inspiration

Sharing Saturday: 5 Creatives That Inspire Me

Hello Friends! Hope you’ve all had a great week. One thing I’d like to do more now as I’m crowdfunding for myself— choose a day of the week and share about artists, creative things that are inspiring me right now. After all, good artists copy and great artists steal. Where would we be on this road without others to blaze trails and lead our way. Here goes:

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One Illustrator I look up to: Kate Pugsley

Illustrations are a thing I am into this season. Because…why not! We’re all visual here. I love her use of bright colors. And yes, Kate is coming out with a children’s book in 2019. Virtual mentor for you ladies here!

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One designer I would love to hang out with: Timothy Goodman

More like…designer I have a crush on. I spend more time looking at his pizza shirt at Uniqlo than actually eating pizza. If you like reading about feelings he has a fabulous tag #instatherapy_tim you can follow.

One Instagram account I really dig this week: Wendy @nomadicfare

Fun fact: I connected with Wendy way back over social media and finally met her in Taipei this week! We’re due for a proper coffee in May. Wendy travels and shares inspiring post along with fabulous photography on her blog and social media.

One musician I’ve been digging this week: Conner Youngblood

Seriously, if you’re an artist with a dog — I already love you. My favorite tracks: Everyday and Australia. One of those musicians you discover and immediately goes on google to read all their interviews. I’m going to write him an email this week 🙂

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One Typographer that kicks a**: Stefan Kunz

If you struggle with perfectionism or putting your work out there every day. This guy is someone to follow for hand lettering + creative inspiration. Stefan’s motto: Create Something Everyday Even If It Sucks. My take away: create every day, because it might just be awesome.

And lastly, a quote not related to an artist but something I’m discovering for myself:

There is so much beauty out there waiting to be discovered.

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And there you go, I will leave you with a beach photo from Yilan, Taiwan this week.

Till next time.

PS: Live stream my Hedgehog Q&A on Kickstarter here

 

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On Starting Small but Living Big

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Hello friends! As you may know. I recently launched my first ever Kickstarter project — The Extraordinary Book of Hedgehog Puns. A photo/illustration book of positive puns featuring my late hedgehog Amelia.

Today I’d like to share a part of the story that happened on my photography journey.

I started photography on social media during my last few years of college. And as any humble newbie, I started with 100 followers, figuring out my filters, hashtags, learning the social media game, reaching my first 50, 100k etc..

Over time, I figured photography was something I want to do for the rest of my life so I saved up, booked a ticket to North America and began my freelance photography career. I started from Craigslist gigs, second shooting for wedding photographers, shooting portraits in studios, and asking seasoned photographers for critique and advice. In time, I expanded my work into social media influencing, creative writing, art directing and styling.

Of course, these things didn’t happen overnight but one thing that has kept me super motivated was knowing that I might have started small with my resources and connections — but there is no limit to how far I can go. My creativity might have started within the walls of a college dorm, but there are no boundaries to people I will meet, stories I will tell or people I will touch through my work.

One thing I’ve realized recently is to not expand on the “small”. To not be caught up in perfecting details, but to think large, and to live life expecting the extraordinary. My story might have started with a hedgehog. But this is really just the beginning.

Imagination is the ability to see beyond what you can currently see, and big things come from the accumulation of decisions you make in the everyday.

I hope these words are an encouragement to you today. Whether you’re a student wanting to start a career in art or photography, a stay-at-home mom wanting to start a side business, or a seasoned professional looking for new inspiration.

Do the small things with love, with intention. Because they grow and snowball into great and amazing things.

To learn more about my book project, visit my Kickstarter project here.

Till next time x

Hello 2018

Hello 2018

Oh my. It feels like yesterday that I got home from my backpacking trip in India and sat down to write Hello 2017.

What a year. 2017 has been a year of gain, loss, refinement, changes, and celebration.

There have been highlights like working with amazing people, seeing creative ideas come to life, and feeling more content with my creative self. There have been lows like moving countries, redefining home, losing my pet hedgehog/creative partner, but learning and discovering a lot about myself in the process.

This year, I want it to be a year less focused on achievements and goals but people and home. After all, I have to realize that the best art is art that is created from a place of contentment, a place where you are surrounded by friends and family. And a place where you can be quiet, to come to oneself and inspired by the water.

This year, I want to create art that is not the best art but art that welcomes imperfection, art that celebrates connection over perfection, and most of all — to create from a place of wonder, beauty, and deep hope that motivated me to make art in the first place.

Here is to the new year. To a year of celebrating more and celebrating better. To days off, cups of tea, conversations, journaling, collaborating, to dreaming and executing ideas, newness, intentional art, creativity, and furry friends.

Happy New Year!

