Filtering by Category: Project

Latest Project: Ego's Houndstooth

Added on by Nathan Hoang.

I learned about tessellations in the fourth grade and got to make my own as a class assignment. I loved my creation so much because it had a squiggly mouth and a squiggly tail and little arms and feet. I explored the houndstooth tessellation a couple times as an adult in my projects like when I made pattern playing cards or drew one of Ego’s Deck Dreams, but I never understood why it was called “houndstooth.”

I also never found adequate satisfaction with my houndstooth exploration, and decided to try one more time. After a false start in January, I got back into it in March because of the excitement building around my in-agency gallery show, Ego’s Dreams. This time, not as a joker or deck dream, but a shirt.

It wasn’t going to just be a plain houndstooth t-shirt, though. It was going to be one where the teeth get yanked off by a hound. I don’t know if Ego ever did this with anything that wasn’t food, but if there’s internet content I love, it’s dogs feeling shame for tearing up the house.

So I started with one of the houndstooth shapes I drew before and pasted it into a new document (I think this is how a lot of chefs make their stock, right? I have no idea) and then pulled down a bunch of houndsteeth and warped them all individually. There is not a single repeated houndstooth in this pile.

I was watching  You  at the time on Netflix. It’s not a good show, but it got me through.

I was watching You at the time on Netflix. It’s not a good show, but it got me through.

Next was to draw this dog. Drawing Ego as the culprit, even though she’s a good girl, was hard for some reason. I couldn’t get the shapes and angles right in Illustrator so I had to freehand it on Procreate and import it in.

Trying to draw a dog in Illustrator while watching simultaneous Houston basketball games (one in NCAA March Madness, and there other in an NBA regular season) is hard.

Trying to draw a dog in Illustrator while watching simultaneous Houston basketball games (one in NCAA March Madness, and there other in an NBA regular season) is hard.

From there, I drew her from two perspectives. Front and back.

1) The red dog on the upper left was the first version. 2)The red outline was imported from the freehand sketch. 3) Then she was outlined and refined to get the proportions and curves right. 4) Then I flipped her and drew her from the back.

1) The red dog on the upper left was the first version.
2)The red outline was imported from the freehand sketch.
3) Then she was outlined and refined to get the proportions and curves right.
4) Then I flipped her and drew her from the back.

Then I had to make sure it was good in the t-shirt template. (These images are from Printful’s mock-up generator).

I had the produced shirt in my possession for months but never found a day to wear it until my last day at Grey New York, when I decided to debut it.

I have no documentation of it, unlike the time I wore my Love Yourself dog shirts, except I just remembered I was inexplicably locked out of my computer that day so I snuck out to the Poster House after lunch and took some green screen photo booth pictures at their museum. So I do have pictures of it. Here you go.

Since I’m cursed with doing things in threes, I suspect two more different iterations will be made at some point.

Latest Project: Bookplate

Added on by Nathan Hoang.

Sometime in the late 2000s, my friend Camille told me how she usually reads books. Not like read read, but how she archives books.

Up till that point, I had only wrote a short, jokey review on goodreads.com and if I was up to it, write the biggest takeaway I got from the book on an index card and stuck it under the inside cover.

Camille’s method was to take an artifact of the time of when you read it, like the bookstore receipt, perhaps, or a café napkin and that would be your bookmark. Then on the inside cover, write the date you finished the book. It all gives context to where you were mentally, physically, and emotionally, when you read the book in case you ever want to go back through your library to reread it.

We were supposed to make bookplates together at some point but we never got to it. She likes paperback, I like hardcover, what are you going to do.

Also, bookplates scare me. They’re so permanent. My parents have a big, vast, library, but they don’t really have a bookplate – they have an embossing stamp. It’s subtle, sleek, and very cool. My mom got me a bookplate ink stamp as a kid from the book fair, but the thought of desecrating a perfect book with an ink stamp seems awful to me. I don’t even use a pencil to solve a maze in activity books, I just use my eyes.

But then after seeing Casey Neistat “destroy” his belongings with a Sharpie, and living with my roommate Casey (another Casey), I began to understand that things are just things. I always did Camille’s archival bookmark method, but then I slowly began writing behind book covers with the date I finished it.

Anyway, I recently bought a physical book for the first time in a long time because it wasn’t available in any electronic formats. This time, in addition to the bookmark, and date finished, I also added date bought, so it wouldn’t seem like a was too slow of a reader. (I am.)

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Then I remembered those bookplates I was supposed to make but never got to.

So I made some stickers from StickerApp and it works ok. It can smear and it doesn’t have enough room for me to write my biggest takeaway or a jokey review of the book, but I was able to add a third date, marking when I started reading, because I am obsessed with documentation.

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Latest Updates: July 2017 to February 2019

Added on by Nathan Hoang.

My favorite podcast episodes are ones where they’re like, “We did this great reporting on all these stories and we just wanted to touch base, check in, reconnect, and update you on all these stories.” So that’s what we’re going to do: go far back into the /latest where updates would make sense, I’ll give a brief recap on the project and what the latest update is and will skip the ones that I’m too scared to start up again because it’s too daunting.

These updates are in chronological order, which is the opposite of the blog, and it’s strange that we’re forced to read things in reverse chronological order like that, but it worked for Memento, so I guess.


