If you knew me as a kid, I was completely obsessed with magazines and for a long time, I dreamt of becoming Editor In Chief of my own magazine one day. Although I ended up switching my career path later down the road, having the opportunity to be featured in Cosmopolitan Philippines Magazine is an absolute dream come true. Not only do I feel incredibly fortunate to be printed alongside so many inspiring talents from my homeland, but I also got to be a part of a special issue that encourages self care. Below is my full interview but if you’re interested in reading the actual featured article, you can purchase a digital version of the magazine here (I’m on page 104!)
Tell us about yourself. How did you get into graphic design? Were you always into design and the arts as a kid?
I’ve always been interested in all forms of art since I was little, which stemmed from my mom’s love for music. She encouraged creative expression in our home so I eventually grew passionate with singing and found myself sharing the stage with my sister for years to come. At the same time, I would spend hours flipping through fashion magazines or in front of the computer screen. I even taught myself Photoshop when I was elementary school just to design fansites dedicated to my favorite ‘90s celebrities. It sounds crazy when I think about it now but I’m so glad that I found something that I enjoyed doing at such a young age and that I continued to cultivate my creativity as I got older.
In high school, I was fascinated with the idea of working for a magazine but since a majority of my cousins worked in the medical field, I never really thought a career in the arts was a possibility. It wasn’t until after I graduated college in 2013 that I decided to pack my bags and move half way across the country to New York to pursue a career in design. I interviewed for an Art Internship at Family Circle Magazine on a whim and luckily, I landed the job. I remember being instantly swept away by the creative energy of the city and I think that’s what really sparked everything.
What came first: your blog or your Instagram? How did you decide on the content and look of both platforms? Your aesthetic is so distinct and eye-catching!
I’ve had my Instagram since 2009 when it was more of a highlight reel of my college years. I began using Instagram more artistically when I launched my blog in September of 2015 but I didn’t take both platforms “seriously” until August of last year. At the time, I was working at a tech company based in San Francisco as a Marketing Designer and my blog was sort of a creative escape for me outside of the corporate world.
My content is highly representative of my multi-faceted interests. I’ve always been drawn to vibrant colors, clean lines, and quirky patterns. If you were to look at my feed, you’d find a mix of edgy outfits, pops of pink, and curated confetti thrown in for good measure.
Asking for our readers but also for ourselves (lol): where do you find all your cute props?
My props are essential to creating visually stimulating content and really help to enhance my brand’s overall aesthetic. Some of my favorite resources are Asos, Etsy, eBay, local homeware department stores, and stationary shops. I also like to support growing accessory brands that I come across on Instagram, which is where I find most of my unique pieces.
Who and what are your design inspirations? Do you also get inspired by places, such as the Bay Area?
I draw visual inspiration from pretty much everything around me – places, people, movies, music, and magazines. To be honest, there are moments where I struggle with feeling inspired but I found that looking beyond my computer screen and changing my environment helps to spark creativity. I love to travel and be outside of my element because it really challenges me creatively.
Outside of aesthetics, I also look to creative powerhouses like Jen Gotch of ban.do, Bri of Design Love Fest, and Sophia Amoruso of Nasty Gal. Their journey into entrepreneurship is incredibly inspiring in itself and I hope I could follow a similar path in the near future.
You’ve had an online presence since the heyday of Myspace. From your perspective, how is blogging different these days?
I began sharing content online via Xanga since my preteen years. Back then, I didn’t feel pressured to create high quality content, figure out the perfect filter, or even think about how many likes a post would get. It felt much more like a hobby than anything else.
The blogging game has changed drastically over the years. For many others, including myself, it has given me the opportunity to create a potential business out of it. I’m now able to work directly with companies that I love on sponsored content. Because of that, I have the creative freedom to execute larger scale projects that I wouldn’t have been able to fund on my own. It’s definitely challenging at times but well worth the time and effort that I put into styling, photography, and writing.
With all these changes, I feel like our social feeds are oversaturated and it’s easy to fall into a comparison trap. However, I’ve learned to continue creating content that personally excites me and that I feel perfectly captures who I am regardless of what everyone else is doing.
This issue is all about self-care. What does a self-care day look like for you? And how do you take care of your mental, physical, and emotional well-being?
There’s a huge stigma surrounding mental health that’s deeply rooted in traditional Asian culture so like many others, I never truly knew the value of self-care until I was much older. It’s also something that is often overlooked, especially in the midst of our busy and overwhelming lives. However, I can’t stress enough how crucial it is to look after your body, mind, and soul on a consistent basis in order to improve your overall well-being.
There are so many different forms of self-care. Personally, I like to take a moment to disconnect from social media and engage in activities that bring me sincere joy. Whether that’s indulging in my favorite Wes Anderson film, treating myself to a well-deserved coffee break outdoors, surrounding myself with uplifting people, or even something as simple as squeezing in a few extra hours of sleep. However, self-care is much more than just self-indulgence. I also try my best to process my emotions by physically writing in a journal, letting go of self-deprecating thoughts by shifting my mindset, and reminding myself of what I’m grateful for each morning. I think it’s also important to point out that self-care is not in any way selfish. Don’t forget that the relationship that you have with yourself is the most valuable one to have.
Last but not least, a big thank you Cosmopolitan Philippines for reaching out to me about this opportunity of a lifetime and my sister, Ruby for helping out during the photoshoot!
xo, Donna Belle