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  1. Life’s Simple On The Flower Farm

    June 21, 2012 by The E.A.T. Team

    ON THE CANVAS 
    Flower Farming
    ON THE GLOBE
    Cradoc, Tasmania, Australia
    ON THE TEAM
    Sam Calvert

    You don’t have to have a degree to succeed so long as you put the effort in and make it work.

    For three weeks, we had the extreme pleasure of living on the farm in Tasmania with our dear friend from Leeds University, graphic designer Jess Nicholls and her boyfriend, flower farmer Sam Calvert. If we’re being totally honest, we spent a lot more time playing with Sally “Fish” Fisher the sheepdog, drinking copious amounts of latte round the fire, and sampling culinary delights around this foodie island than we did working. But we did spend a couple days creating bunches and bouquets for Mother’s Day and our time there was a one-of-a-kind experience we’ll never forget.

    As a huge computer nerd and internet entrepreneur, I’m on my computer almost all the time (well, when I’m not traveling that is!) and though I love it and don’t want to change, it was refreshing to see and experience this lifestyle. It’s hard work but its straightforward, and when the weather’s good, you’re outside with the dirt and the wind and the sun really experiencing the beauty of the place. During winter, you zone out and get into the pattern of creating bunches, listening to Triple J, Australia’s unbelievably good radio station, and having a ton of laughs with the rest of the farm hands. You’re up and at it at 8am, no need to shower, dress fancy or wear makeup, just head out the front door and into the farm shed out back. Warm up with a hot cup of tea and a fresh buttered crumpet every few hours and the work day ends at 4:30. It’s a great space to rest your mind and work your body. A couple of the workers came to do just that after experiencing a burnout in more mentally challenging working conditions, such as nursing and teaching.

     

    What’s the history of the Bloomin Good Flowers farm?
    Dad was a forester so he spent a lot of time away from home. Mum was a dental nurse so she was out of the house a lot too. They both wanted to do something closer to home. They researched some options before recognizing a gap in the flower market. Dad grew trees and Mum loved gardening so it ‘bloomed’ from there. This must have been about 23 years ago now.

    So, in the beginning they both worked and ran the farm on the side?
    Yes, until they decided to expand, that’s when Mum quit Dental Nursing. Dad never completely quit: he still does his forestry.

    What’s your favorite part of running the flower farm?
    The outdoors, being out in the open air is good. I get to work to my own hours sometimes. It’s really satisfying growing something from nothing and seeing the end product. I find it really rewarding.

    Is this what you wanted to do when you were little?
    Growing up on the farm I knew I would always have the opportunity to do this. When your family has a business, a kid can feel forced in to it but for me it was the opposite. If anything my parents made sure that I explored other avenues rather than going straight from school into working on the farm. I didn’t know what I wanted to do until well after I left school. I thought that I wanted to get involved in the hospitality industry, but after a couple of years I realised that it wasn’t for me, so came back to the farm.

    Are you known locally as ‘Sam the Flower Man’?
    No, just Sam. Although most people know me as Calv.

    Does running a flower farm compromise your masculinity?
    When I was little I used to get teased quite a bit about the farm, kids can be cruel! Now everyone appreciates it.

    Did you bring your teachers flowers in school?
    No.

    How about girlfriends?
    Yeah, a bit of that went on.

    Which of your flowers are the bestsellers?
    The most popular would have to be tulips or lilies. We grow tulips for 8 months of the year. You are able to control them making them easy to force and manipulate. I can know to the day when tulips are going to be ready to pick, whereas lilies can range.

    It has taught me that if you’re willing to put the time and effort in, you can achieve anything.

    Do you feel that forcing flower growth out of season might be ethically wrong?
    No. It’s all about trying to produce flowers out of season. Customers can’t get access to them out of their natural season so the demand becomes higher. There are a lot of farms that grow flowers in their natural season as they don’t have the facilities to force the growth. The process of freezing the bulbs and placing them in hot houses is known as ‘vernalization’.

    Is there a lot of competition in the flower farm business?
    There’s only us and one other farm in Tasmania that produces flowers out of season.

    Can you see yourself doing this forever?
    I guess so. I enjoy it but it’s very hard work. It’s a 24/7 job so it can take its toll but if all goes well, I’d like to think that I would carry on for a while yet.

    I love Tassie! I think it’s the lifestyle and people, it’s very relaxed. We’ve got the beaches, mountains, national parks, the weather – it’s all of Australia’s best bits in one state.

    Do you hope that the farm continues to be passed down through the family?
    That would be great! At the moment though it’s tough in all industries due to the global crisis. If I can keep the farm successful long enough to be able to pass it down, that would be ideal.

