Design is hard and then you die cut.
December 9th, 2011

Where I Come From

Although endless hours on a tour bus and day after day of Chinese set dinners had been lovely, the last several days we spent in Shanghai by ourselves proved to be most fascinating.

I got to meet relatives that I had never met in my life who treated me like… well, family! Fussing over me and taking me all over town. I got to see where my parents grew up, which was definitely the highlight of the trip.

My dad was from Zhujiajiao, which means the Chu Family Settlement. Yes, it’s an entire village named after my family. I guess I’m kind of a big deal by association. It was a village with a tiny river running through it. Today, it has become a huge tourist attraction. The narrow alleyways are now lined with restaurants, snack food and souvenir shops, and hip little cafes that play Adele.

I also got to visit the very house that my mother grew up in because we still have family that lives there! I had moved 3 times in the last 5 years, so it was mind-blowing to imagine living in the same home for so long. It was definitely interesting to hear stories about my mom and her sisters’ favourite hiding places, and be shown them. It felt vicariously nostalgic.

October 26th, 2011

392 Steps to the Sun Yat-sen Mausoleum

This is the view from the top of the 392-step high Mausoleum of Sun Yat-sen located on a mountain that overlooks the city of Nanjing, China.

The Chinese are a fan of proverbs, and when this Mausoleum was designed in 1926, the architect had taken a personal mantra of Sun Yat-sen as inspiration.

The monument consists of 392 steps, symbolic of the 392 million Chinese population at the time, separated by 10 platforms. When you look up from the base of the mausoleum, you only see a continuous set of stone stairs. When you look down from the top of the mausoleum, you see a continuous platform.

Sun Yat-sen believed that when one is setting a goal, they should aim for the very best. And when they have reached that goal and looked back, you see not the steps, but the achievements that had led you there.

October 24th, 2011

Live From Shanghai

Against my better judgement, I had agreed to go on a week-long guided group tour to Shanghai and its surrounding cities with my mother. So far the experience has been less than wonderful.

I got to live out the truly horrific sequel of Snakes on a Plane – Cranky Babies on a Plane. Any attempt to sleep or read was futile.

After the 13-hour symphony of wailing babies, we finally land in Pu Dong, Shanghai. It has been a long time since I joined a group tour. Now I remember why. We waited for an hour on the tour bus for everyone to find us. We wait to have our luggages loaded. We wait to check in to the hotel. Everywhere we go, we wait.

What I do enjoy though, was the nifty factoids that the tour guides share.

We were in a 500 year old Chinese Garden in Suzhou that had belonged to some very important people in history. The screen above was awarded to a herbalist that had cured Empress Dowager Cixi of her insomnia. It was amazing to see how well the architecture, furniture, and other artifacts in the garden had been preserved.

The Chinese had lots of rules pertaining to gender, filial piety, feng shui, etc. And it was apparent in the design. Every design detail was carefully considered and had a story behind it.

I have no idea where we’re headed tomorrow, but the tour guide had promised excitement and wonder. I will take her word for it.

May 31st, 2011

Vegas 2.0

It feels like a distant memory now, but it was only 3 weeks ago that I did Vegas with my besties. It was my second time there, and Vegas did not disappoint. The one most noticeably different thing about it was that the street clickers got more legit. They wear a semi-uniform/t-shirt thing now to identify themselves. I enjoyed the shopping, drinking, dancing, sunning, (not in any particular order, and often in combination) however brief it was. And we certainly couldn’t have done it without our afternoon naps.

May Rambo be our witness. Thanks for a most memorable trip, pals.

April 19th, 2011

Generation:1

As part of the Vancouver Asian Heritage Month, Generation:1 is an exhibition of first generation Asian artists. I was recently asked to design an identity and some promotional materials for the event. I had loads of fun creating them. Mostly because of my lovely client who knew what she wanted, but was open to my suggestions and trusting of my instincts.

For my artistic friends, they are still accepting submissions. Please visit their website for more information.

March 17th, 2011

You don’t really look like that. It’s just me being sketchy.

Sketching/drawing/illustrating/doodling has always been one of my favourite past-times. It tricks me into thinking I’m doing something productive. Being the untrained illustrator that I am, I never know what I’m going to end up with until I’m done. And sometimes not even then. I’d think I had made incredible leaps and progress in the art of illustration, until I look at the image I had created again the next day and I’d want to tear it out of my sketchbook. But I try my best to resist.

Please don’t be alarmed if you see an evil/disoriented version of yourself in these pages. You don’t really look like that. Blame it on my uncoordinated wrist movements.

I have a fascination with drawing faces and expressions. You don’t get that much to work with. You have your eyes, and nose, etc, yet slight variations yield a completely different person.

Sometimes I think my imagination is too rooted in the practical to be artistic. In an attempt to exercise my abstraction, I decided to create an avatar for myself. It turned out to be strangely similar to designing logos. You feature the most prominent characteristics and you minimize the rest.

