With my company working from home, I have been given the gift of time. The two hours per day that I would have been spent shuffling on and off crowded buses are now being put to better use. I have been drawing more, cooking more, doing more home workouts, and I finally watched The Queen’s Gambit like the Netflix sheep that I am. In fact, I was able to draw so much that I actually got the point where I was happy with my work! This is a cool new feeling for me, the control freak perfectionist that I am.
I work as a UX/UI designer during the 9 to 5 workweek (well, 9 to 7 if you work in South Korea like me), which involves a lot of drawing, ideating and general creativity. This leaves me with a lot of motivation to do my own thing outside of work, but not a lot of energy to finish my personal creative projects. Now that I am a professional creative, my hobbies are starting to feel like a missed financial opportunity. I keep thinking of ways I can turn my hobbies into“side hustles” (ugh), rather than on how I can improve my ~process. This is evident from my failing YouTube channel, a blog with few readers, and multiple subpar Instagram accounts.
This is when the idea of becoming a Samsung Galaxy Theme designer really started to look like a golden opportunity. I could use my newfound ability to like my artwork, and possibly make money from selling it. Samsung Galaxy Themes are basically a wallpaper, font and icon design that you can purchase or download for free for your Samsung phone. I came across the application process for designing these themes in early November 2020 and took note of the dates for submission. The applications are only accepted during four window dates throughout the year. This was finally my chance to turn my hobbies into a “side hustle”.
With all of my creative gusto and energy from not having to interact with humans on buses, in cafes or offices, I got to work on my theme design. Despite all of this energy, I of course did the entire application in about 4 hours, the day before the deadline (stay true to yourself). Now that I have been rejected, I am hyped for my next submission! So hyped, in fact, that I am here writing this post and going to help others submit their themes and by doing so further reduce my own chances of being accepted. Wait, that doesn’t sound right? We’re here now, so let’s get into the process.
Merry Christmas, loyal followers. Because 2020 has been such a brain explosion to us all, I gave up on presents and gifts and general good-human-ing. I’ve been so tied up in my own little world that the festive season and the looming new year have come around without me noticing. If months were refundable, I’d definitely want at least $70 of my life back from December 2020.
As a way to make myself feel like a better person, I’ve made a post with some fun downloadable artwork for your phone wallpaper! Just pretend it’s 2009, your new Nokia is fresh out of the box, and your 90th favourite internet person has sent you floral patterns for your wallpaper! What a gift!
I have a very small following so I trust you, my viewer, to use these images responsibly (i.e. I won’t see my images on your IG or used anywhere without permission. I expect you will only use them for a hot minute, if at all, before you go back to Snoopy or your fave Kakao friend). Ugh, don’t you hate a copyright disclaimer. Do I even need to say it? Such a buzz kill.
Anyway, if you choose to use my humble illustrations on your cellular devices, let me know by tagging @hellojoquinn or @koreanpicnic on your instagram story. As you can see, I am giving, but I am also very much taking. After all, this is a marketing ploy to get you to share my instagram profile with your plethora of followers who are yet to be graced with my sporadic yet hilarious feed.
Have a Merry Christmas (but try not to go outside!) Be jolly and drunk (but don’t touch anyone you care about without injecting Purell into your veins first). Eat lots of saturated fats and sweets (but take your vitamins too, so as to not compromise your immune system). Subscribe to my channel (for real though, give me the gift of creative validation by subscribing here or check out my instagram pages here or there).
Oh, I almost got lost in my hilarious blogging bubble and forgot to add the wallpapers. Here you go! Click on the image to download. Sorry if they’re low-res, I’m not Santa. I couldn’t test them out on a big phone!
It’s amazing what more time and perspective can do for your creative brain! Now that I’m a jobless housewife (temporarily), I have so much spare time for drawings, filming things and concocting ideas (that will never amount to anything) in my brain!
As I’ve mentioned 12.5 billion times, I also recently started making YouTube videos at the start of the year because it was something I’d wanted to do for many a year. Now, I’ve found a way to combine my love of drawing and making videos! Here are some of the drawings I put in my most recent video about a day in my life in Korea. They kind of make sense out of context, so hopefully all the dots connects.
Here is an iPad drawing from me to you. I think I need to face the fact that I am not an illustrator and need to learn better techniques. I shall have to add ‘digital drawing’ to my long list of things to improve upon on!
This is a drawing from a picture my mum took at my uncle’s farm. Ooft, that was a mouthful! I love the colours from the original picture and the cat’s pose! Here’s to creative growth in 2020!
