2013 Wrap-up

A little belated but here is my 2013 wrap-up post!

It was an interesting year.

There wasn't anything earth-shattering in terms of academic or commercial success, but starting Motherland Chronicles and the journey it brought me on had definitely affected me in a big way. That, and moving to New York.

So usually, I do a retrospective of some sort here, but with the book for Motherland Chronicles still underway, I can't bring myself to write about the experiences in all that incompleteness. Instead, I'm going to do a recap on the other major events that happened besides Motherland Chronicles! And thank my teams and you guys profusely for being supportive and awesome.

Top 8 things that mattered:

1) Started reading because of subways and second-hand books. Discovered Lymond Chronicles and to my surprise, improved my English.

2) Exhibited in Milan with Photo Vogue photographers, curated by Vogue Italia. Found out my alcohol allergy had worsened by fainting at the opening. Glorious.

"A Glimpse at Photo Vogue" by Vogue Italia

3) In memory of a friend, I created the first piece of personal work for someone else for the first time. It's been ten years.

Motherland Chronicles #21 - Her Resting Place

4) Had many firsts for photography — cosplay, fire, underwater. It was all very new and exciting.

Reunited with Alodia to shoot my first cosplay picture: Motherland Chronicles #30 - Untitled Amano Girl
Motherland Chronicles #23 - Dive (behind the scenes)

5) Disbanded Infinity Seven, and wrote about my time in SC2. Read my superbly angsty blog post over on TeamLiquid.

Infinity Seven, Anaheim, 2013

6) Exhibited with Marc by Marc Jacobs and Vulture Magazine in Singapore. One of the most beautiful installations of my work, wish I could have been there.

7) Featured on Kotaku, a place I looked at often throughout the years, it meant a lot to me.

Kotaku: Where Fashion Meets Japanese Fantasy and StarCraft II

8) Finally saw Gundam Unicorn. I loved it so much that I rewatched the show four times. Gundam has always inspired feelings about humanity and strength in me. Things like: you have to find the strength within yourself. Believe! And even if it hurts, keep on saying even so, even so, and go on! So, yeah. Feelings.

Aside from the above, some other highlights include signing my first apartment lease, winning Beauty/Glamour Photographer of the Year at [FRAMED] Awards and meeting up with e-pals Kirsty Mitchell and Von Wong in Las Vegas.

I was fortunate to landed a number of covers, thanks to my great teams for their wonderful work and the editors for putting us up there, notably Elle Vietnam's June and September beauty issue, Factice Magazine #19, and British Journal of Photography's September issue.

Thank you Savage Universal for the sponsorship, who gave me a lot of options to play around with for my studio work. And Casin dei Nobili, Harlequin Romantique and Xiaolin for contributing some incredibly beautiful hand-crafted masks, jewelry, and clothing for Motherland Chronicles. 

And the wonderful guys at ArmStreet for hosting me at Pennsic War 42 in Pittsburgh, which was my first camping experience ever. I tried on some armour, wore a dress for 2 days (!!), braided my hair, took classes on 10-13th century Russian fashion, and watched a medieval battle. I've never experienced anything else like it. It was awesome.

Of course, I would also randomly discovered that I've had lifetime of anime/manga hair in the mean time.

In September I met up with Sugizo in LA! I can't wait for my new book to be ready so I can gift it in return when he gives me Luna Sea goodies.

At the end of the year I went to Cancun with mum, sis and relatives. It was the first time I'd been with my mum and sis together overseas, so it was very unexpected, new, and exciting.

And that's really it for the year! To wrap it up, here's an Instagram video recap. I want to say thank you all for the support, especially for Motherland Chronicles. I can't wait for the project to be ready for Kickstarter, and for you guys to finally have the book. Thank you so much for following my journey so far, I hope 2014 will be even more exciting and inspiring. ♥

My Life of Anime/Manga Hair

I blew my own mind last night.

How'd I never notice this?
3 years ago
5 years ago

I'd really been wearing my hair like Anotsu. For most of my life. Wut.

