Filtering by Category: Words

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.

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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: 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.”

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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 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: 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: Kanye West's Opening Credits

Added on by Nathan Hoang.

Before Kanye West released his 2018 Wyoming projects and before he started tweeting and saying questionable and problematic things, I had this idea of writing this essay about Kanye West and his music. Not in a Pitchfork type of way where I analyze his music, but through a pop culture lens.

I should also explain that I was in the middle of reading Shea Serrano's Basketball (and Other Things), so this was my frame of mind.

One Friday night when my roommates were out of town, I played Kanye West's albums back-to-back-to-back, writing and trying to understand his lyrics, evolution, and his mindset at the time. Quite proud of what I had written and hoping for a feature on The Ringer, I emailed Shea for critique, something he's often very open to giving because he's a man of the people.

This was his response:

 
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Of course. Why did I even frame it as a ranking? Probably because I was still in the middle of reading his book. I mean, I was the type of guy to switch majors to whatever class I was taking at the time because I thought it was so interesting.

So I made some edits, shopped it around to other sites that are not The Ringer and got zero bites, so here it is.


What If Kanye's Albums Were TV Shows?

The entire Kanye discography is like a tv network, each album is a tv show with a different flavor, theme and story. Most, if not all of them, should be listened all the way through from beginning to end to get the whole picture. And if each album is a tv show, that means each opening track is its theme song.

If the HBO static hum and chorus came on just before you hit play, what emotions would the opening track elicit? Would it be the same feeling you get from the Game of Thrones theme song (an epic fantasy saga involving incest and murder), or Sex and the City song (a fun half-hour look into four female friends navigating life, love, and Manhattan), or maybe it’s Insecure and there’s no theme song, just a 2-second title card?

In this case, your fingernail tapping your telephone screen trying to navigate your music app and search “Kanye West” is the HBO static.

“Intro” + “We Don’t Care” on College Dropout (2004)

I was in the car with my friend Eric on our way to a camping trip in 2004. Fresh of out things to talk about, he told me about this rapper who had kids on his album singing about how they sell drugs. Didn’t sound like my kind of music, because I was more into Apple-commercially indie bands at the time, but in the interest of not having to talk to Eric anymore, we had a listening party in his Honda Civic.

I’ll be honest. I can’t remember anything from that experience. Even “Jesus Walks” didn’t impress me at the time. But I was dumb and didn’t understand hip-hop culture and didn’t realize how transformative College Dropout was both sonically and lyrically.

Now when I listen to the opening skit with Bernie Mac telling Kanye to do something for the kids and moving into the song about how kids are dealing crack to survive, I get it. This is the origin story of Kanye West, even though we get a 15-minute, Wikipedia-esqeue, oral history of the origin of Kanye West at the very end of the album.

This theme song tells the story of hustle and the tv show is about that hustle and also about how school is kinda dumb.

“Wake Up Mr. West” and “Heard ‘Em Say” on Late Registration (2005)

In Late Registration, DeRay Davis reprises his role as Kanye’s teacher, calling him a bum, which is always hilarious, followed by “Heard ‘Em Say” featuring Adam Levine. The song is catchy as hell but because the album’s kind of a sequel to The College Dropout, “Heard ‘Em Say” isn’t a standout despite the interesting pairing.

“Good Morning” on Graduation (2007)

In the final album of the College Trilogy, Kanye is no longer hustling as he did in Dropout, nor is he as socially aware as he was in Late Registration. Graduation is all about the glow up.

“Good Morning” is a good theme song for a good tv show that has been going on for a little too long, like if The Wire’s ninth season’s theme song was performed by Randy Newman. Undoubtedly good. But also, like…come on, man.

“Say You Will” on 808s and Heartbreak (2008)

808s and Heartbreak is an album that came after the break-up with Amber Rose and passing of his mother. There were a lot of emotions swirling around Kanye at the time, putting him in a different headspace than where he was for his first three chipmunk-soul albums, so it only makes sense that 808s kicks off with this emotional, auto-tuned track about heartbreak and sets the tone for the rest of the album.

But here’s the thing: “Say You Will” is a good song but doesn’t exactly hype me up for the rest of the album. If the Jeopardy clue was “This is the first song off of 808s and Heartbreak,” I would’ve buzzed in with so much swagger and said, “What is ‘Heartless,’” and then I’d be at -$3600 and then my mentions would be in shambles.

“Dark Fantasy” on My Beautiful Dark Twisted  Fantasy (2011)

Five weeks before My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy dropped, we got the 37-minute film, Runaway, that opens on Kanye running full speed down a country road and the title card. Then we cut to a meteorite burning through Earth’s atmosphere and catch a glimpse of Kanye rapping this song through the rearview mirror of a Tatar MTX, driving down that same country road, surrounded by deer. Maybe it’s just associative memories at this point, but honestly, that shit’s tight as hell.

Fantasy is the first album that opens with spoken word since Late Registration, where Nicki Minaj reads a retold sample of Ronald Dahl’s “Cinderella,” and she literally tells us what the album is about. Then Teyana Taylor asks us if we could get much higher, like, 30 times. And Kanye goes on and on about pain, but in my mind, he’s going on and on about pain while driving a Tatar MTX. It’s very cool.

“No Church in the Wild” on Watch the Throne (2012)

In the early 2010s, Dodge started running ads that featured the driving beat of “No Church in the Wild” and every time I heard it, my body instinctively prepared itself for a 45-minute, luxury-rap adventure and the unseen dark side of it all, as told by two of the best rappers of the decade.

Watch the Throne is a great album not only because it’s so catchy, but also because of its themes, which mirrors The Great Gatsby (2013), which Jay-Z, who identified with Jay Gatsby, got executive producer credits for lending “No Church In The Wild” to the movie.

“On Sight” on Yeezus (2013)

Yeezus is the angry follow-up to My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, and between the laser sounds, that weird interlude, and duration of how long Kanye drags out the word “mooooooooouuuuuutthhh,” this theme song is perfect.

“Ultralight Beam” on The Life of Pablo (2016)

There are things in life that you wish you could experience for the first time every time, like visiting New York City, or getting your first big paycheck, or the first time you lay in bed with the lights off and letting the choir from “Ultralight Beam” wash over your body. We’re always trying to chase that dragon and this song is probably the easiest dragon to catch. And that’s before Chance the Rapper even comes on.

Kanye always said The Life of Pablo is a gospel album, and I’m not sure what getting bleach on your t-shirt has to do with church, but overall the album is a potpourri of sounds and production that describe Kanye as the man he is today, post-Amber, post-Donda, post-VMA, husband, and father of two, and the gospel song that gets us there is undefeated.


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: 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.