Filtering by Tag: New York City

Latest Project: Polar Bear Plunge

Added on by Nathan Hoang.

Every year, I say I’m going to take the train out to Coney Island and jump into the water for the Polar Bear Plunge, and every year, I wake up on New Year’s Day and think, “No, not this year.”

2019 is weird, though, because after some soft nudging of my good friend and Bronx native, Yuwi, I actually, truly, earnestly considered it. And through the luck of not partying the night before, not having a large to-do list, a relatively close commute, and rising global temperatures at a catastrophic rate, I put on swim trunks, packed a backpack of dry clothes, and went out to Coney Island for the 2019 Polar Bear Plunge.

When it was my wave’s turn to go, I walked down the beach towards the ocean with a ton of other people also out of their minds, flanked by people cheering, and a steady drum beat that sounded like a gladiator walking into the Coliseum, and all that distraction was nice because the Atlantic Ocean just kinda crept up and the next thing I knew, I was knee-deep in ice-cold water.

I went in and out of the Atlantic several times to get more pictures after warming up my toes and eventually dunked my body in after finding a group of people who looked like they wouldn’t steal my bag of clothes and camera.

When I finally got back home, I was asked if I felt anew, fresh and reborn. And as corny as it sounds, I did. If I could dunk myself into the Atlantic with thousands of other strangers, I could do pretty much anything, which is the real “if you can make it here you can make it anywhere,” if you ask me.

Latest Project: Cats of New York

Added on by Nathan Hoang.

Back in March 2018, a couple months into a new phase of my life, one without Ego and seeing the Pulaski Bridge cats on my morning commute, but instead with Pinot and seeing Brooklyn Library cats on my evening commute, something struck me to draw a bunch of cats of New York.

This diary entry is going to take you on an odyssey, so please grab a snack and buckle up.

I started at Grey in 2014 and one of my favorite things about the office was the wallpaper in the meeting rooms. Sure ad agencies are quirky, but this wallpaper was cool because it’s a modern take on toile du jouy featuring something I’d heard about just months before. Since then, I always wanted to try my hand at a toile pattern, especially after the Museum of Art and Design had a 3D version of one.

Chinatown Toile  by  Dan Funderburgh  Seen at Grey New York

Chinatown Toile by Dan Funderburgh
Seen at Grey New York

Fast forward back to March 2018, I came home from my walk home and started thinking what felines are present in New York City. Bodega cats, of course, they’re the best. The New York Public Library lions. I really racked my brain on this one. Maneki-neko? Yeah, definitely.

Anyway, I started drawing them out in Procreate.

Cats of New York (Process)

Every now and then I’d open up the file and try to noodle around and figure out how I’d fit these cats together in a toile de jouy style and it was just really difficult in the Procreate app because I was mentally shackled to how Photoshop works. In June, during my seven-hour flight to Amsterdam, however, I was determined to figure it all out. Except I started missing Pinot, my roommate/best friend/business parter/Albuquerque native/cat lover’s cat. It’s a weird feeling of infidelity knowing that you’re flying across an ocean to see a dog you missed so much while also missing a cat back home a lot.

JJ, one of my best friends in elementary school, grew up with both a cat and a dog and that blew my mind. I read Garfield with my brother as a kid and it was always truth that dogs and cats cannot cohabitate. I’d always wanted a dog growing up and the only cat experience I had was a neighbor’s cat who’d hang out on our driveway. But Pinot was exactly the animal I needed as a transition with Ego living on a different continent.

So as someone who is constantly crippled by multiple forms of guilt, I drew out Pinot in most of the nicknames Casey and I’d given him.

Not pictured but should’ve been: Peanie Baby™

Not pictured but should’ve been: Peanie Baby™

And before I knew it, it was time to put our seat back and folding trays in their full, upright position. I was nowhere near finishing the Cats of New York pattern, but Cat of Putnam Avenue was in pretty good shape.

No fear, I still had a seven-hour return trip back home. And it’s not like there were more nicknames I could’ve put in Pinot’s piece. So I opened up the Procreate app and…instead began doodling Ego living her new Dutch life. I mean, it’s only fair. I had to get it all down while it was fresh in my mind. And then, of course, per FAA regulations, I had to put my iPad away cause I was back in New York.

This was all part of the plan, though, you see. In May 2018, I backed the Luna Display, by the people behind Astropad (an app that turned the iPad into a Cintiq), on Kickstarter. So I waited for my Luna to come in. And then it did. And then I just waited. And waited and waited.

I had another flight in September, this time back home to Houston, so I used that time to finally, finally work on the Cats of New York pattern. Except I also had the Coen brothers’ A Serious Man on, and I ended up watching that instead.