2009, an Aya moment.
There was even a bit of Zechs last year.
And at some point of time I resembled a girl.
But I once had same cut and even parting as Akira, when I was seven.

...

I don't even. 

This discovery was only made possible with a combination of having my Motherland Chronicles things open while chatting with someone about Anotsu and Aya.

All of a sudden I saw the resemblance from the 1st pic, a styling test for week 2, sitting innocently in the background. I had to do a double take because, WHAT IS THIS? WE HAVE THE SAME HAIR. THE LONG SIDE BANGS THING. MY FAVORITE CHARACTERS. AND. AND ME TOO. WHAT.

I don't know how I'd never noticed this ever.

Random nights are random.

2012 Wrap-up

Yay I've finally got another year-end wrap-up!

Wow, I can't believe the last was 2009. Truthfully speaking, I wrote one for 2010, it was filled with awesomeness (including my lifetime's only fangirl moment when taken by surprise meeting Hagio Moto)—...actually, I just discovered that that post has been sitting in my drafts, with pictures and all, figured I might as well post it: 2010.

And here be the highlights of my 2012: 

January

- Shot for Clé de Peau Beauté's 30th Anniversary Celebration Exhibition
- Interviewed by National Archives of Singapore (I pray if anyone uses it for anything in the future I'd be forgiven for my atrocious Chinese)
- Zink editorial "It Blooms In The Night" published
- Wedding & Travel #22 out on stands! We shot the cover story in Fregate Island, Seychelles, I had my own villa with infinity pool and all that stuff! (This would've been in my 2011 post, but it doesn't exist so allow me to wax-lyrical a little)
- Featured on Expert Photography -- Top 20 Young Photographers 2012, though I definitely don't feel so young anymore

My photograph for Clé de Peau Beauté
Zink: It Blooms in the Night

Febuary

- Yoshitaka Amano-inspired self portraits
- Held my first workshop (sold out in 24 hours! :D)
- Fashion and beauty editorials in Elle Singapore! (Hit the Road, Touch-me Tresses)
- Elle Awards feature in Elle Singapore! (For winning Photographer of the Year in Nov 2011)

My Amano-esque self portrait series! I was so beatific when I saw those photos on my computer screen~
Demo during my first workshop!
A photo of the trophy plaque's prettier than an article right? Pretty ♥

March

- Editorial marathon in Vietnam with Phuong My -- we produced AND shot 6 stories in 7 days, including: 
- My first Harper's Bazaar cover shoot featuring Vietnamese actress Ngo Thanh Van and—
- A shoot in Cambodia! Visited Angkor Wat, it was awesome.
- Came across one of my photos of Rain for Anchor Beer in Cambodia on a billboard! Kickass feeling.
- Photos of Michelle Phan!

Michelle! Our shoot was done end Dec but then I never had my 2011 post so ._.
Angkor Wat! It was so grand.

April

- Represented in US by Kramer+Kramer in New York
- Saw L'arc~en~Ciel in Singapore, I even met my own fans (And now that I've seen Luna Sea, X Japan, Laruku, and Dir en grey, I think I'm just missing Gackt and my Live experience would be complete haha)
- Showed in Clé de Peau Beauté's "L'Art de La Radiance" Exhibition in Hong Kong

On the left is cover of the limited edition book commemorating Clé de Peau's exhibition. A very stunning volume I'm proud to be a part of.

May

- 10 years on deviantART! Check out my post on the journey.
- Featured in Her World Singapore -- "25 Scene Shakers Under 25"

Holy shit 10 years on dA. Where has my youth gone to?!

June

- Shot chef Janice Wong for DBS Bank in Singapore
- Visited deviantART HQ with my team Infinity Seven! Fun times.

The ads ran on all sorts of medias including TV! Was also cool to receive my bank letters with my work featured on its flyers.

