learn? Leave a comment, and let me know how it went!

Day 1: Falafel Bowl

Day 2: Tofu Scramble & Hash Browns with Cholula

Day 3: Larabar

Day 4: Mickey Pretzel

Day 5: Blood Orange Jalapeño Margarita

Day 6: Cafe Tutu Tango’s Fire-Roasted Vegetables

Day 7: Tofu Rice Bowl

Day 8: Coffee in Splitsville Mug

Day 9: Dufftoberfest for Moe’s Tavern

Day 10: Veg Out Pizza from Blaze

Day 11: Tofu Curry & Rice

Day 12: Tenders, Tots & Onion Rings

Day 13: Chocolate Chip Cookie

Day 14: Veggie Wrap

Day 15: Homemade Cinnamon Rolls

Day 16: Blue Cocktail

Day 17: Berries & Almond Butter on Toast

Day 18: Matcha Bowl with Oats & Berries

Day 19: Cooper’s Hawk’s Bin 61 Sour

Day 20: Banana

Day 21: Ema’s Hummus Spread Sampler

Day 22: Vegan Cafe’s Jalapeño Corn Chowder

Day 23: Daiya Cheezy Mac

Day 24: Kite Hill Almond Milk Drinkable Yogurt, Summer Berry Flavor

Day 25: Sloppy Jane Sandwich

Day 26: Ben & Jerry’s Coffee Caramel Fudge & Coconut Seven Layer Bar

Day 27: MOD Pizza

Day 28: Quinoa Stuffed Jack-O-Lantern Pepper

Day 29: Gardein Mini Chicken & Waffles

Day 30: Stranger Things Cocktail, “Eleven”

Day 31: Pineapple Upside Down Cake

Bless me, Internet, for I have sinned. It has been 3 years since my last blog post.

Pain, Vin, Fromage, April 2015. There's a lot about life you can realize and appreciate drinking wine in a Paris dungeon.

Pain, Vin, Fromage, April 2015. There’s a lot about life you can realize and appreciate drinking wine in a Paris dungeon.


No one likes excuses or apologies when someone hasn’t posted in forever. We all get that life happens, so I’ll just sum up the last 3 years in the following:

Snort Monster.


The beginning of 2016 has me at a moment where I’m going back to my roots yet experiencing rebirth. I feel like a child again yet I’ve never felt more adult. And I’m not talking about “haaayyyooooo, I can do what I want, bitches, wanna see my ID??” kind of adult; I’m talkng about “oh MAN, so THAT’S what Mom and Dad always meant when they did that or said that.” I’m understanding and appreciating the nuances of true adulthood yet getting back in touch with what sparks my creativity and inspiration to share with the world without fear of judgement.

I also used to pride myself with how busy I was, but now I value time management, truly being present, omitting guilt-ridden obligations, appreciating the power of asking for help, and shutting off and refueling at the end of the day so I’m mentally ready to take on tomorrow.

Oscars Drinking Game

The Oscars Drinking Game

Heeeeey, movie-goers and boozin’ lovers!

Tonight, Jeff and I are having a small get-together to watch The Oscars with fellow movie-lovers, the amazing Justin Castaneda and his soon-to-be wifey Nicole Solis! Since we always have fun Drink ‘n’ Draw sessions with them, it just made sense that we incorporated one of our favorite past times with watching The Oscars. What am I talking about?

I’m talking about The Oscars Drinking Game.

I whipped up a card to use for tonight, and I figured I’d share this with you in case you wanted to participate at home or at bar or wherever you are glam-ing it up tonight. There are so many other DRINK moments that I’m forgetting I’m sure, so I’ve added a “Write Your Own” option at the end.

The Oscars Drinking Game printout

Two cards fit on a regular 8.5″ x 11″ sheet of paper. Right-click to download. Just print, trim, and toast!

I also forgot to put this one in, so please remember this: “Drink every time there is an acknowledgement to Ben Affleck’s Best Director nomination snub.”


