I am creating again

Creating art is a weird thing for me. Originally I was going to go to college for art, but changed my major last minute to Business/Accounting. Three years into college, I changed back to art. After college, I wasn’t sure what to do with my degree… Do I go to grad school? Do I become a professor? Do I want to illustrate children’s books? Do I want to be a professional freelance illustrator? Do I want to be a graphic designer? Do I want to keep doing pro bono graphic design without any experience? Do I want to sell art? Do I want to make money off of my own art? What is art to me?

After several years (6 to be precise), I’ve realized a few things:

  1. I don’t like making art for other people. Art is therapy for me. It helps me process.
  2. I am not good at keeping deadlines for my art, aka I am not good at making art for other people.
  3. I am totally enthused if people want to buy art I have already created. Many things contribute to my happiness and money is the gateway to a lot of those things.

Basically, I will never make money off of my art, and I am okay with that. I am good at other things that I can do for day jobs (and I still very much enjoy doing IT help desk work!).

And now more than ever I am creating art in leaps and bounds! I think this is because I finally have a job that doesn’t stress me out (and as an introvert, working remotely means that I am fully charged at the end of a work day!), I make enough money to live comfortably (for now #rent #…mortgage???), and I’m eating better and exercising regularly. In general, I have cut a lot of stressors out of my life (privileged enough to do so) and it feels great.

Now I am stressed, but in a positive way, because I’ve got 50+ lanterns and a bunch of other pieces to finish before the Verge Studio Art Tour on September 8-9!!! The piece I’m most excited to show is an altar to God Girl, but you have to get kind of pummeled by 70+ lanterns with a variety of images and messages on them to get to it (and to get out). I pray to GOD GIRL that I’ll see you there!

p.s. I’m still working on being good about updating my website with actual new images lol

One thing I learned today: Tire Pressure Indicator

I have a Honda Fit. It’s an awesome TARDIS-like car. The downsides so far are 1) Honda went a little cheap with the plastic parts and 2) my tire pressure indicator is hyper sensitive.

If your tire pressure indicator keeps coming on and you suspect the PSI difference is negligible, you can actually reset the tire indicator by closing your car doors and then pressing the tire indicator button just to the bottom left of the steering wheel. If it keeps coming on, you should probably get your tires checked. #TheMoreYouKnow

Today I paid the price of an Asian Chicken Wrap

It was a noon on a Friday and the brain fog had long ago settled in. I didn’t have any food in my fridge, so I thought, “Why not treat yourself to a Postmates lunch today?” Maybe something healthy like a Pronto’s farmers market salad, one of my favorite meals (and I’m not usually keen on salads). But what about my ex-lover, the Asian Chicken Wrap from Togo’s?

There was a Togo’s on my college campus that I used to Go To all the time for that Asian Chicken Wrap (*ahem* I remember it being called an Asian Chicken Salad Wrap). It’s like a cold, stiff burrito I can kid myself into thinking is healthy if I ignore all the Asian salad dressing leaking out of the bottom end (to be fair, it is comparably healthy). I remember the refreshing almost-zero-nutritional-value iceberg lettuce paired with fried wonton sticks, expertly wrapped in a spinach tortilla and cut in half just enough to satisfyingly rip it apart after unwrapping the gift of a healthier-alternative fast food corporation. A side note of this memory is that one of my residents (I was a Resident Advisor, aka RA) worked there, so it was fun to see her every now and then (our joke was yelling, “STOP FOLLOWING ME” every time we saw each other anywhere… I’m not sure why, but you can trust me when I assure you it was funny).

So yes, I did spend $10 on a Togo’s wrap with the standard Postmates fees. And yes, it was just as good as I remember it, though it was a little less expertly wrapped, a little poorly cut in half so I had a hard time ripping it apart evenly, and I did almost eat a piece of the wrapper. And yes, it did give me the poops for the rest of the day. Three additional poops in addition to the regular poop, and a mild tummy ache on the side. That didn’t stop me from eating mildly undercooked pork from an overly packaging-wasteful cook-it-your-damn-self company and a CREAM brownie ice cream sandwich later on. The Asian Chicken Wrap is still one of my favorite meals. I knew what I was signing up for, and I paid the price. Would I do it again? Yes. Even with those spicy poops? Yup.

And that’s a wrap.

