Reflections of 2012

It’s that time again to write a post reflecting on this past year. (You can see my posts from the previous two years here: 2010 & 2011.) So without further ado…

2012 in review:

    • This year I lived in: Granada, Spain & Munich, Germany.
    • It was the first time I’ve lived in non-English speaking countries (life goal checked off the list!).
    • I also traveled to: London, Madrid, Malaga, Lisbon, Budapest, Prague, Vienna, Paris, Annecy, Geneva, Toronto, and Nova Scotia. That’s 10 countries – whew!
    • I worked on 2 movies this year: JUSTIN AND THE KNIGHTS OF VALOUR, and IRON MAN 3.
    • My artwork was displayed in 5 group art shows in Spain, the UK and the USA.
    • My plush artwork was published in the book “Plush Toys!” available from Monsa.
    • I rescued two stray kittens in Spain, and they were both placed in new homes. 🙂
    • Body Modifications: pierced nose. ^_____^
    • December marked the first time that my parents, brother and I have been together in 3 years!

The biggest event in my life this year was living in Spain for 10 months.  Not only was it fantastic to live in hot sunny weather with delicious wine and fresh olives, but living there was an amazing experience. I lived in a country that is experiencing a financial crisis; where 26% of the population is unemployed (compared to the 7.4-7.7% unemployment rate that Canada & the USA are experiencing). That means that 1 in 4 people are unemployed(!), but you wouldn’t know that the people are suffering from it — the Spaniards I met were warm, friendly and happy. I grew up on a continent which embraces consumerism as if it was practically a religion. I have lived in Canada and the USA, and most people I knew were never satisfied with what they had — always striving to consume or gain more — desperate to find their happiness by buying it, or at least convincing themselves that they could (I was one of those people). Living in Spain allowed me to see that people don’t need to live with very much in order to be happy. That lifestyle had an impact on me, and it was the first time in years that I felt content and happy by simply… living. I didn’t need more or something else, or something ‘better’ to be happy about getting up everyday.  I also didn’t feel the high level of stress that I’ve felt everywhere else I’ve lived. I learned for the first time how to relax and enjoy life. In fact, I think this is the first time I’ve ever experienced that; the enjoyment of living.  The Spanish (and other nationalities) of people I met were so warm and friendly, and some of them helped me out immensely when I needed it most. I will always be indebted to them. It’s the first place I’ve lived where I’ve really felt a strong connection to the people and the land, and if I have a chance I would like to return there someday.

This year felt it was the first time I could actually fly free from the bonds of my past. This year I felt free and happy.  I hope I can carry the spirit I felt in Spain with me wherever I go. I know now that whenever I am feeling displaced or lost, I will imagine myself under the hot Spanish sun, and remember the time when everything felt right.

In 2013 I will continue working in Germany. Who knows where else life will take me, but I’m up for the adventure! 🙂

Goodbye Granada

This year was very special for me because I spent 8 months working in the south of Spain in a small city called Granada. I moved there because of Antonio Banderas. Well, kind of. I actually worked as an Animator on a film he is producing called ‘Justin And The Knights Of Valour’ due out next summer (you can see a preview of the movie here). My coworkers were from Spain, France, Italy and even Denmark. I was the only native-English speaker on the crew, but I never felt left out. People were so warm, friendly and accepting of me, so I felt like I always had a place in my new adopted country (where I couldn’t understand the language).  I will never forget the kindness and generosity that was shown towards me, especially when I needed it most.

Granada itself is a wonderful little city. It is enriched in history that varies from Moorish (the Alhambra and the ‘Albaycin’ neighbourhood) to Spanish. Walking in the Albaycin is like going back in time as you can still see Arabic shaped doorways and mosaic patterned tiles on the walls. Flamenco originated in this area, so it is a very special place. And for those who don’t know, ‘Granada’ means ‘Pomegranate’ in Spanish, which is considered a sacred fruit in many cultures. (You can see more pics of Granada in my previous post here.)

I have a lot of memories that I take with me from my time there. Some memories include: swimming in the Mediterranean Sea for the first time, experiencing a sorching summer with a daily average of 40C (104F), celebrating Spain’s Euro Cup championship, partying until the sun comes up (and sometimes even later), and rescuing ‘Pumpkin’ a tiny street kitten (who was adopted by a lovely Spanish couple).

When you live in a different country, you tend to adapt to your surroundings.  So, I adopted a Spanish way of life… I slowed down. I learned to relax. I learned to take my time. I learned how to be happy with having very little. I pushed my personal boundaries, I made mistakes, and I learned a lot about myself. This was the first time in my life where I can actually say that I felt truly relaxed, and truly happy with who I am.  I made lots of new friends that made my time here unforgettable, and I learned how to love again.  Granada was a very meaningful experience for me, and one that will be in my heart forever.

