ISSUE 2 JUNE 2014
An independent magazine aimed at bringing the works of the young and talented to the whole world. Believing in ideas, thoughts and concepts, Garde Magazine follows the principle of simplicity and honesty.
Founders Cleo Tse
Creators Arko Datto Martha Riessland Oskar Ă–stgĂĽrd Sebastian Popa Troels ThorbjĂ¸nson
Felipe Cea Michelle Chiu Pearl Law Shelby Feistner Kasper Baarup Holmboe
Contributors Sage Basilio Jane Li Tammy Ha Jessica Ha Carrie Chan
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Editorial We are internally doing somersaults and bursting with excitement as we release our second issue! Similar to our first, our content is swelling with the individual talents of NEW and UPCOMING creators around the world. We’d like to give a shout out to all our supporters (creators, contributors and readers) that have enabled us to carry on with this issue. THANK YOU! We hope you’ll love it just as much as we do, so we can make this a continuous and everlasting process of bringing recognition to imaginative hard-workers everywhere! For this issue, we have increased the number of creators to 9 and have added exciting new categories such as: illustration, graphic design, industrial design and
furniture design – our list will not stop growing. So far our focus in issue 1 and 2 has slightly shifted towards creators in the international scene, yet we are desperately hoping to cooperate with local institutions in Hong Kong to find out more about the young talents in this lively and bustling city. As always, we hope to promote creators anywhere and everywhere as much as possible and hope you’ll support creativity too. Happy reading!
Cleo & Natasha
CONTENT Martha Riessland // Communication Design Engaging with human beings
Felipe Cea // Music The man with a happy tune
Spant Studio // Furniture Design Unlimited possibilities
Oskar Ă–stgĂĽrd // Literature Having a way with words
Michelle Chiu // Fine Art The honest and sincere painter
S U A UH
Spant Studio - AA Desk
Martha Riessland - Poster for Bauhaus Oskar Östgård
Sebastian Popa - Alcoholibrium
Arko Datto - Cybersex
Pearl Law - Illustration Michelle Chiu - A Plug Socket
Shelby Feistner // Photography A love affair with nature
Sebastian Popa // Industrial Design Leaving a positive mark on the world
Arko Datto // Photography
“I want to run around, be in the midst of things…”
Pearl Law // Illustration A quirky imagination
(Left) Martha Riessland - Bridge Brooklyn
g n i g
Martha Riessland // Communication Design
a g n E
with human beings
One may furrow their eyebrows when asked about communication design. It cannot be explained through its literal meaning. Yet Austrian born, Martha Riessland, has a clear-cut answer about its basic function. She said design is not fixed in any formats as long as the message is sent and it “communicates to people through design.” “A good design should help support your idea/ message. Just trying to make things beautiful is often too shallow and not a long lasting solution. Get to the bottom of it [the design question] and find the most suitable way of getting the message across.” Originally having knowledge in Graphic Design, Martha possesses a dream to transcend her understanding and make greater use of her creativity by addressing the “design question” with an interdisciplinary approach. About design Communication design aims to discover more about human beings. “I want to create a positive experience for the initiator, audience and myself. If possible, with a little bit of humour,” said Martha.
She especially likes IDEO, which is a design and innovation-consulting company, which focuses on the needs, behaviours and desires of people. IDEO is involved with designs in over 30 categories. Martha’s Masters degree thesis at Central Saint Martins was about interactive and creative life at the office. “Work is a great part of our lives that I am very interested in. Maybe all working environments should change into a more creative working space,” she said. Her project consisted of two parts: “tea-bag comic” and “planning tree.” Both encourage breaks for workers during their office hours. “It implements physical tools which are at the same time, playful,” said Martha. She particularly likes “tea-bag comic,” not only because she has fun experiments with different kinds of paper, but she also enjoys discovering images from tea stains and illustrating them with creativity. About inspiration “I love going to museums because it has always motivated me to produce something of my own. Travelling is another source of inspiration because it helps me
Martha Riessland - Tea Bag Comics Breaks are an essential part of your working Bay. You need this time to step back and reflect on your work and to recharge your batteries. this comic offers you the opportunity to turn your tea break into a fun exercise that might take your ideas on an unexpected journey. The paper used is a special water-colour paper that makes it possible to absorb the water that comes out of a used tea-bag, without making the paper bumpy.
to understand that there are many approaches to a single problem,” she said. Martha added that it is a challenge when a designer is not actually part of the design’s target audience. This is because it takes more time for them to switch roles and step into other people’s shoes in order to make something good for someone else. “One should really get into the subject area before starting to design. Otherwise it could either be designed well, but with no good understanding or badly designed with suffering ideas.” Martha said she learns a lot from different areas and projects, which enables her to immerse herself into new projects and jump into new roles. “It’s like being an actress,” she said. “There is no fixed concept for me, but research is always the most important step to start,” she said. Aside from research, Martha said her work requires listening and understanding. Martha mainly works with paper as she feels “more at home” as a classical graphic designer. She has also tried Arduino, an open-source electronics prototyping platform based on flexible, easy-to-use hardware and software.
About thinking Communication design has an important mission: to improve the way we live. One example is the health sector, said Martha. “It can help understand an illness and show possible solutions of how to cope with it. The idea of communication design is to get the core message across in a simple way.” Simplifying complicated things may sound easy, but it isn’t if you’re doing it in a professional manner. Martha said as a communication designer, a certain problem and/or theme should be identified first, followed by an investigation without knowing what the outcome may be. The more you research, the closer you will be to finding a solution to the problem. She admits it is a challenge to stay simple and not to overthink the problem. From her own experience, she found feedback from others very helpful or taking a step back and looking at the design later. “Be open to going new ways. Don’t be afraid to kill your darling,” she said. About the future Martha has high hopes for her future. “I hope to always get surprised in a positive way with new projects,” she said. “I am looking forward to collaborating with interesting and inspiring people.”