July

- Filming for Asia's Next Top Model
- My first Harper's Bazaar cover published! For Harper's Bazaar Vietnam's 1st anniversary issue
- Featured in FHM Singapore -- "Girls on Games"
- Showed in Harper's Bazaar exhibition "Fashion in Focus" in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
- Interviewed by Singaporean art blog The Art Train

My Harper's Bazaar Vietnam cover story!
Story cover
Issue cover
Harper's Bazaar exhibition "Fashion in Focus" in Kuala Lumpur

FHM Singapore

Interviewed by The Art Train

August

- SingaporeBrides editorial "Song to the Siren"
- Visited Stockholm, WCS Sweden
- One of my longest interviews, for Cadred.org -- "Zhang Jingna: Aesthetic Manifestation"

SingaporeBrides editorial, love how I always get to experiment and direct these shoots

September

- Busy putting my paperworks together for O-1 visa application~

October

- Started psychotherapy
- 7 Honorable Mentions in International Photography Awards for Fine Arts: Portraits, Fine Arts: Nudes, and Advertising: Fashion
- The beginning of a series of vacations starting with Lijiang and Shangri-la :D

Bluemoon Valley in Lijiang
Ahaha sheep in Shangri-la across from Banyan Tree. I chased them all away taking photos XDDD

November

- Got out of depression!
- Hokkaido (Hell Valley!) and Osaka for the first time
- Met up with Sugizo in Osaka!
- Judge on The Big Shot Season 3
- Still working on my visa

Hell Valley in Hokkaido, so badass!
Got to drop by Luna Sea's gig at Zepp in Osaka and hang out with Sugizo a little, new shoot hopefully in 2013!


December

- Fujiwara Kaoru-inspired shoot
- One of my favourite stories, for Harper’s Bazaar Vietnam, Nu Renaissance Aristocracy, published
- Visited Versailles, Louvre, Venice and Rome for the first time! More things off my bucket list yay
- O-1 visa for the US approved! Woot.
- Asia's Next Top Model episode aired! Winning shot will be used as ad for TRESemmé
- Moved to New York

Nu Renaissance Aristocracy for Harper’s Bazaar Vietnam, super love this story! Linh does hair magic.
Europe! I took so many photos yet in the end it was still easiest to just use those from my iPhone OTL
Aired Dec 30th, the beauty episode of Asia's Next Top Model where I was the photographer :D Photo of the week winner was Sofia Wakabayashi, my fav from the shoot ♥

And and! Last but not least, quick overview of my hair this year in chronological order:

Some of you might remember, my hair was this long before, it was quite a change for me.

I cut it off on new year's eve of 2012, a new start and all that, right? Then I got to play around with the colours all year. Awesome. And so many many thanks to Delos and Yvonne at Sabun Cabane for taking such good care of my hair! I'm gonna miss you ladies. ♥ 

I want to make another post with some inspirational reads from this year at a later time, I'll end this post here. Also feel free to check out my Inspirational Reads 2012 post here for what inspires me: http://www.zhangjingna.com/blog/2013/01/inspirational-reads-2012.html

In closing I'd like to once again thank everyone for cheering and supporting me this year and, I'm so grateful to still be here.

I'm super excited to start 2013, shoots and personal projects and all.

I wish everyone's new year will be something amazing, let's work hard for our dreams together.

10 Years on deviantART

It's a little hard to believe that I'd been on the website for 10 years now. Time passes by so fast. >_<

I wrote a journal post on dA about the decade, and it's sort of like a mini journey for my photography too, since it is where I started out. You can read it here.

Along with that I completed an improvement meme as well! Here's a snapshot of my work from 2006-2012 :D

2010.

