5th Mar 2014

And My Life is but a Coin, Pulled From an Empty Pocket; Dropped Into a Slot with Dreams of Sevens Close Behind*

Well I finally did it; I moved to LA!!! I know for many, that will come as a shock since I’ve been talking about wanting to move back to Chicago for a while now. But. This just feels right and it I know that if I don’t do this now, I’ll always think about what it would’ve been like if I had lived in LA even for just a little bit. I may decide that I hate it and that I still want to go back to Chicago, but it’s also nice knowing I can make that decision right now without being tied down by anything–mortgage, guy, family, etc.

For anyone that isn’t familiar with this Avett Brother’s song, here’s the just of it:

Life’s a gamble; one can only try to live it the best one feels one should. One can try to look to the higher powers in a time of need, but at the end of the day, one needs to know that one has lived a fulfilling life. As long as one lives this way, one won’t be afraid to die.

So I did it. LA it is. Well technically Santa Monica, but same thing. It’s funny though–I’ve actually been home in the Bay more than when I was living up here. I blame SF Ballet tickets that I had already purchased before deciding to move, but that sounds like an excuse.

2013 was pretty nuts. 12 festivals. Wow. So I decided to go with a completely different route this year. Instead of spending all that money on tickets and traveling for festivals, I’m going to spend it on dance classes. It’s pretty ambitious, but I’m trying to dance five days a week (three ballet, one modern, one traditional Chinese). One other thing to note is that while the LA Ballet doesn’t even come close to the quality of the SF Ballet, the ballet/dance classes down in LA are SO much more intense than in the Bay. My goal is still getting to pointe, but it will take a lot of work to get there at my age. Also planning on moving the barre my dad made for me down to LA next weekend!

Ballets seen so far (reviews to follow):

  • Giselle (SF Ballet, Maria Kochetkova)
  • The Sleeping Beauty (Ballet West, Salt Lake City, Beckanne Sisk, Christopher Sellars)
  • Program 3: The Kingdom of the Shades (La Bayadère, Act II), Ghosts, and Firebird (SF Ballet, Maria Kochetkova, Yuan Yuan Tan, Vitor Luiz, James Sofranko)

So I guess I’m just gonna do my thing and see where this all takes me. Why not? :)

*The Avett Brothers – “Once And Future Carpenter”


1st Feb 2013

Adventures in Letterpress: Hollow Book Invitation Set

This is actually my first full, solo letterpress project. It took me more time than I had originally anticipated, and there were definitely some things I would change for the future, but overall, I am very happy with how it turned out.

I wanted to do something special for my 25th birthday, so I decided to use books from my past. One of my favorites series growing up was the Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys mysteries. It also happens that this cover design was first introduced in the year I was born. Going along with mysteries theme, I hollowed out the books to “hide” the letterpress invitation set in it.

The save the dates (two sided postcard) use the same concept of books, with an old library check-out card. It is postcard sized and lists out the dates and locations of my previous birthday dinners dating back to 2007.

Save the Dates

Printing the postcard ended up being a lot trickier than I thought because I didn’t realize how hard it was to line up the two sides perfectly. I now know that you should always feed using the same corner since you are square from that corner and doing so will make sure that everything lines up perfectly when you print on both sides of the paper. Another caveat of printing on both sides is a decrease in the amount of “punch” you get from letterpress. The paper is only so thick so you have to play around with too much or too little impression.

The invitation set was what I was really looking forward to. I ended up putting together a design that would play with a Vandercook’s limitation in printing large areas well by inserting diagonal lines into the background of the design. It made the design more interesting and overall I had a really great response to the invitations. Another trick while printing is that the “Yountville” on the maps and direction page was actually printing too lightly so a small piece of masking tape was placed underneath where the paper would hit “Yountville” to give it slightly more punch and making it stand out more.


Hollowing out the books ended up being really time-consuming. Which I guess the entire letterpress printing process is too, but you don’t notice it as much because it is less monotonous and there’s always something you can adjust while printing. The best tutorial I found for hollowing out a book is from rive.rs. The only modification I made is that I ended up having to hollow out the entire book in order to fit the invitations in. So I was able to completely cut out all the pages and then slapping an interesting page into the back and gluing everything shut. I think that was much easier than trying to cut a page to fit precisely into the hole and pasting it in if you cut too deep.