How to Make Totoro Rice Cakes — A Tutorial

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Before I go off into the fascinating world of Totoro Rice Cake’s, there are lyrics from The Cinematic Orchestra – To Build a Home I must share.

It goes:

Out in the garden where we planted the seeds
There is a tree as old as me
Branches were sewn by the colour of green
Ground had arose and passed it’s knees
By the cracks of the skin I climbed to the top

I climbed the tree to see the world
When the gusts came around to blow me down
I held on as tightly as you held onto me
I held on as tightly as you held onto me

Combining these lyrics along with my favourite Hayao Miyaziki film hero—Totoro—I can just about envision the furry beast standing beside his acorn seeds, climbing on tree tops, and roaring his head off in ferocious grace for all that have ears to hear.

It is incredible to think that someone thought of stringing these words together into a song that is a perfect soundtrack for making Totoro rice cakes.

I think these things lead to a certain kind of excitement in being a creative. Knowing that you possess a skill or ability to create something that resonates with the rest of the world. For this season, that being me, in my studio where I dream of ideas and set about creating them.

To know that I have at the tip of my fingertips the ability to command to life an army of Totoro’s is quite empowering. While this post is to share my love for rice cakes, I hope that we all find and pursue diligently that medium where we bring much joy to ourselves and to the world.

Without further ado, here are steps to making your own Totoro rice cake, for you and for me.

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You will need:
Ground sesame powder
Cooked sushi rice
Piece of sliced cheese
Sheets of nori
Clean boba straw
Toothpicks
Leaves to decorate

totoro_rice_cakes_sophia_hsin_tutorial-13.jpg1. Mix sesame powder into rice for desired shade of grey. Puncture cheese with boba straw for Totoro eyes.totoro_rice_cakes_sophia_hsin_tutorial-14.jpg2. Use plastic wrap to mold grey and white rice into appropriate size for torso, abdomen and ears.Totoro_Rice_Cake_Tutorial_Sophia_Hsin-4.jpg3. Trim circles of nori for eyes, nose, and half moons for belly. Insert ears into Totoro torso and secure with toothpicks.Soot_Sprites_Totoro_Rice_Cake_Sophia_Hsin-12.jpg4. For Susuwatari (Soot Sprites) — roll rice ball onto nori sheet, soften edges of nori with water to shape. Decorate with eyes.
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5. There you have it, Totoro and soot sprite rice cakes. Better when they match your socks.
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Photograph them on black.yay-5.jpgGift them to a friend.Totoro_Rice_Cake_Tutorial_amelia_hedgehog-5.jpgIntroduce them to your hedgehog.

Do enjoy.

The end.

Find tutorials to Alpaca Rice Cakes here & Panda Rice Cakes here.

Postcards from Bangladesh

bangladesh_travel_photography-14.jpgHeading towards adventure.

The are 196 countries in the world.

I am really happy to say that I have visited a handful of them and am enjoying the process of checking each one off my list.

While it feels like a waiting game some days at home when I am editing through the deep recesses of my hard drive. I hope I never stop in wonder to marvel and be expectant at these opportunities and amazing things I get to see.

bangladesh_travel_photography-3.jpgLight at dusk and sights of traffic in Jessore, taken before crossing the street to hop into my van. This is one of my favourites from Bangladesh.

Without further ado, here are postcards from Bangladesh. Taken in dusty streets with tropical humidity, surrounded by the sound of prayer call, taken beside women clad in colour saris and rickshaw drivers who distractedly wave you down in this beautiful and mysterious country that has captured my heart in more ways than photos.

bangladesh_travel_photography-6.jpgSmiling boy wearing his prayer hat. Taken in a shrimp processing factory in Chila. bangladesh_travel_photography-10.jpgVisiting a local village by the Pushar river in Khulna. I love how the green in her dress matches the tree.
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Made our driver stop for shots on our way to the airoport. A snapshot of the green and lush river country Bangladesh is known for.village_life_bangaldesh_dhaka.png
The cutest boy from the village and a baby goat with the most spindly legs. I have found a new love for goats after visiting India and Bangladesh.
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Local school children on their way home from school. I found him saluting our gang of security guards that tail us wherever we go and asked him to pose for this shot.
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Bangladesh you were a marvellous journey. I leave with fresh eyes and a new perspective on different cultures and countries. I hope I will never lose the ability to find rich beauty in little places and in the humanity of people I have met here.

Till next time.

Three Things I learned from Travelling in India

munnar_tea_fields_india.jpgThe beautiful, misty green hills of Munnar, Kerala. If you listen closely, you can hear the click-clacking of a thousand tea scissors and the tiny buzz of chatter from the tea women in Mailalym.

I have always dreamed about India.

So a little over a month ago I booked tickets and found myself there.

