Tag Archives: research

02 — Varoom: Research


What do you find inspiring?
What’s inspiring is that we get to see a full range of expressions through illustrations by illustrators across the globe, across a spectrum of subjects.

What type of information is in the magazine?
Varoom is the globally leading illustration magazine featuring a unique combination of industry insight and critical analysis of the field of illustration.

Explained well by Varoom 36 Rhythm, “Varoom showcases some of the most striking image-making from the crop of 2017 art school graduates, guided by the AOI’s global network of professional bodies and educational institutions. The images are a sample of outstanding work from Kristiana to Kingston to South Korea – from children’s stories to social observation to fashion and politics, there are new rhythms emerging. Follow these young image-makers as they take the pulse of changing time.”

Who is the target audience?
Each Varoom magazine caters to a different target audience with its specific theme/topic. The target audience of each magazine would hence be anyone who can find a connection between themselves and the topic, especially if they appreciate the expression through art and illustration.



i. Victo Ngai, of course (in Fantasy)

What do you find inspiring?
Her insane amount of detail!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Nothing is just for decoration.

What medium(s) do they use?
I’m not sure. On paper then digitised?

How do they creatively interpret the text for the article?
To be fair, the article is about herself and her work, so it’s not much about creatively interpreting the text for the article but just explaining her own interpretation of art and her fantasies.

“Art is a space where I can be my own master – I love that within that space, I can disregard the rules of our reality, and yet manage to create worlds that people can get lost in.”

“By draping subjects in a cloak of fantasy, it becomes easier to explore difficult topics and reflect upon ourselves a few degrees removed.”


ii. Molly Mendoza (in Fantasy)

Digital Fantasy from Messy Reality
Billie Muraben investigates immersive indie games Heaven’s Vault and Telling Lies.

What do you find inspiring?
I like that Mendoza did not conform to the stereotypical visuals of fantasy, as pictured in the Google and Pinterest searches below.

What medium(s) do they use?

How do they creatively interpret the text for the article?
As described by Victo Ngai where fantasy is just looking at subjects “a few degrees moved”, I like how Mendoza takes recognisable objects and distorts them in an abstract manner to create a distorted reality.


iii. Radio (in Taste)

Cover illustration created for Varoom by Radio. 

Varoom 19 stretches the idea of Taste as visual sensation like a ball of strudel dough. The menu includes New Wave Food Mags, Literary and Aesthetic Taste, John Pasche’s Lips for The Rolling Stones, and the question that erupts, like raw chilli on the tongue – who are the new tastemakers for Commissioners? And how do illustrators respond. In his feature ‘Art Directing Taste’, Michael Salu, Artistic Director of Granta is brutally honest – illustration, “might need to do more than vocationalise aesthetics and cultivate a broader palate of profundity for its own survival.

What do you find inspiring?
Radio’s ability to portray not just a mouth, but taste, and not just one taste, through such a simple vector image.

What medium(s) do they use?
Digital vectors

How do they creatively interpret the text for the article?
The Taste issue of Varoom talks about not just the taste of food, but also on people’s literary, aesthetic, and music taste. By not using realistic food illustrations, we are directed away from believing that the magazine will talk about only food. The use of red also makes it seem like the content’s gonna be spicy.


iv. Joy Miessi (in Nostalgia)

Awareness by Joy Miessi | Aisha Ayoade talks to Joy Miessi about preserving memory in mixed media for her most recent exhibition.

What do you find inspiring?
The mad simplicity…!!

What medium(s) do they use?
Traditional, looks like crayon, maybe colour pencils? Tape, paper

How do they creatively interpret the text for the article?
Nostalgia? Crayons? Simple, rough, almost scribbly lines? About preserving memory? The art style couldn’t be more appropriate for the article.


(Not from Varoom). Katie Scott


What do you find inspiring?
I love Katie Scott’s works. She turns her research of ancient science and scientific theories about the world into fantasy-like illustrations of regular biological things like plants, animals, fungus, evolution (dinosaurs), etc. They look so normal, so calm, yet so odd, some of the time. They’re so real, yet sometimes look like they’re not from this world.