© Copyright 2013 Aerial Ardour, LLC. All Rights Reserved. DISCLAIMER: Aerial Ardour, LLC claims no credit for the Oscar logo and statuette featured on this blog post and image. Also, please drink and glam it up responsibly – you know, enjoy yourself and don’t be an idiot.

I graduated art school. Now what? Learn the Golden Rule of Networking.

So you just graduated from art school. Congratulations! You can now take all of the skills and knowledge you’ve acquired and apply them to the real world. It’s exciting! And scary, especially in an uncertain job market. But you’ve got a shot if you do three things.

I’ve recently been getting a lot of emails that start with something like, “Hey, I need your advice and help right now! It’s all about who you know, right?”

Damn right it’s all about who you know! Skills are fantastic, and skills will keep you going once you get your foot in the door. But how do you get your foot in the door?

It’s all about, The Golden Rule.”

Whaaaa?? Isn’t it all about, “Networking”?

Yes, it is.

But first, it’s all about The Golden Rule.

Growing up, my mom always taught me and my brother to live by The Golden Rule. For those of you less civilized (or okaaay, maaaaybe you forgot), The Golden Rule is simply stated as, “One should treat others as one would like others to treat oneself.”

Now, how does the ol’ career adage of networking play into this?

The first couple times I received those, “Hey, I need your advice and help right now!” emails, my heart went out to the struggling designer looking for a break, so I took the time to write a well-thought and heartfelt email packed with my personal experiences, suggestions, and advice… only to hear nothing back.

Oh yes.


That right there is a fantastic example of how NOT to network, kids.

And herein lies the true key to networking: If you’re going to get anything, you’ve got to give something.

Remember The Golden Rule. 

And then apply The Golden Rule with these 3 elements:

  1. Foster relationships.
  2. Be genuine.
  3. Follow up.
Aerial Ardour's Golden Rule of Networking


You can’t knock on someone’s door and expect them to give you stuff without anything in return. If you’re going to ask someone for advice, explain what you can offer right away.

Become an asset.

See what your connection cares about by checking out her Twitter account and seeing what she tweets about. Does your contact like Christopher Nolan movies? If you get word of a new Nolan film in the works, tweet it her way. Or maybe you find another contact/potential lead who is into glam rock poster design. (How do you know this? Well, you took the time to read her blog, right?) Take note and share some insights and relative links her way. She’ll remember you, or at least appreciate that you took the time to take an interest in her interests. You’ll immediately make yourself stand out from the crowd.

You can’t just bust down the door with a cowboy boot and declare to the world with guns a’blazin’, “I’m awesome! HIRE ME!” (Well, you can, and that would be pretty sweet, actually, especially if you DO get a job that way. Let me know if you do!) But the reality is that you’ve got to give a little to get a little.

That goes into the next part of applying The Golden Rule to networking:


You’ve got to genuinely want to connect with that person for the sake of maintaining the relationship in the long term, even after you’ve gotten your first great job. If you’re going to use ’em and toss ’em after you’ve had your way with ’em, they’re going to smell that from a Bigfoot’s mile away and not help you in the future, or worse, tell others about your ‘wham-bam-thank-you-m’am’ MO, so you better get genuine quick.

Let’s say you get lucky, and your contact connects you with someone who ends up giving you your first great design job out of school. Fantastic! But remember, don’t leave your contact in the dust and become too cool for school. Because what if you’re ready to move on from your current job and need some leads on the next step? By ignoring the person who got you there, she won’t be as likely to want to help you out this time.

And really, it’s not just about using people to get jobs. It’s also about expanding your awareness of the industry and trends and having a fulfilling working relationship with someone in your field. You want to be part of conversations so you know what’s going on, and so people know that YOU know what’s going on. You want to be relevant and keep that communication line open. You want to have a long and fulfilling career, right? These are the keys to achieving that longevity.

That leads me to the last point for following The Golden Rule in networking:


After you’re cozy in your job, write an email to your contact or better yet, give her a call. Or, (bonus points!) treat her to lunch or even a quick coffee. Let her know how the job is going. And even if it’s not going swimmingly or maybe you didn’t expect the job to be a certain way, be gracious and not whiny. (No one who bent over backwards to get you a job wants to hear, “Thanks for the job, but it sucks.”) Focus on the positives and on how much you’re learning.

