Millennial Spotlight with Sarah: “Most of us want to show a successful side but, in reality, everyone is trying their best to navigate their own sets of struggles and difficulties in their journey, and we should all pat ourselves on the back for that.”

We found Sebby’s SebbyConfetti pins at TCAF (at the Toronto Reference Library)!

Sarah Chan (@sebbyconfetti | www.sebbyconfetti.com)
Age: 26 | Profession: Freelance Illustrator

Sebby Confetti is Sarah’s platform to share quirky, whimsical creatures (like the fantastic Cat-Bird!) with the world. You can find her drawings on the @sebbyconfetti Instagram account and on metal pins, t-shirts and children’s books that are available on Etsy and in select stores like TCAF. Sarah speaks with such passion and enthusiasm about her job and future opportunities like the felt workshop she will be co-hosting on Sun, Dec 9, 2018. We chat about what daily life as a freelance illustrator looks like and about how she got to where she is today. We also discuss how millennials are a resilient and entrepreneurial group that maintain a positive attitude despite struggling with student debt and job insecurity.

Read more about Sarah’s thoughts on our generation below in today’s Millennial Spotlight.

1. What traits do you have that you think you share with other millennials?
I feel like ‘millennial’ is such a broad term. Even just reading from your blog it’s hard to have a concise definition of what it is. Personally, I think we are a very informed, participatory, and active generation that is non-conformative and more aware of certain issues. I like to read certain issues to gather information on both sides before deciding how I feel. A lot of us want to be informed in terms of political and humanitarian concerns like racism or LGBT+ rights. I see a lot of peers who put themselves out there to fight for their own rights as a minority even if they are vulnerable.

In addition, job insecurity and student debt are something that alot of us experience. We like to live in the moment despite this tremendous stress. Many people in our generation are very opportunistic and take on entrepreneurial initiatives. We are all trying our best to be positive despite being extremely informed of the realities. This means that we are not blindly optimistic. We try to be responsible. It’s hard not to, but I think most of us compare ourselves to each other – especially as we are trying to progress in the workforce. I feel that a lot of us are trying to define what success really means to us, especially in the stage of pursuing our professional goals and identities. We are trying to imagine what kind of lives we want and how to find work that supports that. Alot of us are trying to support our passions in a sustainable way.

2. How do you think people perceive millennials? Do you agree/disagree?
I think people perceive that millennials have it easy and that we are very idealistic. I agree to a certain extent. They think that we have more opportunities to be in school and pursue things we actually like, but I feel like that’s not true for everybody. In a lot of cases we still have to work very hard in our studies and I feel like student debt is an issue that has realistic consequences on people because job opportunities may not be as ideal as when they are presented at school. There are certain programs that paint a good picture of what graduate life might be, but realistically, we are the people who have to find those opportunities. School doesn’t guarantee a good sustainable job, and the tuition rate is high and very costly for many students.

3. What makes this generation different from the last?
Our generation is more aware of the stigma surrounding mental health issues and we are in general more open to addressing mental health concerns, but there is still alot of stigma when dealing with it (especially within certain minorities and cultures) and it still takes effort to fight for more resources. There is more work that can be done in terms of that. This generation is also different from the last because we have social media to pursue alternative career paths. It’s a really great tool for those who want to pursue side gigs, and they can choose to later turn their side gigs into possible careers. Social media provides a unique outlet for people of our generation to create their own businesses and initiatives.

4. Can you tell me a little bit about your work as a Freelance Illustrator?
I produce whimsical, colourful work in the form of illustrations, stories and merchandise like apparel and accessories under the name “Sebby Confetti”, which was inspired by my cat: Sebby. This started as a personal creative outlet I created for myself during university to have a free space to share my drawings and creations. From there, I made more artwork and merchandise with my own illustrations which I sell on my online shop and at artist alleys. I like to combine digital and traditional medium in my work because I enjoy the textures and touch of traditional media like colour pencils and water colours, but also the ease of digital editing.

My drawing mainly consists of quirky characters inspired by my cats. Many of my characters have a magical twist to them like the cat-pegasus and cat-bird. People have commented that they are very colourful and have a child-like aesthetic. I’ve realized that I try to capture the simple joys in life which are reflected in characters like the tomato-cat (because I do like tomatoes alot and red is just such a happy colour for me). I grew up reading alot of comics like Doraemon, and I think that as a result drawing became a natural language for me to express myself. I post a lot of things that I create on Instagram, which has really become a natural habit now. It’s hard to disengage from posting to pause and see if that’s where I want to be heading with my work. I’ve been doing the same thing for so long and need a little bit of time to rethink my future direction of what I want to pursue. I want to have the courage to step out of my comfort zone and pursue new collaborations and opportunities not knowing if I’m going to succeed or not.

In the past I have put so much emphasis on the end result of “successful or not” and currently for me, the journey itself – of trying and maybe not having the perfect result but knowing how to keep trying and persisting – is more important than the end result. It’s good to encourage yourself to take that new step or change things up. There are so many challenges with any kind of work but social media can make everything seem like there are no challenges at all. Most of us want to show a successful side but, in reality, everyone is trying their best to navigate their own sets of struggles and difficulties in their journey, and we should all pat ourselves on the back for that. I’m starting to notice burn out in my friends and myself in our working lives, so I’m trying to appreciate my own efforts more and better support myself in pursuing creative work and other areas of life.

In general, I really enjoy sharing my work at TCAF (Toronto Comic Arts Festival) and other fairs and shows, but I want to do more illustration work and produce more content that is authentic to myself. I also want to get into children’s books. I wrote a children’s book before called “Cat and the Starlephant” which is sold at TCAF and Etsy and am currently looking to create more content for children.

5. How do you think millennials engage with art?
I like to think we’re pretty hardcore with career stuff but deep down we all have a light, care-free, creative side. We like to appreciate the smaller things in life which can be very light-hearted. I see a lot of art feeds on Instagram from people sharing all sorts of relatable comics, crafts and personal art. Art is a way for people to relax and connect with themselves in a playful way. I also see alot of people my age starting to get into more leisure arts and craft activities (i.e. pottery, painting, calligraphy, etc.).

People really enjoy making things with their hands. I recently co-led a felt-making craft workshop with my friend Tiffany (@heartfeltbundles) which was really fun! I like sharing this creative outlet with people so they can learn something new and have fun with it. We are doing another workshop downtown on Sun, Dec 9. If you are interested, you can register here before Nov 30.

6. What are the main thoughts/concerns on your mind right now?
I am trying to find a way to live more authentically and be brave enough to pursue new goals, whether for work or in everyday habits. In general, I’m trying to find that work-life balance that allows me to pursue what makes me happy. I am somebody who tends to be very attached to my work, so I am trying to teach myself to take a break when I need it, and that I can enjoy my creative work without having to base my personal value and happiness on being “productive.”

I am also learning to find fulfillment in everyday things and have a deeper appreciation for myself beyond work. I want to have a more positive attitude and appreciate myself more and more each day, not for how much I can achieve but for simply being present as myself. I’m learning to accept where I currently am on my life journey (in regards to career and everything else), and to know that career is a big part of life but there are certainly many other exciting things in life to explore and experience too.

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