Visual Art

The Beauty, Magic and Mystery of APAK Studios

Along with writing in blogs I also like writing in journals. In maybe 2012 or beginning of 2013 I bought a journal at a bookstore that I fell in love with. I fell in love with it so much that I have a poster of the enlarged image that’s on the cover. The trouble is when I really appreciate the beauty of a journal, it’s very hard for me to start writing in it. It wasn’t until midway through last year that I started writing in it.

I am now ten pages away from finishing it.

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I will miss my intimate experience with this journal but it occurred to me that maybe I can find more journals like it.

On the back of the journal it says this:

Aaron and Ayumi Piland are the fantastical magical duo known as APAK. They are a childlike husband and wife team who create artwork together as a way of exploring the beauty, mystery, and magic of life as well as expressing their love for life and each other.

This journal is dedicated to those who follow their hearts and pursue their dreams. -A+A 🙂 🙂

And the very end I saw this!

You can find out more about APAK at

And I did!

In honor of my last few pages of this journal and my appreciation of the artwork and magical world created by Aaron and Ayumi I want to commemorate their work in a blog and express why I love it so much.

New limited edition print "Crystal Island" #apakstudioart

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The beauty of Aaron and Ayumi’s artwork is in its simplicity, color and innocence. The content is imaginative and fanciful with gentle animals and little childlike characters exploring their world with an eye full of curiosity and wonder. They surf, ride in boats, climb on jungle-gym-looking structures, fly on birds, balance on objects, have tea together, draw together, and do many other heartwarming activities.

New print for sale! "Fruit of Dreams" #apakstudioart

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The sentiment in these images is very refreshing. The characters seem to have a deep connection to nature and their environment as they gather food, ride on deer, hike through woods, bird watch and sleep under the stars. Many of Aaron and Ayumi’s artwork are even done on pieces of wood.

"Pieces of Dreams" opens April 17th in Australia @outregallery @apakstudio #apakstudioart

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There is something mythological about these images, something reminiscent of old folkloric stories of a world once inhabited by a people a long time ago who rowed canoes through the stars, before humans and their cars.

New print "Crystal Climbers". #apakstudioart

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The worlds they roam are serene and elegant with gradients of color blending into each other for the background and geometric shapes made from thin lines in the foreground. I’ve been attracted to that type of design quality for a couple years now in but jewelry, clothes and other mediums. Seeing it here now in this form opens my eyes to all the creative possibilities to make these simple shapes into a bridge between the abstract and the conceptual, suspending reality.

This design element adds a sense of mystery, as if they are symbols left from another time or a clue to the mysterious mathematical equations found in the structure of nature and the universe. They appear as  fractals revealing what little we know of the world’s natural magic.

The characters interact with each other but also with these geometric designs and the space around them. Their environments are mostly empty creating a vast, open mysterious feeling. The way that the characters interact with their environment makes the space almost appear like there’s someone invisible there, like the space itself is an imaginary friend. The space creates room for the imagination to dream in. Often my favorite images are the ones that look the most celestial with the characters dancing or suspending in darkness as if in outer space among the stars. They seem to be dancing and playing in a place where time doesn’t exist, connecting the ethereal, transcendental, and spiritual to the humbleness of a child at play.

Lost in Light @giantrobot #apakstudioart

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When I see this artwork I feel I can vicariously go there, to that beautiful world and that mental state of introspection, daydreaming, and reverie. It’s relaxed and happy with no worried or cares, only a feeling of peace and beauty setting my spirit flying free.

New work. #apakstudioart

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You can see more of their work on their website or on their Tumblr. Thank you for reading! 🙂

(((magical breath))) #apakstudioart

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Film and Television

A Light Roller Coaster of Laughs, Tears and Familiarity


Big Hero 6 made me laugh and cry throughout the whole 108 minutes. I was happily emotionally exhausted from the well crafted balance of emotional stimuli. It was full of heart and physical humor and was very sensitive to the theme of loss and grief.  A sub theme of innovation, having multiple perspectives and a wider view of something was very inspiring and very relevant to the era we are living in. It also feeds into the theme of breaking stereotypes and assumptions that we may have about others. There were many reasons why I personally liked this movie but I’ll tell you eight of what those reasons were.

One, it took place in San Francisco. It was fun to see how the creators used current trends and culture in San Francisco to estimate what it will be like in the future as well as enhance the themes and content of the story. Having the story take place in San Francisco gave background and dimension to the story that made it more believable and pleasurably familiar. For example, San Francisco is a mecca for startup technologies as well as Eurasian populations. Having the half Caucasian and half Japanese main character be propositioned to sell his invention at a tech conference in San Fransokyo was a mirror that hit close to home. Not to mention the art of the buildings, trolleys and hills made me nostalgic for my favorite city. I swear I saw my neighborhood.

