APAHM Tag

Giant Robot Documentary

 

This is pretty cool. Giant Robot was one of those cool indy magazines exploring a side of Asian American life completely ignored in most other publications. I saw them sparsely as a young artist but hella appreciate the work the co-founders did to shine a light on AAPI creators and the many subcultures they are a part of. The Giant Robot store on Sawtelle in Japantown was one of the first shops to carry Furqan’s First Flat Top in LA. What started as a zine became a movement.
Watch the whole episode on them here.
Did you like this? Check out my last inspiration board and this piece I did for Hyphen Magazine

Kindred Journey 44 – Jeanyee Wong

 

This was really fun for me to research because Jeanyee Wong was a type based artist and I love typography. Jeanyee was born in San Francisco in 1920 to Cantonese parents who then moved to the Bronx in NY when she was a child. She is said to have started drawing on any and everything when she was just 3. She studied Chinese calligraphy at a young age. Then she studied painting and sculpture at The cooper Union  from 1938-1941. There she studied woodcut with Fritz Kredel and calligraphy with George Salter.  
Jeanyee started as an apprentice of Kredel’s and began working on her own in 1941. The bulk of her work work has been in book publishing as she worked for Oxford University Press, Simon & Schuster, Macmillan, Random House, Little Brown, Crown, Viking, Atheneum, Knopf, so many. She created type treatment, calligraphy, design, and illustration for many there. She also worked in advertising, created certificates, business cards, invitations, letter heads, etc. For many years she worked as a teacher at The New School, Pratt, and others I’m sure. 
She is known for her design of the “Seventeen magazine, NY Public library, and Mad Magazine logos and her awards from AIGA and UNICEF. But she was also highly regarded among the Society of Scribes as a generous teacher of students. She worked from her early 20s up until her 80s I believe and her calligraphy and artwork is incredible. Excellent! 
“You’re never perfect. You can always do something more and improve” – Jeanyee Wong (1920-2017)
Sources: JeanyeeWong.blogspot.com ( Alex Jay), Society of Scribes, Librarything.com
Did you catch the last one this month? Its Spie of the TDK, FC, and TMC crew!!

Kindred Journey 43 – Spie

 

Spie is a OG of the Bay Area Graf scene. A king in my opinion. Born and raised in San Francisco during the early 70s, he is from the second generation of writers is Frisco. He began writing on his own first, then he began joining crews. He’s one of the illest local style technicians of letters and has always tried new things whether painting wild style pieces, throw ups, or even just his handstyles. He is a representative of several well known Bay crews; TMC, TDK, and Irie Posse. He’s also reps FC, a NYC crew. Something that connects him to a long legacy of artists both in and beyond Graf is his use of art to speak truth to power.  Being the child of an organizer/activists instilled him with a DIY spirit and awareness that he always shared with the Graff community. In fact, in his career he is known as much for his unique letter styles as he is for speaking out against police terrorism, racism, imperialism, colonialism, and the system that uses these tools to get more money and power. Something I learned is that he was a mediator between writers who had beef. A peacekeeper. He is a citizen of the world traveling to Jamaica, Cuba, Costa Rica, NYC, even Palestine. He’s a father, husband, activist, credentialed teacher, and a hilarious guy if you get to hang with him. If you have been impacted or inspired by Spie or his work please comment w/ a big up, fire emoji, or a memory so he knows how much we all love him. Thank you big brother.

Sources: One Track Mind magazine, My Life In Letters podcast,  Life, My Mom

More: The first time I met Spie he was already a legend to me. As a kid obsessed with Graffiti I loved taking flics of his pieces both solo and with Mike Dream. His style leaps off the wall, often using two outlines to accentuate movement. My family has a connection to his, as my grandmother knew his parents and worked with them on some labor activism. My mom who knew him since he was a kid proudly introduced me to him at a huge show he did in Oakland around the anniversary of the Hiroshima Nagasaki bombing. I could not believe she knew him and was floored by his humbleness and skill. Since the mid 90s I’ve been fortunate enough to get to watch him work, to hang, to speak to his students, to ask questions, and to be inspired by him. To watch him show solidarity with Palestine, Puerto Ricans, Filipinxs, and Black struggles such as Black August and Black Liberation figures such as Assata Shakur, Malcolm X, and more. I think his choice to put more up on the wall than just his name spoke to me as a kid. I was and am inspired so much by him and consider him a big brother and a mentor. Its great to hear him talk about his experiences coming up in the Graff world. I highly encourage you to listen to his episodes on the My Life in Letters podcast. Much Love dude!

