“Diurnal” reads the first word of Alessandra Lanot’s apt self-description. “I wake up at 5:30am, every day,” she discloses with a clear sense of pride for her being a morning person. And fittingly so, given that her online home is called Life After Breakfast, “a blog about her adventures after the most important meal of the day.” Visit her blog, and you’ll find a well-rounded meal of (get ready–it’s alphabetical!) adventures, books, crafts, design, eats, fotos, and goodies (!) that are enough to meet your recommended daily allowance of things both beautiful and useful.
Alessa (as she is more informally known) has an obvious talent for finding–and creating–beauty in everyday life which is why we thought she was a kindred spirit worth talking about here on the Fully Booked blog. We caught up with her for an online Q&A exchange, and here’s what Alessa had to say:
Name: Alessandra L. Lanot
Nickname: Alessa. And because that’s still too long, I also go by Ales, Ale, and Lessi to my family.
Occupation: Freelance graphic designer, craft teacher, co-owner of Pipino Vegetarian. I basically doodle, watercolor, make crafts and bake vegan goodies for a living.
Tell us a bit about those occupations you mentioned.
I’ve been a freelance graphic designer all of my working life, but I’ve been into arts and crafts longer than that. I actually started teaching crafts since I graduated from high school: I put up a mobile art school called Art Adventures in 2000, and focused on teaching kids. I still do graphic design, but now I teach crafts to adults, instead of just kids. Together with the Pino group, I also own Pipino, a vegan restaurant with branches in Teachers Village, QC and Jupiter Street, Makati.
Please tell us about Life After Breakfast. What’s the idea behind your blog?
I started a blog to push me to do something creative everyday. I feel like there’s a bit more pressure when there are people ‘watching’ you. I also made a promise to myself that I would only post the things that I make, or photos that I took, so that all content is original (and I think it’s what readers appreciate, too!). While browsing in Fully Booked before, I saw a book (forgot the title, ack!) of creativity exercises, and thought it was weird because all the activities in the book is actually what I do for work every day. I thought it might be fun to document and give others a peek into what I made and do daily.
Why art and design? How did you get into it? What motivates you as a creative person?
Ever since I was a kid, I have loved paper and art materials. I remember asking for a paper quilling set from Santa when I was 6! Yes, I was a little craft geek, happy to open a box of paper and crayons for my birthday. (Actually, until today, my friends still gift me with sketchpads and coloring materials!) In college took Communication in Ateneo, and signed up for a Graphic Design class. Art with a purpose? I had found love. And quite literally, too. I first met my husband in that graphic design class (but we only got together 6 years later! :P).
I design to travel, and travel to design. I like exposing myself to different cultures and allowing myself to be inspired through nature, colors, people, photographs, and the actual commute.
What is your design philosophy? Do you have a personal ‘style’ when it comes to your art, craft and design?
My design work used to be more serious, because I mostly had corporate clients. I’m happy that now, people are coming to me for my craft work (watercolors and doodles) to be translated into design. I really enjoy being able to combine the handmade & digital. In terms of style, overall, everything must be pretty + purposeful. Even with crafts, they have to be useful, so that they don’t end up in the trash, which would defeat the whole purpose of crafting for sustainability.
What informs or inspires your creative process?
My art materials. I love trying out new tools, and discovering new techniques. Whatever works, I’ll apply it in my crafts or designs.
Also, books are my aphrodisiac. My dad once told me that if I can pick up or generate an idea from a book, then it’s already worth its price. Ever since, I’ve never felt guilty about purchasing books, because it fuels my creativity, which is, of course, a work requirement! 🙂
What are your must-have art and craft materials?
These are in my bag EVERYDAY.
- Sakura Koi watercolor sets & Sakura rigger brushes
- Tachikawa Dipping Nibs + Nib holder
- Daler Rowney Sketch Pads
- Others: Dr. Ph Martin’s watercolor ink, cutters, DMC thread, 3M Super Adhesive glue
Let’s talk a bit about PIPINO–why vegetarian food? And what are your favorite dishes there?
Pipino serves 100% plant based dishes, meaning everything is vegan. I’ve been vegetarian for 12+ years, and it’s always been a dream of mine to put up a vegan food business. When I started dating PJ in 2008, he had just opened Pino. We introduced Pipino as a 6-item line in Pino’s menu, and 6 months later, opened the full restaurant because we learned that there really is a huge demand for vegan food in meat-centric Manila.
My favorite dishes are the mushroom salpicao, tofu-lemongrass skewers, and the olive-loaded buckwheat puttanesca. 🙂 For dessert, my favorite is the banana chia muffin, made with coco sugar and whole wheat flour! You also must try our amazing award-winning vegan chocolate chip cookies. 😉
And lastly: top 3 recommended books? Please give us a reason for each book.
Sark’s Creative Companion
This has always been one of my favorite books because it has inspired me to pursue the creative life!
The Cheese Monkeys by Chip Kidd
A book about graphic design class written by one of my favorite graphic & book designers.
Martha Stewart Handmade Holiday Crafts Book
This book is packed with party craft ideas that are super pretty (as everything Martha-made) and easy to make!
Learn more about Alessa and what she’s up to: