I recently had the good fortune of spending two fantastic weeks in Taiwan. Although my time there was too short for such a fascinating and varied place, I did manage to spend time in the capital city of Taipei, Hualien on the picturesque East Coast, including the nearby Taroko Gorge (a natural wonder), historical Tainan and arts-filled Kaohsiung. Rather than simply outlining my travel itinerary, I wanted to show you some of the things this surface pattern designer found particularly inspiring, and that I’m sure will inspire some new pattern designs! I hope they inspire you too! Here they are in no particular order…
The 15000 Temples of Taiwan
Yup, apparently there are 15000 temples in Taiwan devoted to Buddhism, Confucianism and Taoism! We visited famous Longshan and Bao’an Temples in Taipei, of course, and numerous others, including small neighbourhood temples that are absolutely everywhere. It’s hard to walk any distance without passing a temple, and you will always spot several in every town you pass by on the high-speed rail. The bright colours and shimmering gold, large-scale paintings, tilework, glowing lights, carvings and sculptures of gods, heroes and animals, and hand-embroidered robes and banners (more on this below) are jaw-dropping.
See more Temple pics at my Instagram post HERE.
I searched out one of the small shops that still hand-embroider the magnificent robes and banners that embellish Taiwanese temples. Here are pics I took at the Tainan Kuang Tsai Embroidery Shop, and an example of a finished robe spotted in a temple. Common motifs include temple buildings, dragons, Chinese calligraphy, clouds, animals and flowers, and are often “3-D” and wrapped in glittering silver and gold threads. Wow!
See more pics from this Tainan embroidery shop at my Instagram post HERE.
Taiwan Glows at Night
Taiwan's fantastic cities REALLY come to life and sparkle at night...From modern architecture lit up in bright colours, including Taipei 101 (once the world's tallest building) and dusk views from its 91st-floor Observatiory watching the city lights blink on; to public sculptures that light up arts districts (sometimes with music!); to glowing temples and historical shops open late; to bustling night markets and neon-lit places to eat, drink and socialize...Fantastic!
You can see more Taiwan At Night pics at my Instagram post HERE.
Taiwan is so FULL of colour and charm, evident in all the characters I spotted around Taipei, Hualien, Tainan and Kaohsiung...Some of these are honest-to-goodness "public art", while some are "just" storefront or restaurant mascots. But whether they're art pieces commissioned to be installed in Taiwan's numerous "creative and cultural parks" or temples, or cute kitsch designed to attract customers to a shop or restaurant or to endorse tourism, I LOVE THEM ALL!
There's more Character pics at my Instagram post HERE.
Colourful Paper Lanterns
Just SOME (and I stress, SOME) of the paper lanterns I spotted while wandering the streets, small traditional shops and magnificent temples of Taiwan.
See more of these colourful Paper Lanterns at my Instagram post HERE.
Jimmy Liao: Taiwanese Children’s Book Illustrator
The huge Jing Si Hall in Hualien has a wonderful bookstore, and it was here that I discovered the Taiwanese children’s book author and illustrator Jimmy Liao. On further research, I’ve learned he is an internationally-acclaimed illustrator. Even though the 3 books I bought are all in Chinese, I couldn’t resist his beautiful sweet images. I’ll just have to fire up Google Translate! Check out his beautiful illustrations on Instagram at @jimmy_liao_official.
The Colours Of Taiwan
When I return to the studio after a trip (especially one as colourful as this one!), I often use my travel photos to develop new colour palettes. With this process, I always try to first pull out the brights (just because I love bright colour!), then I add in some of the more neutral, earthier and muddier colours to round out the palettes. I find that this is a fantastic and useful exercise: it’s a great way to understand your own colour “style” and to develop colour palettes that are uniquely your own. See below for examples.
I’ll Have To Go Back!
This is just a small compilation of some of the design and arts inspirations I saw during my trip to Taiwan. But Taiwan is full of natural wonders, wildlife and flora; layers of interesting history including colonization by the Dutch, Spanish and Japanese whose legacies still colour present-day Taiwan; and delicious and unusual foods (stinky tofu anyone?!), drink (it is the birthplace of bubble tea!) and desserts (my favourite is matcha shaved ice!) offered in numerous small neighbourhood eateries, high-end restaurants, and bustling neon-lit night markets. I’ll just have to go back!
Whew! Taking a holiday means you really need to take the time on returning to catch up with everything, including the Spoonflower Design Challenges! However, I did manage to enter a design for this week's Spoonflower "The Other Holidays" Design Challenge (that is, any other holiday but Christmas) before I left! Luckily, this Challenge has been open for 2 weeks instead of the customary 1 week due to the American Thanksgiving holidays which gave me a bit more time to design something for the NEXT Challenge.
For "The Other Holidays" I decided on Valentine's Day, but then wanted to take the "other" a bit further so I tried my new "Love Hearts Checkerboard" design out in a very non-traditional retro colour palette! For those who want something "other" than pink or red for Valentine's! I did try it out in a bunch of other colourways though (see below), all now available in several scales. Find them all easily in my "Love Valentine's Day" Collection in my Spoonflower Shop!
Public voting for this Challenge closes tomorrow Tuesday November 28.
I'm playing catchup here since I've been away in Taiwan (it was an amazing trip, btw, and I'll try to write a post about it very soon!)
BUT, getting back to catching up...While I was away, one of the Spoonflower Design Challenges was "Surrealist Wallpaper", and I did manage to enter my new "Disembodied" design (in the Retro Colours, below left) before I left for Taiwan. When I looked at surrealist art, I just seemed to notice the weird eyes, mouths and hands the most!
Voting for this Challenge closed November 14, but this new design is now available in my Spoonflower, Redbubble, Society6 and TeePublic Shops in both Retro Colours and Rainbow Brights! Click the product images below to see these products in my Shops!
Jackie Tahara of UnBlink Studio