This week, I spoke to Aida Haron or known online as Aidaville on Instagram, who’s amassed a following in the thousands following her journey as a local maker and art journalist. She primarily creates art journals pertaining to any theme in mind, and often describes in detail the inspiration of the piece or mood of her everyday-life that’s influenced the design of her art journal on that particular day. Eccentric, friendly and definitely welcoming – I was so stoked to meet her.
Diyana: “Let’s start at the beginning. What got you started on art journals in particular? “
Aida: My journey traces back all the way to 2006, where I worked at a scrapbook store as a crafter. I was in-charge of a team and we’d create journal pages using scrapbooking materials in-store to display to our customers so that they’ll be able to judge for themselves what products they would like to purchase. From there, I had the chance to expand and was connected to multiple scrapbook crafters overseas. I was then engaged as one of their crafters, and the manufacturers of the scrapbooking materials would send me new launches to try out every month or so.
From there, I had to learn how to build a social media presence (as part of the contract) to continue as part of their crafters team. All that juggling with the differences in time zones had me bewildered at the start. Even years after I left, I still have tons of scrapbooking materials at home most of which I had to get rid of and not continue hoarding. However, it was definitely a fun and eventful experience, as I was in my fifties, and I had to learn from the bottom up how to update my social media and blogs. At the time, my only intention was to build a community that can share their experiences and resources. Since it was also part of the conditions in the contract, I have to admit it, it was also a survivor’s instinct to always be active on social media.
Other than Art Journals, I also post a lot about the yoga movement classes I do with my friend Amanda Koh (@unapologeticallyamandakoh). My daughters are vegan as well so I post about that too from time to time. So maybe people found that interesting as well.
Diyana: Other than an artist yourself, I also found out that you hold workshops as well. Some artists prefer to keep their skills to themselves, almost like an industry secret, but you on the other hand, share a rather extensive list of materials and methods with your audience. How is that?
Aida: I feel that I had a personal duty to be a helpful and non-judgemental person- that’s exactly how you build a community. There’s generally no benefit you can get from being ‘secretive’. With Youtube and Google, people will eventually find out what kind of materials you use and can learn from anywhere at any time. I’m a strong believer that the materials you use do not matter as much as the artist’s personal conviction or sense of style. Those two things are rather, much more important than gathering the newest scrapbooking materials, or any kind of artistic materials. I personally feel that there’s nothing wrong with sharing what I use.
Rather, in my experience of conducting workshops, I tell my students “I can teach you techniques and introduce you to new materials, but I cannot teach you how to be your own maker.” Some students who take art classes are bothered with perfection or imitation of a certain style they’ve seen online and, in the end, they don’t spend time trying to find out what they like. Art journaling or any type of art journey is a process of self-discovery. In my classes, I tell my students “I’m teaching you how to find you.” It’s all about the journey and the thought-process behind the spreads, not just the end product.
Diyana: I’ve noticed that a large part of your following are women. Would you say your Instagram platform is a source of empowerment for them? You’ve described your art as an opportunity that opens doors and connects you to a community of like-minded people.
Aida: I think empowerment should start with the self. You have to start surrounding yourself with a non-judgemental community that empowers you and actively includes people of different backgrounds and ages. The way I do that is through my movement community, who are overwhelmingly friendly and open. I believe that to feel empowered, is to believe in yourself, regardless of your background or age or culture, it’s about the need to become more of ourselves. In a way, art does that for me as well. Art is healing, it gives you a sense of identity and of who you are as an individual. I’ve learnt this through my daughters who are characteristically their own people and have a strong sense of individualism- balancing academia and as musicians. I find that inspiring, and the strongest empowerment one could have.
Diyana: How can I apply for one of your workshops?
Aida: I do private one-to-one classes now, which are $350 for 3 hours inclusive of all materials that are needed to get you started on art journaling. My advice is it would be best if you could prepare the colour palettes or techniques you want to learn, or perhaps even references before the class so that I can teach to the best of my ability.
You can follow Aida on @aidaville on Instagram, to check out her beautiful and intricately detailed artwork!