… when I wasn’t looking at pictures of dolls and yarn on the Internet, that is. I was busy earning my lu wei money as a style and culture reporter. I wish I had done a better job of posting my articles as they were published. I am not very good at self-promotion, which I am beginning to realize is a liability as journalists become an endangered species. Shuflies: will turn out inverted pyramids and anecdotal ledes for food!
Over the past six months, I’ve enjoyed exploring Taipei for my job. Here are a few of my clips. The headline takes you to a html text version of the article and a PDF link is also included if available (I would recommend checking out our award-winning newspaper design).
The Taipei Toy Festival attracts thousands of attendees and some of the most important toy artists from around the world
This was the first features main that I wrote for the newspaper, and I’m very proud of it. It was an amazing experience to be able to interview all these big names in the designer toy world, including the creators of Smery Tofu, Tim Biskup and Jen Huang, the head of Monster Taipei and organizer of the festival. This is the stuff I dreamed about doing when I was studying arts and culture reporting in journalism school — and I nearly cried when I realized I would have a chance to cover the toy festival. Thinking about it still fills my eyes with sparkly, anime-like tears. Seriously, though, it was a good opportunity for me to explore why designer toys are a valid and accessible art form.
Artists at Clay
The 2008 Taiwan Ceramics Biennale brings together artwork from 24 countries
Reporting this piece gave me a new appreciation for ceramics as an art medium and I got a chance to see some amazing pieces.
Art that ‘resin’-ates with the masses
Art for the Masses at MOT Arts features toys by five leading contemporary Chinese artists
I am so proud of the headline for this piece that it’s sickening. Resin-ates! Ha ha! [Slaps knee]. Ahem. The exhibit created a great deal of buzz in the designer toy world and among followers of Chinese art, so I was happy to write about it.
‘Shinjuku’ or broke
From ‘kawaii’ to avant-garde, Ximending’s Shinjuku Plaza offers independently run stores for every style and budget
One of the things that surprised me about Taipei’s retail economy after having lived in New York City is that even though it is a hyper-competitive mad house of hard sells and store closings here, young designers do not have to be trust fund babies in order to open their own boutiques in a trendy shopping district. Shinjuku, a mall in Ximending, is filled with twenty and thirty-something business owners, many of whom act as designers or buyers for their own small shops. It’s not easy, especially with the economy being what it is right now, but I love this form of capitalism, where the person who made your new tunic is the same person who is counting your change out.
Threading tradition and modernity together
Designer Shiatzy Chen prepares for her label’s historic Paris Fashion Week debut
I had the opportunity to interview Shiatzy Chen before she became only the second fashion designer from Taiwan to show at Paris fashion week.
The jewel from outer space
Joalan Designs is Taiwan’s exclusive distributor of moissanite
I found out about moissanite when I was researching diamond alternatives that are both conflict-free and eco-friendly for my wedding band (my engagement ring has a conflict-free diamond, but I’d like to be more environmentally-conscious, too). I wanted to take a look at the stone in real life, but didn’t think I’d be able to find a supplier in Taipei. Then I found out that not only is there a store that specializes in moissanite here, but that it was founded by one of the first designers to use moissanite.
I don’t know if I should go around writing stuff like this on the Internet, but it was also during the reporting of this story that I realized looking at bright, clear, sparkly things makes me really want to eat them. They look like rock candy… really, really nice rock candy. I think I’ll stick to plain platinum for my wedding band. I don’t want to end up gnawing my finger off during our reception.
The talking cure for Taipei’s foreigners
Counselors at the Community Services Center in Tianmu offer a helping hand to foreigners coping with culture shock and other issues
I think this is the most important article I wrote this year, and I hope that it helped at least one person who was coping with depression get some support. My pet peeves include people who say that depression is a form of weakness. I think those people are either struggling with depression themselves and do not know how to cope, ignorant, or complete and utter assholes. If it’s the latter, well, no one is going to miss those idiots when they are gone. If you think you might have depression or you just need some emotional support, you owe it to yourself and to the people close to you to seek help.
Not your garden variety onion
Marketing acumen and sheer cuteness have set Onion Tou on the path to becoming Taiwan’s own homegrown Hello Kitty
Onion Tou is taking over the world! I’m not kidding, this article probably bought me the most cred among the other Chinese- and Taiwanese-Americans I know because Onion Tou is becoming such a popular character among teenagers and young adults. I also found it an interesting story from a marketing standpoint and like to think that my financial reporting experience helped me with this piece. This article should be read in PDF form — otherwise you won’t be able to savor Onion Tou’s rotund cuteness.
Big head, big eyes and big heart
Blythe tugs at the heartstrings of collectors all over the world, who find creative inspiration in her quirky looks
I talked to Gina Garan, Blythe’s fairy godmother, for this article. I used to go to Blythe gatherings at her studio when I lived in NYC and I loved interviewing her. My goal was to write a features piece that would explain Blythe to a general readership while at the same time getting the point of view of Blythe lovers (especially those in Taipei) across. Most articles about Blythe in the mainstream media are “look at these hipsters who like this creepy doll!” Well, I am here to tell you that I am neither hip nor are Blythes creepy.
Also, Catherine Jr. made me write it. In retaliation, I did not take her to the Blythe cosplay event that I mention in my lede. Ha ha!
Dancing into the light
The Crescent Beauty Disabled Talent Show aims to blur the line between ‘disabled’ and ‘able-bodied’
This is a fantastic event, because it is entertaining, inspiring (there were some really great acts from both China and Taiwan) and it does not patronize the performers (several of the performers helped organize it, as a matter of fact). I think the challenge with articles about events like these is that they run the risk of turning into “oh look at these disabled people performing, how heartwarming” sap and I wanted to avoid being condescending while at the same time acknowledging the challenges that the performers in the show face in their day-to-day lives, as well as their achievements.
Old Master Q in new guise
Comic book character Old Master Q, a perennial favorite among Chinese readers throughout the world, received a high-fashion makeover for his 45th birthday
My parents read Old Master Q comics when they were young (the comics are basically like the “Peanuts” of the Chinese-speaking world) and I love the makeover Joseph Wong, the son of the character’s creator, engineered: Old Master Q was drawn in Prada, DSquared, Hermes and other high-fashion designers. I think Wong and OMQ Comics has been very on-the-ball about keeping the characters and story lines relevant to a new generation of readers with thoughtful marketing strategies. This is another story that should be read in PDF form.
I have a lot of catching up to do on this blog. I’ve been meaning to write about the Blythe flea market I went to, the first game of Taiwan Monopoly I played (my conservative investing strategy totally kicked me in the butt), our trip to Yongle fabric market and the resolutions I’m planning to break this year, but I haven’t had time because I’ve been so busy. But in the meantime, I’d just like to say that it’s really fun working with your significant other when you are both journalists. Instead of arguing about money and chores, we argue about money, chores and em dashes, en dashes, semi-colons and the AP style guide! I’m kidding. We don’t argue. We negotiate.