Art Therapy and an Identity Crisis

Art Therapy and an Identity Crisis

Imagine living in a world where nearly no one looked like you. You wake up, go to work. There’s one person, but you see them maybe once every two weeks. After work, if you care about your body and want to be healthy, you go to the gym. At the gym (if you go at the right time) you run into another person that looks like you, with a similar story. Of course, you need to eat, so you run to the grocery store. Here, you can once again see no one that looks like you. On the rare occasion you do, you lock eyes with this person for a brief moment. Exchange of the quick head nod, as if to say, “yeah, I think we’re the only ones in this store” and go about the rest of your day.

Once you open up that can of worms, the worms don’t go back in very easily. In fact, if you were to try to put them back in, they manage to crawl out faster than you can stuff them back into the can. Accepting this reality certainly makes you see the world in a different light. All the times of others who look like you, asking you where you’re from, starts to make a lot of sense. At one time, you would have been confused with a person asking you about this. Now, you end up seeking these people out at a nightclub and slam down rounds of shots with them. Funny how things come full circle, isn’t it?


1:30AM, Last Call, The Flats in Pittsburgh, I decided it was a good idea to get four beers, two for me, and two for GV. I quickly realized I was not going to be able slam down two beers in 30 minutes. I gave one to C, who is in the grey pullover. I'm not sure how A (in the middle) got into our group but we all became best friends until the bar closed. I have no clue who the dude on the far left is. 

Upon meeting these people, it’s very evident that you can only relate to them on a physical level. You share the same facial features with them, but don’t understand why they keep asking you to take your shoes off in their house. Why don’t they follow NASCAR the same way you do? It’s a lot more than just rednecks making left turns for hours on end! They sit shotgun and are giving you directions in a language you don’t understand a word of. Once you explain why, everyone laughs. You laugh it off too, just to make it less awkward.

On the other side of the coin, you relate to those who do not share the same physical features as you. The “Next Gen” car has a great racing product at NASCAR’s bread and butter, mile and a half tracks. You prefer to carry at appendix over another position because it’s the most concealable. You can chop it up about why Chevrolet doesn’t make a decent vehicle outside of their trucks and SUVs. But you still don’t LOOK like them.

“You’re not like other Asians I’ve met.”

What other Asians have you met? Ones at a Chinese buffet? Is it because I don’t have an accent? Can you count the amount of Asians you’ve met with one hand, maybe two?

This is a question I was asked by a drunk person at a river lot shindig. (Here in bumfuck Egypt, BFE for short, this is a popular pastime during the warmer months.) We were talking about what pistol we have as an EDC. Another time to laugh just to make it less awkward. This happened a few years ago but I still remember it vividly. Maybe this is where the identity crisis started? Or maybe sooner? Maybe it was whenever my grandmother told me I couldn’t carry on the family name because I’m not blood when I was in elementary school. Who knows!

This whole Eastern/Western culture thing ended up manifesting itself onto my forearms as well. A hannya on my left arm, and a masked lady on my right arm with horns as well. I didn't really plan this, but, I'm left handed. Its fitting that the American traditional tattoo is on my right arm. 

For most of the lifetime of Distaste, it was meant for fun. The original design was meant to be a play on words. “Friends In Low Places” below a crudely drawn coffin. A double entendre, for your friends who had cars that sat much lower than the other ones on the road. Stopping at Javies beverage for a 30 rack of Busch Lite and sharing it with my roommate, just to stumble down Main Street and being the only two dumbasses in skinny jeans and graphic tees at a bar where, normally, you would take someone on their first date. Wearing a button down with a nice pair of khakis. But, we knew the bartenders pretty well. Another round of Acidtrip, please. I guess after writing that, I can understand where even back in 2019, the designs were a reflection of what was going on upstairs. Slightly goofy, slightly edgy. Back to that can of worms I mentioned earlier.

Philadelphia, 2019. The Friends in Low Places pullover and myself with my B8.5 S5. This car ended up being totaled on a Monday morning while driving to work after a lady ran a red light. Two nights before, someone keyed the drivers side from front fender to rear quarter panel. Not a good few days!

So where do I fit in? Able to relate to bumfukians on a cultural level, but not physically. Relating to Asian Americans on a physical level, but not culturally. In typical male fashion, I don’t see a therapist. Probably because I don’t want to worry my parents. But, everyone needs an outlet, right? I didn’t realize it, but that manifested itself into the more recent Distaste designs.


Dragons are synonymous with Eastern cultures. On the other side of the coin (or planet) tarot cards are synonymous with Western cultures. Enter the Death Tarot shirt. Inspired by the Rider Waite tarot deck, in place of a skeleton on a horse, there’s a dragon. But, the art style itself pays homage (or at least it tries to, I’m not sure if I did a good job or not) to the Marigold Tarot collection. The back graphic was an extension of myself; the result of combining Eastern and Western influences. Art therapy, if you will.


It seems like this art therapy thing will continue to be a trend going forward. Last winter I decided to start watching Naruto on Netflix. As a kid, I watched episodes here and there, but never followed the story in its entirety. I ended up binging the show and unfortunately came to realize that Netflix did not have the second half of the show, Shippuden, in the library. This resulted in me subscribing to Hulu to finish the story. There were a few nights I would finish an episode, take out my Airpods, and hear the birds chirping. Looked outside, it turns out it was the next morning. I specifically remember doing this with the Pain arc.


Enter the Amaterasu tee. A continuation of Eastern and Western cultures. Taking a character from Eastern mythology and “recreating” depictions of the goddess of the sun in a similar art style to the Marigold Tarot collection again. Incorporating floral elements as Amrit Bar does. Blood dripped from the right eye socket of the skull, similar to how it dripped from Itachi’s eye when it debuted in Shippuden episode 137.


Of course, on the front of the shirt: a version of the Eye of Providence rests over the heart. In my “version” if you will, Itachi’s Mangekyō Sharingan pattern rests in the middle of the graphic. “Tastefully weeby” one person called the shirt.


So, that’s it. A powerpoint of my brain if you will. If you read to the end, hopefully some of that makes sense and you get an idea of what goes on in my head when I come up with stuff to put on shirts. Thanks for reading!


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