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Latest Project: Draguignan, Saint Hermentaire, the dragon, and Atlas Obscura

Added on by Nathan Hoang.

In 2013, in the middle of my Home trip, I took a quick trip to France with my brother and cousin to visit family in their tiny town of Draguignan. It was a much-needed break after going through the eastern coast and southern states of America and getting to visit family, who happened to love the beach, was nice. Unfortunately, my brain never turned off from ethnographic interviewing mode and I asked my cousin’s husband, who grew up in Draguignan, too many questions.

For instance, why is Draguignan’s coat of arms a dragon? Why is there dragon imagery everywhere in Draguignan? Why is Draguignan surrounded by a lot of cities named after saints?

A mural in Draguignan, France, depicting a couple landmarks in the town, including the Dolmen Pierre de la fée, a Celtic structure on the bottom left, the clocktower, the church, and the red coat of arms in the top right.

Well, it turns out, Draguignan got its name when Saint Hermentaire pulled up and murdered a dragon to free the people. I found this endlessly fascinating. I mean, why wasn’t the city named after Saint Hermentaire, like how its neighboring cities of Sainte Maxime and Saint Tropez are?

I always wanted to document it somehow – it was in my Notes app since 2013. I took this picture of the city with some undetermined future project in mind, I just knew I wanted to put a dragon in there.

 
 

Predictably, this project kept getting pushed down and down, because of the second leg of my Home project, then because I had to find a job.

Fast forward to the spring of 2019 and Atlas Obscura puts out a call for submissions to get a $15,000 grant to go on a journey to learn, explore, and grow. This seemed like an amazing opportunity to really dig into my unknown passion for etymology and the folk stories that they’re based off. I spent weeks writing, rewriting, and editing my essay to get it just right. I consulted friends to read it and give me feedback, and then I rewrote and edited it some more. I submitted my mission a day before the deadline and heard back the next day:

Hello,

Thank you for submitting a proposal for Atlas Obscura’s First Journey prize. It was an absolute pleasure reviewing so many excellent, inspiring journeys. Unfortunately, your proposal was not selected as a semifinalist. We do hope you get a chance to make your journey.

Yours in Wonder,
Atlas Obscura

It stinks not even being long-listed, but I was really proud of my writing, so here it is in full.

While visiting family in Draguignan, France, I asked my cousin why there was so much dragon imagery around this village. He said back in 400 AD, the tiny mountain town in southern France was constantly terrorized by a small, but fierce, dragon. A bishop, now known as Saint Hermentaire, slew the lizard and freed all the villagers, and that's how Draguignan got its name.

This tale stuck with me because as an advertising art director, I've been telling the same brand stories about antacid tablets and nasal strips for years. Sadly, my 30-second commercials won’t be passed down generations like Draguignan’s origin story. Those kind of tales are fragile and rely on oral traditions to keep folk history alive.

My parents told me about some Vietnamese folktales growing up, but not enough to have a deep, emotional connection – a majority of the stories I know are from the West. As I journey across Southeast Asia, I want to find more cultural and traditional history to help people see the richness in regions not often represented in the States.

These stories are sometimes hidden in plain sight in the etymology of the city's name, or featured by the city's folk art, statues, temples, or plaques. Other times, they have to be hunted down by talking to the locals and listening to their oral history.

After gathering these stories, I'd like to preserve them in writing, and visualize them with videos, photographs, and illustrations.

Spreading these folk histories to the Atlas Obscura audience will help preserve them, and broaden the readers’ minds and understanding of Asian cultures in the most human way possible – a story. 

Thank you.

So here I am in the summer of 2019, slowly working on personal work on the docket, thinking about how instead, I could’ve been traveling around Southeast Asia for three months on a new project that I’m passionate about. I never got to share my vision with Atlas Obscura, but while I have you, here’s the Draguignan dragon.