And, as you should’ve done LOTS of already at this point, thank her again profusely.

Assuming you’re not going to mess up this first job, you’re now on your track to a rewarding design career. You’ve got your foot in the door, and you’re doing what you went to school for, which is the most that anyone could ever ask for these days.

Just keep following these same 3 steps all throughout your career as you advance and move up the ranks, and you’ll create wonderful, rewarding relationships that can enrich your professional life. And pretty soon, someone will be sending you an email that starts with, “Hey! I need your advice and help right now!”

And you’ll know exactly what to tell him.


Smile & Say Hello to Twin Sisters Who Get It DONE

Aerial Ardour Header Image: Smile & Say Hello

You can have it all.

As twin sisters Edmarie Marcos and Elmarie Jara have proven, you can manage a full time day job, families, and your own blossoming paper goods business all in this lifetime. All it takes sisterly support, the love for your craft, and some darn yummy doughnuts to help achieve your entrepreneurial dreams.

Two years ago, they featured me as a guest on their website, and it’s about damn time I feature them on mine.

Elmarie Jara and Edmarie Marcos at the One of a Kind Show Chicago 2011. Image by Samantha Photography.

Elmarie Jara and Edmarie Marcos at the One of a Kind Show Chicago 2011. Image by Samantha Photography.

This week, I had the pleasure of interviewing Ed and El about the rewarding and challenging aspects of running their business. Ed designs your environment while El is a print designer. Together, they are Say Hello Creatives who own an online paper goods shop called Smile Lifestyle Boutique. Ed is a mom to two young kiddos and had her second child just this past October. El just had her first child in April. So they are busy, to say the very least. Ever since I met them over 10 years ago, I’ve been in awe of their talent, discipline, and creativity. They are also a couple of the sweetest and smartest ladies I know. I’m honored they call me a friend.

Tomorrow, Ed and El will be at the DIY Trunk Show at Broadway Armory Park 5917 North Broadway Street, Chicago, IL 60660, where they will be selling their latest collection.

The DIY Trunk Show is a diverse gathering of creative talent to showcase, sell and promote handmade arts, crafts, goods, and endeavors of all kinds. Yours Truly will be there to support all of Chicago’s local artists, so stop by the show!

One of infinite reasons why I admire these sisters is that they not only talk about their goals and dreams, but they get it done. Ed and El share their secrets to success with us below:

1.) The DIY Trunk Show is coming up fast this Saturday. How have preparations been going?

ED: I’ve been preparing differently from my sister this time around. This show will be the first time I’m leaving my newborn for that long. It’ll be hard, but it’ll be good to go back and be in “Smile” mode.

EL: With babies and our busy schedules at our day jobs, we had to take a break from some shows this year. We really enjoyed the DIY last year and decided it was important for us to do it again. It took a lot of careful planning, lack of sleep and other sacrifices to really prepare for the show without taking too much time away from our growing families.

DIY Trunk Show image

Visit Say Hello Creatives at the DIY Trunk Show tomorrow!

2.) The Trunk Show isn’t your first rodeo. You’ve been in showcases all around the Chicagoland area. How do you prepare for these shows?

ED: Preparing for shows can get really stressful, but we love going to them. We do procrastinate at times, but I think that’s also the fun of it. Let’s just say, sometimes we get even more creative when under pressure… what artist doesn’t?

EL: I agree. We come up with our best ideas towards the end when we really should be finalizing everything. We’ve been in local shows in the south and west suburbs, the One of a Kind Show in Chicago, and The 2011 DIY Trunk Show.

Smile Lifestyle Boutique DIY Show

3.) Tell us about your latest collection.

ED: We decided to concentrate and expand our signature line. We have received so many great compliments on them, and we really saw how much people really enjoyed them. We loved creating them, so it wasn’t a hard decision going in this direction.

