Air New Zealand’s “Epic Safety Video”

There’s Southwest Airlines with their creative safety briefings, Virgin America with their fancy, choreographed safety video, and then you have Air New Zealand’s recently self-proclaimed “most epic safety video” inspired by the third and last installment of the Hobbit Trilogy. From a branding and advertising perspective, this is just absolutely brilliant. Air New Zealand gets plenty of exposure for an airline that would typically fly under the radar and the LOTR and Hobbit franchise will remind viewers just how amazing that series was and to go back and watch them ALL over again (think holiday LOTR merch sales…).

Munchies

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What happened to that food show with the asian on youtube? It seems with the success of Eddie Huang’s other venture Fresh Off the Boat is no longer that, Now we get Eddie Huang’s Huang’s World.

They’ve just began to rewrap the original episodes and can be found on Vice’s food channel called Munchies. Take a moment and rewatch some of his “classic” episodes and hopefully soon we’ll get another season of Huang’s World.

Until we do… also check out the other amazing content on Munchies. It’ll get you salivating. Remember don’t watch on an empty stomach. This video below shows a real gem of a personality.

Four or Five Eye Jobs

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The phone call I got from ABC’s Nightline earlier this month wasn’t the first time a television producer had contacted me asking if I would provide my take on cosmetic eyelid surgery for Asians.

I never asked to be a spokesperson on the topic but I’m pretty sure it started in 2004. A reporter who was writing about the subject called the home office/garage where Giant Robot magazine was being made and was looking for quotes. I used juicy terms like “self-mutilation” and “heartbreaking.” You can read the article at womensenews.org.

After a long weekend in 2008, I played back a message on my answering machine from a producer on the Tyra Banks TV show who wanted me to talk about Asian eye jobs. The decision to appear wasn’t a slam-dunk. I was worried about coming off like a macho jerk telling grown women what to do. After some thought, I decided to go for it. At best, I’d come across as intelligent and help promote our tiny magazine. At worst, there would be hair pulling and chair throwing but a great story to tell.

The actual experience was somewhere in between. It was awkward being in the same green room as the subject of the segment and her plastic surgeon. They didn’t know that it was my task to say that cutting up her naturally Asian appearance gave a message that the Western look was superior. I think Tyra was rougher on the subject than she expected, and I told her that she looked great and did a great job before leaving.

Unlike me, I’m pretty sure the other two got paid to appear on the show and I recall them giving head shots to the assistants to pass along to Tyra. Yes, the super model looked stellar. The whole segment happened so fast that there was no time for her to say hi to guests, thank them, or get a picture taken. Oh well.

After the segment aired, I remember the more political members of the Asian zine community trashing my appearance on the show. GR was glossier, bigger, and more pop culture oriented, so a lot of them thought we were encouraging fetishism or selling out. That hurt, but it turns out those comments were nothing compared to what Tyra gets on YouTube. Yikes!

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I was asked to be on Dr. Phil’s show just a year later and said, “Sure.” It wasn’t that different but they framed the cosmetic surgery on pragmatic aspects. Does the double-fold eyelid make a person look smarter? More alert? Can it help one’s grades, career, or love life? My response was that self-confidence is great but the surgery still gives a message that an Asian appearance is inferior to a more Western one.

I actually don’t remember too much about the taping except that when Dr. Phil thanked us guests and shook our hands, he had gigantic, baseball glove-sized mitts. The plastic surgeon has shared the video to promote his business and you can see it on YouTube.

CNN contacted me in 2011, and had a more international perspective than Tyra or Dr. Phil. They were profiling a 12-year-old girl in South Korea who was about to get an eye job, and asked if I’d go to the CNN headquarters for an interview by Skype. The magazine had just bit the dust after 16 years, but why not? I’d be right next door to Amoeba Records!

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That time, I talked about cultural imperialism. That sucks, but even more problematic is the idea of performing cosmetic surgery on children. How can a pre-teen make that kind of decision? That’s depressing and disturbing. And it’s happening more than ever.

So when Nightline called years later, I was over it. There was no magazine to promote and what else could I say? Why couldn’t they find a celebrity or academic with more authority than me–a guy who was never a “real” journalist to begin with? Or at least find a woman to make a comment on the subjects who are always female although they could profile dudes that get the surgery as well.

The producer insisted that she needed my take for her story, and kept following up after I couldn’t say no. When I was driving around and not answering my phone, she tracked down my mom and dad’s phone number and called them, too! So I acquiesced. A cameraman was sent to my house that afternoon and we did the interview over speakerphone in my own backyard.

