Category Archives: Typographic Portrait

Typography Portrait: Final

My name is Denise and I’m PeranakanUntitled-4

I paired the baba (man) with a mata puteh (oriental white eye) to mimic the sentiment of old Singapore. Back in the day, these birds were admired for its singing quality/buka and the price  to appreciate a songbird’s chirp at home could range from $30-500.



The pairing of the nyonya (woman) silhouette with a peony was more reflective of an old and common Peranakan motif. The peony, regarded as the king of flowers, represents fertility as well as nobility. According to old legend, the emperor of China in the 15th century sent his daughter to the sultan of Malacca together with a band of other nobles and servants. They eventually grew to become what we know as the Peranakans.


Untitled-3 Untitled-2

The remaining two pattern designs were inspired by Peranakan tiles. Composed by emblems made of a mixture of letters, each different symbol is meant to be openly interpreted to have its own story or meaning e.g. one symbol could symbolise a flower/family insignia/composition of them could be seen as a family tree.


Overall, I’m pretty content with how the pieces turned out; they were meant to mirror the culture’s sense of femininity and delicacy and I think it was encapsulated to a degree. Can’t wait to start on the next project!

Typography Portrait: Process

I am Peranakan

Upon interpreting this brief, I saw it as a chance to explore my roots and it seemed only natural to touch on my heritage. In my household, the Peranakan culture is very much celebrated and practiced throughout each year. I still remember the first time I ate my mum’s ayam buah keluak when I was a kid, and it was in that moment when I truly started to show an interest and embraced this culture of mine.



Experimented with coffee grounds, cold/hot water to tone paper

Adding coffee grounds added another detail to the stained paper; spontaneous shapes were formed each time.


Dissecting Fonts


Experimentation with various serif and san-serif fonts; separated them in different ways to get different results.


Nyonya and Baba portraits

Digital sketches. Font: Libre Baskerville

General idea for these pieces are silhouette portraits of a woman and man (much like the victorian ones) formed by letters of my name.

Creating the portraits digitally was more convenient that simply sketching with pencil/pen. It allowed me the flexibility and freedom to edit without consuming a lot of time.

These sketches will later be drawn onto paper and inked. I’m also considering combining other elements with these portraitures for elevation; maybe combining other significant elements of the culture?


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Rough colour schemes



Screen Shot 2016-02-14 at 5.02.12 AMPlaying around with fonts and silhouettes.



Y, D, U, Y


d, E, S, g








EGO, Y, g, i









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Ideation – Putting emblems into patterns

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Testing patterns with colours








Taking inspiration from Peranakan tiles, I combined various letters and used repetition to give it a sense of rhythm. Each individual emblems created has a story/secret bounded within their lines – it’s up to the audience to interpret what they are!

While the fonts themselves form the intricate pattern work, I’m also thinking about how I can play around with the geometric shapes formed by the negative space created.


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Applying glue to act as a resist against watercolour

With the digital sketches done and a clearer idea in mind, I began to draw the patterns out on the tone paper by hand. After some experimentation, I realised that watercolour reacted differently with the coffee-stained paper; though the paper did absorb the paint, it did not allow it to spread or blend and I could hardly get clean lines.

For this reason, I decided to use transparent glue to mark out all the negative spaces (the outlined typography work) in hopes that it would stop the paint from from appearing to look too blotted.

Alternatively, perhaps I might print the graphic sketches out first before dying them with coffee to get a more crisp and geometric effect as intended.

Draft 2


Draft 2’s emblem in colour

Typographic Portrait Problem: Research


The Bauhaus style favours function over form, hence many of its designs feature clean and powerful typography is a integrated graphical element in an artwork.

Looking at the pictures above, they seem to be architectural in nature (due to its overall geometrical layout and angles). They also make use of simple-to-read fonts (of both upper and lower case), which aligns with Bauhaus’s principle of form follows function.


DADA‘s typography is unconventional (as with the entire movement); there is often a combination of various serif and san-serif fonts with unorthodox punctuation and symbols.

As the movement was seen as a protest response to the outbreak of ar in the period, many of the artworks can be interpreted as rebellious and angst-filled from its chaotic layouts.



(By Patrick Cabral)


(By  Santiago Sierra López)

Typo Assignment_Symbols_EuniceOng

Works that consist of parts of fonts and alphabets to form images.

(By Gabby Manotoc)



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Nyonya porcelain ware – often painted in flamboyant colours that is characteristic of Peranakan artworks.

Some recognisable motifs of Peranakan culture are the peony and phoenix, which represents fruitful marriage and fertility. Another interpretation of these symbols could be the representation of the straits of Chinese immigrants.



Traditional Cherki game

Similar to Mah Jong, nyonyas and babas would play this popular card game to past time. In many cases, gossiping came hand-in-hand with the game.


stencil and paste resist (Katazome 型染め)#07

Batik cloth

The batik sarong is a wrap skirt worn with kebaya that comes with an array of vibrant colours and intricate patterns. Dye is applied by brush. The finished product is seen to be lighter and richer in colour as compared to Javanese batiks.


Peranakan (Majolica) tiles

These tiles were used for different decorative purposes (interior, exterior, tombstones, etc.). Art nouveau inspired, they were mainly shipped into Southeast Asia from England between the 19-20th century.