No posts for a while!

Hey guys,

Thanks for reading and keeping up to date with me life. Currently I have no personal computer as my MacBook has culled itself and I have sold it off for spare parts (apparently the screen was perfect). I have my personal hard drive converted into a portable one that I can just plug in, so it’s good that I still have all my files, but other than at work I have no computer at all. Normally I’d be panicking right about now as I have unfinished university coursework and need to pay for a new macbook, etc. but I’ve been pretty relaxed about the whole thing so far. I’m getting a new MacBook in October and then will return to university. In the meantime, I’ve applied for extensions on my coursework and am applying for part-time jobs back at home too.

Really excited to be returning back to England, especially as I have been away for so long! But I have enjoyed my time in Garching and I am so glad I have learnt so much about graphic design, astronomy, science, education, and an endless list of things. My last day at ESO is on 30 September, so I might be posting a rather touching ‘last day’ post soon. I’ll keep everyone posted!

In the meantime, I have made my personal website Dream About Stars live for now so I can apply for jobs, but please be aware that it still needs a LOT of updating. Unfortunately, no computer…. OTL

– Jo

Mental Health: Appreciate who you are

Today I did one of the most dangerous things that can damage your confidence and self-esteem- compared myself to another person.

This is something I want to get across as I am in a rather difficult industry to make any big money; the creative industry. When I saw a post from my workplace on facebook, I was amazed. It was a beautiful digital painting and I recognised the name of the artist, it was one of my colleagues. He insisted we call him “Master of the Universe” as a joke, so I just call him He-man occasionally. He is a very talented artist, but it made me sad that he can make such beautiful paintings whilst I’m stuck doing these really bad photomanipulations that looks fake. I am very jealous.

Having green feelings is best avoided, especially if it is someone that you know personally. This person is my colleague, a wonderful and funny man with over 10 years of experience working at this organisation. Me, I haven’t even graduated yet, let alone get my career started. Comparing myself to someone like that is unnecessary, and that’s what I thought in my head over and over. If you constantly feel jealousy towards a person over and over, those feelings will eventually turn to hate and that’s something that can destroy relationships with people for no reason. Not only this, it does things to your head.

Someone once told me something that stuck in my head, which I may have already mentioned in other posts: If you yourself are not happy, you cannot possibly be happy with other people’s happiness and success. So I thought about it; how am I feeling right now? Am I happy? Sad? Angry? Why am I having these feelings? What can I do to make myself happier?

If you are jealous of someone else making something better than you, the only thing you can really do is ask for help. This person showed me some tips on how to draw beautiful nebulas and Magellanic clouds and his co-worker also told me I can make galaxies and nebulas in After Effects and Cinema 4D. I know they are busy people so I guess the best I can do after that is just Google how to make it, but the fact that they gave me these tips is very fortunate in my progression. I wouldn’t have had any idea that you can render galaxy images on After Effects or use the smudge tool on Photoshop to simulate gassy trails all my myself. Sure, I can harbour these horrible feelings within me if I wanted, but it’s much easier and beneficial for everyone if we helped each other out.

Honestly, I am really happy with the way I am right now. I have a paid job, am working towards a degree, my parents aren’t divorced, I am not in debt (student loan doesn’t count), I don’t smoke or do drugs, and above all things I have travelled the world and seen many sights and had many experiences throughout my whole life that most people are not fortunate enough to have. Once I thought about what I had, it was easier for me to forget about what I didn’t have, which was great skill in digital art like my colleague.

I’m not saying that it is easy getting over strong negative feelings, but if you can then I personally think it makes you a stronger person. Having feelings of weakness and inferiority is okay, it means you are a human being with feelings. These feelings can make you ask for help from those who are more knowledgable and hopefully great teachers, whilst at the same time it encourages you to constantly strive to become better. If they refuse to help you, then I think they weren’t worth your time anyway, there’s always someone else that WILL offer advice when asked. So you don’t have to be afraid of jealousy every now and then… but don’t let them take over your life.

5 years and counting…

Today, a close friend of mine said something interesting…

“You know, 5 years ago today was our last ever day of school.”

