On Finding New Creative Ventures


Here’s the thing.

As much as I love hand lettering and journaling as hobbies, both of them have become sources of income for me. Yes, it’s something I make money out of. And over the past five years, this is something I’m still learning to accept. I guess there comes a price with knowing that you’re exceptionally good at something—I, for one, know this.

I’ll admit it has become relatively easy for me to letter a word on the fly, or decorate a journal page without any prior research. That’s what my job has taught me.

And because of that, I lost two hobbies. I’m not sad about it. But of course, as someone who’s been creative since my younger years, I need new ways to refuel my creative energy.

My creative interests are numerous: music, film, print design, books, and art in general. I am nowhere near where I want to be in terms of painting (I spent last summer working on it during my residency program in Berlin), but it’s fine. It’s still a far-fetched goal. I used to play the guitar, but it’s quite a seasonal hobby. Film and books are easy; I like watching films and reading books. Print design is something I’ve been getting into lately, as I took a Risograph workshop last February.

One of the things on my radar that I finally tried this year is pottery—specifically, using the wheel. I’ve seen this a few times online, having watched videos about it, but it was during my trip to SG for Singapore Art Week that I really got into it. We went to a pottery studio in Arab Street and I took the wheel for a spin (pun intended).

A month later, I found myself in Tahanan Pottery Studio working on my first ceramic mug.

What is it about pottery that makes it such a rewarding experience?

Here’s the thing. When I first started, I was pretty much overwhelmed. It took half a day for me to get into it, and more so, get used to the process.

Centering the clay is the first part (and the hardest, imo.) You have to pull the clay up and down, and my stiff hands could not handle it well. Combine that with a fast wheel and you feel like you’re spinning in circles—literally and figuratively. It reflects so much of life in general: center yourself and focus on what matters.

Eventually, it gets easier.

Before I knew it, I was slowing down the wheel, opening up the clay, and lifting to form a cup. I finish one, then three, then five. Three weeks later I’ve managed to make bowls, mugs, and plates. Who would have thought?

It’s amazing what we learn in places we never imagined we could be while doing things we thought would always be difficult. Let’s just say life is pretty spectacular this way: seeing things beneath the surface has been making me more aware of my own creative journey—not just tied to my job, but everything else around it.

Unfinished bowls around Abbey Sy's pottery wheel at Tahanan Pottery Studio


Written by Abbey Sy
Abbey Sy is an artist and author with a penchant for art and travel. If she’s not busy making things, she loves dabbling in creative writing and journaling. Find her online at abbey-sy.com and @abbeysy.

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