Saturday, March 31, 2018

Korea: Garak market part two

Garak market is an established agricultural and fish wholesale market open to the public. In recent years it's come under the wave of modernization, as many markets have, and been updated with a shiny new shopping center to replace the original warehouses. The new building is air-conditioned, bright, and clean- all good things, right? And there's parking available on each of the floors, of which there are three, each tailored to a particular need. The ground floor comprises the majority of the photos I took as I found it the most interesting of the three. The second floor was more or less a Costco-style store with vast quantities of a wide array of foodstuffs available, and the third floor was all restaurants. I didn't make any purchases, partly because I'd already been out and about all morning and was growing tired, but also because the trek home was going to be quite long and I wasn't sure if I could eat any substantial meal without summarily falling asleep on the train....then waking up in some far off train station confused. 

The move for modernization was pushed as being an unavoidable necessity as the surrounding neighborhood itself grows more modern and affluent. Whether that is true or not is debatable, but residents are probably grateful to have a cleaner market to do their shopping in. I felt a bit underwhelmed by the experience, but this could also have been in part due to my getting there later in the day. I've read that if you arrive early the market is more lively as the butchers prepare their cuts for the day and fishermen have their latest goods being carved or tanked for the day, but other blogs have said that they arrived early only to find the place as desolate as I found it. Perhaps the newer building has priced out vendors with higher rent, as was the case for many vendors who resisted the move to the New Noryangjin building. 

Still, as tired as I was, I wanted to make the best of it and get as many photos as I could before heading towards home. Even though they're not as exciting, there is a certain charm to catching places like this during the slow periods. 

More photos below!

Friday, March 30, 2018

Korea: Garak Market part one

Garak market is something of a legend for me; it was the FIRST agricultural wholesale market open to the public of Seoul and facilitates one-third of the overall agricultural and fishing trade. The original buildings went up in 1985, so they had been in operation for decades! The photos I encountered on the Visit Korea website promised warehouses full of vendors with an old school feel and I was excited to find another market to check out, one I hadn't gotten to previously. Other websites, too, show a vibrant and lively market, not unlike Gwangjang market... 

What I found, however, was the Garak Mall, which felt more or less like any other mall, unfortunately.  I mean, they had the fish markets with bubbling tanks and live critters were even swimming in some, and there were many small butchers stands with their chilled displays of fresh meat, but it was quiet during my visit and the spacious, air-conditioned halls echoed with the sounds of my footsteps as I explored. The second floor of the three-storied building was something else, though, like a Costco. An expansive shopping market with towering shelves of bulk product, from cheeses to pickles, dried snacks and processed meats. I didn't make my way to the third floor of the building as it was primarily restaurants where you would take your purchases to be cooked, and I didn't make any purchases. By this point in the day I was already pretty worn out, having tackled the Seoul Fortress wall early in the day. Making the trek out to Garak market alone would be quite the journey, as I was staying in the more suburban area of Hwajeong, so it made sense to hit several spots in one day. 

It took me a bit of wandering around before I found the right place, too. My hangul comprehension got better the longer I was in Seoul, but I didn't (and still don't) have an extensive vocabulary to process (and add meaning to) what I was reading. I may have made a lap around a restaurant before realizing I'd gone in the wrong doors...oops! Overall, though, I was glad to have gone and made the trek to Garak mall at least the once, if just so I could cross one more location off of my to-do list. I'm sure it'd be well worth visiting again in the future, especially with someone who's fluent in Korean and can make more use of all the amenities and things available in the market. 
I've split the photos from this trip in to two posts so as not to overload anyone! Enjoy!  

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Korea: Seoul City wall hike part two

After hiking through a beautiful public forest area, I found myself at a security check point. I was asked to present a valid form of photo ID and sign in, as well as fill out some paperwork agreeing to their terms during my visit. While photography was allowed through most areas, there were specific spots throughout the secure area where photography was NOT permitted. I took a photo in an area I thought was safe only to find an attendant approaching me asking to see my camera before asking me to delete the photo... which got a little awkward, as I don't normally delete photos off of my camera while I'm out and about, so I wasn't even sure how to go about doing so and had to figure it out while the attendant stood by waiting. I'm sure they were as unenthusiastic about the situation as I was, so for their sake and your own please pay close attention to the signage indicating which zones are strictly prohibited. It might not make sense, and it doesn't have to...just follow the rules and everything will be fine. The hike itself is well worth any inconvenience the no-photo zones may impose, so I highly recommend taking it. 

