FYP Keywords

One of the ideas I am keen on working on would be a brand selling synthetic leather products, aiming to replace genuine leather products to cut down on the demand of genuine leather.

The keywords I have for this are :

  1. Synthetic – how to synthesize the material
  2. Alternatives – what are the alternatives to genuine leather
  3. Feasibility – whether synthetic leather replacing genuine leather is workable
  4. Popularity – whether there is even a need for this project
  5. Mindset – whether synthetic leather can be accepted, especially to certain groups
  6. Social – the social impacts and benefits of the project
  7. Durability – of the synthetic material
  8. Suitability – whether it can replace the need for leather in most applications
  9. Costs – a balance between affordability and luxury in monetary terms, what about other costs like space, time, effort
  10. Scale / Location – scale of the project / suitable location for the project, be it production or consumption

Edit*: Other areas / keywords I am generally interested in:

  1. Nature
  2. Conservation
  3. Animals
  4. Extinction
  5. Alternatives
  6. Lifestyle
  7. Materials / Texture
  8. Space
  9. Comfort
  10. Hands-on / Tangible

Metaphors [Final]

For the final output, I decided to shrink the book down to a notebook size of A5 rather than a foolscap pad. This will ensure it still goes in line with the office setting to depict a paper source used for meeting notes, yet reduce the problem of having to much empty spaces and also make the overall look more polished and finished. 

A5 Notebook size

I chose a black leather grained paper for the exterior to keep a simple and classy look suitable and appropriate for working class, similar to how many notebooks such as Moleskine has a plain black appearance. Initially, I wanted to do a perfect binding which is usually how these notebooks are bound, but for fear for stability and strength of the book, I was afraid the pages might come off or the hard cover might not be able to hold properly, I decided to do a simple Japanese stitch binding along the side. I used a small margin of 1cm, as well as black string to keep it as minimal and simple as i can so as not to distract or bring away the attention as this was not a main detail. 

Simple and minimal Japanese stitch binding

I made a hardcover by wrapping a thicker board within the black leather grained paper, and the interior is covered with a wood textured paper. This was to go in line with a classy look, with the exterior coming from nature (leather from animal) and the interior to follow (wood from forests). 

Wood textured paper on the interior of the cover.

The interior looks like this!

Title page
Final page

The change to a A5 book reduced the space by a lot, and was a lot more appropriate and suitable to have a reduced font size similar to handwriting. The typeface chosen for the title text was thick but consists of multiple thin strokes, like how drawing and shading with a pen would look like. The content was also written in a handwriting typeface, all these help to tie in the idea of doodling during a meeting with just a pen and a notebook.

The storyline goes as follows,

The ending page serves to give the context and reveals what the book is actually talking about, just in case the metaphors was not clear enough to any audience. The language used is also light-hearted and casual as the book is meant to be slightly satirical and funny, consisting of puns such as Hippo Crit as the hypocrite and monkeys literally hanging around. There were also small captions added to the illustrations to depict what the state of mind of the writer (office worker) is, which is being bored in the meeting and trying to find ways to entertain himself. I feel that this has helped bring out a lot more fun and crazy in a way, to also make it more relatable and light hearted while criticising something that working adults are going through. 

Metaphors [Process]

As a start to the project, I started off with coming up various different categories that were more relatable to me, so as to better bring across the emotions or intended meanings with more impact. These categories included Family, Food, Loneliness and Trust. Under each category, I also generated a list of possible metaphors that I could work with. However, the feedback was that there was a lack of element of surprise and connection that no one has thought of yet.

