FRIENDS OF VIRGINIA 2.0

I am embarking on a new journey to push Friends of Virginia to its maximum potential and I want your support.

If you don't know much about Friends of Virginia, you can read the very first blog post here.

In a nutshell, the Friends of Virginia project is about bringing humans together by encouraging them to share their reflections, happiness and struggles with one another, regardless of who it is on the other side of the screen reading this. It is about giving a sense of hope, and hopefully become less fearful of sharing our inner wonderings with others.

Amongst the now friends of Virginia there are artists, elders, nuns, bankers, people living in war, scientists and children to name a few (many are a mix of everything). Yet no matter the diversity, I've been repeatedly told that those who are part of it that they find a sense of peacefulness in each others’ responses; the type that comes from empathizing with the reflections of others, and feeling that you're not alone in your ups and downs through life.

For half a year, I kept a newsletter where I shared drawings of anonymised responses to the survey with several hundred people who had submitted their answers too. With work and new art projects coming up, it became increasingly hard to keep up with the drawings, and I paused it until I had a better idea of how I can make it more sustainable, engaging and powerful.

Today, I am happy to say that I got there: I am ready and got a plan to continue making the most out of the shared wisdom, vulnerability and humanity shared in all the answers. 

Starting this week, every Sunday I will post a question on Instagram and Facebook and I will illustrate the answers I receive on comments and private messages throughout the week.

I will post the illustrations on social media, and will also keep a newsletter where all illustrations for that week's question will be shared.

Last but not least, I will soon start a Patreon page where you will be able to support the project and receive monthly postcards with illustrated answers to your door! 

I hope you'll want to become a part of it. And as always, if you have any ideas or feedback, please share your thoughts with me at me@virginialonso.com. Gracias! 

 

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I showed up.

It took me a while, but I made it. I showed up. To myself, to my inner child, to my values. I worked hard to build a career in tech, engineering and conflict resolution and I enjoyed almost every bit of it, but deep inside I was simply too scared of jumping into the world of art and creativity, of my own projects, of being more 'me'. I was scared that it wouldn't be enough, that people wouldn't actually enjoy it, that family and friends would raise their eyebrows. That little voice in my head saying there was nothing wrong with my previous career. That little voice asking if it's really worth it to jump into the unknown and lose our company's prospects and growth, the financial stability, or the vision of a more peaceful international arena that I was trying to work towards.

 At a workshop I was co-facilitating in Tunisia during my previous work as Innovation Manager at  AKTEK .

At a workshop I was co-facilitating in Tunisia during my previous work as Innovation Manager at AKTEK.

I had began the Friends of Virginia project as a side thing I loved doing in my free time. Who wouldn't enjoy receiving thoughts from all over the world about our daily lives and the world, about our hopes and our fears, and then drawing anonymized answers and sharing back with the community? What started as a small personal project, became a fast-growing community of friends and friends of friends who were completing the Friends of Virginia survey and reading each other's illustrated answers (you can read the full story here). 

People in my network began connecting me to other great humans, with whom I began working on commissioned illustration work. We crafted a beautiful children's story with Daybreaker, illustrated a large-scale intimacy survey with Cambyo, and designed the narrative and branding of a new field of study being born at MIT, Cryptoeconomics. And before I realised it, I committed on August 2016 to become a full-time art entrepreneur by my next birthday (16th March 2018). 

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What I wROTE
ON MY NOTEBOOK

(without really knowing why or how)

That sentence marked the beginning of a three month-long handover period at the startup I helped build over the last two years, final work trips to Barcelona and Somalia, and a growing excitement for whatever was next. I'm somebody who will always try to have plans and projects lined up, and that's what I did, but something was asking me to free up and see what happens. So I dropped some of the illustration projects I was preparing for, and said yes to an art residency in Iceland, a emotional rollercoaster trip to Brazil, and a family reunion in New Zealand. In just under two months, life took me in the craziest of unexpected turns, and I have had the privilege to not have to return back on a Monday morning to my desk and my tasks, and instead I've been able to push life in all directions, better understand my boundaries (and then push them), and experiment with other forms of art beyond illustration.

 I knocked on people's doors in a small fishing village in Iceland and sang them a song I wrote.

I knocked on people's doors in a small fishing village in Iceland and sang them a song I wrote.

On top of it all, I decided to move to my grandfather's home in Northern Spain, in a small village of 170 people and about 10,000 birds. Six generations have lived there and it was now empty as my grandfather is long gone. My cousins live in the village and farm the land: broccolis in winter; wheat, potatoes and courgettes in the summer. Since I moved in three weeks ago, I have repeatedly lost track of time working and drawing, preparing my upcoming projects, and going for walks. Some mornings, I walk to my cousin's farm and cut a fresh broccoli and cook it for lunch. Sometimes I'll pick walnuts on the way home. My aunt is teaching me a lot about culinary traditions in our region. The town mayor has given me the keys to a beautiful hidden chapel for me to do something beautiful in it: an art installation? the recording of a live EP? an experimental dinner? The opportunities are infinite. 

So this, dear reader, is how I showed up, and all that life provided in return.