2019 – The year of Action

2019 has gotten off to a rocky start but I’m determined not to let all these difficulties and insecurities crush me. Last year I didn’t make traditional new year’s resolutions, instead I choose to focus on gratitude. To have it be a guiding theme for the year. Practicing gratitude is not easy, especially in this fast paced world we live in and for a overthinking individual like myself. It’s something I’m going to have to keep working on because I honestly believe it’s the key to having a more positive outlook on life.
In 2019 my guiding theme is going to be ACTION! Not as in watch a new action movies every week but as in get shit done! I had a bit of an aha moment last fall when I realised that the self discipline I’ve been telling myself I need in order to start certain projects is not going to fall from the sky. I either have to start having self discipline or keep writing long list of things that never get done. So I looked into this mysterious thing called self discipline and it turns out it all comes down to habits and being consistent with those habits, at least according to some. Habits sound much more down to earth and doable than self discipline. Creating new habits is challenging but I believe I now have a good starting point.
My year of action means finishing projects that have been collecting dust and starting new scary projects I’ve wanted to do in a while. It means rethinking how how I choose projects, how I write to-do lists and how I use my time. It also means standing up for what I believe in, even when it’s uncomfortable and even scary. What are your themes or resolutions for 2019?


Belle

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about the culture I consume. I’ve been for example asking myself why I like watching costume and period dramas so much and the problematic aspect of watching them as a black woman. There’s this interesting article by Monique Jones where she explains the many things she finds difficult watching what she calls problematic faves. I can really relate to her dilemma. Every time I’m watching shows like The Crown or Victoria, I start thinking about colonialism and all the horrible things that came with it. Do I stop watching them? No. Am I conflicted about it? Very much so.

When I was growing up and watching these costume and period dramas I wasn’t thinking so much about it. These rich white families from centuries ago felt so far removed from my own reality that I watched them with the same fascination as with sci-fi or fantasy movies. But over the years I’ve become more self conscious about it and started analysing them in a different way. Lately though I’ve become even more critical. There are plenty of these dramas being made every year and they often only feature white actors. The few roles there are for people of any other race is often slave or servant. Now some of you will say, well that’s how society looked back then but these depictions are being made in our time. I sometimes feel this is a part of the entertainment industry that can comfortably exclude people of colour without much effort because they can just cite historical accuracy as the reason. Am I saying that the Brits (’cause the make the best ones) should stop making costume dramas? No, this is far too complex but I think we need a wider variety of stories and creators in this genre.

This is why films like Belle are so important. The story about Belle, a daughter of a Royal Navy Admiral. She’s biracial and in his absence she is raised by his aristocratic family. I saw this movie a few years ago and almost started crying because I couldn’t remember the last time I’ve seen a movie like this where a person of colour was the lead but not as a slave or a servant. I’ve seen it a couple times since and I’m still captivated by Gugu Mbatha-Raw’s performance. The fact that this movie is directed by Ama Asante, a black woman gives me hope that things might be changing. What’s also great about this move is that it’s so beautifully shot that  you can watch it just for the costumes (something I do quite often). There’s a few of Asante’s film I haven’t seen yet but I’m really looking forward to see what stories she chooses to tell in the future.


Copycat, copyright and the coveting of ideas

Last fall I did a school project where our topic was positivity. It’s a very big and philosophical subject for a conceptual design course but we tackled it the best we could in the limited amount of time we had. One subject that came up early in the process was motivational Pinterest quotes. It was fascinating to see how we all interpreted them differently and how some perceived them to be infuriating rather than inspiring. I’ve noticed that I now see positive quotes in a different light after that project.