EL: I think one of the most gratifying parts of doing this is really hearing our customers’ feedback. They really are the inspiration behind the creative decisions we’ve made. Their feedback drove us to focus on our signature collection. We both enjoy designing our patterned cards and coming up with those puns. We didn’t think anyone aside from our families would find them entertaining until the collection started selling!

Smile Lifestyle Boutique's 2012 Collection Preview

Smile Lifestyle Boutique will feature new gift wrap and greeting cards at the DIY Trunk Show tomorrow. Be there!

4.) Did you ever see yourselves working together in this capacity? How did you both decide to go into business together? Sometimes it makes sense to go into business with someone you know very well, but as you might know, there are pitfalls. As the old adage goes, “Never go into business with a friend…” ;P

ED: El and I have always worked well together in the past. We are one of those who always have to have a project going, whether its going to be a dance crew (don’t ask) or a magazine. The paper goods line was El’s idea. I, however, didn’t know anything about the paper industry, but as she brought me along, I began to love the industry and am currently learning more about it.

EL: You don’t wanna know half of the business ventures we come up with, but luckily, our families and closest friends have always been supportive. We knew eventually we’ll end up with one big hit. Smile isn’t there yet, but we like where it’s going and are very hopeful things will work out in the end. I think business works with us because we both have the same aspirations. We’re both hardworking and determined. We do it for ourselves. We do it for our families.

5.) Have you two always gelled aesthetically?

ED: We’ve always had our own individual style. Our individual style was more prominent in our first collection. But the more we work together, I think our individual style is starting mesh together.

EL: I also think that we have our own strengths which is very beneficial to our partnership. We learn from each other. Art comes easy for me on screen, where as with my sister, she’s very good with her paintbrush or pencil. In the end, you get two different styles, but we work together on how we can marry the two into one brand.

Smile Lifestyle Boutique Cards

A beautiful variety of graphic prints and illustration comprise the collections of Smile Lifestyle Boutique.

6.) You’re both twins. I don’t know many twins, but I can imagine there’s that desire, as there would be in any sibling dynamic, to separate yourselves from each other and form your own identities. I think you’ve done that well in your bio. (On your blog, you say, “ELMARIE IS A PRINT DESIGNER; EDMARIE DESIGNS YOUR ENVIRONMENT.”) How did you decide to use your being twins as a selling point in your business?

ED: We never meant to focus on being twins as a selling point, however, the more shows we do, customers who have followed our shops and our shows have been intrigued with how well we work together and have just gotten to know us not just as designers but as sisters.

EL: People really appreciate the relationship we have. When we highlight each of our talents or interests, we are doing so to enhance our partnership. The more skills or ideas we offer to the business, the stronger this partnership becomes.

7.) Edmarie has beautiful illustrations on your cards, as well as wonderfully abstract paintings on canvas. Elmarie focuses on print and graphic design. Have you two ever thought of switching roles for a collection? Edmarie doing some graphic work and Elmarie doing a painting or illustration?

ED: Oh, we’ve had sessions of me in front of a computer learning to lay out something on the screen. I’m still learning, but I can’t say that I’m a graphic designer yet.

EL: I tried to paint and draw. I’ve got paintings and sketches hidden in storage to prove that it just isn’t my greatest skill. If I can’t UNDO something by pressing a button, it really drives me crazy (Aireen, you probably know what I’m talking about). I like working on the computer and I really think my sister could be a phenomenal graphic designer. The only thing I do with our illustrative collection is some color adjusting and making sure the art is centered on paper.

Edmarie Marcos Exhibit at the Aurora Artwalk 2011

Edmarie was featured in her own exhibit at the Aurora Artwalk last year.

8.) You’re both mothers of your own beautiful young children now. How do you manage a day job, Smile Lifestyle Boutique, mommyhood, and your families without losing your minds? Do you get negative hours of sleep a night? Is coffee your friend? Do your husbands do a lot of heavy lifting as well?