After that, our Prof Nanci showed us a FYP project based on metaphors, where the designer worked on a photo series showing objects found in an unidentified society to criticize the state of living and law in that country. With that, I shifted my focus towards something that might be more relatable to more people, and with that I started thinking about controversial issues in Singapore, since controversies always draw attention and debate or discussions. Controversy refers to issues likely to give rise to public disagreement or heated discussion. I was thinking maybe I could work on subtle feelings that people feel day to day, but did not bring up officially. This would make it relatable to many, and might be something that no one has brought up before. For example, feeling that local elderly are too self-entitled rather that understanding many privileges were offered to them rather than an entitlement, such as how some of them do not have the courtesy to properly ask for a seat on a public transport but rather just scold the person or go “ahem” to get the seat that is “reserved” for them. After getting offered the seat, they do not thank the person for his or her courtesy as well and deem it as an act that should be done anyway. However, I slowly start to find this might be a little hard as it might be difficult to find out what people actually feel inside but have never spoken out. I then moved on to try to target an organisation instead, which in this case would be the army, making it relatable to at least half the population which are the males who go through it personally, as well as the addition of their friends and spouses who hear stories from them. 

The army consists of a mix of emotions, and I wanted to portray it by mocking or pocking fun at things happening in the army. This was based on personal experience as well as shared experience with male friends who has been through National Service (NS). Males will find it relatable and nostalgic or funny, while females will gain an insight to the little things that happen in the army apart from formal training, or also find relatable to what their friends or boyfriends might have told them before. It was also something that was tough when we were going through, but bittersweet memories when we look back on things that happened, so it will evoke more emotions in the audience. Nonetheless, the feedback gotten was that it might not be relatable to the general audience apart from the males who experienced it. At this part I was stuck for very long as I couldn’t quite understand the feedback. Metaphors are transport that help bring across ideas that otherwise seem unrelatable or not understood. Just like how my classmate Hui Zhong worked on homesickness, I believe her extent of homesickness as a foreign student is much larger than ours as locals who grow up here and get to return to our comfort zone with family this close. Drawing parallels, I felt that even though females do not go through NS, they don’t have to go through it to feel the emotions to that extent, and that is exactly why I choose to use metaphors to bring across these emotions for them to understand better rather than relating directly. From this I started to think about how do we relate? Is it by having been through the exact same thing, or by going through something similar, or by going through something similar and being able to imagine it to a larger extent? All these were with reference to my discussion with Prof Nanci, where the example she gave included a student’s work about the quarrel between her mother and her mother-in-law/mother, as well as how Syrian refugees are reported on the internet. To me, we didnt go through the exact same quarrels, the exact scenarios as the mother, neither did we go through any famine or living conditions similar to the refugees, but yet we could relate and feel for them. To me it was because we know the feeling of hunger, and that it is already bad, having a famine or lack of food for prolonged period was going to be much worse based on what we know and imagine. I was stuck for a long period of time brainstorming how to draw parallels to make it more understandable about my POV, and at the same time trying to take a step back to understand how to make it more relatable to more people.

During a group discussion with my classmates, we talked about whether a metaphor was cultural-dependant or transcends across all cultures. Something could be not relatable due to culture / knowledge differences, but yet a metaphor should help to carry the ideas across to make something not relatable more relatable. From this, we came up with the idea that maybe the army is a zoo, or maybe the army is a factory. Eventually, taking the idea of the zoo, I decided to show society, or an organisation as a zoo. And this started off with showing the idea of oppression in an organisation just like how animals in a zoo are oppressed. This was the initial parallels drawn before working on it more.

1)      Many different types of animals, different species, genders, breeds etc. –          Many different types of people, genders, background, culture, race, and religion etc.
2)      Animals are oppressed by zookeepers. –          Workers are oppressed by superiors.
3)      Animals are treated the same based on generic classification, usually regardless of individual preferences and traits. –          People are treated the same based on generic classifications such as education level or departments.
4)      One-way communication, animals cannot feedback to zookeepers, can only do what they say. –          One-way communication, subordinates or citizens cannot feedback to superiors or government, have to follow their orders.
5)      Over time ill-treated animals might display aggressive behaviour to fight back, but there’s only so much they can do being under the control of the zoo. –          Over time unhappy subordinates or citizens will rebel / revolt against the superiors or government, but there’s only so much they can do working under the organisation or living in the country, even with the idea of freedom of speech.

