The last poster I did for früjch.  Feeling the definition of bittersweet. Always thought it was a sappy word, but am feeling it now…Sappy me.

This poster began as wanting to do something colourful to cap off the final day of früjch and being visually-loud enough to grab attention the heap of emailers that all SMU students receive each day. My Adobe PS was also going wonky on me, so decided to try something new that day. Something that required as little PS-ing as possible!  


Besides, weird as it might sound, I genuinely do like tearing and pasting scraps together. I find it highly therapeutic. It’s also what I always do to wrap presents. I think my friends have come to expect / resigned themselves to that as my de rigueur wrapping paper. But that’s another story.


 Started off with a blank sheet of A4 paper and my favourite stack of CATALOG & JUICE to rip into (how convenient we got them delivered to früjch eh! Happy days!).


The thing about sticking + scrapping (or whatever it’s called. Calling it “scrapbooking” seems inappropriate since I’m not making a book. “Collage”? Perhaps. Alright, let’s call it “collaging”) is that it’s a trial-and-error process.


 Sometimes you think a scrap is going to look good, but when you juxtapose it against the next scrap, it doesn’t work. You’ve already stuck it on? Doesn’t matter, just stick the next piece over. The more pieces the more textured the feel and the greater it looks. Of course, that’s provided you don’t make a gazillion mistakes. Then you might as well throw the piece into the recycling bin or use it as a pillow.


Lots of fun to work with different materials as well. Brought in some thread, graph paper and a ballpoint and started doodling the words out. Ah yes, the title “Früjch Me Baby One Last Time” is courtesy of JonnyBaBonny once again, from the ever-surviving (what did Shal say Trent called her again?….Ah yes,) Brit-Brit.


I usually use sequins, buttons, markers, crayons, twine, ribbons and rubber stamps too, but some were too chromosome XX, while others I just didn’t have the time to dig out : I remember I had 8.30am class the next day and it was already 11.30pm.


Once all was done, I stuck it onto the scanner, adjusted it to the max dpi for sharpness and pressed the button. It’s amazing how fun the scanner can be. Only downside is that it squashes everything flat, but that can be easily remedied by shoving a book or so at the corner as a makeshift wedge so the lid doesn’t come down fully.


Next it was off to adjusting the contrast (higher, so that the shadows could be seen), increasing saturation for the Reds, making the colours richer and then adding the text in PS (which decided to behaved itself for awhile). Had to crop quite a fair bit off as well.


Click to view larger size

Things I would change now if I could:

  • The date, “April 4”, spelt out with the threads is not clear. Perhaps should have used more contrasting colours.
  • Although visually-pleasing, as a message, it might not have enough symbolic meaning. In other words, there is not enough depth.The question would be: “Where in the images put together behind does it suggest it’s früjch’s last day? Is it relevant?

    (Which makes me wonder, should every advert you do have depth or is it sometimes enough for them to be pretty and attention-grabbing? I know you can say: Great Adverts Have Depth-with-a-Captial-D, but how often does one come up with truly groundbreaking ads? Should ALL adverts be like that?  Would that be too heavy? Do you need normal ads to recognise great ads? I must think. Must retreat into mountain and ponder.)


Things I like about it:

  • Took me only about an hour or two to get everything done. And it was FUN!
  • It’s colourful and I do so like riots of hap-happy colours.
  • I think it brings across the quirkiness and fun of the früjch culture.


…And that was the birth of the last früjch poster!








Are Designers Useful?

May 17, 2008


Alice Rawsthorn at IHT wrote once more on One Laptop Per Child (OLPC), a year and a half after she first introduced the non-profit organization and their goal of providing “children around the world with new opportunities to explore, experiment and express themselves” by developing:
A $100 educational laptop.
It’s the most talked-about design project winning awards left, right and centre, setting a new standard for humanitarian design and of course, causing a great deal of controversy (amongst environmentalists, industry techies, educators, development economists, designers).      

Some question its feasibility, others wonder about its mission authenticity while even more are just… sceptical about the whole project. Check out OLPCNews – it’s an independent site giving a variety of opinions on the subject – or Wikipedia for a quick overview.

For me, I just think it’s remarkable how design contribute so greatly to humanitarian efforts. Remarkable and relieving.