First I started with the image and a sketch on my iPad. I have a particular way I always draw dragons, but I had to check how this particular dragon has been depicted throughout art and adjust it, because this little guy was always a little menacing, at various sizes, with a curly tail, two legs, no arms, wings, and two horns.

folklore_draguignan_2592x3892_190814_nh_v1.0

I wanted to explore new ways and styles to illustrate while keeping my look, so I experimented with new Kyle brushes (dry media pastels this time) and ways to outline and draw.

Draguignan, 2019. Digital
(Click to enlarge)

Though I didn’t get the $15,000 grand prize, or even the $500 runners-up prize, I’m still happy with where I ended up, and the winner is very deserving and will have a great journey.

Anyway, if you want to donate to my journey to do that other thing I wanted to do, here’s a button to drop some pennies in until I get $15,000.

#Lets Get Nathan Hoang $15,000 to go to Southeast Asia to do that Project!

A huge thanks to Casey, Conor, Trent, Paul, and Mark for reading and rereading my essay for me. Y’all are exempt from donating $15,000 to me.

Latest Project: Scrap Medal (dot) com

Added on by Nathan Hoang.

According to DNS records and receipts, I owned the url ScrapMedal.com since September 2011. My best guess as to why I ever thought to buy it when unemployed, living in New York City was because I was just buying a bunch of URLs to make single-serving Tumblrs and this one time when I was working as a dental assistant during the 2008 recession, a woman came in and asked if any of us had any scrap metal and I was like, “Oh yeah, I do,” and her eyes lit up and I took her to my car and popped open my trunk and I showed her a bunch of broken rear suspensions because at the time, my car kept falling apart and I didn’t want to just throw it away, I wanted to scrap it properly and she was like, “What is this?” and I was like, “Car parts,” and she meant, “Oh, I meant…like…gold,” and I was like, “Oh no…I’m not going to give you gold.”

I thought she was looking for scrap metal like the legendary, hometown favorite C&D Scrap Metal guys who advertise during Houston Rockets games, whose tagline is, “We’ll pay you in two-dollar bills!” I don’t get the appeal of getting paid in $2 bills, because you can get them at the bank, but their ads are the best and I wanted to get paid in $2 bills for my rear suspensions, so advertising works.

Anyway, that’s how I ended up with the url ScrapMedal.com.

I sat on it for six years, trying to find a use for it. I tried to pitch an idea to the agency to melt all their Cannes Lions to make a giant sword, but it didn’t move forward. So there it sat for two more years, just forwarding to nathanhoang.com with no home.

Finally, just days before I was set to move to Amsterdam for a few months, I gathered up my trophies, medals, and certificates, and quickly took pictures of them in the apartment.

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I wrote about all my wins and accomplishments (I hated that) then quickly made a logo.

Screen Shot 2019-08-09 at 8.14.51 PM.png

At last, after at years of cybersquatting, instead of forwarding to nathanhoang.com, it now forwards to nathanhoang.com/scrap-medal.

Latest Photos: Washington State

Added on by Nathan Hoang.

I’m really liking this part in my life where I accidentally revisit all the parts of America I glanced over while on my trip, like that time I went to Albuquerque with a personal, local tour guide, or when I got to go to St. Louis and film a commercial inside the City Museum.

This time, I got to go back to Washington state for a wedding in Spokane. But while in Spokane, why not visit my good friends Joseph and Yuwi in Seattle, and hike Mount Rainier a bit, and then rent a car and visit that weird Bavarian town in the middle of nowhere two hours east of Seattle, and then finish the drive to Spokane in time for the wedding? Then why not spend an extra day after wedding to keep driving east to go to C’oeur D’Alene, Idaho, and maybe that weird rest stop/gift shop/motel in Montana that was advertised all over the interstate like a Buc-ee’s, Silver Dollar 50,000$?

There’s no good reason as to why not, so I did all that.