I can’t put a finger on what it was that drew me there but never have I travelled so hard in my life and never have I had stranger experiences than the ones I have had there. I shall credit mom and dad for creating me with a large dose of curiosity, a love for rule breaking and a reckless lust for photogenic places.

As I sit home on my comfy couch editing photos and reflecting from my trip, here is a list of things that I learned from travelling in India.

1. Embrace the mystery/creativity
Life is mysterious. I left looking for answers but realized I didn’t need to know them after all. You don’t have the answers and you never will.  A friendly tip to people looking forward to visiting India: prepare to be surprised out of your socks. Mostly in unpleasant smelly ways. Haha kidding. I learned to leave room for creativity and surprise and I found that I have gained more in the process.

2. Contentment
I have found myself looking at things in a different way that I didn’t use to. A different way that I hope never goes away. I realized that I live a very blessed life and live in a wonderful, wonderful city. I love work with the ups and downs, people I have in my life and never have I cherished more the freedom to wear anything I want, take long hot showers(in a clean bathroom!) and eat ice cream from my freezer at night. Thank you India.

3. People
It sounds ridiculous to compare a person living in North America to someone living in the slums in India. But it’s true! At the end of the day, people are people. We need love, food, shelter, a job, a purpose, friends, encouragement, fun things etc. Those things don’t change and you can be a good or bad person anywhere in the world and still be a good or bad person. The world needs more good people so let’s all be good to each other.

Other than that, I rode on a 30 hour train (the longest I’ve been my entire life), met a bunch of amazing people I will not soon forget, obtained some scars from being in scary pottys, had the best Indian food of my life, cried and laughed during the weird and sentimental bits, got my first food poisoning, left bits of my heart in a Children’s Home to many tiny souls and left quite aware that I became a better person because of this trip.

If you are reading this and curious about travelling to India. I will say yes. Ten thousand times yes.

munnar_tea_fields_india_2To adventure xx

King’s Kids Children’s Home, India

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The kids in their play clothes after a school day on campus. They love having their photos taken.

Here are photos from King’s Kid’s in Jangareddygudem, India. Where I spent 10 days living on campus photographing and interacting with the children.

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Morning music worship, it’s so fun to see these kids dancing to western songs. 
india_sophia_hsin_children_arise-6.jpgChore time – cooking for 50 kids is so much more easier when you have little helpers that help you cut veggies.

I must have gathered enough stories here to last a lifetime and it’s so hard to put all the stories into one blog post. These are times that I am just thankful for words and memories to hold on to this experience.

A day at the school typically starts with the kids waking up, bombarding you with hugs and rushing around for chores and breakfast before going off to school. I have never seen kids as eager to help or learn and it has been wonderful getting to see it for myself.

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A day in class.
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Varden, the goofiest kid on campus. Varden’s family work as missionaries that migrate their homes each season due to monsoon rain and floods. At the children’s home, Varden is provided with food, shelter and the opportunity to go to school every day.
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Pavan washing his clothes in a pail.

I wish I could describe the way Akash giggles every time you praise him even though he struggles with autism. Or the way Nera gets up at 4am to pray everyday and comes up to me after meals to ask “Your dish, I wash?” I hope that I will never forget the thanks that come from the villagers when you pray for them and the beautiful colours of sunsets in the Indian sky.

india_sophia_hsin_children_arise-5.jpgThis is Siddu, who wants to be a doctor and writer when he grows up. When I ask why his response is always ” So I can help people.”

There is Siddu and Esther, wonderful children with wonderful parents that have no money to send them to school but raised them to be the most helpful kids and best students on campus. There is Honey who comes from a begging background but is the most cheerful and shy boy who giggles every time you make eye contact with him. There is Anjelie, Sandy, Ujwal, Indu and Nandu who were orphans that thrive on the tiniest bit of affection you give them.

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Photo shoot by the eucalyptus and cashew trees on campus. The girls insisted on wearing their fanciest traditional clothes while the boys just wanted to climb trees.
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Village outreach. We ended finding this group of toddlers and taught them songs and shared a meal after.india_sophia_hsin_children_arise-9.jpg
Colours of the Indian sunset

I  spent the time on campus getting frustrated with the lack of wifi, rice and lentils for every meal and missing the freedom to roam around on my own while trying to cook food for 50 children with a stove and blender that died or stopped whenever the power went out. 

Despite the challenges of such a harsh environment, there is more beauty and hope here than I have found in other places and I have learned to appreciate the small moments that make this experience so beautiful. I leave super grateful for many things and am excited for the future of all the kids that live here.

kings_kids_children_arise_india-15The Kings Kids is a children’s home funded under the organization Children Arise in Canada. The children are taken care of by my friend Anita who left her teaching career in Vancouver to help start the home five years ago. Kings Kids is currently home to 50 children, 15 of which are unsponsored. Leave a comment or shoot me a message if you have any questions or would like to know more!