The last part to the invitation set was the box itself. I found the perfect sized box to place the books into and created a label for it. If I had time, I would’ve letterpressed the label too, but I think it still turned out really nice. They were a bit costly to mail, but definitely worth it.


Client: Self
Pieces: Save the Date, Invitation Set, Box
Tools: Vandercook proof press, Adobe InDesign, Adobe Illustrator, utility knife
Portfolio Link: Hollow Book Invite

7th Oct 2012

And Suddenly a Light Appears Inside My Brain. And I Think of My Ways, I Think of My Days, And Know That I Have Changed*

Looking back, every one if the past few years since I’ve started college has really been defined by a phase. Sometimes the phases span more than one year, but every section was still really definitive.

Freshman year was a time of really realizing the friendships I wanted to make and keep. The majority of the people I knew then no longer exist in my life, but a lot of the current close friendships came from that time. Funny how that works out. It was just not the crowd I wanted to be associated with; a lot of it reminded me of what I thought I was comfortable with in high school. And then BAM! I realized this was college in a brand new state. There was no one from my high school and I could really choose and figure out the friendships I really wanted to make. A lot of what you do in freshman year really does end up defining what your college experience is. I mainly found my roommates. :)

Second semester of freshman year was my first exposure to Illini Pride (student cheering sections for all varsity sports teams) in the form of Orange Krush (men’s basketball cheering section). And wow. I would never take back any of the countless hours I have devoted to being on the Illini Pride Executive Board and the countless hours spent at sporting events. When I earned my spot on the board starting sophomore year, it completely changed the lifestyle and friendships I had (aside from my roommates, who became a constant throughout the four years).

All my friends from freshman year were Asian. Meaning that I really only interacted with, at maximum, 16% of the Illinois community! 16%! It’s amazing to think about how much joining Illini Pride really opened my eyes to the world outside of what I had always known. My high school was by no means “Asian,” but we were still 40% Asian. For a lot of my Illinois friends, they had either no Asians or only a couple in their entire schools. This is untrue of some of the suburbs (Niles, Naperville, Oakbrook, etc.), but they still had much lower percentages than my area in Northern California.

Junior year/2008 was my favorite year. I knew the most people on campus during this time, my good friends were super seniors, and it was our Rose Bowl year! Penn St, Wisconsin, at #1 Ohio St for the Block I (football cheering section) annual road trip.

Senior year was difficult at times. I started traveling a lot more from accruing so many miles throughout my years at Illinois and having my car at school. So I was always either in Chicago, Berkeley, SD, or LA, which made it hard to enjoy college since I was so impatient about transitioning into post-college life. I do regret not having cherished that time as I should have, but at least I did made a resolve to spend more time on campus during the second half of spring semester.

After college was a little crazy. I wasn’t ready to move back to California yet, I wanted to experience living in Chicago, but I also didn’t want to find myself “stuck” in Illinois. I LOVE Illinois, but I’ve always known it’s not where I would eventually want to settle down. And so I started off with the Naperville downtown Apple Store opening. I thought after that for a little bit, I would move home and put my finance degree to good use. Somehow I ended up as a manager for Gilly Hicks (Abercrombie & Fitch Co.) and lived in Chicago for almost two years. That also almost took me to a two year stint in Hong Kong for Abercrombie, which didn’t work out, but, I did find my best friend there!

I ended up moving home and landing my current job. The hardest part about moving home is trying to pick up your high school friendships from where they were and finding that I was in completely different places in life than them. It took a while to really find friends that I completely trust, but these girls have really become my support system and this is the first time in my life that the majority of my close friends are female.

Quarter century birthday. It’s weird to think about how it only seemed like yesterday we were all turning 21, at the same time, I really can’t imagine being in college anymore. I’m really excited for this year and the maybe changes that I’m working toward, and there’ll definitely be more adventures in design and printing!

