in My Work, Process, References, Research



My first weeks of research consisted of researching into water pollution, class differences in obtaining water, and environmental concerns regarding single-use plastic bottle waste in India and Indonesia. After much deliberation (at around week 4 or so), I decided to change the direction of the project due to personal preferences and passion.

Crying Research 1 : basic research


  • Tears 101, function of tears
  • Tears in popular culture
  • How crying is personally important to me

Feedback & Conclusion:

  • Emotional tears have yet to be proven as functional. So why do we cry at all?
  • Moving on, focusing on water as tears and its relationship to emotions.

Crying Research 2 : BROADER RESEARCH


  • Broadening the focus to the relationship between emotions and water
  • How emotions are like water
    • There is a somewhat of a parallel, but the strongest research support only came from a retired New Age lady who also seems to author a number of New Age books. Which was rather dubious to me.
  • Water representing different emotions
    • Although interesting to research into, it is too broad a scope. The link between water and emotions was not very direct, and the specific states of water that relates to certain emotions did not seem consistent enough to make a strong thesis.

Feedback & Conclusion:

  • Coming back to crying, what do we make of all this?
    • Ultimately, crying is what it is – a strong social signal of sadness and need, even if it’s not scientifically proven to be beneficial. It gets people to help and care.
  • Focusing on how tears specifically signifies things in different cultures
    • I did a research on how crying and grief-lamenting is significant in certain cultures but did not find a strong point to make of it either. Ultimately it is a universal experience that is difficult to categorize.

CRYING RESEARCH 3 : ideating


  • The what, who, why and how


Dig deeper into the why: beyond “helplessness is terrifying.” I had a bit of a block at this stage, and had to rethink about why I would want to delve deeper on to the subject of crying. At this point, the deliverables seems hardly justified, although now I notice that I did come back to certain ideas (comic strip, shared experiences) presented at this stage, just with a clearer vision and reason.


Why: I want to make sense of why I cry so much, so I did an extensive Excel Sheet of why I cried, when, etc

Thought of 3 deliverables (What):

  • Exhibition of a timeline of all the times I have cried
  • Infographic, to make sense of the data
  • Poster or publication material of the exhibition


  • Look into the extensive Excel sheet, digesting the data and putting it into context.
    • Turns out I cry alone very often, which is not great as crying is supposed to be a social signal.


CRYING RESEARCH 5 : Finalising the idea

The “Why”

After observing the events in which I cry, the scenarios that trigger the crying are moments of emptiness/loneliness. Not so much “no one around me” but feeling lonely. Therefore, the theme of the project will be ‘loneliness’. By showing the moments in which I cry during moments of loneliness, I hope to evoke a sense of relatability from the users of my art and as a result, understand and identify with the work. This will help to show the idea of ‘lonely together’, cashing in on the idea of a universal feeling in which people feel lonely at times.

The “how”

In order to evoke a sense of loneliness, I identified two main design concepts that will inform my visual’s form:

  1. The idea of the separated individual. During moments of loneliness, the individual always feels as if they are ‘different from the rest’. As such, loneliness is achieved through huge empty spaces and also compositions where the individual is separated from the group. (Note: Gestalt theory of proximity)
  2. The concept of a story. To feel lonely is an experience. As such, it is important that a narrative or a context is established, accompanied with the visuals to provide an insight into what the person is feeling.

The “what”

With the design concept, the key deliverables will have to suit the form of stories illustrating the separation in which the individual feels:

Primary deliverable:

Comic strips (Book). By illustrating 4 panel comics, it will allow the audience to experience my personal stories in which they will see in what way I experience these moments of loneliness in my life.

Secondary deliverable:

Community (Website). On top of just illustrating my own stories, I can reach out to others and allow those who enjoy and relate to my stories to share their own moments of ‘loneliness’. As a service for their participation, I will also illustrate these stories that they put up on the website. This will in turn help to build a more expansive collection of stories where people are experiencing the same type of events. By sharing these moments, we will hopefully build a sense of camaraderie thereby ‘breaking’ the loneliness.

Complementary deliverable:

Identity. Having established the idea of ‘lonely together’, a bookmark will serve as a ‘token’ as a symbol of their participation in this community.

Overall, all the deliverables will aim to help promote the sharing of stories of loneliness and in turn help to inspire people to share their own stories.



Initial sketches

character design and thumbnailing for panels

Colours and Style



The finished Vol. 1 of Lonely Together publication.



Token changed from bookmark to plushie, as it feels more appropriate in giving comfort to people who are lonely or are crying.

Material Choice:

The fabric is as soft as I could possibly afford, and as I went with Joyce to purchase the materials, we did a “face-test” in which we gently rub the materials to our facial skin to test whether it is soft enough to hug and rub our faces onto or not. The yarn was also selected this way- and eventually, we managed to find a good fit for the doll. Joyce also helped me select the colours and helped colour-match the thread and fabrics.

In terms of sewing, I had to purchase a new kit as I previously owned none. I learned quite a bit about pattern-making and ragdoll making through this deliverable, and am rather satisfied with the result. The head is just right to hug with your two arms, albeit slightly too heavy to sit comfortably.



The main function is for people to be acquainted with the project and submit their stories. Key visuals are consistent with the book illustrations. I attempted to execute it with Wix, and went to Adobe XD, but was dissatisfied with the features Adobe XD offers to create a website – I think the program would be more suitable for a mobile application.

XD Design trial