Typographic Portrait- Research & Ideas

Preliminary Ideas


In this post, I will be discussing some of the ideas that I had with regard to this project. They are by no means the final ideas that I will be working on but they will serve as a stepping stone to better ideas. The first few attributes that I thought of offhand were procrastinator, clumsy, narcissist and mysophobic.


The Procrastinator

For the attribute of ‘procrastinator’ I wanted to play with the idea of time and how often a procrastinator wastes time. There are twenty-four hours in day and I have to admit majority of that time is spent planning what to do for the rest of the day but never really getting to any of the work. Time passes quickly and no work is ever done.

My idea involves the use of diy clock mechanisms attached to a board. The clocks will be allowed to run as per usual and at a specific time, the hands of the clocks will the letters of my name.

Name appears at specific time



The starting time for each clock would be different to represent the different things that I had planned to do. This will only occur once every twenty-four hours at a specific time when hands are at right position.

Clock typography 3
Arrangement of clock mechanisms

If you ever want to know what it would be like to let time pass quickly and have nothing be accomplished, you can quite literally watch the clocks hands go through several rotations until they finally form the name. The fact that my name only appears once every day shows that procrastination lasts the whole day except for maybe a short period of time where I would actually get something done.


Using just clock hands to make up letters poses a problem because there are a limited number of them and the length as well as the point where they are pivoted is fixed (assuming no modification is done to them). Hence, the letters need to be simplified down to made of not more than three strokes. See image above. Additional: transforming work into a two-dimensional piece.


The Narcissist


Like every other self absorbed person, I like to look at my own reflection, more specifically in the mirror (after all it gives the clearest and sharpest reflection). If I do go ahead with this idea, I will most likely be working with broken shards of mirror to form my name. The mirror will be broken instead of complete pieces because I do not find it an entirely good attribute to have and I am trying to break and rid myself of it. With smaller pieces, less reflection can be seen (not a full image). Additional: Other reflective surfaces to emphasise the need and desire to see one’s reflection even in the most unusual places.


The Clumsy

The idiom ‘a bull in a china shop’ creates the best imagery for the attribute of clumsy. It has a tinge of humor in it which I really like. I would like to illustrate this idiom using my name. I did a brief analysis of Dan Fleming’s animal typography andI might use that very technique to create this work. I will modifiy the six letters of my name into a shape of a bull. This would most likely be done digitally. As for the ‘china shop’, the background of the work will carry it. Using watercolours to paint the designs commonly seen on Chinese ceramics and porcelain.


The Mysophobic

In my last post, I mentioned that I wanted to try using various unconventional mediums for this project. For ‘Mysophobic’, I may be working with indeed unconventional materials, petri dishes and bacteria. Working with bacteria colonies outside of a lab is admitedly a health harzard so precaution will be a prority for me. Mysophobia is he abnormal fear of dirt and germs. I have listed some details:

  • Name will be the negative space
  • Bacteria to be grown around the name itself
  • Inoculate dish. Streak petri dish with swab from somewhere(hands, handphone, etc)
  • Place paper (cut out letters) soaked in alcohol or antiseptic liquid onto dish. / use several small disks (punched holes) instead of full letters
  • Bacteria will not be able to form colony where the disks are. Thus creating a ‘free’ (almost germ free) and clean zone on the dish.
  • Petri dishes can be substituted with rectangular containers
  • Several small dishes (one for each letter) or one single dish for entire name

The beauty of working with bacteria is that one will never really know what the outcome will be. There will be different kinds of bacteria depending on the sources. The result would be petri dishes stained with various patterns and colours.

Bacteria (Petri dish) art

More examples : http://www.livescience.com/52547-microbiology-agar-art-photos.html


References: Zachary Copfer . ‘Bacteriography’


  • Cultivation of E.coli colonies on petri dishes to form portraits of people such as Charles Dawin.
  • Images in the positive


References: Natalie Nadeau


  • Bacteria colonies grow and cover dollies (second hand) placed in agar plate.
  • Image in the positive


A Biological Aspect: The petri dish is the canvas

Biology plays a rather important part in my life. I studied it for many years and it is something I enjoy. I do like all the sciences but I had the most affinity with biology if I may phrase it that way. Since this assignment is supposed to be about me, it would be apt to use biology as a start point or base. Instead of using paper, all works could be done on the petri dishes. With different attributes, bacteria can be obtained from the relevant objects associated with the attributes and cultured. The entire work would be three-dimensional. To tackle this problem, photographs of the work can be taken and as advised, edited (change of colour, etc.) to create a set of works (see Andy Warhol’s Campbell’s soup cans).

Leave a Reply