Typographic Portrait- Final

Final work and thoughts

The main theme surrounding this project was science and I covered four branches of science: mathematics, chemistry, biology and physics. The route I decided to take with this project has resulted in me looking at how science is portrayed and scientific information conveyed. With that said, I decided to make all my works under the same principle of keeping it clean, simple and with no excess details, nothing too elaborate. In things like research papers, it is important to relay the information in a clear manner, the more unnecessary details are placed inside, the more confusing it gets. So, minimalistic and simple. I had to constantly remind myself ‘don’t over do it’.

Final work

Here are the images of my final work.



Mathematics: Logical (Geometric)

Medium: Digital

Artist reference: Hexagontica typeface (starting with a shape and working the shape to form the alphabet)



Biology (close-up)
Biology (close-up)

Biology: Detail-orientated (stippling)

Medium: Ink on paper

Artist reference: A range of artists

Final thoughts: I want to talk about the ‘rules’ that I mentioned in the post before and how I have applied it here to my final work. All the midpoints of chromosome letters are the same, the length within each pair is also the same as is the banding patterns. The banding patterns(horizontal stripes) were to be rather subtle. From the first letter ‘K’ to the last letter ‘e’, the overall length decreases. I talked about compromise of logical the last time and I did compromise to a small extent as seen in the letter ‘a’. The arms bend towards the other chromosome instead of away. My lack of compromise here has resulted in a double ‘s’ and ‘i’. If I had to do this again, I would have done the same thing, I would like to remain true to myself and remain as scientific as possible. In fact, the double letters pushes the viewer to look at the negative space or the space between the duplicates to find the single letter.

I didn’t really specify the artist reference for this work because I feel like I have applied bits and pieces of what I have gathered from the many artists that I came across throughout this project. Information not just about their final work but also the process by which they worked with.



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Chemistry: Risk-taking (fumage)

Medium: Fire & smoke on paper

Artist reference: Dada movement. Wolfgan Paalen

Final thoughts: After attempting the fumage again, I can say I am pretty pleased with this outcome. There are holes that went beyond the original shape of the hexagons but they are really growing on me. You can see them in the letter E in the image above, where two hexagons have merged. Again, I would link this back to success and failure and the unpredictability of risk-taking. The outcome is not something you can always predict and you just need to make the best of the situation and use it as a learning experience.




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Physics/Mathematics: Inquisitive (Moiré patterns)

Medium: Digital (printed on paper and transparency)

Artist reference: Andrea Minini

Final thoughts: I mentioned in class that this didn’t really turn out as good as I would have wanted it too. However, I am growing to like it. Not to say it doesn’t work entirely but it is just not to its full effect. The ink did not hold on well to the transparency film resulting in splotchy stripes that were not opaque so the name behind was not fully hidden. The fading in and out can still be seen though and I’m not too disappointed with what I have made. It is a learning point for me and I don’t regret trying out something new like moiré patterns. It was really interesting to make and that further emphasises on the inquisitive nature. There is also an element of unpredictability seen here, the fact that the results were unknown until the final outcome. I’m pretty that I likened this to my physics results, saying that I like it but the results don’t always show my love for it. I still think it to be mostly true.

I would kept my works in black and white, with the execption of the fumage. The reason for this is that when you talk about scientific information, it is black and white, they are facts, not much grey area. That is something I really like about the sciences, it either is or it isn’t.

Moving forward

I received a lot of lovely comments from the others and it was really encouraging.


What I can take back from the critique session is that I should further explore my relationship with science and deal with the fact that I actually have a love-hate relationship with it. Also, back to the good old petri dish. I talked a lot of safety hazards and was told that now I should maybe look into hazards as a designer if i’m not wrong and merge the two together. So that’s what I’ll be looking into.

Typographic Portrait- Process 5



In this short post, I will be covering how I will be doing the biology themed piece of work. After much internal debate, I have decided to go with the chromosomes as a base to start with.

