Addiction to work, Delusions of Success

Lately I've been thinking many people chase a job, or a working situation, and think it will be the solution to their woes. The thought process I refer to is along the lines "If only I was the manager, I could tell everyone what to do, and I'd be happy".

While there definitely is some truth to having a fulfilling job, part of me thinks that there should be more focus in finding satisfaction in oneself, regardless of the work. It's almost silly to live a bitter life until becoming manager. And even then, when people reach their career goals, I think many realise it wasn't what they originally thought it would be.

I suspect there will never be a requiem for a dream, simply because it will destroy us before we have the opportunity to mourn it’s passing.
— Hubert Selby Jr., Requiem for a Dream

In Requiem for a Dream, we see four characters have their lives spiral out of control through addiction to drugs. However, a more deeper reading allows one to see that, even before drugs were involved, the mother was addicted to food and television. The camerawork, and editing in both eating, and taking drugs are similar sequences. The mother had traded one addiction for another. Drugs don't ruin lives. Addiction does.

I think one can be addicted to work. The western world seems to glorify work. To work hard is considered a positive trait. You must always be working if you want 'success'. Being addicted to work is sometimes seen in a positive light. It's kinda scary.

I think spending a year away from any need of work has been incredibly beneficial for me. By not having any pending financial pressures, I would've guessed life would be butterflies and happiness. But it definitely wasn't. In fact, the daily life free of work, was actually worse than the working life.

Without goals, the daily life without work was almost a mini purgatory. All you have to do is drown in entertainment, while everyday feeling like you're moving nowhere. When each day moves nowhere, what's the point of waking up in the morning? 

I conclude, that I must've previously hid issues by working and studying. Each takes a huge chunk of your day. It's so easy to distract yourself and envelop oneself in responsibilities and commitments. When all your time is taken up by things 'beyond your control', then you can't blame yourself. You either blame the world, or accept it as "the way things are"

Requiem for a Dream is more than tales of addiction and the horrors they engender. They are studies of the human condition and of individual and group delusions of grandeur, the obsessions such delusions create, the extremes to which human beings will go to fulfill such delusions, and the depths to which they plunge when harsh reality shatters fantasy.
— William2n9

By having no responsibilities the past year, I've learnt that it's not the skill/career that will make you satisfied. instead it's a daily lifestyle that will keep you satisfied.

The thing is, instead of dealing with problems, many will blame it on work, and watch the time pass by. The daily unsatisficatory work day will be considered normal. 

I feel like work/life balance is not about chasing happiness. it's about being satisfied with what you have, while simultaneously chasing goals that align with your values.

The delusion of success is that 'success' will bring you happiness. The problem with this is that, success usually portrayed as being something to be gained externally, rather than internally.


Your Major Should Not Define You


I feel that it is a common trend to pursue the career that your degree leads to.

I mean, it makes sense. You study a degree to get a job? Right?!

Well... Perhaps not.

It turns out, the purpose of education is a very deep unanswered hole. Are we preparing people to enter a capitalist workforce? Are we trying to make adults who can compete in a global economy? How about to create emotionally healthy adults who can engage in functional relationships?

Misconception: You make rational decisions based on the future value of objects, investments and experiences.
The Truth: Your decisions are tainted by the emotional investments you accumulate, and the more you invest in something the harder it becomes to abandon it.

These two quotes come from David McRaney, in his blog post on The Sunk Cost Fallacy.

Essentially, the idea is that we think we're making rational decisions based on what will be good for us in the future. We think that the choices we make are well informed, and unbiased.

However, it has been proven that as emotional creatures, we are tainted by our past investments. When investing in stocks, we are hopeful that our money will return. If we've invested much into a falling stock, we are inclined to believe that the graph will go back up in our favour. Even though rationally it may not. If we've spent four years in a committed relationship, we have bias towards it. Even if it's not healthy for both adults, many will try cling to it, and force it to work.