ED: Ha,  I think it comes down to losing your mind once in awhile. But for me, it’s just about breaking things down one at a time. Being a mommy and a wifey are my number one job. Everything else depends on what is a priority and what comes next. Smile is something I’m always willing to sacrifice sleep for, because I love it. I love it not just because it’s ours, but it’s what defines me as well, besides being a mom and a wife.

EL: My sister probably manages better than I do since I’m a new mom. I remembered making a list of tasks I wanted to do while on parental leave. I’m happy to report that nothing on that list got done. A child really changes you. Sacrificing the small stuff isn’t hard. I don’t really need 6 hours of sleep. Being a parent makes me want this business to succeed even more. Right now, my schedule is a blur. I love being a mom, and I also love my day job, Smile, and growing my own design studio. Doughnut and coffee have become really good friends of mine. It’s not healthy at all, but my husband, who is always promoting healthy living, encourages me to workout and to eat healthier. I don’t always listen, but it’s good to always have that reminder. And, he knows there’s no stopping me once I have my mind set on a doughnut. My sister and I have always shared the goings-on with Smile to our husbands. They know almost every detail—the good, the bad, and the ugly!

Doughnut Vault by Say Hello Creatives

Doughnuts help the medicine of hard work go down a little easier for Say Hello Creatives.

9.) How does your creative process go? Is it always linear, or perhaps you have a certain number of items you know you want to launch for next season and you try to hit that? Or perhaps you decide on a theme and run with it?

ED: Since our products are celebratory, it’s easier to determine what comes next for the upcoming season.

EL: We actually should have a schedule of when items are launching. We’re still learning to hold off launching some great ideas until the best and most opportune times. Scheduling is still a learning process for both of us. We know it’s important. We really just need to fit in “scheduling” projects and launch dates into our annual schedule.

Smile Lifestyle Boutique DIY Trunk Show prep wall

Here is Smile Lifestyle Boutique’s prep wall for the DIY Trunk Show last year. Dang, are these ladies organized, or what?

10.) Your Patterns ‘n’ Puns greeting cards (not sure if you have a name for that yet, but I figured that made the most sense! ^_^) and gift wrap have become a signature design for Smile. How do you come up with those ingenius puns? Also, do you ever have fans suggest ideas for you? I know sometimes I’ll be folding laundry (oh yeah, glamourous!) and then a pun will hit me, and I’ll think, “Ooh, maybe El and Ed would like this one!”

ED: Just like you, our ideas come from anywhere. It could be while I’m tucking my son into bed with his robot PJs, and all of a sudden, “Ha…ppy…Bot…day” is created. Really random. Any ideas we get, we text it right away to each other followed by, “Did you get it? Does it make sense?” because sometimes our sense of humor may be different from others.

EL: I’m constantly thinking of ideas. I do a lot of conceptual designs at work, so I’m used to brainstorming on my own wherever and whenever I can be by myself. We’ve had friends and families suggest ideas, and we love hearing them. It’s nice to witness them having fun with our wordplay, too. Yes, my sister and I are constantly texting, and usually I’d ask my husband for his feedback right away. There was one pun that just didn’t jive with anyone but me—it was something with “oregano.”

Smile Lifestyle Boutique: Happy Bot Day

Happy Botday. Seriously, how cute! Perfect for you cutesy robot lovers out there. ^_^

Smile Lifestyle Boutique: Fantachetic Man

How perfect is this for Movember?

11.) Your colorful insect collection from Spring 2011 was very inspired and one of my favorites. (One of your prints is hanging on my inspiration wall!) Marrying insects and bold colors and patterns isn’t your everyday, run-of-the-mill trend. What inspired that collection?

EL: That was sort of a personal experiment that actually turned out well. Again, I’m not an illustrator, but I’m very good on the computer. That whole collection was done on the computer, from the initial sketch to the final piece. I wanted something fun, whimsical and graphic, yet incorporating simple patterns such as lines and dots. When we brainstormed about the insect collection, we wanted to merge these critters in a bizzare environment of patterns. It didn’t work so well with the complexity of some of our pattern designs. In the end, the simple line pattern was enough to create an illusion of these critters crawling over and under these bold lines. I think I spent weeks illustrating the collection when my sister could’ve done them in a matter of minutes.


