The National Arts Council (NAC) invites aspiring young musicians, photographers, designers and artists to apply for an opportunity to be mentored by some of Singapore’s most creative names through Noise Singapore- The 2015 edition celebrates the 10th anniversary of the country’s largest creative arts platform for young people.
With four new mentors this year, young Singaporeans will be exposed to the industry’s top talent including: Ben Qwek – a new The Apprenticeship Programme (TAP) mentor, Leonard Soosay, Clement Yang and Vanessa Fernandez – new mentors of The Music Mentorship (TMM) programme.
Entry for submissions is now open until 15 March for the 2015 The Apprenticeship Programme (TAP) and The Music Mentorship Programme (TMM). Organised by the NAC, Noise Singapore provides opportunities for young people ages 35 and below to present their works to the public, and to deepen their arts interest by learning from creative professionals.
Chaos, uncertainty and complexity. Those are the constants that we live in. No matter our stage of life or place in society, things often turn out differently that we initially expected.
As designers, we find ways to make sense of chaos. Whether it is to derive form from formlessness, or destabilize known forms to give way to new ones. We take problems that present themselves in front of us, and tease out their productive potential. We follow unknown paths, rearranging our steps to yield patterns, insights and ideas from a new perspective. We use whatever tools that make sense for the task at hand. Piece by piece, we employ design to help us put our lives in order, or conversely, find ways to dwell and thrive amidst disorder, its opposite.
For this edition of The Design Society Conference, we’re inspired to examine the question of ORDER. And we invite you to meditate on it with us.
The Design Society Conference 2014
Date: 29th November 2014
Time: 10am- 630pm
Venue: The Singapore Airlines Theatre, Lasalle Colleage of the Arts. 1 McNally Street Singapore 187940
Get your tickets here: http://ptix.co/1ziO6l8
Today we speak to
Stefanie Djie, a New York based photographer from Singapore.
Yanda: Tell us what do you do?
Stefanie Djie: I am part of a photography team (Stoltze and Stefanie); edit a 400-pages glossy biannual, S Magazine as well as the content for its S online channels; and run our 2500 sq feet. photography studio on Bowery in New York City.
I am always interested to find out what does a duo really means. Profit splitting or there are actually more good to it?
The way I see it, it’s not just about the profits. Being a team means that we get to maximize our strengths and minimize our weaknesses.
While we work together on refining concepts and ideas, Jens (Stoltze) and I focus on different areas for all our productions; I tend to the pre-production elements – deciding on the creative team, mood-board references, initial ideas, producing the shoot while he focuses on technicalities, lighting decisions and eventually, the post-processing.
On working with clients, we play up our appeal to the different genders. Jens gets away being sauve dealing with women, and in those scenarios, I take the back seat. I like to think that we’re just being smart about it (as sexist as it sounds).
What was your background and how did you ended up as a photographer?
I have a family who, despite having no understanding of the Arts, are supportive of my decisions (As a child, you have no choice over your experiences).
I was always interested in studying pose, body-language, semiotics and group dynamics. I am a very visual person; I love to observe trends (photography movements, seasonal runway trends etc.) and subtle motivations communicated through ideas and human behavior.
Knowing that I don’t possess the patience of a painter, nor the linguistic abilities of a sociologist and coupled with the bookish nerd in me (love speed-reading manuals), I felt like I’ve always had the temperament and stamina of a photographer. Which to me means, to be constantly on the move, to enjoy a speedy progression of your work and having the natural attraction to aesthetics.
There’s a saying that a good photographer needs to be a wanderer. What are your thoughts on this?
I think being a wanderer expands minds- any artist can benefit from archiving experiences, referencing cultures, seeing different lights.
By wandering, you are able to build context to your work. And I think that’s very important in our contemporary culture.
What about your editor role at S Magazine? How did it all get started?
S Magazine was established in 2004 in Copenhagen, Denmark. We like to think that we give freedom back to the art and fashion photographers; it was started for artists to create without boundaries and seasonal trends, be published and have an international dialogue.
I slipped into the role of an editor when Jens asked for my help with curating the online content after our beloved long-time online Manager Emilia, stepped down. It then evolved to more responsibilities when I proved too efficient (…for my own good, Hello Product of Singapore!) and now work with a small team (There’s just five of us) on all creative-decisions.
