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Posts Tagged ‘art’

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

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

    Photo-Realistic Charcoal Portraits
    Chiang Mai, Thailand
    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:



    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?



    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?



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



    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 or call +66892612669.  You can also visit his studio in Chiang Mai’s Night Bazaar.

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  2. EAT Meet No. 1 – Los Angeles Jambalaya

    January 12, 2012 by The E.A.T. Team

    Photos by Melissa Rachel Black

    Vegan Jambalaya with Roasted Kabocha Squash
    Pencil Illustration
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    Chef Tony Yuan, Graphic Designer Ben Azarraga

    Last week, I sat down to interview chef Tony Yuan and graphic designer Ben Azarraga over dinner in Tony’s West Hollywood apartment for The EAT Team’s very first EAT Meet!  Los Angeles is well-known as a melting pot of cultures, as well as a hotspot for vegan/organic lifestyles, so it was very fitting that we chowed down on the tastiest (and admittedly, the only) Vegan Japanese Jambalaya I ever had.  Even better than the food and art was the company.  Both Ben and Tony are creative to the core, and their passion and energy gave me a huge boost of positivity and inspiration.

    The recipe for Tony’s LA Jambalaya and Ben’s original illustration will be available in The EAT Team book.  Keep an eye out for our kickstarter campaign in the next few months, where you’ll be able to pre-order your copy  and get bonus goodies like ingredients mailed to you from foreign countries and signed artist’s prints.

    Without further ado, here’s the interview with Tony & Ben.


    What is your dream work/life scenario?  

    Ben: Owning my own design firm.  I like to boss people around.  I think I see potential in everybody’s work and I’m able to help people develop that.  While I was in school a lot of the students would ask me for help, and I get inspiration from seeing what people do.


    Are you living an awesome life? [Nice question, tony!]


    I’m living the life I wanted.

    Originally when I started school, I was gonna be an engineering major because my parents told me I had to make a lot of money.  All throughout highschool I was good at art, but I thought it wasn’t gonna make any money at all.  It was a big thing with my parents, they were against it initially because of the money but they finally started to support me.

    All I wanted was to be able to make money from art, and I have that now.  Especially with my latest job.. every time I go to work, i feel like.. i like it.


    That is rare and awesome indeed.  How did you get your job that you love?

    Ben: My last job wasn’t as professional as I would have liked, and one day I realized I needed to find a place I was happy to go into.  I know from experience you never feel “ready” to go for your dreams, but I just applied to all these places and got a few interviews with great companies.  I feel like I have a lot to say now at my new job in the designs and we trust each other and they’re confident in what I do.


    What’s the first thing you drew?

    Ben: I specifically remember–it was a superhero.  It was in second grade, and my sister was really mean to me back then, and one day I was crying because I was so upset, and I drew a superhero because I thought I could make it come to life.  I remember thinking, “One day I’m going to be an artist.”  His name was Mighty Max and he had triangle eyes.

    Tony: I used to draw superheroes too!


    Do you like to cook and what about it do you like?

    Ben: Yeah, just the satisfaction of feeding somebody.


    You do graphic design, what else do you like?  

    Ben: I like just regular pen and pencil, just because I have more control over it versus painting.  I tried everything.  I like stuff that tells a story.

    "I'm living the life I wanted."

    What food did you grow up with?

    Ben:  My mom cooked great phillipino food, always two meat dishes and a side dish and rice. In high school I was obsessed with eggs.  My sister and I would always have eggs when we got home and a year later when we went to our physicals, we both had really high cholesterol!  After that we started cooking different things.

    Tony: My grandma cooked a lot of Chinese food.  Living in America is a melting pot though so I had a lot of different stuff.


    What is your food guilty pleasure?  It would probably be McDonald’s cheeseburgers.  I think its because its so soft.

    They have a saying “Never trust a skinny chef” but I did get chubbier after Cooking school [le cordon bleu] ’cause I tried everything and ate late.  I don’t get inspired when I’m cooking for myself.


    What inspired you to cook?

    Tony:  I would say it was a gradual thing, I started to cook for my mom at home.  It started off really slow, like adding my own seasonings to simple spaghetti sauce.  Breakfast was a great way to start because eggs aren’t premade, you actually alter it yourself.  I really like making food for other people, I don’t like to cook for myself.

    OH!  I have a great story!  I was late for one of my first jobs, and to make it up to my boss I made homemade truffles, and the reaction I got, “WOW!  you did that?!” really fueled my desire.  I loved that feeling and still do.


    How do you guys know eachother? 

    Myspace… like six years ago.


    Do you like cooking desserts more or main courses?

    Tony: I’ve been kinda going back and forth with that, cause with cooking you can always add something if it doesn’t taste right, but with baking, if its not done right at the beginning, its ruined.  Cooking is like a different kind of art.  From baking a cupcake to a jumbalaya, its just totally different.  I like baking because I like giving baked goods as gifts, but cooking is great because it brings people together, like parties or families.


    How do you come up with new recipes?

    Tony: I browse recipes for inspiration on the internet, check out the flavor profile and adapt it to fit my likes.


    Why is kabocha in tonight’s Creole food?

    Tony: LA is a melting pot of cultures and flavors and I like to do fusion foods, I like to experiment.  I don’t like to make the same foods over and over.

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