Summer Pattern 2017 (Birds and Bees)

RECAP: In the summer of 2017, I made two patterns, birds and bees.

UPDATE: I put it onto two bags: one where each pattern covers the entire canvas on both sides, and one where the pattern is shaped into a pyramid for the birds and a hexagon for the bees. After getting the two bags, I liked the minimal one more and put that in the shop, and gave the full-bleed bag to my mom cause she likes almost everything I make.

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Laser Chat

RECAT: I rescued a mass-produced painting from my apartment building’s trash room and painted a cat on it. I then rehung it in the building elevator and then it went missing.

UPDATE: My friend Mike took it because my other friends, Joe and Yuwi, couldn’t fit it in a box when they moved to Seattle!

 
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Ego on a Canal Boat

Recap: I painted a picture of Ego riding a canal boat leaving New York to go to Amsterdam and I cried so much.

UPDATE: I printed this out and gave it to her! Unfortunately, I didn’t think ahead and printed this out in imperial measurements so when Mark tried to frame this, he had to squeeze it to fit a picture frame measured in centimeters.


Latest Project: Frieds of March 2018

RECAP: I made an event called the Frieds of March

UPDATE: My work friends and I went around East Village. I don’t know why I didn’t document it thoroughly as I tend to document these sorts of dumb ideas, but I do have, like, eight different photos of me wearing a cat sweater with Pinot when I got home.


Line Star State

RECAP: I refreshed a previously designed version to make it cleaner and added another iteration that features a heart.

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UPDATE: I put the flag onto a hat and gave it a really cute name. That’s for sale, too.


Mud

RECAP: I made a painting of my favorite coffee place of all time using their own coffee.

UPDATE: They have (had) two other properties (RIP Mud Truck), and because I’m obsessed with doing things in threes, I rounded out the series.


Cats of New York

RECAT: I made a toile du jouy pattern featuring different cats of New York and called it, Cats of New York.

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UPDATE: I took my toile du jouy pattern featuring different cats of New York and made it into a sweater called, Cats of New York. Also in the shop.


Oriental Tailor Shop since 1976

RECAP: I made some ads honoring my parents and their shop they’ve owned since 1976.

UPDATE: I was going to buy ad space in a local magazine but that was going to cost a lot of money so I printed and frame them. I don’t know where they put them, I didn’t see it in the house, and I didn’t get to visit the shop when I went home for Tết, but I did find this jacket I used to wear in high school with my mom’s embroidery on the inside cause I used to lose stuff a lot. My dad wears it now.

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Delft Ego

RECAP: I drew a bunch of Delft-inspired tiles featuring Ego and her new European lifestyle.

Update: I visited Ego in November 2018 and gave these tiles to her! I also printed it onto a sweater because I guess I’m obsessed with all-over print sweaters now.

I also had a chance to go to the actual city of Delft where these traditional tiles are made. I learned that the tiles aren’t actually painted with any particular blue paint, but rather with cobalt oxide and when it’s heated in the kiln, that’s when it turns that Delft blue. Wow!

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Lắc Bầu Cua (2019 Year of the Pig)

RECAP: Tired of looking at the same, ugly game board we traditionally play during Tết, I made my own, which includes three dice.

UPDATE: I printed two boards, one for each side of the family. They loved it and I made a gambling profit for once. I also got an ovation from my family, they were so happy.


The Đặc Biệt Longevity Sweater

RECAP: I designed a sweater based on the dinnerware I used growing up.

UPDATE: The sweater was a hit. It wasn’t immediately clear to some that it was based on that bowl I’m cradling in my hand, but the rumors spread. I was also asked where I bought this and I said I made it, which impressed them twice over (after the custom Lắc Bầu Cua board), and my family was also impressed that I knew how to spell words in Vietnamese.

This isn’t for sale yet, but it will be soon. Won’t make an update post for that, don’t worry.

Latest Project: The Đặc Biệt Longevity Sweater

Added on by Nathan Hoang.

When I was at Leo Burnett New York, I sat next to a Japanese designer and one day, he had an epiphany and told Skyler and me, “I just realized why I like Chipotle. It’s because it has rice! So good, man…so good.” Years later I realized that was true for me, too. I’ll eat anything if it has rice: burrito bowls, pilaf, halal chicken over yellow rice, Rice Krispies Treats, anything. And though I’ve never tried “cauliflower rice,” I’d give it a shot.

If you grew up in a Southeast Asian home or ate in Chinatown or went grocery shopping in an Asian market, you surely saw on one of these ubiquitous patterns, adorned on plates, bowls, spoons and chopsticks, sometimes referred to as a longevity pattern. I mean – I ate all my rice out of this bowl my whole life. I don’t anymore, but I do get nostalgic for them. And that’s when I had an idea:

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THIS, I thought to myself, NEEDS TO BE ON AN ALL-OVER PRINT SWEATER.

And as I thought that, I accidentally shared the thought with a friend. And like any song that gets stuck in your head, the only way you can get it out is to express it, or in this case, put it on paper and eventually design the whole thing and get it printed and made into an actual thing that you can hold in your hands.

So that’s what I did.

It took a while, to clear the other projects off my to-do list, but with Tết looming, I skipped my usual Procreate process and went straight to Photoshop via Astropad Studio using Kyle’s brushes. I tried to find an Asian movie or show to watch to help me get in the right headspace, but the closest thing available was Murder on the Orient Express (2017), which was…fine.