Martha Riessland - Planning Tree The tree is a tool for organising your tasks, which is an important part of your working life. The tree works like a mindmap where you can add and remove tasks very easily. Additionally it functions as a penholder.
Martha Riessland - Girls Names Development of band postcards in the style of famous designers during internship at Apfel Zet. Girls Names is reinterpreting the style of artist Chris Ware.
The Man wit
y Tune Felipe Cea // Music
Talking to Felipe is always an enjoyable experience because he’s always upbeat and laughing a lot even when answering serious questions. (Why can’t we all be like that?) Despite working long shifts, he’s taken the time to participate in an interview with us. Thanks Felipe, we’re as happy as you are now! Based in Sydney, Australia, Felipe has a very positive attitude. Is it the effect of sunshine and beaches? Or was he born this way? Music is in my nature “My music is just the nature of the beast. It might lose its relevancy tomorrow, but we will always keep on making new music,” said Felipe. He’s into all sorts of art: sketching, photography and short films. Yet his all-time favourite is music as it “comes the most natural” to him when constructing moods or messages. “I can’t always get it right, but that’s the challenge I love about it. Especially when it’s an obscure subject and difficult to express,” he said. Felipe started playing the guitar at the age of 15. He described music production as “just like breathing air.” Music is group work One song is a combination of many different
kinds of sounds that beautifully blend together. Felipe loves to explore the world of sounds and discover various mixtures. He and his partner, Uriel, make up the band Duofox. “Uriel and I have known each other since 2005. We were friends before music partners. We started to muck about with sounds and tracks in the studio back then,” he said about their relationship. “There was a long while when we both were separated because of the different responsibilities we held, but we got back together to make music again a year ago.” On making music, Felipe said it is very much an instinctual process. “There’s never really a plan on choosing what kind of sounds to put in a song except letting the environment propel my artistic constructions.” It can often be difficult to be involved in a creative process with someone else, but Felipe is happy to make music with a partner. “When you write alone, you only have your inner critique and no one tells you when something is wrong! It takes a while to refine a part by working alone and doing well. With company, you have to be open to other ideas and vibe on the same feeling,” he said.
Felipe Cea - Colab 1 Collaboration with Miss Lorraine (RAINE) with hand sketch and digital elements. Same as below.
Music is my favourite…but not marketing When Felipe first started working with music in the late 90s, he only played guitar in a few rock bands. He then took up more roles such as singing, writing, managing different kinds of administrative work and promoting. In two years, he had written over 200 songs and 60 of them had gotten published. Now, he has his music label, LYFEIK. LYFEIK means “music and lifestyle rolled into one, said Felipe. “It was all just a natural progression to start a music label. I credited Uriel for the name and awarded him with a cup of tea and shishapipe.” Felipe thinks that musicians should have an open character without compromising to the moral obligations of being a human. He also thinks they should keep true to themselves and never cater to the mass industry. Although he is aware that this is his own view, reality works in the other direction. “I love making music and totally dislike the marketing side. But I can’t be too unrealistic in the world of commodities and profiteering. I try to make them both fun in my own way,” he said. Music is my inspiration Living in Sydney may be one of the important advantages of producing music. “There are some massively talented people in the music scene
of Sydney,” said Felipe. “It might be at a smaller scale compared to the United States, Europe or Asia, but overall the place is a rich environment for art.” Felipe gets his inspiration from visual memory, events of his life, a distinct sound in the distance or even his dreams. He said it is a common thing with musicians to dream up a song or melody. “My favourite bands are my friends’ because I can get to understand their true emotional value behind their composition. All the little details and different emotions can be learned from their songs,” he said. “Always be careful of the music you listen to as it can set character traits within you.” Music is my future Felipe’s future is filled to the brim with plans and hope. “I am planning to initiate some new sound projects with my good friend Nico, who has a band called Kamera Lucida,” he said. “Hopefully, I can do some shows in the United States at the end of this year,” he added. Apart from the local scene in Sydney, he also has collaborations with musicians abroad. “Oh! And of course I hope to train myself to worry less and just have fun HAHA!” Felipe Cea - Mindz
Felipe Cea - Duofox abum cover The album cover is formed by Felipe Ceaâ€™s photographic work.
Felipe Cea - Self-portrait
Spant Studio - Clint
Spant Studio // Furniture Design
Troels Thorbjønson and Kasper Baarup Holmboe from Spant Studio are both students who study in Aarhus Architecture School. By extending the boundaries of their knowledge in architecture, they have begun to explore their capacity to create through furniture design.
Why furniture design? “It could be difficult for us to develop only on architectural projects since they are very massive in scale and need fame to gain business in the industry. Although we love furniture design, we also actually don’t want to be limited to one kind of design.” How it birthed Sitting side by side in their school’s studio on a daily basis, Troels and Kasper bonded through common interests, especially in the field of design. This is how Spant Studio started and has thus been running for six months. They two share a fundamental feature that is vital in the process of furniture design: both their families produce different kinds of material. Troels’ family works with metal, while Kasper’s family works with plastic.
Their all-time favourite is wood.
“My very first wish was to be a furniture designer and I have always loved it. When I got into architecture school, I realised that architecture is quite interesting too,” said Kasper. Spant Studio - AA Desk
Easily install-and-uninstall furniture involves two A-shaped parts and a plank.
The duo has been developing many projects, their own creations, and taking their own initiative to approach companies with their ideas on sofas, chairs, beds
and tea tables. But things often do not go as smoothly as one may hope. “Some designs will be taken while some will be ignored. A company will get back to us if they are interested, then they will tell us what they want us to change,” said Troels, who takes on the role of ‘administrator’ in the studio. “Tell me what you think” Troels and Kasper agree that sometimes two people working on the same project can be challenging due to different opinions. Their work mode is as follows: one person is the project leader while the other provides comments and suggestions from time to time. “We do ‘discuss’ a lot,” said Kasper, who was once too angry at a project that he threw everything away, including all the plans and the prototype of the design. “But it is constructive. At least it is helpful and can help us improve in a lot of ways.” Troels later on picked up all the pieces of the project and took it home. “It might not sound like our ‘discussion’ is very constructive, but actually it is. It’s also difficult for two people to share the same amount of work, so we always help each other out,” said Troels.