I wanted to do a photo series, showcasing objects that could be found from a zoo, to mock the conditions of an organisation that do the same to their employees. However, after showed an example of a book, I was swayed to try doing something similar. The book was showed during one of the sharing sessions by Prof Nanci, where the book talks about a screw / bolt / nut, its life, and eventually death when war came. The book was simple, with simple illustrations but yet was very impactful. I was impressed by it, and thus wanted to try to do something similar. My initial outline of the story only talked about oppression, and the story feels too short and empty and didn’t have the impact. With that feedback, I researched more on what employees feel or go through during work and what are most of their unhappiness or “office drama”. With that, my finalised outline included oppression by higher ranking workers, unfair wages earned by foreign talents, office politics, job misfit, favoured workers or departments, and pretending to be busy at work. This was the finalised outline.

  Storyline Image
1 Hi! I am Jimmy, and I work in a zoo. Close up to eyes only.
2 There are many kinds of creatures working in this organisation, and just like you humans, we have many departments too. (bg) Different animals in different jobs.
3 We all work under the control of what you humans call zookeepers? They tell us what to do, what not to do, and when to do what.  (hierarchy) Zookeeper human holding a whip.
4 Just like most of you, we don’t quite like where we work. (work unhappiness) Unhappy animals.
5 They treat us as though all of us are the same, ignoring what each of us really need. (job misfit) Few different variety of animals put together.
6 We made some noise about it, but they didn’t seem to understand us. (complaints not heard) Animals making noise.
7 We tried going on strike, just to have us taken out and punished with more work. (fighting for employee rights) Animals on strike.
8 Having said so, the department that draws in the money gets treated the best. The lions always get good food just because they are the attraction of the zoo. Lion, chubby, munching on a bucket of meat.
9 What’s worse, there are some mosquitoes here! They don’t belong here! (foreign talents) Mosquito boss with golden hair.
10 They suck our blood and do nothing while we work all day, yet they get all well fed. (highly paid foreign talents) Fat mozzies sucking blood.
11 All of us don’t like them, but there are some who likes to hang around with them. (office politics) Hippo happy in swampy mozzie area.
12 The hippo criticises and gossips behind their back, but pretends to like them when they are around… and I thought such politics only happened in human offices. Hippo ranting about mozzies. Hippo critter
13 And look at those monkeys! They just hang around all day. Monkeys hanging from branches, relaxing.
14 Yet when anyone walks by, they pretend to be busy helping one another so that they won’t be given more stuff to do! (pretending to be busy) Monkey helping monkey scratch / catch lice.
15 There’s so much problems here, but well, we all still work in a zoo. (suck thumb continue working) Unhappy animals still working.

Before and alongside working on the outline, I was also trying out various styles of illustrations to bring across what I wanted to. Initially, I wanted to have clean and fully coloured illustrations (similar to happy tree friends) to make the book look like and suitable for children’s book, yet having a deeper meaning to adults.

Fully coloured illustration of Happy Tree Friends
Initial sketch of a giraffe as the main protagonist (Trial 1)

I also considered another style done by local artist with the alias of “The Bitter Stickgirl”, where her illustrations are usually on puns or current affairs which are slightly satirical or mocking, making it relatable to locals. Her style of illustrations is very simple and clean and minimal. And this might be more appealing to adults who can just see everything at one glance rather than dive into details or enjoy fully coloured works.

A page from her book “The Bitter Stickgirl Unanswered”.

My rough sketches done on a smartphone with a stylus to capture the varying thickness of lines and strokes. (Trial 2)

After that, I also started to combine both illustrations and storyline to see how it flows and whether it was clear to bring across what I wanted to. This eventually led me to the style of pen doodling on a notepad to bring out the context of an office, like how workers might get bored during meetings and start scribbling in their notepad.

Simplistic sketch style to see how the story works (Trial 3)
Notepad style which was implemented to be the final output. (Trial 4) Also did a quick thumbnail sketches of the entire storyline to see the flow.