The medium would be in pen (0.05, black). I will be stippling the entire piece. I enjoy stippling as much as some would consider it time consuming. I like the control I get with it, you get to decide where each dot goes, it’s like drawing at a micro level. I really like that level detail that comes with it. The process just involves dotting basically. Areas that are to be darker just require a higher density of dots, lighter areas involve dots.

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If you think about, the dots seem to represent the numerous genes present on DNA and chromosomes, so it is appropriate to have dots/genes make up the chromosomes. I really hope I am making sense.

I am as much a science student as I am an art student. I like to be as scientifically correct as possible. In this case, I decided to stick with the ‘rules’ that come with the chromosomes. And I will be sticking to these rules while drawing this work. Here is an image that I showed in a previous post. I will be referring to it to illustrate the rules.


The first thing to note is that the midpoint of every chromosome pair is the same. See the reference line that runs through the middle of each pair? That’s the common point (it’s called a centromere). Next, the length of chromosomes in each pair are the same length. If you look close enough, you will find that the chromosomes aren’t uniform in colour, there are bands of different opacities. That’s the staining pattern and is usually the same within each pair. The last rule is the direction in which each chromosome arm bends in. Sometimes they are vertical but they can be bent. They usually only bend away from the centromere.

I understand that following these rules to create my work might be limiting what I can do but I find it hard to make such a compromise, I want the work to look good but also be logical to me. I mean, I am willing to give in a little but overall I would like to make something that is still scientifically sound.

The process for this piece is pretty straightforward. First I draw a horizontal line across the middle of the paper. Sketch out where I want the chromosome pairs, making sure that the distance between each pair is roughly equal. Then the dotting begins. The darker bands created just require more dots and lighter bands less dots.

Length of chromosomes also decrease left to right
More dots
More dots

With so many dots involved, I’d like to think about this work as me being detail-orientated. Every detail is taken in account. It is also an attribute that is crucial for any scientist. To never overlook any detail and record their process and hypothesis in a detailed manner. A lack of detail of result in very different outcomes.


Typographic Portrait- Process 4



The most obvious route to take with chemistry would be to work with structural formulae and skeletal structural formulae of molecules. However, that has already been done, see K-mistry Typeface by Ranmalee Jayaratne, where the skeletal structure of molecules are used as letters.

K-mistry typface by
K-mistry typface by Ranmalee Jayaratne

Website: http://betype.co/post/102095978657/k-mistry-typeface-by-ranmalee-jayaratne

I think the idea is a brilliant one, the letters look clean and simple but scream out chemistry. Straightforward and to the point, which is what I like about it.

I tried my hand at it nonetheless but took my own take on things.

Name in chemical structure form
Name in skeletal structure form

I used the real skeletal structures of certain chemicals found in the body or needed by the body. They include vitamin K (and its variants), vitamin B and its subsets, vitamin E, vitamin A, adrenaline and serotonin. Instinctively, the letter K was made up of vitamin K and the letter A was made up of vitamin A. The letter S made of Serotonin.

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Above are images of structures that I have created using illustrator of real structures. However, I have removed any letters (meaning the ‘O’, ‘N’  or ‘CH3’ for oxygen, nitrogen and methyl groups respectively) which is why you will see gaps in some of the structures. Take for example the image below of Vitamin K3 in its full form and compare it with the structure above.


I didn’t want to add them in as I thought they were too distracting and would have deviated from the simple clean look I was going for.

So what are we then left with, the periodic table? I find that equally common. I could do something related to organic chemistry that includes benzene (hexagon in shape). Similar to the Hexagonetica mentioned in an earlier post, I could create a three dimensional shape (not a cube though) and derive the letters from resulting shape.

Other ideas of mine included paper chromatography, which is really fun to do. Chromatography in this case basically separates ink into its different component (every ink colour usually made up of several other colours) with a solvent (e.g. alcohol). Each colour ‘travels’ at a different speed on the paper so the result is a gradient of colours, which is really quite beautiful if the right amount of solvent is used.

