For our final project, we were tasked to come up with 4 rows of designs representing “me + setting = outcome“.

We were not given any medium restriction for this assignment. I knew from the start that photography was the medium that I wanted to use in my work. However, I was also used to just capturing images in camera without digitally altering them very much. I knew that to incorporate the element of design, I had to push myself beyond plain photography and find new ways to communicate visually.


After plowing through many collage artists with varying styles of design, I finally found these 3 artists (and 1 film) whose style and work resonated with me very much.

Artist #1 – Man Ray


Man Ray was an American visual artist. His artwork spans from paintings to photography, all of which are very surrealistic, and sometimes dark. I have always loved surrealistic and dark artwork. That might be why he was the first collage artist I came across during my research whose work I really connected with.

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I was very inspired by how he plays on foreground vs background in the two collages above. By doing so, he not only adds visual interest to the image, but also gives the image depth and focus. To me, this style is very sophisticated as it shows a lot of thought being given to both the subjects and composition. Each image tells a story and provokes thought about the subject matter displayed.


Rayograph (The Kiss), 1922 – Man Ray

To me, the image above is the epitome of the phrase show, don’t tell. The simple horizontal split in the center and the superimposition of hands on top of the faces adds so much meaning to the piece without directly telling the viewer what to think. It evokes curiosity and leaves much room for interpretation, which is something that I strive to achieve in my designs.

Artist #2 – Hannah Höch


Hannah Höch was a German Dada artist. She was one of the first people that started photomontage, whereby actual photographs are cut out and layered on top of each other to create a collage. hannah-hochOut of all her collage work, this piece caught my attention immediately. I was drawn to the way she used an extreme close-up of a mouth and blew it up to cover the entire face. The stitching of the pieces together with thread also added an element of pain to the final image, making it a very strong and unique piece for me.

This is the piece that heavily inspired my designs for me + friends = extrovert.


Artist #3 – Davis Ayer 


Davis Ayer is a visual artist based in Los Angeles. He does film photography and his works are dreamy and whimsical. I first came across his work on Instagram, and fell in love with his style immediately. I especially love his use of double exposure photography, which adds layer and interest to his images.


Like the first two images from Man Ray, he uses foreground vs. background to convey the story. The use of the pink in the subjects vs. the blue tones in the background helps to add contrast and interest to the image.


In this image, he layers the image with a double exposure of the girl, and separates them using colour.  Though it may be one of his simpler images, this one in particular really inspired me. Here, the complementary colours red and blue are aptly used to convey the message.


When I saw this image, the first thought that came to me was wow, this is so gorgeous. Again, the complementary hues red and blue are being used. I love how he layered the flowers over the girl’s face, making it look as if she is trapped/suffocated by beauty.

The way Davis Ayer collages using double exposures and his use of colour was a huge source of inspiration for my designs in my me column. 


Film – The Taste of Tea 


The Taste of Tea (茶の味 Cha no Aji) is the third film by Japanese director Katsuhito Ishii. It’s imagery is extremely surrealistic and unique.

girl-head girl-field classroom

In the images above, the little girl is enlarged and placed in various environments, looking at herself. The quirky, unconventional style of the film is extremely intriguing. The style is something I would expect from an animated movie, where literally any composition is possible due to illustration. I love the way the film juxtaposes the image of a person with different environments.

The style of this film was a major source of inspiration for my entire outcome column, where I used different backdrops to represent my inner feelings.



Firstly, here are my four lines.

me + cinema = devotion 

me + friends = extrovert 

me + fantasy = dreams 

me + grandma’s house = nostalgia 

I chose the four settings, cinema, friends, fantasy & grandma’s house as these are the places and situations whereby I feel for and emote the most in my real life.

me + cinema = devotion


Meaning: I am an avid lover of cinema. It is my passion, and film is ultimately the area that what I wish to work in for the rest of my life. As with all areas of the art industry, film is an extremely difficult one to survive in, especially for women. It is one that requires a huge amount of devotion to the art to be able to preserver and stick with it as a career choice. Hence the line me + cinema = devotion

Color Scheme: I chose to use monochrome harmony and colour all the images in hues of blue to represent the aspect of despair in devotion.

Me: I chose to superimpose roses over a photo of myself. The roses represent the passion and love I have for cinema.




Cinema: I superimposed a picture of a classic old hollywood kiss over an image of myself behind a layer of lace. The image of the classic old hollywood kiss is an iconic image of cinema and it symbolizes cinema. In the photo, I look as if I am reaching out through the lace to kiss the image of the couple on screen. I chose to use lace in my photoshoot as lace represents sensuality and desire. The final composition represents my connection to cinema and my passion for it.