*Woot! I have 40 drafts sitting around because sometime at the end of 2010 I'd clearly grown to hate posting things I've written for this blog. But since I'm now gonna my 2012 recap, figured I might as well post the 2010 one as well. :D  -12/31/12

January

- Went for hatsumode at Meiji Jingu and watched sunrise at Odaiba with Sawaka, Chris and Brandon. It was the most wonderful new year I'd ever had. Ever.
- Zaobao Now frontpage
- Photographed the "Be Empowered" campaign for Canon Singapore

The crowd for hatsumode at Meiji Jingu
Canon campaign up at the Isetan/Tangs underpass

February

- Visited Blizzard's HQ in Irvine, I was so completely taken by the Diablo III concepts I was later invited back for a playtest
- Held a meetup in Los Angele

Blizzard visit
L.A. meetup at the Griffith Observatory

March

- Gave a talk to an audience of 400 at Raffles Hotel's Jubilee Hall for Canon
- Shot the covers for Random House's Flappers series by Jillian Larkin in London

Canon's seminar at Raffles Hotel with Wong Maye-e
Behind the scenes from Flappers cover shoot in London, photographed by Irene Yap

April

- Solo street exhibition along Orchard Road in conjunction with Fashion Seasons @ Orchard (no photos cuz I was in L.A., but I was told it was quite an epic thing)
- Toured Pixar HQ, they have chocolate festivals wtf?! Do want

May

- Received the most hilarious birthday card from Jeff Simpson
- Held my 2nd solo gallery show, "Angel Dreams", at Japan Creative Centre, debut of my personal collaboration with Sugizo

Birthday card from jeffsimpsonkh depicting our first encounter

Angel Dreams exhibition

Sugizo, Ashinoko Lake, Japan, Dec 2009

June

- Shot for MontBlanc (Singapore & Indonesia)
- Shot promo images for Sugizo in L.A.

MontBlanc
Sugizo
July

- Attended San Diego Comic Con, met Hagio Moto and experienced a fangirl moment for the first time in my life

Honey Trap from Where the Wild Things Are editorial at the Harper's Bazaar Spectacular Sights exhibition
Hagio Moto's autograph in my copy of A Drunken Dream and Other Stories. I also got a drawing!

August

- Covered deviantART's 10th Birthday Bash in L.A. with tobiee and received a drawing of a bishie with flowers from yuumei!
- Picked up cooking
- Collaborated with Mother of London (Before the Tide Comes)
deviantART's 10th Birthday Bash at House of Blues in L.A.
When I posted this on FB everyone thought I worked at a factory
September
- Featured in Elle Singapore for Elle 10 - The Next Big Thing
- Images of Sugizo published in Fool's Mate
- Shot with Daniel Landroche

Featured in Elle 10 - The Next Big Thing
Daniel Landroche

October

- Fashion Gone Rogue exclusive - Before the Tide Comes
- Art directed and shot 1000 Roses for SingaporeBrides
- Shot Swept Away for Elle Singapore with fashion editor Daphne Chen
- Judged two episodes in The Big Shot (Ch 5, Singapore)
- Picked up StarCraft I
- Moved to Los Angeles

Fashion Gone Rogue Exclusive: Before the Tide Comes
SingaporeBrides: 1000 Roses
Elle Singapore: Swept Away



November

- Car crash in L.A.
- Spoke at LCAD
- Toured DreamWorks HQ (good food!)

December

- Shot Spring/Summer '11 campaign for Max.Tan
- Attended Justin Sweet's workshop
- Visited Blizzard again for Diablo 3 playtest!
- First cover for Flappers Series published
- First visit to Toronto
- Photograph of Sugizo published for his promo in Luna Sea's concert pamphlet!
- Commissioned to photograph Luna Sea's concert at Tokyo Dome for Christmas, contributed to Luna Sea's new song title "Days of Repetition" while backstage (most epically random thing)

First of the Flappers series covers
Photographed Luna Sea Reboot @ Tokyo Dome, experience of a lifetime

Notable shoots:

- Personal: Sugizo, Alli Cripe (Porcelain, Alli), Denise w/ Mother of London (Before the Tide Comes), Daniel Landroche, Yuki Matsumura, Mega, Irene Lambers & Leza G
- Ads/Campaigns: Canon, Random House, MontBlanc
- Editorials: Harper's Bazaar Singapore x3, Elle Singapore, Fashion Gone Rogue, Fool's Mate, SingaporeBrides.com

...and this is where my draft ended. Not much afterthoughts and what not and I wouldn't know now for sure. So I'll leave it here. Thank you for reading. :D

2009.

