Image Making Through Type; Process | Graphic Form

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:

  • Barista
  • 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!

Locale; Process I | Graphic Form



After my presentation of the concept, Joy allowed us to look through some past year works from our seniors. Initially, I wanted to stick with what I was comfortable with; informative infographics that would be done through clean and simple illustrations. But as I browsed through more past works, I found myself intrigued and interested in attempting something more abstract. However, building upon the concept of “Transient Changi”, not gonna lie, I soon found out that wasn’t really what I wanted either. Narration and flow have always been a very important aspect of all my ideation processes; a sense of flow and wholeness always plays a part in getting my message across. Considering how the zine! was meant to be a chance for self-expression, I, therefore, decided to do something in between the spectrum.

Informative < ——- HERE ——– > Abstract

Not too content heavy but at the same time retaining some sort of ambiguity that you would get from an abstract work. A form of narration and flow was a crucial consideration. Ultimately, my concept was founded on one thing: “Get my audience/reader to want to see Changi V for themselves!”


Transience of Locale -> Under-appreciation -> Is it actually still relevant?

From my research, I realize Changi is remembered for all the wrong reasons, an unsung place that in the modern context has lost its voice and inevitably its relevance to the people of Singapore. Out of mind, out of sight, right? But is that really the case? Whether or not we see it, have we been blindsided by our modern perceptions, that we simply cannot see how incredibly relevant Changi Village still is?

False perceptions vs True relevance


In my opinion, Changi Village is an incredibly scenic locale and to pay homage to this, I tended towards my zine being more photo-based rather than illustrative. Furthermore, having already done a crash course worth of illustrations and infographics during my research presentation, I decided my illustrations just weren’t going to cut it! Not that I hate them, but I felt within the given time frame, photos would do a much better job in capturing the reality of things.

For research, I wanted the style to affect the storytelling capability/function of the zine! I took a look online to source for design inspirations, and at the same time, I was constantly looking out for a specific style that I wanted to adopt in creating my own zine! I took special note of two aspects during my research 1) Printing style & 2) Layout.

To start, I did a general search on Pinterest to see what zines were out there in the creative market. Here are some design styles that I found interesting and unique although a bit irrelevant to what I was going for.


I know, I know, largely illustrative… but the following images really started to spice things up for me! I came across an unfamiliar style of printing called risograph printing. Albeit not in a photo zine format, I was mesmerized and in love with the prints this method was churning out.

Great aren’t they! But as mentioned early, I wanted a photographic zine, so instead of making such a loose search, I narrowed down my research but instead of simply searching up ‘photographic zines’, I tagged the idea of risograph printing into my search to see what I would get and wow…

Not only were the riso prints aesthetic, it somehow still manages to capture the details within the photographs. I especially like the juxtaposition between the mood blue and fluorescent pink, I felt the superimposed effect would run well with my concept.


After looking at zines online, I was motivated to start on my zine. I started off by planning my pages out. Though it was a just rough mockup, Joy also told me how crucial it was going to be to have my pages planned and to know for myself where each content would go.

From my draft I planned:
Pg 1&8 – Homes 
a high-quality image to show and establish the area of Changi, serving as a preamble to the design style of the zine!
Image of the iconic red coloured HDBs contrasted with a real home setting in Changi.

Pg 2&3 – Kopitiam
The famous hawker centre against the hungry working generation (hawker centre is part of their work culture and traditions)

Pg 4&5 – Changi Ferry Terminal
Modernized Pulau Ubin Ferry Terminal juxtapose against dilapidated bumboats (the livelihoods of the captains of each ship.)

Pg 6&7 – Changi Chalets
Same old boring Chalets compared to how many Malay families in Changi see them (a place of family gathering over the weekends; social spaces).


However, after consulting with Joy regarding the direction and concept, I was likely heading towards, Joy had her concerns regarding the use of risograph printer as the printing process often takes too long and true enough… as I headed down to Knuckles & Notch (the only riso printers in Singapore), they told me that they would take two weeks to print an 8 page A5 zine. It was impossible especially since I wasn’t at all ready to print



Next up, my process in overcoming the setback.


Locale; Process II | Graphic Form



 As the ability to juxtapose the images over one another was essential to my work, I was incredibly dependent on the risograph styled prints (images below) as the print style allowed for insane contrast through the use of neon colours. Therefore, in an attempt to salvage concept #1, that meant finding a way to mimic the risograph effect through photoshop.


The following images are visual mockups for the draft I had initially envisioned. Done through photoshop using the following functions:
1) halftones
2) solid colours
3) screen filtres
4) overlay (multiply)

Credit: learn how to do it here!

Fluorescent pink

Changi red (colour picker from photos).

Fluorescent red (derivative from Changi red).


Mood blue halftoned effect as a dull contrast.

Fluorescent (Bright colours) = Represents False Perception
Dull (Darker colours) = Represents True Reality

Mock Up #1

As Changi Village is iconically red, I decided to try a combination of red and blue instead of using fluorescent pink. Blue would remain as my chosen dull colour as I wanted the “reality” to be represented by a melancholic and sad colour. In the end, apart from being aesthetically disgusting, I felt concept #1 was falling apart.

Perhaps it was the way I shot my photos (not representative of Changi), perhaps it was the colour scheme? Or maybe it was just the way I edited the photos. Ultimately I decided that the way I was going about it was not achieving satisfying results.

Mock Up #2

Even after the implementation of more fluorescent colours, and playing around with the angles and more strategic impositions, it was still not working out!


However, through the process of re-creating “risographic images”, I stumbled upon an interesting realization.

My photo manipulation techniques had a way of making photos appear somewhat vintage and old. Here are more examples:


Using these ‘Pseudo Old’ photographs, I built upon concept #1

Transience of Locale -> Under-appreciation -> Forgotten -> Remembering

I thought about an old Photographic vintage album; because what better way to observe and reconnect with what we took for granted in the past? Photo albums have a way to evoke a sense of nostalgia and reminiscence especially over the things that are now gone.

Nostalgia and reminiscence are strong emotions that can often trigger a desire to relive memories and past experiences.

From my draft I planned:
Pg 1&8 – First thing you see (Full Spread)
HDB Blocks & Signages

Pg 2&3 – Prominent aspects of Village area
Hawker Centre
Fishing Stalls

Pg 4&5 – Iconic Changi (Full Spread)
Changi Creek Bridge

Pg 6&7 –Prominent aspects of Sea area
Changi Sailing Club
Changi Beach Park (Epiphany)

Bear with me, I know I’ve talked a lot, I will give a detailed explanation of my layout in a while! 


Wanting to stay as true to the photos as possible, I decided that my zine would have elements akin to a ‘Lookbook’ nicely composed images with minimal typography and information. I wanted a clean minimalistic design. Hence, I referred to a few more works by designers, and also more minimalistic works from Pinterest and Google.

After looking at a few examples online, I felt ready to start again!