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It turns out the subject of the segment was an African American woman getting a nose job and swearing she doesn’t have Michael Jackson Syndrome. I don’t think my quote about Asian eye jobs was a perfect fit for the story but it is flattering to be wanted.

I think it’s sad that the phenomenon of Asians cutting up their faces to look the same as everyone else is more rampant than ever, that the news story keeps running over and over, and that I’ve been called so many times to give my spiel. The latter is probably because I’ve never asked for money. But cultural imperialism, the beauty myth, self-loathing–shouldn’t someone in Hollywood make a stand against that sort of thing? Most likely no one in showbiz wants to piss off the talent, and in the meantime I’m just getting older and more haggard each time I get the call.

Maybe I could benefit from a little surgery?

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8 Questions With : Carly Chiao

Carly Chiao is another wonderful individual I met through John Maeda a few months back. She is currently a designer for Victorious, a platform that enables content creators (e.g. YouTube stars) to connect and engage with their fans on a more meaningful level. With the massive volume of content that is being pushed out every minute of every day it can be incredibly difficult to build a loyal following that will choose you over your “competitors.” As a result, we’re seeing a large market for third party content and monetization channels developing out of this gaping need, with Victorious at the forefront of it all. Additionally, with the level of accessibility to today’s technology content creation continues to stimulate its own growth – the more that is created and exposed, the more viewers desire to become the creator and launch their very own content, paving the way for companies like Victorious.

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1. What is Victorious and how did you get involved?
Victorious is a start-up based in the heart of Santa Monica. We’re offering a platform for content creators to build and publish their own interactive mobile apps. Our primary goal is to put creators in control of their own brands and empower them to engage with fans directly. I’d like to think that each app is a hub, where creators can publish all of their content in one place and fans can interact with the community.

I got introduced to Sam Rogoway, the CEO of Victorious. I was told that Sam is very selective for hiring designers. Just out of curiosity, I took my chances and met him. It was a short 30 minutes talk, but I was hooked to the product he envisioned. I feel we’re solving a real existing problem.

2. The third party market for media/video is booming, where do you see it going in five years?
With the rise of advanced camera technology, easier accessibility to platforms for distribution and editing, and more social communities to build around video, it’s not hard to say that video will increasingly become a vital medium for entertainment, information and communication. It’s not only presenting us the in-person experience but also easy to digest. It’s naturally engaging and has high “shareability”. The roadblocks for creating videos will be diminished to nothing, it’s just a matter of ideas, so much choice is in the hands of the creators.

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3. As a kid, what did you want to be when you grow up?
A flight attendant. I used to dream how I could travel around the world while I’m working. I didn’t become one but I’m still working towards my voyage planning.

4. What do you find most challenging about your current role?
Working on a new product without much data to begin with, what I find most challenging is to figure out feature rich vs. too many features. It’s always hard to understand in the beginning. We want to embrace the power users but are also afraid of potentially confusing the novice users. We started to do some usability testing post development and hopefully we’ll find the sweet middle ground for all users.

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5. What does a typical workday look like?
My workday usually starts with listening to podcast while driving. it’s such a relief to my long commute and become my creativity jump start for the day by listening to other people’s stories. After I got in to the office, if I continue to where I left off the project, I’ll review the flows and make sure whether they still make sense before I proceed. If I’m kicking off a new project, I’ll do my due diligence by researching similar products in the existing market. It’s always effective to learn why and how other people are doing well with their designs and features, or failed with things we would have never thought about. These findings will potentially help us to form a better vision. I usually work in Photoshop for mobile and web design. Illustrator would be handy whenever I’m dealing with vector shapes. Then I’ll eat lunch around 12pm or 1pm. Sometimes I’ll work through lunch if I have a meeting around that time. I work very closely with product and engineering and enjoy how fast we craft and iterate the product.

6. What’s your favorite post-work destination?
Home. To catch up with my two little ones and my terrifically supportive husband.

7. As a designer, where do you find your inspiration?
My surroundings.

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8. If you could give some advice to your teenage self, what would it be?
Growing up from a typical Asian family, my dad told me that I need to be honest, humble and listen more than speak up with what I have in mind when I was little. I’ll keep the same principles except the last one. What I learned over the years, voicing my ideas is equally important; because for me, that’s a way to show that I care.

