Recap: TFESS Graphic Design Workshop 

One of the things I decide to do at the beginning of the year was to increase my skillset. You know how you set goals and actively work towards them? Mine was skills. 2016 was my year of acquiring digital skills and increasing my capacity. Since February, starting with Social Media Week, I’ve been attending all the necessary conferences, workshops, and trainings. Towards the middle of the year, it all finally came into place. Even though I still hadn’t figured out what exact path I wanted to take, all I knew was, it had to be related to writing/content. So, I took it from there. Interestingly, content takes various forms these days including audio, graphics, text, and videos. I figured if I learned all of that, it won’t be a shabby year.

Enter TFESS Graphic Design Workshop.

Of course, I had been looking out for a well-rounded training. Something worth an investment. Something that would sustain my interest for the entire duration given my attention span and non-existent background in Design. So, at the last minute – I didn’t give myself time to overthink it plus the deadline was close – I registered.

TFESS Graphic Design Workshop

Three things stood out for me.

  • The location was super convenient.

It was such a great experience returning to my former hood. I hadn’t been to Surulere in months. It is completely out of my radar but it was great to return there. Of course, the venue was easy to find as I had been there two years ago. Although I wasn’t exactly pleased with the week long duration, the convenience made it less stressful.

TFESS Graphics Design Workshop

  • The content of the workshop.

As I mentioned earlier, I had attended several trainings previously so I was very particular about the content/curriculum of the program. I didn’t just want theory – I mean I could have stayed home and read blogs –  but the main crux of the matter.  Fortunately for me, I got what I wanted and even more. You see, each day was divided into sections. The morning section was pure theory. Everything you needed to know about Graphics Design without boring you with too many details. It was just right. The afternoon session, on the other hand, was purely practical. You learned something new in the morning and got to practice it almost immediately. I thought that was the selling point of the entire workshop. It was such that everybody had to work and present it to the entire class no matter how terrible you thought you were. I thought it was brilliant!

TFESS Graphic Design Workshop
Bryan…all the way from Port-Harcourt
  • THE GUYS!

It is a universally acknowledged fact that I bond faster and better with guys than girls. It is just what it is. Of course, I bond with girls but it just takes longer except well, there’s some sort of connection. But how could you establish that at the first meeting? Anyway, the guys at my session were incredibly helpful. We were just three clueless girls. Myself and two others with a zero to vague knowledge of the software. I didn’t even have anything but before I could say, Jack, I was passing my laptop to another complete stranger at the back of the class to work on just because one version didn’t work for the other. I was a bit dazed because everything seemed strange to me but then I was sitting between two guys. I had to catch up FAST! And I did. Before I knew it, I was winging it like like I knew what I was doing. Lol. I did actually to some extent.  Bottom line, the guys in my class were my heroes.

Worth noting.

Recap: TFESS Graphics Design
Victor Fatanmi of Fourth Canvas
  • The facilitators

We were taught by four guys who were super talented and believable. They knew their stuff and they were able to pass it down to us. You know it’s one thing for you to know something, it’s another thing entirely to teach people what you know. These guys made us appreciate the art and craft of design. Need I mention the all of the hacks, cheats and freebies? My content game has definitely stepped up!

  • The follow-up

As with every other training, we were made to open a Whatsapp group. The idea is to keep in touch and follow up. Asides from the constant notifications, it’s a great avenue to share your work which enables it to be properly critiqued.

Yes, I had a great time and I hope subsequent trainings will be just as awesome.

 

How To Make Time For Other Interests

So, that happened and in my usual fashion, I decided to address it with a post.

How do I manage my time?  Again, I would like to issue a disclaimer. I’m a freelancer so I’m pretty much in control of my time and I cannot speak for 9 – 5ers although you might be able to find one or two things that cut across. I’m going to spare you all of that cliche preamble on time management and get right into it.

  • It’s important to prioritize. 

Yes, it’s as vital as they say. We all have 24 hours a day and it’s up to us how we decide to use it. As a freelancer, different jobs have their individual demands. For instance, I have a job that requires me to write content daily. Unfailingly. I also have a weekly column that has to be updated. Then I have another one that is less demanding and more flexible. The trick is to prioritize them accordingly. This saves a lot of headaches and disappointments. Also, you can work more efficiently. When all of that is done, then you can dedicate the extra time to your other interests.

