December 5, 2011

the mole

One rainy Sunday afternoon in late November, Squirrel was craving a cup of hot cocoa and listening Robert Wyatt in The nest...She especially likes his band called "matching mole".  The band name is just adopted an English words which sounds like "machine molle", the French translation of his band Soft Machine.  This weird but warm sounds used to stimulate her instinct as a teenage squirrel and she realizes it still does even now.  Also she is thinking about a one lil mole which always comes up to her mind along with this band name...who's name is "Krtek".  Krtek the tiny lil mole...

Hey everyone.  I'm Squirrel.  So today, I will tell you about this cool lil fellow called "Krtek"

Krtek is a tiny mole.  His name Krtek means "mole" in Czech.

He's a very sweet, curious, cheerful, and brave character created by a Czech artist Zdeněk Miler.  (Well I don't even know how to pronounce his name.  Too hard to pronounce for this rodential creature)

Anyway, I used to love this cartoon when I was a baby squirrel but I remember it vaguely because I was too young.  So I started looking for the cartoon in you tube and once I started watching it, I started being obsessed again.

Let me show you some masterpieces.

This is awesome...."the mole and a match box." 

This lil guy finds a match box in the woods. What amazed me is, you know what? He can lay in the match box...means he's really tiny. You can compare the size with the size of the leaves in the video. The pond they float the match box as a boat in must be just a puddle for us. An adventure in a puddle!! This tiny world is so awesome. He starts playing using this match box with his girl friend, the mouse. And they are full of creative ideas to play with this small match box. Im sure you'll be impressed how cool they are.

This is awesome too.  "the mole finds a star!"

Spring has come! The mole and his fellows are busy cleaning up their nests to welcome their new season!   While the mole is cleaning his nest, he accidentally finds a shinny green unknown object!!!  What the heck is this shinny thing? 
He goes out his nest.  It is already night.  He holds the green shinny thing in his hand, which is somewhat bigger than his other parts of the body and also a uniqueness of the kind called mole, and reaches out the hand to the sky (his short legs are tippy toeing)...yes,  this tiny mole is kindly trying to give the tiny shinny thing back to the sky because he thinks this thing is a "star" fell from the sky.  It is obvious to me that he cant reach the sky.   He is the size who can lay in the match box...and sky is unlimitedly high.  How could he?  But he will.  We know he'll do it somehow...that's the mole.  that's Krtek.
Something like this...this kind of cuteness is filled in this cartoon.

Eventually the fascination this catoon has drove me to research the background story of this cartoon.  It dates back to the days of Czech as Czechoslovakia.  Back in the 60's in the country, artists were strictly controlled the freedom of expression by the government.  The only place they were allowed to express their arts without any surveillance of the government  was the art for kids.  So the artists put their efforts for children wishing the bright future for kids and their country.  

As researching about this cartoon, I found Zdeněk Miler the creator of this cartoon just passed away on November 30th.  (it's only last week!!) It was a strange coincidence that I remembered of this cartoon all of a sudden around that day...
it is kind of like a hunch, maybe.

He lived for 90 years.  He must be the one who witnessed the history changing...

While I've been watching this mole cartoon, I couldn't help noticing that I've been feeling some kind of melancholic feeling.  I know it sounds weird.  The characters are cute, the stories are cheerful and nothing but fun.  Some of them are satirical and still end up in fun ending which tells us how intelligent the creator was.  How could I feel that kind of sad feeling?  But it was there.  A pinch of a heartache deep inside of my heart. I was thinking it was just a nostalgy or sentiment which the cartoon brought me because it reminded me of my childhood memories or something.

Then one day I got a message from my long term friend and while I was reading the message I started realizing what exactly the feeling was.  
2011 was a remarkable year for me because of the disaster in japan.  (This squirrel used to live in japan.)  In the email which tells me a recent news of one of my long term friend living in japan and also a mom of two,   she said she had to give up letting her kids take participate in the fall event "potato field" due to the consideration of the "soil radiation".  I used to love this event when I was a kid.  especially I loved watching moles showing their tip of noses mischievously.   Running around all over the potato field laughing and digging potatoes were so fun. I even liked just watching the shapes of the potatoes which were all different. (i was a strange kid. )  I still remember the color of the potatoes, the color of soil, the color of the sky and the sunshine!! The sunshine of autumn!!  Those innocent memories... 

But now we must have destroyed and completely lost the soil and water which consist the field where moles, his fellow animals, and kids chuckling and cackling and spontaneously running around, and they might not come back forever. 
It was this kind of guilt feeling and desparation making me sad every time I hear Krtek's cute laughing voice.   In japan, not only krteks but also people can't live spontaneously as they used to any more. 

