2D Design Elements

We were tasked to talk about some design elements, and thus, I have selected 3 for your viewing pleasure:

1. Unity/Harmony


In my opinion, a design that has “unity” is a design where multiple smaller parts combine to make a bigger whole, and no part is viewed as more important than the other.

Paper men in unity circle on a cardboard background

Paper men in unity circle on a cardboard background

2. Scale/Proportion


This is where a design takes advantage of the relative size of its elements. Scale can be used effectively to show a sense of “drama” in a design. As seen in the image above, a similar design with different relative sizes of its elements can have different effects.

3. Similarity/Contrast


In a design, unique elements should stand out from one another. This is where contrast comes into play, as it makes the focal point of the design clear.

Whose line is it anyway? (It’s mine)

Admittedly, thinking abstractly isn’t one of my strongest points. Having to express emotions with nothing but lines proved to be a challenge for me, but nonetheless, I’d like to think I did a pretty good job. *fireworks*

Processed with VSCOcam with b5 preset

The medium(s) I decided to use were ones that were very familiar to me, namely pencils, graphite sticks and markers of various sizes. Using familiar medium(s) allowed for me to express my ideas with great clarity.


Processed with VSCOcam with b5 preset

This was represented by heartbeat-ish lines that are messy and all over the place, which represents how my mind is when I’m anxious (which is most of the time)


Processed with VSCOcam with b5 preset

I wanted to create something that looked different from different perspectives. From far, it looks like a long horizontal line, but up close, it is revealed to be made up of many short, vertical lines.


Processed with VSCOcam with b5 preset

I define turbulent as conflict, therefore I wanted to show clashing arrows. Thick lines were used to emphasise the direction.


Processed with VSCOcam with b5 preset

This is pretty much a literal interpretation of the ribbon used by various styles of dance.


Processed with VSCOcam with b5 preset

I drew inspiration from the phrase “spontaneous combustion”, and wanted to show an explosion in a simple way using only two tones.


Processed with VSCOcam with b5 preset

When you’re embarrassed, you would want to keep your presence low, hence the low-laying line.


Processed with VSCOcam with b5 preset

Someone having to decide between “yes” and “no”. The small scribblings represent the endless internal debate of an indecisive person. The big silhouettes formed by the scribblings represent what the indecisive person says, which is no different.


Processed with VSCOcam with b5 preset

The dotted lines represent a route to be followed, and the curved line represents someone that wants to follow said route but is distracted by what’s around him. Like me getting distracted while writing this pos-dog!


Processed with VSCOcam with b5 preset

I got my inspiration by imagining a children’s colouring book that has been hastily filled in by a messy kid.


Processed with VSCOcam with b5 preset

I see “awkward” as someone trying to fit in but is unsuccessful at doing so; A 3D block that’s trying to fit in in a dominantly 2D pattern.


Processed with VSCOcam with b5 preset

I wanted to show someone running out of breath while also showing their depleting energy levels.


Processed with VSCOcam with b5 preset

Eyes have been used as a creepy symbol in many media. It’s like being watched by something unknown, as you can only see the eyes, and that’s what I was trying to go for.


Processed with VSCOcam with b5 preset

I imagined the A2 strip as a big glass panel which was impacted by something at a singular point.


Processed with VSCOcam with b5 preset

The first thought that came to mind was “split personalities”, which was shown by the contrast between the clean and messy lines. I used a 6B graphite stick to produce thicker messier lines.


Processed with VSCOcam with b5 preset

I was inspired by a computer’s circuit board.


Processed with VSCOcam with b5 preset

The first thing that came to mind was “squiggly lines” that look like they were done by kids. In the actual work I experimented with different concentration of “squiggles”. I also added shapes to add to the random factor of the strip.


Processed with VSCOcam with b5 preset

I wanted to show the curves of the human body in an abstract way. I made the background black to emphasise the curves even more.


Processed with VSCOcam with b5 preset

I’ve always thought that barb wire that’s used on fences were pretty aggressive looking, so I tried to replicate that onto the paper, albeit in a slightly abstract way using a marker and messy lines.