Shout out to Joe and Yuwi who are accidentally building a Noah’s ark, collecting two of every animal in their apartment, yet still accommodating me. And David and his wife Kristin for that wedding in the mountains. And when my BBH pal, Brian Moore tweeted how he was on an episode of Reply All and then I was listening to that episode, and in the middle of that interview, I ran into THAT VERY BRIAN MOORE in the book store. And to Oscar for begrudgingly hiking, despite hating every bit of it after the first half mile. And Jacob for riding a baby gondola despite hating heights. And the Toronto Raptors for doing that.

Latest Project: @Grey Instagram (Part 2)

Added on by Nathan Hoang.

Almost two years to the week after my first takeover of Grey’s instagram, I decided to do it once more. I was asked if I’d do illustrations again, but I didn’t have the time. But I did have a 3D camera. Last takeover’s concept was setting up your out-of-office message while you get ready for the summer. Some initial themes I wanted for this takeover were:

  • Wish you were here

  • Goodbye New York, or Why I’m Leaving New York, or New York I Love You But You’re Bringing Me Down

  • Sad dogs tied up in front of restaurants and stores

I ended up going with none of those and just took my camera out for a walk, and did it live, as they say.

Below are images from my Grey Instagram Takeover™. Please note that the guidelines say that any posted images need to be achromatic (GREYscale), but I asked, “How bout not.” And they were like, “Sure.”

Below that are outtakes I wish I could have posted but couldn’t or chose not to.


Takeover May 14-19, 2019


Outtakes

I contemplated posting old 3D, stereographs of my travels to Albuquerque and Bangkok and wherever, but the streets demanded fresh content. I forgot how fun walking around New York with a camera was. I accidentally walked through an Alan Yang rally in Washington Square Park; ran into my barber at her new location during my lunch break and popped in for an impromptu trim; saw soccer games from leagues to pick-up, shirts-versus-skins game; ran into my friends I hadn’t seen since they got married; and all that weird, charming New York City stuff you see when you walk from Flatiron to the 9/11 Memorial.

A lot of people stopped and ask me what kind of lens I was using. Like a lot. But my favorite was a guy who was hanging out with his girlfriend at the Sara Delano Roosevelt Park by the soccer fields. After explaining the dual lens to him, he thanked me and said I should hurry up and get that golden hour light.

When I leave New York City, these photos will take me back and make me wish I was still here and I might never know what that weird orange pipe coming out of the sewer is. Don’t tell me, I don’t want to know.

Bonus: I got to post this on the Grey Instagram story. By far my greatest work there.

 

Latest Project: Five Boro Bike Tour 2019 (What I Talk About When I Talk About Biking 40 Miles In The Rain Only To End Up Back Where I Started)

Added on by Nathan Hoang.

I’ve been affected by the Five Boro Bike Tour a couple times in the eight years I’ve lived in New York: once when I was living in East Village and was invited to a post-race lunch nearby where my friends were celebrating their medals and I ended up paying way more than what I ordered because it was a big group and it was easier to split the check than line-item the receipt and that’s when I said I’d never eat in a big party with them ever again, and another time when I was on my way to get bagels in Greenpoint and the road ahead of me was closed and people were cheering with cowbells and stuff. It didn’t affect my ability to get bagels at all, I just felt like they were cheering me on as well.

The Five Boro Bike Tour was always on my to-do list, and since I fell in love with the Dutch’s bicycling culture, and since I could easily access my bike at my new Bed Stuy apartment, and since I realized I never spent meaningful minutes on Staten Island, I decided 2019 seemed like a good year as any to get it off my list.

While working on an NYC parade r map project, I traced the Five Boro Bike Tour route and it seemed like a doozy but also really fun.

While working on an NYC parade r map project, I traced the Five Boro Bike Tour route and it seemed like a doozy but also really fun.

The weather app had been predicting rain on May 5, for ten straight days. On the morning of the race, it was accurate for once, and it was raining pretty hard. There was no way I’d do this, I thought, I didn’t even really eat dinner the night before. And if lightning began to strike, it was all off.