I was following the news on the China earthquake last week, thinking,

“People are dying by the thousands, medics are helping, rescue teams are risking their lives, volunteer organizations are rallying, humanitarian forces are provided food aid ….” Everyone was being  useful and I couldn’t figure out where design had a place.

It felt like the old debate about the arts being a luxury – how basic necessities called out to be satisfied before one could appreciate Mozart or Les Miserables or that $XXmillion sculpture.

I’ve always disagreed, taking the stand that the arts are the part of life for enjoyment, that if you were poor, watching a play could make you forget your worries for that period, ensconced in a alternate reality.

But the China disaster casted doubts and made me wonder if all that thinking was too naïve. If you’re a doctor, you could help. If you’re a fireman, you could help. If you’re a designer…….

Where’s the part of designers in disasters?

Are designers useless?

OLPS’s initiative reassured me that it wasn’t so. Designers do help, but in a beforehand, behind-the-scenes as opposed to in the actual situation.

That rescue tool kit? A designer made sure it’s as efficient and compact as can be. The $100 computer? It’ll increase learning-interest, subsequent literacy rates and build a more progressive nation. (A bit grand of a statement, but you know what I mean.)

Instead of helping in the now, the designer helped out then to make sure the situation later would be better.

So while not all designs contribute to the good of the world, it’s enough that there are some great ones that do.






Recently, I picked up a copy of CMYK* #40 because one of its features, Get the Design Job You Want, caught my eye. I guess I heard an inner voice yelling, “Hey lost sheep, you need this!”


But how much could an article tell me?


I’ve seen self-help books a 100-pages thick that claim to “clinch that perfect (fill in the blank) job” or “chart your path to your dream occupation”. When I flip through them in the library, they either leave me laughing to myself or in despair.


Why? Because you’d have to be the perfect human specimen to get all of it right.


So excuse the scepticism – something that doubled when I realised that the article was only 4 pages long. I was expecting a manual of golden rules, even though logically I knew it was a magazine. Yes, please to meet you, Illogical is my middle name at times.


However, in the end, the limited length of the article worked in Jeff Domke’s ** favour. It was succinct, it got me thinking and he delivered what he said he would – shedding light on how to make the right moves to get that job you want.


And he would know, because for his first 14 months, he made all the wrong moves before he finally learnt to make the right ones. Saving us from learning it the hard way, he gives us 10 Steps:


(Note: Not the full article)


1. Define the job experience that you want

 What kind of designer do I want to become?

What work environment is best for me?

What’s my unique value?

 What do I want to learn next?


2. Learn from the masters

Never Eat Alone” by Keith Ferrazzi

– “All Access: The Making of Thirty Extraordinary Graphic Designers” by Stefan G. Bucher

What risks should I take

How does my fear influence my search?

What will happen if I give up?


3. Get great photographs of your design work


4. Film yourself presenting your portfolio


5. Go here the jobs are

Which cities specialize in a certain type of design?

Which cities hire many junior designers/

How poor can I stand being?

How much time can I spend searching for a job?

How can I quickly connect with local designers in a new city?


6. Join the AIGA and get involved


7. Go on 3 studio tours


8. Win a design competition


9. Find Your weakness, and improve on it

Does every project I make look the same?

How is my attitude? How is my ego?

Do I understand the business of design?

Can I present work well?


10. In conclusion, start over

“Every time I thought I had failed, I was actually learning how to perfect the job-hunting process. Eventually my growing knowledge and abilities caught up with my job ambitions. Yours will too. Just start over…. Just keep pushing forward.


Take big risks, make big mistakes and design everything you want in life”



Domke’s article is a good start to anybody wanting to go into the industry. Answering all the questions he poses is a daunting task, but it gave me a structure to work with rather than floundering around.


I know I don’t have to kill myself and answer all the questions before I try out for that first job but at least now I know how to go about it and will be more prepared.


I’m on my way to start with #1 tonight.







*    A design publication that states its sole intention as “presenting outstanding student creative”


**  Jeff Domke is an award-winning graphic designer. As a former internship coordinator for Landor Associates & an AIGA mentoring director, he has gained firsthand insight into the challenges of today’s emerging designers.