The Great Boba War 2.0

It’s the follow-up post you’ve all been (probably not) waiting for… The Great Boba War 2.0! In the chaos of daily life, it’s important to remember the small things that give us joy. For me, one of those things is sipping on a fresh bubble tea from one of Ann Arbor’s whopping seven boba chains. To celebrate this love, my friends and I created the ultimate bracket of boba chains, ranking each one for their tea flavor, boba quality, and overall experience. In order to judge fairly, we obtained one black milk tea with pearls, normal ice, 50% sugar from each store and held a series of blind taste tests. These are our findings:

Quickly – Ann Arbor’s newest boba contender was a pleasant surprise. With the opening special, we were only able to get full 100% sweetness, which made for a rich, creamy milk tea experience with heavy notes of brown sugar. The pearls were average. 6/10.




Ding Tea – Ding Tea’s 50% sweetness compared to Quickly’s 100% paled in comparison, almost tasting like nothing. Their golden pearls were chewy, a bit smaller, but mostly forgettable. 4/10.




Tea Ninja – I didn’t have high hopes for Tea Ninja and I was correct. The milk tea tasted mass produced and separated, while the pearls were flavorless. While I still enjoy a lychee slush from Tea Ninja every so often, their classic milk tea was not it. 3/10.



Sharetea – My personal campus favorite, I knew that Sharetea would be a strong bracket contender even from the beginning. During the blind taste tests, I was able to identify Sharetea’s perfectly sweet and complex milk tea flavor. The pearls were subtly sweet and chewy. Overall great experience, the best cup of the night – 9/10.


Chatime – Like an old reliable friend, Chatime’s tea flavor was strong but delicious. (One judge even called it spicy). The pearls were a bit overcooked, but Chatime delivered as expected. It was a close race between Chatime and Sharetea for the boba bracket title. 8/10.



Sweeting – I don’t know if it was an off night or something, but all the judges agreed that Sweeting’s bubble tea was unexpectedly quite atrocious that night. The milk tea tasted grassy and spoiled, while the pearls were very undercooked. No hate to Sweeting, just not our cup of tea (pun intended). -2/10.



CoCo – A North Campus favorite, CoCo’s particular milk tea was also overshadowed by Sharetea and Chatime’s excellently crafted milk tea. While a memorable milk tea and average pearls it was not as tasty. 4/10.

Andy Blank: Real or Retail?

Andy Blank, of the self-named contemporary art company, is a Brooklyn-based artist known for “making the unscalable scalable”–AKA, Blank produces limited edition paintings and prints all under $199. The handmade artwork ship fully framed, allowing the customer to easily display their new art with tools picked by the company. In a saturated market of both astronomically-priced paintings and low-quality prints, Andy Blank stands out as a pioneer of a new art business model.

Blank’s works are unique in their ever-changing explorations of texture, color, and mediums. From photographic prints to glossy canvasses, new works constantly appear online and available to purchase, made by Blank and his production assistants. However, the batches of art also are quick to sell out. The website explains that the limited artwork is made purposefully “to protect the integrity of the artworks and the collectors who secured them.” I do appreciate that the “museum-grade” materials are all sourced from local suppliers, and that each work is handmade by the company.

I quite like Andy Blank’s business model as it makes art affordable–presenting consumers with a “gateway drug to art”. Intriguingly, Andy Blank compares itself to fast-fashion retailer Zara, which allows buyers to look as if they came off the runway, before moving on to more prestigious, expensive companies like Chanel. I think this comparison is somewhat self-deprecating, painting an image of a factory assembly line of art assistants producing work directly for purchase. There has been a lot of controversy in the art world about what makes art legitimate–is it the message? The materials? The price? The making of art for art’s sake? Is commercial art “real art?” While these questions never have a straightforward answer, Andy Blank continues to live in the limbo between fine art and commerce, and that’s completely okay. What do you think?

Deep Love
The Mighty Jungle
Sweet Sorbet
Miami Vice

Artist Spotlight: Jeffrey Cheung and There Skateboards

Artist, skateboarder, and musician Jeffrey Cheung, based in California, is known for his work in carving out space in historically heterosexual, white spaces, namely skateboarding. In 2017, he and his partner founded Unity, a skateboard company/community/printing press, and now runs There Skateboards, a collective also dedicated to supporting queer and trans skateboarders of color (QTPOC).

Although skateboarding is known for pushing boundaries, it is an activity that has been dominated by white men since its inception. Women and skaters of color are rising in popularity, yet skating remains rife with misogyny. Cheung’s collectives work to fight for marginalized voices and expand diversity, hosting skate sessions and art shows with different communities. There Skateboards also sponsors several pro queer skateboarders–including Cher Strauberry (who has started new brand Glue Skateboards) and Marbie Miller. Unity and There are more DIY and “underground” companies spearheaded by an authentic artist.

