The small things: Bulgarian Edition

Almost every summer, I go back to see my friends and family in Bulgaria. I always end up doing the same trip around the country – starting with Sofia, going to Plovdiv and then Krichim (a little farming village where my grandparents live). This time, I managed to also take a day trip to Пазарджик.

And there are a few moments that made me appreciate the life and people here as I’ve experienced it over the years:

  1. Sitting on the curb in front of my grandpa’s house and eating sunflower seeds. Some of the best pointless, but meaningful discussions have happened over sunflower seeds. Did you know we have a very specific verb in Bulgarian for the act of opening a seed with your teeth? ‘Aс чопла семки!’
  2. Watching a Turkish adaptation of the OC show with Bulgarian voices dubbed over and having to explain that my life in Orange County is nothing like it’s represented on the screen!
  3. Nature – when driving around Bulgaria, I’m always overwhelmed by the beauty of the countryside. In fields of roses, wheat, and tomatoes, I find the most interesting shapes that are cast by the puffy clouds above. Somehow my thoughts also seem to wander, between the rows of cherry trees and mountain ranges, as the car calmly passes by a small tractor on the road.
  4. Fighting to pay the check – it’s an honour to pay the bill. At the end of the night, There’s always a critical act of theatre in which each protagonist defends their family honour. (I managed to win last night, but only because I snuck in ‘to go to the bathroom’ and paid before my cousins could slip the waiter cash for the whole table!)
  5. Hospitality – within seconds of walking into someone’s home, the table will be filled with biscuits, chocolates, roasted peanuts, and fresh fruit.  Just as it’s a rule to never go over to someone’s house empty-handed, you must also be ready to accept guests  into your home at all times.
  6. Eating so much fresh watermelon that your stomach hurts, but your taste buds are satisfied with the taste of summer.

Чао! До скоро!

The Innovator Theorist: Clayton M. Christensen

In case you haven’t read The Innovator’s Dilemma, here’s a four-minute video version with the key themes:

I am hugely inspired by Clayton M. Christensen’s work – especially around disruptive innovation. His thinking has influenced some of the biggest managers and leaders in modern business by making his idea frameworks applicable for all sectors. He teaches you how to think, not what to think. I also love the fact that Clayton focuses on innovation rather than entrepreneurship. The start-up culture currently dominates the media press and the market growth theories; however, large organisations that pursue ‘disruptive innovation’ alongside ‘sustaining innovations’ should also be praised and examined.

Plus, here’s one of his TED talks based on his book, How Will You Measure Your Life? 

Plus, I encourage you to check out his website. 

My MBA Word Map. And some ‘Design’ Thoughts.

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As I research further and further into my future career aspirations and possibilities, I’ve realised how important the element of ‘design’ is to me. As a teenager, I attended a visual arts conservatory: I spent hours animating by hand, arguing over fonts, and painting oil landscapes. More than merely a hobby, art has impacted the way I understand the world. I’m a visual and tactile person who still needs to draw diagrams, flowcharts, and word maps to process complex concepts. As above, I still spend endless hours in coffee shops, allowing the caffeine to flow through my pen to form arrows, circles, and spider webs. As Han Hoffman says, “Design is the intermediary between information and understanding.”

Through my MBA research, I’ve  discovered design consulting firms that advocate ‘Design Thinking’ around innovation and business – that perfectly aligns with my creative soul:

  1. IDEO 
  2. DOBLIN 
  3. FROG DESIGN

From Doblin, I love their  Ten Types of Innovation framework – which provide a way to identify new opportunities beyond products and develop viable innovations.

Creative Confidence by IDEO founder and Stanford d.school creator David Kelley and his brother Tom Kelley is DEFINELY being added to my ‘need to read’ bookshelf!

 

New Medium: Ink + Water

Recently bought Water Brushes with Ink for my Monday Figure Drawing classes. Really struggling to control the weight of each stroke, but it’s great for thinking about volume and shadows.

Best piece of advice my high school figure drawing teacher gave me:

The fastest and easiest way to change your perspective and habitual drawing style is to switch mediums. So if you’re stuck or having a bad art day, don’t give up – just switch from a pen to a paint brush. 

FABER-CASTELL PENS.