Did you see the last piece of Pardon My Hindi?

Also, here’s a piece I did of Mike Dream.

Kindred Journey 42- Pardon My Hindi

 

I’ve been seeing this dude’s work here and there and its dope! If you’re not already familiar with “Pardon My Hindi” aka Chiraag Bhakta. This cat is from Jersey, and his story of growing up in a hotel very much reminded my ok Kelly Yang’s MG book “Front Desk”. He is known for collaborating with hip hop duo Das Racist, animator Sanjay Patel, Basement Bhangra pioneer DJ Rekha, and jazz musician Vijay Iyer. He he’s a graphic designer, street artist (you’ve seen his stickers), and I’m trying to think of whats a cool way to describe what he does and I cant do it justice. But he has made exhbitis like #whitepeopledoingyoga which seriously and hilariously critiques the columbusing of an OG South Asian culture being appropriated by white folks and capitalism. He did this photo project about Indian families who own and run motels called “Arch Motel”, and he currently has a show up in NYC called “This Only” which I highly encourage you to check out. I can’t believe I missed his Bay shit , but I will be there at the next one. This dude is hella smart, witty, and on point when it comes to critiquing colonialism and assimilation. And I love how he’s a collector who shares some beautiful mixes of Asian and American culture. What it’s like to survive the madness that is the US. Nuff respect fellow artist and hip hop head!
Sources: Saada, Verve Mag, Mother Jones (what an article dude!)
Ok this year I’m doing artists. Did you catch the last one of Doug Chiang
Last year I did two pieces feat South Asians- My brother SETI-X and Raveena

Kindred Journey 41 – Doug Chiang

 

Doug Chiang is the vice president and creative director of Star Wars. He’s been working in the film industry for over 30 years and is one hell of an illustrator. You’ve seen his work. And I was super inspired to see him in the extras or behind the scenes of Star Wars films. Originally from Taiwan (Born in 1962) he grew up in Michigan and made his way to California. He started on “Pee Wee’s Playhouse” a show I watched as a kid. His first film as a concept artist was “Back to the Future 2″ and he has worked on Ghost, Terminator 2, Forrest Gump, Jumanji, and so many other films. In 1995 when I was just beginning high school he went to work for George Lucas who was developing the prequel Star Wars films. He designed ships, spacecraft, sets, costumes, and characters for the first three films along with Star Wars 7,8,9, Rogue One, Solo, and most recently The Mandalorian. In between SW projects Doug founded his own studio called Ice Blink” which would become Image Movers Digital. He became a published author and has won Aacademy, Bafta, Clio, and now Oscar award. As I mentioned he’s now the creative head of all new Star Wars projects from films, amusement park rides, games, etc. And the thing I love most about him besides his ridiculous skill as a painter and illustrator is his ability to keep pushing for the best idea. You can tell he iterates and tries as many directions as possible to get the most out of an idea. It’s incredible to watch. And the dude is humble. Hats off to Doug. Follow him here.
Sources: Lucasfilm, Imdb, Wikipedia, Robota
Dig this? Check out the last post about Bay Area Graf writer ASIA
Did you see this one about Special FX artist and model maker Fon Davis?

Kindred Journey 40 – Asia

 

As a teen obsessed with graffiti I dragged my parents to go snap pics of pieces and throw ups. Asia is one of the artists I’d see. She inspired me not only to be proud but to be stylish. 20 years later I spoke with her thx to DJ Willie Maze.
Born in Japan in the early 70s, she grew up in San Francisco and started writing in 1991. One of her early influences was a young woman who wrote like NME who gave her the name “Asia”. Later it was King 157, Spie, Giant, and a guy named “Orfn” who was up everywhere in the 90s who inspired her. Crew wise, she was down with VC which included Muet and Duer. She’s still down with TDK (Teach Dem Knowledge) and had a crew of sisters called HMP- “Her Mighty Presence”. 
Asia was most active in the Bay between 91-95 before moving to NYC in the late 90s. Although she bombed out there she told me New York was on a whole other level. When I asked her about some of her proudest moments she quickly mentioned the “Tax Dollars Kill” production TDK did with every damn body in the crew. It was in magazines and it got a lot of attention! She also mentioned a mission her and Muet went on to bomb a tank!! A Tank! 
When asked about advice for young women getting into Graff/art she said “It’s hard to do, but be free of judgement by others. Don’t be concerned about how they see your work. As long as you enjoy it, that’s what matters. Do it for yourself, your soul”.
Although she doesn’t write anymore, she still makes art for herself.  She said she was motivated to piece  by TDK, but she really loved was to hop buses and go bomb! She didn’t document most of her stuff and wasn’t thinking of legacy, but she really loved it and had so much fun doing it. If you’re reading this and remember “Asia” PLEASE share a word or photo for her to see! Respect to OG Asia!
Sources: Interview w/ Asia
The last asrtist I painted is Hung Liu! And check out this drawing of Lady Pink

