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work placement

Sze Sheng Chan FdA in Design for Graphic Communication 2nd Yr

preface In my one month internship period (July 2009- August 2009), I worked for the small design company, Chimera at Bangsar, Malaysia. I got internship because the owner of Chimera, Joe Lam likes some of my ideas and worked especially anti plastic bag advertising and Alexander McQueen Puma shopping bag. He wants me to learn new technique for projects that Chimera did. I was paid RM 300 (approximately 60 pounds) for internship which is normal for interns of all design companies in Malaysia. It was so funny for me because I understand about Malaysians and their personalities. Traditionally, Malaysians don’t bother about art and designs, because they don’t think these are very important in today’s leading economy. They think only professional courses like medical, law, and accounting course. Still, Chimera is a healthy business.

I worked from 10 am till 5.30 pm and sometimes to 6pm. And at times if there’s a project to be completed I have to stay back to finish my work. Of course, I did not design any big and small projects because I am just an intern and as an assistant designer, receptionist and office boy as well. It was so-so.

According to the Chimera Studio, I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to work on a few very important projects and new techniques for high profile companies, especially with many advertising companies, such as YTL and Park Royal Hotel (which is very famous in Malaysia). I would not be able to show and mention upcoming projects for other clients but I could show small parts of images of Chimera’s works to other people. I understand that this is the only way to protect the clients’ projects and their ideas.



“Seeing design everywhere, and taking inspiration from anything” (Shaughnessy, A, 2005, pg 135) means that as a born designer wherever, whenever, whoever we are, instinct comes right away into our mind to analyse what we see and what we feel. We don’t waste time!

Bangsar is one of the busiest and upcoming place in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. It is also a relaxing place for yum cha(get together in Chinese), food, teatime and shopping. To be in such a busy place, filled with many new sights and people can develop one’s design sense because one can enjoy for some fresh air and their relaxation after working time and sometimes, they can use some places for inspirations as well. As such these are many food different food courts, cafes and restaurants to visit during my lunch break time but it turned out very expensive places as I wasn’t paid so much during my internship.

Asians fail to understand that designers do have a brain of their own, and are thinking, problem-solving people. However, in my viewpoint designers are more than just simple decorators. Certain Malaysian clients don’t understand designers’ ideas and try to change a bit here and there and a bit of these and that; without seeing the full picture. Then the design is no longer a designer’s own idea. This corrupts the strength of the original idea. Design is a major influence in the present and past eras. That’s why design influences images of the multi national companies that can either be successful or failure.


On my first day of work, I found out that one of my colleagues was my former part time lecturer from college and another was my senior from London College of Communication. This was just a coincidence, and not because networking, although it is crucial to network with people in the creative industries. That was strange to have both of them be part of my team. Actually, I met some interesting people, nice ones, as well as nasty people. The nasty people gossiped about everyone else and its really annoying people. Overall, it was a good experience and provided insight about the real working environment and a clearer understanding of the industry. I was given the opportunity to observe and deal with different kind of people in this industry. Moreover they shared a lot about their experiences with me which allow me to have better insight of the industry.

“Gelling together,” said Mr Foo. I also agree with him on that. I imagined having work with someone I did not have mutual respect, understanding and peace of mind with. However, to be honest, I hardly spoke or chatted with my “boss”, Joe Lam, the owner of Chimera Studio, because he was so busy, and I was not important to him for business. I know that I didn’t have enough experience at this point to be a working designer. I never realized how important design is for a multi-million international company even though no matter how many years I have been working in internships as a designer.


my project My only project brief was to design notice boards for the client so that they can check what news to be updated. This project was belonged to Ban lee, my colleague and an alumni from LCC, but then was passed on to me because he was very busy with different work. I borrowed a logo design from him to research and brainstorm about notice boards. However, it changed a lot because of refining proposes and client kept changing their mind and keep asking to change designs. The proposal of project was to ensure the notice board to be more “fun” and “interesting” to get the employees attention during their working time. I learnt and studied about identity and image of Park Royal Hotel in a few days. Designing a notice board was not easy and perhaps not so interesting. Also, I didn’t know what was expected, and what was the purpose of the notice board. The worst thing was that the client did not tell me the sizes they want for notice boards. I was not sure which size was available to fit with them and just showed me photos they took. That’s all what is the project brief about.