No fear, however, because there’d still be the four-hour return trip home. Except again…instead…I drew my friends’ pets who passed away.

The key to solve stress-induced procrastination, it turned out, was to put yourself in a situation where whatever you had to finish was much less stressful than whatever was happening around you. For instance, writing an article a day before deadline is stressful, yet somehow the apartment always seems so much messier at the same exact time. However, if you absolutely had to clean your apartment in an hour, there’s always an extra minute to fire off a really good tweet about your Lyft driver the other day.

The thing I had to finish (Cats of New York) was stressful because the end of the year was close and I still didn’t do my annual summer pattern. And the only thing more stressful than that and able to distract me back onto my work is the 2018 Midterm Election Night.

So with the returns up on the screen, I distracted myself with tracing the cats I drew on Procreate, in Photoshop via Astropad Studio.

My dinner on Election Night was a four-piece at Popeye’s. I ran out of Whataburger Spicy Ketchup back home so I had to stop by the bodega and pick up regular ketchup. Their credit card minimum was $5 so I bought ketchup, ice cream, some M&Ms, and these Arizona fruit snacks which were kinda gross, except their credit card machine wasn’t working so in a move that I’d never once experience in my entire time in New York, the bodega guy said, “Oh it’s fine, just pay me back tomorrow on your way to work.” An Election Day miracle.

My dinner on Election Night was a four-piece at Popeye’s. I ran out of Whataburger Spicy Ketchup back home so I had to stop by the bodega and pick up regular ketchup. Their credit card minimum was $5 so I bought ketchup, ice cream, some M&Ms, and these Arizona fruit snacks which were kinda gross, except their credit card machine wasn’t working so in a move that I’d never once experience in my entire time in New York, the bodega guy said, “Oh it’s fine, just pay me back tomorrow on your way to work.” An Election Day miracle.

First I had to test which brush was best for the desired effect, so I drew the library lion a few times and landed on Kyle’s Ballpoint Pen Brush.

For the next six hours, as the polls closed and races were called, I kept outlining, crosshatching, and occasionally looking up to see what the count was.

And just as the Pod Save America bros were wrapping it up, I finally put my pencil down. I finished the Cats of New York. It wasn’t exactly in the spirit or design of a traditional toile de jouy pattern I initially sought after, but gosh darn if I wasn’t proud of it.

Screen Shot 2018-11-18 at 12.00.25 AM.jpg

The next challenge was to make it into a seamless and tileable. In the pattern above, you can see the Cats on Broadway are aligned horizontally, but staggered vertically. Though the desired end result is visual randomness without seeing a clear seam of where things are repeated, it still has to function as a tile, if it were to be produced into wallpaper.

So as I had initially assumed on that first time I gave up, moving things around as a group was much easier in Photoshop. And that’s how I ended up with the 2018 pattern, Cats of New York.

Mission Accomplished.

Except then I realized I totally forgot about one more cat of New York that I never wrote down and so in a panic, a couple days later, I went through the whole process again: Draw the lion in Procreate, import to Photoshop, open up Astropad Studio, trace and crosshatch on Photoshop, and rearrange everything AGAIN, except this time with Escape from New York on instead of the ABC News.

And now, at last, my 2018 pattern: Cats of New York.

Featuring:  NYPL Lion; Pinot as a Bodega Cat; Maneki-neko at a Chinese restaurant;  Cats  on Broadway; Bryant Park’s Le Carrousel cat; Lunar New Year Parade’s Lion Dance; off-brand Garfield Thanksgiving’s Day Parade balloon; Katz’s Delicatessen

Featuring: NYPL Lion; Pinot as a Bodega Cat; Maneki-neko at a Chinese restaurant; Cats on Broadway; Bryant Park’s Le Carrousel cat; Lunar New Year Parade’s Lion Dance; off-brand Garfield Thanksgiving’s Day Parade balloon; Katz’s Delicatessen

The end.

Latest Project: Point and Shoot Bicycle

Added on by Nathan Hoang.

Inspired by my cousins, Lauren and Chloe, who dug out their old Canon Powershot, I found the old Canon point-and-shoot film camera that my parents took on vacations.

I'd been scanning a lot of family photos lately, and seeing the pictures taken on this camera brought back memories, so I decided to hook it up to my bicycle like a very two-dollar GoPro and take some pictures around Brooklyn like a Trader Joe's-brand Bill Cunningham.

I was biking around looking for a place to ball in Brooklyn. I ended up finding the pier out in Brooklyn Bridge Park where made zero points, zero assists and maybe a couple rebounds. So I went to a playground pictured here where I worked on my fundamentals and at no risk of getting dunked on. (Picture taken on iPhone)

Anyway, here are my favorites.