Kindred Journey 39 – Hung Liu

 

Can’t remember where i first heard her name but her work has stuck with me for awhile. I shared this with my wife who was a Mills student and was actually a student of hers. she remembers hung saying to use more paint:)
Hung was born in China in 1948 and has been painting since the 60s. As she was becoming an adult the cultural revolution happened in China. A revolution in my household growing up, but not necessarily seen with happiness for all. Hung described being forced to work in the fields 1965-72. In between she’d sneak in a drawing, photo, or painting here and there. In the late 70s after Mao’s death she got to study in Beijing’s Central Academy of Fine Arts. She was first trained as a muralist and I think thats one of the things that made me gravitate to her work. She tries to bounce to the US, gets into a a San Diego school, waits 4 years for a visa to clear, then in 84 starts her study in the US. She lives and teaches in Texas before coming to the Bay where she gets into the Capp Street Project. 1990 she gets offered a teaching position at Mills College and is still in the town. 

In her career she has exhibited in solo and group shows since 1978. She has done large public artworks and murals like the one in the Oakland airport. She paints big with juicy drips and her style is a mix of realistic portraiture, and some abstraction. And I dig it. Her use of old photos, calligraphy, found objects, etc. I see workers, everyday life, pain, resistance, freedom to travel, freedom to express, immigrants, preserving history and memory, etc. And it feels like she’s just getting started. Check out her work, once you do you get my choice of imagery here.

Sources: Summoning Ghosts, Kqed, SF Moma, Hungliu.com
Did you catch the last piece I did of muralist Priya Handa? Stay tuned for the next piece featuring Aapi artists for 2021.
Update: She just passed away in August of 2021, rest in Peace!
Here’s a drawing I did of Hung many years ago

Kindred Journey 38 – Priya Handa

Bay Area born and bred I can tell Priya Handa is one of those life long artists, a scorpio, lover of good music, ice cream, and justice. As a muralist she has worked with Precita Eyes in SF, the Community Rejuvenation Project (CRP), Twin Walls Crew, the Zapatistas, Trust Your Struggle Collective, and the Bay Area Mural Festival. She has painted nationally and internationally traveling as far as Mexico and Palestine. She is a tattoo artist and an illustrator who works both big and small, aerosol, ink, acrylic, watercolor, and needle. She is an activist making work supporting Black Lives, Sex workers, Farmers in India, the Navajo nation, the military complex, and police brutality. And she is a child of South Asian immigrants (Punjab in India).

The first time I met Priya she had paint/gear in her hands and she came through as we (TYS) were working on a wall for Reem’s California in Oakland in 2017 just to help. The last time I saw her she brought a painting she knocked out for elder Emory Douglas of his art for the “Love and Protect: Chinatown Black & Asian solidarity mural project”. Both times her skill, humbleness, and generosity spoke for itself. Although I’m still getting to know her I implore you to follow and support her work now. She’s a hard working rising star and deserves all the shine.  Follow her on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/eightbirdz/

Sources: https://crpbayarea.org/meet-the-muralist-priya-handa/, http://www.puttpunjabi.com, Asian American Women Artists Association

Did you catch the piece of Maya Lin?

Last year I focused on Aapi musicians and this year I’m focusing on artists. If you’re new to this, “Kindred Journey” is a serious of paintings I’ve done of prominent and lesser known Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders since 2016. You can find a gallery of all past paintings here.