  • Identify your interests

I have Pinterest boards for all of my interests. The first time any subject piques my interest, I open a board and take time out to pin it accordingly. The pins usually include ideas and action plans. Whenever I decide to take up anyone, I just open the boards and the inspiration gushes out like a fountain.

  • Prioritize your interests

Depending on what you like, there are some activities that are more time-consuming than others. If you have a 9 – 5, it is obviously not advisable to take up a full- time hobby. You could pick something that doesn’t require efforts of any kind. That way it doesn’t become a job but stays a hobby and gives you satisfaction in the long run.

  • Pick one and break it down 

The first time I learned how to make homemade skincare products myself, I broke it down into phases and took it one at a time. I started with the basic whipped shea butter. Then went on to ACV toner, body scrubs and eventually deodorants. When I mastered those basic recipes, I started to upgrade them so I started all over again. This time, I upgraded my basic whipped shea butter to a proper body butter and went on to the next one. Of course, there were trials and errors in between. I tried to make them in smaller quantities initially to avoid waste and all that. Eventually, I got it right although I still have to tweak it to suit the weather. The point is, making products is obviously time – consuming and demanding as a result of the trials and errors involved but it did not feel like it. Not for a single moment. Also, I enjoyed it. There’s some sort of fulfillment that comes with making things yourself.

 

These steps have worked for me and I hope it does for you too.

August Faves

I haven’t shared my favorite things in so long. Usually, I wait until they are a substantial amount before writing them down. But now, I’m ready.

  • Books 

Janet Evanovich‘ Stephanie Plum Series

Stephanie_Plum_Series

I’ve been reading a bit too much crime fiction lately. Sometimes, they get real intense that you just need a witty line or more to contain the heat. I had read Janet Evanovich before now and she wasn’t half bad so I didn’t hesitate to pick her up once again. This time, I was in for a major surprise. The Stephanie Plum series are 22-full length novels and I stumbled on the 9th. First of all, can I just say it’s incredibly addictive? I’m currently on the 11th novel and I have no plan of stopping. They’re a tie between chic-lit and crime fiction and they serve me just the way I like them – humourous, witty and fast-paced.

Elmore Leonard

Elmore is also another crime writer I absolutely cannot get enough of. Just like Janet, he makes crime fiction totally appealing. I’m currently on my third novel.

 

  • Others

Podcasts

I jumped on podcasts by accident and I haven’t been able to stop. I’m currently bingeing on Elizabeth Gilbert‘s Magic Lessons but I follow a couple of interesting Nigerians on Soundcloud.  I’ve also been having ideas of a podcast. Question is, what would I talk about?

Listen to the first episode of Magic Lessons here;

 

Instagram stories

I’m currently phoneless at the moment but I’ve been enjoying the thrill and duration of Instagram stories from my tablet. I love how I do not have to worry about aesthetics or editing or curation. I also love the spontaneity as it allows me to share bits and pieces of my daily life. I’m forced to look outwards and find beauty in my environment rather than my facial expressions.

Protopage

As a content writer, one of my biggest challenges is aggregating my sources. For a while now, I’ve been jumping from one tool to another and so far, Protopage has been a staple. It is worth mentioning.

TheSkimm

I’m quite indifferent to a lot of things. Most subjects actually. From politics to economics and sports. TheSkimm has changed all of that. Every morning, I receive bit- sized news in my inbox. Everything that is going on in the world. More efficient than Twitter and CNN. No jokes! I mean that is the only way I’ve been able to follow the Olympics and US Elections. Also, it’s millennial – friendly.

Techcabal Daily Digest

Just like TheSkimm keeps me up to date on world issues, Techcabal daily digests keep me informed on the tech scene in Nigeria and Africa as a whole. For the longest time, I kept denying and withdrawing from anything that had to do with tech and its technicalities. My excuse? Too geeky. But now, Techcabal has fixed all that. I mean, if you’re working in an industry, the least you can do is to be informed else you’ll be left behind.