There’s one quote (more of a creative tip really) that I came across on Pinterest a while ago that really made me think, “Do not covet your ideas”. After a bit of googling I found out that it’s from a book by Paul Arden.  It probably caught my eye because I was thinking about copyright a lot at the time and this quote was somehow contradicting my instinctual need to protect my work. The core of the chapter about coveting ideas goes something like this:

The problem with hoarding is you end up living off your reserves. Eventually you’ll become stale. If you give away everything you have, you are left with nothing. This forces you to look, to be aware, to replenish.
Somehow the more you give away the more comes back to you.
– Paul Arden

I read the book and while a lot of the content felt specific to marketing and advertising I think it was still worth reading. The do not covet your ideas chapter now makes more sense. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t protect your work and read up on copyright laws. These are really important things and if you have business even more so. But I started wondering if my need to protect my ideas stemmed from the fear  that I could somehow run out of ideas. I’m really trying to be conscious of the role fear plays in my decision making, especially the times when fear stops you from moving forward. So if you’re like me and you don’t want fear to stop you from developing, there might be a point in sharing or publishing your creations. If someone steals it then you’ll just have to make new and better stuff. By continuing to create you’re also improving your skills and evolving as a creator.

So with that in mind I’m now publishing some patterns I made for a surface design course I had earlier this year. I’m so happy I got to participate and learn more about repeats and techniques. And now that I’ve published these, I’ll have to design some new and even better patterns!

 


Big Magic

As someone who usually describes herself as a slow reader, I’m really glad I’ve picked up a reading habit again. I’ve decided to stop beating myself down for being the person who never knows who’s written the latest it thriller and can only list Jane Austen, when asked about my favourite author (so far the only author that I’ve read more than one book). I’ve discovered that I like reading about people figuring stuff out with a lot of honesty and humour. I really loved Shonda Rhimes’ book Year of Yes and I’ve just finished another great one, Big Magic – Creative living beyond fear by Elizabeth Gilbert.

This book gave me a lot to think about and I think I need to buy it (I usually borrow my books from the city library) so I can go back to certain chapters when that crippling self doubt starts bubbling up. Writing book reports was never something I excelled at  but here are a few things that I thought were great about this book. Firstly I love the way it’s written, it feels like you’re talking to a really good friend and she’s sharing stories and lessons learned over the years. I love the way Gilbert describes inspiration as this magical otherworldly thing but reminds you that in order for that to lead to anything, you need to work work work! There’s something about the encouraging but pragmatic advice that really spoke to me.

The other great thing the author encourages us to so, is to let go of perfection, it often stops you from finishing your work or even worse from ever starting in the first place. I’ve often not published or shown what I was working on because on some level I was afraid of what people might think but also that the work wasn’t good enough. So I’m really going to adopt the done is better than good motto. Because by finishing projects you can move on to the next one and the next one. That’s how you evolve and improve.

One thing Gilbert excellently does in this book is to debunk the whole idea that in order to create something great you have to suffer. I think creating can be a great help when you’re suffering but that pain and suffering should be vital to great work is a myth we need to discuss and tear apart.

Have any of you read this book? I’d like to hear your thoughts.


Lichen me like

In the past few years, my new year’s resolution has simply been “get shit done!”. I’ve said it to myself as a reminder to not wait around for things to happen but to actively go after and do the things I want whether life altering big or everyday small.

One thing I need to get “done” more this year is get outdoors more often. In the past I would have said it’s in my nature to be a homebody but now I wonder if it’s more of a habit than a trait. Either way I need to be outdoors more because it’s simply good for me. I always feel better after a long walk or a trip to park or forest.

These pictures were taken last November when I accompanied a classmate on a lichen gathering trip in Nuuksio National Park. She was working on a really interesting textile project about plant based dyeing. The weather was horrible but it really didn’t matter.

It was calming to be outdoors and yet another reminder of marvellous mother nature and the endless magnificent things you can find in the forest, like a variety of lichen and other growing things.

