Book Reviews coming soon!

Book love <3

Just an update that I’m going to be starting book reviews, discussions about literature and more about the wonderful world of fiction! (and also a bit of fun non-fiction!) So excited to share this..stay tuned and keep in touch via my instagram @opinion9! -Aaria

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The Freelance Life 2: Yes, yes…or no?

yeah yeah yeah - The freelance life via Opinion9

The Freelance Life 2: Yes, yes…or no?

When it comes to saying yes to new creative chances, and work opportunities- this is usually what happens in my mind. (top image.)

I think of all the possibilities and at that moment..there’s no room in my head for a ‘no’. But unless it’s really worth my time and effort, it’s always a no, thank you.

I’m talking about people asking you for showcasing work, skills, getting an art project order, any sort of commitment that’s required from you. There are great opportunities to be found while freelancing.

But one thing to always remember is – you’re the boss.

-If you really like something and understand that it will help you in showcasing your work and it maintains the standard you have so carefully built, then consider it.

-If you’re on slightly shaky ground, take a few days to think it over.

-If there’s something particularly bothering you about the product, the work details, or anything remotely- then say a firm no. If it bothers you now, it’s going to bother you later too- if you continue working on a project and don’t appreciate the criteria it’s based upon.

Since I started my website Surely Simple and this one, I get a quite a lot of sponsor emails, and ‘amazing’ projects. I filter out most of it- and focus on only one thing: what do I want from myself and my work?

As a creative person working on your own- before you say ‘yes’ to any seemingly good opportunity that comes your way, it’s always best to consider the following:

– Have I worked/interacted with this person in the past? (if you have, you can understand their work ethic. If not, then it’s best to do your research and get all the details you need from the person.)

-Is the project genuine? Will my work be recognized accordingly and credited properly?

-If the other party is being purposely elusive and not answering your questions- big NO alert. Working with someone who’s not honest is a major no-no in my book.

-Is the person/party friendly and accommodating?

-Do I like the project? Do I have freedom to do whatever I like with it?

Extra: if you have already worked with the person, and they ask you for a continued project- consider :

1- how the past project benefited you and your learning

2- if they are asking for you to work with them again, they must appreciate your work. At this point, you can have the reassurance that your work is rightfully credited and valued.

3- are their conditions for deadlines, submissions acceptable and flexible?

Always think carefully before taking on new projects. Sometimes it’s not always about the project, it’s also about the person who’s alloting them. Both go hand in hand.

Freelancing is a tricky business that way, because it involves networking and great work- one without the other makes it very difficult to progress. Say yes to really good opportunities which will reward you well in the long run. Reserve saying yes and say no more often.

It’s your time and your effort on the line, always remember. And when you get a good opportunity, you’ll realize being selective is always the wiser option.

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Mood of the Month / October

Hello! You may have seen my September moodboard. Today, I’ve got not one, but two moodboards filled some glittery and vibrant October inspiration. It’s basically stuff that’s inspiring me at the moment.

October is such a fun month- you can feel change in the air. A lot of people associate October with a familiar comfort, even to some predictable boredom. I don’t.

October for me has always been bright, and not just about oranges, reds, leaves and pumpkins and other fall stuff. It’s so much more than just that- even though all that is lovely too. October has this unique feel to it- and here are my two moodboards that slightly capture October!

Hope you like it.

Mood of the month / October – Moodboard 1MOODBOARD oct 1

1- this breezy print makes me think of seaside trips, fading leaves and spring all at the same time.

2-awww to this.

3-this disco ball on the ice cream > cherry on top of cake/ice cream

4- these clean lines make me want to pick up the pen and doodle all over the page

5- this rad highlighter works in three ways- perfect for someone who likes variation without carrying too many highlighters/markers

6- sweet botanical paper clips. want.

7-oh yes to sans any font.

8-and this party is retro-cum-spring-summer-fall mixed into one.