This idea is called "The Sunk Cost Fallacy". 

Individuals commit the sunk cost fallacy when they continue a behavior or endeavor as a result of previously invested resources (time, money or effort) (Arkes & Blumer, 1985). This fallacy, which is related to status quo bias, can also be viewed as bias resulting from an ongoing commitment. For example, individuals sometimes order too much food and then over-eat ‘just to get their money’s worth’. Similarly, a person may have a $20 ticket to a concert and then drive for hours through a blizzard, just because s/he feels that s/he has to attend due to having made the initial investment. If the costs outweigh the benefits, the extra costs incurred (inconvenience, time or even money) are held in a different mental account than the one associated with the ticket transaction (Thaler, 1999).

Our mind has a separate region for understanding gains and losses. And as time passes, the prospect of losses becomes a greater motivator on behaviour than the promise of gains.

Education is an investment in both (usually) time and money. It takes years to attain a degree, and depending on where you live, may also be very expensive. 

Therefore, when one completes a degree in Mechanical Engineering, they are compelled to work in an engineering field. If you spend 5 years toiling over a specialisation, you want that hard work to payoff. The education you received must be put to good use, i.e. a job, otherwise your five years of your life can feel potentially 'wasted'.

But what if, there was a better path for you than being a mechanical engineer? What if you saw the path of computer science to be more fulfilling and lucrative long term? Would you change career paths? Or would you stick to what you have?

It's a very hard decision, and I think it may be more comfortable to stay with what you know.

However, it got me thinking. Perhaps, the past education of a person could be binding them from doing what they really want. Even if they knew of a better path for themselves, they have already invested too much time and energy into who they are already. To reinvent themselves would not be a stable decision. Essentially, by using the sunk cost fallacy, education may be holding people back similar to stocks. They feel they have invested too much time in a discipline, to let go. 

However, the thing is,I don't think education should be treated akin to a form of monetary investment.

Instead, rather than thinking about education's value in the form of how it helps one get a job- could we not think about it enriching the one being educated. I.e. Education primarily helping the one being educated, rather than being of help to someone else. The educaiton itself intrinsicly being good, compared to, what the education 'buys you'. I think it's much more important to be a happy functioning human being, than to have a optimally paying job.


Learning Figures!

On Friday, my friends Jacob Mobley and Jeffrey Fan have convinced me to learn figures! Yay!

If you don't already know, the term 'figures' refers to drawing the human form. It's a commonly used term in artist circles. Drawing figures is largely considered one of the hardest subjects within art.

Leonardo da Vinci  Figure DRawing

Leonardo da Vinci Figure DRawing

Currently, I'm learning how to construct figures using geometric shapes. This means to make figures using boxes. Doing so allows me to clearly see how the figure looks like in '3D'. By being aware of how the figure exists in '3d space', it makes it easier to visualise and improvise with the figure.

Here are some sketches I've done! At this point, Jacob has suggested I become comfortable with the torso and pelvis. My studies are as below!

Diagrams from Michael Hampton and "Human Anatomy for Artists" by Eliot Goldfinger

Diagrams from Michael Hampton and "Human Anatomy for Artists" by Eliot Goldfinger

Diagrams from Kevin Chen

Diagrams from Kevin Chen

Anatomy Drawings
Anatomy Drawings Torso and Hips

For the next stage, Jacob has suggested that I add the neck and head. Lets hope it goes well!

Colour Theory: Colour Temperature for Concept Art

In regards to art, there is always an air of mystique. Principles on how it is created are commonly thought to be felt by the artist. It's as though the artist feels the answers, and paints it into reality. It's a genius talent not held by all. Through intuition the artist has a gift to create amazing works without education or formal understanding of a visual language. Similarly perhaps it's a feeling acquired over years and decades of practice.

In the context of colour temperature, artists feel it is another idea that is 'felt'. It is not as simple as to say "yellow is warm, blue is cool", because all colour is relative. What looks warm in one context, could look 'cool' in another context. "Simultaneous Contrast" a term popularly used, refers to this exact phenomenon.