I checked social media to see what people were doing, if anyone was even going, and if it was even worth it. I scrolled across a post by Al Roker, getting ready to bike these 40 miles across all five boroughs in the rain.

There was also no way I would let a man who shit himself in the White House do this thing while I lay in bed under the covers, especially after paying the registration fee. So I suited up, wore as much waterproof stuff as I could and hurried off to get to downtown Manhattan, cause my wave was about to go and they begin to shorten the route for traffic purposes later in the race.

I ran into a woman on the Fulton Street subway platform who leaned over to take a look at my hat and asked if I went to University of Houston. She did, too, class of 2007. That’s when I knew it was going to be a good day.

The tour started off nice and pleasant despite the rain, and people were cheery up until we got into Harlem, I think. That’s when reality set in for a lot of people, including me, that we were barely past the quarter way mark of the 40-mile race. My 3M rain jacket, light down vest, water-resistant sweatpants, and waterproof hiking shoes all eventually reached their saturation point and I was just one with nature.

There wasn’t much to do in the four hours, except to pedal the path and enjoy the occasional bands set up along the route to keep the good vibes going, so I had a lot to think about, like how when I still lived in Alief, I used to keep running diaries to keep track of my route, time, diet, and thoughts, on Google Maps.

Just to be clear, though these maps say “suicidal thoughts,” I never really have had genuine suicidal thoughts in my life. They were more expressions in the moment, like “I’d rather die than run right now.” A bit dramatic, I know, but just an expression.

After enough casual mentions and talking like this, one of my best friends asked me if I was serious because it concerned her, a continent and ocean away. One of my other best friends has real suicidal thoughts and it gave me pause and made me realize maybe I should stop being so cavalier about it.

And near the end of the Five Boro Bike Tour, almost onto Staten Island, at the crest of the Verrazzano Bridge, by far the toughest part of it all, was a sign that simply said, “Life is worth living.”

IMG_8964.jpg

After getting off the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge, I could hear the big party going on at foot of the bridge that indicated the race was over. I couldn’t tell if I was a crying or if it was raining, but I was overwhelmed with emotion. I think I wanted to cry and was very close to it, but was also very cold, very tired, my legs were very cramped, and if I did cry, I’d lose even more vital fluids.

But I finally did it.

After I got the official medal and an emergency blanket, I realized there were, like, three more miles for the actual 40-mile finish to get onto the Staten Island Ferry. And by the greatness of my cousins who live in downtown Manhattan, I was able to shower, change into clean, dry clothes and get home safely.

Anyway, I wanted to dedicate the medal and my ride to all my friends who are suffering with mental health conditions who couldn’t be there with me. It’s physically tough to do a bicycle ride, sure, but to live with something that’s invisible, often overlooked, and stigmatized is much, much worse. I love y’all and whenever you’re up for it, we’ll get dinner to celebrate, but in parties of four or less, cause anything above that is just easier to split the check than line-item the receipt.

Be good to one another and check in on your friends from time to time.

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: Balloon Fiesta 2018

Added on by Nathan Hoang.

After I did my Home project, the most frequently asked question was, “Which state was your favorite?” And the answer, excluding Texas, was always North Carolina and Oregon.

But if you asked me which state would I want to return to, New Mexico would’ve been high on that list, partly because last time I was there, Ted Cruz shut down the government and I couldn’t go to White Sands, and partly because it’s just a nice, beautiful state that I didn’t get to spend too much time to eat all their chile.

So when my roommate/best friend/business partner/Albuquerque native told me she was going back for the Balloon Fiesta, almost 5 years to the day I was last in New Mexico, I invited myself and we went on an adventure.

My only knowledge of hot air balloons was a short story I wrote in the second grade where a hole appeared in the balloon (I don’t remember the specifics, I just remember my morbid illustration that accompanied the story) and Jules Verne’s Around the World in Eighty Days, so this was great.