It seems natural that two people take the role they are better at. Both of them design, yet Kasper focuses more on in-studio work whereas Troels does out-of-studio and people-work. In progress Thanks to Denmark, a welfare state that supports the development of arts and design, Troels and Kasper do not need to pay much for their studio. They share their large studio space with another creative duo. In order to attract more recognition, the pair needs to keep on producing. “We believe that furniture design needs to be interactive and must cater to the needs of human bodies. We always want to design something better so we can improve what we have and keep generating more ideas.” There is a current exhibition called Same, Same but Different – Beyond Icons in the Aarhus Architecture School, which Troels and Kasper have taken part in. Their design also took part in Milan Design Week. “We want to go further. An exhibition does not help much to be honest, so we are going to go further by going abroad.”
Spant Studio - Play the Strings
Large outdoor sound installation that allows interaction. The piece will be showcased in Aarhus Festival Week.
To be continued… To some extent, Garde Magazine understands how Spant Studio works because the process is similar. Yet the pair has a lot of plans, much more than us! “We hope that we can participate in a fair in London so we can get to meet more buyers and representatives from companies,” said Troels. He has already planned to have only one week of summer and dedicate himself fully to his work. Kasper has similar plans. “Our first step is probably reaching people outside of Denmark. We are hoping to go to Norway and approach some companies that are focused on designing furniture. Our outlook is quite positive too,” said Kasper. Other than furniture design, Spant Studio wishes to be more multi-talented. It is in process of designing a large interactive installation that includes the placing of strings between equipment to produce sounds. The installation will be held at the Music House of Aarhus. Spant Studio is also shortlisted in the HAY Talent Award, a Nordic design prize that any European design school can participate in which is sponsored by the famous furniture design brand, HAY. “We really want to make a living on what we are doing right now because we love it. We don’t want to be restricted to only furniture design or anything. We want to do everything that we can do.”
Spant Studio - Clint
Clint is a chair which enable the best sitting positions. Imagine a chair with no compromises in ergonomics; such as the Capisco chair by the Norwegian designer Peter Opsvik. Add the current Scandinavian language of form, intentions of contemporary beauty and state-of-the-art production methods and Clint will be the final result. Opvik’s Capisco exemplifies pure extravaganza in sitting ergonomics. Clint takes a more selective approach and defines three positions of inclination; leaning back and relaxing, sitting upright and working or leaning forward to tie your shoes. All three positions are perfectly facilitated by the backrest – an embracing and supporting sculpture. The saddle is convincing but doesn’t determine a correct sitting position. It makes a better support for your back, by not letting you sit on your thighs.
Photo credit to: Hedvig Wrede
Oskar Östgård // Literature
Invasionen is about a postal worker in a faraway land. He, tobias, lives alone in a bunker in the middle of a gigantic wasteland. His job is to put stamps on letters. The letters are delivered by pigeons, that stop by his bunker every week to rest and eat. In his free time, tobias reads and takes long walks. On his twenty-ninth birthday, he receives a letter from the state, saying that the country is being invaded by ruthless hordes from the south. tobias has to go to the capital for military training, and he has to get there before april 29th The book is written in third person and in Swedish. It is 276 pages. The title means “the invasion”.
Meet Oskar Östgård, a creative writer with a pen between his fingers. Oskar tells us about his passion for writing, including his personal style and where he gathers inspiration from for his lyrical journeys. As his novels are in Swedish, here is a real story about Oskar’s way with words: I can’t imagine a life without it I have been writing my entire life. I only started taking it a bit more seriously during my last year of high school. I was 19 and had just come home from an exchange year in Australia. One of the things I had wanted to do for a long time, but never thought I'd actually get around to doing, was to write a complete novel. I had never really finished any of my stories before, so this became my personal goal. Over the course of about a year, I wrote a Swedish novel about a high
school student with a lot of anxieties. It was called Att flyta (“To float”) and was a dark comedy of about 100 pages. It was the first complete text I had written. I had reached my goal and didn't think I would end up writing more. A year later, however, I could feel that I still had a million things living under my skin that I wanted to get out onto paper. I started writing again. I drew inspiration from vague images and ideas, from dreams, old memories and books I had read as a child. The result was a longer and a lot more surreal story that was meant to be a sort of Kafkaesque fairy tale. I named it Invasionen (“The Invasion”). Writing Invasionen was what truly made me understand that writing was something I would probably keep in my life. Working on
Att flyta is about a teenager in a small, rainy town. Jakob, the teenager, is very confused, depressed and anxious. The story is about his first term in a new school. Despite being very quiet and antisocial, during this fateful autumn he gets to know a few people – a girl, a classmate, and a teacher – that affect his life in different ways. The book is written in first person and in Swedish. It is 118 pages. Rain and water play a vital part in the book, whose title means “to float”.