Chemistry reminds me of copper(II) sulfate crystals, maybe its because the blue crystals we actual got to create years ago just looked really beautiful and I will always remember what they looked like. So, crystals, many compounds can form crystals and I feel that that is one of the reasons that makes chemistry so cool. Your starting solution (aqueous) is slowly evaporated and a shiny jiggered edge crystal is formed, almost like magic. I could create a crystal typeface. But the issue I’m having now is that the typeface may not give people the impression of it being of chemical origins.

After much thought and reminding myself that I should keep designs clean and simple without excess details, I have decided to use fumage, which I believe is part of automatism. I didn’t really do much of fumage art in semester one simply because I was terrified of burning the paper and setting fire to everything else (the paper did actually catch fire). But you know what, risk-taking, that’s what it’ll show (done more carefully this time though). And indeed, risk-taking is important in the realm of science. If you are willing to take that risk to experiment, you could discover great things. I guess that’s an attribute that I would be portraying with this chemistry themed piece of work. The attribute would be portrayed more strongly in the process of the work rather than in the final.

Furthermore, the use of fire is quite common in chemistry. Bunsen burners should ring a bell for most students. They were a staple in lab sessions. I think it is only appropriate to use something we have frequently used in the lab in my work, just makes it more relevant.


So to begin this piece of work, I have decided to create a design that I would follow to burn. I choose a hexagonal shape because it is rather iconic in organic chemistry (benzene rings). Initially I tried to use nuts to create the image of hexagons however, it was not too successful since the nut itself is not fully flat so it is not in full contact with the paper.

Nuts and bolts
Nuts and bolts

I experimented with two different sizes with the same result. The area around the nut turns brown and burns because the heat is absorbed by the metal (good conductor of heat) and the place where the nut was remains white. It is almost like drawing in the negative. Now because the full hexagonal shape of the nuts were not in full contact with the paper, only circles were formed.

Circles formed after heating

That aside, the way I went about this was to place the nut on the paper and hover the paper above a lit candle until the paper turned brown, almost black. The tricky thing about this is that I had to decide when to lift the paper off the heat. From experience, leaving the paper on for too long will cause the paper to burn a lot quicker and uncontrollably (and there is a lot of smoke and ash that comes with it). So there is a fine line between getting the paper brown just nicely and burning it. Besides the time taken to burn the paper, another factor would be the distance from the flame, the closer to the flame, the faster it burns. It is a double edged sword because on one hand, it is faster to have it closer and I can actually have a more direct flame at a specific spot, which is brilliant, but on the other hand, I risk burning a larger hole in the paper than expected.

I decided to use a stencil instead of the nuts to see if I could get a clear hexagonal shape. I cut out a square using an exactoknife just to test things out. I placed the stencil below the paper I wanted to burn and placed it over the flame (so stencil is nearest to flame).

Burning with stencil
Burning with stencil

The results I got were better than expected, not because the image that came out was good but because the stencil itself looked really interesting and good. The edges of the stencil were burnt well; the edges had a hint of black, which gave it an interesting texture.

Stencil after burning
Stencil after burning

So I decided to cut out hexagonal shapes and burn the edges instead. I created a design using the polygon. It may look rather rigid (no curves or bents), the polygons are arranged in straight lines but that is exactly what I’m looking for.

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In a way, the rigid arrangement is similar to how structures are drawn and presented in chemistry and since it is chemistry based I thought it would be apt to leave components of chemistry in the work. It also reminds me of the structure of amylopectin and amylose.

Amylose and Amylopectin
Amylose and Amylopectin


I cut out the individual hexagons on drawing A5 paper and began to burn the edges of each shape. How appropriate it is that I am calling this a risk taking attribute because my fear of excessively burning the paper definitely came true. I had failed my first attempt.

First attempt at fumage final

Maybe it wouldn’t be fair to call it a downright failure but I certainly did not intend for there to be quite so large a hole between the letters I and E. I think I was getting a little impatient and went too close to the flame. But the whole point of this is that I was willing to take that risk and risk the whole piece. I guess it was a learning curve for me. I have since decided to redo piece.