An example of simultaneous contrast. displaying how yellow feels different in various colour combinations

An example of simultaneous contrast. displaying how yellow feels different in various colour combinations


It is commonly held, that due to simultaneous contrast, colour temperature can never be exactly determined. As in- there are no warmest and coolest colours. Each must be felt in terms of their relative hue and saturation to their surroundings.

However, I question if anyone in the art world has bothered to google colour temperature:

"The temperature at which a black body would emit radiation of the same colour as a given object"

The mentality of feeling warms and cools only exists within art. A google search on 'colour temperature' reveals a definition. The temperature of a black body radiator.

The Kelvin Color Temperature scale imagines a black body object—- (such as a lamp filament) being heated. At some point the object will get hot enough to begin to glow. As it gets hotter its glowing color will shift, moving from deep reds, such as a low burning fire would give, to oranges & yellows, all the way up to white hot.
— Iowel EDU

Using a Kelvin colour temperature scale, one can determine colour temperature. Therefore, this begs the question.

"Doesn't a Kelvin Colour temperature scale represent the warmest and coolest colours?"

Food for thought.

"The temperature of a Pāhoehoe lava flow can be estimated by observing its color. The result agrees well with measured temperatures of lava flows at about 1,000 to 1,200 °C (1,830 to 2,190 °F)." [Source]


Video Essay Critique

Today I released a new video essay!

I was pretty proud of this one when I finished editing! It seemed to be better than all my other vlogs. I had actually taken more time to go through and care about the outcome- contrasting to how I normally would "just want to upload already".

However, on rewatch I have a few pointers for myself. They are things that you notice after the adrenaline of posting has faded. Before posting you are blind to facets of your own creation. You have already invested so much time into something, that the only way you can see is forward. So when you can finally rewatch objectively without the pressures of posting behind you, you'll see your video in a new light. The following are two aspects that I have noted:

1. Have less cuts between shots. Memorise more of the script.

2. Speech needs to be more organic. Perhaps talking faster will solve this.

I'll try it for next time! We'll see how it goes! :)



Circle of Fifths

The Circle of Fifths is an chart in music that rotates around the notes in fifths.

It is an important diagram that musicians can use, as it can help them know how notes relate to each other.

If I had infinite time I would learn and better understand the circle of fifths from the following tutorial:

Michael New concisely explains uses for the circle of fifths.
-Introduction to how it's made
-Mnemonics for memorising its order
-Finding the sharps and flats for each key
+ more

I'm pushing art, so unfortunately I cannot memorise it at this time.

But I think it's a great idea, and so I will post it to share the knowledge.

Maybe in future I can revisit this post for myself. Then I can learn it myself and become a better musician.


The First Draft

Rereading many of my past blog entries, I note that many are poorly written. They do not flow very well. And there are many unconnected ideas smashed together.

This may be because they are the first draft. I published the blog without editing. Writing straight to publish is the only way I knew.

Recently, I have watched an interview on the nerdwriter (omg only 1,000 views. Maybe in future it will have a million?!):

In the interview, nerdwriter says that one of the things that have helped him understand himself is writing.

The idea is that, by writing, you are converting your brain's cloud of thoughts into concrete reality. And it's this articulation of thoughts, that's the true genius.

Nerdwriter says that there's this weird state we all have- we're operating on old memories, on things we've read, but haven't retained. As soon as we start transferring that whole messy, cloudy, misty, area of knowledge, into explicit knowledge, you're going to start seeing a lot more in yourself.

This idea hit me hard. It made me realise that by writing I can establish thoughts into reality. I can put my airy musings of the day into tangible words. 

The first draft I write is more articulated than my thoughts (which are 'nothing'). But the first draft is still a cloudy mess. By editing my thoughts, I am revisiting my past self, smoothening the rough concrete laid previously.