Ah yes, school… 5 years ago I left school with 13 GCSEs, 9 of which were A or A*. It is a distant memory, I can’t even remember what happened on our last day but I bet it was something really enjoyable. I loved school. I didn’t have a lot of friends, but I loved learning. It was really weird though that my friend could remember such a day so vividly, but I guess it is a huge milestone that almost everyone experiences. School was thankfully not a dark time for me but at the same time I didn’t really find it enjoyable, except for maybe 2 classes- maths and graphics. Even art, my life and saviour, was so boring that I didn’t really like the classes though. It didn’t help that most of the people in my class were jokers, talking to everyone and distracting the lessons. I wouldn’t say I had any close friends at school, I preferred to be alone just drawing a lot…. The person I was closest to at school wasn’t one of my fellow classmates but a teacher who inspired me and allowed me to thrive.

This was for graphic products. One of the things I am very thankful for to this day is how he let me teach myself. Because the way I do my work is completely different to conventional ways of teaching, he allowed me to just get on with it. I really hated doing work in school because the environment was extremely distracting. For our 2-hour Monday class, I would be the first person he spoke to. He reviewed my homework, gave me some feedback, gave me a list of things to do for next week, and then he was off. I was free to do anything in those 2 hours, I even watched movies (Vampires Suck comes to mind, which I watched with a friend. It sucked more than vampires). At home I would do everything he asked me to with meticulous detail, much more than a normal student my age taking this GCSE course. I was the only person in my class who had experience making digital work and I ended up getting an A* overall grade for that course, apparently the only A* in the whole class. I was super pleased. I know a lot of people previously had told me to quit doing graphics because they hated it, but I was fascinated with design. It enriches people’s lives visually. To this day, I still send the odd email here and there to this teacher. For someone to make huge a huge impact on my life, I am thankful every day I went to that school, even if it was just one teacher out of about 15 classes.


After that, I knew my career had to be in graphic design. I had originally wanted to go to a technology college to take a BTEC in art and design (graphics specialism), but I ended up going to a more mainstream college to take A levels instead. I studied extended project, fine art, graphic communications, mathematics, and physics; all of them are my passions. 2 years later I left college with decent grades to get into a Russell Group university where I had studied a degree in graphic design, studying all sorts of art and design topics in-depth, and even went into web development. Granted, it is horrible living independently in student residences, especially when your flatmates are not exactly on the same mindset as yourself, but these are all experiences that make up your life. In the past year I have been all round Europe, I live in Germany, have worked in Tanzania for 9 months, and then even toured Caribbean and Canary Islands with my parents. It was thrilling, I had spent over an entire year NOT being in England, something that 5 years ago I would have never imagined.

If I could tell myself of 5 years ago something, it would be to not think about the future. Take life as it is, and take all opportunities as you get them. A lot has happened in 5 years: I have travelled around the UK. I have lived in Tanzania for 9 months. I am living in Germany. I have visited so many beautiful sights around the world, spoken to so many people, eaten a lot of delicious foods… All these experiences I would have never had if I hadn’t just decided to take any feasible job, even in Africa. Life is too short. I admit there are some screw ups here and there, but I am really happy where I am in life right now. I have no idea what the hell I’m even gonna do when I’m back at uni or even when I graduate, but my dream is to live every day happily as they come, no matter where I am on the planet or what job I have. Because after all, I am a dreamer.

Weekly Report 25/05/2016 – Losing the will to live

Just gonna say that I’ve practically done nothing for the past week, except maybe make some sketches for an animation that I am planning, but I haven’t done too much work on it yet.


ABSOLUTELY EXHAUSTING. Was not allowed to leave the office until around 7:30pm last night. There was a huge conference today and the press release is finished so the workload at work should lessen… in theory, that means less stress but we’ll see. OTL


  • Short chapter plot written, plan on using it. Bought the album I was taking about, one of the songs is PERFECT for this short side chapter. This will be used as a test.
  • Need to do: Sketch out some plans and ideas for the short chapter. Thing about animations and sounds that could be used. Don’t forget about camera angles. Still need bios and sketches of the other main characters.
  • Completed from last week: Short chapter plot, bought album.

Dream About Stars –

  • Hiatus for now

Website –

  • Nope
  • Hosting renewed for 3 years. So expensive //sobs

Misc art – 

  • Sort 2-minute animation planned. More details when plans are more concrete!
  • Trades on hiatus

Plain honest art supply reviews – Moleskin Plain Cahier Journals

Hey friends.