Quartz Africa Daily Digest

Similarly, Quartz Africa keeps me informed on the most important news on politics and economics. I love how concise and easily digestible their articles are. When I’m ready to move to the next level in my career, I’ll probably start from there.

  • These lovely photos of me at NITC 15. Check out the new website – nitcnigeria.com

 

  • Finally, my newsletter.

I’ve been sharing a lot of things with my subscribers. Those things I would rather not talk about but need to be addressed and it’s been fun. You can sign up here.

Pastors Are Human Just Like Us

I attended a new church today. Much to my mother’s chagrin. Somehow, she believed I was going to stick with her and go through the conventional route but I wanted out. After all, I’ve been in the same church for more than ten years. I was definitely due for a change.

Church was electrifying. I have a thing for churches that prioritize worship and I had a full dose in a 90 minutes service. When I was done, just outside my house, I bumped into my ex and exchanged pleasantries. Of course, I asked what church he attended and I was quick to chip in the church I was coming from. He made a snide comment at the Pastor that stirred in me.

Fast forward to a few hours later, after deliberating over it repeatedly, I shared my new experience with my mother. I wasn’t expecting her approval or anything, I just needed her to know. When I was done, I waited for the disapproving remarks to follow. It didn’t exactly come but her body language was everything I needed to know.

Where did we get the idea that ministers of God are supposed to perfect? Where did that come from? Just because they are being used vessels doesn’t mean they have automatically attained the height of perfection. In this part of the world, I know how we’ve placed religion on that high pedestal. Ideally, I shouldn’t be amazed but today it struck me how incredibly tough it is to be a minister of God.

Coming from a church whose General Overseer is revered, there’s a system that has been in place over the years. But entering into another ministry with a much younger pastor, frankly, I do not have expectations. I do not form the habit of idolizing my pastors because they’re humans just like me with a special grace. All, I want is to hear the word of God and maybe grow spiritually.

So, no I’m not going to my new church expecting the pastor to perform magic. I’m not expecting him to know it all rather admit his vulnerability and allow God use him.

Also, I wish my mother could stop worrying about me being wrongly indoctrinated because I’m grounded and I can tell right from wrong.

Book Review: The Big Picture – Douglas Kennedy

Year: 1997
Country: England
Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Review: The Big Picture - Douglas Kennedy

When I picked this book from the crime fiction section, It came across as one of those unassuming novels. The cover didn’t give anything away until I read the jacket and got quite interested. Somehow, it should be thrilling enough. That’s the only explanation for all of the discomfort brought about by the weight of the book.

Ben Bradford is your regular middle – class next door neighbor with a good life. Wall Street lawyer, gorgeous wife, brilliant children. 6 figure paycheck. Big house in an affluent neighborhood. Basically a designer life. What else could he ask for? Unfortunately, he was deeply unhappy and dissatisfied with himself and his good life. This eventually seeped into his marriage and career which he absolutely hated because he had to give up his childhood dream of professional photography. Along the line, his marriage ended and he committed murder by accident. This was the beginning of the rest of his life. Of course, every single thing changed.

The Big Picture addresses sensitive issues like marriage/divorce, identity, murder/crime, passion/dreams, responsibility, grief, and my personal favorite, photography. Each of these themes made lasting impressions on me and I’m going talk about a couple of them and how they resonated with me.

  • Marriage/Divorce

Can I just say that I have a new perspective on divorce because I think people are inherently selfish? Ben clearly knew his marriage was on the verge of collapse but every single time, he reached out to his wife to talk about it, she pushed him aside, even as far as giving him the silent treatment for months. Her mind was clearly made up. I absolutely hated that they didn’t even make an attempt to fix it. Counseling, Therapy. Whatever. They didn’t even try. Instead, Beth went ahead to have an affair with their neighbor. Although, I wouldn’t blame her because she had made it clear to Ben at the onset that she wasn’t interested in marriage. But he persuaded her until she gave in and it all came crashing down like a block of bricks. I feel like I understand the current alarming divorce rate. People are selfish, lazy and are not ready to put in the work!