    What does it take to run a successful flower farm?
    Hard work. Long hours. I’ve found that you need a good crew, you can’t do this by yourself. You also need a lot of luck as there’s so many little things that could go wrong.

    Why should customers buy your flowers over anyone else’s?
    A lot of flowers these days aren’t fresh. At florists or supermarkets the time from picking to being sold could be anything from 10 to 14 days. Here you know they’re fresh. We guarantee them so if people aren’t happy, we offer to replace them. Over the years we’ve built up a good customer base, they know ours are the freshest and tend to last the longest.

    Do you think there will always be a demand for fresh flowers?
    I like to think so. There will always be Mothers Day, Valentines Day, etc. As much as people like to buy other things for these occasions, there will always be a demand for flowers. Weddings and funerals will always happen, I doubt flowers will ever truly be replaced.

    Have you had to make many sacrifices for the farm?
    Well, there’s no such thing as a day off. I don’t get any of the public holidays off. It always seems like I’m at work so I feel like I sacrifice a lot of my personal life. I’m passionate about sport but can’t always find the time to play. It’s a lifestyle choice. You have to be prepared to give up what other people working in 9-5 jobs might take for granted, like weekends and public holidays. There’s always something on the farm that could or does go wrong, so you’re always at work. Flowers don’t know when it’s Christmas Day, I haven’t had one of those for about 8 years!

    If you want to start a small business you’ve got to be willing to go through the ups and downs. You’ve got to be passionate about the business too. If you don’t enjoy it you don’t put the effort in, so you won’t get anything out of it.

    Have the flowers taught you anything?
    I was self taught. I had no qualifications in horticulture or agriculture. They’ve taught me that if you’re willing to put the time and effort in, you can achieve anything. You don’t have to have a degree to succeed so long as you put the effort in and make it work.

    What’s the craziest thing that’s happened on the farm?
    A few things I guess. A while ago we had the drug helicopters land here looking to do a drugs bust. They did searches for Marijuana in the hot houses. There’s been a few funny injuries too. I remember when Dad and Ben were building the hot houses, Dad nailed his hand to the wood. Looking back that was pretty funny.

    Are you running the business side of things as well as the farm?
    I do the day to day processes. The management side is also run by me but my Dad oversees it and gives me ideas. So I guess I’m running it, yeah, but with a bit of guidance.

    Do you have any advice for anyone wanting to start a business?
    If you want to start a small business you’ve got to be willing to go through the ups and downs. You’ve got to be passionate about the business too. If you don’t enjoy it you don’t put the effort in, so you won’t get anything out of it.

    Who has been the most inspirational character in your life so far?
    Denzel Washington.

    What is it about Denzel that you admire?
    His talent. He was one of the first African American actors to win an Academy Award too, he’s a pioneer! I wouldn’t be half the man I am today without Denzel or Michael Bolton.

    Have you got a preferred song that you like to listen to whilst bunching a bouquet?
    Put on anything old school, up-beat and 80′s and I’ll be happy!

    What hearty food do you eat daily to make sure you don’t go hungry whilst working?
    It depends on the season. In winter I like a good pie or noodles – anything hot. In summer I tend to eat a lot of salad rolls.

    Could you please explain what the job involves for anyone wanting to work on the farm whilst in Australia?
    Our farm is great for travellers wanting to get visas. The time of year to apply would be October to March/April. It’s dirty work, so you have to be prepared for that. We’re always on the lookout for keen people wanting to help out.

    What makes a perfect employee here on the farm?
    You have to have common sense and a lot of it! It helps if you’re practical and the outdoorsy type, it’s a dirty job.

    What do you think makes the Cradoc area and Tasmania in general so special?
    I love Tassie! I think it’s the lifestyle and people, it’s very relaxed. We’ve got the beaches, mountains, national parks, the weather – it’s all of Australia’s best bits in one state. For some reason it’s got a bad reputation so people stay away but it’s got so much to offer.

    If you’re in the area, Bloomin’ Good have a flower stall at the Salamanca Market (7am-3pm).
    You’ll find them opposite the Republic Café on the corner of Montpellier Street.

    http://www.bloomingoodflowers.com/

    Tel: + 61 (0) 439 681 654
    Email: bloomingoodflowers@hotmail.com

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  2. Tasmania’s Controversial Museum

    June 18, 2012 by The E.A.T. Team

    Tasmania is, despite erroneous myths of inbreeding and being overrun by hillbillies, one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen. Generally a peaceful, quiet rural island full of great fresh food from local farmers and stunning natural beauty, you wouldn’t expect to find one of the most shockingly un-vanilla art museums in the world on the island. Chock full of penises, macabre, and unexplained homages to pop stars, this museum is an odd-for-its-setting but refreshing and intriguing place.