Therefore, for future. I will try to edit my writing for posting!

This will lead to a higher quality, and more organised thought!


Why I think documenting life is important

Anchors of memory

We experience so many things in our day to day. 

While in the present, experiences may seem average, or 'normal'.

The 'you' in 5 years time, may not remember all the details like you'd want to.

There seems to be an outcry against taking photos of your life, with the reasoning being "You're not living in the moment." 

Damon Brown, borrows the term "anchors of memory" from Paul Philleo. He writes:

If you picture all the experiences in our lifetimes as drops in the ocean, anchors of memory are those manmade landmarks reminding us that something of note is located there.
— Damon Brown

I think documenting your life is great. The photos that you take do not replace reality. Instead they add to your memory in future. The photo of you and your friends eating, isn't replacing the memory. Instead it reminds your mind of the meal you shared.

'Till next time



Assimilating the natural artist

I've mentioned before, but I never got into art 'naturally'.

Kids doing art

I didn't grow up admiring artists on the internet. I didn't 'feel' much emotion by looking at static colourful images. Nor did I feel like I was expressing myself by putting paint on the canvas.

13 year old me didn't feel any inner consciousness when looking at this painting.

13 year old me didn't feel any inner consciousness when looking at this painting.

Therefore, I didn't acquire many attributes the average concept artist takes for granted.
 Attributes such as detailing, form, shapes, and indication do not come 'naturally' to me.

See drawn details didn't interest me as a kid... Actually it still doesn't interest me now!

See drawn details didn't interest me as a kid...
Actually it still doesn't interest me now!

So in learning art, I had to learn things the 'natural artist' takes for granted.

One of the first times I've learnt to a proper 'study'

One of the first times I've learnt to a proper 'study'

I think it's safe to say the 'natural artist' likes to copy images or reality. It's fun for them to see how close they can get.

The closer the artist gets to their target copy, the better. When it's 100% photorealistic to their eye- they win! It's like a game.

Playing this game gives enjoyment to the artist.

art the game

However, as a 'non natural artist', I had never played this game.

Doing art for me was 100% 'brute forced'.

So discovering the 'copy image' game is a big deal for me! It's made art so much more enjoyable. I finally understand how you can sit for hours on end doing art.


Yeah! I understand how to have fun with art!

Yeah! I understand how to have fun with art!

I'm actually surprised on how far I've been able to get without doing studies.

If you don't already do studies (i.e. copying images), I highly recommend it!

There is a system in the way you do studies, and things to pay understand when you play the game. But, that information is for another blog post.

'Till next time!

Keep Arting!


*note 'art' in this blog is based on the realism art.

Week 0: Happy New Year! Consistent nightly posts!

Happy New Year Friends!

I thought, this year, it'd be a good idea to start posting more on facebook.

facebook logo


However, after a single post, i decided that it wasn't worth it.

Instead, I'd much rather post on my blog. Posting on the blog is way more fulfilling. Right here is the best!

10pm. Mon/Wed/Fri. Lets do this.

Tonight, I'll start by sharing one of my favourite videos.

Daniel Zhu's Bboy Portfolio 2012. The best part about Daniel's 2012 edition, is that it was a point in my life where I watched breaking videos every day.

I had seen almost every video individually throughout the year.

The way Daniel wrapped it up, was gorgeous.


'Till next time!


You'll never be satisfied: The Journey of Taste

week 42-48

week 42-48

My taste has evolved through time. When I was a child I thought ACDC's TNT was a great song.

I still think it's a great song. However, when I was younger I only had two songs available to me. Now I have more... And while ACDC's TNT is still a great song, my palette has greatly widened. 



If something looks really cool and exciting to me, it doesn't necessarily mean it looks cool and exciting to you.

As we get older we learn more about the world. When we understand the 'how' of a creation, we can better appreciate it. 

I've recently watched Adam Neely's bass video on taste. 

