Calligraphy in epigram SS 2020 ad with Gong Yoo

In a previous blog post, I explored brush writing and calligraphy in the drama Goblin (aka Guardian: The Lonely and Great God). The drama was broadcast at the end of 2016 to early 2017. I wondered if Gong Yoo had used a brush in other projects, since it seems he has some experience with calligraphy.

I didn’t have to look far. Gong Yoo wrote with brush and ink in the epigram Spring/Summer 2020 ad campaign.

Some photos showing him writing in a book.

One of the photographers for the ad posted some photos as well. The second photo is a bird’s eye view of the book.

The summer version of the film ad has footage of him writing in the book about 13 seconds in.

The spring version of the film ad shows him writing with a larger brush and a larger piece of paper at the 10 second mark. It also shows a glimpse of the full paper when he’s done writing.

The aforementioned photographer captured the writing process of the larger piece in the third photo of this IG post.

The paper in this photo looks like the larger piece Gong Yoo was writing.

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[Almost Home Stay in ______ EVENT 당첨 및 Stay Open 연기 안내] - 20SS 에피그램이 담아낸 지역은 바로 ‘청송’입니다. 이벤트를 통해 에피그램의 로컬프로젝트에 많은 공감과 응원 보내주셔서 감사합니다. 앞으로도 숨은 지역의 이야기와 아름다움을 더 많이 나눌 수 있도록 노력하겠습니다. 다만, 당첨자 발표에 앞서 한 가지 안타까운 소식을 전하게 되었습니다. 현재 코로나19 위기 단계가 ‘심각’으로 조정됨에 따라 이용객 및 에피그램 직원들의 안전을 위하여 올모스트홈 스테이 in 청송의 오픈을 4월 1일로 연기하게 되었습니다. 현재의 상황이 언제까지 지속될지 누구도 확신할 수 없기에 추후 변동 사항에 대해서는 꾸준히 올모스트홈 스테이 SNS 계정을 통해 전해드리겠습니다. 에피그램과 올모스트홈 스테이를 사랑해주시는 모든 분들의 건강을 기원합니다! - 1등: 올모스트홈 스테이 in 청송 1일 숙박권 + 어메니티 기프트(3명) @dahae_777 @kimmyeongju89 @mimina1225 2등: epigram 20SS Local Colored 스웻셔츠(4명) @anhnahleeh @emil212351235 @kszallll @seong_hyun10 3등: epigram Stay Kit 패커블 투웨이백(5명) @augustzy5 @doldol939 @jjeonghya @momo_como_ @tomama5030 4등: Almost Home Café 커피 쿠폰 2매(25명) @eli_gy0710.105 @_juuring @garim__ @449xoxo @history216 @bobaefilm @peach____5 @hjyoon0710 @amazinggongyoo0710 @_jeong_gi @regina8250 @sunny1009 @maijju0837 @kkongii7907 @sora161016 @ashley.park17 @blueskygong @pemmd1 @bibibi141 @agarao4500 @_imjinwoo @_pinejinkim @aqua710 @j_love_mi0119 @sinmijeong29 경품 증정 및 사용에 대한 안내는 개별 DM을 통해 진행할 예정입니다. 감사합니다. - #epigram #almosthomestay #에피그램 #올모스트홈스테이 #청송 #로컬프로젝트

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From the two ads, we see that Gong Yoo holds his brushes at different heights depending on the size of the word he writes, similar to what we saw in Goblin.

The epigram ad is a clothing ad, but is also advertises Cheongsong County as a travel destination. There’s a Korean paper making factory there. They also have a center where visitors can experience paper making.

Can we assume Gong Yoo wrote the whole piece in the second ad? It’s possible that a calligrapher was hired to write the beginning, and he only wrote the last stroke. But that seems a bit much for an ad. If the point was to showcase the paper of the region, the ad company could have tried something else if he wasn’t comfortable writing. It’s clear he’s familiar with a brush, since he also paints some pottery in the first film ad.

It’s pretty interesting that Gong Yoo has done at least two projects involving brush writing, and he learned calligraphy as a child. It’s one thing to have taken classes as a child, and pretend to write in a TV show where scenes can be edited. But writing as part of a campaign ad, which seemed to portray everything genuinely and sensibly, would mean that it was something he was comfortable doing on the spot. I’m inclined to think that he might actually practice calligraphy in his spare time. Or perhaps I’ve been influenced by the power of advertising? ^_^

Update: Management Soop posted behind the scenes photos of the epigram ad photoshoot. The fourth (and last) photo is a wider view of the setup for writing in the book. It wasn’t until I saw that photo that I realized Gong Yoo is kneeling to write. I’m more convinced now that he must practice calligraphy regularly.