*Grouplove – “Colours”

30th Aug 2012

You Gotta Roll With It. You Gotta Take Your Time. You Gotta Say What You Say, Don’t let Anybody Get in Your Way*

We’re ONE day away from September and you know what that means! One thing only: FOOTBALL SEASON! It’s only my favorite sports season and that also means we’re one month away from October (you know, that sweet spot in the calendar year where every single sport converges. I can’t wait for six-sport weekends: college football, NFL, playoffs baseball, college basketball, NBA, and hockey). Also, it means the start of season four of The League is just around the corner! Actually got to see Nick Kroll’s standup show at Punchline in SF a couple weeks back and he’s just as funny talking about fantasy football as he is about other topics. I think the best part of The League (aside for being from being set Chicago) is that most of the show is comprised of improv from the actors. Just did our fantasy draft last night so that may explain my increased interest in football. Or maybe it’s also because the Illini season starts in two days! So many personnel changes in the Illini Athletic Department, so it’ll be really interesting to see how this year of sports will pan out for us; I’m always down to see how the rookies perform. I may have also drafted Andrew Luck (yes, even though he’s a Cardinal). I’ll hopefully only need him for week nine against the Dolphins, so that’s a pretty safe game to see how he plays. It’s pretty late in the season too so if I really need a better backup QB, I’ll have plenty of time to pick someone else up.

Isn’t that what life’s about anyway? (Okay, this will be a stretch from football, but who cares!) Taking chances and being spontaneous? I’ll admit, I do sometimes make some less-than-stellar decisions when it comes to non-work related situations. But I’m not about to live my life with regrets and worrying about the “what-ifs.” I’d rather play clean up than to always be left wondering. I would hope I had a somewhat thought out reasoning for why (probably don’t! Lol) I said or did what I did, so I just suck it up and deal with the consequences.

I went on a crazy last minute trip a couple weekends ago and I even convinced Elaine and Daryl to come with me! :) I’m really glad I made the trip though, not only because we’re only young once and why not take a trip none of us will be apt to forget anytime soon? But also because I got to see one of my really good friends from college. Time flies! It’s already been seven years since we met (it should be right around our friendaversary!) my freshman year in the dorms. PAR may not have been as “cool” as six pack, but I met some of my best friends and future roommates from living there. :) Besides, how did I meet my future roommates? I was convinced to go on a last minute trip to St. Louis for a Coldplay concert! So spontaneity wins again.

Happy College Season Opener Day!

*Oasis – “Roll With It”

13th Aug 2012

We Can Go Where We Want to Go, Say What We Want to Say, And Do What We Want to Do*

Lately, I’ve been asked a lot on why I chose Illinois. My decision to go to Illinois was actually a lot easier than I thought it would be. Sure, I would’ve been ecstatic if I had gone to a California university, but at the end of the day, I stand behind my choice to attend Illinois and ultimately, why I did not transfer back to California. I, by no means, ever thought I would end up at Illinois, or really any other out-of-state school for that matter. I applied because my Dad told me to (pretty sure it was to live vicariously through me since he had wanted to go there for his Masters in EE–which he didn’t tell me about until after I had decided where to go). I was all “sure Dad, I’ll apply there, but I’m not going to Illinois.” Joke’s on me!

Dad took me to visit Champaign about a month before the UC school decisions had come out and even then I was skeptical of me choosing an out-of-state school. Even after I felt how right being on the Illinois campus is. Even after I read about how awesome Orange Krush and Illini Pride are. Even after I saw how amazing of a city Chicago and driving on Lake Shore Drive alongside Lake Michigan are. Even after I put down my housing deposit ahead of the final UC decisions. I still had my doubts.

My gut was so much more sure about my decision even before I was. Ultimately, the fact that Illinois had a solid business undergraduate program, Division I Big Ten athletics, and me knowing that by giving up on Illinois would be like giving up an opportunity to have a very unique college experience, is what swayed me to go and eventually stay.

Even at one and a half years into undergraduate, I entertained the thought of possibly transferring schools, but it was also around that time that I really stopped missing California so much and began to really enjoy Illinois and find myself. The great thing about going to a school where almost no one in your high school went is that you don’t end up just hanging out with just the people you were friends with for the first 12 years of school. You get to figure out the friends that you want to hang out with. I bounced around a couple different groups of people before I found my roommates, Illini Pride Exec Board, and the Word of the Day boys. Even though I was only in Illinois for six years, a lot of those friendships have already endured longer than a lot of my friendships from home. I’m glad I stuck it through in Illinois. If I had left, I never would’ve experienced winning at the Horseshoe, playing in the Rose Bowl, calling Chicago home, and I most definitely would have never met and established some of the close friendships I have today.

Everyone in California always talks about awesome living in California is. Oh really now? HOW DO YOU KNOW? Most have never stepped outside of the California bubble. I respect their decisions on staying in-state, but please don’t try to convince me why LA or SF is better than Chicago, or any other city out there because you’ve never even lived outside of this state. I love California, but I love knowing I pick to stay in California not because it’s all I’ve ever known, but because I have already lived in another state and I want to settle down in California over anywhere else.