    MONA was officially opened on 21 January 2011. $100 million museum owned by David Walsh, it is the largest privately funded museum in Australia. The impressive building in Berriedale took more than three years to complete and is as interesting as the art it contains. At the end of the vineyard-lined driveway, visitors are greeted with an amazing view of Hobart and the first surprise – a rooftop tennis court speckled with giant Mickey Mouse-esque glove shaped seats.

    The building itself, designed by the Melbourne architect Nonda Katsalidis and built by Hansen Yuncken, is an engineering feat – three levels underground, carved into the sandstone cliffs of Berriedale Peninsula. Inside is a labyrinth of spiral staircases, lifts and foot bridges. There are concrete floors, beautiful wooden benches and beanbags offering guests a place to sit and digest the works on show.

    At the bottom of the staircase sits a bar serving Moorilla wines and Moo Brew, which are both made onsite. Walsh positioned the bar here stating that, “You’re here to have a good time”. He believes that the understanding of many of the museum’s artworks is assisted by increased alcohol levels.

    Upon arrival at MONA, you are given an iPod and headphones. Using clever software and GPS, the devices automatically detect where you are standing in the museum and offer information about nearby artworks. You can hear interviews, music, and even rate whether or not you like each piece of art. All data is uploaded randomly, making the information you are reading different to everyone else around you. At the end of your tour you can opt to receive an email telling you how long you spent at each piece and offering links to more facts about the work.

    Among the 400 pieces on show, a couple really stood out to us. ‘Cloaca Professional’ by Belgian artist Wim Delvoye, is a machine that imitates the human digestive system, producing waste at regular intervals. This intriguing mad scientist approach to such a natural bodily process really interested us. Inspired by his belief that everything in modern life is pointless, the most useless object he could dream up was a machine that serves no purpose at all, besides the reduction of food to waste. Despite the unavoidable stench in the room, the intricately constructed pods with digital displays of temperature and pressure entice you to take a closer look. The work seems to make comment on the art world and how it has been so far consumed it has almost ‘come out the other end’.

    In a room resembling an over sized light-box, 30 Madonna fans sing renditions of her Immaculate Collection album, each one on their own TV screen. This exploration of idol-ism and super fandom is sure to make anyone smile. They all sing like no one is watching with dramatic gestures and the glimmer of hope that Madonna might one day see the footage, making it a refreshing and lighthearted installation in an art collection heavy with dark subject matters.

    That's a whole lot of poop.

    Another piece that got our attention was an installation called ‘Fat Car’ by Erwin Wurm. The bulging red body work of the Porsche Carrera seems to make comment on consumer over-indulgence. Wurm takes one of the world’s most desirable objects and totally defaces it, almost beyond recognition. The perfect red paintwork stretched uncomfortably over the bloated body turns a once beautiful object into a beautifully shiny, but ultimately useless pile of car. The detail is impeccable, even the interior is ballooned – the seats bulge at the seems and the wing mirrors are covered in swelled red metal. Well known for the use of humor in his works, Wurm has been quoted saying: “If you approach things with a sense of humor, people immediately assume you’re not to be taken seriously. But I think truths about society and human existence can be approached in different ways. You don’t always have to be deadly serious. Sarcasm and humor can help you see things in a lighter vein.”

    http://mona.net.au/

    655 Main Road | Moorilla Estate, Berriedale, Tasmania, Australia

    T: (61-3) 6277-9900

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  3. How To Pack for A Year Long Trip: Minimalism For Women

    May 22, 2012 by The E.A.T. Team

    Since I started learning about minimalism almost two years ago, I’ve seen a handful of great videos, photos, or lists of how to pack (or live) light.  However, none of them were from women, and I always wanted to see what’s in a minimalist woman’s bag since we need at least a few different things than men. So, I thought I’d make my own video and share what’s in my bag during this long journey.

     

     

    Reposted from my personal blog www.melissarachelblack.com.

     

    P.S. Today’s our 3-month travel anniversary!  Here’s to being on the road :)


  4. Eat Meet: FINDARS Founders in Kuala Lumpur

    May 9, 2012 by The E.A.T. Team

    ON THE CANVAS 
    Comic Books, Illustration, Painting
    ON THE GLOBE
    Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
    ON THE TEAM
    無限發掘 FINDARS

     

    In Kuala Lumpur, our couchsurfing hosts discovered a group of artists who established a gallery and studio, called 無限發掘 FINDARS, to work together, inspire one another, and showcase their creativity.  It’s a space that’s open to the community and to different types of art, as well as an independent music label and studio.

     

    It made me pretty damn nostalgic for days spent in the studios at art school, working late into the night with your best mates by your side.  We loved seeing the sketchbooks of painter Beng Tze, who, along with the other founders of FINDARS honed their crafts many moons ago at Malaysian Institute of Art.