Two, I enjoyed the characters. The characters had very strong, quirky personalities that seemed like caricatures of real people I’ve met. In a way the characters broke stereotypes. The one with glasses was not shy, the one who was black was not macho, the one who was a hippy dude was not poor and the one who was Asian was not rule abiding. It made nerds look cool and full of unique capabilities that were endowed by their passion and intellect. The characters were interesting and showed the variety of personalities and types of people an engineer can be. Additionally, I liked how the characters at the university lab all had nicknames which is a cultural occurrence in many tech office jobs in San Francisco.

Also, speaking of characters, the movie showed the humanness in villains. The movie breaks the expectations and assumptions of who is the “bad guy” and why they are the “bad guy.” The main character almost turns into a villain himself. It made the audience realize how no one is exactly what they seem and that everyone has a story to why they are motivated to behave the way they do. It showed that anyone can turn to the dark side, especially if they’ve been hurt.

Third, the physics of the characters (especially of Baymax) were very tactile and rich. The artists used real looking physical dynamics innovatively in an imaginary future. I enjoyed how things moved and worked, from the microbots to Baymax’s squishy inflated body. The animation being so great not only made the movie great visually but also gave it a source of humor. Baymax’s air leaks would have been greatly missed if it weren’t for that physical quirk of being an air filled robot. They also used the physical capabilities as a means to characterize the characters. Speeding discs for the daredevil, colorful blobs for the bubbly ray of sunshine and sharp lasers for Mr. Precise. I can imagine the characters in a video game and create great game mechanics.

Fourth, it was a superhero movie. Period.

Fifth, I liked that Baymax was a medical professional. It resonated to hear a robot state, “On a scale from one to ten please rate your pain.”

Sixth, apparently there were some details that might seem similar to Korra. (Futuristic city inspired by San Francisco, two Asian-ish brothers, bad guy with Kabuki mask…) It’s entertaining to see media catch a wave from the trends from other media.

Seven, the movie was a creative rendition of an obscure comic book.

Eighth, the plot had a lot of drama, suspense, believability and emotional engagement. If you read the book Story: Style, Structure, Substance and Principles of Screenwriting it will give you a million other reasons why. Shifts in values, character reversals, gaps between expectation and reality are all demonstrated perfectly. It made me want to reread the book and re-watch this movie just to find the technical examples of these terms effectively in action.

This movie made my day and it inspired me to create characters, stories and games when I got back home. Baymax is hilarious and the scene at the end of the credits was amazing. Please don’t miss it if you decide to watch this movie. Maybe if you are more critical about movies than I am you may not get as much out of this movie but if you are looking for a light, colorful, humorous action movie about a boy trying to find himself then give this movie a try.

And, while you’re at it…

“Look at it from another angle.”


Literary Art

Showing the Poetry of Life through the Eyes of Death


The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak is a beautiful and dark story about a young German girl’s courage and heart surviving the cold era of World War II. The story is bravely told through the eyes of death who has a particular voice, mood and perception that cloaks every word written. Zusak poetically uses the voice of death to describe scenes in metaphors, symbols and colors. In the introduction of the book Zusak writes, “The last time I saw her was red. The sky was like soup, boiling and stirring. In some places it was burnt. There were black crumbs, and pepper, streaked amongst the redness.” The color red holds so much that is unsaid. Zusak simply makes us feel and see the war and violence through our subconscious and limbic hearts. Zusak gives personification to the setting and objects in his stories as much as he does his characters. As an example, Zusak writes, “The globe was dressed in snow. Like it had pulled it on, the way you pull on a sweater.” Pulling on the white expresses the blank numbness that covers the town as well as making the globe relatable. We can feel it shivering. It is an emotionally and visually loaded sentence.

Zusak provides depth and importance in his words like they are the tip of an iceberg that pulls the reader into his evocative ocean. His writing is concise and simple but the strength of the imagined world is as strong as the undercurrent of the emotional world. When reading his stories, each line feels like it was fun for him to write because of his playful and bold style and imagination and it was fun for me as the reader to read. This is what makes Markus Zusak a writer for me to look up to. He made me realize what’s important for me in a story and helped me identify my personal style as a reader and a writer. The beauty of his words has made an impact on my personal aesthetic values that I hope to carry with me wherever my creative pursuits take me.

book thief


A Soothing and Dreamy Auditory Adventure

How many times have I put this album on repeat? I wish I could tell you to prove how much I want to live in this little atmospheric world. There something to be said about Tycho’s steady and determined yet playful notes. There are moments where a tone almost kinesthetically feels like a wave or a rush of wind, soaring you off into the curious unknown. Each layer of sound has a sweet personality that I can’t help but fall in love with. The exploratory and free spirit is contagious and is grounded with baselines that provide progression, depth and strength.

To me, this album is a catalyst. Listening to these waves of fresh air provides a self-sustaining and flowing creative energy that can help me through the worst and best times of intense focus. The little whispers and indiscernable gentle human sounds elicit a comforting surreal experience like a faded childhood memory. Nostalgia is one of my favorite themes in all types of medium and Tycho was able to capture that sweetness abstractly in their soft and colorful sound collage.  I would like to thank Tycho for showing me that this beautiful world is real and can exist inside us all.