Some extra information about fumage. According to Oxford art online, it was created by Wolfgang Paalen.[1]  The smoke of the flame is used to create images on paper or canvas.

The special thing about fumage is that you are never really fully in control, the flame burns the way it wants to and external environment plays a part in the process as well. Wind and drafts causes the flame to shift and move away from the area I want to burn and I realised how important it is to work with the flame rather than to control the candle. The outcome of the burning is soft brown marks on the paper that contrasts with the black rough edges of burnt paper.

[1] Celia Rabinovitch, “Paalen, Wolfgang.” Grove Art Online, Oxford Art Online. Oxford University Press, accessed February 17, 2016,http://www.oxfordartonline.com.ezlibproxy1.ntu.edu.sg/subscriber/article/grove/art/T064397.


Typographic Portrait- Process 3


Update on the geometric work. After playing around with the arrangements of the letters I have decided to settle with something fairly symmetrical because I do like symmetry. Things that are symmetrical always seem to make more sense and are easier on the eyes. It also reminds me of mathematics because we usually aim to equate and balance. Think the equal sign, something is the equivalent of something else, they are then of equal weightage. Similarly in my work, I aim for the same thing. If you divide the image in half lengthwise and count the number of triangles (taking each square as two triangles) on each half, they are the same. Or you could see it as the total surface area covered by the shapes on each side is the same. Both sides are balanced and equal.

Line of symmetry
Line of symmetry

Here’s where each letter is positioned:

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Letter K-uppercase
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Letter A – lowercase
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Letter Y- inverted
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Letter S- uppercase
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Letter I-uppercase
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Letter E-lowercase

The whole idea of geometry and symmetry got me thinking about truncated hexagonal tiling and basically Euclidean tiling. I did feel that my work was lacking something and maybe this is it. A background that involves tiling that supports the main work.

Experimenting with tiling

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Possible layouts
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Trying out different backgrounds

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Moving on to other things…

It is now time I talked about the work focused around biology. I turned to all of my old notes that I have accumulated over the years for inspiration. I think the most obvious object associated with biology would be DNA so I turned my focus to just that. My initial thought was to analyze the DNA molecules’ structure and then deconstruct it. I really hope I don’t get too technical with this; I’ll try to reduce jargon as much as possible. Sticking to the theme of genetics, I looked into chromosomes as well (the condensed form of DNA during replication). From replication, I thought of meiosis and mitosis (division of nucleus in somatic cells) paying special attention to the anaphase and metaphase. Metaphase and anaphase are phases in the division process where the chromosomes are aligned and pulled apart respectively. You may choose to refer to image I found here:

Phases of mitosis

So DNA, the condensed form is known as chromosome or chromatin (depending on which part of the structure you are referring). Chromosomes come in pairs (one from each parent). I might actually work with this and create each letter from a pair of chromosomes.


Other Ideas

Besides DNA, I also thought about proteins and molecular sturcutres. When I was studying biological sciences a year ago, we used a software called PyMOL that enabled us to visualize molecules in its three dimensional form. I think I might use this software to create my letters if possible. To give a better understanding of how good and amazing this software is, I have dug up some of my old screenshots from my dry lab sessions. (This probably doesn’t excite the everyday art student as much as it does to me.)

Capture5 z Capture6 z 1A6N Capture3

Typographic Portrait- Process 2


A little something on another piece of work.

I realised that I am relatively out of touch with physics; it’s been a while since I’ve actually studied a topic in full detail. This is in comparison to the math, biology and chemistry that I have studied in much more detail. Thus, for the next work I have decided to merge math and physics into one. I will be attempting something called moiré patterns which involves as you can guess maths. An artist who has done this quite successfully is Andrea Minini.