Urban Vinyl: GOODBYE 4″ Mini Munny Custom

Today I am offering GOODBYE, my 4 inch KidRobot Mini Munny custom for sale in my shop at emilybee.bigcartel.com! Goodbye was originally made for my two-person exhibit “Fantastic Heroes” at The Trace Gallery in December 2011. He was made with his mate ‘Hello’ (who has already sold, but you can see them both here).

We casually say Hello + Goodbye to each other everyday. But what happens when we say it to someone we love? What if we never see them again? I thought about the anguish of that situation, and wanted to express the concept with two separate pieces. Goodbye has been painted in blues and purples to further enhance the sadness that he represents.

And I’m young but it’s hard to believe
That someday I will never see you again

And you might not believe this
But you’ve changed me so much
~ ‘Hello’ by Tegan + Sara

I moved to Spain!

I haven´t updated my blog in a while because I´ve been pretty busy — I moved to Spain!  I’m living in the Andalusian city of Granada and working on an animated movie.  I have completely fallen in love with this city and its relaxed lifestyle. Granada is unique because it´s a mixture of Spanish and Moorish influences (seen in the architecture of the Albaycín district –which is almost like a village in itself– and the Alhambra palace that overlooks the city). So far everyone I’ve met is really warm + friendly (and they´re patient with my non-existent Spanish — pero yo hablo un poco Españiol cada dia!).  Unlike other cities in Spain, tapas is FREE in Granada when you order a drink (about 2€). Tapas can be anything from small h’ordeuvres to large meal-sized portions of fish, meat, cheese, vegetables, etc, so you can be well fed for quite cheap! My favourite Spanish drink is ´Tinto de Verano´, which is a mixture of red wine + carbonated lemonade (sounds strange but it´s really good + refreshing).  As for the food, they sure love their meat! Meat is in just about everything you order — even in salad!  Oh.. and don´t even think about having dinner before 9pm.. it´s unheard of! I love the relaxed lifestyle here, the friendly people, and the weather is starting to warm up.  Sometimes I feel a little out of place (with the language barrier), but I really enjoy waking up in a city that I want to discover.  I thank my blessings everyday. 🙂

 

Reflections of 2011

I thought it would be fun to make a list reflecting on all the major things I did in my life this year, as I made a similar post last year.

2011 in review:

  • I lived in: Vancouver, London England (which has been a lifelong goal) + Nova Scotia.
  • I traveled to: Amsterdam, Paris, Zürich, Rome, Vatican City, Venice, Bassano Del Grappa, Salzburg, Munich, Berlin, Miami, Seattle, Toronto and Halifax (I’ve got over 5000 photos to prove it, lol).
  • I worked on 3 movies this year: THE THING, HOP, and JOHN CARTER.
  • I was in a 2-person art show at Trace Gallery in Zürich, Switzerland where I displayed over 40 original pieces.
  • I also displayed my artwork in 4 group shows (in the UK [at ‘Kid Robot’ which has always been one of my goals] + in Canada).
  • I had a short film in the Nokia N8 film competition held at the Vancouver Art Gallery.
  • I acquired 2 new tattoos: ‘Love’ + ‘Strength’ written on both wrists to remind me that I carry those aspects with me at all times… because at moments last year I believed I had neither (which is completely untrue!).
  • I tried these ‘exotic’ foods: chicken feet, escargot, and foie gras. (Not to mention tons of cheese and wine!)
  • I lived with (4) flatmates for the first time. They were super cool, but I still prefer my own space.
  • I traveled by myself for the first time, navigating through countries that I don’t speak the language.
  • I went out at night to bars + clubs by myself for the first time + enjoyed it.
  • I kept up my roller derby training while skating with the London Rollergirls Rec League + the Riptide Rollers.
  • I finally re-visited my Grandparents at the cemetery since they were buried there over 10 years ago.
  • I learned to open up, trust + love again, despite last year’s events that destroyed my heart. Things didn’t work out how I had hoped this year (AKA my cat is still the #1 guy in my life – haha), but I won’t try to force what shouldn’t be anymore.  I have the rest of my life to figure that out anyways.
  • I met A LOT of amazing new friends (colleagues + artists), met up with old friends who live in various European cities, and reconnected with a few more friends who flew over from ‘across the pond’ to visit Europe (and me!); all of whom have touched my heart immensely and will stay there forever. ❤

Overall I found my independence + inner strength this year. I did a lot of things on my own for the first time.  I had ups + downs and faced some pretty challenging situations. Some things were a bit scary at first, but once I got through the initial fear + centered myself… getting through it really empowered me!  Now I understand the saying that whatever doesn’t defeat you makes you stronger.  I learned how to let go.  I learned to be more self-sufficient.  I finally felt happy being in my own skin.  Next year I hope to create more art, do more traveling, meet more awesome people and experience more that this world has to offer! Last year I mentioned that I was ‘ready to fly’. This year I spread my wings. Next year I will soar. 🙂