Varoom Research & Process || Illustration for Designers

For this project, I chose the topic of Obsession. The obsession for this project is:

Obsessed with Nostalgia

Exploration on the anatomy of 80s nostalgia in pop culture:

Annoyance is a great motivator. Currently, i’m seeing an obsession with the 80s aesthetic and romanticisation of the era in contemporary pop culture, and people my age (who did not grow up in the 80s) are also wishing that they could grow up in this period.

It is annoying for me, when people my age say that they wished they could live in that era, because i’m pretty sure if they were to travel back in time to the 80s, they’d wanna come back to 2019 as soon as possible. It’s like people are obsessing about the 80s but forgetting the crisis and problems happening during the era.Through this illustration, I want to take a critical stance on this nostalgic romanticisation of the 80s. 

Key Points covered in article and video essay:

  • 30 Year Cycle (this refers to the romanticisation of eras by the present generations, for examaple, the 80s romanticised the 50s, the 50s romanticised the 20s.)
  • Anatomy of Nostalgia
    • Restorative Nostalgia: Recapture and reiterate the past, more to documentation
    • Reflective Nostalgia: More escapist, longing to things that are lost to time. Emphasis on the simple and stability of life.
    • Deconstructive Nostalgia: Critical of the past, highlights issues prevalent during the period
  • Nowadays…
    • 80s nostalgia Is very popular
    • It’s affirming & comforting
    • Is a mirror to the present: looking back to the past for the hope for the future
    • “It is a reflection of the past as we want it to have been seen, as in the present”

Target Audience

I’m addressing to people who are into the 80s craze right now. Which is my generation and younger (Millenials and Gen Z). Who never really grew up in the 80s, and are getting a romanticised version of the era. Where the 80s nostalgia affects them in fashion, music, and film, design. People who look to the past for a sense of comfort & escapism, look for hope for a better future.

I also think this is a good opportunity to talk about the AIDS concern, because recently Singaporean HIV positive people are also going through this (because of a cyber attack which outed HIV patients.) I want to take a stance on how Singaporeans are just following trends without realising that they are repeating the wrong side of history.

User Character Profile

(((((don’t mind me just using characters from Back To The Future because it’s an 80s theme..)))))

Illustration Ideas:

  • A reflective & deconstructive illustration of the 80s
  • The illustration will seemingly be about the reflective nostalgia of the 80s
  • To criticise the reflection of nostalgia, I will be highlighting the 80s AIDs crisis

Illustration Process


My thumbnails. Found this technique to be very useful.

The common theme of my thumbnails is of a young person enjoying the cultural products of the 80s, dancing around like Cindy Lauper, watching the “80s” shows on TV, while the “older” people are suffering from the crisis and problems of the era.


My fav thumbnail

From my thumbnails, this particular one is my favourite because it’s got a dark humour element. The idea of this concept is…Freddie Mercury on an IV drip, performing his last performance.

The way that I would be showcasing the obsession is by the audience (of millennials) all having their phones up to record the performance, disregarding that he is slowly dying from AIDs.

I chose Freddie Mercury because till this day, he is still very iconic (eg. Bohemian Rhapsody Movie) He is also one of the more famous celebrities who have passed away from the 80s AIDS crisis, which would help me in my critical narrative on nostalgia.

Mood Board


Thumbnail 1



Thumbnail 2



Thumbnail 3

Style Choice

Digital Drafts


Colour Choices

Image result for mona lisa



Exploratory Research Part 2 || Visual Communication 2

“Why are your assignments all about sex?” – A question of the universe that cannot be answered.

Gaining Insights

To gain even further insight into my topic of discussion, I created a Google Survey, where I asked different types of questions concerning Pornography. The purpose of the survey was to get a general insight on local Singaporean views on the matter, which would help me narrow down my scope.

Snippet of my google survey

Google Form:

With 32 respondents as of 8th February 2019, the feedback I received were beneficial in this process, as I am able to make a lot of interpretation from the open ended questions I posed. Some surveyors also decided to do the survey in front of me, or come to me to express their opinions on the subject matter. From my observation, I gathered that generally, people were open and engaged in this topic because it hit very close to home for many (like…very, very close), regardless of race, gender or creed.