I’ve been bad

And I’ve been good!

A few weeks ago, Trina and I perused Home Depot and some thrift stores for materials, which gave me a lot of inspiration. I’m still stumbling around trying to balance work, life, friends, and art, but you know, it’s going much better than before. Now that I work remotely, I actually crave human interaction – who knew that being around people 8 hours a day was THAT tiring (I knew). I have more time to be creative (but also more time to be lazy).

I also got an idea to do a new series of idealized portraits of what life could have been. So like, maybe I became a doctor and my parents were really happy about that, or maybe I got married and had a kid and my parents were really happy about that, or maybe I got enough sleep that one time and didn’t crash my car, or maybe I didn’t get wasted at high school graduation and vomit on everything. lol The possibilities are endless! We move through life asking, “What am I doing here?” then we come to a point years later to ask ourselves, “How did I get here?” finally landing at death’s door, which is exactly that – a doorway to something else beyond (I just saw 2001: A Space Odyssey in a theater and it was A+).

100 Drawings Reflection

I definitely didn’t meet my goal, but I produced 15 more drawings than I would have normally done so, so I feel pretty good about that. An assignment with a deadline is definitely necessary for me to get my ass off the floor (here’s an image of me scooting my ass on the floor _______&). I guess I also can’t expect to meet a deadline, but to be fair, that was a pretty ambitious assignment having been out of school for 6 years now (not counting community college courses). Having deadlines made me check-in more frequently with myself, my drawings, and my calendar, which I found useful and productive rather than wandering aimlessly through the ether of living life at a minimum level of productivity (not that wandering aimlessly isn’t okay every now and then).

What was also helpful was creating a sheet of thumbnails sketches to brainstorm ideas for larger pieces. I like tiny thumbnails because I don’t get the anxiety that comes with committing to larger blank canvases. With the 15 drawings I have now, I’m hoping to choose a few to re-create and refine on a larger scale. I should probably add that to my timeline or else I might not get that done lol

Here’s some awful photos of the 15 and a few sketches:

Unimportant Day in the Life of Hellxia

ON THE JOB FRONT: I’ve been really happy so far about my new job as an IT Help Desk Jr. Analyst. I get anxious because the learning curve is pretty steep, but it’s very exciting and everyone’s real kind. And as I’ve said like a broken record to my partner, I love working from home. I miss my standing desk, but it is pretty much exactly as I always dreamed it would be.

Core perks of working from home:

  1. Don’t have to smell anyone else’s poops
  2. Don’t have to worry about whose pubes are on the toilet seat
  3. No constantly draining face-to-face interaction
  4. Easy to cook my own food for breakfast/lunch
  5. No commute

ON THE ART FRONT: I definitely only did 16 drawings so far of 100, but that’s probably 16 more drawings than I would have made without setting that goal. I also forgot to schedule the first interview with my parents, which I will do shortly after publishing this post. I’ve updated my progress here in case you’re interested. I’ve got a lot to do this weekend!

ON THE FLATULENT FRONT: I woke myself up twice twice in the past week because my farts smelled so bad. Just thought you should know.

ON THE RELIGIOUS THEMES IN MY GOD GIRL SERIES FRONT: I didn’t think about Christian God as ambiguously good/bad in relation to Norse Gods (although really my only knowledge of Norse Gods extends to Neil Gaiman’s Norse Mythology, which you should definitely LISTEN to because it’s so good and he’s a great reader, and Marvel comics). I really like the ambiguity of morals in Norse Mythology, as told by Neil Gaiman. But I never thought about how Christian God can be like that, too. Depending on what sect you’re in, he could be totally different things. He could be a benevolent and kind God. He could be a wrathful God who breathes punishment. He could be that paternal figure who suggests how you live your life and gives you potential consequences, such as girl you’ll turn into a salt pile if you look back at that fire, or if you do this totally random thing, I’m gonna need you to kill your daughter as a sacrifice to me, your papa pal guy God. It’s still mostly scary to me to create this singular omnipresent dude in the sky that’s always kind of rooting for humanity’s fight against that cool dude with the horns beep beep Richie. Do what you gotta do, believe what you gotta believe to do the right thing, I guess… but what scares me is the inability to do what’s right without a God threatening consequences at you. The lack of critical thought is what scares me, not that people who have some kind of faith in something don’t have the ability to think critically, but I think most people… choose not to think critically when it comes to morals and ethics, etc. Even if they’re super intelligent in other subjects. Not saying I’m a saint either. –God Girl