Smile Lifestyle Boutique: Neon Insects

Creepy critters have never looked cooler.

12.) How far in advance do you start planning your collections? You just launched your Christmas items. Are you now planning your Spring 2013 collection for Smile?

EL: We actually decided to move some of our finished new designs for the Spring collection. We’re currently working on adding to it with other celebratory cards fitting for the upcoming holidays like Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Easter, etc. Look out for those in January.

13.) Where do you find inspiration for your collections in general?

EL: I love going to Paper Source or even just perusing the web. Looking at some of the best collections in the market helps us come up with ideas that haven’t been done before. Competition inspires us.

14.) Who would you say has been your biggest influence in art and design?

EL: I love the design philosophy of John Maeda. I’m a smarter designer now than 5 years ago, and part of this professional growth was due to his teachings. There are other creatives I admire for their designs and business-sense like Jessica Hische and Margo Chase.

15.) What are your favorite types of projects to work on?

ED: Definitely the pun cards. The creative process from beginning to end just makes me ‘smile.’

EL: I love working on our collection from beginning to end, whether it’s our signature collection or new designs. It’s a high-pressure position we’re in, but we enjoy the thrill of it.

Smile Lifestyle Boutique 2012 DIY Preview

I can see why the Patterns ‘n’ Puns are a favorite for Smile Lifestyle Boutique – there’s a pun for everyone! ^_^

16.) What has been the most challenging aspect of running your own business?

ED: The most challenging part is [deciding] what is more important to invest on. From the beginning, I think we decided on a lot of stuff too fast, because we were so excited. Now, we are more conservative on our decision-making and making sure that any decision we make aligns with our long term goals.

EL: We are definitely more conservative now than before—maybe too conservative sometimes. We are still learning how everything works. There is always a decision to make and risks to take. It’s very challenging juggling the logistics and the creative, but that’s part of being a business owner. You have to wear many hats.

17.) What has been the most rewarding aspect of running your own business?

ED: Definitely meeting some of our online customers in person and also seeing some of them in every show!

EL: I agree! Meeting with our Etsy customers and interacting with new customers in person is definitely my favorite.

Smile Lifestyle Boutique at the Artisans on Canal show 2011

Ed and El got the chance to meet more of their fans and followers at the Artisans on the Canal show last summer.

18.) What kind of future aspirations do you have for Smile? Do you see yourselves opening a brick-and-mortar shop?

ED: I hope that Smile can expand to home goods. We have already started to talk about that, and I will be super thrilled when that finally happens. But lots of work still needs to be done. As far as an actual store, I’d like to stay as an online business, but El can tell you otherwise on her wishes.

EL: This goes back to us constantly thinking of new ideas. It’s just a matter of getting them done. We WILL definitely add home goods to our collection and even going into baby products. Even before Smile came about, my sister and I knew expanding beyond paper was something we wanted to pursue. We still want to stay small, but opening a shop someday is definitely something I always have in mind. We both enjoy interacting with our customers, and a shop will allow us to do more of that.

Smile Lifestyle Boutique Card Collections

Right now, you can find Smile Lifestyle Boutique’s products on their online shop, but maybe some day, you can walk into their store to purchase their latest and greatest!

19.) On your blog, it says that together, you are Say Hello Creatives. We’re pretty familiar with your online shop, Smile Lifestyle Boutique. Does Say Hello Creatives have any other projects in the works, outside of Smile?

ED: I’ve done a few interior design projects outside of Say Hello Creatives, however, with our busy schedules, it’s hard to include that part into my projects right now. Not that I don’t enjoy interior design, but Smile is currently something I enjoy  more.

EL: I love working on Smile, but I started out as a commercial designer working for small businesses. To do both is definitely a goal of mine. I took a break from Say Hello Creatives this past year to focus on growing my family. Now that my little one is over 6-months old, my schedule is getting a little better. I’m at a good place right now to be bold and chase after my ambitions. By next year, you might see more of Say Hello projects on the blog.

