Weeknotes 14
The cover of a fake magazine titled 'The Weeknoter', styled like The New Yorker. The cover features a digital painting of the interior of a shadowed cafe, with warm lighting filtering through the windows.

I was clicking around Pinterest and fell into the rabbit hole of editorial illustration (very cool, wish that were me (some day)) and then homage covers of The New Yorker. And I thought, huh, that could be a fun thing to do.

Three illustrated New Yorker-homage covers: 1. a dusky street view of Tokyo; 2. A red figure cutting down a tree; 3. a figure feeding a cat in a house stuffed full of plants.
the tokyoiter by waneella, the parisianer by icinori, the home stayer by luis mendo

I’ve long been interested in editorial design—i.e. longform writing and mixed media on the web–whereas illustration is a newer and more nebulous daydream. I figured—well, I write these weeknotes regularly, which makes it a good opportunity to play around more since these posts are structured and predictable. Keyword play: I want to make it fun and do something weird! (Admittedly, this post is derivative rather than weird, but maybe in the future!)

So here is: The Weeknoter, issue 14.

Annals of the web

Sketch of Maggie Cheung reading a menu, seated in a restaurant booth.
maggie cheung, in the mood for love

Some light reading, courtesy of the internet.

AI isn’t useless. But is it worth it?

The A.I. Lie

It has become standard to describe A.I. as a tool. I argue that this framing is incorrect. It does not aid in the completion of a task. It completes the task for you. A.I. is a service. You cede control and decisions to an A.I. in the way you might to an independent contractor hired to do a job that you do not want to or are unable to do.

Designing The Cascade

It’s always so interesting to see someone’s design process. Robin’s cool new CSS blog is so fun.

The Era-Defining Aesthetic of “In the Mood for Love”

There is a particular aesthetic floating abroad in the world. You could call it an atmosphere, a vibe, or just an essence of style. It’s made up of a collection of ingredients: humid alleyways in dense cities, neon lights cutting through darkness, quietly flashy fashion, nostalgic music, tragic romanticism, and the smoke of many, many cigarettes.

Hardest Problem in Computer Science: Centering Things

How to use a personal website to enhance your ability to think and create?

Depth over engagement and audience-building. Far better to have one brilliant, knowledgeable person respond strongly and in depth to a piece than to have a hundred thousand respond shallowly.

When you invest time in the design, when something looks and feels beautiful, you take it more seriously yourself.

We think better when the stakes are higher, and one of the best ways of raising the stakes is to make a document into something you’re sharing with people whose good opinion you desire.

Oh the Humanity: Why You Can’t Build Apple with Venture Capital

About the Humane Ai Pin, which was a trainwreck I enjoyed watching.

Goings On

Sketch of Mariko from Shogun, wielding a polearm, referenced from episode 9.
mariko, shōgun

Here are some of the things I’ve been enjoying in the past few weeks.

  • All Born Screaming St. Vincent albumReckless is a bop.
  • Destiny 2 video game — The new Pantheon activity—kill four raid bosses!!—is a fun challenge, and the rewards are excellent. I haven’t struggled so much on Atraks since I was new to the raiding. Caretaker gave me day one flashbacks. I’m excited to get destroyed in subsequent weeks as it ramps up in difficulty.
  • Dungeon Meshi anime series — this is such a delightful anime about cooking.
  • Hades video game — with the new Hades 2 hype, I went back to play a few runs. I’m so excited for the new game, though I’m abstaining from early access and waiting for the full release.
  • Shōgun tv show — I didn’t fully pay attention to this (sorry)—my partner watched it while I hung out and worked on this website and drew and whatnot. Mariko though was riveting.
  • The Sympathizer tv show — I’ve only watched the first episode but I’ve enjoyed it so far! I’ve seen some comments about how the Vietnamese accents are bad, which is funny to me because I found myself understanding more Vietnamese than expected. Maybe this can be attributed to both myself and the cast having (seemingly) second-generation immigrant accents, lmao. Related reading:
  • THE TORTURED POETS DEPARTMENT Taylor Swift album — I like Fortnight and Florida!!! (Florence, my beloved). The rest, ah, blended together for me.
Sketch of a frame from The Sympathizer, showing the captain walking up the stairs. His silhouette is visible on the wall beside him, and a mirror behind him shows his back.
the captain, the sympathizer

An artist at large

At the end of March, I wrote that I wanted to make a good attempt at PleinAirpril, which is an online art challenge to do daily paintings in April.

