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Sharmane A. Coquilla

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Creative work in any form is my passion, and I find I thrive best when I fully absorb myself in it, whether it be architectural projects at my job, or my artistic pursuits that I share on social media. I am Sharmane, professionally addressed as Architect Coquilla in my field of work. I regularly create content for my YouTube Channel, aptly named ‘Sharmane Coquilla’. On Instagram, the stationery and journal community know me as Shacee, a quirky combination of my first and last name. Allow me to share the story behind my creative journey in my quaint little studio.

Born and raised in Davao City, Philippines, I grew up in a transitional era somewhere between the shift from the analogue to the digital world. Hence, my artistic skills have been honed to work with either. For as long as I can remember, I have always had a fascination towards stationery, paper goods and the arts in general. As a child, I enjoyed watching arts and DIY shows on television and craft books were staple logs on my library borrower’s card. I worked with my hands a lot to create things both functional and aesthetic.

My love for creative design encouraged me to pursue architecture as a career which I perceive as a fun mash-up of art and science. As an architect, I am able to express myself artistically, but find that the technical aspects of my profession can limit creative work, as I am bound within the framework of building codes, standards and client specifications. In arts and crafts, I find a more fluid and freeing experience where I get full creative control.

On top of the art that I do simply as a hobby, I’ve been journal keeping and writing to pen pals since my childhood years. During these early times, my art was shared exclusively between my confidants and friends across the globe. It never occurred to me to share my art online, or that anyone would want to even see it. But in 2015, I was in Australia for two years to get my master’s degree in Architecture at Deakin University. Being a student again, with a more structured and admittedly less hectic schedule than when I was working, I was able to immerse myself more regularly in my hobbies, which is how I became acquainted with creative communities online. It was in these groups that I first began to share my work on the internet. From those early beginnings I’ve arrived at where I am now, blessed to share my art on a number of platforms.

“You know your life will forever be intertwined with stationery, when everything you see and do, are related to stationery. A perfume bottle reminds you of an ink bottle; the smell of paper seduces you more than the scent of perfume; you are more interested in the paper that the cafe menu is printed on, than the food that it lists, your phone is full of craft and stationery-related photos; you find yourself constantly surrounded by pens, ink, paper and stamps.” —Pooi Chin 戀手帳 , author, entrepreneur, stationery enthusiast

My aesthetic has understandably changed a lot since I began, especially with my introduction into online communities, where feedback and trends come nearly instantaneously. But all these changes induced a sense of nostalgia in me, which kept me looking back to the times when analogue tools were the norm. This fascination had me visiting vintage markets wherever I travelled, finding desk items and ephemera dating back as far as the 1920s. I keep old train tickets, discontinued postage stamps and coupons, brass hand-shaped money clips and ticket holders that litter my desk next to my working film camera from the 60s, topped by my most precious piece, the first ever typewriter I bought, my Olivetti Lettera 22. All these pieces together form my own personal snapshot into a bygone era, a simpler, but still beautiful time.

A hobby I am particularly interested in that ties in with my creative pursuits is my obsession with snail mail. I still keep in touch with multiple pen pals from all around the world. More than a means of communication, I see letter writing and making as an avenue to explore unique ways of artistic expression. Recipients of my letters often enjoy extra bits of stationery tucked into folders, and artistic tidbits that lie layered on the pocket envelopes I send out. With every letter I mail, I aim to convey a personalized message, in a bespoke package, ensuring that each envelope is a memory to be cherished.

When I put up the papercraft tutorials, I noticed that the audience engaged more with the instructional aspect of my videos. It was gratifying to see recreations of my tutorials dressed up in different styles, with decorations and embellishments reflective of every person’s unique character, which drove me to continue the series with a passion. At the time, my “studio” was nothing more than an old dining table repurposed into a work desk, with all my filming equipment and crafting tools randomly scattered around. But as the series went on, I found my workspace evolving to meet my needs, and changing to better depict the inspirations of the moment.  Every piece of art, every letter I send out, every video I upload, is guaranteed to have originated from the same little space I’ve come to know as home for my art.

Before the pandemic, my online creative content was journal centric with a bit of snail mail sharing and stationery haul features on the side. Then came March of 2020, our country initiated a nationwide lockdown as a response to the Covid-19 pandemic. Like many others I found myself with an abundance of spare time, a lot of it indoors. I spent a good amount of that time on my desk with the stationery and supplies that I had with me. I soon found myself quickly innovating, as shops were closed, and postal deliveries of any sort had grinded to a halt. It was during this time I was prompted to create my first ever YouTube tutorial series titled ‘Letters for No One’. I created different pen pal folder tutorials every week and shared it on my channel. This was my first foray into papercraft tutorial content.

