When I first heard about this project, I felt really apprehensive because I was really worried about my digital skills. I tried using photoshop before in the previous semester but it was like simple cut and paste work that I just attempted but I have never tried doing proper illustrations on the software at all. Furthermore, this time we had to use indesign which is yet another software that I was not familiar with at all. Hence, I was naturally very worried if I could produce a work even by the end of the semester.
Worries aside, we started out by first selecting a location that was unfamiliar to us. Initially I thought I could do on the east side since it’s more like my comfort zone but we had to explore somewhere totally opposite of that. In the excel sheet, I initially decided on two rough locations-serangoon and Little India. However, eventually I went to beauty world because it was somewhere I was always curious about ever since I heard about the affordable yet yummy burgers in beauty world centre. I went ahead and travelled to beauty world along with my classmate, Esther, to explore the surroundings.
Initially, I really expected a pretty hip looking area since I heard about the burgers. I expected to see a mall with plenty of new starting businesses selling those hipster food you would see on the internet nowadays. However, to my surprise, the area had a few malls no doubt, but the malls looked like they were there for an eternity. The malls looked like they have been there for a pretty long while and the amount of people in the malls were also quite little. Although there were a few malls in the same area, the interior looked relatively similar. The same scenario could be seen in those malls where only very few stores were opened for business and there was no crowd either and the malls were generally quite quiet. I took a few shots and I do admit I kind of like the peacefulness I get from the malls, brings me back to the old Singapore a little and I liked how it felt.
The only thoughts I could gather was, how I wish all these stores could stay there permanently and there never has to come a day where they have to move out the area for some new residential plannings. The way how things in the mall looked like they came from awhile back makes me feel like time has temporary stopped the moment I enter, and I really liked the feeling. In particular, I always like to see the old-school barber’s pole, especially the ones that lights up, brings back some really nostalgic feelings. From there, I wondered what I could express in my zine regarding my exploration at beauty world. Since what I saw when I went to beauty world differed from what I expected, I thought I could express in my zine a contrast between the old and new. Something along the lines of how they can both coexist and stand out in their own ways for my zine. However, when I went to consult Shirley for this, she questioned how this was related to my personal experience because it felt like I was simply documenting the area rather than showing an interpretation of it. At that moment, I felt like it was hard to go anywhere with beauty world so I decided at that moment to change my location.
I did not have a clear idea about where was suitable because I rarely travel and the places I am more familiar nowadays would be the extreme east and west. I was talking to a friend and she brought up Bukit Panjang as a ‘rising star’ since many changes were taking place. Obviously, I did not know where it was until I looked it up on the MRT map. It was at such a central area, leaning slightly towards the west. The only way to get to Bukit Panjang MRT was only through the downtown line, either that or you have to take MRT to Choa Chu Kang and then change to LRT to reach Bukit Panjang. Honestly, despite the downtown line, the Bukit Panjang MRT still felt very inaccessible for me, it was literally like in the middle of nowhere. Thankfully, my friend recommended a bus which I could take to reach Bukit Panjang from Boon Lay bus interchange to save the hassle of changing MRT lines, but it was still a really long journey ahead. However, since I have never been to Bukit Panjang before, I thought I would go ahead and explore to see what ideas I could get from a new area.
On the same day, I briefly explored Bukit Panjang and the surrounding areas, and I also went to different places such as Cashew and Chinese Garden. I took the weekends to also explore Paya Lebar and MacPherson, just to expose myself to different areas to gather more ideas for the zine.
I brought my discoveries to show Shirley, however it felt like I had too many ideas ongoing all at once. Since I was not sure what I wanted to do for my zine and I explored so many places, it was delaying my time from actually focusing on what I should do. Hence, at that moment, Shirley knew I had to decide on a location at that point of time and just go for it rather than still considering a whole lot of places. I eventually decided on Bukit Panjang’s playgrounds to work on after I got the inspiration from the sandpit playground near Cashew and I moved on from there to gather images of playgrounds in Bukit Panjang.
This time, I felt more reassured because I was working along a direction rather than moving aimlessly. My goal at that point of time was clear, which was to gather images of interesting looking playgrounds in Bukit Panjang that were uniquely Bukit Panjang. Hence, I made a second trip back to Bukit Panjang and this time I decided to move along the LRT line since it was all in the Bukit Panjang vicinity. On the MRT map, I actually moved along the right side of the LRT line, which starts from Senja LRT to Petir LRT. I decided to walk, following the LRT tracks and photograph any playgrounds I come across. This whole process was really exhausting to be honest, I spent around five hours trying to finish the whole journey and finding certain playgrounds that I researched to finally get a collection of the photos of the playgrounds.
From there, I was trying to come up with an idea for my zine and while I was working, an idea came across my mind to make a teleportation theme. I thought it would be quite interesting since Bukit Panjang indeed changed a lot from the past from what I researched, hence I thought about how the playground could be a channel where teleportation takes place. From my observation of the playgrounds I took photos of, I also realised that three of them were more outstanding in a sense that they looked more unique to Bukit Panjang in my opinion because it is a design I have never seen elsewhere. The three playgrounds were transportation themed, with one being a fire truck, one being a train and one that was a ship. With this, I decided I could play with the playgrounds and connect it to the past of Bukit Panjang with my teleportation theme. I read up online and there are a few who actually shared blogposts about how much Bukit Panjang has changed and they are reminiscing certain memories from the old Bukit Panjang. People also replied to the posts and commented about how they shared certain sentiments as well in relation, hence this all the more proved to me that making a zine to allow teleportation seemed like a logical and fun idea which could be relatable.
My zine will hence be like a fun guide book to introduce people about the three playgrounds and how each of them can allow teleportation back to a time period to experience how life was in Bukit Panjang in the past.
I started with the idea of each playground occupying a page, so that the playground is halved at every page and continues to the next to give an explanation about it along with some illustrations. I cropped the images of the playgrounds out to fix the composition in place first. I also tried to do some illustrations on photoshop which are supposed to be the ‘memories’ part of the zine. The zine becomes a narrative where readers can follow one playground and be brought back to a point in time to old Bukit Panjang and experience- be it the Singapore Kranji Railway days, the old Bukit Timah fire station or the kampong days in Bukit Panjang.
I then added the illustrations and tried to experiment with the colours.
This was how the composition looked initially, I really liked how the illustrations turned out but it was an issue bc the background white was not removed so I had to redo the illustrations. I redid the illustrations for so many times I can’t even keep track haha. Shirley also commented that it looked quite boring and plain so she helped to add some shapes for more interesting composition and colours.
From there, I edited more and came up with the final composition that you can see over here.
The final composition has a plain white background because I felt that the colours of the playground which were primary colours were too overpowering for me to add more colours in. There was initially a texture layer on the background however I eventually removed it for the final because it came out looking weird in patches on the pdf so I knew it would not work out despite the fact that I already arranged it to the back of the work. I wanted each playground to bring out a certain type of experience for the reader to travel back to the past and I wanted it to be a fun zine to look at. The colours on the final work is very loud and eye-catching and I thought it worked well with the concept of playgrounds to convey the idea of fun. I also added a map at the back so that people can locate the playgrounds if they want to experience the time travel themselves.
Thank you to the classmates for all the constructive criticism!! If I were to make amendments to my zine, I would probably redo my illustrations and make them neater. I would also reconsider the font types and sizes and probably choose a colour scheme to follow throughout the zine to make the zine look more colourful without that many empty white spaces.
Here’s the end of my locale zine process, hope you had fun reading!