Before going forward with the survey, I also wanted to to know if a person’s lifestyle and values had anything to do with their consumption of pornography. I asked questions such as sex, gender, sexuality, and religion. Out of the surveyors, only 6 people said they did not watch pornography. All of them were cis-women, 3 Christians, 1 Catholic, 2 Buddhists. Needless to say these numbers don’t mean anything and I wasted my energy asking because majority consumes porn. 

Zooming into my Scope

Initially, my questionnaire was designed around the scope of Mental and Societal impacts of consuming Pornographic content. However, after getting my results, I realised that for the average singaporean (aged 18 – 24), the mental impacts of pornography were not as detrimental as claimed by the sources that I used for my research (which were US based). For instance, some individuals expressed that “Got so serious meh!! It’s not that serious.”

Open ended questions i asked about the mental & societal impacts of pornographic content.

With this, I looked further into my research to see what is a scope that is based more on indisputable fact (rather than something people may or may not relate to.) As such, I now have a new scope:

This project aims to raise awareness on the technological link of pornographic content and sex trafficking of underage children (18 years old and below). 

Design Objective & Target Market

The objective of the design challenge is to empower youths to be more aware on what they are actually supporting when they consume pornographic material. I cannot shame people into not watching porn, and it is kind of inevitable because even those who don’t watch porn were introduced to this concept when they were young. So the next best action is to educate. 

The target audience of this challenge is for people who are born when the internet is prominent in their lives, Millennial & Gen Z, and are always connected to the internet. Other factors include:

  • All genders
  • Mostly heterosexual
  • Porn is a normal thing in their lives
  • Mature, because they know the difference between good and bad (morals)
  • Use pornographic material for mostly pleasure
  • Use the content because it is instant & convenient
  • Have easy access to pornography on their smart portable devices

Defining the problem & Generating “How Might We” Statements

From my survey, I generated a Point of View statement that would help me define my topic.

A pro-porn user WANTS accessible and anonymous pornographic content for pleasure and leisure, BUT does not know that the content comprises of children who have been sexually trafficked, coerced, and threatened to perform.

Some “How Might We” statements to help me kickstart my ideas for my infographic and design challenges:

  • How might we make people care about the reality of the “fantasy” they are consuming?
  • How might we reduce the demand of outrageous content and the cycle of child sex trafficking,? (this refers to pornographic content being more and more extreme as the years go by.) (by educating the younger generation?)


Objective: Raising awareness on the technological link between pornographic material and sex trafficking of children.

As this is now my new scope, I believe that my infographic should play the role of introducing my topic gracefully before anything else can happen. As such, I will be conducting research on the statistics for the inseparability of pornographic material and the sex trafficking of children caused by the internet.

Design Challenge 1

Objective: Audience to question their morals by comparing their purpose of using pornographic material versus the reality of the victim’s torture. (Also, why do you feel guilty after masturbating to porn?)

From my research, It has been observed that the majority have a pro or a neutral stance to pornographic material. Many of the respondents indicated that they watched pornographic content compromising of a number of reasons, some being 1) Sexual pleasure 2) Instant gratification 3) Sexual education 4) Temporary Dopamine. While these reasons are normal enough, when posed the question:

“Would you continue to consume pornographic material if you knew that the “actors” were being trafficked/threatened/coerced to act?”

many of the users said they would not because it is unethical. Some also acknowledge that they would still continue to because it is difficult to identify whether the actors are trafficked/threatened/coerced to act.

As such, I want the first design challenge to answer my first “how might we” question, about being caring for the reality of the “fantasy” they are consuming. 

Design Challenge 2

Objective: The audience will learn about how exposure to pornographic material at a young age can have negative effects on a person’s mental health and relationships.

From my survey, there were two categories. One, I asked how old they got introduced to the concept of pornography and how old would be the appropriate age for children to watch porn. The results are:

Whether they discovered pornographic content accidentally or out of curiosity, it was almost evenly split, with only one extra for accidental discovery. From this, it shows that pornographic material is quite inevitable that people will get introduced to it. (The sample also takes into consideration people who don’t consume porn as well.)

My survey also points to technology being the biggest culprit for the widespread of pornographic material. Surveyors indicate that censorship in mainstream tv & media does not work because it is readily available on the internet. (one person made an interesting statement that censorship increases curiosity in people, which they will then go to the internet.) Most of them also indicated that they consume pornographic material using the internet.