     

    We were lucky to interview one of the founders Lim Keh Soon, who makes some of the freshest (and most twisted!) illustrations I’ve seen.

     

    How old are you?
    32.

     

    What brought you to KL?
    I grew up close to here and moved to the centre 10 years ago to study.

     

    What did you study?
    Illustration at the Malaysian Institute of Art.

     

    So, we are here in ‘Findars’ art space. How did the project start?
    I met Beng Tze and Min Lik, we work together with a few other artists and share the rent for the building. We put on shows when we can. The group started in February 2008. There’s 6 of us – Me, Wong Eng Leong, Wong Min Lik, Tey Beng Tze, Bannai Roo, and Rainf.

     

    Do a lot of people purchase your pieces?
    We had another space near the central market where people would come in and buy but not so many collectors come to this location because its a bit more off-the-beaten track.

     

    Have you been able to make money?
    Not so much. We all have other jobs too. I work a few days a week as a part-time teacher, teaching art to 19-and 20-year old students, the rest of the time I spend here as the studio is good for my concentration. I used to work alone at my house but it wasn’t good for inspiration. Around 3 years ago I made a comic book, inspired by Japanese Manga, and published 130 copies. I sold them by myself, mainly to friends.

     

    Would you say you were more of an illustrator than a painter?
    Yes, but I have always been interested in painting so I have been doing a lot of that recently.

     

    What’s the art scene like in KL?
    The most happening time is the show opening. They are ongoing but the audience is usually quite conservative.

     

    Are there lots of artists in the city?
    Not compared with Indonesia, that’s known as an art hub for South-East Asia.

     

    What is your favourite style of drawing, or thing to draw?
    Characters. Not the normal style of character drawing though. Something abnormal, cut-off or something.

     

    What’s the inspiration for your current piece?
    Moving here I find I have a proper space to work. I love to see the scenery and sometimes try to include local news. My most recent piece was inspired by the Prime Ministers slogan, “You help me, I help you” I named it “You eat me, I eat you”.

     

    Is this piece, your painting called “You Eat Me, I Eat You” for an upcoming show?
    No. I plan to do a solo show and possibly produce another comic book this year.

     

    What materials do you normally use?
    Acrylic paint. I don’t sketch or plan, just go straight in with paint. Most of them I imagine and then paint. For some I use real objects and then paint around it.

     

    How long do your large paintings usually take to complete?
    Around 2 months.

     

    How do you know when a piece is finished?
    Well, this one isn’t. I still need to refine. Sometimes it’s boring though looking at the same piece, so I do some drawing instead.

     

    FINDARS regularly hosts exhibitions and live music at their gallery in Kuala Lumpur.  Fore more information, check them out on the web at the following places.

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  5. What Is Malaysian Food?

    April 7, 2012 by The E.A.T. Team

    Malaysia is a huge mixing pot of cultures, with such large populations of immigrants that Chinese and Indian food can be considered typical Malaysian food.

    Nasi Kandar is a really popular dish here in Kuala Lumpur and throughout Malaysia: it’s basically rice served buffet-style with different curries, vegetables, noodles, and other sides.  ”Nasi” means rice and “kandar” is the pole that vendors use on their shoulders to balance two buckets of rice.  One heaping plate of warm delicious-ness that leaves you feeling like passing out costs a whopping 6 or 7 Ringgits (USD $2).  Basically its heaven.

    Today, my Polish couchsurfing hosts Magda & Jurek took me to their favorite Nasi Kandar restaurant, and I spoke with the owner, Norshaw Izzarudin and her son Raffik.  Raffik’s brother in law is the chef and it’s a family business through-and-through.

    They’ve been running the business for 7 years, which, like most similar establishments, has no name or address.  However, just because they’re not on Google Maps doesn’t mean business isn’t booming.. its a friendly neighborhood shack and the locals use their hands to eat (according to Magda it tastes better this way).  A nice cold Lime Ice Tea helps wash down the spicy chilis peppered throughout the curries while you sweat in the shade, karaoke from the wedding accross the street filling your ears.

    My favorite dish was Pajeri Nanas (pineapple curry) and Raffik’s is Siakap (fish with coconut milk and chili).

    For dessert, we headed right next door to the women cooking up a storm.  Colorful squishy blobs made of sticky rice, tapioca, and flour confused but delighted my taste buds.

    The photos might do the whole experience more justice:


  6. Eat Meet: Ko Lanta Ink

    March 31, 2012 by The E.A.T. Team

    ON THE CANVAS 
    Custom Tattoos
    ON THE GLOBE
    Ko Lanta, Thailand
    ON THE TEAM
    Mr. Sitt & Wel, Tattoo Artists
      
     

     

    Palm trees, blue skies, clear water, sand crabs, fruit shakes, and happy tourists on rented motorbikes.  That’s what we found on Ko Lanta, a gorgeous island off the southern peninsula of Thailand.