Getting the film developed was expensive but getting that irreplicable film grain and nostalgia is worth it kinda. I don't know. Haha. It's expensive. But there's something about the delayed gratification and never uploading the images to Instagram, a platform I now despise, that makes me enjoy this rediscovered medium.

Latest Project: Mud

Added on by Nathan Hoang.

I didn't start drinking coffee until after my mom told me I should learn how to drink coffee in high school because I'd need it in college; after someone woke me up in Intro to Art History 1301 because class was over and I told him my next class (Intro to Art History 1302) was also in this auditorium so I just slept through that class, too; after I pulled an all-nighter at my first internship and fell asleep at my desk in Boulder; after I pulled another all-nighter at my second internship and fell asleep at my desk in New York; after I moved to East Village across the street from Mud.

Literally across the street. Like, if I made a tin-can telephone from my fire escape to Mud, I could put in an order, run down the six flights and get the cup in 30 seconds.

Mud is special to me because I'd grab a cup every day on my way to work and the people there were part of the 9th Street community: Greg and Seth would talk basketball with us, we invited everyone to our Fourth of July parties, Garrett took Mark and Bonnie's bed when they moved to Amsterdam. And also their coffee tastes like hot chocolate.

After Hurricane Sandy in 2012, the Mud Truck came to the rescue and the line went around the block.

After Hurricane Sandy in 2012, the Mud Truck came to the rescue and the line went around the block.

Anyway, during a brief period when my roommate, Bonnie, and I had an overlap in unemployment, I talked about doing this project where she'd blog about coffee and I'd paint different coffee shops using their coffee. That never happened.

Five years later and inspired by the stylings of Christoph Niemann, I finally decided to see how it'd be. First I started in Photoshop, using Kyle's brushes with a couple colors: black coffee, and coffee mixed with white paint to mimic cream.

The painting on the left was based on a picture I took in April. When I came back a month later, I realized the windows were open: my favorite time of year, when I could literally sit outside Mud for hours. So I redid the windows in Photoshop and had the draft to base my painting off of.

Now I knew coffee was a weird medium (I've seen my mom dye fabrics in coffee), but I wasn't expecting it to be so faint. I experimented different techniques on how to maximize color with temperature, layers and grounds-to-water ratio, but no matter what, it was never as dark as it gets when I spill coffee on my white tee.

Experimenting different methods with two of the three mugs I saved from downsizing.

Experimenting different methods with two of the three mugs I saved from downsizing.

It was becoming clear that the "black coffee" color from the Photoshop test was an overestimation so I'd just have to be patient and layer coffee over coffee.

It took two episodes of Master Chef Junior and the first quarter of Wonder Woman, but I like how it ended up. It was a struggle to scan because it's so faint, and I'm not sure how long it'll last because coffee is acidic and that's not good for paper, but the possibility of me licking the paper is also on the table.

Mudspot , May 6, 2018. Coffee on paper That's not me in the window but that's definitely  Ego  on the ground.

Mudspot, May 6, 2018. Coffee on paper
That's not me in the window but that's definitely Ego on the ground.

Because I'm obsessed with things in sets of threes, I'm going to work on Mud's two other venues, Mud Hut on 1st and Houston and Mud Truck (RIP).

Latest Project: The New York City Skyline Index

Added on by Nathan Hoang.

I don't think I've shared the story of how my roommates and I got into our Greenpoint apartment a year ago.

Long story short, we saw a listing with a deck and an amazing view that was a little over our budget but we all said, "Hey, if it's our last apartment in NYC, we might as well do it big."

This is kinda the view from my apartment but from a much higher elevation. I used Google maps to figure out the names of buildings and totally forgot there was this 3D Maps feature that made things so much more easier.

This is kinda the view from my apartment but from a much higher elevation. I used Google maps to figure out the names of buildings and totally forgot there was this 3D Maps feature that made things so much more easier.

So after we visited the apartment with our broker, we were writing the check when the broker got off the phone and told us someone had already put their deposit in. Our hearts sank, but she suggested try putting in a little more money and maybe that would help.

Well, you know what else would help? The building owner being in Israel for Passover and not doing any business and therefore not getting that initial deposit and then seeing our deposit.

So in the first few weeks of standing on our new deck looking out at this dumb city, I always wondered what buildings are what. So a year later, after renewing the lease…the questions are finally answered. The dumb Manhattan Skyline Index.

Here's an enlarged version where you can press back and forth to see all the dumb building names (i.e. The Wang Building).

This was taken in December 2016 and since then, a luxury condo high-res as large as the building on the far left has been erected directly in front of the Empire State Building obstructing everything.

New York City, man.