I didn’t start until halfway through the month, and ended up doing ten paintings in total. As someone who barely does digital art, this was thrilling consistency and progress.

Grid of digital paintings of various environments.
collected here. ordered from newest to oldest.

En plein air technically refers to drawing from life outside, but I did all my paintings indoors from photo reference. It was a lot of fun—while I’ve done a lot of plein air sketching of urban environments as well as drawing from photo reference (notably, movie frames), painting is a different muscle. It required different technique.

I struggled a lot with buildings, with their complex lines and windows and reflections. You can see this in #2 Montreal where the cityscape is terrible but the statues are competent—clearly, I have far more experience with drawing people than buildings.

My last painting, #10 Cafe, is definitely the best—partly from me having more experience at this point, but also I think because its composition is a lot simpler. There aren’t complex buildings; the details are scant; the lighting does most of the heavy lifting. But I really like it and feel proud of how it came out—this one feels like I succeeded.


I’ve collected these in my sketchbook collection with its default post style, but I want to improve on how it’s displayed. I want to build my ideal art archive, with considerations to things like:

  • Metadata: tools used (e.g. brushes, programs), time spent, location info
  • Commentary/reflections about the work: how I feel about it, why I did x, what inspired me to make it
  • Supplementary media: timelapses, closeups, WIP screenshots, references

The record-keeping aspect is important to me. If I write a quick thought about a work when I share it on Mastodon, I want to record it permanently here. But a quick thought is not necessarily the same as a reflection, so the display should reflect that. What would my ideal UI look like for all this?

Looking, seeing

I took pictures of unremarkable sights because I thought, that might be interesting to paint. The corner of a skytrain station, the street I live on, the light out my window at sunset. Everything was suddenly interesting enough to examine and consider: could this be the subject of a painting?

I’ve mentioned this post before, but I think about it all the time:

the difference between you and a zoologist or you and a botanist is that the botanist, when she looks at a flower, has a question in mind. She’s trying to generate questions. For her the flower is the locus of many mental threads, some nascent, some spanning her career. […] That’s the promise: you will live more curiously if you write. You will become a scientist, if not of the natural world than of whatever world you care about. More of that world will pop alive. You will see more when you look at it.

— James Somers, More People Should Write

Extrapolating from zoölogy and writing to art, but you know what I mean. When I went looking for interesting sights, I saw more.


are these results useful?

I want to know what
I’m talking
about. I can’t wait to see
what I’m doing.

9 years ago, 20 years ago
9 years old, 20 years old, I want to
know what I want

100%! 100%! 1%!
I’m here! I’m here! I’m here!
I want to know what
I want to know

What is the meaning of the word?
Sorry to bother you
I’m in love with you

Sorry! Sorry! Sorry. Sorry.

Google Lens translation of an espresso carton. The text is korean, but the translation goes from Japanese to English, resulting in oddly poetic nonsense text.

stray notes

  • the vibe, header design, structure, and subheadings are based on, of course, the new yorker. the idea to imitate it came from covers of the tokyoiter, the parisianer, the home stayer, and other such variants.
  • an example of an actually interesting weeknote format: #9 was a comic. this is what i mean by experimenting!
  • more boringly, i think it’d be fun to have different styling for posts, like different fonts and colours; e.g. my 2023 media recap post is completely custom. i want to do more of that! there are too many cool fonts out there.
  • the poem is from the back of a korean espresso coffee thing i found at the store, which i tried to google translate, except it translated it from japanese to english, to very curious results. at first i thought it was funny, and then i looked at it a bit more and thought it was charmingly poetic. my transcription here is a poor man’s imitation—the charm is lost in translation, you could say, the raw language of floating blocks of text to the rigid structure of paragraph text that i write in markdown.
  • fonts used (i am sorry about how many i am loading): tiempos text and headline by klim, neue montreal and hatton by pangram pangram.
  • i spent a bit of time trying to figure out how to work in a diaeresis—“a punctuation mark that goes over the second vowel and indicates that it forms a separate syllable”—which is just, silly and very new yorker, and i absolutely had to include one. but how to fit in the word naïve? coöperative? reëlect? and then i realized as i was doing a final read through that the James Somers quote includes the word zoölogist. perfect!!
Cute drawing of Anh

Anh is a designer and artist at anhvn.com. She writes about projects she doesn't finish, media she sort of consumes, and things she finds on the internet. Follow her on Mastodon.