things off your chest, but I have no actual achievement in mind when I write, besides eventually completing a text. I doubt the way in which I write could ever produce a bestseller. I can't fathom using my writing to make a living, or to become some famous author, literary rock star like Haruki Murakami, for example. It just feels unrealistic. Come to think of it, I guess I would like to find the type of peothe novel seemed to open the floodgates of my subconscious. I started writple that would be able to relate to ing many short stories and poems on the side. I've been writing pretty much my own thoughts. A friend told me every day since then. It's usually small poems or a short story now and then. that she had found herself relating I'm currently attending Författarskolan in Lund, a university course for aspir(to a pretty uncomfortable degree) ing authors. As part of the course, I've started working on my third novel. to the main character of Att flyta. This gave me hope that there were Writing still feels a bit new to me, although I also can’t readers who would truly be able to imagine a life without it. understand what I wanted to convey in my text. I have no actual achievement in mind when I write What do I want to achieve by writing? I don't know. I don't think That’s what is really great, I write for any sensible reason. Although in retrospect, I have found that when you can reach someone like some of my writing has helped me understand myself better. It's good to get that and it’s one of the things that
motivate me to write. I need to write like I need to eat and sleep I've always liked reading, especially as a child. I am interested in words and language. What inspires me to write is just about everything that happens in my life. You can get a rush of inspiration from an event, a dream, a film, a song or even a book. Anything can start it. Then there is suddenly this strange need, an overwhelming desire to create something. I choose to create using words because they are fun to work with and it comes naturally to me. As for why I like it, well, writing gives me something that hardly anything else does. I can't fully put it into words. It's partly therapeutic, partly a pastime or hobby. I enjoy the process itself, most of the time. It entertains your imagination and stimulates your mind. It gives you a good feeling, both the creating itself and knowing that you have created something. It makes you feel like you haven't completely wasted the day. I'm not an interesting person, but writing can take you to interesting places. It's somewhere between dreaming and travelling, although not really the same as either. In writing you can have conversations with yourself, detail what's bothering you and make your prob-
lems less painful by putting a distance between yourself and them. Although, the bottom line is that I just need to write, like I need to eat and sleep. Inspiration from my subconscious and myself Writing is a very free and undisciplined process for me. It can go wherever it wants to. I guess one principle I have is not to use foul language. I use foul language all the time in real life, but I think it sticks out, in a bad way, when it's planted in a literary text. I also don't write about sex, as in the actual coitus. It just doesn't seem to belong in writing. Since I draw from my subconscious, and myself I find it difficult to write about horrible things, like violence or murder. Also, just like with sex, I feel it can be more difficult to write a good text that has lots of violence and death. It doesn't have to make it worse, but I think it has to be used carefully and with purpose. I don't write with a political message or agenda. And it's not really a principle, but I've tried writing realistically and failed. It always veers off into surreal places after a while. You will inevitably reveal parts of your inner self I believe that writing reflects the writer, whether
he or she wants it or not. Att flyta was about my own life, while Invasionen took place in a fictional world. However, both texts were definitely a product of myself, no matter what the story was about or where they took place. This I believe is an inescapable part of creative writing. It can be scary to think about how you will inevitably reveal parts of your inner self when writing. Some writers don't write about personal experiences, but they still produce texts that reflect themselves in some way, even if they don't intend it. The most important element in writing Honesty. I like having a certain symbolic value I write about what interests me, so it can be anything really. I write about psychological states – anxiety, depression. There are often elements of fantasy, although the text as a whole is not a fantasy story. The stories I write are mainly about people and their mental states. I like having a certain symbolic value in my texts. The subtext – what is read between the lines – is important. I also usually draw from my past, memories from childhood or later, books I've read and films I've seen. I use many references and inside jokes.
There is something surreal in most of what I
write, I find writing 100% reality is boring. These are not things I have chosen to have in my writing, but things that have come naturally as I've written. So to say that I “persist” in having them, in a conscious way, would be untrue. Subconsciously, though, this is what I persist in writing about. Trial and error Usually I can't transform the ideas or images that are very clear in my head, into a text that does them justice. But I think that I'm slowly getting better, with practice. For example, in my first novel, I had imagery in vivid colours in my head, but I couldn't put these images into words without losing a lot of that colour and preciseness. It became more muddled than I had wanted. Maybe it's impossible to fully put these images into words. The hardest thing is to finish what you've started At the beginning of writing a piece of text, I am usually brimming with ideas and anticipation, excited to enter a new inner world. As time goes by and the writing becomes more and more of a routine, the “new” world will eventually get a bit stale. In the end, it becomes nothing but hard work – editing endlessly, going over the same bit of text for the umpteenth time. There comes a point where it's just not fun anymore, no matter
how hard you try to convince yourself it is. Anything can trigger inspiration It can be small things, a nostalgic word that suddenly pops up in a book or magazine, the feeling a really great song gives you. Or it can be big, life-changing or life-defining events that kick start the whole process. Film and music is a larger influence than literature for me, simply because I have spent so much more of my life watching and listening than I have reading. The writing of Kafka, ancient Greek myths, and the sci-fi novels I read as a teenager inspires me. Musical artists that inspire me are the Venetian Snares, Aphex Twin, Radiohead, bob hund and Pink Floyd. I often feel utterly uninspired, though. That's when I just sit down and force myself to write. It is a waste of time to wait for that sudden rush of heavenly inspiration to strike you like a bolt of lightning. But if you can force yourself to sit down and just start writing, that usually is enough to trigger the imagination. Inspiration is born out of the work, not the other way around. Boredom can also help. It is so easy to avoid boredom today. But if you want to get inspired, it might help to, say, be stuck in an airport by yourself for ten hours straight. Your brain can come up with some interesting ideas when it is left to itself. My next story will be about a night out in a big city The main character is a millionaire with bouts of insomnia, who calls up his chauffeur to take him for a drive in his limo. The story is about what happens during their drive. I will try to write more intuitively, with less planning than my previous novels. I don't want to know where the story is heading beforehand.
Bird is about whatever the reader thinks itâ€™s about. It can be a literal story about birds in a forest, or it can be about something else completely. It was written without preparation or planning, blindly following impulse. For this text, any interpretation is valid.
by Oskar Ă–stgĂĽrd
Once upon a time there were two birds. They lived in a forest, tall oak trees with long branches, and mangroves that dipped their long roots in the black lakes. When the birds needed to drink, they had to fight the mangroves over the water in the lakes. But the birds were illequipped to battle the large trees, with their thin stick legs and bent claws. Only with the aid of the green owls, that lived high up above in hidden nests, could the birds stand a chance against the mangroves. There was a great battle, a final battle, between the birds and the mangroves. Many were killed, many were murdered, by the two birds. No one was left to remember. The owls had no memory of their own, they forgot the battle soon after. The birds did their best to forget it had ever happened. Â They wanted to listen to music that didn't lie. Most music, they found, had lied. But the birds wanted to listen to music that didn't lie. The forests in the east had a desolate character. Nothing grew. The animals didn't hunt. They slept restlessly in groups, tended to each other, but only out of necessity. No one knew what they were called, and the birds didn't care enough to ask.