Mood of the month / October – Moodboard 2

oct 2 moodboard

1- this illustration of the trends this year is a good thing to eyeball. (pun alert)

2- brush stroke lettering all the way. add to an image = oh yeah.

3- let’s all us girls wear sneakers with patterned skirts

4- i love, love these cookies embossed with doilies, lace and other pretty cloth patterns

5- oh my goodness, this lovely flower arrangement screams sophisticated fall season for me. The maroon red and blush pink elements with just a sheer pop of green = love it

6- these orange peonies remind me of pumpkins. Lol..not to say they aren’t beautiful, they are 🙂

7- yes yes to these quirky hairclips.

8- a sea of lavender mixed with colourful hues is not really about fall, but more about what I feel about the vibrance of fall.

9-and finally, let’s all make stuff and think deeply about things that actually matter to us. filter out what’s unnecessary.

And we’re done! Cheers to a great colourful and amazing October! -Aaria

(images compiled and October lettering done by me)

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The Freelance Life 1 : Looking beyond

The Freelance Life 1 via

Hello everyone. I’m starting a new series called the freelance life, purely because of the fact that I’m freelancing now, and have been for more than a year and a half. I thought this would be a good way to note down thoughts, advice and general discussion about freelancing. All this applies to any field- with one common factor: you’re working on your own, for yourself and you’re making all the rules as you go along. That’s what a freelancer does, isn’t it? So here’s the first essay of the series. Hope you like it and hope it makes you ponder about things.

The Freelance Life 1 : Looking beyond ( the ordinary)

When you’ve made that decision to work for yourself- first thing, congrats! It’s a brave decision and  one that not many people are strong enough to make. Now let’s get down to the nitty gritties of this whole wonderful yet slightly daunting situation. What happens is- you may have a thought of what you’re going to do. You may not. A lot of people say you should never consider freelancing if you don’t have a proposed plan in mind. I agree and disagree. It’s great to have everything planned out- but what usually happens is- nothing usually goes according to plan. And why should it? You’re moving off the track, you’re creating your own road to walk on.

When I started, I just knew one thing- I wanted to use my art and writing skills to forge a career for myself. I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do- at all. I’m not kidding, I had no idea about me even writing a blog, I didn’t really read any blogs at all. I liked social media like Instagram and Pinterest, but I never really considered the power of it. I basically did not know anything that I do now about freelancing and website design- things I’ve learnt through trial and error, confusion and lots of research.

But that’s all the technical part. That part is the easy bit. You want to present yourself and your work- and yeah, okay, you’ll get there with endless Google searches and seeing what’s happening around- on the world, on the internet. But. The main thing is- what do you want to do?

I liked art and photography and writing. I knew that. I wanted to go in that line of work and enjoy the process. The only problem was- there was no process. I had to create one for myself- and that’s the struggle everyone who starts on their own has to go through. Making their own opportunities.

Nowadays, a lot of people decide: They want to sell their products. They want to start and maintain a blog about beauty / lifestyle / cooking / diy etc. I write this blog and another blog called Surely Simple, where I basically post art, diy, food, travel and basically anything and everything that falls in the broad category of a lifestyle blog. Mine is way more art oriented though, because that’s what I do best. However, I didn’t come to this decision instantly. It happened along the rocky path of uncertainty, lol. At first, when I got the website, I didn’t even touch it for months. I was too pressurized to actually create something, and I spent wayy too long just doubting myself and my skills. Then in March, somehow I made the decision to just start. I learnt more about photography, the technical details of post planning, html and creating a website. I did it all by myself, and still do everything on my own, because frankly that’s just how I roll. And then when I got a bit more confident, I started talking to other creatives and appreciating their skills.

It’s easy to feel isolated as a creative person- but never fall into that trap. We are social beings, and even though the internet feels like open, solo terrain, don’t ever become narrow minded and think that you’re the only one who creates work. There are millions of people out there, working on their creative pursuits, and I really admire them and feel motivated by the way they work. That’s actually one of the reasons why I started the Opinion9 Inspiration series, because people make some beautiful work out there and I appreciate how everyone has their own distinctive style and process. It makes me want to improve, makes me want to learn more.

