My passion for the creative arts began at an early age, but it seemed like such an abstract idea growing up. I didn’t know anybody who worked in the creative field. And coming from an immigrant family, there was a lot of pressure to pursue only fail-proof careers.
We lived in a low-income neighborhood in Los Angeles, where I shared a bedroom with my mom, dad, and sister until high school. We were like a pack of raccoons! But I do remember collecting decor magazines, which I’d flip through like the bible. I studied every single room and would come up with ways to make our cramped space more cozy and vibrant.
It started with simply moving furniture around our house to create a better flow. Then, I plucked snake plants from our yard. Even then, I knew plants were a great way to add some color and breathe life into to a space. I also draped an orange piece of fabric I found from a thrift store to add color to the living room. I guess those are some of my roots to interior styling.
In college, I decided to switch majors from chemistry to art after falling in love with photography and printmaking. I really love the process of making something from nothing. After college, I worked at a printmaking studio and graphic design consultancy.
It wasn’t until I started my blog, Old Brand New, in 2010 that I discovered what I was passionate about doing, which is to share my creative journey and inspire other people to create beautiful spaces. Starting my blog was definitely a life-changing moment. It has given me a voice. It’s more than just documenting my interests, but the lasting relationships I’ve built with the blogging and social communities.
I have so many artists, designers and creatives that I look up to. One of them is my homegirl, Justina Blakeney. We met through blogging. She’s a creative powerhouse. I love working with her and, together, we make a such great team.
It’s definitely important to align yourself with people who push, challenge and encourage you to be a better designer. It’s a lot like finding a heartmate. You want to grow together. I guess you can call them my creative heartmates! Some of my other favorite creatives to work with are Satsuki Shibuya, Victoria Vu of Paper & Type, Jessica Comingore, Jennifer Young, Kristine Arellano, Kim (Presshaus LA) and Han Le (Handrogyny). These talented ladies never fail to inspire me.
Styling or decorating is a form of art to me. I’ve always treated my home as a blank canvas. It’s where I get to dabble, play and make art. My passion to create is driven by my need to inspire and make meaningful connections with people. I want to inspire others to make the best of their homes, no matter how small or big. I believe that design and style is for everyone.
You can make your home beautiful without spending a lot. You just need to get creative. Simply paint the walls a different color, update light fixtures, add textures with rugs and pillows, or upcycle objects to make your space unique.
I’ve lived in many ugly apartments, but I’ve never let them bring me down. And just because you’re renting doesn’t mean you have to put off any makeovers until you find a forever home. I truly believe that a happy home is conducive to a healthy and successful life. I’ve definitely seen all aspects of my life flourish just from having a home with good vibes.
Visual storytelling is my jam. Before any project, I do a lot research to get inspiration. I’ll create moodboards. I’ll go to museums, libraries or book stores. I pay attention to all the colorful and textural details around me wherever I go, because they always inform my work. Even going to an antique shop can give me wild ideas.
To create an Instagram-worthy photo, I recommend using the phone’s auto exposure (AE) and auto focus (AF) lock, so you can play with depth of field and lighting. Also, enable the camera grid setting to help you frame photos and keep your horizontal and vertical lines straight.
Don’t forget to give your camera lens a good clean, so your photos will be nice and crisp. Processing is important, as well. Lately, I’ve only been using the native editing features and filters in Instagram to make the truly photo pop.