What got me into Design?

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It started in my 2010 Tokyo trip. I’ll delve into that 3/4 into this blog but right now I wanna share a timeline with  key checkpoints that had a significant part in the development of my design passion.

I drew a lot as a child. I always drew faces and people doing ordinary things such as shopping, eating or playing sport. I liked creating scenes for these people.

I started drawing people with Faber Castell connector pens (it was an obligatory purchase back in the day. Every kid had a collection in their pencil case) and ball point pens.  My Dad was a printer and every week he’d bring home stacks of blank A4s, fresh for me to draw on. One week he came home with our first new computer and he said he got it for work purposes. This happened when  I was about 8-years-old. I wasn’t allowed to go on it but being a curious person didn’t stop me from learning how to use it. It wasn’t too long till I somehow found MS paint. I remember selecting the pencil tool and creating outlines of people with a mouse…I was completely attached to it. I loved making pixelated drawings and the idea of being able to print them out on paper blew me away even more – this was also when I first used our printer hah!

During this period, I discovered the complexity of drawing anime characters. My bestie, her brother and I used to watch Dragon Ball Z and Pokemon every morning – we were so into it! Even other animes like Sailor Moon, Beyblades and Cardcaptors were televised daily on Australian TV – we made sure we got up in time to watch these too. Anime characters are the most humanoid cartoons and I thought it’d be pretty cool to draw them and create scenes for them just as I was doing with my own made-up-people drawings. 

I ditched the computer and went back to the traditional pencil and paper method because there was no way I could draw anime characters with a mouse. My first ever drawing that got published into a magazine was a character from the anime “Beyblades”. I was so proud that it sparked an interest to continue drawing anime for a few years.

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After a while there was a point where I missed MS paint but what annoyed me was that you could only do rudimentary pixel-by-pixel drawings  which I found to be unaesthetically pleasing. In 7th grade I spent heaps of time uploading my pencil drawings on DeviantArt and I came across a user who used a free software called GIMP. I felt a little more pro using GIMP because there  were  more advanced tools, though I only used the ones I was most familiar with – the brush and pen tool. I didn’t understand the software properly and only used it briefly because I hated the interface. In fact, MS paint looked more user-friendly than GIMP. I only created one piece on GIMP and that was a chibi naruto graphic.  Bad UI wrecks my mood so after the Naruto drawing, I uninstalled the program.

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Clearly I had NO idea about pixels and canvas sizes and I saved the image at 400px wide. I thought 400px was huge, hence the pixelation! The low resolution didn’t bother me at the time as I had nothing high quality to compare it to (and coming from MS paint, that Naruto graphic looked so high quality). I was impressed. I wanted to get better and better at this and achieve the exact same quality as the anime I saw on tv. 

The following year when Visual Communication was a compulsory subject in 8th grade, I was finally introduced to this unfamiliar program called Adobe Photoshop. Like GIMP, I had no idea how to use it. The Vis Com subject occurred twice a week so learning Photoshop was mandatory in our classes. The UI looked better so I had a little more motivation to learn it properly and avoid being lazy like I was with GIMP (I still wanted to achieve my desired quality of digital anime drawings). I recall my first photoshop graphic being a Hello Kitty collage masked in a silhouette of myself. I can’t find it anywhere in my folders, I know it was that bad I had to delete it forever.

I didn’t know how powerful photoshop was until now. This was the point I took more interest in design software.

Photoshop had everything I wanted. I studied most of the tools and played around with it for hours….I was like a kid with crayons. I noticed some of my favourite anime artists on DeviantArt had used photoshop to create their graphics. They’ve obviously mastered the program because their works kept me in awe and I envied the perfection of it. On my quest to brush up my anime skills, I started reading Photoshop tutorials posted by DeviantArt users. Thanks to them, I found them really helpful and were able to produce these:

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cartoons

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With a love  for  anime art, nightlife and kawaii things, my Mom, sister and I went on a trip to Tokyo in 2010 for a short break. This holiday was the most memorable. First, because it was the first city I’ve ever been to that seemed so perfectly perfect. Nothing was an eyesore. The local girls  were dressed in trench coats, had chiffon-buttoned shirts underneath, plaid skirts, tights and heeled boots and the guys carried  suitcases,  leather laptop bags, umbrellas and generally wore neat casual or business attire. In other words, every local had a great fashion sense and looked presentable in their own way. Tokyo offered a visually appealing experience. 