The Little Drom Store @ SOTA. 2014.
Today we speak to Stanley and Antoinette, founders of The Little Drom Store from Singapore.
Yanda: Please tell us what do you do?
Stanley and Antoinette: We run an art & design driven retail store, called “the little dröm store”.
We aspire to bring people from all creative walks of life, to promote and share their work with the rest of the world.
How did it all started?
As graphic designers, we would always bookmark websites and dog-ear magazines of things we like and found inspiring.
So we wanted a place where we could retail such products, and we had this little desire in wanting to shake things up a little in our creative landscape. And in our own little efforts, we wanted to provide a shopping option for alternative products in Singapore.
Has it been fulfilling so far?
What were the challenges starting out?
The main challenge definitely had to be finances, we almost emptied our savings from working full time when we started out.
It was extremely challenging, especially mentally and morally when we had literally zero sales on some days, and rental in Singapore as we know ain’t cheap at all.
Who do you think your target audience are?
They are people who appreciates tasteful and well designed products.
So it is more for the niche and not the mass market?
(this is a long reply, but its one of our best eureka moments)
We must admit that we were quite self indulgent & naive when we first started out, only wanting to sell things that were designed by obscure and independent designers or artists from overseas, and even produced in limited edition! Which brought us to realise (as hard truth), that in reality not many people cared much about such details. If a product doesn’t relate to them, they’ll simply walk away from it.
But what opened up our perspective was when we were invited to showcase our series of Mosaic Playground photos for the M1 Fringe Festival in 2011 – in conjunction with that showcase, we designed and produced a series of mosaic playground brooches, as our own efforts of keeping these playgrounds close to our hearts while the actual ones were slowly being demolished. This was our first series of self designed and produced products.
And after launching them at our shop, the reactions that came from our customers were priceless! Because of these brooches, many of them started sharing their own personal memories with us, and us with them, and word got around and more people came to buy them. These exchanges were so precious because for the first time, we felt such great satisfaction and appreciation from our customers. Our customers were really generous with their words of encouragement. This had really opened up our perspective because we realized and understood the importance of authenticity and relatability in a product.
Back then, customers would comment that our store was quirky & interesting but not many made actual purchases. And this series of playground brooches kinda turned things around.
We had learnt that for the little dröm store, is to innovate and not imitate.
To innovate by bringing out the best from what we have in Sinagpore, as Singaporeans, and not strive to want to be like shops that we admire from overseas.
So in a nutshell, we had learn that we just want to design products that are honest, tasteful and hopefully bring about some smiles. So in that sense, we believe everyone deserves products that are tasteful & well designed, and we cater to anyone who appreciates them.
What was totally unexpected?
People from overseas having heard about our store and writing in to say how they had loved what we do and to encourage us! Sometimes even mailing gifts from overseas, that was very sweet. What was even more unexpected was when some of them eventually visit Singapore and our store!
Was there actually a business plan from the start?
To be totally honest – No, we didn’t when we started out. It was out of pure and childlike faith in wanting to change Singapore’s creative landscape and make it more exciting, to create a platform for creative exchanges.
Our plan was more of an idealistic one, without much practical business wisdom, but we had learnt a great deal over the years, especially from failures and discouragements.
The Part In The Story Where We Lost Count Of The Days is an artist book and monograph that reflects on the artistic practice of Singaporean artist Heman Chong. Acting as both maker of objects and facilitator of situations, Chong’s work sits at the intersection of multiple genres: visual art, performance, writing, installation and science fiction. Through commissioned texts and explanations of Chong’s selected projects, this publication seeks to engage and unravel these categories as well as to highlight their overlapping and circuitous nature.
Edited by Pauline J. Yao and designed by H55 in Singapore, The Part In The Story Where We Lost Count Of The Days features new texts by Nav Haq, Ahmad Mashadi, Claudia Pestana, and Tirdad Zolghadr, and an illustrated project index by Amanda Lee Koe.
Tiramisu – In Between The Folds. 2013.
Today we speak to Little Ong, co-founder and creative director of fFurious from Singapore.
Yanda: Tell us about yourself and what you do.