Getting the balance and spacing between all the pattern lines was tough and took a while, and after fudging and shifting them around, I got it in a good place. Now I just had to do it three more times for the backside, right arm, and left arm templates. I decided that instead of just using the same front.psd file for the other three templates, I’d retrace it, because although this sweater is inspired by the “longevity” pattern, which is a mass-produced to the point that ensures its longevity long after this planet melts and drowns, each side has to be special.

I also wanted to replace the Chinese character in the center which said “longevity,” with “đặc biệt” (“special” in Vietnamese), because anyone who wears this is đặc biệt.

 
 

If you’ve ever seen a longevity plate or bought a Supreme one for $100, you’ll notice that there are other floral accents on the edges. I couldn’t put this flower on the sides of the sweater because the template has bleed, trim, and safety areas, so I painted them onto the elbows, and that’s how we ended up with this look:

And before we have a bad reaction to the cultural appropriating model, the sweater website uploads my images onto this stock man’s body so I can see it mocked up.

It’s strange. I was never big on AZN Pryde [sic] when I was growing up in middle school, but I thought the song “Got Rice,” was pretty good, and that was probably the closest I got to showing pride in being Asian. So the recent uptick in Asian-inspired projects has been out of the norm for me. It’s either because of the current political climate where the Trump administration wants to limit refugees and end birthright citizenship; or the smash hit movie, Crazy Rich Asians; or growing older and realizing that I have to understand my culture and traditions to pass it on to my cat or dog or whatever; or maybe it was after watching Ali Wong’s last stand-up special.

It’s hard to tell.

Latest Project: Lắc Bầu Cua (2019 Year of the Pig)

Added on by Nathan Hoang.

Growing up, my dad’s side of the family brought all the games to my childhood. My aunt taught me how to play xiangqi (aka Chinese chess), tiến lên (aka VC or 13), and the perennial lunar new year game, lắc bầu cua.

Now if you don’t know how to play this game, it involves a three six-sided dice and a mat. Players put their bets down on what they think the dice landed on and they get paid out one-to-one. Oh, and the dice actually have animals instead of numbers. So you’re betting on animals like a deer, rooster, fish, crab, shrimp and also a random gourd. Not sure how a gourd convinced people that it deserved a spot but it’s in the name. I mean, the literal translation of lắc bầu cua is “shake gourd crab.” (The game goes by other names, but this is what I called it growing up.)

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Anyway, I spent a lot of time during Tết playing this game and it never struck me how ugly this board is. And it seems like this exact board is ubiquitous among every Vietnamese household. If not this one, then another one of the two, which are just as ugly.

Tired of looking at this thing, I decided to make my own. So as usual, I started with a sketch in Procreate.

Then I traced it in Photoshop via Astropad Studio using Kyle’s Halftone Brushes.

It’s a good start, but when I worked on the Nicorette pitch, I learned that smoking is actually really cool. I knew that when I read comic books in the 90s, and I knew that when I drew a bunch of animals smoking a cigarette all over my Nicorette brief. So I added some much needed swagger to these guys.

Oh hell yeah.

As a present to my families, I ordered these boards and dice for the coming new year, and I’m also considering making this an annual tradition. Will it be available in the /shop? Find out in the Year of the Rat!

Latest Project: Oriental Tailor Shop since 1976

Added on by Nathan Hoang.

In 2005, the City of Houston, just after inviting Hurricane Katrina victims in, had to prepare for their own terrible Hurricane Rita just weeks later. I helped prepare the home against high winds the best I could by taping a giant, meaningless X on the window and my mom brought all the precious photographs of childhoods and portraits, imported from Vietnam, to the second floor and placed them in the linens closet, so they would in theory, be protected by all the bath towels.

Nowadays, we take pictures for granted. You can take a five photos of the same exact thing and keep them all because digital space is boundless and you can recall them anytime because everything resides inside of at least four different clouds. But no, not these photos my mom saved. If these portraits of my grandaunt were ruined by floodwaters, they’d be gone forever except in our memory and can only be exported to a forensic sketch artist.

After Hurricane Rita turned out to be highly sensationalized (within the City of Houston), I decided I’d never want to lose these pictorial memories, not just of the pictures of my childhood and when we went to Disneyland, but of my parents, aunts and uncles when they first came to America in 1975, so I went to work and began scanning every photo album I could find.

I’d go through the photo albums and flip page after page of my sepia parents living their new American life in Little Rock, Arkansas, in 1975, wearing three-piece suits, going on road trips to Memphis, Washington DC, and San Francisco. Every now and then, I’d see pictures of them standing in front of the business they opened with my aunt and uncle in 1976, Oriental Tailor Shop.

Now listen. We all know that you can’t say “Oriental,” and I 100% can, but the 70s were a different time when anyone could say “Oriental,” and that’s the name my family chose, so we just gotta go with it. You can mouth along if you want.

In the oral family history, my parents heard there was a big Vietnamese population in Houston, so they put my big brother in a car, moved down south and opened a new Oriental Tailor Shop in southwest Houston. This tiny shop is where I spent my childhood. Where I’d play with wooden blocks and watch Sesame Street and do homework and play with Battle Beasts on the sewing machines and get in trouble for messing up their table settings.

