I had an urge to be apart of something. I figured that’s what we are meant to do, as creatures we all conglomerate towards each other with varied similar interests, longing to belong. searching for soul mates, deep friendships, meaningful relationships of any kind, we humans crave it. as appealing as being hikikomori sounds, they’re still communicating to others via the internet. realizing I had no community, I felt obligated to join the bigger picture somehow.
I met a friend involved in the tokyo art scene as an aspiring art director, working at galleries. suddenly some opportunities arose and I decided to push myself to accomplish something. what, I didn’t know. I knew I needed deadlines or I would never get anything done. everything else was up in the air. I kept putting off picking out what photos I wanted to submit to the independent artist exhibition. a week extension, a week more procrastination.
I finally forced myself to view my collection. I picked out what I was drawn to, and narrowed it down. I picked similar color tones and an atmosphere that made me feel a vague nostalgia. the images began to tell a story together. they were taken over the span of a year, but together they told the story of an alternative future world in one day. they were of mundane images of tokyo, that japanese people ignore every day. I was fascinated with the city as an outsider. I thought my story could show that tokyo isn’t always what it seems, that if you change your mind, there is another universe right in front of us. I liked the images on their own, and I liked them even more as a storyboard to a sci-fi anime from a past future. such as a retro 1950s nuculear family prediction that we have already surpassed (2010 and no flying buicks, sorry, ’50s) I named it “retro neo tokyo”. a new tokyo future from the past. an alternate story telling of tokyo. to make the mundane exciting, to bring attention little details that I hoped japanese people could look at closely and re-examine.
it dawned on me that all of my favorite anime characters have the same traits in common. although they are the main heroes of the show, they sleep a lot, eat too much, and have their mouths wide open yelling obnoxious things to annoy all those around them. I admire them all. probably because they inspire me–I can relate to being lazy, hungry and loud… but I want to work on being a hero too.
I decided to make a tribute of my idols and wear my fan art to Seoul Fashion Week. I was coming out as a geek in the most fabulous way I knew how. cameras and watching eyes everywhere in the middle of fashion week… and hopefully some secret stylish nerds that might come out to me. I was a geek peacock, trying to attract like-minded and attractive people. I was so happy to be wearing my favorite things I was passionate about! loud and proud, just like my anime heroes. I am an otaku and it’s not a secret! I wear my heart and my art on my sleeve! it was also the most fun I’ve had drawing in a long time. permanent marker on soft leather was a feel-good match.
I found the jacket at a vintage market in Seoul called gwang-jwang. the market was full of booths crammed with musty cheap clothes and a surprising array of cute boys closing up shop. I spotted this long, white jacket hanging from a ceiling. the boy of the shop was speaking all the excitable english he knew how, and insisted I try it on. it fit like a glove and I knew immediately this was it. but I took my time prancing around in it so I could spend a little longer talking with the boys of the booth. I originally imagined a cropped jacket but I realized I needed to go large to fit my vision. it was overwhelming since I hadn’t drawn in months. 2 days before fashion week began, I finally put pen to leather, laying out across my friend’s heated floors till 5 am, skipping dance parties to create my masterpiece. I MADE THIS! ah~ I’m so happy~
starring Spike Spiegel, Usagi (aka Serena), Vash the Stampede, Ryo Saeba, Luffy and Goku. I drew hidden things all over the jacket like the awkward crow from city hunter under the collar and sailor moon eyes on the cuffs. several cute boys have wanted to wear and steal my jacket. most people don’t believe I drew it myself. 5 out of 6 Japanese people don’t know what Cowboy Bebop is, and that is a strange problem.
saturday I rode my bike around, chasing shadows and light. I bundled up for late november but once I stepped outside, it wasn’t chilly out at all. in fact, it was a perfect day. it was like a late seattle summer, cold for californians and maybe too hot for pacific northwesterners. I was in 2 places at once. it reminded me of the home I left behind for the home I always held in my heart. I rode around my neighborhood searching for interesting shapes the sun created in the early afternoon. Sunday I was going to have my first test shoot with a japanese male model in training. my first test shoot since the moment I decided to deem/label myself a “photographer”.
1980s Tokyo, the sun has just set and the giant neon lights begin to buzz. A turn off the avenue leads to a maze of backstreets. the alleys grow darker and damper as you leave the main drag behind. less people, more trash cans. the sound of traffic and feet shuffling die down and a faint music grows louder. turning one last corner, a glow illuminates a dead end. it’s an underground music club. you wouldn’t have known it’s existence, unless you had been there before. it’s CITY HUNTER, a thriving soulful joint that has somehow sidestepped the flow of time.
Our J-pop/K-pop dance night has come so far in 6 months! from Alibi basement room to … Barboza basement room. ok, so we’re still in a basement bar, but now our night is on Capitol Hill which is the only place that matters (to people on Capitol Hill)! JK POP! is getting lots of press and making headlines! it’s really exciting. I get to dress up and pretend I’m a K-pop star. I used to dream about dancing in a club to K-pop while dancing in my bedroom. I never thought I’d ever get to help RUN the event! our last one, July 5th was pretty good considering the July 4th holiday hangover.
second of 5 feburary shoots, with Lonnie Webb. When I spoke to him on the phone he gave me the impression of being a long haired, laid back surfer dude in his 30s. then I met him and I was way off! It’s so interesting to meet photographers in person because they know what I look like but it’s always a surprise on my end. Lonnie was such a fun guy to shoot with. his personal style was perfectly put together that only he could pull off. coifed hair, casio watch, long gold key necklace and sweet warby parker style glasses. anyone else would have easily come off as a douche bag on first impression, but he was so charming and genuine and didn’t even swear! it was cute. what a cool guy! he’s so talented in photography, I hope to shoot with him again soon before everyone catches on to his talent and he gets too busy!!
