-SUNLIGHT + RAINDROPS / 阳光 + 雨滴 • 我的天气-

October 20, 2014
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October 17, 2014
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*download the transcript in .pdf format [here]

Advisor & Chair, Multimedians’ Union Week (MUW) 2014
Ms. Teng Sok Hooi

Organising Committee, Multimedians’ Union Week (MUW) 2014
Ooi Joon Yeap, Liew Chai Mei, Wong Wei Qi, Ng Hwa Ee, Lee Ting Ting, Chan Ee Chin, Ng Yee Loong, Chin Sze En, Chan Keh Yee, Lui Khai Bing, Luke Yew Keat, Ng Chun An, Lum Jun Jie, Yeap Yong Siong, Poh Lin Chun, and Lee Wai How.

8th Cohort Volunteers, Multimedians’ Union Week (MUW) 2014
Chan Wai Kee, Chen Winnie, Chen Xin Yeh, Chin Jun Min, Chong Chin Hean, Chong Chin Keat, Lai Ee Ching, Gazo Chong, Kiang Khai Cheng, Gan Siau Hui, Kang Zheng Yang, Howe Guan Fung, Ho Yongwei, Lee Mun Chun, Jaymie Tay Yin Yin, Ng Wei Zhen, Looi Cheah Sin, Lim Pui Shuen, Liu Jian Seng, Than Yen Ting, Soo Jun Hoe, Saw Chee Chiang, Seow Joon Meng, Toh Cheah Quan, Yong Hui Jing, and Shee Fong Min.

9th Cohort Volunteers, Multimedians’ Union Week (MUW) 2014
Tan Seng Onn, Teoh Teik Pei, Tan Siew Peng, Wong Chee Wei, Paul Lee Sin Ting, Chung Chee Keong, Chong Siaw Yee, Timothy Chang Siao Yiao, Sun Shin Tat, Chau Cha Ying, Suah Khai Zun, Chin Li Leng, Chak Choi Mun, Tay Chin Lun, Chew Jian Bin.


First and foremost, I would like to sincerely thank you all on behalf of the course and its cohorts of Multimedia Design (MMDes). A heartfelt congratulations to all able organisers and volunteers on the successful completion of Multimedians’ Union Week (MUW) 2014, in conjunction with the course’s 10th year establishment in the institution since 2004.

Multimedians’ Union began as a naive initiative to build bonds among senior and junior cohorts, back in the days which the idea was conceived in 2007. From mere 15 organisers with less than 30 participants’ setting it as Multimedians’ Union Day (MUD), the movement have seen growth over the years through various events and channels, owing its gratitude to the tireless effort, commitment and cooperation between volunteer students, elected representatives and lecturers.


Today, the course of MMDes witnessed yet another accomplishment of Multimedians’ Union Week made possible by the leadership of 8th Cohort, the collaboration with 9th Cohort, and not forgetting the initiative of the programme supervisor and other willing lecturers. It is with upmost honour to see the baton being passed-on through teamwork across cohorts, and a proud moment to call oneself a Multimedian to know that such tradition will continue to live on for years to come.

Whether it is a Multimedians’ Union gathering, course field-trip, weekend practical outing, participating in competitions, winning design awards, industrial attachment and training, festive season’s celebration, random film screenings, organised design events, or yearly graduation showcase, in and out of the school, MMDes had came a long way to be where it stands today, widely known by the industry and general public of its existence. We as part of MMDes, had made it all possible.


Having that said, we turn past mistakes into experiences, and past achievements into strength. As practicing designers, we would eventually move toward our next destinations, dreams and goals after graduation, cherishing the moments and fun that we have had with our course/classmates in what seemed like a distanced past; The crazy times, the endless nights, the do-or-die deadlines, the stressful presentations, the useless examinations and those ‘lepak-ing’ break time in the club-house or TBR.

In estimation, there will be 1,500 alumni/alumnae who graduate from TARC/TAR.UC’s Multimedia Design course come 2017 (1st - 11th Cohort). Despite the number, it is somehow unfortunate as of how clueless we are on the things that we could achieve together. Everyone of you reading this might wonder, if there really is anything else that could be contributed and achieved by you after graduation and working in the industry. My honest answer to you is, "YES". In fact, there are plenty.


For starters, the work to recognise design as a profession, on the same par with indiscriminated perceptions compared to other profession such as doctors, architects, engineers, or accountants, to name a few; The awareness and appreciation of design work as a professional; Regular work hours and loads; Fair starting wages, equal opportunities, career advancements and benefits; To be protected as freelancers/self-employed designer; The list could go on, judging from what is currently observed from the creative industry: struggling designers, profession discrimination, ridiculous clients.

In Malaysia, most designers work in silos within their own bubble. Some designers collaborate for a larger effort, seeing the bigger picture. Healthy competition against each other is as crucial as seeing the urgency to create possibilities together for a bigger arena and the betterment of all. One alone can not win the battle against all for the wellbeing of all designers, unless it is joined by others who realise how the outcome of the battle might effect the future of their creative profession.


All these could be achieved overtime through a united effort, among Multimedian students still in school and alumni in the industry. We already have the main required platforms: Multimedians’ Alumni Group Page on Facebook, Multimedians’ Union Day/Week and design talks in school opened to all Multimedians. What can we achieve together through such platforms? To contribute and assist in our own capacity and know how, and small little efforts from everyone will definitely sum up.