I mean, I can go on and on about how much Oriental Tailor Shop means to me, but I don’t think I could ever do it justice. There’s a little mat my parents keep around that my brother and I napped on. It’s where my brother and I were reading Garfield on the floor and my dad walked by and drew Garfield freehand almost one-for-one and I never saw him draw anything ever again, so that was quite a flex.

You get the idea. I grew up here the way JFK Jr. grew up, hiding under the Resolute desk while his dad was doing stuff.

My parents watched my brother and me grow up in the shop and looking back at these old photos, I can now see how much my parents grew in their own shop. It’s remarkable how they opened a store in Little Rock with the English they learned in Vietnam, and stayed on top of fashion trends from the 70s to the 2000s (which I think is the weirdest sartorial decade), to today.

Earlier this year, my mom told me that my dad would be retiring in 2019. That caught me by surprise. No, not my dad. I’ve seen a lot of my favorite basketball players retire, but not my dad, who can draw a perfect Garfield without tracing.

Seven years living in New York away from family can really sneak up on you, I guess. It’s bittersweet, and no one deserves it more than my dad (my mom deserves it as much, truthfully), whose number needs to be hung in the rafters of the Town and Country shopping center.

Thinking back, after many years of being in advertising, studying from 2005 to 2007, looking for an advertising job from 2007 to 2011, to working from 2011 to today, I never once thought about making any advertisements for Oriental Tailor Shop. I’m not sure why and I feel guilty! So I got to work.

The concept was to take old photographs from antique stores, sew on sequins, or embroider them, or do some sort of art and craft on them. But then I realized I had an entire cache of old, personal, vintage photographs that told a better story of how they’d been around since 1976 and seen fashion cycle in and out and evolve and innovate.

In addition to all of that, they could have helped innovate dress pockets, too! How’d it take so long for someone to sew on pockets onto a dress? I don’t know. But I’m certain my parents could have done it then years ago. I’ve seen them make, fix and adjust so much stuff that I know anything is possible. My mom made my pumpkin costume FROM SCRATCH. Oh, and she also made the clown and dinosaurs costume from scratch, too. They can make anything they want.

So these are the ads the address those facts about Oriental Tailor Shop:

The choice to use old photo album pages as the background was to show the history of the shop, and since this was its last year, it’s meant to be a retrospective as well, add a sense of nostalgia while showing how fashion-forward they are.

I started with my dad’s picture since that was both the easiest to photoshop. The tricky part was figuring out which part of the suit was going to be altered. Here are the different options:

Ultimately went with the lapel because that’s what’s hot in 2018.

Next was the picture of my mom in a green dress. I knew I was looking for a picture of my mom where her hand would be on her hip or something, but this was the closest I could find.

Bending my mom’s arm inward and into a make-believe pocket was tricky, but that’s a hand in a dress pocket, all right.

And finally for the last piece, and third piece, I wanted to keep the embroidery aspect from the original concept, but didn’t have time to learn how to master the craft, so had to resort to Photoshop instead.

The first thought was to make it a dragon wrapped around my mom’s jacket but thought that might be too much for my mom, so I made it into something a little more Vietnamese. In a vertical layout, it was hard to see exactly what was altered in the image, so then I had to move my mom inward to crop out that car.

I did some research to buy some full-page ads in some local papers and magazines but turns out, that’s like thousands of dollars, so I’m getting them printed at Adorama and giving this to them for Christmas instead.

Oriental Tailor Shop! If you’re in town, swing in and say hello!

Latest Project: Brooklyn Artists and Fleas

Added on by Nathan Hoang.

In January 2011, I started my advertising career sitting across from my fellow "wintern," Sarah Dudek. When I was driving across the country, she happened to have just moved back to Massachusetts and was gracious enough to let me crash at her new apartment. Then Sarah got into sign painting and started selling her art at weekend markets and I've been simultaneously proud and jealous – it's every advertiser's dream to no longer do advertising.

It's a weird existence we've chosen for ourselves.

That's when my roommate-turn-best-friend-turn-business-manager reminded me that I have a ton of posters under my bed, and that I, too, can have a stand at a weekend market, like, say… Artists and Fleas, perhaps. So she emailed them a proposal to get a table on my behalf and left the rest in my hands.

After many excuses and days of procrastination, I finally paid a deposit and there was no turning back (refund-wise), so I opened back up the @EgosDeckDream account and told my friends about it.

I picked the weekend that was furthest away so Casey and I could plan the business: what to print, what to order, how to price, how to design. 

I'm not sure if choosing to wait three weeks from email-to-table was a good idea or bad idea. On the one hand, I got to plan, print, shop, scout, and strategize. On the other hand, waiting three weeks and not knowing whether my table would be a hit or miss with Brooklynites is frightening. And I'm a Brooklynite.

August 25 and 26 will be days I'll remember for a long time. Maybe because it helped me remember the three months in 2013 that I'll remember for the rest of my life. Or maybe because I never smiled so much in my life, not because it was all genuine smiles, but because I'm acutely aware of my resting-bitch face and I'm trying not to deter people from the table. Or maybe because seeing people's faces light up reading about their state validates my project, research and writing.

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I also decided to venture into my second passion: pet portraits, drawn on a brown paper bag for $1. 

And as cheesy as it sounds, it didn't matter if people bought a postcard or not. Seeing people stop by, put on 3D glasses, flip through the book and nod along was pretty rewarding in itself. I know, I know.