At 0:49 he recalls:

When I was first starting out, I thought Linkin Park was the edgiest... most hardcore... music ever...

On the topic of taste he then elaborates how he has grown:

I don’t think that quite so much anymore

Adam Neely in this section shows how his previous taste has changed through time. Linkin Park is no longer the most hardcore music in his palette. Adam's taste has changed through time.

To which I think this idea of ever changing taste in relevant in my own life.

The closer I get to a goal, the more likely that the goal will have changed.

In breakdance I remember wanting so badly to learn how to windmill. I thought "If only I could windmill I would be satisfied".

This was the exact video I saw. 

I craved it.

I needed to be able to windmill.

So I practiced hard.

And a year later I could finally do windmills.

But a few months before having the move down, I could already 'see the light'. I could see the path I was on, and knew I could windmill soon. 

And at that very point where I knew my goal was already in my grasp, it wasn't as enticing as before.

The windmill looked like a golden shard from afar. But up close I saw it as painted plastic. 

And in the distance, I saw something shinier. 

My taste had evolved.

I was no longer satisfied with the windmill.

Thanks for reading!

How has your taste evolved? I'm super curious :)
Let me know in the comments!





Recording Yourself: Blogging vs Vlogging

Weeks 35-41: Mediums of Expression

Lately I've noticed that the way I record my thoughts is different depending on the medium I use.

It's an obvious notion. When I talk to the camera for a vlog, I am in a different head-space to when I'm writing in my blog. The way I record memories via vlogging, makes me think about the present. What is the shot, and how am I showing it? How will I condense this reality into a few short minutes of footage?

Contrastingly, when writing a blog, it's more of a constructional and analytical process. The blog had been aimed to be written weekly. I would carefully assess the week as a whole and expand on a single idea I had previously written down.

It's very interesting to me how both the blog and vlog give value to my life in terms of recording where I am in that point of time.

But which is more accurate?

A rational person may try determine the most accurate way to record their memories. A vlog? A blog? A journal? Photos? "But which is more accurate?" They might ask.

It's hard to measure which is the most successful. The vlog gives 'hard evidence' of what happens. You'll see past videos of yourself, what you really looked like.

On the other side of the spectrum, the journal can be airy and emotional. When rereading you'll remember how you felt. You can attach photo snippets, drawings, and video (if your journal is electronic). The journal will read raw, and unedited. Most people don't plan to ever show their journal to others.

The disadvantage of the journal lies in the effort required to maintain it. Without any public forum- there is no third party source to motivate your writing. In my case anyway, without publicity I feel unmotivated to write daily journal updates.

The blog on the other hand is a pure public construction of words. There is no 'raw' text that you must put down. You're not writing about the daily life (Atleast I don't). And there is no life footage from the day you must work with. All ideas can be made and twisted. And the publicity of a blog may influence you to bend reality as far away as you can from the truth.

- - - -

People have gained fluency in different languages and skills. I speak English pretty well, but struggle with conversation in Italian.

I think the same idea applies to blogging, vlogging, writing in the journal, taking photos, composing a song each day, etc.

Any creative medium is a craft. How well it reflects your human condition is dependent on how fluent you are in the skill.

And nobody is born speaking perfectly.

Till next time!
-Mark David Teo


- - - -

Further Reading:

Two Languages, Two Minds: Flexible Cognitive Processing Driven by Language of Operation (

- - - -

P.S. Huge hiatus on the blog. I have made 30 videos on youtube since those weeks before. It almost feels like I've always made vlogs. Crazy.

P.P.S. I 'graduated' on youtube and stopped writing "Vlog X" before each video. I think I've levelled up to the stage where I'm confident enough not to hide behind the title of "vlog" in each video.

P.P.P.S. This 'graduation' on youtube titles has influenced the removal of "Week X" in the titles of the blog. I hope it won't be missed.