Looking beyond is so important because when you’re starting out- you probably do not have an exact predefined plan. And you shouldn’t either. Having a rigid plan before actually getting some work experience limits you.

What you should know before planning a freelance career:

– your strengths in your work ( evaluate what you’re currently good at)

– your likes and dislikes (do you like something so much that you can work on it without getting bored? ..)

– be prepared for learning and re learning ( there are skills you need to acquire for your work- what might they be? For me, my skills to acquire list include: more advanced photoshop, technical practice and know-how of photography, learning code for website design, sharpening skills when it comes to scanning and processing my artwork, practicing writing skills frequently so they don’t get rusty etc)

What’s the most important thing- be prepared for uncertainty. Be prepared for days when you don’t have any idea of what you’re doing and why you started. Be ready to try new things if things you planned aren’t going as well as expected. And the most crucial thing- believe in yourself and keep your eyes and mind open for possibilities, ideas, thoughts and learning.

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Discussing Design with Zoe

Discussing Design with Zoe- an art interview with ZRA Designs about her art, via

Today on the Inspiration series, let’s welcome Zoe from ZRA Designs!

She’s a bright and aspiring graphic designer, who combines her love for creativity and design in her work. I like the bold colours, and vitality in each piece- whether it’s a logo, a pattern etc. I also appreciate how open she is to learning new things in her chosen field- being open to absorb knowledge is so important for a designer to progress!

She answered some questions about her creative process and how she operates her biz while juggling university at the same time! It’s quite a good read – especially if you’re starting out in your artistic endeavour, or you’re struggling with what you have on your plate, as a designer. Zoe might just make you rethink your process.

Read on to hear what she has to say!

Discussing Design with Zoe- an art interview with ZRA Designs about her art, via
Please tell us a little bit about yourself.

My name is Zoe. I am from Melbourne, Australia and I am 18 years old, turning 19 very soon. I have a love and passion for all things design and art. I work part-time as a graphic designer, designing logos and stationary for people as part of my ZRA Designs business; I also do a lot of ‘home projects’ and small DIY jobs for myself. I am currently at Monash University studying interior architecture and learning so many amazing new skills with a great group of people.

Discussing Design with Zoe- an art interview with ZRA Designs about her art, via www.opinion9.comHow did you get started in graphic design?

In year 11 and 12, I studied media and visual communication and design. I completed my certificate 3 in media and was eager to learn more. I have always had a thirst for knowledge and a love of learning, by completing the media course and watching endless tutorials on how to improve my digital skills I discovered how much I loved graphic design, however, ever since I was young I have had a love for interior design and architecture, which is why I am studying at Monash in order to pursue both of my dreams.

Discussing Design with Zoe- an art interview with ZRA Designs about her art, via

Could you give us a glimpse in a typical day in your life?

On a regular day I wake up in the morning and start on some graphic design work for a client or for myself, then I catch the train to uni, I then spend about 3 hours there for a design studio class, I then make my way home and continue working on my interior architecture tasks and once those are finished I continue on with my graphic design jobs. I often will have dinner with family or friends chatting, catching up and spending time with them, and then head to bed and get ready for another day.

Where do you see yourself in a few years?

In a few years, I would love to be working as an interior architect at an architecture or interior design firm; whilst also running my own graphic design company.

Discussing Design with Zoe- an art interview with ZRA Designs about her art, via

What motivates and inspires you the most?

The things that motivate me the most are definitely the people around me. My sisters, parents the rest of my extended family and close friends are all such important parts of my life. They constantly help to motivate me and keep my spirits up. The things that inspire me the most are great design and my friends from university, they constantly give me ideas – whether we are collaborating or working individually and they also recommend other artists and designers I should look up.