A big thank you to every one who supported me physically or in spirit. I've never worked harder in my life, not even in my real day job of advertising.

Funny enough, things came full circle that weekend: Sarah, who helped support my project, inspired me to sell my project products at a market, happened to be selling stuff at her own market that weekend.

I might do it again, I learned areas to optimize and it was my "first pancake" after all, as my business manager says. And I might even do more of a pivot to pet portraits. I don't know. I'll have to wait for my cheeks to rest cause It's been over a week since I tabled AND MY CHEEKS STILL HURT.

Latest Project: Shake Ye Off

Added on by Nathan Hoang.

There was one night in 2014 when I was working really late on two different projects with deadlines on the same day which happened to be at the same time the next morning. With my very slow work computer, I saw all my coworkers go home one by one until I was the last person left on the team still in the office. Then my part of the office went home. Then the entire office went home. The night guard walked by a couple times and went home, I guess. And it was just me and the song "Shake It Off" by Taylor Swift.

Now Grey has an open floor plan which means music is usually consumed through headphones but with the entire floor to myself, I turned it wayyyyyyy up.

So besides being an absolute bop, "Shake It Off" has a place in my heart for this reason, because it helped power me through that entire night and morning when the office lights turned back on and people slowly filed in for the day and I was still working. It's a near-perfect song with a cute music video. But if there's one thing I'd change, it'd be the weird spoken-word/rap portion of the song.

Later that year, in August 2014, I tried to be the change I wanted to see in the world by splicing the real "Shake It Off" song with an instrumental karaoke version and laying Kanye West's verse in the N.A.S.A. song "Gifted," but it didn't turn out well. It was actually kind of bad, which is why you won't hear it.

Almost exactly four years later, inspired by procrastination, I found the perfect Kanye song to put into that part of "Shake It Off," and now it's finally perfect.

So unplug your headphones and blast this in your very own stupid, open-office floor plan because the people deserve an aural blessing.

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And if you think about it, aren't they singing about the same thing?

Latest Project: Nathan Hoang Style Guide v3.3

Added on by Nathan Hoang.

After years of delays to refresh and update my style guide, I decided the world really needed to know how I label my Photoshop layers and how I archive everything. Version 1 of the style guide was more about how if you're going to buy me a Christmas gift, here's what I like. Version 3 of the style guide is more about how if I leave for vacation and you have to dig through my computer for files, here's how I stash files away.

I don't expect the many other Nathans Hoang to adhere to v3 if they couldn't even bother to even read v1, but perhaps I'll make another desperate plea on Twitter.

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I started in March 2018 and typed and typed and typed while catching up on The Walking Dead, which probably explains why v3.0 had so many typos (because the show is bad), Four months and three version updates later, I have a shareable guide.

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There was a tonal shift from Version 1 to Version 3, because it might actually be referenced by the public and not just me. And plus I figured out how to draw a t-shirt properly.

I went from using screenshots of actual Apple interfaces to creating my own so it wouldn't be so dated.

Of all the pages, my favorite is my new Comfort-Efficiency-Value Triangle that I made up as I was typing everything out.

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You can read it below or download it in PDF form in /books

Latest Project: Alief For Life / Alief Till I Die

Added on by Nathan Hoang.

Whenever someone finds out I'm from Houston, they usually ask, "Do you think you'll ever go back?"

I mean listen, we live in a crazy world and I don't know when my time will be up on this Earth, but I hope my body will find its way back to Alief. That's all I can ask for.

And hey, is this endless repping of Alief and Houston getting old? I don't know, but every time Jay-Z shouts out Brooklyn, I don't really care and I live here, and whenever Beyoncé shouts out Houston, I lose my mind and throw up the Cougar paw, so I'll continue repping Alief for life

And that's how I ended up with these two designs. Drawing inspiration off the official Alief logo, I wanted to say what I've been saying for a while, "I will rep Alief until I die," so I sketched this out in Procreate during the 2018 State of the Union address.

Alief Til I Die, digital. 2018

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My new roommate brought up the good point that maybe it's not a great idea to bring up death with a school district. I mean, Alief is a town, but she's not wrong. So I made this to balance things out.

Alief For Life, digital. 2018

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I intended to print these onto shirts and bags for my eventual store, which was called "Never Change" at the time (Sidenote: When I brought this up to my internship-day friends, June and Haywood, they roooooooooasted me), so I got a sample tote and it looked fine, I guess (Sidenote: These aren't the official totes, the design was printed on too low), but I decided it'd need to be on two separate bags instead of a double-sided bag, so I gave it to my high school geometry pal, Christi, who was in town.

I hope I live a little longer, but when I die, bury me underneath the Alief store.

Grim Sleeper. 2018
Alief Cemetery: A Texas landmark

Latest Project: Lion Harty Phone Case

Added on by Nathan Hoang.

I always hated the Society6 mentality of taking a thing you made and putting it on practically everything they sell: A pillow, shower curtain, regular curtain, clock face and a bath mat. I mean, if you want to get your money, I'm all for it, but it's not for me. If I was going to make a thing, I wanted it to make sense for the medium. So out of spite of nobody except my imagination, I wanted to make a unique phone case for my upcoming store.

In 2016, I got a new project manager and she was new to Grey and her phone lock screen background said, "NOBODY CARES. WORK HARD." Not one to encourage hard work, I gave her my "LAY LOW, WORK SLOW" phone background instead.