Then there was me, standing in the middle of a crowded  Shibuya crossing in my dirty white sneakers, non fitted jeans and baggy jacket complemented with my bed hair. I felt like..s***. My sis and Mom  naturally wore  nice clothes everyday, I didn’t fully take notice of fashion until this very moment in one crowded place. It goes back to the idea of good design being thoughtful and what I wore was an eyesore. If I kept doing this to myself, I would probably wreck someone else’s mood, because that’s what bad design does to you – it affects your mood. Tourists love taking photos of themselves travelling but at that time, I didn’t want to be in any photo. This is the second  reason why Tokyo was the most memorable for me.

Shibuya-062I ended up buying  my first trench coat in GAP  Harajuku. I also took the time to buy some nicely fitted clothes and boots. Every time I wore my new clothes  during  my Tokyo trip, I felt confident. It felt odd as I didn’t think fashion would EVER positively affect me this much.

Coming back to Melbourne I had my first Textiles class of the year and we used photoshop to design patterns for prototype garment designs.  Feeling inspired after my trip,  I wanted to know more about what Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator had to offer other than just making digital artworks so I was excited by the prospect of this fashion project. My teachers made us do a variety of design projects…my most memorable ones being brand design and product packaging.

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Throughout high school I thought design was about aesthetics. I was completely wrong. Design is just about caring deeply for the end-user. As soon as I found a fond interest  in fashion and graphics design, I fully understood and appreciated luxury brands like Burberry and Chanel because they only care about a  specific type of audience. Not everyone. Their time in carefully designing and hand-making their goods for a selected bunch  makes the end-user feel exclusive and special.

I’ve said this in my interviews before but if all of my artworks and designs  looked the same, it would be boring. That’s why I’m all for creating custom designs for my clients and  ensuring  my art is not mass produced. I believe that making anything “affordable” and “accessible” brings down the value of a product.

eve-designDesigning customer journeys, brand and digital experiences  is my way of creating lasting impressions for myself and for the client. With every new client a designer  encounters,  every new project they set out becomes a new subject to learn.  One day you are working in the fashion industry, the next day you find yourself in a boardroom meeting with a group  of politicians.  Cultural visionaries and passionate entrepreneurs have fuelled the craft of design and without them, I wouldn’t know the true meaning of this field.

In saying that, I’m thankful to find this passion. Taken from a small hobby of doing digital anime drawings has lead to something greater where you learn that  visual graphics is a universal language for leaders, multinationals, investors and the general public.

Oh hello…kitty

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Hello Kitty is the extent of my girliness. It is the prime example  of  everything cute and girly…I’m not very girly but I’m just a chick that happens to be madly  in love with Hello Kitty. I’ve had a few people jokingly say “you look like Hello Kitty” and my immediate response to that is, “thank you”. Guys, I take that as a compliment.

This character is Sanrio’s frontrunner who brings in $7 billion worth of annual revenue. This $7 billion is coming only from a cat! I like her is  because she is easy to draw and behind all her cuteness, she’s a badass.  A successful pop culture icon, Hello Kitty even made it to my favorite TV series, Breaking Bad. So badass right? I remember my 7th grade homeroom teacher Mrs. Kozak had an uncontrollable desire for Hello Kitty. Her love for the cat was always evident…everyday she brought a kitty pencil case filled with kitty-branded pens, pencils, erasers and mini rulers.

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Scenes from season 5 of Breaking Bad.