The feeling of loss of the innocence...

that what I felt through the cute innocent face of Krtek... 

Oops, am i being too negative??

I wonder if Zdeněk Miler is still alive and decide to make a new episode of Krtek.

He would make a witty episode for sure and tell us "don't give up the hope.  You really shouldn't give up the hope and the future at the time like these." through Krtek.  He and Krtek must laugh at my strange sad feeling and I would be even embarrassed.  

I should take over his tough spirit and gut which got him through the difficult period.
And think what I can do for kids as an artist squirrel...

R.I.P. Zdeněk Miler. 

Thank you for your great works.


November 20, 2011


it's funny.  caveman gives me a lot of nick names... "squirry", "bean", "bug", "worm"...his favorite one these days is "creature".  he even made it short and called me "creach" today...((chuckle))

caveman is a really funny guy.  Have you guys ever read short stories of Salinger?  There is a short story about a girl.   She was kinda difficult person, i remember.  Her boyfriend was one of the twins in glass family, Walt, and  he was the only one who could make this difficult girl laugh.  Caveman is like this.  He's the only one who can make this squirrel laugh out loud.   Once you meet him,  I'm sure you'll love him, too.

One of the funny things about this caveman is he loves chickens.  He has a huge collection of chicken goods like ceramic chickens, tin chickens, fluffy chickens.....oh and the chicken he got most recently was made of tons of chillies.(!!)  This chicken patch in our nest is huge and it is becoming bigger and bigger! 
People might ask "why chickens? " at the first time they visit us.  But there's no answer.  I didn't ask this question to caveman...I  just understood the fact that caveman loved chicken.  it was just natural...or even supernatural.  Maybe something was telling me there is a reason and I might had sensed it deep inside of my heart without knowing it......

The story I'll tell you today is the secret reason of caveman's chicken patch!!...sheeesh! come's a story of ghosts.  It's not the title of Paul Auster's book or album title of phish.    It is OUR story of ghosts!

As I told you before, I am not spiritual.  I don't have sixth sense at all.  Basically most of the squirrels are existentialists.  This squirrel as well, so you know... we don't believe "reincarnation" or the life after death.  Squirrel's motto for life is "carpe diem".  "Seize the day!"  But still I think it is mentally "healthy" to think there could be invisible things exist in this world.  I mean it is arrogant to think the human being can see everything and the world is made of only what we can see.  When this kind of arrogance gets connected to thoughtlessness,  there's always a bad ending waiting for us.  You know what I mean?

Most of the "ghost" can be explained as an illusion of our brains.  When I was a teenage squirrel I read an interesting article about brain.  Let's say your drunken neighbor came home and slammed the door and the noise woke you up.   Your body suddenly wakes up because of the noise but your brain is still sleeping so your brain gets confused and reflects the image in your brain to your actual view.  That reflection is what people call a ghost.   This happened to me long time ago.  I came home drunk and passed out. I don't know how long I was sleeping but suddenly I woke up and stared at the ceiling.....something was moving.  I could see it clearly.  It was cute foxes wearing japanese traditional bridal costumes and they are marching to celebrate their wedding celemony.  I was surprised but I knew the "trick" of brains so I wasn't scared at all.  Actually the illusion looked very happy so i was cool and never scared.  since then i hadn't have that kind of brain illusion until i had one at this caveman and squirrel's nest.

One night i was sleeping.  Caveman was next to me as usual.  then suddenly for some reason i woke up.  i just opened my eyes and staring at the hallway.  It was dark as usual but what was unusual was ......a rooster was there.  It was actually a man which has a rooster head.  he was like native american's spirit or something.  kinda cool lookin' funky rooster guy.  and again, I wasn't scared because caveman was sleeping next to me and i knew the "trick" so i kept staring at him.  He actually looked like a very laidback cool dude.   He waved his wing like hand very friendly to me and suddenly looked away and started inviting someone who was at somewhere in the hallway...Then another rooster dude appeared.   The two big laidback rooster dudes were standing there at the door of our bedroom.  I was like "wooo, this is surrealistic and cool or what?"  then they started inviting me like "hey come join us! come! come!"   Then the caveman started rolling over...and the next moment those playful rooster dudes were gone.  and I just rolled over and went back to sleep as if nothing happened...crazy, huh? 

Sometimes I still wonder what could happen if caveman did'nt roll over and i went with them.   I kinda wanna believe they were real ghosts and they are the reason why caveman is so obsessed with chicken statues.   They are manipulating caveman and chuckling every time caveman gets a new chicken item...

