The Vigilant Robot

a watchful eye of creative complexity

Monthly Archives: November 2013

Ink & Chaos: Hand-lettering Nietzsche

On the lovely day of October 15th, a good friend of mine was born. She studies and enjoys philosophy and she happens to share her birthday with German philosopher, Friedrich Nietzsche. I decided to hand-letter a quote by Nietzsche that I found meaningful and give it to her as a present. There were four quotes I found really enjoyable and contemplative:

“Love is not a consolation; it is light.”

“He who has a why can endure any how.”

“You must have chaos within you to give birth to a dancing star.”

“Without music life would be a mistake.”

I narrowed it down to the last two, and then finally to number three: “You must have chaos within you to give birth to a dancing star.” I just felt that we both had a lot of stuff going on in our lives and at times felt very stressed out and crazy, that maybe this quote would help us find some solace—me while drawing it and her while looking at it on her wall. Without the busy times, the crazy situations and the chaotic experiences, we wouldn’t be who we are and in the end, what we produce in life would not exist without it. Maybe we would produce more, but the production and process would be different. I do believe that the outcome would be entirely different. Either way, it is okay. Chaos is sometimes necessary to create that one moment worth it all.





P1090200 P1090204

I’m finally posting this now, one month too late, because I only recently gave her the drawing and didn’t want her to see it beforehand.

Giving Thanks, Yet Hungry for Change

(originally published on

“Poverty is a veil that obscures the face of greatness. An appeal is a mask covering the face of tribulation.” —Khalil Gibran

In two weeks, much of the United States will gather with their family and friends, eat turkey or other delicious, homemade meals, share conversation and shortly thereafter, realize that they ate too much—as they do every year. Thanksgiving is a holiday of feasting and a day when people take the time to reflect on their blessings throughout the year and be thankful for all the good in their lives. While everyone may find at least one thing for which to be thankful, everyone does not have pleasant stories to share or is fortunate enough to enjoy even a simple dinner.

Although it may seem to some that the economy is improving, the rate of poverty is increasing. While the middle class dissipates as the median household income falls, those in the upper end of the income spectrum gain, driving the rise in inequalityLast year, roughly one in four children lived in poverty—that rate is steadily increasing. When one thinks about the federal government’s definition of poverty—an annual income of $23,000 for a four-member family—a starker picture is painted. Conditions for these families continue to worsen. As of this month, the government has implemented their decision to cut billions of dollars from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)—Food Stamps—giving these struggling families and 16.4 million children even less to eat.

An increasing number of families in our country will not have a large feast—or even one small meal—on Thanksgiving. What can you do? While it would take the entire nation to systematically create economic change in this country, there are simple things every individual can be mindful of and do.

  • Donate Food or Money
    • Help feed struggling Chicagoans with the Greater Chicago Food Depository
    • The 18th District’s Holiday Food Drive runs from November 1st to December 15th. Drop off non-perishable food items at the Community Policing Office, 1160 N. Larrabee. For more information, call 312-742-5778 or email
    • Buy a homeless person a meal.
  • Check the Homeless Shelter Directory for a list of Food Pantries and Soup Kitchens in your town or community that you can help through donations or volunteerism.

We all have bills and expenses to pay, necessities to buy, and little time to spare, but we are generally better off and have more time than we think. If you see someone that needs help, whether monetarily or otherwise, think about a simple thing you can give in that moment; it may be a quarter, strong arms for lifting, or a smile—if you have it at the moment of need, give. We are all human and at some point, we all need something from someone else. Finally, please take time to think about, not just the economic state of this nation, but the state of the entire world and take a step to change it. People in other nations pay a great deal of attention to politics and social issues in our country because of the immense impact our actions have on people all over the world. Every time you buy a product, eat a meal, or vote, you have affected other people, whether for better or worse. We live in a world together; it is time we act as though we do.

Celebrating Dia de los Muertos

Dia de los Muertos is a holiday I appreciate, even though I am not Mexican or Latina, despite being mistaken for one on occasion. From the celebratory nature of remembering those who have passed to the decorative altars and sugar skulls, everything about this holiday is quite beautiful and intentionally so. Day of the Dead occurs every year on November 1st. Elevarte, a community arts organization in Chicago, hosts “Muertos de la Risa,” a large community procession including face painting, food, and performance to celebrate the holiday in the Pilsen neighborhood, which is a predominately Mexican community. Sadly, I wasn’t able to attend the Muertos de la Risa this year, but I did attend Arte de los Muertos, a Day of the Dead themed art exhibition organized by local community members.

Here are some of my favorites from that exhibition:



It was very crowded so this was the best picture I could get. :/




ROOMS gallery window altar for the exhibition (in Pilsen)


I also decided to illustrate a skull of my own. I added some Islamic geometry to the skull to place a bit of my own cultural and religious background into it and as a reminder of the Muslims being slaughtered all over the world in senseless wars. This skull is a celebration of them and all those lives lost due to violence.