This is like a personal meme for myself every year.

I didn't particularly feel like doing it, but it helps give marking to a period of time and encourages me to work harder as time goes by.

So here we go.

The notable events of '09, in a somewhat chronological order:
- Covered the Ing Cup Finals round 1-3 in Singapore and met Go Seigen
- Selected as Featured Artist for Wacom Intuos 4's global campaign
- Broke up
- Visited hide's grave in Miurakaigen
- Attended X Japan's concert's after party in Tokyo
- Celebrated birthday in Tokyo too, the day after
- Attended 3 out of 12 of the deviantART WorldTour meetups (Singapore, Paris, London)
- Shot for SingaporeBrides.com in Paris & New York
- Shot editorials for Gothic & Lolita Bible
- Shot campaigns for Pond's in Jakarta for Indonesia, Montblanc in Singapore for Singapore, Indonesia and Thailand, and Sony Vaio in Shanghai for China
- Saw the 1:1 life-size Gundam in Japan
- Went on a fruit diet for a month (which was kinda awesome)
- Attended a week of classes at Yale
- Won Overseas Master Photographer of the Year title at the Master Photography Awards 09 (UK)
- Placed 3rds in International Photography Awards' Advertising Catalogue and Fine Art Nudes
- Visited Mark Seliger's studio
- Visited deviantART HQ
- Launched my Postcard Collection (together with Noah)
- Covered Sugizo's concert
- Photographed Sugizo for personal work
- Grandma passed away

Notable shoots:
- Personal: Sugizo, Margaret (Celosia), Ivory Flame (Lilith), Yuta, Abby (The Coldest Day), Chiaki, Lara, Alodia
- Ads/Campaigns: Montblanc (Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand), Pond's (Indonesia), Sony (China), Lancome (Singapore)
- Editorials/Advertorials: Harper's Bazaar Singapore x6, Gothic Lolita Bible x4, SingaporeBrides.com x3, Elle Singapore

Resolutions (i.e. things I wanna but will most likely end up not doing) for '10:
- Read More
- Learn driving (gah)
- Play go

Plans (i.e. things I wanna but do actually want to properly seen done) for '10:
- Release new photobook
- Solo exhibition in June
- Publications for CGHUB
- Do more personal work

Sometimes it feels like I hardly did anything for the year. Sometimes it feels like what I do is never enough. Sometimes I question my existence, but sometimes, I guess moments like these, when a year ends and I am summing all these stuff up... it seems that it's actually not that bad at all.

Before L died, he'd once said to me, 'People forget eventually. You too will, one day.'

And in my vehement defence of saying I'll always remember, I carved that into my heart.

Perhaps unbeknownst to me, maybe to prove it to him, that was when I decided that I want to be remembered somehow after my death, and leaving my art behind was a way of doing it. Even if it may all be gone one day, at least, there was the illusion.

But something changed within me this year. It suddenly dawned on me that it's alright to be forgotten. That it's fine if no one remembers me when I'm gone. That if I died tomorrow and none of you knew it, it's okay.

This realization made the purpose of my photography contradicted. If I didn't need this, why do I still create?

I was lost and almost a little depressed.

It lasted for a while, a long while or a short while, I can't be sure anymore.

And then the news came that my paternal grandmother passed away.

I visited her a year ago in Huainan. I remember her joy upon seeing me, her happiness and excitement when I showed her my book and the pride in her eyes when I told her about my work.

When I received word of her passing, every important, impacting memory from my childhood flashed before me.

The morning I refused to eat breakfast because there wasn't any eggs.

The lonely months when I was hospitalized and her being the only one who ever visited.

The days when we talked about money, and the people who could afford to have meat on the table for every meal.

And bringing me to piano lessons, my teacher telling me how it wasn't easy for such an old lady to travel back and forth all the time.

They said it wasn't easier for anyone, my mum was working hard somewhere, she was lonely too. But she was strong, she was strong for me. So even if it was difficult, even if it was painful, even if I was lonely and lost and hurting, I needed to work hard, I had to become a strong girl.