By Tammy Ha
Michelle Chiu - Masking Tape 24 x 18 inch Oil on canva 2013
Michelle Chiu // Fine Art
There are numerous paintings of trees out there. Trees seem to be a popular subject for many artists. Such series of tree paintings could be a complexly layered, diverse array of green paint splattered across a canvas, with branches spreading across and beyond, as a faint glow of yellow seeps through the cracks of the bushes of leaves. Another painting may include a tree with almost completely bare branches if not for a few reddening leaves hanging on, even though the sun’s healthy ray seemingly illuminates the clear, blue sky... A series of tree paintings can consist of different compositions and colours. It may provoke curiosity from viewers as to what theme the artist is trying to convey through the trees. Growth? Passage of time? The unpredictability of life? Hong Kong artist, Michelle Chiu, has painted a number of tree paintings.
This is what she has to say about it:
“I decided to paint trees [because] they have flexible forms, they look beautiful and I like trees.”
It’s as simple as that.
There was no particular meaning that was assigned to each tree painting she made. The only meaning that you could say can be derived from her series of tree paintings was the experimenting and practicing Michelle had been trying to do with her painting style and technique. In fact, she can tell you that most of her artwork does not attempt to convey grand philosophical
Michelle Chiu - Bottles 11.8 x 9.6 inch Oil on canva 2012
This painting was painted on top of a half-done painting that I was not satisfied with. However I wanted to keep a small part of the unfinished painting, which is the loop in the top middle part. Therefore, I covered the rest of the unfinished painting leaving the loop and the small area around it with grey. Through the layer of grey paint, some of the lines showing through reminded me of a shirt and this is how â€˜A Shirtâ€™ started. Because of the fact that it was built on top of a failure, I emphasised on keeping each of the lines and strokes as confident as possible.
concepts or life lessons. Michelle is very honest about that. Most of the time, her artwork is created out of her sheer love for painting and exploring this form of art.
“I am honest to myself and acknowledge the fact that [as of now] there isn’t a grand philosophical concept that interests me as much as ‘painting’ itself.” At this stage, Michelle is focused on simply enjoying the art-creating process and honing her skills. She is not desperate to prove herself by making paintings under headings that do not genuinely underlie her creation. Michelle clearly knows what she stands for as an artist: honesty and sincerity. Ever the honest painter, Michelle is inclined to use her own intuition, above all else, as her guide in creating art. Despite the subject of her artwork being dayto-day commodities or sights, they facilitate her creative expression. She paints out of her head, using a subjective perception of an object— which itself, affected by personal emotions attached to it, is in abstraction— and unrestrictedly translates it into art through playing with the composition of the painting as well as different colours and techniques. Ever the sincere painter, Michelle likes to space out her time in finishing a painting, so as to be able to think through her art. She usually spends up to three
Michelle Chiu - A Shirt 40 x 34 inch Oil on canva 2013
hours at a time working. She would then take a photo of her progress, go elsewhere, take a breather and continue thinking about her work with a refreshed mind. I suspect you would rarely find her in a rush to complete her projects. She had no exams or deadlines when she was studying at Slade School of Fine Art in London, which gave her a lot of freedom to adjust her working style and helped develop her individual sense of art. Free-spirited but focused, Michelle does not restrict herself with elaborate sketches and paints almost straightaway on canvas. She is accepting and maybe even welcoming of making mistakes. She would paint the subject several times over on new canvases, where she would retain elements she liked from previous drafts and improve the rest of the painting. With a clear view of what she stands for as a painter, it is not difficult to understand why Michelle has chosen simple, everyday-life objects as the subjects of her artwork. Amongst others, her portfolio includes “A Towel”, “A Room with Red Curtain”, “A Room with White Curtain”, “A Sink”… Yes, it is as literal as it get. Michelle recently graduated from Slade, and has returned to Hong Kong, where she now works as a freelance art/ English teacher. Even though it has been difficult for her to spare time to paint regularly, she has not forsaken – and does not plan on forsaking – her dreams as an artist.
“My hope is simple: to keep wanting to be an artist... That is because I know how easily [it is for] one [to] give up on it.”
Michelle Chiu - A Sink 36 x 36 inch Oil on canva 2013
A sink to me is shiny and wet. While I was trying to make a painting out of my memory and knowledge about a sink, I decided to focus on these 2 features. The idea of a sink in my mind was used as a framework for me to experiment with oil paint intuitively in order to make a painting. The shiny, smooth, solid, oily background is the representation of the sink surface; on the other hand, the watery, splashy, transparent paint diluted with turps represents the wetness of the sink. The subjective representation of the idea of a sink is demonstrated in this half abstract image, that challenges viewerâ€™s existing idea of how sinks look and feel like. Also, as a result of keeping my intuitive way of painting, this painting put across my personality and emotions at the time.