I checked back in a year or so later to see what phone background she had now. It was neither the "WORD HARD" one nor the "WORK SLOW" one. Great. I asked her what her favorite animals are and she said a lion and sloth. Cool. 

Experimenting with layout, looks, brushes and color. Always gotta accommodate the headroom up top for the clock

Experimenting with layout, looks, brushes and color. Always gotta accommodate the headroom up top for the clock

So I made this lion iPhone wallpaper.

But the whole point of this entire exercise was to make a phone case…so…

Hell yeah. Now I just have to do a sloth.

Coming to the /shop

Latest Project: QR Codes

Added on by Nathan Hoang.

As I begin to fix my website to prepare it for the store, I'm seeing where I can fix other areas, too, especially since once every year, someone on Reddit has a ShowerThought™ that goes something like, "There should really be a sarcasm font," and then some loyalist who I'm grateful for, says, "Hey, why not try Sartalics!" And then I experience what seems to be a DDOS attack, but it's just a bunch of sarcastic nerds looking at how to be sarcastic online.

Screen Shot 2018-06-08 at 11.24.09 PM.png

Ever since I changed my website from a hand-coded HTML site to a Squarespace, I wanted to fix it so it's not templated. The scrolling marquee is a holdover from the HTML site, and the little bug of the moose icon below the left-hand navigation. The little moose pointed to my Tumblr, which I was obsessed with, but then my /latest blog and Tumblr achieved singularity.

moosehead.jpg

Not wanting to lose that dumb little bug but also not wanting to point to the Tumblr anymore, I decided to put one of my URLs that I'd been holding onto since the early 2012 to use.

Anyway, not going to spoil it for any of us, just know that iOS 11 has an automatic QR Code reader when you turn on your camera and point it towards the code.

I don't know where this QR code below goes (it used to point to nathanhoang.com before the addition), but I printed them out and posted them around DUMBO in 2011. 

2011-09 NYC week 2 low-res export-14.jpg
mario qr code.jpg

Latest Project: Alief Assemble

Added on by Nathan Hoang.

Did you hear? I'm from Alief, Texas.

I went to Heflin Elementary School for six years, O'Donnell Middle School for three years, and Alief Hastings High School for four years. I'm a lifer and one time well into or after college, we had a Heflin Elementary School reunion. I'm told that's weird, but Alief is just a weird, special place.

Some famous alums include Beyoncé (for a semester at Elsik), Rashard Lewis, Tila Tequila, Michael and Martellus Bennett, and I wondered what would happen if every school combined forces and work as one instead of having dumb high school rivalries (Elsuck, amirite?). Like if all those alums except Tila Tequila got together to do something great. It'd be pretty awesome. Like, the Alief's first school, Alief Hastings High School, has the Fighting Bears, and the rival sister school, Alief Elsik High School, has the Mighty Rams, the newest school, Alief Taylor has the Roaring Lions, and Alief Kerr has regular tigers.

Regular tigers? Yeah. I checked.

alief kerr bengal tigers facebook conversation.jpg
 

What would happen if all these schools just…joined forces. Like…literally came together…and protected Alief?

Behold!

I shared this initial sketch of this guy to my good friend and high school prom date Caroline and she named it MegAlief and I thought that was genius so shout out to Caroline.

On a flight back home to Alief for Têt, I sketched this idea in Procreate. It went through different stances, but just standing erect was too ominous and X-Men Sentinel-esque. There was an image I ran across on Tumblr years ago of a kid by Mike Cohen that always stuck with me, so I took his little stance and made it for this robot holding Alief's giant sundial pencil.

alief-assemble_procreate-timelapse_megalief_ipad-pro_180224_nh_v1.0

Once I felt good about the shapes and stylings of the robot, I began on the individual school robots. This was infinitely much tougher.

alief-assemble_procreate-timelapse_bots_ipad-pro_180224_nh_v1.0

After getting the thumbs up from my brother and cousins, I traced the robots in Illustrator.

The Illustrator process: 1. Tracing the Procreate lines // 2. refining it so the angles make sense // 3-5. Color // 6. Shading and stippling // 7. Refining the shades  // 9. Highlights // 10. Thickening stroke

The Illustrator process: 1. Tracing the Procreate lines // 2. refining it so the angles make sense // 3-5. Color // 6. Shading and stippling // 7. Refining the shades  // 9. Highlights // 10. Thickening stroke

Then I sat on these illustrations for months and worked on other stuff while waiting to go back home in May to photograph the four campuses on the weekend so it wouldn't be creepy. It had been a long while since I've been back in the vicinity of Hastings and boy did it bring back memories. Like falling asleep in the back of French class and getting yelled at by Mr. Katre and him telling me I'm no longer allowed to sit against the wall anymore. There were more memories that was always funny to me.

I often go into things and not know how it'll live, but I'd been thinking about opening a store for Alief-related stuff. Like how Kanye West sells socks that says Calabasas on it, except mine says Alief. But with these, I knew I wanted to at least make something I would've liked as a 15-year-old: stickers.

So look out for these on your TI-84s, Alief Seniors Class of 2019!

Latest Project: Long Dog

Added on by Nathan Hoang.