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Better with Pets 2014

Last year, Imprint’s founder, Julia Huang, spoke about our Architecture for Dogs project at the first Purina Better with Pets conference in New York City. You can revisit our posts about that event here and here. I was lucky enough to attend this year’s Better with Pets summit earlier this week, at the impressive Skylight Modern in Chelsea. Much like last year’s event, it was a fascinating line-up of primarily dog and cat experts of all stripes, with some entertaining interludes for very good measure.

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The speakers included 14-year-old inventor Brooke Martin, creator of IC Pooch; the founders of Minneapolis-based Cat Vid Fest; TV host Victoria Stilwell, who champions positive training; and several noteworthy veterinarians and psychologists. The performances included hip-hop from youth program B.E.A.T. NYC, a clever spoken word poem about pets as poets by the Mayhem Poets trio, and live piano accompaniment to the talk from the founders of music therapy for dogs, Through a Dogs Ear. There were also some short video screenings such as Henri Le Chat Noir (scroll down for this, seriously) and an powerful film about pets and PTSD from Purina.

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In this midst of all this incredible content, I think my favorite must have been Mark Deadrick of 3Dyne who talked about 3D printing prosthetic limbs for dogs. Mark cleverly brought along his first and totally awesome patient, Turbo Roo, a tiny Chihuahua born with missing front legs who has been the recipient several evolutions of a cart for highly improved mobility at an amazingly affordable price. I’m not giving away any secrets here as Purina have promised the talks will all be available online in a few weeks. In the meantime, you can check out some of their initial coverage here.

How it’s made

How it’s made, I’m sure we’ve all seen at least one episode of the show that seems to captivate audiences with the process of how things are made. But even more so now people have been creating their own content that follow the “how it’s made” concept. I thought I’d bring two interesting examples that keep me glued to my screen for hours at a time.

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Tested
I think the best thing about finding an awesome youtube channel after it’s been around for years is that you can binge watch. Tested happens to be one of those. They do all kinds of interviews with people that produce cool things in the tech/comic etc. industry. Here are two examples from the site.

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At the School of Visual Arts in New York Jimmy Diresta teaches 3D design, he’s also had a TV show and he has an awesome youtube channel. After you watch a few of his videos all you’ll say is “He can make anything”. Note: Lots of videos are in timelapse and the sound may make you crazy. But it’s enthralling to watch the process.

Ciclavia: Heart of the City

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I’m not a longtime cyclist or even a good one. My wife and I purchased bikes after my daughter learned how to ride one without training wheels this summer.  So our participation in Ciclavia two weekends ago was also our introduction.

It’s a cool concept, blocking off streets so that Los Angelenos (and anyone else) can check out various neighborhoods on bicycles in a car-free environment. The previous event included Miracle Mile and Korea Town, and this time we went from Chinatown to Downtown’s Theatre District. These spots weren’t new to me at all but they were very different out of a car.

Take the 2nd Street Tunnel, for example. I see it regularly in movies and commercials and during the drive from Echo Park toward the Disney Hall. It always looks cool but it how much cooler is it when you’re with a hundred other cyclists whooping and hollering to hear the echo?

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From our starting point in Chinatown, we took a detour through the tunnel and then went further down Broadway to Grand Central Market. Everyone loves Eggslut but hates the tiny spaces in the adjacent parking lot. During Ciclavia, that was not a problem since there was a free bike valet service next door.

Across the way, the Bradbury Building was open to visitors. It’s a legendary old landmark that has appeared in Chinatown and Blade Runner as well as architectural guidebooks. So why not finally check it out and take some pictures? It’s not like we were in a car jetting across town.

Going down and back up Broadway, the streets were fairly empty and it was easy for us to navigate even with a little girl in tow. Crossing 2nd Street, it seemed a little more hairy with a lot of cross-traffic but we weren’t going to traverse the city with a six-year-old anyway.

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But I do like the idea of being able to ride a bike from Echo Park all the way through Boyle Heights and into East L.A. without worrying about getting run over or slamming into a car door. And I saw people on skateboards or just on foot going for it as well.

The streets are turned into parks. The blocks into neighborhoods. It’s fascinating that the concept came from Bogota, Colombia, and one wonders if the money and awareness being raised to pay for these one-day events can ever be leveraged to do something more permanent in the city.

In an automobile-centered place like Los Angeles, I don’t see something like Ciclavia happening for real in the near future. And to me that makes the events especially cool. Hope to see you in the streets on December 7.

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8 Questions With: Jordan Price

When I knew Jordan Price he was living in New York and living as a fine artist, weening away from shoe customizing. He had been a graffiti artist before that. A few years ago he moved back to San Francisco and has been working as a UI/UX designer. He’s recently been featured in various news outlets for a piece he wrote about his experience working at Apple which can be read at Medium.com and last month he released a much anticipated photo sticker app Super Cool. I was able to wrangle him from his busy schedule to answer 8 Questions.