In retrospect, I realise that most, if not, all of my ideas are very grounded in reality. Given my limited experience in abstract drawing, I think I did pretty well!

Research: Shirin Neshat

Our group (Leon, Wilson and James) was tasked to do research on the artist named Shirin Neshat.

  • Born in 1957, fourth of five children of westernised, wealthy parents.
  • Learnt traditional religious values from maternal grandparents.
  • Attained Bachelor of Arts, Master of Arts and Master of Fine Arts.
  • Visual feminist artist exploring gender issues in the Islamic world; addresses gender issues through her artwork.

“I am an artist, I am not an activist” – Shirin Neshat

The artwork that we’ll be looking at today is a group of 4 photos titled, “Women of Allah”

  • An artistic result of her visit to Iran in 1990, a country transformed by Islamic fundamentalism.
  • Wanted to explore the notion of femininity in relation to male authority and Islamic fundamentalism in her home country.
  • She feels that photography works best for her topics, conveying realism, immediacy, and a sense of drama.


Even though she was traditionally trained as a painter, she was inspired by the realism of photojournalism. She crops and enlarges photos in a large format, and considers herself more of a director than a photographer.


The veil is used as a common representative symbol. Rejection of veil under Shah’s promotion of secular culture. Symbol of religious faith & political rebellion under Islamic Revolution.



“Women of Allah” also showcases women’s bodies, which is a sensitive subject matter encompassing religion, spirituality, moralism and gender equality. She intentionally shows some parts of female body that are not allowed to be seen in public, which are covered with abstract designs and Persian calligraphy; infusion of Middle Eastern culture. Brings worth the themes of roles of women, gender rights, equality and dress code.



A common object featured in these photos is a gun, which is a symbol of cruelty and violence. She creates a contradiction by putting feminine traits such as beauty and grace, with cruelty and violence.

On a micro scale, “Women of Allah” is a personal series where she explore her cultural roots and heritage, showing the transition from the Shah monarchy to the Islamic Revolution. On a macro scale, she shows an experience of living in the west and their cultural norms. She also investigates women’s identity across two cultures and regions.

“I believe we don’t need to widen the divide between the West and Islam. Rather, we need to build dialogue to encourage tolerance and respect.” – Shirin Neshat

Done by: Leon Tai, Wilson Heng and James Ng












Leon’s project 1b that he feels neutral towards

I chose to see the poem in the form of a narrative, and so the images that I’ve presented resemble storyboards, or mood boards that one would make in the conceptualization stage of making a short film. With that out of the way, let’s start interpreting the poem.


Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
 (tophttps://micheledelcampo.files.wordpress.com/2013/10/michele-del-campo-consuming-desire-220x300cm.jpg middle: my own photo bottom: https://www.flickr.com/photos/image_chaser/4989430266/sizes/l/)
I see fire as overwhelming passion, the kind of love that will eventually hurt you, and ice as apathy, or indifference towards anything. These are the two dominant factors that kill the man in the middle of the picture.
From what I’ve tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
(top: screenshot from "500 Days of Summer" middle: screenshot from "The Matrix" bottom: http://images.sodahead.com/profiles/0/0/2/4/3/6/7/0/3/mt316231258327698tanz_der_vampire_hamburg_tickets.jpeg)
The author is saying that having tried fire, he tends towards those who have similar views. The choice he makes is represented by him taking the red pill, as the red pill is what Neo decides to take eventually, as seen in the movie “The Matrix”. The picture of the woman being bitten by Dracula, presumably out of passion, and is therefore tinted red. The top picture shows a couple being distant towards each other, which represents indifference and is therefore tinted blue.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
(top: http://www.4thestate.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/time-machine.jpg middle: http://img05.deviantart.net/2cd6/i/2008/222/9/5/indifference__by_photography_cc.jpg bottom: http://pre08.deviantart.net/0f17/th/pre/f/2013/033/6/b/handstone_by_inaaca-d5tjrp4.jpg)
I interpret this as the world being resurrected, represented by the hands of time. And after being resurrected, he has gone through enough apathy and indifference of those around him to know that the world is also capable of being destroyed by it’s own apathy.
And would suffice
(reference: http://www.kristeligt-dagblad.dk/kronik/europas-identitet-en-gammel-og-en-ny-kristen-spiritualitet)
This line is represented by a single image of a grave with a purple sunset. The purple sunset represents the mixture of red and blue elements, namely “fire” and “ice”. If you’ve noticed, all the panels so far have been in a set of 3 images, whereas this final sentence is represented by only 1 image. I feel that a single image shows off the impact of the phrase, “to suffice”.
Admittedly, thinking abstractly isn’t exactly my cup of tea, but I still tried my best anyway and I’m pretty happy with the result, although I feel like I could have done a better job if I had a better grasp of Photoshop.
Seeing everyone else’s work made me realise that there are so many ways to interpret a poem, and it really inspires me to do a better job next time!