Gorilla by Andrea Minini
Polar Bears by Andrea Minini
Close up of the works

You can check out more of  her works here: https://www.behance.net/andreaminini

From my understanding, moiré patterns actually work by use of lines. Patterns of lines that are almost similar and are then overlapped to produce a pattern. I’ll admit I’ll not very good at explaining the science or how exactly this works (a little bit difficult to put it in words) so I found a video that illustrates this point:

If you take a look at Minini’s work you will find that it is made up entirely of lines and nothing else. I really like the simplicity of her works and moiré patterns. It is almost like an optical illusion because you will never see the full image unless every line is in its right place. There is a strong sense of depth from just the use of lines placed at varying proximities and angles. Every line is placed differently but in a rather subtle manner.

With moiré patterns, you can also create ‘moving’ images (much like an animation) depending on how you manipulate the lines as seen in the video here:

For lack of a better more formal term, I would say moiré patterns are just really cool. Moiré patterns can also be seen on television. I realised that I have actually been seeing these patterns on the T.V. and never knew they were moiré patterns. It occurs when actors wear for example stripped shirt. It is quite funny how while researching moiré patterns I found many websites that were teaching how to remove moiré patterns from things like photographs and there I was trying to create that very thing that people were trying to get rid off.

I decided to try my hand at this. I can admit it was rather challenging. The positions of each line are really important to the overall work. I started by making a ‘top’ layer of the work. This will be the piece that will be moved side to side to create the illusion of movement. This layer is done by creating a regular pattern of lines each equidistant. I experimented with lines of different weights and settled with one of a heavier weight (10pt instead of 5pt).

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The next step was to create the image below which in this case will be my name. I first created my name, keeping the font fairly simple and straightforward (as they do in science papers and articles). I used Helvetica which isn’t what we use for research papers but I feel like it works best here as it is even more simple and clean than Times New Roman. I inverted the text and made the entire text into a brush and used it as an eraser in the next step.

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What the eraser/brush does

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The image above is what the brush looks like. The entire rectangle (A5 sized) will be the eraser. Only the portions filled in black will be erased.

This next step involves the appearance of the first layer (striped layer). I duplicated this layer first, keeping on untouched and worked on the other layer. The process now is fairly simple, taking the new brush that I made, I erased all of the lines, leaving just my name in stripes.

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When I place back the unedited striped layer over my name layer, the name is no longer visible.

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But as I move this striped layer to the right the name slowly becomes visible.

Screen Shot 2016-02-13 at 9.16.32 amScreen Shot 2016-02-13 at 9.16.54 amAs the layer moves, the name will disappear again. The name will fade in and out as the top layer moves. For this to work, the striped layer has to be printed or drawn on a piece of transparency, while the name can just be on any piece of ordinary paper really. The transparency will then be placed over the name and can be slid around (side to side) to reveal my name. When pulled in one continuous motion, the name will appear to be flashing, fading in and out and regular intervals.

Moiré patterns work on a mathematical basis and can be applied to physics as well. But i would suppose it gravitates more towards maths. I didn’t want to make physics my main focus because I am really out of touch and it wouldn’t be fair to do something entirely on that based on my measly knowledge of physics. This piece is an interacting piece and it shows my inquisitive side, trying out new techniques and taking that risk to try something completely new.

The fading in and out of my name represents my relationship with science. Sometimes I really love, sometimes, not so much. A love-hate relationship. There are times when I want to learn so much and be involved, other times, I want to have nothing to do with it. Sciences aren’t easy to grasp all the time and there are occasions when it just frustrates and confuses me, and it’s times like those that make me withdraw (fade out) from it all. Then something about it will interest me and draw me back in (fade in).

Typographic portrait- Process


Mathematics- All about Geometry

In post, I’ll be focusing on just one of the pieces that I will be doing for the project. I have decided to use mathematics as my inspiration, more specifically geometry and maybe incorporating the attribute of logical.

I started off by identifying certain geometric shapes including triangles, squares and polygons.

ShapesPrecision and uniformity was what I was going for so I created a 6×6 square grid and used that as my guide to form the letters to my name. Each letter would then be made of the squares and triangles of the exact measurements. I only added diagonal lines within the appropriate squares to create the triangles. The relevant shapes are then filled in and the grids removed (see images below).