I also took another series of images in March during the day that I stitched together, but I didn't like how it looked. I mean, the sunrise image I used for the poster has the Chrysler Building's Shadow on the MetLife Building. And plus it's evidence that I woke up during a sunrise once. This one's just ok…couldn't get the sky to blend together, but you should see it anyway.

I also took another series of images in March during the day that I stitched together, but I didn't like how it looked. I mean, the sunrise image I used for the poster has the Chrysler Building's Shadow on the MetLife Building. And plus it's evidence that I woke up during a sunrise once. This one's just ok…couldn't get the sky to blend together, but you should see it anyway.

Latest Project: @Grey Instagram

Added on by Nathan Hoang.

Every week, one employee gets to take over Grey's Instagram. By choice.

Since I was wrapping up my year with Ego's Deck Dream, I decided to apply what I learned from drawing an animal every day into drawing some animals for a week for my employer.

Below is my week's takeover along with process video and some commentary no one asked for.

Sidenote: Every person's takeover has to start with a selfie.


Monday, May 29, 2017 (AM Post)

At the Grey Centennial party, there was a bedazzling station that my friend convinced me to go get bedazzled after a bit of drinking. Yes I bring my selfie stick to the club. Everyone hates it until the next day when they want to see their faces.

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Monday, May 29, 2017 (PM Post)

I went to Dia:Beacon with my friend Casey the week before. It was a rainy day and I lost her in the Richard Serra installation cause she walked into the spirals and all I could hear were her shoes.

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Tuesday, May 30, 2017

I come here when work gets to be unnecessarily stressful. 

Tuesday_v3

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

This was the second game of our second season and we won.

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Thursday, June 1, 2017

I've never bought shoes from Flight Club in my entire life, but I stop into their stores often. Why I don't know.

Thursday

Friday, June 2, 2017

Friday

Saturday, June 3, 2017

This is my favorite bodega in the city. It's East Village Grocers on 9th and 2nd in my old neighborhood. They carry all sorts of stuff. Vegemite, Kinder Eggs, Ben and Jerry's Mint Chocolate Chip. Everything. They used to have a bodega cat but she passed away. 

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Sunday, June 4, 2017 (AM Post)

Also views from my old neighborhood.

Sunday

Sunday, June 4, 2017 (PM Post)

I had to bring a waterproof iPhone sleeve into the pool, wait for the kid doing the private swim lesson to get out of the pool so the next kid doing the private swim lesson could get in, so I could take my phone underwater and get a shot where there were no kids learning how to swim.

Sunday_2

Though I didn't break the social media engagement records that I wanted to, it was fun, but stressful. And if there's one thing I learned this week, it's that social media algorithms are the absolute worst.

Latest Project: Skyline Paintings

Added on by Nathan Hoang.

The evenings out on our deck have been nice, laying slow and working slow and all. But after taking, like, 20 pictures of the thing, I needed to change things up while getting back in the habit of working on the iPad and Procreate app. Daily schedules and habits have changed after the move.

So I'm keeping a diary of sorts, chronicling the skyline and things that happen around it.

To see the every deck dream, visit the Instagram or full gallery.

Latest Project: Redoing NYC's Heat Regulation Chart

Added on by Nathan Hoang.

My landlord is a slumlord. And I'm sure most of New York's landlords/slumlords are also scumbags.

And though there's an infographic to make in those two sentences, that wouldn't help anyone. Instead, I made remade this chart because I'm always having to check the NYC's 311 page and look at this image to see if it's time to report Eric for not turning the heat on.

Eric's a real scumbag, guys.

Eric's a real scumbag, guys.

It always takes a minute for me to figure that thing out. I mean…I know looking into your neighbor's apartment is a New York tradition, but a 311 chart is not the place draw a lady brushing her teeth through her bathroom window. In fact, that's probably something that would warrant a call to 911.

So I made this and printed out some copies for my neighbors living in the gentrified slums of New York. Get yours in the /downloads.

Knowledge is power. Power is energy. And energy is heat and hot water.

I grew up in Alief, so I live by the "Snitches Get Stitches" rule, but I make an exception for Eric.

Latest Project: Vampire State of Mind poster

Added on by Nathan Hoang.

This idea popped in my mind some time around November 2014. I waited and waited for the Empire State Building to light up completely red. It took two months, but it happened. The picture, sat on my computer, forgotten, and collecting digital dust.

Then the week of Halloween, I suddenly remembered my idea, waiting for a year to finally happen, that would only work for one week of the year. I completely forgot what month I took the photo from my roof. I went through literally years of photographs through three hard drives.

Finally, coming back to the first drive I started the search for, I found it. And this was made, four days before Halloween.

I mean…I guess vampires don't just exist during Halloween. They're a culture, not a costume after all.