I’m feeling bored and I have a lot drawings and art stuff so I’ve decided to add another category to my blog, which is to review stuff I buy to draw with basically. All my reviews are really honest and to the point. I literally just have an iphone as I have left my camera back in England so photography may not be high-end on my part, sorry in advance.

I’ll start with these Moleskine Set of 3 Plain Cahier Journals – Black – Extra Large on the feature image that I took just now.

These bloody things are great but they’re more expensive than what they’re worth when there are cheaper alternatives, kinda like an iphone. But we’re still gonna keep buying iphones. And Moleskines. Brand over price.

8″ x 10″. 70gsm. Plain pages. Black cardboard cover. Stitched spine.

Firstly, almost 16 bloody euros for 3 journals. I only bought them because I couldn’t resist the Moleskine name but so far they have been really useful. Now that that’s out of the way, these are JOURNALS so do not expect them to be the same as sketchbooks- they are for writing notes quickly and jotting down ideas. Not that I have time for mindless thoughts these days but I thought I’d draw them for sketching anyway.

The paper is so thin it may as well be greaseproof paper so black ink from my fineliners (Faber-Castell Ecco Pigment fineliners, possibly my next review) does show through, but it isn’t too noticeable and thankfully doesn’t bleed at all or actually go through the page. For general sketching and light pen drawing, these journals are really decent. The paper is thin but you can definitely tell the quality is there, though I couldn’t find the actual thickness in gsm though so I’m gonna guestimate and say it’s about 70gsm. The cardstock used for the covers isn’t too thin so as long as you don’t just shove it in your bag after use then it could possibly last long on the go, but obviously everyone would prefer hardback. There’s also a little pocket in the back if you want to take souvenirs from your travels, like a postcard or flower or something that you can just stick in.

The stitched spine is something special because you know that the pages won’t just come off like some cheap Poundland crap. Stitched spines last much longer than ones using book adhesive, plus some of the pages stick together on the inside edges when glued, which is really infuriating as an artist. The paper itself is also as smooth as a baby’s bottom and my pencils just glide over t surface, it’s great! Obviously I don’t recommend heavy use of markers or watercolours for kind of paper. I’ve tested it already and a very thin watercolour was is okay but anything more and the paper will be wrinklier then your grandma. Also, do NOT use liquid pens such as highlighters and fountain/Parker pens on this paper. I will assume that dip pens are also a no.

Each book has 60 leaves (120 single pages) so if you draw and write notes a lot then that’s about a month before you need to spend another 16 bloody euros on these things, but they’ll probably last forever if you are like me and only have time for drawing once every blue moon. These notebooks are gorgeous, they are definitely one of the highest quality journals I’ve used for light drawing and ink work so if you can afford it then I think it’s worth the money. For the same price, you could probably buy a non-Moleskine hardback sketchbook with thicker pages though so it’s your choice.

Points to take note of:

  • 16 bloody euros. I won’t let it go.
  • Paper is smooth, around 70gsm, fineliner pen ink doesn’t bleed.
  • Perfect for general sketching, notes, and line work.
  • You can brag about owning a Moleskine.
  • 16 pages at the back can be removed. Dunno what’s the point, but it’s there.
  • Remember, these are journals. They are not aimed at artists but at people with ideas who want to write stuff quickly.

Voluntourism and why it will never work

This is about another article that I read, this time on The Guardian. I was going to make a really long post but I’ll condense it.

Voluntourism is something that I am very familiar with and no longer support. It’s kinda a waste of time, money, and resources, and is pretty much using the generosity of others to pay the CEO loads of money whilst those doing the actual work are working either for free or for peanuts. And before someone tells me I don’t know what I’m saying, I have a lot of experience with social businesses and working with different NGOs in Tanzania. I dare say it, I was working in Tanzania for 9 whole months before I quit; they asked me to come back but I said no. Actually I don’t even think I can count as a voluntourist as I never travelled whilst there and I committed 9 months to this job rather than 2 weeks or something, but the fact still remains that I was a foreign volunteer for an NGO in Tanzania.

I completely agree with this article, people are going into volunteering and working for NGOs because they believe they can easily ‘save the world’, which is pretty naive. I was offered a job there so I wasn’t really thinking I was saving the world, but I guess it’s interesting living in a very different country for so long. If solving poverty, lack of education, world hunger, and disease was so easy then it would have been solved a very long time ago already.