I cried that day.

And then I remembered.

I remembered the happiness and joy I had in my heart when viewing beautiful things. It took the pain away, even if only for a moment.

I remembered the love and passion and devotion that bled from artists through their art; the awe I had at how things could ever be so breathtaking and beautiful that they soothed the heart.

I remembered -- it was a place I found solace in, and loved.

And that is enough for me for now, to keep creating.

Rainy days have a way of getting to me sometimes, sorry for the angst.

25 things meme

You do agree with me that overworking, is not good, right?

And that it is ok, once in a while, to be distracted, by doing something like a meme, right? *innocent wide grin*

Okay I'm being silly, nevermind.

The Rules: Once you’ve been tagged, you are supposed to write a note with 25 random things, facts, habits, or goals about you. At the end, choose 25 people to be tagged. (I'd tagged the people I'd wanted to tag on FB, so it's just the 25 points here~)

1. It should be made compulsory to teach children how to post a letter/package in primary school. Like, for eg., understand that stamps are the postage fees.

2. I have picked up piano again this year, and am currently stuck on page 7 of Without You (Classical Version). Just how do you play it with 2 hands?

3. I've low tolerance for people with low simple-task-completion capabilities, like understanding instructions such as: A is A, and it means A, not B. I am learning to deal with it though.

4. My wardrobe consists mainly of black. And black. Well I think there are 2, or 3 pieces of whites, and... that's about it.

5. Despite the number of anime and manga I'd seen/read (include the BL if you must), I still think that Aya (Weiß) is the hottest thing ever.

6. zemotion means zero emotion. It comes from Zoning and Emotionally Range Omitted system aka the ZERO system in Gundam Wing. I do not enjoy being called kosong, or the various other language versions of the number.

7. Speaking of which, I actually read everything here in Primary 4, or 5. Took notes, and attempted memorizing the build and design of every space colony mentioned. (It was indeed very much a childhood dream to live on a space colony, I thought I'd become an engineer, but alas...)

8. My new year resolution of sleeping before 1am every night has gone down the drain since some 8 days ago. I do plan to reinforce it for at least 2 weeks a month because it makes me feel just slightly healthier.

9. I have a major, major thing, for beautiful high quality packaging.

10. I like things and stories to be beautiful and tragic. Yes, angst please, just don't get too sappy.

11. I have too strong a sense of justice and honour than the society calls for.

12. I know I'd came far in a short amount of time, but I can never let go of the insecurities and inferiority, this feeling that I'm always in your shadows. Never good enough.

13. Despite the years that have gone by, I still think about the ones who left us, now and then. Despite their careless words, such as "one day you will forget", I still remember.

14. I'm attracted to people who play instruments, go, write well, and paint well.

15. Sometimes I dream every night for weeks, and wake up remembering all of them, the scenes often painted with my own blood.

16. I try to please everyone around me, mainly because I don't like conflicts.

17. I did photography because I concluded that I couldn't settle with the fact of knowing that I'd never surpass Noah.

18. I always think myself to be rather friendly, maybe a little quiet in big crowds. But there were people who came up to me during conventions, or after a period of time at school, saying I have a Dark Try-Approach-Me-and-See-How-You-Will-Die Aura.

19. I dislike crowds and noisy places, it makes my head ache. Unless you're talking about say, X Japan concerts.

20. My first read of Neil Gaiman's was The Sandman, Vol10 - The Wake, a gift from Derek on K's death anniversary in 2002.

21. I always think that when a person speaks of being left with no choices, he had. And it's possibly one of the worst excuses to give, ever.

22. Oh wow, 22.

23. I like to write, now and then, for my photographs or Noah's paintings. Just every once in a while even though I am terribly slow at it. I spend on average an hour per sentence, miserable as it sounds, I still do it.

24. I am practical, but idealistic.

25. And now and then, I distract myself from what I am supposed to be completing and do things such as these for hours...

Alright, off to prepare the prints for tomorrow~