That's all folks!  This is the story behind our chicken patch and also that "rising roosters" as guardian angels behind St. caveman in my snack:u illuminated manuscript.  Hope you guys had fun reading this!

oh,,,,(FIY, I never smoke weed )

November 14, 2011


Humor is the most important thing in my life.
One of my favorite designers, Henri Cuir once said "I like to give my creations names. All the names have a sense of humor, which I think is quite quintessential to my label.”  I think the god or whoever created us must have the same thought.  When he makes us one by one he gives us a name and a sense of humor...otherwise how could  I  explain the reason why we look so funky and funny,,, I'm not a spiritual person at all but to think like this way always makes a sense to me.  Why do all the other animals look pretty even covered with fluffy furs and feathers, (and the colors!!) but we.  We only have furs on the top of our head.  Other animals must be saying  "Hey, look at those creatures...they must be a kind of monkeys or gorillas or, could be vultures, but what the hell is the furs on the top?? and they even look like they always care about those...did you know sometimes they even put the fake ones on the top??"   crazy isn't it...  and for some reason we have furs around the crotches, too.  Moreover only the females even shave those furs sometimes.  The toe fingers are hilarious, too.  Why do we have these hideous bumps like mushrooms on the tips of our feet?   I prefer and adore paws.  The funniest thing of the human being is darker colored ones and pale ones look somewhat awkward when they are around.

Must be a really sad thing to see these humorous creatures are fighting and killing each other.  It's kinda understandable if we are made beautifully, you know..., like maybe we can say "oh well, we are beautiful creatures with a sad nature"... "decadent" i would call it,  but we are not such beautiful animals.    It is like the "gnomes" are killing each other...It IS a real "tragedy" to see we the funky lookin' creatures are seriously fighting and brutally killing each other.

Anyway, Do you remember i told you guys about my inspiration?  the medieval manuscript?

At that time I didn't have a brand label yet.  And I wanted to make something very funny and somewhat intricate.   So the squirrel started drawing her own illuminated manuscript..."st. caveman and his fellows."

The research of meaning of the color in medieval era helped me a lot to decide the colors i should use.
St. caveman should be white to express his "pure" love toward (of course) "pizza".  
We can also find a lot of red and blue in the medieval art.  As far as i researched online, it looks like the colors have various meanings (many people declare in many ways.) so i cant say definitely what the red and blue mean but some say the red means power and blue means hope and light...something like that.  Then started creating some symbols.  and i put those colors on the symbols which i think represent the meanings.   And the most important symbol is of course, PIZZA.   For us, Pizza is a subliminal i  created pepperoni pizza flowers (figure 1), pepperoni pizza halo behind the saint caveman (figure 2).  scattered pizza slices everywhere...the stage saint caveman is standing at is creating a very beautiful geometrical shape by combining pizza slices. (figure 2) (heee--heee--i think i'm sick.)  
(figure 1)

(figure 2)

Then i added chickens behind St. caveman.  There are two chicken ghosts at our nest, i will tell you this story later, and so we love chickens.  I added Rising Roosters as St caveman's guardian angels....

Then, started drawing his fellows....squirrel, hedgehog, sea lion, acorn bug, lew the loch lew monster.... (figure 3, 4)

(figure 3)
i even made letters using a medieval font.... (figure 5)   

(figure 5)
(figure 4)

This is the whole image.

Then I sent out this image to a tag maker.
This is the company i sent out my image to.  They are super nice fellows!  Quick and accurate! 

Not so long later, they sent me back this image...and you don't know how much Caveman and I got excited.  I replied them to go ahead and make bunch of them....

So now i got bunch of them to put on the back neck of my friend told me "your jacket got completed with this brand label!!"  I guess she is right....i love my brand label and this is the whole story of the birth of my brand label. 

Hope people see the concept behind my works through this label, which is humor.

 And at that moment i still had no idea i would use this idea for my whole next collection...

to be continued.

November 7, 2011

the rule

These are the most recent 2 jackets i made.   Not bad, huh?
 my specialty is designing leather jackets.  Today i will tell you "why leather"? You guys ready? :oB

know yourself:
I learned all the aspects of fashion design from developing conceptual ideas to translating the ideas into actual garments (this step includes pattern making and sewing) at an art school in my town.  There was a director at the art school who taught us what fashion design is from the basics.  He had his own "unique" way to teach us fashion, which was sometimes "mean" and very strict almost like an army school (seriously) but behind his hard mask we the students all knew he loved us and fashion a lot... just like the sadistic Sergent from the movie "the officer and the gentleman".  I would say I was pretty much of Richard Gere.   Anyway what was amazing about him was he had this sharp eye to find out a core design style each student has.    It is very important to know what style you have inside.  Sometimes we don't know what we have inside.  "know yourself."   (wow, the squirrel just said something deep.)     So all through the struggle i had in my school life under the sergent, i realized what i felt most comfortable to design was jackets.  Not like gorgeous gowns or avant garde dresses.  Those were for other students. Not for me. 