Devotion: I photoshopped an image of myself against a backdrop of mountains. I have always found the image of mountains to be very calming and peaceful. At the same time, they are also tremendous in size. They literally emerge from the ground and stay rooted in one spot for the entire span of their existence. To me, that represents determination and devotion. I digitally manipulated the collage such that it looks as if i am part of the giant hills. It represents my quiet devotion and dedication to cinema.




me + friends = extrovert


Meaning: As with many people, I feel introverted most of the time, but the extrovert in me is brought out when I am with my friends. These are two vastly contrasting sides of myself and i wanted to bring that out in my design.

Colour Scheme: I used the complementary hues red and blue in this series to show contrast between introverted vs. extroverted me.

Me: I digitally double exposed an image of myself and coloured one side red and the other side blue to show the introverted (blue) vs extroverted (red) sides that exist within me. I added a closed lip on top to symbolise how I am usually introverted. This image was inspired by Davis Ayers’ one where he used a similar effect on a girl.


img_7152 lipscreen-shot-2016-11-20-at-12-13-11-am

Friends: Here I used an old picture of myself with my friends. I layered open mouths over all of their faces to show the extroversion when we are all together.



Extrovert: I placed myself within a desert background and placed the open mouth in the position where the sun would be. In a desert, the heat from the sun is so strong that the ground seems to shy away from it. By composing my image in such a manner, I wanted to show that the extroversion brought out in me is so loud that my usual introverted self would shy away from it.




me + fantasy = dreams


Meaning: I love escapism and enter fantasy worlds through my imagination and dreams. I tried to show my state of mind when I am in my fantasy world in this series

Colour Scheme: I chose to use monochrome harmony and colour all the images in hues of blue to represent the calming effect being in my fantasy world and dreams has on me.

Me: I flipped an image of myself with smoke from a shoot i did previously. I found this image to be very whimsical and dream-like. In the final image it looks like there are 3 versions of me (2 at the sides and 1 in the middle).



Fantasy: I collaged an image of a body part, my lip, and a space background. Here, it looks as if the body part is the landscape and my lip is the moon. It is very surreal and represents my fantasy world.

lip flat


Dream: Here, I collaged myself in a sea of waves to represent my dream-state. I chose to use waves as the backdrop as waves are both calming and whimsical.


Big waves - Hawaii


me + grandma’s house = nostalgia


Meaning: When I am at my grandma’s house, i feel a sense of nostalgia. This is triggered by certain small objects throughout the house, and makes me remember my childhood. I tried to bring across the sense of nostalgia in this series.

Colour Scheme: I chose to use monochrome harmony and colour all the images in sepia to give it a nostalgic touch.

Me: I collaged two photos of myself and that were layered with bokeh in-camera. It represents me looking at myself from a different perspective.




Grandma’s house: Small objects around her house trigger this sense of nostalgia towards my childhood. I took photos of a few of those items and collaged them together.





Nostalgia: I photoshopped myself in a background filled with green hills and little children running in the foreground. I chose to use the hills with little children to represent an earlier time in my childhood that I can never get back again. The final composition shows me looking down at myself in the past, a visual representation of my nostalgia.




FINAL OUTCOMEscreen-shot-2016-11-19-at-7-57-15-pm


Overall, this has been a particularly challenging project for me. In the beginning, I was very worried that I would not be able to pull it off as I am not an illustrator, and photography is the medium that I am the most comfortable and familiar with. Many  of my classmates are well versed in those areas and I was really afraid that I would not match their standards.

Even though I had thought of using illustrations and mixed media to render my designs, I decided to take a risk and stick with what I knew best – photography and digital manipulation. Even so, I knew that I had to really push myself with the digital manipulation and collage factor to show the element of design that this project was all about.

Time was a major issue while doing this project and I honestly struggled to even get any rough ideas out. Even though time was not on my side, I still wanted to have the element of authenticity in my designs, as my themes were very personal and close to my heart. I did so by taking numerous self portraits and photos of some of the real objects that I would be portraying in my designs. I specifically did not want to use found images, especially for the lines me + friends = extrovert and me + grandma’s house = nostalgia as those were intimate and personal settings that I wanted to keep as authentic as possible.

This project has not been easy and I really struggled a lot. Looking back, I feel that I could definitely have improved and grew more in the aspect of design if i had time to get consults on my designs in the process. However, I am glad that I pushed through and kept researching to find a way of digital manipulation that I liked and could work with. I finally found styles that resonated with me and worked off them to develop images that I can proudly call my own.