Having decided the style and mostly finalised the storyline, I decided to draw everything digitally. This allows me to think in a way that if the book needs to be reproduced, it can be done easily and also, mistakes and errors in the illustrations were more easily editted. This is also the first time I have done a digital drawing, and I got myself a Wacom for this. It was difficult getting used to it as the coordination was very different as compared to drawing directly on paper with a pen. I took a while to get used to it and continued to practice and try along the way, while changing settings and understanding how the Wacom works and what settings are suitable for this project so on and so forth. It did manage to replicate a style similar to pen drawings, and the first results are as follows.

This was for the final discussion before presentation, and I managed to receive some feedbacks. Personally I felt the typeface was too big, and there was too much empty spaces when everything is done on A4 to simulate a foolscap pad. That was also the general concensus from the class. I also received feedback to lighten the lines so that the images can stand out and be clearer, and to tighten up the storyline. I could try to think more from the state of mind of the supposed writer, and also keep the suspense by portraying only a zoo, and only revealing the office aspects at the very end, as my previous renditions all showed too much office elements and might be too “in the face” as a metaphor, and thus having to cut out some of these elements with every version. I then decided to resize everything to A5, to produce a notebook which can be used in an office setting to take meeting notes.

Painting Module Compilation

Here are the works done in this semester for the Painting module. Most of these were done in oil painting, a completely new medium to me, while the final 2 experimental paintings were done in acrylic, which I have rarely dabbled into. Oil painting was pretty fun, and dried slowly, allowing me to come up with a smooth blend of colours. I also enjoyed painting in patches like how some artists did, but ultimately it wasn’t my style and I only did it just to have fun and trying out the technique.

1st Still Life
2nd Still Life
1st Nightscape
2nd Nightscape
1st Figure Painting
2nd Figure Painting
3rd Figure Painting
4th Figure Painting
Self Portrait
Spirit Self
1st Experimental Painting done with acrylic, painted using paper plates
2nd Experimental Painting done with acrylic, painted using 2 inch flat brush alone

Giorgio Morandi’s Paintings

Below are three examples of Giorgio Morandi’s paintings, where he uses lines both as edges of objects as well as deep space.

Image result for morandi paintings

Image result for morandi paintings

The horizontal line across the back of the objects indicate the space between the background and the objects, while the lines of the objects help to push them forward by having a clear distinction against the objects at the back.



Kyle Staver’s Paintings

Kyle Staver

David and Goliath, 2016, Oil on Canvas, 52 x 58″

The first thing that catches my eyes in this painting is the bright red blood stain of the knife at the middle along the top of the painting. The entire painting seems to be done in rather muted colors, and the use of the bright, pure red catches my attention very easily. I am then drawn by the highlight of the knife diagonally down to the left as the knife is greatly contrasted with the dark background of the giant and environment. The placement of the dog then pulls my eyes to the right along the body of the dog, which is then directed upwards along the boy on the right, where his lifted arm curves towards the knife and leads my eye on and on in within the painting.

The use of the bright red is only sparsely used to decorate other areas such as the blood spilled in the middle and bottom of the painting, allowing some linkage between these spots and the knife. The similar tones of the knife and the accessories of both figures also help to bring about the cohesiveness of the entire painting. The lit area at the top left corner in contrast to the dark area of the bottom right sets the atmosphere and gives depth the painting, which would otherwise look flat without the sense of distance.


Kyle Staver

Bathers, 2016, Oil on canvas, 54 x 58″

The first thing that got my eyes was the bright turquoise color that is surrounding by dark colors. It starts from a general top right area diagonally down bottom left, which then spreads by various streaks of it going bottom right, where the highlighted areas of the figure’s (on the right) body and pants leads me back up to the top right area. The highlighted off-white area then brings me on the second round around the painting, where it leads left along the back of the figure on top, down the branch to the bottom right where the green of the leaves shines in contrast to the shadows. My eyes then linger around the bottom, where there seems to be a imaginary triangular formation from the middle of the painting to the two bottom corners.