Leon’s project 1a that he is actually proud of for once

1a.) Self


The first image of the series is my self portrait. I feel that most of the time I tend to be in my own world, where I ignore the presence of everything around me. I used a slower shutter speed (1/8th of a second IIRC) to make the people around me blurred out while I am in focus.


For the second image, I wanted to show my love for collecting CDs. My favorite thing about collecting CDs is the fact that each CD contains a unique memory of myself finding that CD. It’s not like downloading music nowadays; people don’t go, “Oh! I remember downloading this at ______!”

The CD I chose to showcase is titled “Late Registration”, by Kanye West. I had been looking for this CD for a while, and one day I decided to go down to my regular CD shop to see if the guy had it. When I reached the shop, the owner looks at me and says, “Hey, I have something that you’ll love”, and lo and behold, it’s the EXACT album I was looking for, completely new. It is because of that memory that I will hold this CD dear to me.


The last image portrays my love for street photography. I find that street photography is the purest way to see the world, and what I like about it in particular is the fact that it’s seeing the uniqueness in the ordinary.

In this photo, a child is being held in her father’s hands. In this intimate moment between father and child, she has noticed my presence, therefore sharing her moment with me. I may not appear in the photo physically, but my presence is etched in the photo by her looking at the lens, and therefore, looking right at me.

1b.) Object


The object that I chose to portray in this series is a deck of playing cards. One of my hobbies is the art of shuffling playing cards, otherwise known as cardistry. The shot of me holding the deck of cards shows that this hobby isn’t about me. When I first started learning cardistry, people would make comments about how I am only learning this to showoff to others. My face is blurred to tell people that I am doing it because I like it and not to show myself off to others.


The rest of the images showcase the different type of displays and movements that are involved in a typical card flourish. One is a static image of a card fan taken close-up to showcase the patterns that the cards make, and the other involves a kinetic element to it; one packet of cards is spinning while the rest are stationary. I think both images serve their purposes well.


1c.) Place


The place that I’ve shown is a video game arcade. I spent a lot of time as a child in these arcades, playing all the different games to pass the time. You could say that I’ve grown up in these arcades.


In this series, I wanted to show people what I like about video game arcades. I like how the place is usually dark, and the only thing lighting up the place are the arcade games themselves. It gives a very unique vibe to the place, and that was what I was trying to capture.


Also, I like that there’s an invisible sense of camaraderie in an arcade. Even though everyone doesn’t know each other in an arcade, everyone knows that they’re all there to have fun, so there’s a certain kind of connection that everyone forms with each other, which you can only feel if you’ve spent a lot of time in an arcade, in my opinion.


You could say that this series is my labor of love to video game arcades, and I hope they will continue to exist as long as possible.



I learnt that multiple images can tell a single story, even though said images might not seem relevant to each other at first glance. I also came to realise that the way you assemble your photos in an exhibition can add to the message that you want to bring across as well. Overall, I really enjoyed this exercise and wouldn’t mind doing it again.