I keep receipt paper at work for scrap papering, note-taking, to-do-list making purposes, and one day during an in-office happy hour, I doodled my friend's favorite dog on the paper and it wrapped around naturally as receipt paper does, and I thought it was cool and she thought it was cute and then I forgot about it until I checked this place where I printed my Birds and the Bees bag and it turns out, they did all-over printing on t-shirts, which is perfect because this doodle wouldn't work unless it was seamless, so then I paced around the apartment with excitement, sat down and fired up Photoshop while watching Nocturnal Animals.

I started off with a sketch of my roommate's favorite kind of dog, even though she's a cat person, the dachshund. Then I had to take that dachshund sketch and put it into Illustrator to stretch the dog out and make sure it'd wrap around correctly.

Could I have done this in Photoshop? Yeah, but I thought about doing a vector outline first and then decided to not do that at all and keep the lines natural, but by then it was already too late and the program was already open and then I was like, yeah sure. I'm watching  Nocturnal Animals  so who's really paying attention to what I'm doing, anyway?

Could I have done this in Photoshop? Yeah, but I thought about doing a vector outline first and then decided to not do that at all and keep the lines natural, but by then it was already too late and the program was already open and then I was like, yeah sure. I'm watching Nocturnal Animals so who's really paying attention to what I'm doing, anyway?

Once I got the dachshund to the optimal length, I exported her back into Photoshop to start different brush tests.

Testing different Kyle brushes

Happy with how the little guy looked, I went back to the original pup cause I knew at least one shirt would be bought. It took a while to get the correct brush, but it didn't occur to me to fill out the scottie instead of outlining him like the dachshundd.

Testing different Kyle brushes

The final step before I sent these out to be made into shirts was to put it back into the Illustrator template.

With the shirt template layer turned on

With the shirt template layer turned on

With the shirt template layer turned off

With the shirt template layer turned off

Now look at these mock-ups and imagine how excited I was to get the orders in.

Just look at it!

I broke my style guide rule and wore a shirt with a print on it to work. I was very excited.

From my copywriter,  @conopatttt

From my copywriter, @conopatttt

From my account person,  @caatnaps

From my account person, @caatnaps

My other roommate works in fashion and gave me her approval, so it'll be in my revamped store soon!

Also, because I like things in threes, there'll be a third dog soon.

Latest Project: Grey's Dog and Pony

Added on by Nathan Hoang.

Six times a year, Grey gets the agency together after work to enjoy a happy hour together. They call it Dog and Pony. I don't know why, I must've missed it during orientation.

March 2018's Dog and Pony is going to be put on by the Famously Effective Women of Grey for Women's History Month and through some happenstance, Jessica Deutsch, my fellow Grey softball outfielder, asked me to make a poster promoting the Dog and Pony.

So I made some posters. And then I painted some posters.

Not entirely sure how I ended up making three posters, but I couldn't stop after one. I think it's because I thought of the empowering phrases that are all around pop culture and sweaters since November 2016: "Wild Feminists," "Future is Female," and "Slay Bitch."

It became the basis of the concepts. I don't remember which poster concept I thought of first, the photographic one where it's more Wolf & Horse than Dog & Pony, or the fully painted one that's more Dog versus Pony than Dog & Pony, but I do remember telling Jess that I was planning on spending my weekend working on the posters because I was super excited about them and she said, "What?? No! It's the weekend! You should enjoy yourself! Go make some friends!" But the thing is, it's really hard to make friends after you turn 30 and the only friends you have at that point are the ones you already have and also any animals you adopt.

So late Friday night, while unironically listening to Sugar Ray, I started things off the way I usually do, with Procreate:

As you can see, I have absolutely no idea what I'm doing. But I started getting it to the point where the horse was less of an intruding cartoon character and more of a demonic horse. Once I was happy with the general layout, I traced the landscape in Illustrator so I could paste it into Photoshop and paint into it.

I decided to keep it achromatic because it was much more dramatic, heroinic, and because Jess needed it the next day and I had spent too much time on the tarot card. Anyway, I was very please with how this turned out because I always wanted to try landscapes for when I finally get started on my Space Zoo book.

When I was thinking about "Future is Female," I remembered watching Jojo's Bizarre Adventure, with my brother a couple months ago, and the idea of tarot cards was still fresh in my head, so I went with that instead of a crystal ball.

Grey Dog and Pony: Future Is Female

Hopefully more people show up to this Dog and Pony than the happy hour I set up for Texas expats who work at Grey the other day.

Making new friends is hard :(

Latest Project: Line Star State

Added on by Nathan Hoang.

I know, I know. Yet another Texas-based project.

Turns out, I was never happy with the original design from two years ago with the way the lines didn't align, so I revisited it, and gave it a refresh.

Though I liked the minimalism of the square in lieu of a star, I remembered this hilarious joke my brother told me when we were in elementary school. It went something like:

It was a new kid's first day at a new school and the teacher was like, "Hey what's your name?" and the kid was like, "Texas," and the teacher was like, "No really, what's your name?" and the kid was like, "Really, it's Texas," and the teacher was like, "If you don't tell me your name I'm going to send you to the principal's office," and the kid was like, "I swear to you, my name is Texas" but the teacher didn't believe him and he got sent to the principal's office and on the way he ran into a bully and the bully was like "Hey what's your name?" and the kid was like, "Texas," and the bully was like, "No really," and the kid was like, "Yeah, really, my name is Texas,"  and the bully was like, "If you don't tell me your real name, I'm going to stab you," and the kid was like, "You gotta believe me, it's Texas," and then the kid gets stabbed and he goes to the nurse's office and she was like, "What's wrong?" and the kid was like, "I got stabbed," and the nurse was like, "Where?" and the kid was like, 🎶 Deep in the heart of Texas ♬

Anyway, I remember laughing around on the floor at that joke and tried telling it at school but nobody had the patience for it, much like how you probably didn't have the patience to read that entire copy block.