Little: My name is Little Ong, and I’m a founder and creative director of fFurious, a multidisciplinary creative agency in Singapore. Little is my birth name, which my grandpa gave to me. He told me that since I was his first grandchild, he wanted me to grow up being modest. It was hell going through primary school with that name, so I’m glad I found my way into the creative industry where this unusual name actually works to my benefit.
How would you describe your work in one sentence?
To better lives through design.
How did it get started?
It was 1999 when 3 good friends, Melvyn Lim, Joanne Tay and myself, got together and decided to see where creativity with no boundaries would take us.
Do you treat it as a job?
With all the responsibility that comes with it.
Are you having fun at it right now?
I can’t imagine there’s another job for me that allows me to do so many of the things I like while I get paid for doing them. The fun comes when I get to learn new things all the time, about the process of creativity, people and their work, new ways of seeing and doing things, technology and picking up new skills. All these keep me infinitely occupied and interested.
What do you actually enjoy doing?
Too many things actually, so this job suits me rather well since I’m able to explore different facets of creativity. For non-work fun, I enjoy photography through my trusty iPhone. I post my photos on Instagram, you can follow me @littleong. And I enjoy cooking quite a bit.
How often you spend time doing them then?
The great thing about mobile photography is that it happens anytime. I could be taking a walk, cycling, going to a gig, having a meal or away on a holiday, and there’s always something that I would find interesting to capture. I cook at night and in the weekends when I have time.
Have any daily routines you cannot do without?
Coffee makes my day complete.
When is your favourite day of the week and why?
Sunday because I get to sleep till noon undisturbed.
Are you seeking a work life balance?
Constantly, but it’s tough. I think it’s a major dilemma for most creative people that they seem to be working at any time of the day as we seek inspiration in so many things that we do. And being a business owner, that makes it even tougher. But I do try to keep my weekends free of work to catch up on personal things.
How important do you think it is?
I think it’s absolutely healthy to lead a balanced life. At times, you have to step away from the work to be able to come back to it with a better perspective.
What about seeking happiness?
All the time. One of my favourite quotes is by Walt Disney whose mission statement for the Disney company was “To Make People Happy”.
What is your definition of happiness?
Hot crispy prata with fish curry.
What are the things that keep you sane?
Blue sky, calm sea and an empty beach.
What do you do when you get time off?
I go to music gigs, dig for records, cook a meal, watch a movie, catch up on a TV series, or I try to get in some exercise which usually involves either cycling or skateboarding.
Singapore Biennale 2013.
A Guide to the Flora and Fauna of the World. 2013
Today we speak to Robert Zhao Renhui of Institute of Critical Zoologists from Singapore about this new work, A Guide to the Flora and Fauna of the World.
Tell us what have you been busy with?
I’v just finished compiling an encyclopaedia titled, A guide to the flora and fauna of the world, for the Singapore Biennale. I’v also just finished installing my work at 2902 Gallery for my upcoming show, The Last Thing You See. It talks about how difficult it is to be a bee.
What drives you in creating this?
In this case, I wanted to know why the goldfish is never included in any natural history encyclopaedia. The goldfish does not have a scientific name as it is a man-made creature. It’s a fish that has been artificially bred for thousand of years. How the goldfish is created remains a mystery. I created the encyclopaedia as a system to talk about our ideas of what is natural and what is man-made. Towards the end of the book you realise there’s really not much of a difference. Everything artificial will start to look natural once we get used to it.
How do you keep on educating yourself?
I’m basically interested in animals as a subject matter. I go to the Singapore Zoo once a year and more if I need to. I honestly think we have an amazing collection of animals in captivity here in Singapore. In the zoo, I encounter a lot of nature photographers with huge lens and fancy equipment and some of them in jungle camouflage as well. Watching them observe animals teaches me a lot about why humans watch animals.
Where do you draw your influences from?
Mainly from my friend, Yong Ding Li. He is a conservation biologist. Most of my work and ideas are based around my conversations with him. Of course as an artist I process the facts he gives me differently from how he would approach the facts. Sometimes I get nice ideas from google.
When was the last time you felt challenged?
I was struggling to decide if I want to use my flash at the bird park at some owls.
What was the breakthrough project for you, personally?