Seoul is a bustling and often quite-crowded city, so having the opportunity to escape while still well within the city limits is something I'm extremely grateful for. It has been documented that spending time in nature is beneficial for your health, from lowering stress levels to the exposure to fresh air and exercise involved. I worked up quite an appetite trekking up one hill and down the next, and near the end of the hike my legs felt like jelly as I descended what seemed like an endless procession of stairs. I felt great afterwards, though! Never underestimate the benefits of some endorphins and sunshine. I had been away from home for nearly three months by this point and was missing Antho quite a bit, but it did me no good to waste my time abroad sulking in my little room when I could be out experiencing the beauty South Korea has to offer. It really is a beautiful place and I encourage anyone who's considering going to go for it! When I reached the main summit, the final peak I climbed before returning to the city below, I was offered a slice of fruit from a kind stranger. Now perhaps that might be cause for concern or a time to be wary, but I've found myself the lucky recipient of gestures like this several times now and only ever been grateful for them. After all that hiking, a crisp, sweet slice of apple was wonderful. Thank you, random elderly gentleman, who decided to share his fruit with the foreign girl sitting by herself.

More photos below!

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Korea: Seoul City Wall Hike part one

Seoul City wall was originally constructed in 1396 and has been maintained ever since, making it a location with much historic significance. The wall connects four mountains in Seoul, making it a key strategic point for the military from ancient times until even modern day! That's right, it's still an active military zone and upon reaching the end of this post's hike I entered an area that required showing identification and signing in with men in military uniform. This post will be all public areas where photography is freely and openly allowed! To get to the fortress wall, I took Subway line 3 from Hwajeong station to Anguk then exited Anguk station through exit 2. From there it was a short walk to a bus stop, where I caught bus line 2 to the summit. There's a local park you have to walk through to access the wall, but it's a lovely little park! I have to admit I'm a bit jealous of the lucky locals who not only have such a nice park to relax in but also the gorgeous views to take in. Seoul is a city of mountains and valleys, affording many opportunities to take in a good view of the city's beauty and the City Wall makes a great photogenic adventure. 

It's not the easiest of hikes I've ever taken, mainly due to the drastic elevation changes throughout the path. You climb your way to the top of one mountain only to descend halfway then find yourself climbing the next... luckily it was a gorgeous day out, and though I worked up a bit of a sweat it wasn't unpleasant. This is not a hike I would recommend for people with bad knees or who tire easily... once you're into it, your only real option is to walk back out! Be smart and pack some snacks and water so that if you need to take a break and replenish you have supplies on hand... I, of course, only took a small water bottle and no food, because I'm a genius. I made it through alright, though I was certainly grateful to get a beverage and a snack once I returned to the city proper once the hike was all said and done. Chances are good that you'll likely encounter some brightly clad locals out enjoying the hike as well, and some hikers were quite advanced in age during my visit. I certainly couldn't let myself, young and virile as I am, be outdone by a senior citizen, right? You'd be surprised how fast they were! It was obvious that many hikers here take the hobby very seriously, equipped with expensive backpacks, walking sticks and any other supplies they might need. Learn from them and come prepared! If you plan to advance into the controlled areas, be sure to bring identification with you.  

More photos after the cut!

Monday, March 26, 2018

Korea: Quick stop at Noryangjin Market for daebul and live shrimp

Have you ever heard of gaebul? They're this creepy fish that looks, unfortunately, like an uncircumcised member gone rogue and squirming freely about loose in a tank. They're not the most appetizing looking of beasts, and I say that as a straight woman... They are, however, a semi-common sight when walking through fish or food markets throughout Seoul, or at least seem to be as they're so eye-catching. 

