Image Making Through Type // Process
For our first project, we were tasked to express our future jobs through typographic portraits of our names (whole, part, nickname or initials).
Clueless as I don’t really have aspirations in life, I set out to list down impractical dream jobs more than concrete ambitions. This really helped as the brief did not restrict the occupation to be something practical or logical at all; I could be anything I wanted, even a Krispy Kreme Doughnut Maker. With Joy’s help, I narrowed to these 4 from an intense mind map of job possibilities:
- A Coffee Connoisseur
- A Kopi Uncle
- A Coffee Farmer
A narrative is always important! Which is why the 4 occupations I narrowed down to are all intrinsically linked to the best drink in the world! COFFEE! In fact, when I think about it as impractical and unambitious it is to be a coffee farmer, I saw all these jobs as LEGITIMATE considerations (funny how I set out without actually thinking these were real prospects.)!
In my lifetime, I could be all of these!
Barista (Teen) -> Coffee Connoisseur (Adulthood) -> Kopi Uncle (Elderly) -> Coffee Farmer (photo shop this)
In a way this was my timeline with coffee, linking back to typography I wanted all four spreads to spell out my name fully. I, therefore, broke down each letterform of my name into parts to fit each composition.
Ben -> JA -> MiN -> 郭
More details on letter form as I explain each spread individually!
Due to its light-hearted and simplistic aesthetic (which fits my concept of “simply coffee” well), I knew I wanted to work with flat-lay photography across all my spreads. Even though I knew it wasn’t going to be easy as I am not the most proficient photographer, I took this on as a personal challenge! Therefore things to get done; prep, art direction and the actual shoot itself!
Staying at home made this daunting task much more achievable as I had more creative space and leeway to obtain all the various props that I needed for my photoshoot. BUT, it was still not easy as some of the items were seriously hard to find; especially the old school coffee strainer. At the same time, the background for each spread was a pain to procure as well as I wanted to use backdrops reflective of each occupation as opposed to just some random vanguard sheet.
Barista -> Conventional Wooden Tables
Connoisseur -> Intricate Table
Kopi Uncle -> Kopitiam Acrylic Table
Coffee Farmer -> Sack Clothe
The entire scavenger hunt for all the necessary props took more than two weeks but alas I had everything I needed. I bought extra things just in case I changed my mind along the way as I felt the process of flat-lay photography was going to require quite a bit of improvisation depending on the resulting aesthetic during the shoot itself.
The way to decorate the spread around the letterform was limitless, therefore I made sure to be strict with the design of the letterform, only allowing the decorations to complement the typography and not the other way around. Here are some behind the scenes from the photoshoot:
Doing a photo shoot alone was an insanely tedious process as you can probably tell from the set-up; nothing but a tall chair and a DSLR. Using a tripod was out of the question as the flat lay photography style would not allow for it. Furthermore, each time a piece of décor was out of place in the view cam, I would have to stow the DSLR, get down from the chair, arrange by estimation, get back onto the chair and recalibrate the shot.
The process would repeat several times until FINALLY, FINALLY, I WOULD GET A “IT MIGHT WORK SHOT!” I also had to be careful to shoot all that I needed as the process of retaking would require me to reset the entire spread again. Daylight was an issue as well as I did not have proper studio lights to back me up in case it got too dark. Working against the clock, I met with countless setbacks along the way, but thankful I was able to recover and improvise solutions on the spot. So I must say I am quite contented with the end product!