The early success I enjoyed with my first tutorial series led me to continue exploring different methods and mediums that I might be able to share online, which led me to my current favorite craft: handmade paper making. With a pandemic in full swing and no chance of resupplying my (at the time) dwindling stocks of paper, I decided to create my own stash and try my hand at making recycled paper. I created a craft vlog of my first attempt at handmade paper making and at present it is my most viewed video on YouTube. I have continued making paper and experimenting with different materials, colors, textures and tools and I’ve documented a number of my learnings and shared more tutorials online. More than its functional applications, I find the calm and steady rhythm of papermaking to be a welcome retreat from the hectic pace of the world around me. I am glad to see so many people connect with that feeling through my videos.

My confidence in the craft of paper making has grown immensely from all the learned experience from creating and sometimes failing to make what must be more than a thousand sheets in just the last year. In February of 2021 I was confident enough in the quality of my work and the amount of interest in it to finally muster up the courage to put my products out there and opened an online pop-up shop which I fondly named ‘So She Gathers’. The response to the opening was overwhelmingly positive as my listings continue to sell out in the first 48 hours. As much as I’d like to say that the experience has been 100% positive, the greatest source of my anxiety at the moment is postal service delays and restrictions, which keep my products from moving. At the moment, although all orders are sent with tracking, I still sit at the edge of my seat until the orders I’ve dispatched reach their destination. So far, everyone has been so nice and understanding of the circumstances and the supportive comments and feedback inspires me to continue growing my little venture.

The four walls of the room where my corner studio sits have been a witness to many of the wonderful experiences I’ve shared, a home to memories immortalized in between slivers of paper and a venue for me to pursue a lifetime of creative passion. The same walls who silently housed my humble setup, which at the beginning barely took up half of the desk space that I have now, has slowly grown into a trove of creative treasures slowly sprawling further and further out from its nook, threatening to take over the entire room. My creative workspace may routinely change in aesthetic configuration and my papercraft journey of interest may shift from time to time. But one thing is for sure, my little corner studio will remain to be the conducive environment that will continue to inspire creative passion and the space where creative souls can thrive.

Creative work in any form is my passion, and I find I thrive best when I fully absorb myself in it, whether it be architectural projects at my job, or my artistic pursuits that I share on social media. I am Sharmane, professionally addressed as Architect Coquilla in my field of work. I regularly create content for my YouTube Channel, aptly named ‘Sharmane Coquilla’. On Instagram, the stationery and journal community know me as Shacee, a quirky combination of my first and last name. Allow me to share the story behind my creative journey in my quaint little studio.

Born and raised in Davao City, Philippines, I grew up in a transitional era somewhere between the shift from the analogue to the digital world. Hence, my artistic skills have been honed to work with either. For as long as I can remember, I have always had a fascination towards stationery, paper goods and the arts in general. As a child, I enjoyed watching arts and DIY shows on television and craft books were staple logs on my library borrower’s card. I worked with my hands a lot to create things both functional and aesthetic.

My love for creative design encouraged me to pursue architecture as a career which I perceive as a fun mash-up of art and science. As an architect, I am able to express myself artistically, but find that the technical aspects of my profession can limit creative work, as I am bound within the framework of building codes, standards and client specifications. In arts and crafts, I find a more fluid and freeing experience where I get full creative control.

On top of the art that I do simply as a hobby, I’ve been journal keeping and writing to pen pals since my childhood years. During these early times, my art was shared exclusively between my confidants and friends across the globe. It never occurred to me to share my art online, or that anyone would want to even see it. But in 2015, I was in Australia for two years to get my master’s degree in Architecture at Deakin University. Being a student again, with a more structured and admittedly less hectic schedule than when I was working, I was able to immerse myself more regularly in my hobbies, which is how I became acquainted with creative communities online. It was in these groups that I first began to share my work on the internet. From those early beginnings I’ve arrived at where I am now, blessed to share my art on a number of platforms.