 

 


2018 – The year of Gratitude

I was at first thinking about doing a regular recap of the past year and maybe even mention my new year’s resolutions but I felt I wanted to do things a bit different this time. I need to embrace more change in my life so why not start with my blog posts? Instead I want to say what I’ll be focusing on in 2018, gratitude. I know it might sound a little bit cheesy but I’ve noticed how much my perspective on things changes when I remind myself of all the things I’m grateful for. Looking at things differently is key to changing one’s mindset.

2017 was an exciting and scary year full of changes. I maybe didn’t get to travel as much as I would have wanted and some periods of the year were very stressful but looking back I’m reminded how incredibly fortunate I am.

Cultivating gratitude is not always easy. There are so many injustices in the world that just make me so angry! I easily get lost in bad thought cycles when I’m stressed and fall deep in the rabbit hole of self doubt. But I think it’s exactly in those moments I need to remember to be grateful . I think that might be where to find the strength and energy to fight for change in the world and on a personal level.

So happy new year wonderful people!

 


The wool conundrum

Veganism, now that’s a word that can get some people really worked up. I wasn’t really sure whether to post this or not but even sensitive matters need to be discussed. But let’s not get too serious, this post is more about asking questions and finding options.

I became a vegan earlier this year and so far I’ve approached the eating with a child like curiosity and relaxed experimentation. I do have those moments when I feel that there’s nothing to eat but it’s usually when I’m feeling really lazy and the grocery store has run out of that one frozen pizza I can eat. Let’s just say I don’t have the food prep routine down yet. The biggest challenge during my few months as a vegan has been the constant paranoia that I’m alienating my friends with this lifestyle choice. Then I remind myself that I was probably annoying as a meat eater too and hope that they will tell me if I’m becoming irritating. In defence of “annoying” vegans I’ll say this, when you make a major life choice/lifestyle change you’re often very excited about it and naturally want to share that with people. So what some might consider as you pushing your ideology unto others might just be you being euphoric because you’ve finally found the most delicious rice milk chocolate!

What I think is going to be a struggle is clothing. With food there are a wide range of plant based options to choose from but when it comes to animal fibers and skins it’s not as easy. I no longer want to support industrialised animal agriculture but I don’t know what to replace these animal products with. Silk and down feather garment can be challenge but wool and leather are at the moment the most immediate ones in my wardrobe. For me acrylic and polyurethane (PU) are just not ideal substitutes. Sure, an acrylic sweater might keep me a bit warm but the minute I start sweating I feel like I’m wearing a layer of plastic film. I’ve owned shoes made from PU and some like sandals have served me just fine but then I’ve had winter shoes that have cracked during the coldest months. Meanwhile I have leather shoes that I’ve had for four years and still use. As you can sense I’m not a big fan of replacing every animal material with a synthetic one, especially those that are not recyclable. Natural plant fibers are not always the best either, growing cotton is very problematic too. Hence my conundrum!

Now, I do want to point out that I have no plans to throw out all my clothes and shoes containing animal materials, that would be a horrible waste. What I feel uncomfortable using I will sell or donate. Some of you might say that the solution is to shop second hand and I do find wool and silk garments that way sometimes but by purchasing them, aren’t I contributing to the continued production of those products? I don’t know. These are the kind of things I often think about.

I don’t want to say “I’m not willing to give up” this or that because I think it keeps me in the same place and blinds me from seeking alternatives. With wool however, I’m really struggling to find an alternative. I feel like with leather, silk and feathers there’s a lot of research being made right now and soon we’ll have animal free and sustainable options on the market. I’m really excited to get my hands on some Pinatex (an alternative for leather made from pineapple leaf fibers) and test making some bags from it. But when I want to knit a scarf to keep me warm over the very winds and cold Helsinki winter, what material should I use?

I’d like to know what you think of wool as a material. Is there such a thing as ethical wool? If you don’t use wool, what have you substituted it with? The yarns on pictures above are Shetland wool yarns that I bought in Edinburgh a few years ago.


It’s time for something new (and happy anniversary!)