The use of turquoise and the bright green on black background makes these colors pop out way much more than the rest of the painting. The turquoise also brings to the light the female figure in the middle, such that despite being small in scale, catches the attention of viewers and not get left out. Small little highlights like the one on the body of the figure on the left also plays a crucial role in directing the eyes, despite its small area.


Kyle Staver

Cardinal, 2016, Oil on canvas, 50 x 58″

My eyes first enter the painting at the bright red bird against the grey-ish brown tone of the shirt of the man. The next thing that immediately grabs my attention is the turquoise of apparel of the woman, which then leads to the dark brown tail of the horse right next to it. The curvature of the tail provides movement and is connected to the same colors of the woman’s shoes and man’s pants, which I am then led upwards along the pants of the man to the “white” of his shirt, his hat, then down the feather of his hat, to the branches on the left which points me downwards and repeat the cycle.

It seems that there is a pretty clear use of lines in this painting that guides my eyes around it, as well as a very subtle but well-planned use of the same colors to connect these lines of movement. What I find interesting are the delicate details of the man’s shirt, the leaves of the branches as well as the very small highlight of the horse’s hoof at the bottom right. These small little details have managed to catch my attention without being left out despite being rather small and supposedly insignificant compared to the rest of the painting.

Speedy Recovery! – Final

Moving forward based on the feedback given for the previous designs, I have did some minor tweaks to the exterior to try to enhance the link and flow from the exterior to the interior.

Front cover


Opening up the card

On the front cover, the two nurses have been tilted to give abit more dynamism and movement, making it seem more lively and also enlarged to cover more space. The words “speedy recovery” was removed as it might not have been a good idea to repeat “speedy recovery” and “get well soon”, being too repetitive. In place of it, I used “wishing you…” such that it provides an entry to continue reading on inside the card. The words are also anchored down on a card held by the nurses, in a similar format as the physical card to make links with the physical form itself. The background was then chosen to be the same as the interior to have the visual link and consistency.

Nonetheless, there were some other flaws noticed during the critique session and would be great to be resolved if given more time. On the exterior, everything seems to flushed downwards and there is an awkward empty space on top – would be good to trim down the card to reduce this empty space and make it more balanced; and I personally feel that trimming this card down would make it a slimmer rectangle, which is less bulky and might look more sleek and classy as well, also the pop-up will have to shrink accordingly. Alternatively, since it seems like a “celebration” thrown by the nurses, there could be some banners or decorations in the place of the empty space on top. To further strengthen the visual link from the exterior to interior, there could be repetition of the nurses or simply just one inside, probably beside the pop-up, to make use of the empty space and also provide more “liveliness”. Some other suggestions included the use of colors, such as making the “heart” on the pop-up red so that it catches the attention of viewers and make it less flat and plain, and also to consider changing the “purplish” patch near the bottom right as it seems grey to some.

Overall, this assignment was probably the one that I enjoyed the most as i really do enjoy making things with my hands, watching and feeling how they change and come to life, and not just fully digital. The various explorations within this module has also allowed me to learn new things, both technically and also about myself along the way. With this, we conclude the end of the module and… HOLIDAYS, HERE I COME!!

Speedy Recovery! – Research and Development

In this project, we are tasked to create a well-wishing card, assuming the role of “Ng Teng Fong Hospital” and giving this card to their patients. This project guides us to explore the use of folds and cuts to give life to paper, to experiment out how different folds and cuts could give rise to different spaces and experience while navigating through the card itself.

The first step I took was more hands-on, coming up with physical designs of cards without even thinking of the content first as I am more of a hands-on person. It was easier for me to generate something physical before thinking of what content goes where in that space, then editing the physical form if needed from there.