It is important to ask questions in order to make the brief clearer. Sometimes the client actually doesn’t know what he/she wants! Nevertheless- it is challenging to work out an unclear brief. Actually, I had to ask some important questions for this project but I only asked the Account Executive from the other department. She didn’t give clear answers and always answered that, “Errmmm…” and “Client didn’t say anything….” Account Executes also keep changing ideas and themes for this project every few hours as she thinks that her creativity is better than mine. However, I managed to get new idea for the project. I used an orchid flower as illustration for the background for the notice board to represent various characters such as “The Birthday Staff”, “The Star Employee of the Month ” and etc. In future, if I’m given the opportunity to be in a position of power in a design company, I plan to work with my designers and the client in the following way: firstly, ask more questions to get a clearer brief, then be patient with the client and listen to what he/she likes to talk about




The quote from “How to be a graphic designer, without losing your soul” tells me that “The way designers present ideas is as important as the ideas themselves.” (Shaughnessy, A, 2005, pg 22) I have to agree with that; designers are responsible to expand the brief’s needs with brainstorm, researches and sketches.

I brainstormed, researched, and sketched my first project before I have a presentation to discuss with my colleague, Mr Foo and other colleague from account servicing department, Miss Nadia. Mr Foo understood what I’ve explained about my ideas on the notice boards project. But Nadia did not understand at all. Mr Foo tried to explain to her but it was not working. An expansion from my ideas and her confusions, it changed a lot because she kept on changing the design a bit more and there. Finally, the final outcome of the design is totally different from my ideas. Only illustrations and color were from my idea. I had benefited from this project in a very strange way.

After working on a project and helping out with other projects like the peripherals, photocopying, dropping off packages, mocking up final designs and usual intern work. I learnt something very important and even more important than the technical skills that I had acquired. This is called communication skills. Just a simple say “Thank you” with a gentle smile always make things a little more pleasant same as “ Hello” and “How are you?” and more says. That’s why Chimera needs to be a bit more professional and not perfectionists. I would have to say that I actually enjoyed myself but sometimes not. From being lazy around this studio, I didn’t do many things and kept surfing my facebook because design studios normally don’t give much projects to newcomers and intern students at beginning stage but were given at the later date. I need to be patient and take time if I want to do a bit more work than nothing. A work placement for one month is not enough for an intern as well a company to train interns. This is happening in Malaysia.

I read the book named, “How to be a graphic designer without losing your soul” by Adrian Shaughnessy. Adrian told us from his book about his experiences and relevant to my internship, I was like speechless but agree with his book. Every thing in that article was all very true. Life is not easy as designers are lifeless. As Kyle Cooper explains, “Look at everything for influence and inspiration; don’t limit yourself. It is also very important to have an understanding of the history of art and design. And it is very important not to let people discourage you.”(Heller & Fernandes, 2006, pg192). I have to say that I am trying my best. I will correct my weakness and social skills for my next plan and future. I can do more social skills than a gentle smile with “hi!” According to my next plan, I would like to apply a work placement in London. I hope that I can get an offer from editorial magazines that I am interested in. London is one of the fashion caption city and inspiration place for upcoming designers. Furthermore, Design between London style and Malaysian style are different thinking techniques as after studying in London College of Communication and my college in Malaysia, I see the difference between them. The differences between them are the method of teaching and present our works and design process. I believe that I will grow up to be a more mature and understanding designer rather than just office boy. The preparation that I needed the most id preparing an interesting and impressive portfolio for my future presentation to secure a job. According to “Fashions in student books change. Make sure you’re up-to-the minute.” (Veksner,S, 2010).I got some negative review about my portfolio from interviews that i have attended strated on the work that I have done especially designs. They felt that it is not something that they wanted to see. Luckily, Chimera likes some of my best works. However, I learnt more from Creative Review Presents: Graduate Guide 2010 about students’ portfolios. Everything in these articles is very true. I would like to promote myself not my work for my future ambition. I have learnt n had trained myself to be as professional n a creative designer as I wanted to be. I have always tell myself “Never say no, and nothing is impossible. If u think u can.”



bibliography Shaughnessy, A (2005) How to be a graphic designer, without losing your soul. London: Laurence King. Heller, S & Fernandes, T. (2006) Becoming a Graphic Designer: A Guide to Careers in Design 3rd edition. USA: John Wiley & Sons, inc Gomez-Palacio, B & Vit, A (2010) Flaunt. Available from<> [Accessed: 7th June 2010] Sinclair, M (2010) Creative Review: Graduate Guide


Internship with Chimera  

Internship report