What medium(s) do they use?
Pen on paper, scanned watercolour swatches with adjusted hues 

How do they creatively interpret the text for the article?
Oops. Katie Scott isn’t from Varoom. I did this before I realised the artists were supposed to be from Varoom.

01 Locale: Research Process

Locale: 01 | 02 | 03 | 04


Starting the project out, I actually thought of finding out what else Sunshine Plaza is known for because from an art student’s perspective, all I know about the place is for its printing services. And so that’s the direction I first went ahead in. However, after doing all the research, I realised that the printing services is exactly what makes the site unique.


There is very little information available online about Sunshine Plaza. Searching high and low for anything about the site, these are what I managed to find:

According to real estate websites PropertyGuru and srx, Sunshine Plaza is:

  • A mixed development comprising office, retail and residential units
  • Built in 2001

I, of course, have chosen to focus on Sunshine Plaza Shops, because it is the only publicly accessible area and I also have no access to the private residence and it doesn’t make much sense for me to go about investigating offices.

According to the ‘unofficial website of Sunshine Plaza’, when the site was built, the City Developments Limited appointed DTZ as the main marketing agent for sale by private treaty.

  • I noted this as important as my mom, just so happened to have worked at DTZ.


  • Accessibility (Half-secondary half-primary research)

Address: 91, Bencoolen Street, Singapore 189652

According to the real estate sites, Sunshine Plaza is:

  • Located within the city fringe, only a 5-minute drive from the Central Business District (CBD) as well as Orchard Road
  • Accessible from Bras Basah MRT (0.36km), Rochor MRT (0.43km), Dhoby Ghaut MRT (0.46km), Bugis MRT and Bencoolen MRT, all within a 500-metre radius. Specified distances are from PropertyGuru.
  • Close to LASALLE College of the Arts and Singapore Management University
  • Nearby attractions include Bugis Village and Fort Canning Park
  • Close to Bugis Junction, Bugis+, Plaza Singapura, Paradiz Centre

According to the ‘unofficial website of Sunshine Plaza’:

Near several bus stops located at Bencoolen Street, Fortune Centre, Middle Road, Opposite Prime Centre, Selegie Road, Peace Centure and After Prinsep Link. Bus services include: 56, 64, 65, 131, 139, 147, 166, 1N, 2N, 3N, 4N, 5N, 6N

Surrounded by four roads – Middle Road, Bencoolen Street, Prinsep Street and Prinsep Link

With some simple primary research;

*Estimations according to Google Maps

Easily Accessible from 5 MRT Stations

  1. Bencoolen MRT – 1 minute walk | 160m
  2. Rochor MRT – 6 minute walk | 500m
  3. Bras Basah MRT – 6 minute walk | 500m
  4. Dhoby Ghaut MRT – 8 minute walk | 650m
  5. Bugis MRT – 10 minute walk | 750m

Close to many tertiary campuses

  1. NAFA – 1 minute walk | 130m
  2. LASELLE – 6 minute walk | 500m
  3. SMU – 8 minute walk | 600m
  4. SOTA – 6 minute walk | 500m
  • Largest Printing Hub

According to TheBestSingapore, Sunshine Plaza is the “biggest printing hub with the largest number of printing shops in Singapore”.

Its ‘top four competitors’ are:

  1. Queensway Shopping Centre
    1. Shirts, jerseys, cards, documents, corporate gifts like mugs and caps
  2. Bras Basah Complex
    1. Posters, photos, documents, cards
  3. Peace Centre
    1. Documents, posters, cards, large sized printing
  4. Katong Shopping Centre
    1. Cards, marketing materials like pamphlets and brochures, documents

According to the ‘unofficial website’s’ online directory, there are a total of 16 printing shops (information is outdated, has to be corrected by primary research).

