Netflix’s 2019 show gave us the perfect meme for our coronavirus quarantine, but it offers so much more.

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Illustration by Ruth Tam

On March 26, my fourteenth day of social distancing, I forgot what day it was.

Like millions of Americans, I was working from home, isolating myself from society, using new phrases I had never uttered before. Self quarantine. Social distancing. Flatten the curve.

I was padding around my apartment in thinning leggings, trying and failing to complete a to-do list. I had legitimately forgotten the day of the week until I opened Twitter to see a tweeted picture of actress Natasha Lyonne as Nadia Volvokov, the acerbic main character in Netflix’s Russian Doll. Eyes wide, hair ablaze and cigarette aloft, she was the perfect meme. “Thursday,” her remarks were captioned. …


What I learned from tabling at my first art fair

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Me, wondering if anyone had the score to the Women’s World Cup Final

During the day, I’m an audio producer. On nights and weekends, I‘m a freelance writer and illustrator. All this to say: When I sold artwork for the first time at the DC Art Book Fair in July, I didn’t have any professional experience. When I applied, I only had one project to sell — a set of 6 postcards and a zine. I didn’t know the first thing about pricing, marketing or sales. But here’s what I learned, and what I’d recommend to independent artists selling their work for the first time at a fair.

Figure out why you want to do this

Are you doing this to make money? To get your name out there as an artist? To meet people and find community? To have fun? Answering these questions helped me decide how much time and effort I put into my display and how to price my artwork. …


How the Baltimore artist prepares for local art fairs

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Baltimore-based artist Nguyen Khoi Nguyen, 38, has been part of the Washington region’s art scene for 10 years. He’s tabled at the DC Art Book Fair every year it’s been held, selling comics, prints and more. He spoke on the phone about his experience.

What essentials do you always bring that first-timers forget or don’t realize they need?

I always bring excessive amounts of scissors and sticky tack because there’s always some sort of craft we need to make in terms of exhibiting the table. An email sign-in sheet is always good.

How should first timers think about printing and pricing?

My wife says I charge too much! I have large prints I put so much time and effort into and the ink is so expensive. I have prints that are $80 and she says I should bring it to $60. They don’t sell as well, but when they do sell, it feels worth it. When I come up with little deals, those have sold well. I have these little gift bags. A tote bag with a book and an album. It’s a $15 bundle and you can save a couple bucks. This time around, I had three books to sell. …


The “Cook Korean” author-illustrator says art book fairs aren’t just for selling books

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Artist and author Robin Ha at the DC Art Book Fair in 2019.

Artist Robin Ha is the author of the New York Times bestselling comic cookbook “Cook Korean!” Based in Washington, D.C., she’s a regular exhibitor at local art fairs selling prints, books and zines. Her graphic memoir “Almost American Girl” is set to publish in 2020. She shared her thoughts about selling books and zines at the DC Art Book Fair over email.

What essentials do you always bring that first-timers forget or don’t realize they need?

  1. You need to bring small bills for change, which we call ‘float’ (about $50 of $1, $5 and $10 bills has worked for me). Also a Square reader if you have one. …


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Note: This piece was originally written in 2018, and published on Medium on July 8, 2019. The figures in the piece are from September, 2018.

In a slow motion video produced by Netflix and aired at the BET Awards earlier this summer, 47 of the streaming service’s black actors and creators gather to declare a “new day” for diverse storytelling.

While the camera zooms in on directors like Ava DuVernay and Spike Lee and actors like Lena Waithe and Mike Colter, Caleb McLaughlin of “Stranger Things” launches a stirring monologue calling for “untold experiences of our blackness” and “a limitless range of identity.” …


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Michelle Yeoh as Eleanor Young in “Crazy Rich Asians” and the unnamed Chinese mother in “Bao.”

In one heartwarming “Crazy Rich Asians” scene, Singaporean heartthrob Nicholas Young teaches his visiting Chinese American girlfriend Rachel Chu how to fold a dumpling.

“First you put the baby in the bed,” he says, centering a ball of raw seasoned meat on a circle of flattened dough. “Then you tuck, tuck, tuck.”

“Then,” Rachel says cheekily, “you eat the baby.”

Her joke brings to mind a scene in another film recently heralded for its representation of Asian characters.

In “Bao,” an 8-minute short film that aired before Pixar’s “Incredibles 2” earlier this summer, a Chinese Canadian mother fearful of change devours a steamed bun personified as her son to prevent him from moving out of the family home. …


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After publishing this column in the Washington Post in August, I was invited to speak at the 2015 Longhouse Food Revival in Rensselaer, New York, in September. Here are my prepared remarks.

I’ve been writing and producing news for two years in Washington, D.C., and last week I published a column in the Washington Post about my relationship with Chinese food — specifically with my dad’s beef brisket stew — and how I went from being ashamed of my family’s food to appreciating it. …

About

Ruth Tam

Writer, Illustrator, Public Radio Producer | ruthtam.com

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