Nov 28, 2009

I've Got Seoul

My latest attempt at movie making comes out of Korea. As most of you know I've been spending a lot of time there. When visiting the Buddhist temples you always hear a lone monk chanting. I used one as the basic soundtrack to this video. It has a very haunting quality. Seeing as I have spent a lot of time there, this video is packed with my drawings of Korea. I have also captured the vibe of being in Seoul. As usual there is a little comedy thrown in there for good measure. If anyone has a youtube account you can subscribe to my channel by going here. Yu can also friend me on Youtube. One other little tidbit about this video concerns a big mistake I made. When you watch it you will notice there is some high speed trick photography. This happened by accident. The first time I was in Seoul I was filming my ass off. When I got home and looked at it, it was all high speed. I must have hit some button by accident. I was heart broken. It couldn't be fixed. Luckily I went back to Korea and was able to film some more. As I was editing this video I realized that the high speed stuff worked nicely. I love it. If I didn't say anything here, everyone would have though i was some kind of brilliant film maker. Sometimes it pays to embrace accidents.

Good Restaurant

One afternoon I drew a small restaurant on the block where I was doing a photo shoot. When I had finished I asked a girl who worked in our Korean office if she could come with me to the restaurant and help me find out who I could send prints of the drawing to. Natalie and I entered the restaurant. It was very beautiful. Seemed more like someone's house than a restaurant. There was big wooden sculptures and fantastic old paintings everywhere. The walls and even the ceilings were covered in old Asian fabrics. We were greeted by an old woman who owned the joint. I showed her my drawing and Natalie proceeded to talk to her in Korean. She said the old woman was stunned by my drawing and more so by the fact I was going to send her free prints. She said it was going to be framed and hung in the main room. She also said there was no such thing as a free gift in Korea. On my return in a few weeks, she said I must stop by and she would make me an incredible dinner. On the house. Recently she had seen a French film about a maid who makes paintings in her free time. The title was Seraphine. It's about how close genius is to madness. In the end, the maid goes mad. The old woman said she couldn't believe she was just so wrapped up in this story about someone who paints and then I walk into her restaurant and give her this drawing. I said it was like a premonition. Natalie translated what I said. The woman told her she got goosebumps when I said that. A lot of things can happen by just making a drawing. It's like that all the time for me. By the way, I ended up giving her the original painting.

Chaiman Kane

The hardest part about blogging is having something to say. I drew these chairs because I was stuck and had nothing else to draw. Now I have to make up something interesting to say. It's hard. I belong to this blog, Urban Sketchers. The site is full of super talented artists. But a lot of times people post drawings and then write, "I was in the subway and drew the people next to me." Or, " I had nothing to do at lunch so I drew my lunch." Or, "There is some nice building in my city I always wanted to draw so here it is." There is a lot of repetition. I am the first to admit I am guilty of this sin myself. I'm not trying to put anyone down. It just seems that the writing portion of this blogging business is very difficult. I mean, it's hard enough dragging your ass onto the street to do some crazy drawing. Now I have to sit in front of my computer and think up clever tales to go with it. Sometimes I just give up. "I had nothing to draw so I drew these chairs." There, I committed the sin.

Pining Away

If you do this drawing in the street business long enough like I do, than every once in a while you actually make an amazing drawing. This would be such a case. I couldn't just hang out in the streets drawing when I was in Korea because I was actually working. I could not wander far from the photo shoot. So I was forced to draw whatever was close by. I noticed this little tree peeking out over the top of a wall. As I began to draw I realized it was just not coming out right. The temperature was freezing and I was very uncomfortable. I wanted to give up but my rule is, once you start you have to finish. At some point I realized that it was starting to look really great. The end result really startled me. It's one of the nicest drawings I've done in a while. This kind of thing is what keeps me going.


I've mentioned before that I'm uncomfortable in fancy places. At the end of long days shooting and seeing Seoul, I would hang for a bit in the bar slash lobby. Very opulent surroundings indeed. I found that the thing to do on the road is to drink whiskey and smoke Cuban cigars. To give you some idea of how fancy this place was, a glass of wine costs $30. Ouch. There was live classical music being played around the clock. At least I had something to draw while I was being pilfered.

Korean Sewers Shine

Most people know I love manhole covers. You can see my photo collection on Flickr. It has grown quite impressive. Seoul, Korea was a bonanza. Everywhere I looked there was one sewer cover more amazing than the next. A few were even in color. I now have more than 300 sewer caps I've photographed around the globe. Ain't I special. If anyone would like to make me a friend on Flickr, feel free.