love affair with nature
By Jessica Ha
Shelby Feistner // Photography
Moments. Every photo captured a particular moment in time and in it whispered a story, an emotion, an experience. This was what I realised as I browsed through Shelby’s photography albums on her website. It was impressive to see how expressive a single photo could get, as if you were reading an inner dialogue without even meeting the persons in the picture or the photographer. I formed the impression that Shelby was a philosophical person, contemplating life and wishing to discover the meaning behind it. I didn’t get a chance to check with Shelby whether this was an accurate conjecture, but from her answers in our interview, I would venture to say that I’m not too far off. Forgive me Shelby, if I have indeed got it wrong. People say that an artist’s work is a reflection of his/ her voice. I guess that was what gave me the courage to make such a bold assumption about Shelby. Many of her photos featured nature, either as the central focus or in the background - but even then, you could sense that the protagonists were in awe of nature’s beauty. I was, therefore, not surprised when
Shelby told me that “she had a love affair with being outdoors”. To her, this is a good way to get out in the world when one starts losing sight of what is important. “Being in nature makes you feel small, and that’s a really beautiful thing.” This belief has translated into many of Shelby’s photos, where people were often made small in contrast to the vastness of nature. Yet, she also feels this has posed difficulties to her at times when she wanted to take her photographs in the opposite direction and become closer with her subjects. Struggling between distance and intimacy is a conflict Shelby hopes to find a better balance to. She’s determined not to bow down to this challenge. “I’d really like to push myself to get closer and learn how to incorporate much more emotion in my photographs.” When asked to name an inspirational figure, Mary Ellen Mark was Shelby’s answer – an incredible photographer in capturing people and emotions. Enjoying telling other people’s stories through her own photos, Shelby found it enlightening to see how Mary Ellen conveys such intense emotions in her work. After taking a look at Ward 81 myself (Shelby’s favourite project of Mary Ellen’s) I could see the allure and why Shelby found her so stimulating. “I don’t ever want to stop learning and growing as a photographer.”
Shelby is a dedicated photographer. Her journey
began with darkroom photography classes at the age of 15. Perhaps this explains the reason for Shelby’s mastery of playing with light and space in her photos with the intention of getting to know her camera. “It’s so easy to pick up a digital camera and let it do all the thinking for you,” she said. “I didn’t want that to be my foundation for learning.” By choosing the analog route, it allowed Shelby to learn all about the history behind photography as well as how her camera functioned as a tool. The unique, tangible experience of rolling the film canister to making the final prints made her fall in love and inspired her to
make as many pictures as possible. Currently, the subject of her inspiration lies in death and dying. A taboo topic in many societies, death is something every human encounters at some point in their lives. This escapist human nature is what drew Shelby to the desire of exploring death’s meaning, especially in situations where someone’s occupation involves mortality. Photography has become a new craze in which people have immersed themselves into these days. It records the plethora of moments in their lives. Because of this, I thought photography beginners out there would
love to hear some of Shelby’s tips on how to improve: “Looking at other people’s work and seeing what they’re photographing can help generate ideas and serve as a model for style and aesthetic,” she advised. “While it’s crucial to do this, remember to photograph for yourself and not take things too seriously. It’s easy to get caught up in comparing yourself to others and end up feeling like shit. Keep in mind that there is always room to grow and you should never settle, but also remember to have fun and experiment with things.” “…some people tell me that I’m a distant photographer.”
Perhaps. But flipping through Shelby’s photographs, my impression was more of amazement and appreciation. Amazed by the grandeur of nature and beauty of life’s moments she was able to translate in her photos; and more appreciative, as a result, of the wonders that life brings. Shelby Feistner may be an “impersonal” photographer, but I would say she is definitely a thought-provoking one. “We have to remember to bask in beauty instead of being too far wrapped up in our own little worlds.”
Sebastian Popa - Ashquarium
Sebastian Popa // Industrial Design
Leaving A Positive
on the world
Sebastian Popa - Alcoholibrium
The projectâ€™s aim is to raise the awareness, through designed objects, of the harmful effects alcohol can have. In this project, the attention is focused not on the products people consume to satisfy their desire of drinking alcohol, but on the objects that they use as accompanying tools for satisfying them. As a design methodology, my intention is to design objects that intrude, directly interrupting peopleâ€™s way of satisfying their desires by making alterations to the objects commonly used in the act of consuming products.
The glass invites an interaction from which users can reco As the glass is filled with alcohol it gradually begins to os ly fall. This mimics the effect that high quantities of alcoh and transmitting the idea that a large amount of alcohol alcohol drunk by extending consumption time. This will and mind. Also encouraging people to enjoy the taste of t
ognize some of the effects of alcohol consumed in excess. scillate and lean and if filled to capacity it will eventualhol have on people, affecting their stability and judgment l can be harmful. Secondly, it tries to limit the amount of reduce the overall influence that alcohol has on the body the drink for a longer time in a responsible way.
“Surprising, creative, functional, conceptual and critical” are the adjectives Sebastian Popa uses to describe his work. “I try to design objects that communicate with people, sending them visual messages that make people understand certain things about themselves or about others,” he said.
can tell us things about ourselves or our behaviours.” Background Sebastian has three positive traits: he is creative, ambitious and nice! (The whole package?)
His interest in arts and design started ever since he was a child. He studied at the Fine Arts Depart The creative objects Sebastian ment in the National College of arts makes are either observational, where Queen Marie at the age of 10. Four people are encouraged to understand years down the road he moved onto the object through contemplation the Design Department. or they involve human interaction, where people can physically use “My background in visual them. arts made me a bit dreamy at times, Currently working as a freebut when I entered into the design lance designer and collaborating with world, I started to be more realistic,” a range of furniture studios, such as he said. Designer Atelier Inc production, the Romanian-born talent (who is not Sebastian graduated with a related to vampires, castles and Drac- BA Product Design Degree in 2010 ula) says each project he takes on is at the National University of Arts influenced by his vision. Bucharest. Afterwards, he decided to pursue his studies even further and “Through my designs I want graduated from the MA Industrial to transmit the idea that objects are Design Programme at Central Saint not solely meant to be manipulated Martins College of Art and Design and consumed by people, but that London. they can also improve our lives, they
His works Sebastian particularly enjoys the diversity in the field of design. “You always do something different and there is no routine.” He grabs inspiration from various sources, yet lately has shown interest in the artworks of Constantin Brancusi and Romanian folklore. Most of Sebastian’s works revolve around everyday problems: they aim to solve the problem or raise awareness about it. “I believe in God. I believe in myself. I believe in the power of people to change the world into a better place,” he said. “Although my works have a contemplative nature, they are a reaction to a certain problem, having a certain functionality aiming to either resolve that specific problem, or to emphasise it in order to raise user awareness about it.” Some of his achievements include the designing and making of Ashquarium, Alcoholibrium, Louis XIII bonbon for Cognac Remy Martin, playbox for Lucozade and Bubble Bottle, among others. He came in the top 25 awards for Electrolux Design Lab in his unique design: Wirio. Methods “First, I try to get the essence of the object I want to create or of the problem I have to solve. Then I try get rid of all the unnecessary things around it and stick to the point,” he said. “A good idea is to observe the user’s behaviour related to that specific problem as it can give valuable information that can contribute to the creation of the specific object,” he added.