    We also found Mr. Sitt and Wel, two of Thailand’s most talented tattoo artists.  Thailand is an extremely popular tattoo destination, especially for westerners: sometimes a chance to get a permanent souvenir of their holiday, other times an opportunity to get a custom design at an affordable price.

    We loved chatting with these two.  A brilliant mix of talented and humble, we talked to them about how they got started in the field, tattoo culture in general, traditional Thai tattoos, and what makes them tick.

    Introducing Mr. Sitt:

    Where are you from?

    Hat Yai.

     

    Do you live locally on Ko Lanta?

    I live in the shop.  Well, when you work as many hours as I do …I might as well live here.

     

    You’re a tattoo artist, where are your tattoos?!

    (Laughs) I don’t like so many.

     

    How did you get into tattooing?

    I studied Engineering in Bangkok, but a lot of the companies closed so I could not find a job after I graduated. So I have never worked as an engineer. I taught myself tattooing.

     

    Did you enjoy Bangkok?

    Yes, for that time it was nice. There are many people and many things to do. Now I go there on vacation for a week, maybe 3 days and it’s too busy for me.

     

    How did you change from engineer to artist?

    I couldn’t find a job with my engineering degree. I was looking for one for 3 months and one day I looked in the mirror after a shower and saw my first tattoo (a phoenix on my upper arm to celebrate finishing high school) and realised.. I could do that, and that’s what I want to do. I told my parents about my idea and they said no because I had a degree as an engineer. I didn’t have much money, I borrowed some from friends. One friend 1000 baht, another friend 2000 baht, and bought what I needed with that. My first tattoo was a tribal design that was very small but took 3 hours. I sweated a lot!

     

    Was it easier the second time?

    That was 15 years ago, it’s easier now.

     

    So you taught yourself by practicing?

    Yes. I read a lot of magazines and learned by doing.

     

    How did you choose Ko Lanta as the place for your shop?

    I heard there weren’t too many American and English people here, sometimes they are too loud. There is a lot of Swedish but they are more chilled. Also, there aren’t many French people. I find it hard to understand them which is difficult when talking about tattoos. Sometimes I draw for many hours, when they come back there has been a misunderstanding and I have to re-do the whole thing.

     

    What’s the difference between the normal tattoo machine and the bamboo tattoo method?

    The machine is 50 strokes per second and bamboo is just 2.

     

    Does it hurt less to have a bamboo tattoo?

    Yes, 50% less than machine.

     

    Do a lot of people scream in pain?

    No. Fifteen years I’ve been doing this and no girl has ever passed out. Only men have when they have a lot of muscle!

     

    Is it cheaper or more expensive to have the bamboo method?

    It depends on the size as it takes a long time to create it by hand.

     

    Do most people opt for the bamboo, or do they mostly choose the machine?

    Bamboo is the traditional Thai method and it’s easier to take care of after too, they are quicker to heal.

     

    Do all tattoo studios use the same ink?

    Mostly. I use one that suits us. You have to be careful though as there are fake inks from China that don’t always stay in the skin and can cause infection.

     

    Do people ask you to design the tattoo, or do they normally already know what they want?

    Sometimes they ask me to draw but usually they have seen what they want before and come with a design.

     

    Do people ask to keep the line drawings you make when designing custom tattoos?

    Not usually. I put them up on the wall for examples.

     

    Do you keep sketchbooks of your work?

    I do each tattoo one by one, no books.

     

    Next we spoke to Wel, Mr Sit’s colleague…

     

    How did you get in to tattooing?

    I like it. If you don’t like it, you don’t start.

     

    Did you study drawing?

    I just learned, I like to draw. When I was 14 I would not go to school, I’d go to my friend’s tattoo shop on Phi Phi Island.

     

    Did you work there before here?

    My Mother had a restaurant there so I stayed there when I was young. I saw a lot of the tattoo shops and I liked what they did. Then I came here and learned. At first, I only helped them stretch the skin in preparation for the tattoo, that’s the first stage.

     

    Mr Sitt said that he was really scared the first time he did a tattoo, was it the same for you?

    Yes!

     

    Do you get the same fear every time?

    Not anymore, but before. The first, second and third. When they are simple like this (the three crown design I’m putting on the customer now) I don’t get nervours, but the first time I did a dragon I was scared. Now, not anymore.

     

    How long have you been doing this for?

    I started at 14 and now I’m 21.

     

    How did you meet Mr Sitt?

    (They both laugh) I think he can tell you better.