 

I’m going to be a Brand advocate for Faber-Castell today because I love my 4 PITT artist pens. A few reasons I like the brand:

  • Exceptionally high quality and long-lasting
  • Targeting and understanding of artist community
  • Traditional branding/product design
  • And I love the Sepia – it’s ideal for sketching
  • The set of 4 has the right mix of brush width

Update: October Figure Drawing

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As more leaves fall to the ground, another month passes by…

The pumpkin spiced latte came and went. Starbucks has red cups now.

With the changing times, my figure drawing class was moved from Tuesday to Monday… but what better way to start off the week, then with 5 minute gestures at 8:30 PM?

The crispy air brings a new wave of energy to my A3 sketchbook. And, just like that, my summer worries fall away.

Xx Villy

TIME and the opportunity cost of Figure Drawing #30minute #pose

Time – it’s a funny concept.

Most people accept time – days, hours, minutes, and seconds – as they are.

But let us not forget that time is a man-made concept. It’s a way we organise your day-to-day lives as well communicate with each other. Just as words turn into meaning when spoken between people who share a common language, most people can understand the abstract concept of: 11:30 AM.

My latest fascination around time has been comparing activities in my life that take the same amount of time, but vary in terms of function, goals, achievement, consciousness, and physical energy. For instance, I can fill 30 minutes with quite a few distinct activities:

  • A half-hour meeting at work
  • A 3 mile run
  • A long life drawing pose

Each of those is designed to take exactly half an hour, 30 minutes, or 1,800 seconds (and is timed in most instances). There are plenty of other activities that could take roughly 30-minutes, but not necessarily scheduled in:

  • Cooking pancakes
  • Reading a newspaper
  • Walking around Urban Outfitters

The interesting thing about time is that it can be imposed as a metric for compartmentalizing life tasks, thereby making outcomes comparable. If two tasks took 30 minutes, then there can be an opportunity cost analysis (bit of economics terminology for you!) Opportunity cost by definition is: The cost of an alternative that must be forgone in order to pursue a certain action.

Essentially, the benefits you could have received in the same amount of time investment. So to draw on my 30-minute example above, the opportunity cost of doing a half-hour figure drawing is burning 320 calories by running. There’s also a very similar quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson:

“For every minute you are angry you lose sixty seconds of happiness.”

How did I even get started on this tangent about time opportunities?

It all started during Figure Drawing class yesterday – when I was contemplating the shift from 5-minute gestures and longer half-hour poses. Each restrictive time frame sets different goals and expectations for the resulting sketch, and that’s precisely what makes some of these drawing so beautiful. I’ve always admired drawings under 10 minutes because of the RAW ENERGY that can be captured from a couple lines. In case you haven’t noticed from my previous posts, I absolutely love figure drawing:
Figure Gestures

The opportunity cost might be losing 3 hours of GMAT studying or burning 900 calories at the gym, but to me…. It’s time well spent.

Cherry Yogurt ice-cream at 7AM creates instant happiness @DuckandWaffle

One of my favourite things to do in London is have breakfast at Duck & Waffle.

Duck And Waffle

It’s a treat filled with excellent caffeine, interesting menu offers, and a view of the whole city. As the sun hits the Gherkin’s glass exterior, the waiter brings my flatmate’s poached eggs on ox cheek. It’s moments like these that  make me instantaneously happy and grateful for the life I’ve built as an expatriate in the United Kingdom. Sandwiched between an Italian-Swiss film buff and British northerner, I think back to the day my parents left me at LAX with two suitcases. And now I have a full time job, apartment, and network of life-long friends around the world. Ultimately, you live the life you create and I choose to create little happiness every day (always start with breakfast, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise).

One of my favourite quotes:

“I always wonder why birds choose to stay in the same place when they can fly anywhere on the earth, then I ask myself the same question.”

– Harun Yahya

I had the English Cherry Waffles (cherry & yoghurt ice cream, white chocolate crumble). Here’s the full breakfast menu. 

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Address: The Heron Tower, 110 Bishopsgate, London EC2N 4AY

Open 24 Hours

Make a reservation on OpenTable or by calling 020 3640 7310. Weekend reservations fill up far in advance for their brunch menu. So if you can manage to get up early in the mornings, I would recommend going at 7AM! I love going before work as a little treat thats woven into my ordinary regime.

Happy Sunday.