Like most other things, these pictures don’t do the fiesta justice on the scale and magnitude of the balloons that take over the skies. As Casey and her friend Alexis described it, it looks like an alien invasion – if aliens also had spaceships that look like a flying pig.

Latest Project: Amsterdam (and a little Berlin and Antwerp)

Added on by Nathan Hoang.

Since I moved to New York City for an internship in the summer of 2011, I lived with the same people and their dog for six-and-a-half years. After the pet mover came to pick up Ego for her new life in Amsterdam, I cried and cried and cried. Shortly thereafter, I bought tickets to Amsterdam to see her in the summer.

Below are photos from the trip, none of which, include pictures of me snuggling and smothering Ego because they're all on my phone.

On this trip, I also visited the Rijksmuseum and saw paintings I studied in art history. It's always an experience to finally see with your eyeballs something you studied and minored in, and it's an entirely different experience to see it through the lens of 21st Century technology.

Wandering around the streets of Amsterdam, I found this little shop.

I mean, if I just became king, I'd at least smirk. At most, I'd break into song like Simba.

I mean, if I just became king, I'd at least smirk. At most, I'd break into song like Simba.

When I was a kid, my family visited Eureka Springs, Arkansas and we took this Wild West picture. It's a picture that I hold very dear because it's just so strange. Wanting to recapture that but as an adult, I poked my head into Museumfoto and got this very scary portrait of myself that looks like, as the photographer tried to get my mindset into, "the newly made King William of Orange."

While I was processing all the photos from the trip, I decided to go ahead and buy a ticket back to Amsterdam in November to eat more stroopwaffles and to see Ego again.

This is me now.

 
 

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: Houston Astros World Series Champions

Added on by Nathan Hoang.

In October 2017, a corner of the office had an MLB Playoff bracket for $1, so I had the Houston Astros going all the way. I got laughed at for being hometown. Just as I got laughed at when I wore my Astros hat to this Pumpkin Lantern Blaze thing and took the Metrorail back home, which stopped by Yankee Stadium where my Astros lost 1 to 8. But guess what?

Astros won it all. 

And I won $4 instead of $8 because I had to split the pot with some other dude.

(Quick aside: My roommates, my good friend Joe and I sat in the bleachers at Yankee Stadium for the 2015 AL Wild Card game and we got boos, food and slurs hurled at us throughout the entire game. And the Astros won. And that's when I decided I'd root against the Yankees against everything ever for the rest of time.)

Anyway I happened to be in Texas for my other good friend and former copywriter's wedding, so I got to see the parade with my eyes and my other other good friend Caroline.

Here are some pictures to relive the magic.

This year, I filled out an NBA Playoffs bracket at work and guess who I have winning it all?

That's right, the Houston Rockets.

And guess how much money I'm going win?

No, you're actually wrong, I'm the only one who filled out a bracket so it'll just be me. It's a very sad situation.

Latest Project: 👏🏾👏🏾👏🏾👏🏾 Deep in the Heart of Texas

Added on by Nathan Hoang.

I usually make a flag for the Olympics, but it's been kinda crazy this year, so I just made a bunch of flags for Texas Independence Day instead.

The Stars At Night, Are Big And Bright 👏🏾👏🏾👏🏾👏🏾 Deep in the Heart of Texas

The Stars At Night, Are Big And Bright 👏🏾👏🏾👏🏾👏🏾 Deep in the Heart of Texas

Friday Night Lights, Are Big and Bright 👏🏾👏🏾👏🏾👏🏾 Deep in the Heart of Texas

Friday Night Lights, Are Big and Bright 👏🏾👏🏾👏🏾👏🏾 Deep in the Heart of Texas

The Marfa Lights, Are Big and Bright 👏🏾👏🏾👏🏾👏🏾 Deep in the Heart of Texas

The Marfa Lights, Are Big and Bright 👏🏾👏🏾👏🏾👏🏾 Deep in the Heart of Texas

Latest Project: Ego on a Canal Boat

Added on by Nathan Hoang.

