Taiwan,  Travel

Quirky, illustrated Taiwan

Hello from Taiwan! 🙂 I felt like getting away for my birthday and booked my flight to Taipei a little more than a month before my departure.

Why Taiwan? I actually was considering going to Japan or Korea (both of which I’ve been to before) for my birthday trip but thought Taiwan would be cheaper (and it is), haha! Also, I’ve never been to Taipei beyond passing through its airport for layovers. I thought Taiwan would make for a good Asian trip for its proximity to Manila, availability of inexpensive airfare, and its street food. But my biggest deciding factor? TAIWANESE STATIONERY.

At the Hello Kitty airport lounge (yes, this is a thing!) during a layover in Taipei Taoyuan airport, 2012

I’m a sucker for stationery– stickers, notepads, pens, notebooks, and all sorts of art supplies and paper goods. I knew Taiwan has them in abundance, so that was a huge plus in deciding where to go for my birthday trip! I’m traveling solo so I also thought this would be a perfect opportunity to turn this into an art trip– to draw and paint while traveling (more on these things in my upcoming blog posts!).

So I landed in Taipei a few days ago… and I TOTALLY did not expect that Taiwan would be like quirky, illustrated Japan! Right off the bat, I was greeted with illustrated signages at the airport’s walkways.

I feel like I may have seen this illustrator’s work on Instagram…
Quirky character with Taiwanese landmarks

I had time to kill before checking in to my hotel, so I wandered a bit around the airport souvenir shops and found these. Super cute!

Why can’t we do this kind of cute for Philippine landmarks?
Smiling Taiwanese snacks! Can’t help but think how we can also do this for Pinoy food like balut, kwek-kwek, fishballs, etc.

There was more when I rode the MRT into the city.

Love the unusual color palette on this poster.

Great use of color– eye-catching and attention-grabbing.

I was starting to wonder why Taiwan was so heavily into illustrations for their advertisements, much like Japan. I vaguely recall Taiwan being a hub for cartoon animation in the past and some cursory googling confirmed as much. Perhaps that influenced their use of illustrations for advertising and information visuals.

Really liked these vintage graphics on a backlit signage at the MRT.
Very nice and unusual blockprint/silkscreen-inspired poster at the MRT.

Most people will just ignore these signs and walk right past them but remember, I’m an illustrator (and a reluctant graphic designer)! I love this kind of stuff! I was the only person taking photos of the illustrated backlit displays and posters hahaha (it was a refreshing change from advertisements in Manila plastered with faces of celebrities!).

I also like how their food packaging is illustrated.

Anong kinalaman ng alligator sa ceylon tea?! Wala.
These are Japanese illustrations though, but still…

I was walking around the city and saw several electric boxes (?) painted with actual paint (instead of the usual printed laminate). It’s a pity there’s graffiti on it but the art is still pretty!

And take a look at my Easycard. It’s a reloadable card/keychain you can use to pay for train/bus rides and convenience store purchases. As I was buying my Easycard, I was asked to choose between a Chinese-looking flowery design and a Mr. Potato Head one. Why Mr. Potato Head was an option, I have no idea (and of course that’s what I picked). But it’s added quirk to love about Taiwan. Can you imagine paying with a Pong Pagong MRT card (uy, nahahalata ang edad) in Manila? Is the Philippines quirky like dut? I don’t think so. (We’re quirky when it comes to politics and other things, but not design-wise).

There are so many cute and illustrated quirky things to see in Taiwan that I’ve pretty much stopped taking photos coz they’re just taking up space on my phone. What a pleasant surprise for me to discover that illustration-wise, Taiwan is every bit as cute and adorable as Japan. Do let me leave you with one more photo– my favorite illustrated signage so far, seen on the MRT:

A corgi (or shiba inu?) being squished on the MRT! And look at the corgi milk tea in the backpack! Why are there corgis on the train along with the humans in the background?

I’m keeping my eyes peeled for more illustrated quirk for the rest of my stay here, knowing that this trip will influence my work as an illustrator in the future 🙂

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