This is not an art update. (well actually…)

Goodbye Forever

PPAC gave me a great farewell on Friday by having meat cake catered, aka meatloaf that I love from Selland’s. They endured my Karaoke list on Spotify, which includes hits like All Star by ShreSmash Mouth, Photograph by Nickelback, In the End by Linkin Park, Complicated by Avril Lavigne, etc. They also let me show them several memes on YouTube, including Noot Noot, Shrek, and Eminem’s Mom’s Spaghetti.

After packing up and heading home, I headed straight to Trina’s to grab Bon Chon, aka delicious props for of the shots in our #aZnroom music video. Lots of fun filming.

Phbbllltttt

Today I finally got off my ass and went to Zumba in the morning, then headed out to host an Artsy Fartsy reunion among old art classmates.

ICYMI: Back in college, I organized several Artsy Fartsy get-togethers, but the flyer for one of them had my Nubbinz character farting, which one of the Art Department administrators did not like. I had posted the flyer to the Art Department website (it made sense because it was an event for art students?), but then it got taken down, I was banned from the page, and then promptly received a notification from the chair of the department telling me that my post was vulgar and distracted from the real purpose of the Facebook page. This seems to happen to me pretty frequently for some reason. Anyway, I then launched war in the form of rogue art exhibits. There was a pizza art exhibit on the hallway cork boards and a whole lot of butts going around. One of my professors then decided to take up half of a much-needed pre-finals review session to berate me in front of the class lol.

Anyway, it was refreshing to meet up with my old classmates and see how they’re doing. Here’s our group photo!

THEN I got home and received a package my now former coworkers sent as a going-away gift: Shrek slippers. THE BEST. Ogrewhelmed with gratitude.

Annnnnddd then I spent the rest of the day cleaning instead of doing art, so I’m extremely behind in my 100 drawings wamp wamp. Here’s the 3 out of 5 I’ve done so far lol:

SJAM is my JAM

Last week I got a chance to check out the new exhibits at the San Jose Art Museum, which I love so obviously you should go to it immediately. Below is a sketch I made in their interactive portion of the Raimonds Staprans exhibit. But my favorite exhibit was actually The House Imaginary, which explored definitions of what a house is / is not. I’m terrible at documenting my favorite pieces, but there was one made of fabric that looked like the ghost of a large traditional Korean archway. It referred to how in Korea they’ll tear down really old, historic architecture and replace it with modern buildings. There was a window cast from when an artist cast the entire interior of an old, decrepit house. And there were some prints of the room layouts in different homes another artist previously lived in. Really fascinating work on displacement, memory, etc. Go see it while you can! The exhibit runs until August!

Back to School (sike)

To continue my momentum back into art-making and to prepare for the #aZnroom studio tour in September (8-9), I have created what I think is a pretty rigorous curriculum for myself. Apparently homework assignments, even if fake, are the only things that keep me accountable!

And beyond all this, I am starting a new career as the real life Maurice Moss soon! #ITCrowd

Projects:

  • Film commercial
  • Film music video
  • 100 traditional drawings on 7×10″+ paper in 2 weeks
  • 100 digital drawings in 2 weeks
  • 2 paintings in 2 weeks
  • Draw/paint on 25 paper lanterns in 3 weeks
  • Fix up Asian dolls from thrift store
  • Parent Interviews

Schedule:

(subject to change obvi)

  • April 26 – Art date with Trina, storyboards for music video and commercial due
  • May 4 – Film date with Trina
  • May 11 – 100 traditional drawings due 16 Completed
  • May 12 – 1st interview with parents RESCHEDULED
  • May 16 – 1st interview with parents – reflection due RESCHEDULED
  • May 20 – Film date with Trina CANCELLED
  • May 24 – Asian dolls fixed
  • May 25 – 100 traditional drawings – reflection due
  • June 2 – Film date with Trina
  • June 14 – 2 paintings due
  • June 16 – 1st interview with parents
  • June 19 – 1st interview with parents – reflection due
  • June 29 – 100 digital drawings due
  • June 30 – Commercial and music video due
  • July 20 – 25 lanterns due
  • July 21 – 2nd interview with parents
  • July 24 – 2nd interview with parents – reflection due
  • August 3 – 3rd interview with parents
  • August 7 – 3rd interview with parents – reflection due
  • August 24 – Parent interviews finalized timeline due
  • September 8-9 – The #aZnroom studio art tour
  • September 15 – Studio art tour reflection due

How do you get to know your own parents?