K shape 4.1

PrintShape AShape YShape SShape E I


I did like the outcome when I removed the grid, what was left were only the diagonal lines. Somehow, it became a minimalistic form of the letter, which I thought was quite interesting to note.

K shape
Progression of ‘K’

But of course, to just leave the letters as they are would be too mundane so I’m going to tessellate the letters as best as I can.

Name shape 1Should my calculations be correct, there are a total of 14 complete squares and 32 triangles (converts to 16 squares) to work with. In a 6×6 grid, there should be six squares remaining (left blank) if all 6 letters are arranged properly. Taking into account that the letters ‘e’ and ‘a’ already have a blank square incorporated into itself, there will then be four squares outside the tessellations.

Name shape 3
Tessellation in progress

For a matter of convenience, I decided to print out the letters to try and tessellate them. But of course, I am also considering working the pieces like a tangram.

Some possible arrangements:

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In terms of execution, I will either be leaving it digital, I might also try my hand at linocut or paper cut (still keeping options open). And maybe a splash of colour should be added into the work, I think it would make the work more exciting and visually appealing. It would also show how I actually feel about maths as a subject, that I don’t think it’s boring in the least.

A new perspective

The plan for now…


After consultation and sharing on Monday, I have decided to leave the petri dish idea and put it on hold for another time. I was concerned that the idea was too three-dimensional for this assignment and it was deviating from the assignment brief a little more than I would have liked too. I did consider (and was told) that I could take photographs of the petri dishes instead to make more of a two-dimensional piece of work, however I felt that it would not be as impactful to have photos instead of the actual dish itself. It would have been more visually interesting to have the item there for others to view. Perhaps I might still give this idea a go for the sake of my curiosity, I am quite curious to if I would have any success with it.

I was told to look into how science is communicated to others. My understanding of this would include what the components are in say a laboratory report (what font is used, the layout, etc.). What makes science, science? I will talk more about this later on in this post.

Besides that I now want to look into the things that are associated with science. Why not put to good use what I’ve learnt in the last few years and incorporate that into my artworks. This was the same thought process I had when I decided with the petri dish idea, however, I have realized I have been unknowingly limiting and restricting myself to just biology, more specifically the study of bacteria. It somehow slipped my mind that science also includes other branches, chemistry, physics and even mathematics. So, why not use all of them? Even though I was a biology student for the most part, I have no prejudices against any of the others, I enjoy all of them the same and you can’t study one science and ignore the rest because they interlink, that’s just the beauty of it all. No one subject stands alone.

A new plan

As of now I have the plan of using one of the sciences for each piece of work, so four works in total, each inspired by one of the sciences to represent an attribute. I have also made the decision to pick a new set of attributes. Each attribute will be related to the science, it will most likely be an attribute that I have found to be useful and necessary to mastering that science.

My plan for now involves researching for components that are iconic and special to that particular science. For example, if I think biology, I associate it with DNA and its structure (e.g. the double helix, base-pairing) and enzymes. If it was mathematics, I think the Fibonacci sequence, geometry, vectors, ratios. In the next half of this post, I will be exploring what makes up the sciences.

Earlier on I wrote something about finding out what makes science the way it is or what makes it different from say art. For starters, from my experience, the information that is presented is detailed but always presented in a simple way (nothing fancy) because the main objective is to relay information accurately and in a way that makes sense to other parties. Ease of reading is crucial, a fancy, elaborate font would never be used because it just makes reading difficult and distracts the reader from what is really important-the content. To aid the reader, graphs and charts are also used for illustration purposes. I might actually do some exploring with respect to graphs and charts. To sum up how science is communicated, I would say that it is simplicity in presentation.

The image below includes some examples of graphs and what not, of the four graphs, three are actual graphs that were plotted as part of my lab sessions while I was still studying biology about a year ago. Graphs aren’t just limited to the common pie chart, others such as bar graphs, histograms, scatter plots and regression lines are also included. There is definitely quite a variety to choose from, each with its own unique look and presentation.