What are you currently working on?
I just launched a sticker app for iPhone called Super Cool. It’s basically Hello Kitty meets Bape meets Jeff Koons meets 80s Lisa Frank at an Apple Store in the projects. I designed, developed, and created hundreds of stickers for the app, and now that it’s out, I’m continuing to grow and improve the app. I’m adding more stickers and working with other artists so they can get their artwork in the app too.

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How has your experience been launching your new app?
It’s been an absolutely incredible amount of work. I know from the outside, it seems like a really simple little app, and in a lot of ways it is. But considering I’ve done all of this alone, it’s a very large project to take on. I’ve been working full-time the entire time that I’ve been building Super Cool. I also have a young daughter. I’ve sacrificed a lot to get this thing out: sleep, money, social life, weekends, etc. etc. At one point I was so overworked that I ended up in the hospital. I don’t think people will ever know or care how much energy has gone into this. Sometimes I wonder why the hell I do things like this, because it makes life so much more complicated. I am glad it’s out though.

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What have you learned as an app developer?
I’ve been designing apps professionally for a number of years now, and I’ve designed apps for bunch of different startups and tech companies including Groupon and Apple. It’s been great, but I always felt a bit stifled creatively when working on someone else’s product and vision. There are so many more skills needed to launch your own product beyond just design: development, marketing, creating partnerships, management. It goes on and on. Am I an expert in all these fields? Hell no. But I know a bit more about them than I would have if I hadn’t pursued this.

As a kid, what did you want to be when you grow up?
I really didn’t know. I used to wonder what I would be. I do remember there was a point in time that I thought being a Coast Guard would be cool. I’m not sure why. Obviously that didn’t pan out. When I turned 13 I decided I wanted to be a graffiti artist. That turned out a bit better, but it never paid well. I did it for the love.

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Where do you find inspiration?
Japan has been the most inspiring place I’ve been recently. It’s awesome. It has the urban vastness and sophistication of a place like New York City, but it’s better designed, cleaner, and there are awesome cartoons and mascots everywhere. Even the police force has a cute mascot. It totally energized me creatively, and I think you can see a bit how it’s inspired my artwork.

How would you describe your job?
At my day job I design interfaces and user experiences for mobile apps. I work with a large team of engineers, designers, project managers, etc. It’s pretty cushy compared to other shit jobs I had when I was younger. Super Cool is a whole other thing. I wear lots of hats. It’s art and technology and business all smashed into one. It’s basically like running a small startup.

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What is your favorite post-work destination?
Bed. I usually work too late. I’m actively trying to stop that.

If you could give some advice to your teenage self, what would it be?
I don’t know what I could tell myself that would be useful. I was having a great time when I was a teenager doing graffiti about 5 nights a week, so I would’t really tell myself to change that. I’d say that what you learn in school is way overrated, and the real learning happens by doing things. Working for big fancy brands is overrated as well. Getting internships and good mentors is super important and useful to figure things out quickly.

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POW! WOW! x Flexfit School of Music

You might have picked up on the fact that we’re pretty huge fans of POW! WOW! I was fortunate enough to attend the Hawaiian artist summit back in 2013. Our very own founder Julia Huang checked out POW! WOW! Taiwan more recently, which we posted about here. And you might have noticed we worked with POW WOW in bringing Aaron De La Cruz to Long Beach recently. The POW! WOW! x Flexfit School of Music is a super cool audio/musical component to the POW! WOW! events, a youth education program which encourages local kids to learn, create, and collaborate musically. The School of Music takes place concurrently with the main art summits and this video explains it very nicely. Shot by our friends at 0484 Creative. And while we’re on the topic, check out our 8 Questions interview with POW! WOW! founder, Jasper Wong.

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NY Times : 36 Hours Series

The New York Times recently launched a new travel video series, called 36 Hours, that guides you through a city’s “most delicious, adventurous and fascinating must-see destinations.” They have covered nine cities so far with many, many more to go. The series is actually done quite well and in a much shorter time span than any television travel channel offers, averaging around five minutes or so. Restaurants, activities, hotspots, and even interviews with both locals and owners of these establishments are thrown in, offering you a pretty good preview of what it would be like to experience that particular city’s culture. The most recent 36 Hours video (below) is my lovely alma mater’s town of Berkeley, California.