Along with being our homeroom teacher, she was also our  Science teacher at the time. Once we had to do a PowerPoint presentation outlining  one of our  chosen elements from the periodic table. Powerpoint presentations were my favorite assignments throughout high school because I got overly  absorbed in  designing each slide with exaggerated graphics, fancy animations and text effects. I aced every one of these assignments because attention to design is what really made my performance visually engaging  (and made up for my poor speaking skills).

In my Science presentation I made a bold move  to add Hello Kitty GIFs to every slide so that I could REALLY get Mrs. Kozak’s attention. She wasn’t an easy teacher to please so I knew there had to be something that stood out and didn’t seem as repetitive as the other presentations. I wasn’t there to impress the students watching my presentation, at the end of the day I was marked by the teacher, therefore she’s my target audience – she was the only person in the room I had to impress. I could tell people were giving me weird looks after my presentation, but it’s okay as long as Mrs Kozak liked it hah!

Mrs. Kozak made me like Hello Kitty more than I did before. The GIFs I used were cute and hilarious, they were thoughtfully and strategically placed to lead the eye from one information to the next. It made me warm and fuzzy on the inside, hence the good marks I scored in the end (thanks Kozak).

I like to consider  Hello Kitty as  my pet cat (I’m allergic to real cats so I’m better off sticking to this one instead). The simplicity of Hello Kitty’s image makes it a very versatile brand, capable of being applied on anything ranging from affordable items to high-end products. In my house, you’ll find some of random Hello Kitty goodies here and there, which is what I want to share with you today. Ladies and gents, welcome to my Hello Kitty appreciation post.

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An extendable kitty laptop  light

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Bedside lamp
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Pyjama set

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Door vinyl

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Pencil cases and Nintendo DS case

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Miniature kitty set and a bobble head

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Instant noodles, with edible kitty heads.

Jean Paul Gaultier for Target

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There hasn’t been much promotion going on around Melbourne but I do want to point out the awesome 20th annual event of Virgin Australia’s Melbourne Fashion Festival. The event took place  from  March 7th to the 13th and it was one hell of a week filled with elite  runways, seminars and workshops for aspiring fashion designers and fashion enthusiasts around Melbourne, particularly myself. Thanks to Creative Victoria, I was extremely fortunate this year to book a  seat  at my first runway show, and it couldn’t get any better knowing  it was Jean Paul Gaultier’s show for Target.

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Whenever someone asks you to define “Haute Couture” you should tell them to google Jean Paul Gaultier. His designs are a  vehicle for driving haute couture to the highest limits, without Gaultier there are no couture shows that are comparable to his. If you love architecture and fashion then he’s your guy – most of his prominent works blur the lines between these two fields of practice. His crazy outlook on the world, over-exaggerated costume ideas and success had previously landed him a role as a creative director in Hermes for over 7 years. After Hermes, Gaultier’s  name kept surpassing the list of best designers in the world,  an exhibition was even held in Montreal to celebrate his prodigious  career. You may have also noticed his exhibition at the NGV last year, The Fashion World of Gaultier. I’m disappointed I didn’t get a chance to go but my friend who went did learn that his first runway shows featured men wearing skirts. Hah how cute!

It came to my surprise earlier this year  to hear Gaultier doing  a collaboration with Target Australia to create an affordable range of clothing as part of the ‘designers for Target’ movement. Seeing a designer who’s so used to doing  cutting-edge designs and now creating a simpler range is a pretty challenging move.  Last time there was Roberto Cavalli which seemed to be a success. After seeing the runway I thought Gaultier  executed the Target range quite well, I spotted a bit of Gaultier with the trademark corset and cone bra designs sewn onto  some of the garments. I didn’t get to take many photos but  when I did, they were mostly blurry and unusable for this post. I should’ve brought my DSLR! Here’s a quick look of JPG’s notable playful aesthetics:

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Madonna with Gaultier’s cone corset

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JPG Haute Couture 2014

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Fall 2009

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Fall 2008

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A right-brainer by day and occasional blogger by night, you've landed on a place where I live and breathe all things art, design, culture and fashion. You'll find me documenting my life in the creative field, endless travels with friends and family and a bit of food.

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