  • Identity/Passion/Dreams

I hate that people underrate the importance of self-discovery. Finding yourself really saves a lot of future problems especially in career and marriage. Ben knew what he wanted but still wallowed in self-pity the whole time. It’s important to know what makes you tick to avoid falling for undue pressure. This probably took a lot of convincing but I’ve learned that in order to support your dreams and passions especially if it’s in the creative industry, you would have to make sacrifices. For instance, working in the corporate world to afford gadgets and gears. There were a lot of lessons to learn from Ben especially how he managed to make so much money from writing wills and being miserable while at it. Eventually, just as he was about to become senior partner, he gave it all up. He literally gave that life up for self-fulfilment. That took a lot of gut if you ask me.

  • Photography

This was easily my favorite reference. Ben got his first camera at an early age and decided to pursue photography. But because his father wasn’t pleased with his career choice and he didn’t get his big break fast enough, he had to give it up. When he became financially buoyant, he began collecting cameras as a guilty pleasure of sorts. The Big Picture was written in the 90’s before the era of DSLRs. So, there were darkrooms and films, negatives, chemicals. It was such a thrilling experience. Even before his big break in his second life, I loved how he took photographs with so much passion as well as some of his tips and tricks he used to achieve great portraits. He reignited the fire in me and reminded me again why I want to take up photography. I literally cannot wait. It also reiterated that hard work pays. Just keep at it. Your time would come.
It was an enjoyable and well-balanced debut novel. It took me on a roller-coaster of emotions and it did not drop me for once. I absolutely loved how it put some things into perspective. The storytelling was impeccable and the transition was seamless. It left me spellbound.

When I was done, I had to put up an instastory. Truly, the best books are usually unknown.

Rating: *****

5 Practical Tricks To Reading More Books

The other day, I attended an event and one of the attendees who also happens to follow me on Twitter asked how I manage to read 50 books+ a year. I mumbled some responses and promised her that I would sleep on it and write a post subsequently. But first, I needed her to understand that I am a freelancer and I don’t have a 9 – 5. My social life is also non-existent so it is relatively easier for me to read more books because I have all the time. When I eventually get a 9 -5, it would be a different ball game entirely.

If you’ve also been wondering how to squeeze in more books into your routine, these should help.

  1. Read ebooks.

This is obviously a no-brainer. I mean, ebooks are the condensed versions of paperbacks which make it even more convenient to read and carry about. Usually, all things being equal, I finish an ebook in 48 hours or less depending on the number of pages. Whereas, it might take me 72 hours+ to read the same number of pages on a paperback. It’s science. If you want to cover more books, stick to ebooks.

2. Be open to diverse genres, it keeps things exciting.

One of the things you can do to kill your reading morale is sticking to one genre for a long period. I get that some people like to dedicate their time to one genre at a time but it gets monotonous after a while and slows you down in the long run. Even if you want to read one genre, alternate it with other sub-genres. Again, it keeps things exciting and you have something to look forward to.

3. Choose a convenient reader.

There’s nothing more annoying than having to make adjustments every now and then. Whether it’s a Kindle or a Tablet, make sure it’s convenient to use in terms of battery life and screen size. I have a 7″ tablet that I use solely for reading. It’s decent and gets me by. In fact, last year, I read 80% of my books on it until it crashed. So, earlier this year, I reverted to paperbacks until I got a new tablet.

4. Have paperbacks available.

I know what I said about ebooks. The thing is, whatever device you’re using, the battery will drain eventually. So, it’s safer to have an extra paperback by the side to keep the momentum going. This means you would be reading about two or more books at a time which is perfectly fine.

5. Set a reading goal and be intentional about it. 

Apart from the obvious bragging rights, it keeps you accountable. Every time, I log into my Goodreads page to enter a book, there’s almost always something or someone to spur me on. I’ve had a reading goal for about three years now and I’ve read more books in those years than in my entire life. That’s how serious it is. So, start from somewhere. Say 20 books a year. I started with 40 and I haven’t read anything less since then. Start small and just grow from there. You might surprise yourself. If you can’t stick to a reading goal, join a book club.