When I was a kid, I met a terrier at soccer practice and I loved it. I asked Santa for a dog, a terrier if possible, but instead got a hamster.

One day after summer school, I got off the bus and found a dog's snout poking through the fence. I was keeping it company and apparently I kept it company for so long that my mom was worried I got lost or kidnapped or something because she sent my brother out to find my on his bicycle.

In our first NYC apartment in DUMBO, this is the first time Ego and I cuddled, on what came to be her safe ottoman.

In our first NYC apartment in DUMBO, this is the first time Ego and I cuddled, on what came to be her safe ottoman.

And there was one time when my brother was playing basketball with his friends in the driveway and a dog came up to me and we starting playing together. It wasn't until my mom came home and my brother's friends left that I found out it wasn't playing as I thought. And it wasn't until years later that I realized it was just humping my leg, which explained a lot.

Anyway, that's to say I always wanted a dog, but my parents correctly knew I wouldn't have the responsibility to care for a dog.

A day after knee surgery when I was still knocked out on drugs, Ego slept by me all night to keep me warm and safe and happy.

A day after knee surgery when I was still knocked out on drugs, Ego slept by me all night to keep me warm and safe and happy.

So when I moved to New York and stayed with my roommates for an internship in 2011, I finally got to live with a dog. Two dreams come true, I guess, and Ego inspired me in so many ways: the Quick Brown Fox series, the Animals in the Night series, cards, a year-long illustration project, computer passwords, wifi network names, iPhone wallpapers, desktop backgrounds, half of my phone storage, and my Space Zoo book which I'll finish eventually.

I haven't even mentioned the time she saved my roommate's life. And I'm not talking about saving someone's soul like chicken noodle soup. Ego literally saved my roommate's life one weekend in the East Village. She's the sweetest dog and one of my best friends and saved my soul.

I always said she was "my dog" even though she was adopted by my roommates in Texas and they brought her up to NYC, but I just felt like she adopted me and accepted me. Was it because when I first walked her, I let her smell literally every tree? Or was it because I always gave her a mound of food? Or maybe she knew I always wanted a dog growing up? Maybe all of that. She's smart.

And she's going to be bilingual because she's moving to Amsterdam with Mark and Bonnie.

I wanted her to remember her time in New York so I made this for her to hang in her crate as she flies KLM.

I found a picture of New York from this past summer and put in Procreate. It was hard to figure out what vessel Ego would sail on from New Amsterdam to Old Amsterdam, but remembered they have canal boats.

Then I imported Procreate's PSD into Photoshop to use Kyle's Brushes.

And there it is.

UPDATE: I'm going to see her in June!

Latest Project: Chendra and the Wild Quest

Added on by Nathan Hoang.

A tweet caught my eye one Wednesday because it showed a picture of an elephant looking at a seal, and a book agent I once submitted to quote tweeted that she needed a children's picture book of this story "right now."

Now, I love interspecies friendships, and I love children's picture books. Growing up, I watched a bootleg tape of The Fox and The Hound, until the tape no longer worked. And I happen to be pretty good at drawing animals after a year of practice. I wasn't going to pass up this opportunity from a book agent who once passed on my submission, so I gave it a go.

First step was to gather what landscapes I've photographed in my entire life. My travels around the country, that time I filmed a couple commercials in Thailand, and IcelandAir's free layover plan definitely helped with that. I also had to dig deep into the archives of random road trips around Texas in the mid-2000s, too. I mean, I've been places, but I haven't seen every ecosystem here on earth, so some things had to be cheated

106 images I could have used for this book.

106 images I could have used for this book.

Next I needed a story. Sure the original story of the baby elephant visiting all the animals and gravitating most towards the sea lion was nice, but having the setting in a zoo is kinda sad for me. I had writer's block of sorts, but while waiting in line to see Shea Serrano at The Strand for his new book, Basketball (and Other Things), something clicked and I realized how to write this story so I began furiously typing out the online on my telephone.