Long story short, I wanted to explore different shapes besides a square, starting with a heart.

1) v1.0: Lines are all willy nilly nothing matched up, nothing matters
2) v2.0_1: Lines have rounded terminals, the edges are clean and ends on a corner
3) v2.0_2: There's a red heart in the middle
4) v2.0_3: There's an X instead of a square, just to see how it looks, it doesn't look great
5) v3.0_1: Added some shadows over the lines so they like latticed
6) v3.0_2: There's a red heart in the middle but with some shadows around

I liked the latticed heart and after doing a very informal straw poll of my old roommates and a fellow coworking expatriate, it was unanimous. 

That's the actual Eiffel Tower in Paris, Texas. Ask to see my profile picture sometime.

That's the actual Eiffel Tower in Paris, Texas. Ask to see my profile picture sometime.

At last, that giant statue of Sam Houston, Big Tex and I will finally be able to sleep at night knowing the diagonal lines meet up.

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: Turn Texas Blue

Added on by Nathan Hoang.

Texas is very close to turning blue. I mean, especially when you have someone like Ted Cruz in the US Senate, we're pretty close to going blue. I have a telephone reminder to call Ted Cruz's offices every weekday to tell him I don't agree with what he's doing. Ted Cruz once shut down the government by filibustering with the child's book, Green Eggs and Ham. This shutdown resulted in my not being able to go to several national parks and monuments while on my 50-state road trip.

To say I don't like Ted Cruz is an understatement. I never want to see him ever again. I mean… if my political opponent insulted me, my wife and my dad, I wouldn't really ever support my politic opponent. Ever. But that's me. Someone who loves my family.

I want Ted Cruz out of office so bad that I delayed updating my Project Notes notebooks to make some things. And I hate doing projects without my Project Notes notebook, because that's how I keep track of everything.

That's how much I don't like Ted Cruz.

I discussed this project on Twitter with Brian Thompson, one of the first people I worked with when I freelanced in NYC in 2009. Perhaps this would go on party hats?

Brian told me it'd be too wide for the party hat, which is understandable, so I made this, too.

Maybe it'll go on a party hat. Maybe it'll go on a clipboard. We'll see.

Don't boo. Vote.

Latest Project: Frieds of March 2018

Added on by Nathan Hoang.

10 months ago, after eating at a really good fried chicken restaurant in Greenpoint that has since closed, I was inspired to try more fried chicken sandwiches. 

I told my friend, Casey, that I wanted to make a day of it. It'd be on, oh…I don't know…, March 15, and I'd call it, ummmmm…how about, Frieds of March? So I'd have to wait, like 10 more months to make this stupid event a thing just because I like to commit a really stupid pun.

First I mapped out some noteworthy fried chicken sandwiches in the city.

Frieds of March, to-eat list

Frieds of March, to-eat list

"How are we going to eat at all these places in one day?" my friends would ask.

Listen. I don't know. The furthest I planned this was the name and date. It's one of those "cross that bridge" situations.

And then they'd ask, Could I eat nine different chicken sandwiches throughout the course of a day? Of course.

Am I going to take a PTO day just so I can eat at least nine friend chicken sandwiches throughout the day? Yes. Of course.

Fine. But would I be ok with eating alone at at least nine fried chicken restaurants because no one else is committed to the craft like me? Absolutely yes.

But I decided that if this is going to be an inaugural event, I should choose just three? So I can do it again next year?

Anyway, I had to make an invitation that wasn't just a calendar invite.

I started with Vincenzo Camuccini's Death of Caesar. An obvious choice, but a painting I'm fascinated with, and one of the few I can remember the name of.

That's not to say I was interested in Julius Caesar. I don't remember much about Julius Caesar; I didn't pay much attention in sophomore English, but I know there was a conspiracy to kill the guy and this and that.

So initially this was just going to be a teaser/save-the-date type invitation, but I wanted it to decode like we're in a secret society, conspiring to commit to chicken, and if you stare at the image for longer than two seconds, you can see what happens on March 15.

Process shots and breakdown of the type transformation. The font is called "Diamonds."

I also considered making Caesar an entire chicken but I made it too sexual, so I abandoned it.

This Chicken Caesar's coming after your man.

Latest Project: Alief 4 Life

Added on by Nathan Hoang.

If you didn't know I was from Alief, either we didn't grow up together, or we simply have never talked in person.

So in case you didn't know, I'm from Alief and I've been thinking of making Alief stuff. Shirts, perhaps? Because every time I see someone wearing an Alife shirt, I get real excited and think it says Alief and I get upset and I am tired of it.

I made this and maybe it'll be a neon lamp or something. TBD.

Alief 4 Life

Or I could just screen print my Twitter bio onto a bunch of t-shirts and call it streetwear.

My Twitter bio

My Twitter bio