Although Sebastian says the design process is always very different and complex, he strives to make his objects straightforward. “I often do a lot of sketches, then I make a 3D model. After that, I build some physical models or a prototype, which ultimately helps me choose which one is the best idea.” Some projects take him two days to make, whereas some can take up to several months. “My projects are very different from one another as I work for clients who have different requirements,” he said. Examples Ashquarium Personally analysing the problem of smoking developed one of his main works, Ashquarium, said Sebastian. “I am not a smoker, but smoke affects me whenever I go out to parties or I’m meeting my friends since there are a lot of people out there smoking.” He realised that although there were many campaigns against smoking, they did not seem to have a strong impact on people. “I wanted to create something that would affect them directly by intruding in the normal way of fulfilling the act of smoking,” he said. Sebastian started this project by observing the key elements that enable people to fulfill the act of smoking: cigarette, source that ignites it and an ashtray. He directed his attention towards ashtrays, which have a lifespan of several years or decades, he said.
“It is an object that is part of
Sebastian Popa -
Ashquarium acts as a stimulus obliging people to question their smoking behavior. The fish inside the Ashquarium acts like a reflection or surrogate of the person who smokes. If smokers throw their ash into the Ashquarium, the water will become dirty affecting the health of the fish. Extrapolating the relationship of ash, fish and health it is intended that smokers experience a visceral sense of what happens correspondingly to their own health, even if this cannot be seen directly.
- Ashaquarium People can use the designed object in their process of satisfying the desire of smoking, but the object reacts in a certain way when people try to use it. It is not just an object that is being manipulated by people. This object satisfies a required functional need but additionally disrupts conventional behavior and use patterns in order to raise awareness of negative. It is intended that this will produce new consumer experiences encouraging people to think not only about the objects themselves, but also on consumption and on its preceding desires.
many households, public institutions and urban spaces. Most designs related to ashtrays are meant to empower people to fulfill their desires,” he said. “My main purpose was to design an ashtray that instead of empowering people to fulfill the act of smoking, would actually make them aware of the threats that this desire poses on their lives.” Ashquarium consists of an ashtray that is replaced by a fish bowl. Inside the bowl is pure life in the form of clean water and a goldfish. Above the fish bowl lies a groove for a cigarette to be placed. The choice to light it and ash into it, ultimately destroying life and ruining the clean water, is entirely left up to the audience to contemplate. Alcoholibrium Similar to Ashquarium, another of Sebastian’s works called Alcoholibrium was inspired through his own personal experiences as well. “It was the drunk people I saw after going out somewhere. They all had recurrent behaviour,” he said. “As the alcohol affected their stability, sometimes people were balanced and sometimes they fell on the ground.” Through observation, Sebastian designed an object that mimicked the behaviour of those that consumed alcohol. It took Sebastian about a month to finish his design that consists of a glass, which, if a small quantity
of liquid (in this case, alcohol) were poured into it, the glass would stay standing with equilibrium. However, if a surplus of liquid (excess alcohol) is poured into it, the glass starts to tilt, losing hits balance like a drunk person. The point Sebastian said his greatest passion in life was anything related to art and design. “I grew up in this kind of medium and I think these subjects can make people see the world in a more colourful way as they emphasise the beauty of things,” he said. “It [his works] makes me feel accomplished as I feel I can leave my mark on this world through my designs,” he added. Sebastian acknowledged some challenges while designing. “Sometimes I find there is a lot of subjectivity around these fields and it is quite hard to identify clear criteria out of which I can differentiate projects or ideas,” he said. “I guess most of the time it is just a matter of personal opinion.” But the pros certainly outweigh the cons and despite any difficulties he may face, Sebastian strongly hopes for a career in the field of art and design. “I believe this is the path I should cross, given my education and all the effort I have put in this direction,” he said. “Maybe at some point I will have my own design studio, who knows?”
Sebastian Popa - Bubble Bottle
Often, people canâ€™t distinguish the difference between the sparkling mineral water bottles and the still mineral water bottles. Most of the time, there is a small written message on the label that makes people aware about the two different water types inside the bottles. The bubble bottle is a concept for a sparkling mineral water bottle. The bubbles on the bottleâ€™s surface is a visual expression that makes people aware about the content inside, since the bubbles on the bottle resemble the bubbles from the sparkling mineral water.
â€œI want to run around,
be in the midst of things...â€? By Kristine Basilio
Arko Datto // Photography
All I can say about Arko Datto is: He is many things. For the most part, Arko is a spectacular award-winning photographer whose work has been published in Newsweek, Le Journal de la Photographie and Marie Claire (that’s just to name a few). His works, masterpiece photography at its finest, revolve around very real circumstances and genuine experiences. There are no words to describe the emotional and spiritual depths that Arko’s works visit. It is, at the very least, a privilege to be able to get to know a little more about the Arko Datto behind his prized gem of a talent. His superb photography is accompanied by an eloquence that compliments his intelligence and his work is under-spoken yet convicting. We get to know Arko on a slightly more intimate and raw level. Your educational background is a wide range of pretty much everything. Could you tell us why you took the road you did and how it has impacted your work? The road I have traversed has been a very organic one. I have only striven to do that which I am really passionate about, thereby trying my best to stay true to myself. For a greater part of my life, I had been deep
into the theoretical sciences, studying pure mathematics and theoretical physics with great ardor. But it started feeling a bit inert after a point. I want to run around, be in the midst of things… Photography and contemporary art provide me with that space and I’m very content to be part of it. My scientific background has a deep influence in the way I analyse and construct projects, constantly searching for loopholes in my way of seeing and creating things. At the end of the day, you create a universe with your work, with its own grammar and syntax. It is very much a scientific process. How do you usually come up with the topics that you work with? I work on projects that appeal to me at a very visceral level. A lot of my work draws from experiences as a divide soul between Europe and Asia, which is what I have been for the past eight years or so. So migrant experiences, diaspora, emotional journeys into loneliness, angst and depression find their way into my work. At the same time, I was steeped in politics and activism in college. So my work ends up being political.