Cheung’s art itself speaks toward his mission; they are colorful, androgynous figures that are vibrant and dynamic. They interact with each other and seem to spread the message that self-love as well as community are important. Featuring an assortment of tees, hoodies, prints, skateboards, and even a collaboration with Adidas Skateboarding, Cheung and his company, as well as other queer skaters of color are make a big and refreshing difference in the world of skateboarding.

You All
Unity Skateboards

Artist Spotlight: Zipeng Zhu and the Razzle-Dazzle of Everyday Life

A few exciting words can be used to describe the design work of Zipeng Zhu: fabulous, vibrant, and loud. The Chinese-born designer now works in New York City, working on branding, posters, illustrations, physical environments, and anything design-related. Boasting past positions at Pentagram and Sagmeister & Walsh, Zhu founded and has run his creative agency, Dazzle Studio, since 2016. His self-stated mission is to “make everyday a razzle-dazzle musical.”

Zhu’s approach to design is refreshing to see in the graphic design world that is often white male-dominated and elitist. Instead, Zhu advocates for appreciating fun and beauty in ordinary life.

His Instagram is full of colorful projects informed by current events, AIDS advocacy, voting education, and more, including collaborations with Adobe and AIGA. What stands out from Zhu’s compositions are his immaculate knowledge of typography and color. Going against the grain of black and white minimalist design, the images are unapologetically brash–and of course, quite dazzling. The designer is also notably unafraid to dive into the digital-forward world and use it to heighten his projects.

Zipeng Zhu also runs Dazzle Supply, a shop that carries an array of posters, apparel, and cute gifts certain to brighten up anyone’s home. Ultimately Zhu uses his voice as a designer to bring light to important issues while highlighting the significance expressing yourself no matter what people say.

I Voted Sticker
Combat COVIDD Campaign
Garage Magazine
Eliqs Branding
Adobe Pride
Novo Brazil Brewing Co.
Work Balance Poster
Exit 2020
One of the mugs you can purchase at Dazzle Supply!

Spotlight: Ann Arbor Small Businesses!

In the spirit of Black Friday and holiday shopping, I thought it would be appropriate to share a few of my personal favorite Ann Arbor small businesses. It’s especially hard this season for local businesses to survive during Covid, so think about shopping small this winter. Whether for a gift or for yourself, I say, treat yourself!

Literati Bookstore – book heaven.

Crazy Wisdom Bookstore & Tea Room – eclectic, cozy, and pleasantly surprising.

Bivouac – for your granola friends.

FOUND – lovely things you didn’t know you needed.

Rock Paper Scissors – ultimate whimsy, in the best way.

Vault of Midnight – anything and everything comics and board game related.

Olympia Skate Shop – the best place in A2 for skateboard goods and streetwear.

Comet Coffee – sweet bevs and cute shirts at the cutest little shop in Nickels Arcade.

Roos Roast Coffee – tasty blends with great branding (order a gift card before December 1st to benefit the homeless shelter!)

Bløm Meadworks – delicious drinks and awesome merch.

Detroit Street Filling Station – two words: buffalo cauliflower.



Work in Progress: Skating Tree Town

I wanted to take this week to share some of my own creative work. I’m currently working on my Senior Studio thesis project at Stamps–a semester or year-long individual project. My thesis specifically focuses on skate culture in Ann Arbor. Skating Tree Town is an extended zine publication about Ann Arbor skateboarding culture, specifically documenting the 1980s – present. Since stepping foot on my first Spongebob skateboard in second grade, to cruising around campus as a college student, to committing myself to learning to finally ollie this summer, I have always been interested in skateboarding on a social and artistic level. Because Ann Arbor is a place where people aren’t afraid to “let their freak flag fly” I hope to highlight the unique voices of Ann Arbor skaters, who range greatly in identity but all connect through a shared love for skateboarding. The end goal for my project is to release a book that chronicles Ann Arbor skate history, its implications in contemporary culture, and the individuals within it, sharing the passion of Ann Arbor skateboarding with others.

For the past two months, I have been interviewing and photographing skateboarders at various locations around the city, from the Diag, to the Ross building, to the skatepark, and many in between. Sometimes interviews are planned weeks in advance, other times involve an impromptu photoshoot with a stranger. I’ve also been fortunate to even talk to and skate with Dug Song, the CEO of Duo and longtime Ann Arbor skateboarder, as well as the Ann Arbor Skatepark Board. From all of these interviews and photos, I’ve been utilizing my graphic design skills to add my own touch to the publication. Below are some unedited shots from the upcoming project, hope you enjoy!

Jonah and Kyto
Olympia Skateshop
Shredding bowls
Live 2 Skate
Skaters Over 50