     

    This sounds like a good story! Mr Sit, how did you both meet?

    He worked in the enemy’s shop. Then he followed me here.

     

    When was this?

    About 4 years ago.

     

    What do you like best about your job?

    Finishing a tattoo and seeing the customers smile. We make dreams, we build a dream. Tattoo artists put the dream on the customer. For my customer, they dream the dream, then they come to me and I draw and put the dream on them. I like this a lot. You can read in the comments book how happy people have been. Sometimes we cry together!

     

    Tears of joy?

    Yes yes! A guy last week he came to me and asked for a tattoo of two fists together to remind him of his very best friend. Every time he saw his friend they would do this, like a handshake. They did it for 20 years. He was crying when he saw it finished.

     

    Would you change anything if you were to start over?

    Maybe I’d help with the family business–palm oil.

     

    Do you think you’ll do this for the rest of your life?

    Well, I like cooking too actually, I’m going to open a restaurant with a Swedish friend down the street, make Thai & Swedish food.

     

    What else do you like to do?

    I’d like to make a bar too, we’ll see.  Being a business owner is great for making friends.

     

    How is the tattoo scene in Thailand different from other places?

    Well in terms of the television shows.. LA ink is quite scripted.  London Ink is more realistic.

     

    Why do Thai people age so well?

    Its all the chili we eat, contains special ingredient which helps regenerate cells.  And herbs.

     

    How old are you?

    37

     

    Who is the most famous tattoo artist in Thailand?

    Jimmy Wang, his family also makes tattoos and he even started the tattoo convention in Bangkok.

     

    Do you have any advice for people wanting to start a career in tattooing?

    It’s easy! Go to youtube and look at ‘How to make tattoo’ and then go to ebay and get a machine.

     

    Special thanks to Mr. Sit and Wel for the interview, and to Christer Roosk for being a fantastic sport and letting us photograph him being tattooed.

    If you’d like to contact Mr. Sitt and Wel for a custom tattoo, send an email to sit.marley@hotmail.com or call +66816797805 or visit Lanta Ink in Saladan on Ko Lanta, Thailand.

    If you like this project, subscribe to our free monthly newsletter for updates.


     


  7. Eat Meet No. 3 – Photorealism in Chiang Mai

    March 16, 2012 by The E.A.T. Team

    ON THE CANVAS 
    Photo-Realistic Charcoal Portraits
    ON THE GLOBE
    Chiang Mai, Thailand
    ON THE TEAM
    Ditcha Pong Donkeaw, Illustrator & Painter

     

    We spent four days in Chiang Mai, a small-ish city in northern Thailand.

    Hannah describes it as “friendly, compact, has everything you’d need, enough to do that you’d discover places regularly, but not so much to do that it’s overwhelming or touristy, impossible to get lost, the community vibe that I didn’t feel in Bangkok.”

    We both agreed to live there at some point.  We loved getting around the city by bike, the relaxed atmosphere, the fast wifi, and the hidden quiet gems with greenery and space to breathe dispersed between the chaotic Thai streets that line each city we’ve been to so far.

    One of the highlights by far was interviewing illustrator Ditcha Pong Donkeaw in a quiet spot underground Chiang Mai’s night bazaar.  He creates illustrations so realistic, you have to look twice (or three times) to make sure that they’re not photographs.

    Though I’m a certified artist (got a piece of paper from the University of California saying as much, so it must be true), I’ve never been able to draw realistically.  Eventually I let go of the notion that artists “should” be able to draw that way and my jealousy that I could not, and focused on my strengths instead..

    Ditcha, or Dui for short, really warmed our hearts.  Initially shy to be on camera and quite modest about his unbelievable skill, he warmed up quickly and opened up to us about how he honed his talent and what his family thinks of his life as an artist.

    Introducing Ditcha:

     

    EatTeam1CollageDuiChiangMai

    What’s your name?

    Ditcha Pong, but my nickname from University is Dui.

     

    How long have you worked at the Night Bazaar in Chiang Mai?

    Six years.

     

    You look really young.  Can we ask how old you are?

    Not so young!  I have small wrinkles.  Twenty-nine.

     

    How long did you study art for?

    I studied at university for four years.  I worked here ever since.

     

    Were you naturally talented with drawing, even before studying?

    Yes, as a child I was very good.  My dad guided my hand when I was young.  He helped me learn.

     

    Did you start drawing in this photo-realistic style, or was your style in the beginning something else?

    I drew everything.. acrylic, watercolor, charcoal.   Sometimes abstract–if the customer likes it that way.

     

    What kind of customers usually buy from you?

    Mainly Europeans but also Americans, Canadians, Brits.

     

    Do all the artists here in the market know eachother?  

    Yes, we are all part of different companies.

     

    So you’re all competing?