In 2012, you won a Lonely Planet scholarship. Tell us about that experience. I came in contact with some amazing people during this experience, spending time in one of the best places on Earth— Ladakh. I was passing through some turmoil in my life. So my work was very dark at that point of time. Being in Ladakh propelled the work I was doing into richer domains.
“…I have always had a love-hate relationship with photography and am still coming to terms with photography being so present in my life now… Photography is where my political side, analytical side and creative side come together and find full expression.” What is an ideal photo to you? An ideal photograph is one that transcends the grammar of photography and the context in which it is created and becomes more than it all. It’s something that appeals to the innermost feelings and emotions of the beholder. Your “Cybersex” compilation is a work of art. How did you go about doing this project? Well, the project took about three months to complete
while I was studying photography in Denmark. What started off as a curious endeavor soon turned into a full scale obsession trying to understand, follow and decode people whose lives I knew so little about. Obstacles came in the form of moral or ethical questions that kept cropping up, regarding privacy, intimacy and the like. Your career is going nowhere but uphill, what is your goal as an artist, where do you see yourself in 10 years? (Haha) I’m not sure where or how it’s going. I’ll keep trying to do my best. I wish to do two things: be at the forefront of innovative ways of telling stories and hopefully be able to effectuate some positive change along the way. Arko’s piece of advice?
“Easier said than done, but be true to your essence, your very core. You’ll know when you do. It’s the only way to survive amidst all the confusion and hardships that will bother you in the initial years.”
Pearl Law // Illustration
quirky imagination By Jane Li
“Together but not together.” This tagline sandwiches a hipster couple who are staring in opposite directions. A heart-shaped handbag dangles from the girl’s hand. “You can stand next to someone and feel completely alone,” the description underneath this illustration reads. Through a vibrant mix of text and figures in her work, titled as the tagline, Pearl Law illustrates a feeling of alienation not uncommon to many of us living in the age where smartphones are inseparable from everyday life. Social commentary weaves throughout the collection of illustrations of this Hong Kong born illustrator who recently turned 26. Pearl, who received her BA in illustration from the University of the West of England in Bristol, often draws her satirical observations in a light-hearted and humorous manner, aiming to delight her audience. “Making [them] laugh or at least a little chuckle is something I strive for,” says Pearl. “And hopefully [my work is] not much of an eyesore.” When asked about how she comes up with witty ideas for her work, she shares her creative process without reservation.
“Really, it started as a doodle, of the guy in that
brown coat. Then I felt like it lacked substance so I added the girl not looking at the guy, and then I was like, ‘wow it’s like some sort of social commentary’, because their expressions are not unlike the couples you see on the streets, when they are distracted by their own smart phones, or fucking Candy Crush.” Her eccentric style A great admirer of Japanese culture during secondary school, Pearl received an A in GCE A-Level Japanese and created manga characters. However, her style significantly evolved during university, where she discovered illustrators such as Bob Gill, Audrey Beardsley and J.C. Leyendecker. “I felt very self conscious, because I realised nobody else at uni really drew in a manga style, so I gradually weaned off it,” she confessed. “I experienced an identity illustration style crisis during my final year, because I was confused. I didn’t know what style I would like to draw with. Now I would say my style is some sort of weird hybrid.” Like her work, Pearl is quirky and has a sarcastic sense of humour. She is regularly surrounded by comical incidents, involving things as precious as her name. “My name is both a blessing and a curse” jokes Pearl, who wears a brass clamshell locket that holds a white pearl. “[It’s a] curse because you tend to get your
name butchered at Starbucks even if you fucking spell it out.” For some reasons, staffs at the cafe could never manage to spell her name correctly. She went as far as San Francisco, and the name on her cup of latte was still misspelled as “Pell”, as if it was a gunshot. This specific episode was made into a comic strip and shared on her Facebook page. Her source of creativeness Pearl draws inspirations from her observations of ordinary things happening in her daily life. Her collection of doodles includes a middle-aged Chinese man at her gym.
form images in your head. And if you have a way to translate those images onto paper, then isn’t that a brilliant thing?” An avid reader, Pearl has a shelf full of books from Shakespeare classics to Marvel comics. “Graphic novels are the way to go, for sure. Great writing and great art make the perfect marriage.” A deep passion Every time an illustration of hers is published, Pearl feels like she is looking at a newborn puppy. “You can’t stop cooing at it, and spreading it across all social media platforms,” she smiles.
“Drawing is always something I love to do, She also likes to put a twist on familiar sayings ever since I became self-aware as a human being. It’s or objects in her work. Last Christmas, the online card just a natural progression that I now do to earn a she published had a smiling boy with holes where his living.” front teeth should have been. On his hand lay two Has she ever regretted the choice? “Someteeth and at the bottom it read “all I want for Christtimes, when I look at my bank account, I would regret mas is your two front teeth,” subtly altering a wellbeing an illustrator, but then the satisfaction of creatknown novelty Christmas song written by Donald Yetter Gardner in 1944. ing something trumps all monetary benefits.” Literature is also a great source of inspiration for her. “I always like to read and reading helps your brain imagine things because you read words but you
What’s next? “I haven’t done much to make [my audience] angry yet, maybe that should be my next thing, make a thing that disgusts you!”