I always seem to think that the work I do will miraculously get better overnight and I will suddenly be able to pay my rent as an artist! I know that art is a long game and isn’t something to rush. I’m still 23 years old and have a lot more improving to do. I guess the rapid pace of social media and artists online can make you feel like you’re falling behind before you’ve even gotten out of bed in the morning.
I need to remember that a lot of the people I admire have been crafting their work for years, possibly even before social media came around. I can’t be hard on myself because the things I am writing, drawing, photographing and thinking are all better versions of what I was doing 1 year ago and even 5 years ago. It can be a bit disconcerting when you see teenagers on YouTube buying houses while I struggle to even get a job as a designer, something I studied for 5 years! But, we won’t go down the rabbit hole of feeling like we’re lagging behind, it’s not a race!
To any artist’s reading this; your work is great because it is uniquely yours. Keep fine-tuning it, making mistakes, showing it to people, taking feedback and trying again. The important thing is to remember the feeling you have while doing that thing you love so much! Here’s to never losing that little light inside of you that allows you to create something without needing to eat or sleep – even if you end up hating it! Our work is always better in retrospect, just like our memories!
Have a great night/day/morning/workout/presentation/spelling test!
The cat in my drawing resembles ‘Cat’ from Breakfast at TIffany’s. Perhaps it’s just the ginger hair.
I consider myself to be a seasoned public transport taker here in Seoul, South Korea. Since moving to Seoul, I’ve noticed that the general Korean population are rather fond of their smartphone screens. This doesn’t just apply to the people on the subway as the title of this post may suggest. It applies to people on the streets, in cafes, restaurants, schools, gyms, and everywhere else humans gravitate. It doesn’t help that two huge conglomerate smartphone companies, Samsung and LG, are highly celebrated by the Korean people.
So, because I never use my phone and am a fully-fledged self-help guru, I’ve taken it upon myself to help everyone out with more ~mindful~ smartphone usage. Firstly, I hate the word mindful and I also disagree with the generation of self help influencers. Secondly, I have been living in Seoul for 1 year now and I, too, have a bit of a screen addiction going on. I was being completely facetious.
Here are some ways that we can better serve our brains on the subway to promote a clear mind and help validate our smartphone addictions.
1. Make a to-do list
Do you have more than two things to do after your commute? Well, that, my friend, is the beginning of a juicy list. Let’s face it, you probably won’t do all of the things on your list but it will motivate you to do the things you actually need to do.
Listen to a podcast instead of the music you constantly consume in your ear holes. You can learn something, feel like you’re having a private lecture and be that annoying person who brings up facts all the time for no apparent reason.
3. Read a book
Woah, an actual physical book? Okay, this one is for more advanced subway takers and requires a great level of concentration. I know that not everybody can get their bodies to balance on a moving train and read without getting dizzy, we are humans, not mountain goats. However, if your body can handle all of the extra stimuli, you can assert your dominance as the ‘smart’ one on the subway carriage. I read so many books this year just because of my extremely long commute to work.
4. Write a novel
I can’t offer further advice with this one. It just seems like something a person who wakes up at 4am every day would do as a way to be productive. Give it a try? Your novel can’t suck until you finish it. Then, you can make it better.
5. Start a blog
Did you know that I’m currently writing this blog post on the subway? How could you have known that? What a silly question. If you don’t think you have the time to write a blog or a diary, you’re lying to yourself and to your whole family. They will never forgive you for those lies. I have the same philosophy Re: write a novel. Your blog won’t suck unless you have questionable opinions or zero blog posts.
6. Learn a language
Duolingo is a thing and it’s there to be used, so use it. Otherwise, go back to point two, Podcasts, and combine this with language learning. If, for some reason, you decided to learn Korean like me, Talk to Me in Korean have a great podcast.
7. Do a phone spring clean
Organise your photos, emails, contacts, apps, alarms, calendars, texts, ringtones, Instagram bios etc. I’m a true believer that a clean home equals a clean mind. I also apply this philosophy to the digital living space. Think about how much time you spend on your devices and it may help you understand why it’s important to keep your digital chaos clean and tidy.
8. Unfollow people who don’t align with your future
Go onto your socials and remove all the people who aren’t on board your train to self-improvement and general happiness. This includes people you are only friends with because you feel like you have to be. Delete them all. But, as you cull your friend lists, whisper ‘thank you’ ever so quietly to make it more Marie Kondo and less Georgina from Gossip Girl.