Having gone to Noryangjin market several times now, I had tried a lot of the more ubiquitous and notorious items like sannakji (still squirming "live" octopuses) and I felt more liberated to try whatever random beast from the seas caught my attention this time this instance, it happened to be gaebul.  I'd seen them at Gwangjang market in the past and always had a bit of curiosity about the weird little squirmies, but never jumped until now. I have to admit, on this particular instance of sampling the specific seafood in question I have to say it didn't impress me all that much. The meat was a bit rubbery and lacking in flavor, though that may have had to do with how it was prepared more than anything. I'm certainly not adverse to the consumption of any form of crustacean, so there was no reason for me to hesitate when it came to this special breed of squirming thing. I'd eat it again! I'm of the opinion that you should try any new food at least three times before writing it off for good.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Korea: Craft Fair at Ssamziegil in Insadong

Seoul is a vibrant city of roughly 10 million people and bustling with personality, passion, and variety. From the visor-wearing aunties in their colorful track suits lugging their carts full of goodies to the suited office workers trying not to fall asleep on the subway, the high-fashion youth with perfectly powdered visages and the burly workmen doing construction, it's as vivacious and nuanced a big city as one could hope or imagine with all the fashion, art and entertainment to boot. All the activity and bustling energy translate to a lot of creative energy, too, and there is no shortage of craftsmen and artisans in Seoul. Luckily, South Koreans are very proud of their culture AND their creations, so crafts fairs and historic traditional arts flourish and coincide in peace. 

Ssamziegil, a spiral walking path that works its way through four floors of artisan shops and little restaurants, was one of the several locations I would draw at while living in Korea. Our little shop for Fun Caricature was right on the ground floor near the entryway, a prime location for catching curious tourists on their way to grab some Dongppang (poop bread). Rest assured, there's no actual poo used in the bread! It's a griddle cake with sweet filling pressed into the shape of the poop emoji...a bit silly or juvenile, perhaps, but it's a hit with travelers who would form long lines waiting for a chance at their own selfie with the peculiar treat, even in the freezing cold! The building for Ssamzi (what we called it) is located in the heart of Insadong, in the Jongno-Gu area of Seoul proper. That was, without a doubt, one of my absolute favorite areas in Seoul as there are so many cultural important monuments and so many things of note to see within a readily accessible walking distance of each other. To get to Insadong proper, take exit 6 from Anguk station and you'll be right around the corner. Insadong, in particular, is rife with crafts and art, alongside the Kimchi museum. There are many places you can rent a Hanbok to wear and friendly guides proliferate in the area, eager to lend aid to a confused traveler. It was always a fun location to work at! 

The photos in this post are going to be from one particular day when a craft fair happened to pop up inside the open courtyard of Ssamziegil. I couldn't help but to be curious and poke my head over for a look when business at the booth was slow. Please enjoy this glimpse into what daily life was kind of like when I was working in Seoul! Plenty more photos below~

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Art: First batch of acrylic pour paintings finished

The first batch of paintings we made have sufficiently dried down enough to get clear coated! It can take awhile for all the paint and liquid on the canvas to fully settle down and solidify, so we let them rest after being made for at least 24 hours, if not longer when possible. Once we felt confident that they were sufficiently solid we took them outside and gave them generous coats of glossy top coat to protect the paints so the paintings will hold up over time. In person they look absolutely fantastic! The clear coat gives added luminousity and lustre to the colors underneath, making them bright and pearlescent... of course, this makes it harder to photograph them because the same gloss that makes them so lovely to look at refracts the light with a fervor that the lens eats up. Flash drowns it out, and the lighting in our studio tends to cast shadows... trying to capture these photos was a tightrope dance of trying to balance reflective shine against shadow. I don't think I completely nailed it, so the actual shop product photos for when these go live will likely be done differently. To be fair, I did this on my own, and Antho is really the skilled light-tech in the relationship. I can point and snap photos but his years working in his high school theater as a technician really helped him learn lighting in technical ways I'm not yet proficient in. I make do with what I've got, though, and tutorials and things have been of exceptionally great use. I swear, there's a youtube tutorial for everything!    