March 7th, 2011

My new workspace AKA now there is nothing holding me back from greatness

Well, except for a chair.

I finally have a proper workspace. Sort of. I got myself a trestle desk from Nood. Thanks to Marshall, it now resides on the third floor of my treehouse of an abode. It was not easy, but we got it up there and put it all together with minimal injury. I am still searching for a chair. But this is definitely a step up from the step stool/nightstand combination I had been subjected to in the past week:

And my books no longer sit sadly on the floor:

March 2nd, 2011

Bikram Yoga: 30 Days, 26 Poses

30 days ago, my good friend Joann Lee and I took up the Bikram Yoga challenge, in an attempt to follow through with our 2011 get healthy resolution. We debated our options: spin class, pilates, etc. We decided on Bikram Yoga Richmond because of their introductory offer, and it coincided with our schedule.

To be honest, going in, I had no clue what I was getting myself into. I Googled Bikram Yoga the night before to get an idea. Apparently people can get nauseous and faint due to the heat during their first sessions. It was serious business.

We plopped our mats and towels in the back corner of the studio in hopes of getting through the class unnoticed. Our plan was foiled the second our instructor walked in and announced our names and welcomed us. She told us to take it easy and that if we felt dizzy, lie down. *Nervous chuckle.

I don’t think we got through the first exercise before I looked over at Joann and mouthed, “OMG, it’s so hot!” And she mouthed back, “I know!”

Pretty soon the dizziness set in. I made the mistake of not leaving enough time between eating and going to class. I could barely move without feeling like I would vomit, let alone properly do the camel pose. I was on my back for most of the remainder of the class, while Joann was quite the trooper and did many more poses.

While I’m there, lying on my back, doing my best to hold down the contents in my stomach, I thought this must be what dying feels like. I was soaked in sweat. (And I don’t sweat.) What have I gotten myself into. I just wasted $45 that I could’ve spent on movies and buttery popcorn.

With a lot of trepidation, and a relatively empty stomach, we returned the day after for a second session.

And what a difference! I was able to do most poses, and the desire to vomit was low. I was quite pleased with myself.

The best part about Bikram Yoga, like most workouts, is no matter how exhausted you feel during the class, you always come out feeling refreshed and energized. You also notice that with each class, you are able to reach just a little bit further and hold just a little bit longer.

Our 30 day challenge is now over. I’m glad we did it. Thanks, BYR! I have enjoyed your friendly instructors and staff. It is definitely something I can see myself doing regularly.

February 27th, 2011

The perils of moving, and our irrational attachment to inanimate things

My life as of late seems to have been consumed by my home moving. At first it was all fun and games, as I had an excuse to raid the depths of my closet, reliving some of my best and worst fashion moments. Whatever possessed me to purchase pants that fit someone twice my size has escaped me. The late 90s was a confusing time.

Is nostalgia a good enough reason to keep calve-length pants and turtleneck sweaters? It’s difficult to be honest and admit I would never wear some of these clothing items again. But you never know, right?

Then there were the letters, photographs, and the dreaded diaries. Remember when people wrote letters? And developed film to put in these nifty book-like things with transparent sleeves? Remember books?

I have several shoe-boxes worth of letters, birthday cards, photographs, and journals. Call me sentimental, but I can’t bring myself to throw those things away.

I have letters my best elementary school-mate from Hong Kong wrote to me when I first moved to Canada. They eventually stopped as we brought our conversations on various online instant messaging platforms. But that’s fizzled out over the years as well. I’m sure we will meet again on some form of social media.

I want to tell her I never became a professional tennis player.

It was kind of nice to know that I had semi-coherent thoughts as early as age 8. And since then I’ve kept journals one way or another. I had the tendency to start new journals without finishing one first. I must say it is painfully embarrassing to read some of them. I had to keep telling myself that I’ve become a different person than the angsty, melodramatic, know-it-all 16 year-old that wrote those entries. But to be really honest, I think I’m very much the same person.

Maybe that’s why I’m so embarrassed.

Despite spying on the thoughts of my 16 year-old self, I managed to pack my belongings in a reasonable amount of boxes by moving day.

After 7.5 treacherous hours, we were moved in.

It was intimidating and very discouraging to see your entire living room occupied by boxes. Where does one start to tackle these cardboard mountains?

October 29th, 2010

A Nightmare on Jervis II: Not Gone, Just Bitten

This is a poster I designed for the Vancouver Friends for Life Society Halloween haunted house event. Being a proud fangbanger, I couldn’t resist a Russell Edgington inspired poster.

A Nightmare on Jervis II is this Sunday from 6pm-11pm at 1095 Jervis St. It is a free event, but donations are accepted. Proceeds go towards supporting people with life-threatening illnesses.