NGOs are a business. End of. An NGO is only classed as ‘non-profit’ if the money they generate is fed back into the business. But you know what classes as feeding back into the business? Increasing wages. So even if the CEO gave themselves a bonus, it would still count as non-profit. I know they are supposed to naturally earn more money than the rest, but when the organisation you work for is saying they don’t have enough money to pay you personally but they have enough to pay the CEO, COO, and those at the top 10x the average wage for a local, something is not right here. Its corrupt. That’s one of the reasons why I never work for an NGO ever again.

The worst part is that even though I’ve been in Tanzania for 9 months, I’ve only ever met one beneficiary. It was a young lady that opened a small tailoring business with the help of the organisation as they offered to teach these young people everything they need to know about starting their own business. But soon after I joined, that whole project of teaching business skills to young people was stopped so that they can focus on growing social businesses instead. I thought it was a load of rubbish and a waste of money; there’s no way you can measure the impact of social businesses, especially as loads of them haven’t even started operations formally yet, but you can easily monitor people who start their businesses from scratch and help these young people get on their own feet. Some of the social businesses are so unrealistic too.

We want to give affordable education to all school children in Tanzania, at just $1 a day! But that would be maybe $250 a year which is 1/4 of the parent’s WHOLE SALARY going on their child’s education, assuming they had regular income from a job in the first place, so of course the poorest of the poor cannot afford it.

We want to empower local beekeepers and save rainforests by making organic honey using sustainable beehives so we don’t have to chop down trees! But other than the 10-20 people you employ to make the honey, wouldn’t you only be serving an expat’s need for something sweet? How is this empowering loads of low-income local Tanzanians? I guess it’s helping the environment a little I guess.

What really frustrates me are people who PAY to get work abroad. That’s not how it works, it’s really bad. If they really wanted you then they would provide you with accommodation, a salary, food, etc. But if your ‘job’ was so unskilled that they could just get anyone with no knowledge to come and work for them, even get these people to pay them some money, then you are in effect taking jobs away from locals. Mine wasn’t so bad because they did offer me free food, accommodation, insurance, etc. but nothing like flights and a wage (it was because of the terms on my grant from university, but the other full-time staff were paid). That’s normal for any job though, most companies will not offer to pay for your flights, visas, and housing if you get a job in another country, but the fact that some volunteers have to pay for material costs, training, and stupid stuff like that, you are pretty much just literally doing nothing but giving the agent money. What’s even worse is if they say it costs $2000 or something for a 2 week volunteering trip but ON TOP OF THAT you need to pay for flights yourself. Living abroad in a poor country is not that expensive for 2 weeks, so obviously $2000 should be more like $300 so $2000 INCLUDING a flight/visas would be reasonable. Yes, I’ve done the research and this is true, the extra $1,700 will probably just go to the company for wages rather than to help with your volunteering.

I’m not trying to discredit the good things people do but I just feel that volunteering abroad is not the only answer if you want to make a difference. They say that instead of taking a gap year to volunteer, it’s more useful if you took a year out to get a job as you learn necessary skills to do a job relevant to the UK rather than showing off how much money you have. So if you are only volunteering to put it on your CV and to feel good about yourself, you should just save the money instead and buy a subscription or something, do something actually useful. Some NGOs just don’t make as much impact as you’d like. Want to stop poachers? You’ll be killed before you can stop them. Want to cure ebola? It took years and years of trial and error and testing just to have penicillin, you’re not going to cure fucking ebola in a week. Save polar bears? There’s no way you alone can stop climate change from melting ice caps, thousands of scientists work hard on researching ways to cut carbon emissions so it’s not like you can do anything better to save polar bears. Solve world hunger? Don’t be ridiculous, there are thousands of reasons why people don’t have access to food and one of them is due to wrong climate and terrain to grow their own crops, which creates a chain reaction because livestock can’t be fed so they have no milk or meat either, and they survive only on water, providing they are near a river and lake to begin with. I’m not saying don’t care about these causes because of course they are more important, but don’t think you are doing something useful just because you spend 2 weeks in Uganda installing water wells or saving turtles in Costa Rica. Making a positive different takes years and years and years of commitment, and even after 20 years you might still be a really long way off from your desired goal.

