Category Archives: Project Insight

Watch ‘Jacob’, A Documentary on Pregnancy and Infant Loss

pregnancy and infant loss documentary

Over the past eight months, I have watched Shawn pour his heart and soul into the creation of his short documentary on pregnancy and infant loss.

Originally, he set out to share a short video chronicling his mother’s experience with miscarriage and stillbirth and how it affected his family, but along the journey to creating it, doors opened and he was introduced to countless stories and perspectives he couldn’t ignore.

What he intended to be a short personal three minute film on his mother, ended in a piece that explores the culture that surrounds pregnancy and infant loss. He spoke with everyone from complete strangers who shared their heartbreaking tales, to industry professionals and politicians.

This blog mostly chronicles fun-loving and lighthearted topics, but not only do I think this topic is an important one to shed light on, but Shawn deserves the support.

I watched him single-handedly film and edit the entire piece completely unfunded. At times, exploring such a personal and tough topic was hard, but he became fueled by the emotional stories of strangers and family, and felt a duty to do them justice and dignify them. You can read more about his personal and creative process of creating ‘Jacob’ here.

I hope you can all find 15 minutes to watch, share, and let him know what you think! And if you feel inclined, please vote for his video on Awardeo.

xo, Sabrina

Our Deepest Fear

A few nights ago, Shawn and I took off to a local school to shoot some fun lifestyle photos for this post when a storm rolled in.

We took refuge in the car, and that’s when inspiration struck. Shawn ended up creating this video, inspired by the following quote:

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

— Marianne Williamson

Our Deepest Fear from Shawn Lovering on Vimeo.

Sometimes it’s easier to shrink away than to shine; To put yourself down before others can; To stop yourself from doing what you want out of fear of what others might think. Try-hard, weirdo, suck-up, show-off. What good is that language? What good is it to play small?

Liberate yourself from fear, and — just maybe — you’ll inspire others to do the same.

x, S

Behind the Scenes Process of a Portrait Illustration

Behind the Scenes Process of a Portrait Illustration

I often get asked how I create my illustrations, so today I’m tearing down that wall of mystery and walking you through my file, layers and process of a recent illustration of mine.

A lot of people warn against sharing these kinds of “illustration secrets”, but helping others grow creatively is what this blog is all about, and I tend to believe that if you’re just going to copy someone else, you won’t go very far. Those you copy from will always be better than you, so there’s no sense in trying to rip any one illustrator off. It’s far better to lightly borrow from many illustrators, designers, etc. when starting out, with the goal of developing your own style.

If you need help with how to find your style and what to do with inspiration, read this, it just might be what you need to hear!

So without further ado, here’s a peek into a recent illustration I did for Sportsnet, a portrait of Bob Cole. Right off the bat, I should explain a few things.

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What I’ve Learned from Hosting a Collaborative Public Art Project (#365DaysOfType)

Image above: 66 by Stephen Chong, 121 by Kelsea Dill, 268 by Joshua Lee, 176 by Ben Buysee, 141 by B. Finlay Millwork, 184 by Carol Liu, 5 by Michael Brewer, 164 by Jesse Bromm, 115 by Miko Maciaszek, 50 by MAAN Design, 33 by Dave Murray, 67 by Kristen Cesiro, 346 by Michael Janzen.

Organizing a free-for-all open-source art project is and was a huge undertaking. If I’m being honest, 2014’s 365 Days of Type was harder even though others made the numbers every day than when I made every single number every day in 2013. Overall, this project was more about managing expectations, staying organized and chasing people than I had initially anticipated. It was fun at times, it was frustrating at times and I learned a lot. Here are some of the life and business lessons gleaned from it.

If you want something done, ask the busiest person you know (or do it yourself)

I was pleasantly surprised by some participants who rose to the occasion and sent their pieces days or weeks in advance with all posting caption information. And others, though I sent reminders a week in advance, a day in advance, and the day of, just never got back to me. It was the people who were most busy with the most on the go who submitted in advance because their time is simply more valuable. If you don’t have a lot of time to give, every minute is so precious that you use your time more efficiently. I found many of these people submitted early just to get it out of the way so they could free up their time later when something more pressing could potentially arise as it always does.

If you can’t meet a deadline, warn the darn person

Ooooh man, this one might make the top of my list. As a freelance illustrator and designer, part of my job is making sure my work is done by the time the client asked it to be, but if I’m ever unable to meet it, I believe in telling the client as soon as you know you can’t. There’s nothing worse than hearing from someone the day of that they can’t make it, mostly after prompting them for an update. In every case when someone didn’t submit, I wish they had just told me in advance so I could come up with a back-up plan accordingly. It’s rude and inconsiderate to not say anything at all hoping they don’t notice. Warning: They will notice–and they will remember. I don’t recall every person who apologized that they couldn’t do it, but I do remember the people who simply said nothing at all and didn’t submit.

Art is so much more subjective than I ever thought (& people like stories)

Over the year, I definitely had my personal favourites (some of which are in the header image). And I was surprised and intrigued to see which numbers the general public liked or didn’t interact with. Sometimes it was the super rough, hand-drawn stuff that floated people’s boats, sometimes the most colourful and digital. There was never a rhyme or reason or pattern I discerned as to what was “successful” other than people tended to like when there was a story or context in the caption. People like concepts and stories but from a visual standpoint, what people like is so random and subjective.

The world is smaller than ever (and your reach, potentially huge)

I received submissions from Puerto Rico, Israel, Korea, Brazil, Venezuela, Africa, the UK, Istanbul, Italy and more. I’ve also received recognition for it from Design TAXI, Creative Bloq (Computer Arts Magazine), Under Consideration, Allan Peters Blog, BOOOOOOOM, Reddit, Inky Goodness & more. More than anything, this project has shown me the power of the internet. You really can reach an audience that spans the globe and this reach is exponential. The power of social media for small or starting businesses is massive. To be honest, I didn’t even try or take advantage of it as much as I could have and that is a huge lessons and my biggest takeaway.

See all submissions from 2014 on my personal Instagram or WeAreNotSpecial.ca. More on the project at SabrinaSmelko.com