Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Letter to a friend a.k.a. Hipsters Hate Nothing More Than Other Hipsters


You know that everyone who travels thinks they’re the only one in the world to do so. The moment they leave, and sometimes even before so, they’re a celebrity in their own mind. I can’t deny that it’s a legitimate reaction. They’re going off on an adventure to a new exciting location and it’s easy to over-dramatize. The friends back home who’ve never left are an easy and enthusiastic audience. Admittedly, I fell for it myself. The last two weeks before I left were great because of all the attention I was receiving. One friend paid the best compliment in saying “you’re such an adventurer.” Why thank you, I thought, I couldn’t agree more. I chuckle as I remember all the bullshit I told my friends and family before I left, about how I had so many big plans to make art and start a blog and write a book and blah, blah, blah.

What a shock it was to discover how so many other travelers had the same idea! I wondered how it was possible that we could all be celebrities when there were so many of us? How are my book and my blog and my photos going to fare if everyone else is doing the same thing? Damn you other travelers, damn you! I came here to get away from the competition!

A lot of us travelers take up photography or writing, as in your case, to document the experience. Understandably, it's appealing. You’re in a foreign country and everything is still new and brilliant. To be perfectly honest one feel a bit like Indiana Jones first discovering the ancient temple deep in the Amazon. So of course you should take some photos. However, that rush of discovery and the excitement of adventure is hard to get across in a photo, especially if you're using a flash.

Oscar Wylde said that a good artist is a perfectly boring person because he gives everything interesting he has to his artwork. I take this to mean something about the divide between an experience and the recollection of it. A flashy, interesting, well done piece of art that gets you excited is most likely quite the opposite. More likely it's a slow, deliberate and carefully crafted effort designed to produce a unique reaction. Simply stated, good art is harder than it looks, but I'm sure you already knew that.

If you can forgive my earlier sarcasm and cynicism about your situation, there is a gem hidden in all of this and a lesson to be learned, and that is: work hard. It doesn’t matter where you do it, just do a lot of it and do it well. Yeah, it’s cool that you’re in Korea, but that doesn’t make you any more talented than you were back home. Get back to work. Besides, you just might enjoy it.


Taekji Building: Caruso!

This is one of the many entertainment building you can find in my neighborhood. It's also typical of asian commercial architecture. Each floor has a different business that's advertised on the outer windows. Here, there's a Paris Baguette, Kimbab shop, Meat shop and Hair Salon all on the first floor. The second floor is a PC room. Third floor is a dentist office. I'm not sure of the fourth. The fifth is a "live" restaraunt where they serve food, drinks and have local cover bands playing on the weekend. It's called Caruso. There's also a singing room as advertised by the signs, but I'm not sure where.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Winter Sketchbook Pages

A few more street sketches. The first is at a local coffee shop I frequent in Taekji. Excellent coffee, and I'm cool with the owner so I get the hookup. The second is a view of the Taekji neighborhood from a small mountain. It was freezing cold so I added the watercolors at home.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Finally! More Sketches

Finally! For the next two months I'm on Winter Break from Gangneung Myeongyun Highschool! Now I've got some time to get back out and go sketching. I went for a walk last weekend and here's some drawings from the trip. By the way, it's friggin cold out here.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Afternoon Walk

Went for a walk in the afternoon around the Taekji neighborhood in Gangneung. This is a typical, though much more modern, Korean neighborhood.

My Apartment

Fun with the new camera. Some shots of my apartment. I got word that I might be moving to a new place, hopefully something larger than the shoebox I'm living in now. I'm not sure, but does the kitchen look disgusting? There's a lot of trash there but it's all clean.