Artist Reference

Since I have decided to take a new approach and plan for this project, I figured it would be appropriate to present a new artist reference. While looking for interesting typography examples the other day, I came across something that really made a deep impression on me. It was called Hexagonetica typeface by KAIWA (see image below).

Hexagonetica typface

The entire post showed the breakdown and progression of how the typeface was created from one simple shape that was then given a sense of perspective through the addition of a few lines. A hexagon became a cube and then finally into a cube with squares cut out from it. A grid was obtained from the overlapping lines of the cube and the alphabet was derived from that. I really like this process, a step-by-step approach of creating the alphabet from the basic hexagon. I’d also like to talk about the use of colour. Only three colours were used for this typeface and yet a strong sense of depth is created for each letter. It is really nothing too elaborate or fancy but the outcome is more than impressive in my eyes. It brings me back to my point about simplicity, there is nothing in this typeface that I would consider excessive, everything is in the right amount and it delivers.


Link: https://www.behance.net/gallery/12400337/HEXAGONETICA-Typeface


MOving on

I thought it would be appropriate for me to list out some of the ideas that i have for now. I may not use some of them but I guess it will help me to see what options I have as of now. They might seem a little random but they were the first things that popped into my head.


List out attributes required for the sciences (general)


Attention to detail






Identifiable components

Biology: DNA, RNA, skeletons, organs, structure of vitamin, carbohydrates, fatty acids, proteins

Chemistry: transition metals, periodic table, organic chemistry (benzene, structural), atoms

Physics: Quantum physics (Schrödinger’s cat), gravity, three laws of motion, force

Mathematics: Geometry, graphs, Fibonacci (-golden ratio), binary, vectors

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).

Typographic Portrait- Research

Research on TYpography

What makes for effective typography? It certainly is not just the font that make for good typography. There are many other elements that go into a design such as the font, spacing and font size.[1]

With that being said, the nature of the text also makes a difference. It would not make much sense to use a typeace rendered with feathers and animal fur used for the phrase say ‘Save water’. There are definitely much better ways to illustrate water. There is relation between animals and water no doubt but it would be harder for viewers to comprehen since the relationship is not direct as it could be. This may then result in a misinterpretation from what was originally intended.

In this post, I will be exploring the typographic work of several artists and hopefully find out what makes for a good piece of typographic work, but first, an overview of the anatomy of typography. I recently found out how important it was to know the names and the parts of each letter while I was doing the previous project names “Hello”. I decided to use a minimalistic approach with regard to the letters and knowing what makes up a particular letter made the process much easier. Each letter of the alphabet has its own special features that allow one to identify them, keep those portions and strokes in and removing the rest would thus still allow one to identify the letters even if it is not drawn in completion. The image below is a guide to the anatomy of typography.

Website: https://thelogocompany.net/blog/typography-2/typography-font-deconstruction/

Anatomy of Typography
Artist References

Marc Böttler

His works include a set of photographs of carefully positioned wooden blocks to form letters of the alphabet. This is not exactly an example of typography but rather one of a typeface and indeed the reason for choosing this work is of the typeface. The focus of this piece not so much on the font type or size but rather the issue of perspective. A play on perspective, letters only visible when viewed from the correct angle and position. In this case however, Böttler has already fixed the angle for the viewer through the photographs. It would be interesting to apply the same concept but with the actual objects so that the viewer has to change his/her perspective and challenge how they view things. Such a typeface, which plays on perspective, could and would make for an interesting element in typography.

Klotz Type Experiment by Marc Böttler

Marc Böttler: http://cargocollective.com/marcboettler/Klotz-Type-Experiment


While we are on the subject of perspectives, let us talk about anamorphosis. Anamorphic art relies heavily on the concept of perspectives and can be considered a form of optical illusion. This form of art comes in various forms such as mirror anamorphosis, sculptures (e.g. Jonty Hurwitz) and typography just to name a few. An example of anamorphic typography can be seen in the work of designer Thomas Quinn. The text is painted in a skewed manner onto several areas of a wall and as a result, it looks like a distorted group of letters. However, by changing the position one is standing at, one will be able to finally see the undistorted text in full. It is thus an interactive piece of work, it is only with interacting with the work that one will get to see the intended text.