Fellow artists! May is #asianamericanheritagemonth and I invite you to paint, collage, or draw amazing folks for the month of May. Well known folks of course, but def the lesser known people, places, movements, organizations, etc. I limit my color palette to ๐Ÿ’œ๐Ÿ’š, I use watercolor, do 12-24 posts, and I try to share a short bio of ea subject. I Use the hashtag #apahm #asianamericanheritagemonth and I call my series #kindredjourney but get down for yours, name it whatever u like, and share so errybody can learn more abt our folks-especially NOW!
๐Ÿ’šTo my everyday folks -feel free to join by sharing photos or art abt folks too, just make sure to credit the creators of the images and ask permission wherever possible before posting.
๐Ÿ’œLast yr my focus was on musicians. This yr it will be on artists. What specific area of #aapi history do u love? Djs, South Asians, activists, special fx artists, blasians, entrepreneurs, actors, wrestlers? Get busy!

Kindred Journey 37 – A4BL

I remember beaming with happiness and pride when I saw a group of young Asian Americans chain themselves to a building( Police Dept)  to protest. They were bold and I remember thinking “that’s what I’m talking about”. Showing up and showing out with direct action. That group was A4BL or Asians 4 Black Lives, in support of Black activists and Black folks being murdered by cops. This was shortly after Mike Brown was killed. After Oscar, Rekia, Tamir, Tyisha, and Trayvon. Anyway, I won’t get into the history. I’ve pasted their statement below. To all my young Aapi’s this month I just wanted to share this with you if you didn’t know. Solidarity exists. Happy Asian American and Pacific Islander heritage month. Fuck the police. 
We stand on the doorstep of the Oakland Police Department today as a group of Asians putting our bodies on the line in response to a national call to shut down institutions that perpetrate the war on Black people.  It is unacceptable that every 28 hours a Black person is killed by the police, security or vigilantes.
As Asians, we recognize the ways in which weโ€™ve been used historically to prop up the anti-Black racism that allows this violence to occur. We are an extremely diverse community.  Some of us have been targeted, profiled, and killed by U.S. government institutions.  Many of us came to the U.S. as a result of the devastation and displacement caused by the US military and its โ€œpartnersโ€ in Asia, only to find a country uses police to devastate and displace black communities.  However, we also recognize the relative privilege that many of us carry as Asians living in the US. 
Many of our Asian brothers and sisters around the country have made powerful statements in support of ending the war on Black people and shown up to protests.  We hope that Asian communities will join us in reflecting on and continuing to practice an intentional Black-Asian solidarity, as we work toward the vision offered by organizers in Ferguson:
Source: https://a4bl.tumblr.com/

Did you catch the last one of Rocky Rivera?
Did you see this one of Bambu?

Kindred Journey 36 – Rocky Rivera

The majority of my community knows this phenomenal artist, but let me give you a little backstory if you’re unfamiliar. Rocky started her music career officially in the mid 2000’s as one fourth of the group “Rhapsodistas”, then the release of her mixtape “Married to the Hustle”. Since 2008 she’s released a consistent catalogue of EPs, features, mixtapes with DJ Roza, and three full length albums; most recently “Rocky’s Revenge”. Born in the Philippines she came to the US as a child. She and her two sisters gravitated heavily to hip hop. She grew up in the San Francisco, specifically the Excelsior district. A student of journalism Rock has written for publications such as XXL, The Source, Ruckus, and was featured as part of MTV’s “I’m From Rolling Stone” show where she wrote and covered hip hop stories for the magazine. Always a sharp thinker you can hear subjects ranging from religion, colorism, Pinay pride, Filipin@ history, guerilla warfare, revolutionary politics, and feminism to mob music, gold grills, knocking sound systems, and motherhood. Besides being a fierce MC that will rip any rapper and write a rhyme from multiple vantages of a story, she is a super down to earth person who lives what she spits. On any given day you could catch her rocking a show, working with youth, writing a book, attending a protest, organizing, rocking some fly fashion, or just raising her kids with her partner. As someone who always uplifts other women you’ll often see her praising other women too. She is a pioneer that is paving a way and giving other young artists a voice to truly believe in and be inspired by. Ok, please go bump her music, follow, and be a part of new music and writing as a Patreon supporter.
Fav Song: GRLGNG
Sources: Davey D’s Hip Hop Corner, HypeBae, East Bay Express, El Tecolote, Beatrock Music
Did you catch the last one of Deb Never?