    Yes.. that’s why everyone is looking at us, wondering what we are filming!

     

    When you create an artwork for a customer, do they sit for you while you draw?

    No, that would take too long.  I draw from a photograph.

     

    Do you enjoy drawing still after so many years?

    Yes.

     

    In your free time, do you draw other things just for fun?

    Yes, I really enjoy drawing animals, flowers, abstracts.  Jackson Pollock, Picasso.. yeah!

     

    Do you give drawings to your friends sometimes?

    Yes, especially for birthday presents.

     

    Hannah and I are both artists.  I can only do abstract, child-like drawings, totally different from your style.  I get embarrassed looking back through old sketchbooks, at the bad quality.  Do you get embarrassed too looking back to the beginning?

    No, I like it better–there’s so much innocence in it.

     

    Where did you grow up?

    A province called Phaie, its 2 hours from Chiang Mai.  I moved here for university.

     

    How old were you when you started learning how to draw?

    I started studying at 18.

     

    So eleven years now.  And you said your mom and dad wanted you to be an artist?

    Yes, my dad.. but not my mom.  She wanted me to study electronics.

     

    Did your dad push you to be an artist or did he support you in your decision?

    He supported me in my decision.

     

    Do you prefer black and white or color when drawing and painting?

    I like black-and-white better, its more classic and its easier.

     

    What’s the strangest picture anyone’s ever commissioned you to draw?

    Six months ago, a customer had me draw their head in the body of a mermaid.

     

    How long did the drawing we’re looking at take you?

    Two days.  That’s the average amount of time they usually take.

     

    How much did it cost?

    About three-thousand baht. ($100)

     

    Do you like drawing people or animals better?

    People.

     

    The bigger drawings for sale in your gallery were made from photographs too?  They’re real people?

    Yes.

     

    What do you usually draw with?

    Charcoals, chalks, pastels, pencils, lots of different brushes.  No water, its all dry.  Sometimes I wear a mask because the materials can be dangerous.

     

    Where else do you exhibit your work?

    Sometimes I enter contests and show in galleries.

     

    Who are your favorite artists?

    T. Tawan Dutcha Nee (very famous Thai artist), Michelangelo, and Da Vinci.

    Special thanks to Winit Kumrai for translating.

    If you’d like to contact the artist or order a custom illustration, email Ditcha at ditchapongart_9@hotmail.com or call +66892612669.  You can also visit his studio in Chiang Mai’s Night Bazaar.

    If you liked this interview, subscribe to our free monthly newsletter for updates.

     


  8. Kids For A Day

    March 9, 2012 by The E.A.T. Team

    After spending four days in the jungle with chef Samart, we were ready to be back in the throes of society.  Roaming the streets of Chiang Mai’s city center all day with our friend Evan tuckered us out, and by the time mid afternoon rolled around, Hannah & Evan were hankering for an ice cold beer by the water.  We stopped in to 7-11 to get the local Chang brew, but there was a sign indicating we were out of luck.  No alcohol was being sold that day because of a Buddhist holiday.

    Instead, we decided to be kids again for the day.  We stocked up on toys–yo yos, frisbee, bubble blowers–and some of the most ridiculous (and surprisingly tasty) processed snacks Thailand has to offer.  Here’s our findings on 7-11′s “finest” foods:

    Cuttlefish Crackers: Crispy, salty, a bit like shrimp chips.  ★★★☆☆

    Coconut Bread: Squishy center, very gelatinous.  Strong, desirable coconut flavor with crispy exterior. ★★★☆☆

    Sushi Sunchips: Light and fluffy, strong earthy texture and seaweed flavor.  Different from American sunchips, but equally delicious. ★★★★☆

    Peanuts glazed with sesame seeds and toffee: Sugary, salty and crunchy.  Fantastic dessert, but not so different than nuts you can acquire at home. ★★★☆☆

    Sweet & sour tamarind: Extreme tartness blends well with sugar and chewiness.  Bean pods still inside were unexpected. ★★☆☆☆

    Toffee almond cake: Mild, moist cake, crispy almonds glazed in honey.  A lot like the German pastry called “bienenstich”.  ★★★☆☆

    Original crispy seaweed: Bland and outright nasty on the first bite, better and better with each thereafter.  7-11s in Thailand have a huge selection of different seaweed. ★★★☆☆

    M150 Energy Drink: Impressive that it comes in a glass bottle.  I heard that energy drinks originated in Thailand, so we wanted to see how they compared to the ones at home.  Sweet but not sickly flavor, enjoyable actually.  Amusing text on packaging reads “DEVOTION, COURAGE, SACRIFICE”. ★★★★☆