Some physical designs at initial stage
Some physical designs at initial stage

One design featured a typical pop-up card but with words flushed to one side, one design focused more on interacting with the cover itself making “windows” where nurses are cheering on the patients, and one design was a “waterfall” card which could feature several panels (pics drawn to differentiate panels only) when a tab was pulled. When the tab is pull down, the panels flip upwards and reveal the following panels one by one, as shown below.

The original state of the "waterfall" card
The original state of the “waterfall” card
Second panel revealed when tab is pulled downwards
Second panel revealed when tab is pulled downwards
The final panel revealed after tab is fully extended
The final panel revealed after tab is fully extended

After much consideration and discussion, I decided to focus more on the most typical of all – the pop-up card. This was not because of choosing the easy way out or going with the flow of the typical design, but because of several factors. The pop-up card is simple to understand and requires minimal actions to see the entire design, unlike some which might even require instructions to operate the card. The pop-up card is also relatively easy to make on minimal pieces of paper, and looks minimalist to fit the production costs and image of the hospital, and not to show something extravagant in which patients might feel it is a waste of money or worse, the hospital trying to earn more money. The card was also decided to take on the size of 20cm x 15cm, to be big and clear enough and have enough negative spaces to give a more relaxing feeling. The subsequent explorations of this design are as follows:

Front cover
Front cover
Interior of the card
Interior of the card

I chose a theme of pastel watercolor style as I feel that it is a very calming and soothing color scheme, and the style alone is very neutral, seemingly suitable for patients of all ages and both genders. The absence of characters and objects makes it more neutral and classy in simplicity. I also wanted the front cover to look very very clean and polished, just plain white with a bit of the color scheme to link with the overall treatment of the card. With the white cover, opening the card up to a splash of colors could also be a pleasant surprise and more liveliness, together with the pushing out of the pop-up design. Typefaces chosen were either rather plump and rounded or are of handwriting styles to look more friendly and add a human touch to it, as well as considering the strength of the pop-up design to hold itself and not be too fragile as well. The corporate text is also minimized at the bottom and of a lighter tone to take less weight and seem more sincere in wishing well rather than promoting the hospital. Nonetheless, feedback included that the cover seemed too empty and plain, and lack the kind of visual interests that could arouse the patients to want to open the card.

A subsequent tweak to the front cover included the addition of cartoon “Ng Teng Fong Hospital” nurses who have been caring for the patients and also to provide context that the card is from the hospital. This is coupled with “Speedy Recovery” to give the card an identity and label. The background is then the same as the interior to make sure that exterior and interior are integrated. Nonetheless, the visual link between the two still seem weak and it does not seem to flow well between the two, making them seem like separate entities. The words also seemed as though they are just floating.

Exterior V2.
Exterior V2.

It is then time to work on these flaws to come up with the final design!

Health Communication Posters – Final

Moving onto the final artwork of this project, I have chosen to stick to the design with a mosquito looking forward at the viewer.

There are some minor tweaks introduced to reduce the amount of words in the body text as it seems kind of chunky which viewers might not want to read it, adjusting the position of the body text, changing the size and position of the title text at the top of the poster as well. Adding a drop shadow to the words in red at the top also helped to push the punchline forward, making it clearer and more impactful. This was because when we did a black and white mockup I realised that the red and the grey behind it were similar in tonal value, despite the difference in colors.

After printing, I traced and cut out silver reflective paper to stick over the eyes of the mosquito as suggested previously. This helps to enhance the context of the mosquito targeting the viewers and makes the poster more interesting as majority of it was in monochrome. Silver also gave it a touch of mystery and seductiveness, on top of the mirror effect intended.

I also decided to mount it on a black foamboard that I bought and mounted manually instead of mounting it on a white one done by the printing shop as my entire design is in black. Although looking from the front, it would not be obvious, it ultimately affects the overall harmony of the poster physically, thus I feel that a black foam board would be a lot more suitable for this poster. Below shows a recap of the previous design, followed by my final design and the physical poster itself!

Recap on previous design
Final Artwork
Physical poster