Project 2: The Subverted Object (Process, Concepts, Test Shots)

For this project, my assigned object is a measuring tape. I knew subverting is going to be challenging hence, I tried to make sure my research and thought process for each component is strong and detailed hence, I’m able to deliver the objectives of the brief. In addition, I wanted to do something different and not try not to use the overused concepts related to measuring tape such as suicide/suffocating due to body issues or anorexia initially. However, after critique, I realised there are different ways to express the overused concepts in an interesting way and it’s up to me on how I’m going to make it more interesting and impactful in terms of sending out a message. This post will be my process of research and trial & error for each component of this project.

The photos are taken using an iPhone 8+.



For exploration of ideas and viewing the measuring tape from different aspects, I’ve decided to break the object down in a mind map in terms of the good and the bad of a measuring tape as well as researching on idioms I could use in the design process.

Mindmap of “Measuring Tape” – Good & Bad


Idioms related to measuring tape, measuring, measurement, scale:

  • A cut above (slightly better than)
  • Move the needle (have a measurable effect on something) E.g. ( We’re all hoping that the new product line will move the needle on sales – revenues have been flat lately.
  • beyond measure (in large numbers)



Ideas for Component 1

Objective of this component:

  • To denotate the object as a literal message.
  • Focus: To measure tangible (physical) objects.

Concept 1 – Interaction: ‘Measuring the mannequin’

Process of selection of photos:

Experimented with different shot distance and various angles to find the best shot to showcase the interaction of the user with the object; measuring tape.

Selected photo:

Using Rule of Thirds, I’ve decided to crop the proper so it will have a balanced composition of the object, the user and the mannequin against the white backdrop. In addition, I increased the saturation of photo so it will be vibrant and it adds emphasis to the complementary colours of yellow and blue which is the interaction of the user and the object (focal point).

Concept 2 – Object: ‘Fabric Measuring Tape’

Process of selection of photos:

Experimented with different shot distance and various angles to find a suitable photo which best describes the measuring tape’s physical attributes. Played around by making the measuring tape messy and arranging it neatly to see which describes the object in its natural form.

Selected photo:

The selected photo is the fabric measurement tape is being coiled up to show how measurement is universal in this world but it’s messy at times because different parts of the world have different standards of measuring as shown from the scale; cm (white side of the measuring tape) and inches (yellow side of the measuring tape). The composition is more dynamic and catches your attention more than the usual neatly arranged measuring tape.

Concept 3 – Environment: ‘Sewing room’ 

Process of selection of photos:

For the environment setting for the object, I captured the wide shot to showcase the whole environment of where the measuring tape is commonly used in.

Selected photo:

For the photo selected, I realised framing and cropping from Project 1 helped me out for this section as it is essential because it removes all the distractions from the surrounding and I’m able to enhance the photo by picking which areas I want to focus on. In addition, after cropping the photo, I’ve decided to remove unnecessary labels and objects to place emphasis on the object and the environment.



Conceptualization for Component 2


Objective of this component:

  • To connotate the object as a symbolic message
  • Subvert the object’s meaning and explore different ways of subverting the measuring tape to change its function or to tell a message through my concepts
  • Considerations –
  • How do we measure intangible object (e.g. happiness, knowledge)?
  • How did they came up with standards and society’s norms which is all related to measurement and scale (an element of the measuring tape) of expectations in this world?


Drawings of Ideas/Conceptualization on notes:

  1. Measurement of happiness
  2. Preconceived notions of dating
  3. Suffocated by conforming to society’s standard of beauty
  4. Body issues due to society’s social norms (e.g. anorexia)


Selected Concept 1 – ‘Measurement of Happiness’

For this concept, I was really inspired by John Holcroft‘s illustration of how social media is a form of ego boost and a substitute of dopamine drug to improve one’s self-esteem in majority of the avid users of social media’s life nowadays. He used his sense of humour to raise awareness about the dependency of social media to one’s life and how it is much cheaper than going to therapy. Hence, I decided to incorporate this idea into my concept for component 2 using the measuring tape as a scale of happiness.


Selected Concept 2 – ‘Suffocated by social norms’

For this concept of being suffocated by conforming to social norms, I’ve incorporated elements of Laura Zalenga and Kyle Thompson’s faceless element and incorporated René Magritte‘s artwork of the figure being hollow into this concept to show there’s layers of meaning to it and the individual putting on a facade.


Selected Concept 3 – ‘Select your outcome (How standards came about?)’

For this concept of selecting being a follower or a leader,  I was inspired to incorporate the technique of ‘Décalcomanie’ which is a blotting process whereby paint is squeezed between two surfaces to create a mirror image. For my artist reference, you can see each artist incorporate the techniques in their own style and I’ve decided to focus on selecting one out of two scenarios/choices in our lives that will lead us to a different outcome/perspective in life that will be further explained using text and linguistic message.

Experimentation & Process of selection of final concept:

For the final concept, I’ve decided to choose concept 3 to represent this idea of selecting your outcome of being a follower or a leader to show the dependency of the follower towards the leader. However, after the critique, I felt like concept 2 would be a better option for the final concept because it clearly shows the two scenarios that an individual have to select and it really incorporates the décalcomanie technique. I realised that thinking through with my selection of concept is really essential because I need to select the concept that conveys the message best and it’s easy for the audience to understand the context.


  • Preconceived notions of dating
Preconceived notions of dating (Positive perspective)
  • Body issues due to society’s social norms (e.g. anorexia)
  • Subvert the measuring tape into a belt, a whip or a corset

After the critique, I felt like I should’ve spent time exploring and manipulating the test shots that I’ve taken and work with the ideas I had in mind instead of just selecting three and focusing on it. If I had the chance to redo this project, I would select the idea of the measuring tape being subverted into a corset to showcase how people try to fit into the right size according to the beauty standards.




  • Use colour to create energy, elicit a mood and attract the eye.
  • Use blocks of solid colours
  • Limit your colour palette to put emphasis on the main focal point
  • Show seriousness with a BOLD font, enhance elegance with an ITALIC font or express playfulness or fun with a LOOSE HANDWRITTEN font.
  • When selecting fonts, choose at least TWO. (Headline & body copy)
  • Make typography clean and simple
  • Create visual hierarchy
  • Use negative or white space to form clever composition
  • Say more with less (Remove unnecessary elements)(Minimalistic elegance)
  • Create a point of focus (use photography that’s in or out of focus to give more weight to the text)
  • Play with layering to create DEPTH & DIMENSION
  • Take the viewer’s focus on a journey with clever perspective
  • Ensure your composition is BALANCED
  • Use creative illustrations which can be flat or have layers and depth
  • Ensure all of your graphic elements FLOW TOGETHER (Create a path for them to follow)
  • Design your poster to evoke emotion. (fragmented composition made of difference facial expressions to mimic the feeling of the jazz event.)
  • Create consistent templates to use for multiple events
  • Design for your audience
  • Play with contrast for a more interesting composition

(Source of content)

Text considered for poster:

  • “You’ll never be satisfied.”
  • “What is the norm?”
  • “Never enough.”
  • “Create your own norm.”
  • “Your choice.”
  • “Select your outcome.”
  • “Prisoner of trends.”
  • “Create your norm.”
  • “Measure up.”

Outcome of A2 poster:


Selected text for poster:

“Prisoner of Trends”

“Create your norm”

“Select your outcome”


After thoughts:

  • Make it more like an advertisement or poster to raise awareness so it will be more impactful (I should’ve put more thought into it and make it look more sleek and clean.)
  • Experiment more with the text with the other composition of selected concept to see which composition is more suitable to convey the meaning of the image.


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