I didn't consider the paintings full complete until after they've dried and been coated, as I wouldn't consider them sellable prior to that. The paints can settle and new aspects revealed, too, during the drying process so there's still more to discover after you've set the painting down post-pour. I have to say that I think these turned out pretty darn nice for being our very first try at this technique. Responses on Instagram have been positive, too, so we're excited to be delving deeper into this! Similar to tie-dye, they always come out so completely different. We used the same 8-10 colors for all of these paintings but the ratios and spread made each painting completely it's own. Pretty groovy. They also react pretty well to changing light colors, as Antho cycled our light through the color spectrum and each shade would make different portions pop out at us. 
Pretty groovy, man.

More photos below!

Friday, March 23, 2018

Art: Acrylic Pour paintings, round three

And we're back at it with the pour painting!
Man, I love doing this stuff! I've been so obsessed with it for ages and never realized just how easy it really was to do. A lot of the videos and tutorials I had read on creating the acrylic pour texture needed required expensive supplies you either order online or pick up from an art supply store and neither of those options was especially appealing or felt readily accessible to me. A small bottle of official acrylic pour medium starts at about $8, and is probably only good for a handful of paintings... now, don't get me wrong, the medium exists for a reason and it's made to interact positively with the paints and dry with a particular texture, so it's absolutely worth buying if you're extremely serious about your paintings. If you buy a large bottle (say a gallon or so) you get a better price by weight, but it's still far from what I'd call "cheap". And that's ok- it's a professional tool for professional painters, and though as an artist I could lament the cost of art supplies until the sun finally burns itself out, I understand the need for quality tools- and that quality often comes at a cost. 

But let's be real, guys. I'm an artist, and while I'm not outright starving (eating eggs on toast right now, actually, one of my favorite budget breakfasts), I'm not exactly loaded, either. I've gotta work within the confines of my quite constrictive budget. Since we're just now starting to experiment with this technique, it didn't seem practical to drop $50 on a gallon of paint-diluter when we also have to buy the paints and canvases with no guarantee on how well we'll like the results. It can be intimidating diving into new things. Believe you me, I get that. 

So for these, we opted for the dirty pour method. Instead of buying expensive pouring medium we opted for a gallon of simple old glue, which was about $10-11 at our local Wal-mart. Of course, since it's not a medium necessarily intended for these purposes the results may be a little off from what would be achieved using the much more expensive medium. We've been happy with our results, however, and to be fair we've been experimenting with using different silicone products in the process, too, so any textural weirdness could be attributed as much to that as the glue. Personally, I'm happy with how they've all turned out. You can judge for yourself after looking at the photos below~

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Art: March Tie-dye

While I haven't been posting about tie-dye as much this month, we are still certainly creating away! Recently we've been applying the dye directly to the shirts and then putting the ice on top so that we have a bit more control over the dye placement with the design of the folds. It's worked out pretty well so far, though I don't know that we use any less dye in the process... in fact, this might actually use more dye! Previously we would apply the ice first, then sprinkle the dye over the top and you get a very strong visual guide as to when you might want to stop as the dye immediately begins to hydrate and spread. One of the best things about tie-dye, though, is that you can't really do it incorrectly so long as you're having fun. It's such an abstract process that you can take all sorts of creative liberties- feel more traditional and want to do a single-color indigo shibori? Go for it! Want to make a prismatic rainbow alien smoking a joint? If you've got the skills to fold it, you can make it. 

Personally, I tend to stray away from overly intentional designs, like the aforementioned prismatic alien with a joint, because I get too stressed out and anxious in the process. I'm something of a perfectionist and from the point of choosing a particular image and trying to create it to the final unveil, it cranks my anxiety up high...and I don't want that. Tie-dye is supposed to be fun, relaxing, enjoyable craft-time. Doing the ice dyes is soothing, an exercise in patience that's rewarded with colors galore... I'm sure I'll try again and again in the future, to create that particular image I had in mind, but given the nature of the tie-dye it's better (for me, at least) to go in with some flexibility. Even if the design doesn't turn out the exact way I had envisioned or hoped, there's still someone out there who might love it for exactly what it is! Each shirt is unique, after all, just like people, and there's something kind of cool about that, don't you think?