9. Go on a Wikipedia black hole search
This is my favourite thing to do at 4am while on a Netflix binge but there is never a bad time to go on a Wikipedia binge. It will help you learn things like Queen Elizabeth II and her husband are related and other things like how long Nelson Mandella spent in prison. These are all very useful things, do not deny yourself this information. As I am editing this, I am realising that I didn’t draw this point in my hilarious cartoon version of this blog post. I will forever regret this.
10. Respond respond respond
Now, this is the thing that I am worst at in life. I don’t know how many times I have written in my diary ‘ahh I really need to stay on top of my message and email responses’ to no avail. I don’t know what it is but I’m working on it, and the subway is a great place to get it done. As I type, I am vehemently aware of all of my unread messages.
I hope this was more comical than helpful. I really don’t care how you spend your time on your commute. I don’t know what kind of day you’re having. We all need to unwind with YouTube videos to clear our cloudy brains. This is more of a cultural observation combined with a pretty useless solution to something that may not even be perceived as a problem. But, if you’re feeling guilty about your phone usage, just know that the world will continue to be flat and have zero gravitational pull, regardless of how many memes you watch on a continuous loop.
‘Well, that was an unexpected ending? I want to read more of this blog! But HOW?’ Please do, I upload when I feel like it about topics relating to Korean culture. Feel free to leave a comment, I always respond. Have a very Korean day!
Yesterday, as a gust of clean Seoul air swam its way through the dusty cocktail Saturday left behind, I meandered through the back streets of my neighbourhood to go to the local fruit and veg market. To set the scene, let me just say that the back streets near my house would be the perfect place to film an (on-foot) small scale burglary chase or, I don’t know, shoot a catalogue for an elderly women’s fashion movement. It just has that kind of edgy but practical kind of feel to it. Anyway. So, off I trot to the market feeling all empowered and not at all anxious about being the only western person within a 200km radius. I wander up to the bright fruit stall opposite the equally bright fruit stall I usually go to because I thought it would be nice to shake things up a bit. I point to what looks like a basket of juicy mandarins and say (in my best Korean) ‘please give me these mandarins’. The vendor did not correct my attempt to order what was in fact not a basket of mandarins. As she piled the unfamiliar looking mandarins into a black plastic bag, I knew that I had made a terrible mistake. Much to my not at all surprise, I did not protest the above average ($10) price tag for so few “mandarins” (for that matter, I would never protest anything in a second language unless encouraged by alcohol). Instead, I held my head high, faking the aura a person who just purchased exactly what they wanted might possess. I strolled on home, back through the narrow grandma/gangster back streets, past the old men smoking in their pyjama pants outside their homes and into the safety of my home that does not speak to me in Korean. The way I feel when attempting to do anything in a foreign language by myself is crippling and liberating, making any situation where speaking is required quite awkward. My brain wants to shout out random phrases I’ve memorised like ‘happy new year’ or ‘thank you for the food’, but my body just wants to pretend I’m travelling on business and therefore far too important to learn the local language. The result of these conflicting feelings is me just kind of making weird grunting noises with robot arms while I somehow simultaneously nod and shake my head when given any opportunity to speak another language. It’s very sexy.
After one month of living in Seoul, I’m hoping that from here it will get easier. I hope to come home with the right fruit next weekend feeling accomplished and slightly less like an alien. To be fair to myself, the fruits did all look the same, hence this illustration that I decided to draw and share with you all. I hope you enjoyed this anecdote. If you didn’t enjoy it, that’s okay too. It wasn’t meant to change your life or challenge your understanding of fruit and the earth. Have a great day and don’t forget to ‘eat your fruits and juice your vegetables’ according to that annoying guy in the movie ‘Her’. Does anybody know what I’m talking about? I guess I lost you long before that reference and needn’t worry. Annyeong!
Illustration and words by Johanna Quinn. All rights reserved. Image must not be distributed or used without artist’s consent. 2019.
Here is a picture of me waving goodbye to Seoul yesterday! Apparently, cities don’t really care whether you’re staying or going? This is news to me. I’m sorry, I’m not a capital city, Seoul, I can’t empathise with you here. I would have liked a little more of an effort from you when I boarded the train to Daejeon? Yah, maybe next time I WON’T go to Seoul. I’ll go to Busan. How would you like that?
Okay, I’ve said too much here. People are going to know what my brain is really like and that’s not good for anybody. Like I always say, quit while you’re not going to win anyway. (I don’t ever say that, that’s a terrible mantra to live by, do not advise).
Anyway, the POINT of the post was to say that I’m now in Daejeon to begin my orientation at KAIST University and Seoul can go be sulky over in Seoul. I’m sure I will be back again soon because I can’t resist the hustle and bustle of a densely populated city.