*Grouplove – “Chloe”

18th Jul 2012

Lost My Train of Thought And Now I’m Told, That Love Will Save Your Soul*

I’m still determined to make July an amazing month! Finally finished my save the dates for my bday last night–even while having to do an unexpected call. But they’re done and beautiful! My first successful solo letterpress project! :)

But back to the call. It really wasn’t so much unexpected since I pretty much had a month’s heads up on it, but it still felt like a slap to the face. And then I almost called someone else out on all their BS. Oops. Maybe a good thing I wasn’t able to say what I wanted to to that person? #sorryimnotsorry.

At the same time, whatever. Like I’ve always said, I’m gonna continue to do me and not let little things get to me and get me down. Just kinda sucked because I realized the two people at the top of my call list were in Hong Kong (thank you Viber!) and Chicago. I can’t wait for the first to move back to CA, but the other is stuck in Chicago. And by stuck, I mean he does love it there (move West!!), haha.

Just trying to stay positive heading into August since it’s traditionally such a roller coaster month. It’s got my favorite day of the year (August 15th!), signifies end of summer and returns to Champaign when I was still at U of I, but it’s also known to be a bit crazy and unexpected. It’s also (for the past two seasons) been the worst month of Giants baseball, which is scary being so close to playoffs! No matter, just gonna take it one day at a time since there’s no use over-analyzing things when I could just be living in the present. :)

Things to look forward to in the next couple of months:
Imagine Dragons&Walk the Moon, Nick Kroll, Of Monsters and Men?, Imagine Dragons (again), Grouplove x2, L.A. Printer’s Fair, Napa (yay for visitors flying in!), Chicago/Champaign/Homecoming

*Grouplove – “Love Will Save Your Soul”

11th Jul 2012

Celebrate We Will, Because Life Is Short But Is Sweet for Certain. We’re Climbing Two by Two to be Sure These Days Continue*

July’s gonna be an excellent month! I’m pretty sad I won’t be able to go down to LA this weekend like I had originally planned to catch the LA premiere for CrankTank Studio‘s “I’m Fine Thanks” documentary (If you’re in LA, definitely check it out! Tickets are on EventBrite!).

I’m still looking forward to Imagine Dragons and Walk The Moon later this month, so I’m really really excited about it. Plus, missing out on two people birthdays this weekend made it pretty hard to say yes to driving down to LA for one day, and then driving back up in time to go to the Giants game on Sun with Matt and his gf! (CAINER is pitching!). It’s seriously fate that Cain’s my player; I always catch him pitching even when I don’t try to!

So that’s all a part of what’s been making this July so awesome. Also went white water rafting and boating early July which is one more thing to check off my list of things to do. Next up is (hopefully) finally skydiving on the 20th! And while we were already up in the Napa region for boating, I went to check out my birthday venue and FINALLY put down the deposit for the place. Which nicely segues into my next topic…invites and my adventures in letterpressing!

I just finished the first portion of letterpress classes at the San Francisco Center for the Book (SFCB) with Leigh of Meadow Press Books. Loved her as a teacher! I would definitely recommend her if you want to learn how to letterpress, although I’m sure the rest of the SFCB instructors are just as good! I liked this class because it was focused a lot more on metal and wood type which is nowhere as easy as using polymer plates. It requires to actually know how to lock up the press beds correctly. And the whole learning type setting is a topic I’m really interested in. Starting the advanced letterpress class tonight! Very excited since it’s a lot of advanced registration (alignment of different colors since each color is printed separately) :)

I just bought paper yesterday for my bday save the dates / partially invites and they’re not that bad (especially since I can buy local, so no shipping charges)! Haha.

This chart shows how much you can get out of a 26×40 parent sheet (parent sheets are the larger sheets of paper that gets cut down to your desired paper size) into the different sizes:
You need to leave room for cropping and the letterpress machine to grip onto the paper, but other than that, it’s a nifty chart to at least get an idea of how much to get out of a parent sheet.

I chose Crane’s Lettra this time around because that’s what I’m familiar with and readily available at Kelly Paper, but I’m excited to try out French Papers for my next project (whatever that may be…holiday cards? haven’t made those in a couple years!)

Did I really just get that excited about paper? YOU BET! :)

*Dave Matthews Band – Two Step

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