We HAVE started to dabble in techniques for creating images on the shirts separate from the tie-dye, and we might experiment with screen-printing in the not-too-distant future, too. There's always something new to try, after all, and even if you use the exact same colors on the exact same size shirt with the same folds it might not be a perfect carbon copy, so the options are quite truly endless.

More photos below!

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Art: Behind the scenes of early March photoshoot for 710Visuals tie-dye

Welcome to another behind-the-scenes edition of the blog! On this post we're going to be delving in to a photoshoot we recently undertook in our home for the Etsy shop and our tie-dye business 710Visuals. These are some of the shirts I've been showcasing the making-of process for, so we're super stoked to finally be showing their final form to you guys! It's been a long time coming and we're still troubleshooting the ideal photoshoot set up for ourselves, but this was... something. The blank white sheet is to help prevent the background from competing with the shirts as well as to provide a template for when I needed to go in and tinker with the colors after in editing. I never want to over-do it in the photo processing stage because I want the colors to reflect as close to reality as possible. I don't even edit out my zits the majority of the time, haha. Luckily, when these photos were taken my skin was doing pretty good- no real pimples to cover up, and I didn't feel the need for much foundation or powder. I normally use a BB cream with Too Faced's Peach Perfect Loose Powder patted on top to set, but for these photos I just patted on some Milani Powder foundation real quick to even and brighten things up a smidge. 

Antho, of course, didn't need any make up for his fabulous face (not that I need make up, but I do appreciate it's power and really enjoy using it). We did, however, opt to put some of my Lime Crime Diamond Crusher in Trip on his lips at the end, though. He wanted to feel fancy and why not? Guys deserve to feel fabulous and have glitter lips if they want, too.

The tie-dye shirts photographed in this shoot are all now available in our Etsy shop for purchase, should you happen to find any that strike your fancy. We had fun doing the shoot and experimenting, though we'll likely be doing things a bit differently in the future. If we choose to shoot inside our home we will do it in a different location and/or with a different angle as the lighting was rather difficult to get precisely where we wanted it to be. Everything is a learning experience, though, and we'll figure out something even better for the next round! Keep scrolling for more photos!

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Art: Spray paint dip painting first try

Liquid art is undeniably psychedelic, and that's one of the big appeals of it to us. Antho originally dove into light art after witnessing the judicious use of water and oil with dye on an overhead projector at an underground show here in Vegas and being amazed at the trippy visuals they were able to achieve with such a simple set up. That was ages ago and unfortunately, the mixer that was used to create our high tech visuals has gone MIA; likely having gotten lost somewhere between moving homes and shuffling things between storage units and abodes... surely it will pop up at some point again, but it's definitely put a damper on our projection art these days. We haven't been doing shows at all, though Antho has expressed an interest and sadness about it, usually circling back to the absent mixer with a sigh. 
I understand his sadness; it's a roughly $600 piece of equipment and it was an important investment for him to make and now it's...where? That's not an easy chunk of money for us to part with, so it's not something we could just pick up again tomorrow... so this important personal thing is just out there, in the abyss somewhere, and that's a shit feeling. Having moved countries a few times now and moved all around Vegas, I've had a lot of my personal belongings go missing or get lost along the way and though it's been cathartic for me to let go of some, there are definitely those items I remember and wonder about with a bit of disappointment. They're probably out there, too, in the abyss somewhere... to be found at some later time and date perhaps... but for now, we can make new art and experiment with other means of expressing ourselves. 

We tried acrylic pour painting recently and liked it so much we did it again shortly after, but we have several cans of spray paint floating around going unused so we thought we'd try something different after a few more hours spent on Youtube. For this endeavor, we simply filled a plastic tub with regular tap water then applied spraypaint to the surface. The paint would float and we could add more colors for a varied appearance... it was a lot of fun and interesting to see how different our paintings came out despite using the same mediums yet again. One thing we discovered right away is that the paint would harden up pretty quickly, so if we waited too long it would congeal on the surface. This meant that any additional design changes had to be done before the paint hardened, but that wasn't that big of a challenge, just a point of caution more than anything. 
More photos below!