I tied a lot of pinhole cameras to birds to create images in A heartwarming feeling. The images the birds created were really beautiful but it wasn’t beautiful enough for me. I edited the colours a little and then they were better. Then I redid the whole image again on the computer and then it became perfect.
Who/what has had the biggest inspiration?
Looking at animals.
The Blind, 2007
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Today we speak to James Teo, founder and creative director of Ampulets from Singapore.
Yanda: Tell us about yourself and what you do.
James: I am a graphic designer with a soft spot for simple, beautiful things.
What do you do first when you get up in the morning?
Cook oatmeal. A good breakfast is a good start to a day. Men can’t think well on an empty stomach.
What daily routines you cannot do without?
Read a little, check facebook and instagram to keep in touch with friends and what’s happening around. Maybe not daily, but a few days in a week, I run. Running is the best time to crack design briefs!
How would you describe your work in three words?
Considered, inviting, functional.
When did you first get involved in the design?
As a kid, I used help out in a music cassette stall near my parent’s place, and I always marveled at the design of the tape covers. I would stack my own collection up nicely in a six-million-dollar-man plastic “briefcase” and haul it to and fro the shop. Occasionally, I would take them out to admire the album cover design, listen to the music and try to recreate the design or sketch portraits of the singers in my notebook. It’s a habit. These days, I still go to record/CD shops (the very few that are left) and book stores to look at the covers.
When I started working, my jobs were in marketing and marketing communications. So I was constantly working as a client with design studios and advertising agencies. And after some 8 years, I figured what I really wanted was to be on the other side of the table and re-live my childhood fantasy of making artwork for the album/ book covers!
Do you think personal work and collaboration is important?
Personal work are like personal challenges. It challenges you to dare to materialise something you have in your mind, to test how far your ideas can take you, and your ability to complete it without clients and deadlines breathing down your neck. I think it teaches you to trust your own instinct and judgement.
I love collaborations, especially with the right person or group. Wonderful things can be done when like-minded folks get together . By likeminded I don’t mean thay we all think the same, but more like having the same values and attitude – so that we ultimately know we are going for the same destination even if our methods are different.
If you have a chance to own someone’s work and wish it was yours, what would it be and why?
The entire set of original posters created by Michael Bierut for Yale University since 1998. I have always been a believer of how design should evolve between one designer and one client for a long period of time. Almost like a marriage.
Who do you dream to design for?
My dream project is to design all the signboards in the Toa Payoh Lorong 8 Market. Ha.
What’s your definition of happiness?
Balance. I think it is important for one to have balance in his/ her life – a balance of family, work and leisure. I think happiness is also not about extreme highs and lows, but achieving a certain constant in life. Just like running. For me, a good run is about keeping a steady pace throughout the run.
What makes you guilty?
Spending too much money on books, music, clothes – all the vain things in life.
How do you set your benchmarks?
My wife has always been my sounding board. Being a one-man design studio, her views and feedback on my work is very valuable. And for all work, I must be able to say to myself and clients that I have done my very best to produce quality work. So i don’t really have an external benchmark per se.
How do you keep educating yourself?
Reading books and magazines. Listening to other people. Attending talks. Looking at art exhibitions. Observing nature, things and people around me.
What place in the world most inspires you and why?
Tokyo and Taipei/Taiwan. Both are cities, but there’s a good balance of old and new. The new makes you curious, but the old gives you comfort. And there’s a balance between the urban and nature – nature is always just a short train ride away. Balance is important.
What are the three things you are obsessed with at the moment?
Old Vinyls. How clothes are cut. Interesting looking plants. All somewhat vain things!
Democratic Society Identity. 2012.
Documenting New York based Singaporean photographer, John Clang’s solo exhibition, Being Together, this catalogue also serves as an extension of the exhibition at the National Museum of Singapore. This book presents 5 family-themed series comprising a total of 93 works that were created between 2001 and 2012. This book also includes essays by Szan Tan, Patricia Levasseur de la Motte and Gwen Lee.
To celebrate the indomitable spirit of human relations, this publication is made up of papers of varying textures, sizes and colours that manage to complement each other as well – reflecting the harmony and intimacy that can still exist even if a family faces disparity. The loose leafs of varying irregular papers and photographs of different families all bound together in one book serves as a reminder of the ties that bind in this isolating urban society.