    Watermelon Seeds: Absolutely disgusting.  Like old burnt nails.  We just imagined someone at the factory munching on a watermelon spitting seeds out and collecting them, baking them for a few minutes, and packaging them up for sale. ☆☆☆☆☆

    Crab Black Pepper Deluxe Potato Chips: Tasted mostly of BBQ.  A classic, enjoyable chip. ★★★★☆

     


  9. Ready Set Go with Rice Paper Scissors

    December 27, 2011 by The E.A.T. Team

    Last week I had the honor of photographing (and eating with!) San Francisco’s first Vietnamese Pop-Up Cafe, Rice Paper Scissors.  Vietnam is one of The E.A.T. Team’s first stops next year, so chowing down with these lovely ladies really got me excited for what my mouth is going to experience in just a few short months.  Seeing this team in action really filled my heart (and belly) with awesome sauce for a bunch of reasons.  Some of them being:

    • Pursuit of passion.  Cofounders Valerie Luu & Katie Kwan just love Vietnamese street food and wanted to share it with the world.  They blasted through the fear of “will this work?” when thinking about starting their food biz and set out to make it happen.  In addition to “popping-up” in various locations throughout San Francisco for public feasts such as these, the girls have a weekly gig at Mojo Bicycle Cafe.
    • Ridiculous tasty.  It’s handmade, fresh, and prepared right before your very eyes.  I got to sample the Rice Porridge (see photo) with juicy chicken and ginger and vegan “duck” Bahn Mi, a popular sandwich on a crusty french baguette with Pate, vegetables like carrots & daikon.
    • Down to earth.  Literally.  One of the defining aspects of Rice Paper Scissors is their small tables and even smaller “little red stools”.  It’s about being close to your food and to the friends you share it with.  It was hosted in the front yard of a beautiful old house right on Valencia Street in a popular district of San Francisco, so passersby couldn’t help but notice the scent and the sight.
    • Down to earth, figuratively.  I loved to see people walking by stop after smelling the eggs frying and the people chowing down, asking “Do you do this every week?!”  It was a flurry of friends, strangers, old, young, new, repeat, and everything in between laughing and eating and drinking.  Simple, unadulterated goodness.
    Stay tuned for The E.A.T. Team’s upcoming interview with Rice Paper Scissors about food, life, and following your dreams (via your stomach).  They’ll be one of the first contributors to the recipe section of the book as well.
    See all the photos and find out how to dine with Rice Paper Scissors here.

  10. Better Late Than Never

    December 14, 2011 by The E.A.T. Team

    Eat Me!Every time I tell someone about The EAT Team project, their face lights up.  They get all excited, and that gets me excited: it fuels my fire.  Although I’d do the project without any external validation, it gives me a big boost to know that other people think its as awesome as Hannah and I think it is.  And I’m elated that other people are happy and eager to share with me what they know about the places we’ll go, offering recommendations of people to visit, places to explore, and good things to eat.One of my favorite such experiences so far occurred just less than a month ago, on the plane as I flew home to Los Angeles after a year living in Germany.  During the 12 hour flight, I sat next to  Lawrence Tolmie: the hippest, most internet-savvy 64-year-old man I’d ever met.Lawrence told me all about his life: about growing up in New Zealand, moving to Los Angeles with his wife in their twenties, his first successful business as a handcarved wooden sign-maker, raising his children, and how he could work from anywhere in his current job as the Site Manager for a large publishing house.  As an entrepreneur myself, I loved hearing about how he does business, and discovering that he could live the nomadic four-hour-workweek if he wanted, but loved what he did and was happy with how he had streamlined his current life.

    I told him about this project, and his eyes grew big when I told him I’d be visiting his hometown.  He told me how, as a child in New Zealand in the fifties, British influence was still very strong so  he grew up eating lots of fish n’ chips and meat pies and mom’s cookin’, and there wasn’t much else.  He also gave me a great list of things to eat while we’re there: Paua (a type of shellfish), Kumara (NZ sweet potatoes), Fijoa (a unique fruit), passion fruit, and fritters.  I have no idea  what any of that is, but I think I’m excited.

    However, the most memorable bit of our conversation was when he told me about the first time he and his wife came to Los Angeles forty years ago, when they were both just 24.  Their LA friends had taken them on a little tour, and as lunchtime rolled around, the Americans asked Lawrence and his wife if they wanted to grab a pizza.

    “What’s a pizza?” Laurence asked.

    “WHAT’S A PIZZA???” The Americans tried to explain to Laurence what’s a pizza.  “Well, it’s a round, doughy food with sauce and cheese..”

    Laurence was confused, but he was always open to trying new things, so they headed down to pizza hut.

    It was love at first bite.

    Moral of the story?  Having your first pizza at age 24 is better late than never.  And don’t ever take your pizza for granted ;)