Foreign tourist launches T-shirt stall when stranded in Vietnam due to Covid-19

Unique traits of the capital city of Hanoi such as the matrix of electric lines, beer hoi, bamboo pipes… all depicted on the one-of-a-kind T-shirt that Darrau sells at his tiny stall in Hanoi.
January 02, 2021 | 18:03
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Heiner Darrau, a German artist travels and paints what he thinks the most impressive the country he went through. Photo courtesy of Heiner Darrau/Vnexpress.

Heiner Darrau, 31, is a German-based illustrator who spent three years traveling through many countries from France, Belgium, Hong Kong (China), Singapore, South Korea to Vietnam… He used to sit on corners of some streets to depict amazing pictures that represent these countries from a view of a tourist, according to Vnexpress.

Heiner had traveled to Vietnam for the first time in 2016, 2017, and stay-over from March 2020 until now due to Covid-19. While stranded in Vietnam, he transferred his earlier project namely Heiner Darrau Travel and Draw" into "Heiner Darrau Travel, Draw, and Printing" with an aim to turn his artwork into handmade items, so that people can use or keep them as souvenirs. The printed T-shirt was his final choice to radiate wider his personal imprints as well as his affection for Vietnam and its people.

The German visitor customized every shirt by his hands from the drawing to printing phases. He drew on silk paper by ink pen at first, which is stretched on the mold then and poured ink and printed. The date and time of the finished can be seen on the back of the shirt as a symbol of when the shirt is born, showing his own copyright and marking it is one-of-a-kind in the world.

His favorite depiction is Hanoi, which does not include the notable or famous landscapes but everything he met by chance when passing by the capital’s corners such as the matrix of electric lines, bamboo pines, two-wheeler vehicles, signs, or just some flashed-over faces.

"I like the random architecture here, there is a contrast between the old and the new, and the culture is especially strange compared to wherever I have been," he said.

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Heiner Darrau's printed patterns and his stall in Hanoi. Photo courtesy of Heiner Darrau/Vnexpress.

At the first glance, the works of the German illustrator may be similar to some doodles. But in fact, it follows the graffiti art with its own rules, relying on what Heiner directly sees when passing through each country.

He shared that people would consider the pictures very familiar as it inspired by things on streets and you can not see what is the beginning and the end point. It’s like landscape pictures of unending background.

His very first batch of shirts was sold at a Christmas fair in Royal City, Thanh Xuan district, Hanoi, recording the fondness and support of people.

Vu Huy Hoang, 36, from Cau Giay District, believes that this is a great way to capture moments on the way of traveling. "Their perspectives are very creative and I think I can wear this shirt to show off my international friends without saying anything more," he said.

There are two versions of the sold T-shirts: black and tie-dye, priced between 290,000 to 490,000 VND (12.42 USD and 21 USD). To create experimental screen printing, Heiner adopts experimental screen printing. This printing method is not more complex than usual, but it takes more effort because he has to manipulate it completely by hand, so that each printing of the shirt has a unique color and tie-dye trace. Therefore, a beautiful patchwork shirt can cost more than 1 million VND ( 43 USD) and only available for those who place an order.

During his stay in Vietnam, Heiner had many memorable experiences including being asked by the security team, scrutinized by passersby as he sat down on the street drawing. This is also the first city that scared him because he had to drive a motorbike on the street, walk alone at midnight ... In particular, he found that Vietnamese food was delicious even though he did not know how to spell the food name.

He also realized that the patterns on strange hoodies protecting “street ninjas” against scorching heat and sunshine are also alike to those of his illustration. For Hein thought, it is really a picky outfit that not every German woman is willing to wear, however, it is a different story in Vietnam, it likes a “street culture”.

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Lyan Vu translates from the article on Vnexpress
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