20.) What kind of advice do you have for aspiring creative entrepreneurs?

ED: Just go for it. Your talent could be a one-of-a-kind treasure to someone else.

EL: Only you can define your success. Listen to your heart, and do what makes you happy.

Smile Lifestyle Boutique Doughnut Worry Wallpaper

Happiness is a consistent theme in Smile Lifestyle Boutique’s collections, which include desktop wallpaper. Their latest wallpaper features… what else? Doughnuts. 😀

Thank you both so much for taking the time to tell us all about your latest collection and the brilliance behind Smile Lifestyle Boutique!

For more information on Say Hello Creatives and Smile Lifestyle Boutique, visit Ed and El’s blog.

Find them on Etsy here.

Like them on Facebook here.

Follow them on Twitter here.

Email them at info@smilelifestyleboutique.com

Aaaaand don’t forget to say hello to them tomorrow at the DIY Trunk Show, November 17 from 10AM to 5PM! I’ll be visiting them myself (and doing most of my Christmas shopping there), so meet me there!


All photos courtesy of Say Hello Creatives.

UPDATE 031316: Edmarie and Elmarie are still doing wonderful, creative projects in their day jobs and have since moved on from Say Hello Creatives. You can still contact them through their Etsy shop. Also, sadly, in 2014, the DIY Trunk Show ended its 11-year-run, which they explain in their post here. It’s a bummer, but as they say in their post, the DIY Trunk Show was a labor of love, and “love doesn’t pay the bills.” However, I’ll always fondly remember seeing the spark of excitement in the vending artisans’ eyes and love of supporting local.

‘Lichtenstein: A Retrospective’ at The Art Institute of Chicago

Over Labor Day weekend, my hub-hubs and I had the thrill of seeing the exhibition of the art of American modern artist Roy Lichtenstein (1923-1997) at The Art Institute of Chicago, running from May 16th to September 3rd. The exhibit was a remarkable event because, according to The Art Institute’s website, “It was the first major retrospective to broadly examine his art since his death.”

A museum-goer gazes at the exhibit entrance.

Much to our surprise, the line outside the museum was about an hour long. (Then again, it made perfect sense; we waited until the last minute to see the exhibit.) But then it was another hour wait to get into the exhibit inside! I didn’t mind one bit, though. I was thrilled that so many people would come out and wait just for the chance to gaze upon the works of one of the greatest modern artists. There is hope – culture lives!

The long line for Lichtenstein’s exhibit allowed me to stop and behold the grand entrance of The Art Institute of Chicago.

I got chills up and down my arms and tingles in my head as I looked around the ‘Pop Art’ portion of the exhibit. It was surreal being surrounded by such iconic pieces like, Ohhh… Alright…, Whamm!, Masterpiece,  and Oh, Jeff…I Love You, Too…But… There they were, all in one room!

‘Oh, Jeff… I Love You, Too… But…’ – Jeff and I got a kick out of this one. ^_^

I felt like a groupie, but I couldn’t scream. (Museum courtesy and rules, go figure… :P) So there I was walking around, snapping pictures of what I could, my excitement quietly bursting with each successive rockstar masterpiece that I had only before then seen with underwhelming and anemic injustice of my Art History books in school.

(And yes, you could actually take pictures! But only of certain pieces. We learned from a museum guard that the photo permissions are contingent upon each artwork owner’s requests.)


If you take a quick look at my Work, you’ll see that Lichtenstein is an influence. I’ve been razzled and dazzled by color and bold lines since birth, that when I was first laid eyes on Mr. Lichtenstein’s work, I knew I was in love for life.

I was excited to get even more inspiration seeing all of his work in the canvas (as opposed to flesh, haaaa).

‘Keds’ – Pumped up kicks.

‘Alka Seltzer’ – Heartburn never looked sexier.

The exhibit was very informative. As much as I knew of him, I still learned more. For example, I didn’t know he paid homage to several different artists by applying his own style to well-known works of art.

‘Frolic’ is a piece that shows Lichtenstein’s take on Picasso.