Fancy Ass

I'm not the, stay in a fancy upscale hotel kind of guy. Sometimes on business I have no choice. I'm motel 6 all the way. My hotel room in Seoul had the ultimate toilet. One of those Japanese numbers with all the bells and whistles. I was afraid to touch any buttons because unusual stuff always happened. Also the seat was heated. Every time I sat down it was a very strange feeling. Over time I got used to it, but barely. The shower was one of those all glass jobs so every time I took a shower you were seeing your self full in the mirror. If you have many imperfections it can be disconcerting. I found it is not really so easy being rich and upscale. I'll take motel 6 any day of the week.

One Way Out

People in Korea are super polite. In fact, they are over the top polite. The streets in Seoul are very narrow. Only one car can fit through. Plus there is no sidewalks, so people have to squeeze along walls and buildings to let cars pass. Now this is the amazing part. They are NOT one way streets. You can drive in any direction you want. So picture being in a car winding up and down these tiny hilly streets avoiding folks walking and all of a sudden you are faced with an oncoming car. What happens each time is this polite little dance. One person must decide to back up and turn down a little alley allowing the other car to pass. Each time the driver rolls down the window to bow and wave thanks to the other driver for doing the good deed. I was totally blown away by all this activity. This could never be possible in any other country I've been in. And especially never in New Jersey. The fact that this all works so seamlessly says a lot about the people of Korea. Just what it says, I'm not sure. That they are all insane or unique and special. My vote is for special.

Nov 16, 2009

War Stories

I went out one night with the film crew from New York when I was in Seoul, Korea. They are all guys in their early twenties. At some point I began to tell them some of my old art director war stories. Crazy drunk and debauchery nights with the likes of Lenny Kravitz, Cindy Lauper, David Johansen, Bill Murray, and Robert Palmer. Totaling vintage 1960 Cadillac convertibles on the strip in Las Vegas. Being arrested in Budapest on a freezing cold Christmas eve. Steffi Graph stopping by my apartment to take me to a match at Madison Square Garden. Working with a crazed drunken photographer who actually fell off a ten foot ladder on to his head right in front of me. To me, my stories feel old and tired. I've heard myself tell them a million times. These guys ate it all up and assured me they were indeed hilarious. They said most of the art directors they work with are quite the bores. Also they never met an art director who could draw. It was a great night and I have some new fans. Makes we want to dust off some of my other old tales of mischief.

The Korean Irishman

At some point in my life I became Korean. I'm not sure how it happened. I certainly didn't plan it. The fact that I work at a Korean advertising agency that does the ads for Samsung which is the biggest company in Korea and that I married a Korean girl are coincidental. Hard to believe but true. I now have Korean nieces and nephews, Korean mother-in-law, grandmother, co-workers and friends. They are embedded in every aspect of my life. On my recent trip to Korea, I was doing a big photo shoot. It took over two weeks. There were plenty of local Koreans who were hired to work on the job. Word quickly spread like wildfire. Kane has a Korean wife. I could tell that they were treating me differently. They made me feel special. I felt I was always being looked at with a kind of admiration. Hell, I could get used to this. One guy asked if I could speak Korean. I said, "not a word." He was shocked and I could tell a little disappointed. It made me feel a little disappointed in myself. I'm going to try and amend that. I felt very comfortable and at home this time in Seoul. Actually I should feel at home. After all I am Korean.

Nov 9, 2009


The other day Yun and I were in Washington Square Park in Manhattan with a friend. Our friend asked a complete stranger if he would take a photo of the three of us together. Of course the stranger obliged. It's a scene we've all seen played out a million times. Being in advertising, I hang with a lot of big name photographers. Several times I've been on the street and sure enough someone will ask if one of us can take their photo. Of course the photographer always does it, not me. We never tell the person, "oh by the way, you've just been photographed by one of the world's best photographers." I've often wondered how many times someone asked Irving Penn or Richard Avedon if they could take a photo of them with the empire state building behind them. They would never know that Annie Leibovitz just shot them in front of some dumb fountain. Also I wonder would the photo look the same as a dumb photo I would take in the same situation or would they get home and look through their photos and suddenly realize that one shot was far greater than all the rest. "Wow, look at this one shot. It's the one that strange woman with the big nose took of us in front of that fountain. It's so amazing. Golly Gee, I wonder who she was?"
Somehow I don't think that would be the case. I'm sure it would look just slightly better than the photo I would take. Anyway these are the kinds of thoughts I have in my head as I walk around the city.

Nov 7, 2009

Tommy Kane Draws Lebanon

I promised I would do a film of my trip to Lebanon and here it is. It is the best one I've done so far. The fact that Lebanon is so amazing helped the texture of this video. Also I didn't do the music for this one either. I found some great Lebanese music online and chose certain pieces to give the film a haunting quality. Hope you like how it turned out. I'm very pleased with how it came out.

Nov 1, 2009


Midwest airlines magazine did an article about the website Urban Sketchers and I am apart of it. They ran my drawing of Katz's deli. I have some wacky quote about what it's like to draw in New York City. Looks pretty good.