However, according to research from Bitdefender, kids under the age of 10 are now accounting for 22% of online porn consumption, among the under 18 age. This is caused by pornographic material being more accessible, anonymous, and affordable than ever before.

As such, I want the second design challenge to answer my second “how might we” question, about reducing the demand for more outrageous content and the cycle of child sex trafficking, through showing the dangers of pornography on a young mind.



This contradiction between morals and reality is good news for me because now I can play with this uncertainty people have about pornographic content. Also I hope I made sense :,)

I haven’t gone into the ideation stage yet, so there is no objective for me to ask about aesthetics or design. But with this new information that I have now, I would be able to come up with some ideas, which I will then conduct a second interview to ask for feedback.

Stylised Self Portrait (Process) || Illustration for Designers

For this assignment, I looked deep into my soul to find words and visuals that defined me. I had a whole list of words, and the ones that I felt most represented majority of my being was:

Diva tries to keep appearances despite existential horrors

This just means despite knowing that nothing I do matters in the grand scheme of the universe, I try to pretend that it’s OKAY :DDDD

Ideation & Sketches

To me, the difficult part was trying to express what Existential Horrors looked like, because it is a concept rather than a tangible thing.

I thought “Maybe monsters would do the trick.”

So I decided that I should be represented by a monster/alien because I felt less human the more I thought about the universe and my pointless existence:

Sketch 1

This is supposed to be me. One thing that was important to the sketch of the face for me was the huge eyes. For me, I felt that this represented me always freaking out.

Sketch 2

I wanted to play with the veins to spell “HELP LOL”. I chose this phrase because i’m always saying in when I’m stressed. But for me i felt that this didn’t have the effect i wanted because it didn’t have enough “movement”

Sketch 3

Finally, I decided to go with this sketch. This incorporated a lot of things:

  • Protruding, huge eyes: internally freaking out all the time
  • Huge pupils: like an owl’s eyes, to show that i’m a night owl
  • Open mouth: to show that internally screaming all the time.
  • Sharp, long tongue: because i have a sharp tongue
  • A lot of wrinkles and eye bags, and sunken cheekbones: stress
  • The floating things around my head: my soul is floating away

For the DIVA aspect, I associated it with fashion and makeup, which is used for putting up a front of pretending to have had my shit together when in reality I don’t. It’s like a way to convince myself that i’m okay :DD

Sketch 1

Since I was a monster in the illustration, I thought about how it would be like if i had multiple hands putting on my makeup for me. But i didn’t like this because i felt that since i wanted my work to be in portrait mode, the arms would be cut off the canvas and it would look like other people were putting makeup on me instead.

Sketch 2

For this one, I defined what appearance meant to me: a mask to hide my true feelings (this is the saddest thing i’ve said.)  So the ‘monster’ me is supposed to be very ugly and gory and non-human, as compared to my normal face, which I made into a literal mask.  I calculated the price of all my makeup products to be around $130, which explains the price tag. After looking at this, I realised that it didn’t have that “diva” aspect because a lot of ‘diva’ information was still missing.

Sketch 3

Here I added the visual of the vanity mirror to push the ‘diva’ aspect, adding onto the previous sketch. Here, the elements of the illustration finally made sense and was what I wanted to portray.

In terms of illustration, I wanted to try something different. This time, I wanted to try to include line art in my illustration:


drew millward does it again pt.1.

Even though there is SO MUCH detail, i think that was what i liked about this style, because it gave the “organised chaos” vibe, which was what I wanted to represent in my Illustration.

Digitalisation & Colour Drafts

B&W Draft

Here I added the “HELP LOL FUK” as the visual representation of my soul floating away.

Colour Schemes

I’ve always been a fan of bright, clashing, crazy colours, and i felt it best represented the chaos i wanted to show.

Terrible Colour scheme 1 

Initially I was green because I wanted to play into the aspect of alien/monster, and complimented it with my favourite colour, pink. But the colour choice here is bad because it looks too calm for my liking.

Terrible Colour scheme 2

Here i also realised that i have very weak line quality.

Terrible Colour Scheme 3

I decided to turn red because it was the colour of stress. I also included other colours like yellows and electric green because they were also chaotic and stressful colours. So, I decided to work on this colour scheme for the final.

Final Illustration in the next post!