Also noted on the ‘unofficial website of Sunshine Plaza’ itself is:


  • Hidden Eateries

According to Lady Iron Chef, the place is also ‘unknowingly known’ for its hidden eateries. These eateries include: Ichi Tei, Merely Ice Cream, Parklane Zha Yun Tun Mee House, Pepper Jade Thai Vegetarian Restaurant, Teng Bespoke Vegetarian Dining, Thai Gold Food, The Big Cheese, Victor’s Kitchen, Zenso.

Apart from Victor’s Kitchen that recently opened a new outlet at Chinatown Point in 2015, all other outlets are independent.

So the question that lies from here is:
What do people really patron Sunshine Plaza for?


  • Online Survey #1

I conducted an online survey, targeted towards people have patronised Sunshine Plaza before, so as to find out what is/are the main reason(s) people patronise the site for.

These are what I have gathered as important from a total of 98 respondents.

Snapshot of Data Analysis


  • Print Shop Interviews #1 / Interview with Dion’s Mom

I also headed down to Sunshine Plaza to gather some information from the print shops themselves as their perspectives may show different results. I also conducted a short interview with my mom, as mentioned earlier happened to work with the real estate agency that was in charge of Sunshine Plaza when it was first built.


  • Print Shop Interview #2

As I only settled on the decision that the aspect that makes the site unique is the fact that it is known as the nation’s printing hub, I went back a second time to gather more information.

Unfortunately, I had gone down to the site a little bit too late on a Saturday afternoon and many of the printing shops were already closed. I only managed to get one interview from Dan Lim (the actual Dan Lim this time), although he did provide me with useful information, as well as make my own observations.


  • Thumbdrives: Online Survey/ Interview/ Observations

I was intrigued by the unique idea of lost thumbdrives at a print nation and decided to go further into detail about it.

Colourvizio’s (main store) Stash:

I told the staff that I think I had left my thumbdrive behind so that they would reveal their hidden stash.

Dan Lim’s Stash:

I asked Dan Lim if I could see his collection of thumbdrives after talking to him about how people always leave their thumbdrives behind, but he showed me a size comparison instead.

I sent out another online survey that had only 1 question:
 If you have printed at Sunshine Plaza before, have you ever left your thumb drive behind? Yes/No

Results: 11 out of 124 respondents said YES to forgetting their thumbdrives

The number seems rather ‘big’, but the possibilities of having more ‘no’ answers would be higher if the survey was left out for a longer time.

What I concluded: If the probability of patrons leaving their thumbdrives behind is so low, and every single printing shop has their own huge stashes of forgotten thumbdrives, how long must it have taken for that many thumbdrives to be collected? A very long time.

Thumbdrive Thief: While talking to my friends about this thumbdrive situation, one of them told me that they actually often take a handful of thumbdrives from Sunshine Plaza for their own use!

  • Number of Shops

Seeing how useless the online and physical directories were, I decided to count the number of shops by myself. I originally counted the stores by interior and exterior, but because a lot of the shops overlap with their double entrances, I decided to just count them as a whole. 

Leaving the store names aside, I concluded with:




  • Observations


Opening Hours: Most stores open Mondays-Fridays, close early on Saturdays, and are closed on Sundays and Public Holidays (always best to call to check).

Printing Services: Too many to count! (After taking 492138721 photos of lists)


  • On average 2-5 large printers per shop
  • Many huge cutting mats
  • Huge paper cutters
  • Fish tanks???
  • Many many many computers, iMacs


It’s all silent, until you open the doors to the printing stores

  • Non-stop printing
  • Paper cutters
  • Mouse clicking
  • Mostly soft talking between customers and employees
  • Sometimes dissatisfied customers *$^%#&!*$^
  • Constant sitting and un-sitting on chairs/stools
  • Some shops play ‘elevator music’, some play their own types of songs like Chinese songs
  • Flailing of large papers and equipment around


  • I guess it smells like a ‘typical office’ because all there is is air-conditioning and paper

Here, I decided to put an end to my research and filter the interesting parts out to create my presentation on what makes Sunshine Plaza unique.

Click here to see my final research presentation.