Make up by Ja
Styled by Voss
in the first 2 weeks of feb I had 5 test shoots I coordinated with various photographers. it was pretty exciting. one of the shoots I did involved projecting images onto a wall/me, which was lots of fun. This one I did with Erik Simkins, who has some great street photography and behind the scenes stuff on his site. We worked only with film, and I really like how the grain and roughness of these photos give it another dimension of sort.
There was a kitten there named Edda, who looked like a tiny mainecoon cat. well, I assumed it was a cat but it was shaved in a way that it could have been an alien species that could mimic simliar attributes of an earth cat. it had giant green eyes that penetrated my soul to it’s core. I was a little obsessed with it because it played hard to get (see: skiddish) unless I had a tiny treat for it, and then it commenced crackhead attack mode.
the apartment in which we took pictures in was not the photographer’s, but a friend of his. it was decorated in a way that when he said he was a graphic designer, I understood immediately. it was very well styled. I hope they are a successful graphic designer, but if not they could always rely on contemporary hip interior decorating as a fall back.
I have many more shoots to post and a few more to come in March. I can’t wait!
but without the cold, hard, wet, dirt ground. I just thought I should let you guys (the 3 of you who read this (hi mom)) know that my bedroom is awesome. When we came back to the states, we rushed to find a place to live. I was severely depressed from the tragedy in Japan and dearly missed our 194 square foot tatami mat apartment. I figured I had to make the best of our situation being back in Seattle and decided I needed a really amazing apartment.
I had always been obsessed with theme hotels (even before Osaka Love Hotels) and knew about the Hotel Fox in Denmark with it’s many different rooms all created by different artists (SO COOL). I saw this room and thought “I could do that”. I already had a collection of forest wall murals. Thus began my creative endeavor to make Devin build us a forest room. Devin only agreed if he could have a side flap to get in and out of the tent because being 6’7″ and just turning 30 he is “too old for this shit”. ‘this shit’ being: crawling in and out of beds. I will forever sleep in some sort of fort that requires crawling and rolling around until the day of my demise. fact.
Awhile ago I tried to post a picture of my room but no one believed it was mine! I can understand that. who do you know that sleeps in a tent bed in real life? Probably no one, this is totally an internet find sort of bedroom if I say so myself. but someone has to make it (and sleep in it)! Feel free to be inspired to make your own tent/gypsy/cave/bed dwelling! IT IS SO FUN EVERY NIGHT.
Every single day for the past couple of years, I have been really annoyed with myself for not drawing. I keep telling myself to make the time to get back into it, but I never know where to start. I began to draw again when I moved to Japan, being inspired by all the art I loved there. although, I kept only focusing on fan art. I was drawing characters created by other people in the forms of other artist’s styles. it was fun to do, but then I got on myself again for not not creating anything original or finding my own style.
I just get overwhelmed when it’s time to put pencil to paper. so many things to draw, so many styles in so many formats and mediums… and colors! I rarely finish a drawing all the way. I get attached to the sketch or stupidly worry if I put pen to it, I’ll ruin it. it’s dumb, I know. I tell myself to just DO IT but my brain goes in all different directions. I keep saving all this wonderful art I see on the internet for inspiration, but… I just stare and wish at it.
I even tried to just get in the habit of drawing even it was garbage. searching the internet for “meme challenges”, but none were too inspiring. they did all start with “DAY ONE: SELF PORTRAIT”. self ports are the only thing I am confident in. I can draw an overly ambitious and wishful thinking picture of myself any day. so I started one, but decided to try drawing myself in my favorite artist’s styles, just to get back into the swing of things.
When I was in Japan I bought a lot of art books. I drew this Mamiya Oki piece first, with an old hair cut of mine from last year (I don’t need 20 self ports of me with blonde hair and a hat at the moment, so I’m time travelling my self-ports here). I wore this korean men’s hooded sweater a lot to look like a jedi to match my padawan braid(s). I was super pumped it wasn’t too bad of a sketch. it would look better colored, and clearly there are some things out of proportion, but not bad after months/years of drawing next to nothing.
I am super pumped to work more on this sketch!! I have always been fascinated with Hirohiko Araki’s work, although I have never read JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure manga (on my to do list). The portrait I am doing of myself is from my 25th birthday dance performance outfit. I thought all the shiny jewels and chains would be an easy similar style to draw. I can’t wait to color it (although I am nervous!!).
The great thing about copying other’s work you admire is to really get into the details of the picture. I would look at grand scenes by artists and think “WOW that looks so good!” but when I sit and study it closely, I notice things that I personally would have thought looked weird to draw or not been satisfied with had I done it myself. It teaches me not to be so hard on myself and to look at drawings as a whole.
The best and ultimate advice I got and will always give about drawing is–”it is 99% observation” (and practice, but duh). I learned that when I was 9 in a drawing class at the boys and girls’ club. the teacher had us draw bugs bunny’s head. I drew it better than her (she observed a line coming out of the wrong place, and I corrected her with hawk-like observation… I must have sounded like a brat). I still have the drawing, it looks straight outta looney toons, not gonna lie. I was a talented kid. if I kept up with it, who knows where I would be now. but I didn’t. it’s just a hobby.
I just want to create things. keep my hands off the keyboard and mouse and physically make something to be excited or proud about. I hate wasting time on the all-consuming internet. I want to leave behind physical objects that came out of my mind and then existed because I created it. I get carpal tunnel if I’m on the computer too damn much.
life is too short, let’s make things!
This is about 6 months late, but I filmed my last official Scarecrow Video Christmas party with my Nikon D90 of all of us doing our laid-back karaoke thang at the Sunset in Ballard. Finally just edited it the other day. Music is from the Danger Diabolik OST, by Enno Morricone.