Forest Gump Final Designs & Development.

Final Designs.


“I got bad ideas in my head”, Taxi Driver, 1976.


“I wish I knew how to quit you”, Brokeback Mountain, 2005.


“Some men just want to watch the world burn”, The Dark Knight, 2008.


“You couldn’t be ordinary even if you tried”, American Beauty, 1999.

Reference Artist – Henn Kim. 



Henn Kim is an illustrator that i’ve been following way before we even got assigned this project. I have always loved her minimalistic designs and how she interprets quotes very directly in her images. Below are some examples of a few of my favourite works.


In this design, she interprets the quote “Be bold or italic, never regular” with a simple image of two pairs of feet. One pair of feet is straight, symbolising “bold” while the other pair is crossed, symbolising “italic”. This is a very strong image as the viewer can immediately associate her illustration with the accompanying quote.


Here, she illustrates the quote “New love, same old mistakes”. In this design, she uses fresh flowers vs. withered flowers to symbolise new love vs. old love. A woman stands in the middle. She faces the new flowers, held by a man’s hand. It clearly delivers the message of repeating past mistakes in a new relationship and hence is very effective.


This is a design i particularly love. She illustrates the quote “thinking sharp” with a simple image of a girl with her head in a sharpener. Albeit slightly morbid, It directly links to the quote and the strong imagery speaks to me.

Overall, I love her visually narrative style. I think that her way of designing is very effective. Her literal representation of things is not only clear, but it is also done so cleverly that it does not tell the audience what to think. Instead, it intrigues the viewer and leaves much room for further interpretation of the image.

Hence, I drew from her way of looking at quotes and directly interpreting them in my development for my final designs. I made sure that every image was in my design for a reason, and that everything was symbolic to my quote.

Quote #1 – Some men just want to watch the world burn (The Dark Knight)

Synopsis: It has been eight years since Batman (Christian Bale), in collusion with Commissioner Gordon (Gary Oldman), vanished into the night. Assuming responsibility for the death of Harvey Dent, Batman sacrificed everything for what he and Gordon hoped would be the greater good. However, the arrival of a cunning cat burglar (Anne Hathaway) and a merciless terrorist named Bane (Tom Hardy) force Batman out of exile and into a battle he may not be able to win.

 bruce-wayneIn this scene, Alfred delivers this line to Bruce Wayne in an attempt to describe The Joker’s personality.

Here are my designs:




#2 (chosen design)

thought process.

The quote some men just want to watch the world burn immediately delivers this image to my mind – a crazed man with the world burning in his eyes – he is literally watching the world burn.

I chose design #2 as my final design. Compared to design #1, it looks more old – fashioned (as per project brief).

Quote #2 – I’ve got some bad ideas in my head (Taxi Driver)

Synopsis: Suffering from insomnia, disturbed loner Travis Bickle (Robert De Niro) takes a job as a New York City cabbie, haunting the streets nightly, growing increasingly detached from reality as he dreams of cleaning up the filthy city. When Travis meets pretty campaign worker Betsy (Cybill Shepherd), he becomes obsessed with the idea of saving the world, first plotting to assassinate a presidential candidate, then directing his attentions toward rescuing 12-year-old prostitute Iris (Jodie Foster).


In this scene, Travis Bickle hints at his plan to assassinate the presidential candidate.

Here are my designs:




#2 (chosen design)

thought process.

The quote I got some bad ideas in my head immediately drew my mind to this image of a man with a literal bad idea in his head. I used the hand in the shape of a gun instead of a real gun to allude to this scene in Taxi Driver where Travis Bickle puts his hand to his head, representing a gun.


I chose design #2 as my final design. Unlike design #1, design #2 references the old woodcut style and does not look too modern.

Quote #3 – You couldn’t be ordinary if you tried (American Beauty)

Synopsis: Lester Burnham (Kevin Spacey) is a gainfully employed suburban husband and father. Fed up with his boring, stagnant existence, he quits his job and decides to reinvent himself as a pot-smoking, responsibility-shirking teenager. What follows is at once cynical, hysterical, and, eventually, tragically uplifting.


In this scene, Lester Burnham tells insecure Angela, who fears being ordinary the most, that she is special and couldn’t be ordinary if she tried.

 Here’s my designs:




#2 (chosen design)

thought process:

American Beauty utilizes roses to symbolize multiple things, including beauty. In the quote, Lester is trying to tell her that her inner beauty is what makes her special, not her looks.

