I must admit, I started my Taipei trip on the wrong foot. I did no planning whatsoever, so I arrived on the night of March 7th expecting what I've read on several blogs--that it was like a tiny version of Japan. It's not that I was disappointed with what I've seen; it was more like my experiences of Taipei were tainted by my memories of Tokyo. I kept comparing the sights, the food, and the activities that I failed to appreciate Taipei's charm. Totally my fault. Around the beginning of my third day there, I decided to reset my expectations and really see Taipei independently of what I've read about its Japanese influences, and that was when this city started to grow on me. I flew back to Manila last Monday already thinking of things I wanted to see and do there the next time I visit.
Aside from my undying devotion to milk tea, I considered Taipei an interesting travel destination because I've heard so much about their flourishing arts and crafts scene. When I was there it was raining hard every day so I spent most of my time indoors at museums, craft stores, creative markets, bookstores, and tea shops. I thought I would run out of things to do, but there was always a new exhibition to check out or a different pop-up to visit. I spent more than half of my initial budget on cute stuff (which came to me as a surprise because I was sure I'd be splurging on food and tea), and made an additional ATM withdrawal for books and magazines. It reminded me of the old Mastercard ads. Cute stuff, thousands of NTD. Happiness, priceless.
Here are some of my finds:
1. Ounce food illustration zine
Ounce is a self-published zine by food illustrator Leslie Wong. She has released five editions so far: Lisbon, Taipei, New York, London, and Copenhagen. Her zines, postcards, notebooks, and stickers all reflect her love for art, food, and travel.
2. Prints and pins by Drunk Bambi
Abby, more popularly known as Drunk Bambi, is the artist behind these quirky and colorful illustrations. She works with different materials like colored pens and acrylic paint. Her product line includes (but is not limited to) stickers, art prints, bags, shirts, notebooks, and pins.
3. Kraft tape by Rooftop's Life @ Taiwan
I am very fond of urban sketching but can never do it properly, so I am drawn to artworks that evoke a similar feel. This tape by Rooftop's Life @ Taiwan perfectly captures the urban landscape of Taipei with its tiny yet detailed line drawings. They have mugs, coasters, bags and postcards with the same rooftops theme as well.
4. Postcards by Dalizzy
I like anything with animals doing people things, so I was instantly hooked to these postcards by Dalizzy. I also love the color combinations and how the seemingly simple drawings tell a story.
5. Prints by MoriShu
Sheep, llamas, bunnies, cats, desserts, colors--all of my favorite things are present in MoriShu's art. I absolutely adore her drawing style and sense of humor. She offers notebooks, stickers, prints, shirts, pouches, and many more.
6. Postcards and tape by Smohouse
Yu-hsuan Huang is the artist behind Smohouse. I like the playfulness of the illustrations and how the colors make the drawings pop. I really have a thing for anthropomorphic animals haha!
7. Cat prints by Chen Yu-Lin
Probably two of my favorite acquisitions from the trip, Chen Yu-Lin's drawings elicit an emotional reaction. (The bottom print makes me a bit sad.) Her color sense is amazing, too.
8. More nicely-illustrated things
What stood out to me about the Taipei craft scene is that many of their product offerings are very Taiwan-centric. They are proud of their heritage and as a maker, this is very inspiring. The quality of their self-published stuff is quite remarkable, too; from the product to the packaging, everything is impeccably made. Looking at my art haul from this trip made me realize that I should try injecting local flavor into my work, as well as continuously look for improvements in my production to make sure I am offering the best products that I can.
It's now been a couple of days after my trip, and even though I am missing Taiwan so badly, it comforts me to know that there will be a next time, and by then there are new exhibitions to see, new artists to meet, and new inspiration to take in. Xie xie, Taipei, and see you again soon!