Brush writing and calligraphy in the Korean drama Goblin

I really like seeing instances of brush writing or calligraphy in modern media. In dramas, it tends to come up only in historical dramas because brush and ink were the writing tools back then. However, the Korean drama Goblin (also known as Guardian: The Lonely and Great God) from 2016 is an interesting example due to its storyline. There are spoilers ahead, so if you want to watch the drama, do not continue reading!

All screencaps were taken from watching Guardian: The Lonely and Great God on Viki.

I won’t go into the whole plot of Goblin, but instead focus on two characters: Goblin, a 939 year old immortal played by Gong Yoo, and, Grim Reaper, an angel of death played by Lee Dong Wook, who become housemates in modern times. The drama has some great cinematography, and I really liked the scenes of them writing.

Grim Reaper does the work of guiding souls into the afterlife, which apparently involves a lot of paperwork.

This is a super impressive shelf and collection of paper. I’m jealous.

We see Grim Reaper quickly write some words, and his chosen writing implements are brush and ink.

Lee Dong Wook does a great job handling the brush and writing. However, with TV shows, it’s never really clear if the actor does their own writing, or if there’s editing with a hand double.

The Goblin has multiple brush writing scenes.

He writes with brush and ink during his past life as a Goryeo Dynasty military general.

Then during modern times, writing at a temple.

This is where it occurred to me that the drama made a point to get the brush grip correct. There is a difference in the height of the hand on the brush: lower on the brush for writing smaller words, and higher on the brush for writing larger words.

There’s probably a hand double for the up close writing footage, but for the footage from further away, what are the actors doing? More on that later. ^_^

There’s another brush writing scene towards the end of the drama.

There seems to be a continuity problem in the sweater sleeve. In the close-up footage the sweater sleeve is entirely black, but in the wider footage it looks like there’s a white shirtsleeve along Gong Yoo’s wrist. It wouldn’t be surprising if there was a hand double for the close-up footage.

Then what were the actors writing during filming? It actually comes up during a behind-the-scenes special! Specifically, during filming of the Goryeo Dynasty writing scene.

We have our answer! Gong Yoo was actually writing during filming, just not what ended up in the drama. He also wrote his real name in Chinese characters on the right page. I’m really impressed that he took calligraphy before third grade.

I had a lot of fun picking out the scenes with brush and ink. It was a nice surprise. I’m also really surprised that calligraphy came up in the behind-the-scenes special. Are there movies or TV shows that you’ve watched that unexpectedly had calligraphy scenes?

New goals

As we enter into the second half of 2020, it’s time to take a look at past goals and set some new goals.

To be honest, I stopped focusing on my prior goals once shelter in place and work from home started due to the pandemic. I wanted to do things based on my reaction to the new situation, instead of forcing myself to do something I wanted to do pre-pandemic.

I did spend a few months working on 隸書 clerical script, and studied some clerical script from bamboo strips. It didn’t last long because I started feeling jittery and wanted to work on something with more movement. I “jumped ahead” (from my old goal) and am working on 草書 cursive script, specifically 十七帖 Seventeen Modelbook by 王羲之 Wang Xi Zhi. I’m probably going to keep working on it for the rest of the year.

I also focused on studying seal script. I think it will help my calligraphy and seal carving to be more familiar with seal script radicals. I’m still working on a couple of seals and will continue to carve more. I haven’t quite figured out how long it takes me to finish carving a seal. Maybe I’ll find out as I practice more.

How have your art, calligraphy, or seal carving practices changed since the pandemic?

Tong Yang-Tze exhibit at Johnson Museum of Art

董陽孜 Tong Yang-Tze has a work of calligraphy on display at the Johnson Museum of Art at Cornell University. The work, titled ‘Immortal at the River’ is 54 meters long.

The video is shows the work in its entirety. The words and translation can be found at the exhibition website.

I wish there were more close-up photos of the draft. I actually didn’t know about the draft until I read about it in the caption to a photo the museum posted on their Facebook page.

Book review: “Art in China” by Craig Clunas

I recently finished “Art in China” by Professor Craig Clunas. The book organizes the art of China in different contexts, and then describes the history chronologically within that context. This way of learning about history is rather interesting. The discussions are much clearer because the items being compared are discussed right before, and reduces flipping through the book to remember other facts. It also provides a better overall view of the history and development of art in these contexts.

I’m always on the lookout for information about female calligraphers. From the book, I learned about Empress 楊 Yang of 南宋 Song, and Guan Daosheng 管道昇 from the 元 Yuan. I was able to find some images of calligraphy from Empress 楊 Yang at the Princeton Museum Art Museum and at the Met Museum. I also found calligraphy by Guan Daosheng 管道昇 at Sotheby’s. I’ll probably do some more research on these calligraphers.

I typically read books in Chinese about topics related to Chinese culture because I’m more familiar with names and terms in Chinese. Sometimes with English books, I run into problems understanding the romanized or translated terms. I had no problems with this book. I think it’s a good introductory book for anyone interested in the history of art of China. The book also has a timeline, bibliography, and lists of websites for reference.