Discussing Design with Zoe- an art interview with ZRA Designs about her art, via

How long has making and designing been your hobby? How did you think you could convert your hobby into a business?

I’d say probably from the age of about 14 I began photography classes and design classes, and this fostered a love of art. Also, at this age I started going online and creating floor plans of different ‘dream houses’ I would like to live in. I used an online program, which enabled me to see my house in 2D plan form as well as 3D. At the end of my year 12 year, I decided that I would convert my hobby into a business. I created a Facebook, Instagram and website in order to spread the word amongst my friends, with the support of those around me, I have been able to make my dream a possibility.

Discussing Design with Zoe- an art interview with ZRA Designs about her art, via

What are your favourite food, colour and flower?

My favourite food is pasta, my favourite colour is turquoise and my favourite flower is a lily.

Discussing Design with Zoe- an art interview with ZRA Designs about her art, via

Discussing Design with Zoe- an art interview with ZRA Designs about her art, via

Some favourite themes and art topics inspiring you at the moment?

Some themes and topics inspiring me at the moment would have to be technology and the idea behind the ‘virtual world’ and the way in which so many people are engrossed constantly by their phones. Another one is the idea of transition spaces and thresholds (referred to as heterotopia), which I find very intriguing.

Discussing Design with Zoe- an art interview with ZRA Designs about her art, via

How do you balance your creative business along with regular life?

Balancing my creative business along with regular life can be very difficult at times, especially because my university workload is quite heavy, but I manage it because I’m doing what I love. I try to make sure I talk and catch up with my friends and family and organize to do things with them when I can, even if it’s something small like going for a walk or to the local coffee shop. I find that because my family and friends help to motivate and inspire me if I didn’t have the work life balance my work wouldn’t be as successful.

Discussing Design with Zoe- an art interview with ZRA Designs about her art, via


What are some brand values that you convey to every customer?

Some brand values include ZRA Designs being unique, original and innovative, but also reliable and secure. In graphic design, you are essentially being hired to create a visual identity for someone else’s company and it is very important that as a designer I become someone the client can trust to do a good job and to listen to their feedback.Discussing Design with Zoe- an art interview with ZRA Designs about her art, via

What would an ideal day be like for you?

An ideal day would be a nice sleep-in the morning and then getting up and going for a walk or run, then experimenting with some new graphics on my computer, going to uni, seeing my friends, then to finish off the day I’d have dinner with my family and read a book before going to bed.


How would you describe your design style?

I would describe it as innovative and contemporary.


Any advice for aspiring designers out there?

My biggest advice is just keep working hard, you will get there eventually it’s a tough industry but if you love it you will never stop learning, you will discover so many new skills and amazing people (artists, designers and friends) who will help keep you inspired and motivated.

Discussing Design with Zoe- an art interview with ZRA Designs about her art, via

Who are some of your biggest inspirations in the field of design?

I am inspired by so many different types of artists. My ultimate favourite artist is Jack Vanzet, his work is incredible and he works with a lot of musicians which I love. Another inspiration for me is James Turrell, who works with colour, light and space. Also, another inspiration to me is Sarah McCloskey who draws and paints portraits – but with her own unique twist.

Discussing Design with Zoe- an art interview with ZRA Designs about her art, via

Discussing Design with Zoe- an art interview with ZRA Designs about her art, via

Does the city you live in inspire your work in any way?

Yes of course, Melbourne has been named the most liveable city in the world for the fifth year running and I am so grateful to live in such an amazing place. There’s beauty everywhere and therefore always something to take a photo of, a sunset, the ocean, a lovely park etc. Nature and the environment around me inspire my work. I couldn’t ask for a better place to be based.

Discussing Design with Zoe- an art interview with ZRA Designs about her art, via

Thanks, Zoe, for giving us a glimpse into your creative process! Wishing you all the best ahead! -Aaria

Find Zoe and her work on her website, instagram and facebook!

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