Typographic Portrait: Research

My name is Anam, and I am a …

My name, which was given by my late grandfather, in full translates to “a vessel in the sea” in Arabic. It is a metaphor for someone who explores the vastness of this world only to bring people closer together. And I believe that I am living up to the meaning of my name. I am someone who is goal-oriented, but somehow have not gotten a clear idea of what I truly aspire to be. Throughout the 22 years I have lived, my aspirations constantly change. With new insights of entirely new prospects, I come to realize that the reason for doing so was because I crave to try something new and to take risks. This is why I have decided to pursue Interactive Media as a major instead of going with my initial plans of sticking to Animation.

I have chosen my first name, Anam, to be expressed as Typographic Portraits in conjunction with six different occupations. And four of which (Astronaut, Gambler, Journalist and Architect), are professions I wanted to be in earlier in my life. While the remaining two (Optometrist and Air Traffic Controller) were ideas drawn from the aspirations of two of my very close friends.

But why? Well, I felt that every person is an embodiment of their pasts, be it good or bad. These are the things that have shaped us to be the person we are right here, right now. And this is the very reason why I have decided to work on them.

Idea Generation:

  1. Astronaut (Age 5-9)

    • An astronaut or cosmonaut is a person trained by a human spaceflight program to command, pilot, or serve as a crew member of a spacecraft. Although generally reserved for professional space travelers, the terms are sometimes applied to anyone who travels into space, including scientists, politicians, journalists, and tourists.
    • Personal Story to Share:
      At the age of 5, I had dreams of becoming an Astronaut. I guess it was due to my fascination with space, adventure and aliens that sparked my interest in astronomy. I used to watch Hanna-Barbera’s “Space Stars” and “The Jetsons” when I was younger. And I was lucky enough to have supportive parents who bought me astronomy encyclopedias to feed my adolescent mind.
    • Symbolic attributes: Adventurous, brave, curious
    • Aspects: Spacesuit, Rockets, Planets, Stars, Space Shuttle, SatelliteMoodboard_7_Astronaut
  2. Gambler (Age 10)

    • A gambler is someone who wagers money or something of value (referred to as “the stakes”) on an event with an uncertain outcome with the primary intent of winning additional money and/or material goods. Gambling thus requires three elements be present: consideration, chance and prize.
    • Personal Story to Share:
      People usually associate gambling with something negative such as greed and addiction. But as a 10-year-old, Hong Kong Triad movies were seen as something cool and bad-ass. And as I grew up, I realized that these bad-ass qualities turned out to be made of very positive attributes that I have shared below. However, my parents were not so keen on letting me thrive with such an influence. So my fad with it died down pretty fast.
    • Symbolic attributes: Intuitive, risk-taker, confident
    • Aspects: Casino, dice, poker cards, gambling chips, money, jackpot machineMoodboard_6_Gambler
  3. Journalist – Editor-in-Chief  (Age 11-13)

    • A journalist is a person who collects, writes, or distributes news or other current information. A journalist can work with general issues or specialize in certain issues, however, most journalists tend to specialize, and by cooperating with other journalists produce journals that span many topics.
    • Personal Story to Share:
      When I was 11, I began reading a lot, especially magazines like Reader’s Digest, National Geographic, and Times magazine that my parents subscribed to. Soon enough, I got into writing (which was paired well with my drawing skills). There was once I wrote a short story for a competition, and it got featured in my school’s magazine. From then onward, I was pretty keen on pursuing a career in Journalism.
    • Symbolic attributes: Audacious, charismatic, creative
    • Aspects: Camera, typewriter, microphone, newspaper, magazines, tabloids, articles Moodboard_3_Journalist
  4. Architect (Age 14-16)

    • An architect is a person who plans, designs, and oversees the construction of buildings. To practice architecture means to provide services in connection with the design and construction of buildings and the space within the site surrounding the buildings that have as their principal purpose human occupancy or use.
    • Personal Story to Share:
      As I grew older, I began to draw even more and write much less. I enjoyed perspective drawings. It was not until my aunt said that my sketches looked pretty architectural that I got more interested in the subject. I considered Architecture as a course of study after my ‘O’ levels. But I decided to take up Animation instead.
    • Symbolic attributes: Realistic, ambitious, organized
    • Aspects: Blueprints, buildings, construction site, drafting tools Moodboard_4_Architect
  5. Optometrist (inspired by a close friend)

    • An optometrist is an eye doctor. Optometrists examine eyes for both vision and health problems, and correct refractive errors by prescribing eyeglasses and contact lenses. Some optometrists also provide low vision care and vision therapy.
    • Symbolic attributes: Insightful, meticulous, observant
    • Aspects: Eye chart, glasses, contact lenses, phoropter, retinoscope, eyes Moodboard_1_Optometrist
  6. Air Traffic Controller (inspired by a close friend)

    • Air traffic controllers are people trained to maintain the safe, orderly and expeditious flow of air traffic in the global air traffic control  Controllers apply separation rules to keep aircraft at a safe distance from each other in their area of responsibility and move all aircraft safely and efficiently through their assigned sector of airspace, as well as on the ground.
    • Symbolic attributes: Vigilant, foreseeing, collected
    • Aspects: Airplanes, radar screen, aircraft marshaling, plane plotter Moodboard_2_ATC

Artistic Approach:

In terms of the artistic style that I have adopted for this project, I have studied and gained inspiration from the works of Hannah Höch, Ralp Cifra, Mattias Adolfsson and SNASK. I did not want to stick to a common style for my 4 panels as I wanted to delve into much diverse means of expressing my ideas. So I have decided to make each panel different from each other.

Hannah Höch is a German Dada artist most notable for being the pioneer of the art form known as photomontage. Many of her pieces sardonically critiqued the mass culture beauty industry at the time, gaining significant momentum in mass media through the rise of fashion and advertising photography. Many of her political works from the Dada period equated women’s liberation with social and political revolution. In particular, her photomontages often critically addressed the Weimar New Woman, collating images from contemporary magazines.


SNASK is an internationally renowned creative agency (based in Stockholm, Sweden) that makes kick ass branding, design & film. I was reading an article and chanced upon their work. And I was so amazed at how bold, simple, and yet elegant their typography works were. And their biggest and most renowned project so far was done for The Washington Post. I wanted to incorporate their crafty sense of design and bold use of colors for this project.



Mattias Adolfsson is a Swedish illustrator whose work have truly inspired part of my drawing style. He has a very distinct way of expressing the characters in his artwork. And while he has a lot of wonderful works in his gallery, I was really drawn to his poker card designs which were cleverly personalized and are bursting with emotions. I was keen to showcase some of my illustration styles in this project without overly using them and ignore exploring other means of artistic expression.2

Ralph Cifra is a Philippine-based visual artist, illustrator, and graphic designer. His illustrations were beyond awe-inspiring. He has a really good sense of colors and he is known for making simple, yet vivid and prominent silhouettes when it comes to illustrating everyday objects. His vibrant interpretation of these everyday objects has made his designs pleasantly eye-catching. I desire to achieve such traits with my type designs.

3Thank you for taking time to read on my research, do check out my
Process & Execution and Final Work here.