“You know your life will forever be intertwined with stationery, when everything you see and do, are related to stationery. A perfume bottle reminds you of an ink bottle; the smell of paper seduces you more than the scent of perfume; you are more interested in the paper that the cafe menu is printed on, than the food that it lists, your phone is full of craft and stationery-related photos; you find yourself constantly surrounded by pens, ink, paper and stamps.” —Pooi Chin 戀手帳 , author, entrepreneur, stationery enthusiast

My aesthetic has understandably changed a lot since I began, especially with my introduction into online communities, where feedback and trends come nearly instantaneously. But all these changes induced a sense of nostalgia in me, which kept me looking back to the times when analogue tools were the norm. This fascination had me visiting vintage markets wherever I travelled, finding desk items and ephemera dating back as far as the 1920s. I keep old train tickets, discontinued postage stamps and coupons, brass hand-shaped money clips and ticket holders that litter my desk next to my working film camera from the 60s, topped by my most precious piece, the first ever typewriter I bought, my Olivetti Lettera 22. All these pieces together form my own personal snapshot into a bygone era, a simpler, but still beautiful time.

A hobby I am particularly interested in that ties in with my creative pursuits is my obsession with snail mail. I still keep in touch with multiple pen pals from all around the world. More than a means of communication, I see letter writing and making as an avenue to explore unique ways of artistic expression. Recipients of my letters often enjoy extra bits of stationery tucked into folders, and artistic tidbits that lie layered on the pocket envelopes I send out. With every letter I mail, I aim to convey a personalized message, in a bespoke package, ensuring that each envelope is a memory to be cherished.

When I put up the papercraft tutorials, I noticed that the audience engaged more with the instructional aspect of my videos. It was gratifying to see recreations of my tutorials dressed up in different styles, with decorations and embellishments reflective of every person’s unique character, which drove me to continue the series with a passion. At the time, my “studio” was nothing more than an old dining table repurposed into a work desk, with all my filming equipment and crafting tools randomly scattered around. But as the series went on, I found my workspace evolving to meet my needs, and changing to better depict the inspirations of the moment.  Every piece of art, every letter I send out, every video I upload, is guaranteed to have originated from the same little space I’ve come to know as home for my art.

Before the pandemic, my online creative content was journal centric with a bit of snail mail sharing and stationery haul features on the side. Then came March of 2020, our country initiated a nationwide lockdown as a response to the Covid-19 pandemic. Like many others I found myself with an abundance of spare time, a lot of it indoors. I spent a good amount of that time on my desk with the stationery and supplies that I had with me. I soon found myself quickly innovating, as shops were closed, and postal deliveries of any sort had grinded to a halt. It was during this time I was prompted to create my first ever YouTube tutorial series titled ‘Letters for No One’. I created different pen pal folder tutorials every week and shared it on my channel. This was my first foray into papercraft tutorial content.

The early success I enjoyed with my first tutorial series led me to continue exploring different methods and mediums that I might be able to share online, which led me to my current favorite craft: handmade paper making. With a pandemic in full swing and no chance of resupplying my (at the time) dwindling stocks of paper, I decided to create my own stash and try my hand at making recycled paper. I created a craft vlog of my first attempt at handmade paper making and at present it is my most viewed video on YouTube. I have continued making paper and experimenting with different materials, colors, textures and tools and I’ve documented a number of my learnings and shared more tutorials online. More than its functional applications, I find the calm and steady rhythm of papermaking to be a welcome retreat from the hectic pace of the world around me. I am glad to see so many people connect with that feeling through my videos.

My confidence in the craft of paper making has grown immensely from all the learned experience from creating and sometimes failing to make what must be more than a thousand sheets in just the last year. In February of 2021 I was confident enough in the quality of my work and the amount of interest in it to finally muster up the courage to put my products out there and opened an online pop-up shop which I fondly named ‘So She Gathers’. The response to the opening was overwhelmingly positive as my listings continue to sell out in the first 48 hours. As much as I’d like to say that the experience has been 100% positive, the greatest source of my anxiety at the moment is postal service delays and restrictions, which keep my products from moving. At the moment, although all orders are sent with tracking, I still sit at the edge of my seat until the orders I’ve dispatched reach their destination. So far, everyone has been so nice and understanding of the circumstances and the supportive comments and feedback inspires me to continue growing my little venture.

The four walls of the room where my corner studio sits have been a witness to many of the wonderful experiences I’ve shared, a home to memories immortalized in between slivers of paper and a venue for me to pursue a lifetime of creative passion. The same walls who silently housed my humble setup, which at the beginning barely took up half of the desk space that I have now, has slowly grown into a trove of creative treasures slowly sprawling further and further out from its nook, threatening to take over the entire room. My creative workspace may routinely change in aesthetic configuration and my papercraft journey of interest may shift from time to time. But one thing is for sure, my little corner studio will remain to be the conducive environment that will continue to inspire creative passion and the space where creative souls can thrive.