I also didn’t know that he concentrated on the topic of mirrors for a while.

‘Mirror #6’ – Lichtenstein had a period where he studied the illustrative cues that indicate the object is a mirror. Check out the minimal lines on this piece that do just that. Genius.

He also studied nudes for a time near the end of his career.

‘Two Nudes’ – Walking into the nudes portion of the exhibit, there was a little girl about 5-years-old who made her thoughts known on the subject: “Eww!”

What was really fun was getting a peek into his process. There was a part of the exhibit that displayed sketches for several of his famous pieces.

‘Ohhh… Alright…’ – Diptych I made of Lichtenstein’s sketch and then the final piece. You’ll see the sketch is pretty close to the final. Wandering through the sketch portion of the exhibit, I wondered if Mr. Lichtenstein would’ve appreciated us looking through them. I know I would be horrified if people saw the sketches to some of my pieces. I’d imagine people would think, “That girl went to art school?? Yikes!” 😛

If you missed the exhibit in Chicago, you can still head to Washington, D.C. to the National Gallery of Art from October 14th, 2012 to January 13th, 2013. And then if you miss that, you can hop on a jet to London and can catch the exhibit’s last stop at Tate Modern from February 21st to May 27, 2013.

And if you happen to have $50 million dollars laying around, maybe you can buy one of his pieces. ;P I recently learned that Ohhh… Alright… sold at Christie’s in November 2010 for a little over $42 million big ones, setting a new world auction record for the artist. Wowza!

Mr. Lichtenstein, I certainly hope you’re proud of the vibrant red, blue, yellow, and Ben-Day dotted legacy you’ve left behind. ^_^

LIchtenstein’s exhibit kept the Modern Wing abuzz.

Did you get to see the Lichtenstein exhibit? What did you think of it? Leave a comment below, and let me know. I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Thanks for reading!

Farmhouse Co-owner Nora Gainer in ‘Today’s Chicago Woman’

Congratulations to Farmhouse co-owner Nora Gainer for her feature in Today’s Chicago Woman magazine’s September 2012 issue!

I’ve had the honor of working with Nora on various projects for some time now, and she is both a pleasure to work with and one smart, sharp woman.

Today’s Chicago Woman… fantastic choice for your feature!

Read Nora’s entire feature on Farmhouse’s website here.

Cheers to you and your continued success and inspiration, Nora!

Help Flood Relief in the Philippines

As a Filipino American, I had to post this one.

On August 6, Tropical Storm Haikui wreaked havoc into the capital city of the Philippines: Manila. My awesome mom was born and raised in Manila, and a lot of my family still resides there. Tropical Storm Haikui brought massive flooding and landslides, over 800,000 people were evacuated from their homes and 250,000 people have moved into emergency shelters. And still, an estimated 2 million people live in informal settlements in high risk areas along river beds that are prone to flooding.

Threadless is selling a t-shirt design in which 100% of the net proceeds from the sale of this tee will go to Architecture for Humanity’s Philippines Floods Response Program.

Yes! 100%! When was the last time you heard that in regards to a proceeds promo?

Their goal is to raise at least $100,000 to execute a disaster resiliency and reconstruction program and provide communities with the skills and training needed to mitigate the impacts of future flooding.

On their blog, Threadless featured the t-shirt artists, fellow Filipino designers Feanne and AJ Dimarucot, and their beautiful t-shirt design that incorporates elements of the Filipino flag and culture.

Even the title of the design is beautiful: “Bayanihan,” which is a word that refers to the spirit of a community that unites to achieve a goal. How appropriate and perfect.

I’m particularly a fan of this design, because I find that it’s easy to have the elements of a design featuring the Filipino flag come together and look hokey. (That, or I’ve seen way too many ill-designed Filipino-themed tattoos. :P)

This is a design I would proudly wear both for the aesthetics and even more for what it stands for.

I got my t-shirt.

It would mean a lot to me – and the several thousands of others in Manila – if you got yours too.

You can purchase the Bayanihan design from Threadless here.

Salamat (thank you) for reading!