It would be challenge to try out anamorphic typography but I would like to try it out regardless. I do feel it makes quite an impact. It gets people involved in the art thus hopefully bringing across the message (whatever it may be) much more easily.

Anamorphic Typography by Thomas Quinn
Anamorphic Typography by Thomas Quinn

Thomas Quinn: http://www.tqvinn.com/post/24799863149/face-reality-as-it-is


José Ernesto Rodriguez

Handschrift by José Ernesto Rodriguez

Rodriguez created the “Handschrift” typeface where letters of the alphabet were created by photocopying and scanning his own hands to create organic letters. This typeface involves the use of the body and it almost becomes a piece of performance art. The special aspect of using body parts is that one can create forms that one probably could not create otherwise (not easily anyway) and yet there are limitations as to how much one can bend and contort to form the letters.

José Ernesto Rodriguez: https://www.behance.net/gallery/Handschrift/1271211



Anna Garforth

Wild at Heart by Anna Garforth

This is a 9m long installation made from masking tape stuck onto a wire fence spelling out the phrase ‘wild at heart’. Masking tape is taped in a diagonal manner from top left to bottom right. The left to right direction similar to how words are read in the English language, eye is thus also drawn and directed from left to right which in a way facilitates the reading process and urges the viewer to read the full phrase.

There seems to be a system and some sort of order with regard to the way the tape is stuck. The fence ensures the strips of tape are equally spaced apart and are parallel to each other (angle of each tape is consistent throughout).

This is one of the few typography examples that I would consider to be really interesting simply because it is a 3-dimensional piece and it requires the use of the surrounding environment. It proves that typography does not have to be limited to just the traditional pen and paper or digital means but can be so much bigger. But of course aesthetically pleasing typography really serves little purpose unless the words and design are related and complement each other. The overall design should place emphasis and support the text as best possible. In Garforth’s case, the environment complements the phrase ‘wild at heart’. The text is placed outdoors, amongst (‘at the heart’ of) the flora and fauna thus giving meaning to the word ‘wild’.

Anna Garforth: http://www.annagarforth.co.uk/about.html


Other references

Another example of text and design going hand-in hand would be one where the words are arranged and manipulated to form the shape of whatever it represents. For example in animal typography by Dan Fleming, the word ‘rabbit’ is shaped into the form of a rabbit. They are direct and simple.

Animal Typography by Dan Fleming
Animal Typography by Dan Fleming

Dan Fleming: https://www.behance.net/gallery/6769383/Word-Animals

Food typography has also recently become quite popular. Using food, ingredients to spell out words, for example, using flour to spell out the word flour. The examples that I have seen online are indeed beautiful and straightforward. They also prove that there are few boundaries when it comes to use of medium. There is no reason why anyone should limit themselves to just pen and paper. But of course food typography is also done using digital means.

See Fast Food typography by Thomas Cheng: http://thomascheng.com/academic-work


I have taken a particular interest in typography made using interesting and non-conventional items. I might not use the same items to create my typography but they give me ample reason to break boundaries and not limit myself in terms of medium. An example would be bubblewrap typography by Lo Siento. Coloured water is injected using a syringe into each bubble. One can create their own typeface but one can also choose to find these typefaces in everyday life. To put it simply, finding ‘hidden’ letters in the environment. For example, finding alphabets in the wings of butterflies, ‘Butterfly Alphabet’ by Kjell Bloch Sandved.

Lo Siento: http://www.losiento.net/entry/wired-magazine-lettering



[1] “typography.” The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Art TermsOxford Art Online. Oxford University Press, accessed January 20, 2016,http://www.oxfordartonline.com.ezlibproxy1.ntu.edu.sg/subscriber/article/opr/t4/e1720.