When I got home, I began to sketch out the elephant in my favorite locations.

Painted directly in Photoshop using Kyle's Brushes.

Painted directly in Photoshop using Kyle's Brushes.

Though I couldn't deliver the book immediately as was requested, I spent two whole weeks working on each image, and writing out the story and getting feedback and refining and tweaking.

Anyway, this is the book.

If I had more time, I would have fleshed it out more. I wanted Chendra to visit more animals. But getting to draw animals on my photographs but with a story this time was a lot of fun. I teased a sequel at the end and maybe, who knows, I'll get to do that next quest adventure.

Latest Project: Oh, You Fancy

Added on by Nathan Hoang.

In June, I was eating a chicken sandwich with my friends at Fuku. A guy came up and asked if he could use our ketchup. I said sure and handed it to him but didn't realized my friend was still using it. I also didn't realize she loves ketchup.

I started thinking about her love of ketchup, how fancy she is, and how ketchup is sometimes described as "fancy."

Then I sketched this out:

Lettering explorations on Procreate. Along with different iterations of the popular phrase.

Lettering explorations on Procreate. Along with different iterations of the popular phrase.

It took a while to finally get this going because I wasn't sure how I'd do this. Initial thought was to just put the ketchup straight on the kitchen counter or white foam board. After weeks of getting to rethink of how absolutely gross and stupid that would have been, I remembered we had cool dishes from Fishs Eddy.

I bought a thing of small thing of ketchup, and stopped by a nearby deli for french fries, both for the fries and the tiny ketchup packets. And the reason why the fries weren't used in the final shot is because they were gross.

Process:
1. Raw // 2. Processed // 3. Retouched // 4. Final

Oh You Fancy, 2017. Ketchup on ceramic.

This isn't on purpose, but I now have two sentences made out of food and only one more for the complete set.

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: 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.

Latest Project: I'd Rather Die Than Diet poster

Added on by Nathan Hoang.

I'd Rather Die Than Diet, 2015. Sour belts on paper.

I keep snacks at my desk and coworkers like to swing by. Sometimes to talk, but mainly for the snacks.

One time, my frequent friend Amanda swung down and turned down some snacks cause she was dieting and one of us said, I'd rather die than diet.

Thus, these pages of sketches like this were drawn in my notebook:

ratherdie_sketch.jpg

Next step required buying bags and bags of sour belts from Lower East Side's Economy Candy and lay it all out.

Touch-ups include: softening shadows and removing lines, stray candy pieces, and pins

I made some prints and gave it to some friends and coworkers, including Amanda. I'd even put it in the office kitchen but I'm certain it'd be removed fairly quickly

For the record, I'd rather diet than die, but perhaps a diet of Ben and Jerry's is the best way to go.

Latest Project: Self-Portrait

Added on by Nathan Hoang.

Phoot Camp, an annual photographer's retreat, opened their applications for 2014, and as usual, asked for a creative self-portrait and a short blurb.

I submitted a portrait taken for Phoot Camp's 2012 application taken by my good friend, Mark, with my stereoscopic camera. It came out great, but it wasn't a self-portrait.

2012 Phoot Camp Self-Portrait Submission
Click to enlarge

This year, in an attempt to stay true, I did away with the anaglyph gimmick and tried to mimic their style from past Phoot Camps that looked so good and told as many stories as a Where's Waldo spread (e.g. 1, 2 and 3).

2014 Phoot Camp Self-Portrait Submission

So regardless if I get selected this year or not, I know that I've come a long way since trying to set up a shoot without help…

The set-up for my Kickstarter pitch video on the roof of my building where coincidentally, I also shot my 2012 Phoot Application portrait.

The set-up for my Kickstarter pitch video on the roof of my building where coincidentally, I also shot my 2012 Phoot Application portrait.