I started writing this post wanting to share what’s been going on lately but then an invoice from my web hosting company reminded me of something. I’ve been so busy lately that I almost forgot that my fourth blogging anniversary was coming up.

When I started this website I was struggling to find work in design and started the blog as a way to creatively keep me occupied. I had this irrational fear that I would forget most of what I had learned in design school while doing those other jobs we all have to do in order to get by.

It’s been a few years now and even though I’ve at times felt like my life is uneventful, looking back to those first posts I can see how much I’ve changed as a person but also as a creator. During these few years I’ve changed jobs, traveled and moved a couple of times. I’m glad I’ve kept creating and posting, even when I was feeling very insecure about my skills.

It’s now again time for another chapter, challenge and adventure. I’m going back to school to get my masters and I’ve moved again and I now have not one but three lovely roommates. It’s funny how things sometimes work out. I really feel like this the right time for me to back to school. I feel I’m much more focused and have a clear idea what I want to learn.

What do these changes mean for my little blog? I’m probably going to be posting more irregularly and posting about a wider range of subjects. The focus is going to be my creative process and all the things that inspire me but I now feel brave enough to also write about things I’m worried about. I’m curious to see where that leads.

For the first time in a really long time I feel I can honestly say that I’m excited about the changes that are happening in my life. Do I have everything figured out? Hell no! Am I worried about the planet and what feels increasing division and apathy? Of course! But for once, in my little bubble, things are going my way!

 


How does one join an art collective?

That’s what I’d like to know! I was watching a mini series about the Bloomsbury Group (I blame it on that Grantchester binge watching session) and got thinking what it would be like to be in an art collective and if it’s something that still exists in today’s world. The group was not an art collective per se and I can imagine the multiple love triangles caused a lot of drama but there’s something about artistic individuals creating together that intrigues me. I envision this lively but safe space where people inspire and challenge you. Where new ground is broken and minds enlightened. In the real world however, how does a rather paranoid introvert find/join/create an art collective?

Stiina-Saaristo

Scarlet by Stiina Saaristo, 2004. In my art collective fantasy, it would be the place where I would find my own painting style. Did I mention that I actually don’t paint that much?

Renata_Jakowleff

Organs III by Renáta Jakowleff. I have always been fascinated by glass, so maybe in my fantasy art collective I would become a glass master!

‘Cause here’s the thing, every time I go to a museum, I always get really inspired and eager to create. I often find myself asking, why I’m not painting/sculpting/writing more. The most recent time I asked that question my friend suggested I should join an association of some kind. She said there’s camaraderie to be found and you can have group exhibitions! So I’m asking all of you artsy people out there, where can I find an art collective to join?


In a galaxy very very near

I have thing for fireworks. I love watching them and in the past few years I’ve been very keen on photographing them as well. This has not always been the case. There was a time when fireworks made me incredibly tense as the sound reminded me of bombs. It took a while but eventually I was able to go outside and enjoy the explosion of colours.

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As for photographing fireworks, it started with my previous camera that had a fireworks setting. I don’t think I was using that setting properly but I loved the messy abstract images I got. Now that I’ve gotten better acquainted with my dslr I know I should use a tripod to get the proper shots. I however find that it is the random experimental images that speak to me. You know the ones, that look like someone put a laser in a blender or nebulas and galaxies far far away. I do plan to buy a tripod and then I’ll try the more professional way of photographing fireworks.

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After I watched the fireworks marking the beginning of Finland’s centenary anniversary and the euphoria of that experience had worn off, I started thinking how I’d just basically watched tens of thousands (maybe even hundreds of thousands) of euros being blown up. Don’t get me wrong, everything costs money and anniversaries should be celebrated but it’s still a a lot of money for a few minutes. There’s also an environmental aspect to consider. But if we were to get rid of fireworks what would replace them? Lazer light shows? I don’t know, it wouldn’t be quit the same but I’m open to the possibilities the future holds.

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