The key is yourself.  You already know the answer.

the virtue and the viciousness:
After i graduated i was working for a lot of local fashion designers.  they all had hard time selling their clothes because of those H&M and forever twenty something stuff.  I was tired of watching people not buying well made and well designed local designer's clothes just because of the price and buying cheap clothes which they can wear for only one season.
The virtues are "fastness", "cheap price!" and "variety". 

Damn.   So this squirrel decided to go a vicious way, which is "slowness", "toughness" and  "simplicity."    The answer to the words was leather jacket.  I decided to simply stick to leather jacket.  No "variety".  just leather jackets.    I like leather jackets. I always wear leather jacket in my life. I am always attracted by the functional beauty and the "free spirits" which leather jackets represent.  And i already knew i could make jackets. Why not start making it in leather?

It is far from "fastness" because i sew them one by one.  It takes long time but, hey, making clothes takes long time.  It's natural.

Wearing a leather jacket means we are owing an animal's life.  (actually 1 leather jacket uses a half you owe half of a cow life for a jacket.)  So i have to sew it very carefully to not waste any tiny piece of hides and sew it tough so we can wear it for a long long time.  You might have to pay more than the clothes sold in H&M but it deserves it.

the regulation:
Also, i needed a rule.  For me, leather is like 575 rule of Haiku.  The Haiku poets have to  express their thought in a rhythm of 575.     I need a restriction to express my design idea.  Does it sound weird?  Sometimes a simplicity which a restriction leads us to creates a great result just like Haiku.  

Let me show you one more example.  I went to Vancouver several years ago with my friend.   She and I looked around native Canadian museums.  We were totally fascinated into their totem pole arts.  I was especially impressed that there were so many talented young artists who followed their ancestors' footsteps.  They take over the traditional style and transfer it into totally a new look.  It is modern and almost even looks somewhat like a digital art but the intensity and the feeling which their ancestors drew in are still there.  Then my friend showed me the booklet she got from the museum and told me to read an artist's word.  I forgot the name of the artist but he said he needed the traditional style as a "frame". (or almost like a "regulation" or "restriction")  He continued that he tried to create the feeling like..."once you touch the motives i drew, the motives pop out and start dancing."  Until the moment would come he squeezes the motives in the frame and the motives are holding still and waiting with holding their breathes....that was an amazing explanation.  his art works do look like almost popping out with full of energy with a slight stimulation.  he just pressed and seal the energy into a 2 dimensional traditional art style....

So that' it. the leather is my 575 rule and a frame!  i squeeze a lot of energy in there!

November 5, 2011


Hey everyone, i'm squirrel. a full time fashion designer / "sometimes" a cartoonist living with her husband "the caveman" in san francisco.

Hope this blog will give you an idea of how a fashion designer like the squirrel creates her own tiny lil new collection and also how she expands her brand to the world.

Well, let's start from how I got the inspiration for my new collection.
Sometimes designers don't have any inspirations and just start sketching their designs but I really need something which becomes a back bone of my collection all the time. I am a bit of a philosopher through my entire life and just trying to translate it to fashion.

One day, I accidentally had a chance to see a tiny art called illuminated manuscript. I was especially attracted by the ones which were hand-drawn one by one in the medieval era.

Then the pictures started taking me to the tale of an old medieval castle.....I started imagining of a squirrel wearing a long dark brown robe with a hood holding a candle and walking up a long and narrow steps in the old medieval castle...It is dark...dark and alone....Then suddenly,


A monster comes up to the squirrel!!! It almost looks like the squirrel gets attacked!!! Then squirrel yells at the monster..."caveman!!"
"squirrel? may I have a pizza??"

.....yes, they are the caveman and squirrel in the medieval version. the squirrel's job is making a copy of the bible by hand in the dark sounds like kind of a sad job but don't worry, the caveman and squirrel had kinda good time in the old castle like they do in their tiny nest now. They even looked down the people from the top of the castle having pizza and making some funny jokes...They were dark heroes.

Anyway, I started collecting the pictures, and while I was watching the pictures, the word "devotion" came up to me. It might be the most happiest and also the most saddest thing to give up indivisuality or "myself"(?) and just dvote their lives to the god or whatever the belief they have.  What a sad purity and a melancholic relief...