Week 34: Painting Learning Paradox

Personal Ramble: Late post. I shouldn't consider the vlog and the blog to mirror each other. They should be thought of different mediums. And hence, require a different mindset. Thinking of both as the same this week caused me to have a questionable vlog- and also a lack of blog post.

Lately, I've been understanding painting a little bit more.

From taking Bill Perkin's Composition class at Concept Design Academy, I've become able to read images more fluently. This idea relates and goes back to art as a language. But essentially, when you learn to read images more fluently, you can deconstruct elements of the picture and understand how they are contributing to the overall whole.

With the picture as a language background/foundation in mind: I watched Marco Bucci's Painting Fundamentals video. I had seen this video before, and thought I understood completely. But now with increased painting knowledge I can more fully grasp what he is saying.

The Learning Paradox:
You Must Know An Idea BEFORE You Can Learn It,
but you Only Learn Ideas You Don’t Know

There is a paradox called the learning paradox. It's along the lines of "You must already know an idea before you can learn, but you only learn ideas you don't know".

Essentially when you 'really' know something you are able to fully articulate it. However, there are some things we think we know, but cannot explain it well with words. There is just a vague and ethereal 'knowingness' without complete rational justification.

Matt Moody a social psychologist with a Ph.D. in Social Psychology & Family Sociology, answers this paradox. He writes:

The key to unlocking this conundrum is in distinguishing the difference between Experience-Knowing, Word-Articulation-Knowing, and Whole-Knowing:

Moody then explains that if you don't have any experience pertaining to the specific 'Word-Idea', then you cannot have the lightbulb of 'whole-knowing'. I think of it as, if you don't have a fuzzy cloud of experience in your mind, when words of electricity pass by, it has nothing to ignite. Concepts and ideas cannot spark in a vaccum. word-ideas will fly right by you, because you do not have the anchor of experience to ground them.

Whole-Knowing occurs when there is a cycle of words, ideas, and experience, building ones knowledge.

Reflecting back to painting- I could only ever understand what I had an experience of.

Previously, I had not looked at much art, nor understood visual elements. Therefore, without the experience, I did not have much mind haze in the realm of painting. Even though I had previously seen Marco Bucci's video, yesterday's second viewing taught me alot. On first viewing I thought I understood it all. But now I see it again with a cup more of art experience, his ideas spark 'whole-knowing' moments.

**Moody notes that this type of learning heavily reflects a conceptual type of knowing. The type of 'knowing' that involves mechanical learning, happens more directly in the experience of doing.

Door County Afternoon Gouache 5 1/2" x 11" by Richard Schmid

Door County Afternoon Gouache 5 1/2" x 11" by Richard Schmid

The more you know about something. The more fun it can become.

'Till next time!


Week 30: Vlog begins!

I'm so excited!

I had an experiment during the week on monday night. I couldn't sleep and so I thought about making a vlog. It excited me so much I jumped out of bed and begun scrawling ideas on paper.


Video 1 is where I try get experience creating videos. Just wanted to try something easy to get the ball rolling. Just wanted to begin.

"Just post something. Get started." etc.

Video 2 is scripted. I know in future I want to explain things. In this video I try do so.

I don't think Video 2 was very successful. But it was a great learning process. I learnt the essentials of after effects while creating it.

Video 3 is a reaction to Video 2. Instead of trying to formalise and create content- I take a back seat. I talk to the camera, and edit my thoughts into a video. I feel it reads much clearer than video 2.

This is today.

A vlog on vlogs.

Looks like these vlogs are being defined as a public learning process on how to vlog :)

Week 29: Wrist Issues begin

Every artist I've met in the last week has their own wrist issues story.

How do I know this?

It's because I've let them know that I'm developing my own wrist troubles.

In response to my wrists issues, I am met with an aged story. They recall the tale of how they've developed their own wrist issues. How they deal with it. How to be ergonomic.

Wrist exercises. Stretch. Frequent breaks. Draw from shoulder. The advice is the same from every person. Ways to reduce symptoms.

End of the day, just 'gotta live with it right?