If you want to volunteer, I recommend volunteering locally to empower people that matter in your own community. If it is something you care about, that’s even better. I have some experience volunteering in archives and museums because I absolutely love heritage and conservation. You are conserving human history and teaching it to the world, which I think is fascinating and rewarding. Not only this, I am going to volunteer for mental health organisations like Mind when I am finally back at university because it is something that is close to my heart, even though I’ve never really had a mental illness myself. No one deserves to feel bad about themselves for no reason, and it is my personal belief that every person deserves to be happy, regardless of circumstances. Well, providing they’re not a serial killer or something horrendous that harms others.

No one seems to care about the thousands of elderly in the UK who have no contact with their families because they are busy with their own children, and so are incredibly lonely. I watched a programme about this woman who spent hours on weekends just ripping junk mail because she was so bored and no one looked after her, and on the weekdays she was dying to go to the elderly centre where you can meet others and do activities organised buy volunteers; it was just so heartbreaking to see this is how the UK treats their elderly, I almost cried! Or what about the homeless people who the government are adamant are all drug users or fakers leeching from the generosity of others? One person was apparently registered as intentionally homeless when actually he left his house for his wife and kids because they had an argument so he left them, and hasn’t had a place to stay or a job since. There are so many people back home that would use some every day help and kindness, let alone kids in Africa or Cambodia.

All this stuff about saving the world… I met with my friend when I was finally back in UK and she was saying how amazing it is that I was saving the world (yes, she literally said that!) whilst she was just selling office supplies at a market, and I have to remind her that actually my job was extremely stressful with no merit other than a portfolio of design work, so really I wasn’t saving the world at all. I was really happy to be back in England actually after being in Africa for so long.Don’t get me wrong, I’ve met some wonderful people volunteering and I did actually get what I wanted by the end of it (a portfolio) but I’m not gonna brag about how I’ve saved loads of starving African children, given them a decent education, funded all of their degrees, paid for wells to be made in their rural villages, connected them to electricity, etc. I didn’t do any of those things, and I’m not going to have a delusional thinking that my work actually did do anything. But what I’m saying is that even if you feel you’ve done some good work and you’ve had a good time, it’s really hard to measure the impact of what you’ve done when you’ve left, especially if you’re only there for 2-4 weeks to build a school or toilet or whatever. A month is not enough time to make an impact at all, even 9 months wasn’t enough for me but it’s not like I wanted to stay. So before you part with money to go volunteering, think about what you want to achieve and why, and if this will actually help you achieve anything.


Weekly Report 18/05/2016: Still hanging there!

Job – Very stressful this week, barely have enough time to make dinner these days. Making the most of whatever free time I have available! Yesterday I moved into my new flat, and one of the other graphic design interns is my flatmate. Today I made dinner for the next 2 days, oh and next Thursday is a day off so I’ll send time drawing.

Need to go to Munich this weekend to get new headphones as mine suddenly stopped working on one ear OTL Also, need to get my PINstry from my mum (hopefully will get it tomorrow) as I don’t even know if I’ve been paid yet, so I need to do that before I buy anything. ; u ;

WordPress – Been way too busy worrying about WordPress unfortunately…. I will keep this header in the to-do list until I get round to making it.

To do:

  • make a new header

Infitia – Getting ready to buy a new album by Jazztronik, potentially a song on there that would be perfect for a lighthearted story to introduce the characters and their personalities. Waiting for response from my email, but need to be careful due to the atmosphere of Infitia being completely opposite to the song. In the meantime, I did a few drawings but due to lack of time, not really much. Completed one of four biographies; could have done more but I guess I just have no time.

To do:

  • Finish biographies and some sketches/ideas for all 4 main characters
  • Buy album, think of story to go alongside it
  • Finalise the story for the first chapter

Completed from last week:

  • Charles’ biography and some preliminary sketches

Dream About Stars – I made a quick post about Mental Health Awareness Week but nothing else beyond that. Still need to find time to continue strategies and ways to expand my audience, but first I need content!

To do:

  • New Facebook header
  • Research June happenings and make a drawing for the overview
  • Magazine layouts for Mandy for SPA
  • If time, something about Mars in opposition

Website – Still not enough time to think about it

Misc. Art – Started accepting some requests but I still have the art trade to work on and some other drawing designs I’ve mentioned. It is absolutely not easy with a full time job

To do:

  • Art trade with Neko