On March 28, 2018, I sent an email to my parents detailing a new art project involving them. But before I get into that, let me take a step back to college.

In college, Nancy and I would talk about our complex relationships with our parents. She brought up wanting to one day preserve her parents’ stories by videotaping them, documentary-style. I thought that was a real cool idea given that I hardly knew anything about my parents, we had terrible conversations (read: none), and neither party knew the other very well (pretty sure my parents thought I was all “drugs, sex, and rock and roll” in high school when I was the one who literally had to be pulled away from studying on my birthday). A project like that would force us to get to know each other, because force seemed necessary at this point.

My relationship with my parents has ebbed and flowed over the years, somewhat improving because I can talk  politics with my dad and I can finally start to acknowledge and move past the flaws in both my parents. Sort of.

Then reading excerpts from an interview with Thi Bui on Vietnamese identity and telling her parents’ stories yesterday resonated with me and I just thought I should blog about my project (and also use this as an opportunity to highlight The Slant, which is like theSkimm, but for Asian American news and Pacific Islander news… aka you should subscribe right now).


Back to March 28, 2018, just a week ago. The email I sent to both of them detailed a sort of “Timeline and Talk” project that I’ve haphazardly named “Where do we come from and where do we go from here?” 

Wait – let’s go back one more day to when Trina and I were having an art date and talking about our complex relationships with our parents (it’s a timeless conversation). When I got home that night, I started writing out what I knew about my mum’s life. It was a big block of left to right, top to bottom text with arrows pointing from one thing to the next. There were a lot of gaps. When did she get her driver’s license and what was that experience like?

Then I started writing overlaying my own timeline to compare with hers. I had never thought about how our individual timelines interacted. I wrote out one for my dad and realized that while I talk with him a lot more, I hardly know anything about his life! After that, I sketched out an idea of how to present this as an art exhibit:

  1. I would work with my parents on fleshing out their timeline, then simplifying and generalizing them for public viewing. That would be the “Where we come from” part.
  2. I would display them in that big block of text, our timelines overlaid, enlarged for people to see. Visible, out in the open – so unlike my parents’ generation to be airing out our dirty laundry.
  3. There would be a secondary timeline – a fictional extrapolation of what I think our timelines could look like moving forward from this project. That would be the “Where do we go from here” part.
  4. It would be cathartic, everyone would be like, “wow talking with your parents – wild stuff,” and then they would participate in the interactive portion where they would start writing their timelines, their family timelines, their partner’s/s’ timelines, etc. I can dream.

I get it – I’m super awkward and I don’t know how to ask my parents about their lives. But I do know how to fabricate and facilitate a space wherein we can genuinely learn and share our stories with one another… and I do know how to art.

So I sent that initial proposal to my parents. One of them reacted positively to the project, but also wanted to remain anonymous.

Well, if I can’t make this into an art exhibit, then at least I will have the personal, private satisfaction of getting to know my parents.

the aZn room

You know who you should follow on Instagram? @theaznroom.

Why follow? Because it’s Trina and I building up towards our open studio tour in September, aka a weekend-long exhibit in Trina’s backyard.

Why “the aZn room”? Because that’s the space we’ve claimed to comfortably be whatever it is we define as the “Asian” part of our Asian American identities. When we confine ourselves to our room, we can explore what it is to NOT:

  • Speak our native languages
  • Understand why we can’t be just American
  • Want to be just American
  • Understand why our families did what they did
  • Be embarrassed about our smelly food or more efficient brooms
  • Compartmentalize to cope and survive

… the room is infinite, the world outside is even greater, and the space between is what we dare to tread. Of course, most of it is nonsensically poking fun at stereotypes – and we revel in it. (lol)

So obviously you should follow us.

Beyond our individual work, we’re also working on a dope series of commercials advertising for this show. Look forward to our top-of-the-charts hit single music video, a home shopping network preview of our work, and more for the limited-time-only low, low price of $Follow @theaznroom.