In design #1, I chose to superimpose the rose onto a girl’s naked chest to symbolize the inner beauty that flourishes within. It sprouts out physically. The girl cannot hide it even if she tried. That image is a pictorial description of the quote to me. However, after receiving feedback that the design was too obvious & direct, i tried to make it more abstract and use other forms to represent the character.

I chose design #2 as my final design. Here, i used withered flowers to represent the “ordinary”, and a blooming rose to represent Angela. The blooming rose embodies inner beauty. I referenced the old woodcut style in this design to fit the brief, and made it more abstract by ditching the human form completely and used symbolism to get my idea across.

Quote #4 – I wish I knew how to quit you (Brokeback Mountain)

Synopsis: In 1963, rodeo cowboy Jack Twist (Jake Gyllenhaal) and ranch hand Ennis Del Mar (Heath Ledger) are hired by rancher Joe Aguirre (Randy Quaid) as sheep herders in Wyoming. One night on Brokeback Mountain, Jack makes a drunken pass at Ennis that is eventually reciprocated. Though Ennis marries his longtime sweetheart, Alma (Michelle Williams), and Jack marries a fellow rodeo rider (Anne Hathaway), the two men keep up their tortured and sporadic affair over the course of 20 years.


Here’s a link to the 1 min scene:

In this scene, Jack Twist delivers the quote I wish I knew how to quit you in frustration over their tortured affair.

Here’s my designs:




#2 (chosen design)

 thought process.

In design 1 , I use two men stuck in a cigarette pack to deliver the message I wish I knew how to quit you. The gay men represent the estranged relationship behind the quote. The cigarette pack symbolizes addiction and inability to quit. This was the first image that came to mind when I thought of this quote. I also specifically chose Marlboro as that is the brand of cigarette that they smoke in the movie Brokeback Mountain. However, I got feedback that this design promotes Marlboro and hence distracts from the main message.

I chose design #2. Here, I add a female hand shaped in a gun pointed at the men. In the movie, they are unable to live they life they desire as they are bound by their marriages to their wives. Their wives pose a huge threat to their affair. The female hand represents their wives as the threat, and the gay men who are locked in embrace delivers the message that they are unable to let go despite the threat that they are in. Hence, the image shows that they wish to be able to “quit” each other and end their relationship but are unable to.

my line is emo – final.

my line is emo has finally ended. it was an extremely tedious process both mentally and physically and i have learnt many things about myself and the art of mark making. i’ll highlight a few pieces that i found interesting and that particularly resonated with me.


Screen Shot 2016-09-15 at 1.39.04 AMclouds

inspired by this scene from the film clouds of sils maria, i used dark strokes to mimic the silhouette of the mountains, and lighter strokes for the fog. relief is the feeling of relaxation following anxiety and stress; that’s what this image looks like to me. the strong silhouette of the mountains represent tension. the light mist juxtaposes that strong image. it moves slowly away from the mountains, as if the mountains were sighing in relief.


Screen Shot 2016-09-15 at 1.38.32 AMScreen Shot 2016-09-15 at 1.48.59 AM

developed from an experiment with a circular mark-making tool, i created the image of a moon being shielded by the clouds. in this piece i allude to the moon being a signifier of longing.


Screen Shot 2016-09-15 at 1.38.51 AM photo cred: @lauramakabresku

i was inspired by this image by @lauramakabresku on instagram. the image  is of a woman lying so stiff and fragile on a table top with a crow pecking at her stomach. she is all alone with the animal that signifies death right on top of her. it screams loneliness to me. i tried to emulate the composition of this image in my strip, using a gradation of dark to light tones.


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while thinking of this emotion i was actually facing a major block, so i scrolled through social media and discovered artist jessica kaplan. all her art pieces are very abstract and exude a lot of movement and energy even though it is just black and white. i drew on her style and used black and white paint to create a very textured and energetic piece, representing enthusiasm.


Screen Shot 2016-09-15 at 1.40.07 AM Screen Shot 2016-09-15 at 2.16.21 AM

to me, a satisfactory image is well balanced and composed. in my final image, i even out the bold stroke with a semi-circle and a dot. the weight of both shapes balance each other out, depicting satisfaction.


this project was especially tough as the whole concept of depicting emotions using lines is extremely abstract. i am also not particularly attached to any specific mark-making method or artist’s style, and was honestly very clueless in the beginning.

however, i begun to realise that the images i was creating had one thing in common – composition. i am a very visual person and i draw emotions from images. that is why the majority of my strips focuses on shape  and the placement of those shapes, instead of using pattern and repetition.

i view see my end result as a collation of frames – each frame portrays an emotion, telling a story through it’s composition.