Join in the alumni group once you’ve graduated, add in classmates you know so everyone could keep in contact. Contribute to the alumni page whenever you can. Come back and check-out juniors’ events. Create relationships with graduated seniors for mentoring and guidance. Form you own collaborated projects among Multimedians during or after school. Participate in design talks or projects, or even help create one. Assist in out-of-classroom projects created by MMDes. Make your presence.


Why and what for? We might ask. What is in for me for doing so? You might say. For that, I am unable to provide you with a precise answer. For graduated alumni in the creative industry or not, we moved on into our respective careers, actively playing our role in the real world compared to the times of our studies. All I could say is, please come back to your alma mater, the course of MMDes still needs your help and support. You are all experienced professionals now, and we need you.

For aspiring design students who are pursuing your studies, you’re giving your best efforts to learn and be equipped. All I can say is, be fearless, be curious, be willing. Question yourself of everything that you are doing to one day practice as a designer of any discipline, or not. You are more than what you think you are capable of, and from that comes hard work and focus with an opened mind. You may not yet have clarity of where you are heading, but what you do now is already accumulating to shape you as a creative that you will be. One day, you will come back to your alma mater as a professional.


To the 8th Cohort, the first batch of Bachelor’s Degree Honours of TAR.UC MMDes. You had previously showcase final projects in the main hall, titled ‘Off The Board’. It was a first attempt by any Multimedians to fill up such a large space to showcase. Thanks to the belief of your lecturers and your cooperation, you showed MMDes that it is possible, setting it a new benchmark. Also not forgetting, you successfully turned Multimedians’ Union into a 3-day event. There will be more firsts to come, and you will shine next in your project management of design events, industrial attachment, and one final graduation showcase to be held outside of the institution to the public audience.

To the 9th Cohort, your initiative and willingness to participate and assist in MUW are equally appreciated. A few of you have always been there to help out the seniors even back when you were just freshmen in first year Diploma. There is a purpose behind your bonding with seniors/juniors. One day, you’ll be continuing your seniors’ efforts and tradition. When that day arrives, you’ll find yourself leading and guiding the juniors instead. You have accomplished ‘EXE’ showcase, with more to come. You are all seniors yourself now, hence your juniors will be looking at you as a role model. There are endless possibilities of what you all can create together. Have fun, and enjoy the journey.


Do not be fooled by what you see around you, as they are mere reflections of how much you already knew. Do not be fooled by what you hear around you, as you are the only one who knows whether it is true to you. Do not be fooled by you, as you don’t know what big things you can really do. If you don’t know what can you do, let it fool you into doing it so you’ll soon know what big things you can really do. I wish you all the very best in your future endeavours. Die-hard, Multimedians. 


Yours sincerely,
Gan Aaron
1st Cohort

October 14, 2014
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October 13, 2014
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Entering into the third week of a new semester, I still find myself somewhat awkward among these freshmen. It’s been more than 6 months since I last conducted a course, and those were mainly for the senior years. I’ve not dealt with freshies for quite some time now, and they’re not as bad as I’d always expect them to be. Well for starters, they’re fresh.

The course is Conceptual Design, and a search on the Internet would leave a new practicing designer baffled of the idea behind the word ‘design’. The first 10-page result by Google listed a wide discipline ranging from engineering to social design, less on how is functions within the context of visual communication. Well, it’s not supposed to anyway.   

If design is creativity with a strategy, what more could be added on top of a strategy using concepts? A plan? An intention? Overly used as it is, design educators and professional designers sometime spoke of the word ‘concept’ too often than to give it a real thought. Are concepts a mere outcome of a deliberate thought process to design and fulfilling needs?  


^ Here, students learn creative stuff in rooms filled with overly stuffed chairs.


It would be ironic if 'concept design' is indeed a common process practiced by any designer, flattered only by its own term. Take 'design thinking' as an example, present to any seasoned designers with detailed steps and wonders on using design thinking and they’d reply, "Isn’t that what I’ve been doing to serve my clients for the past decade(s)? Well by simply, design to solve their problems. Heck, that’s what designers do, no?" 

What could be taught to fresh secondary school leavers who’re not trained to ask questions, about design? On the bright side, 11 years of schooling on how 1+1 must = 2 instead of some mythical answer of 3 or 11 did brought some good. Fact finding, memorising and recalling information is part of a pre-requisite. All tertiary education have to do is to pry them open by the bit to train both imaginative and factual sides of their brain. 

Hence I’d trade my teachings carefully to the bunch of fresh meat off the grinder, to stray away from instilling the idea that design is merely aesthetic and to look good or cool. For starters, an idea that is potential as a concept will not fall from the sky. Unless considerate amount of work is put onto developing that idea, it’ll remain a brain fart; excessive and unnecessary. Looking at the freshies, well, it’s the best chance to shape their mind.


A hundred keywords in 10 minutes, to come up with ideas to design a Christmas card for orphans in Malaysia. They spilled it all, in and out of context >.<


'Brainstorming' is cliché, destructive if not done right or practiced with false intentions. I’d be all surprised to know of famous and established agencies in the industry who conduct ‘creative meetings’ thinking that it’s a brainstorming process. It is not brainstorming if ideas were judged and shot down. It’s not brainstorming if what’s been said, suggested, or proposed were results of already analysed ideas in fear of ridiculousness.

It’s a simple process to see how receptive all of them are to the idea of indiscriminating ideas and fearless expression in a pre-design stage. Observation clearly showed that ideas are judgemental, whether through resistance, disagreement or the reluctance to pen it down. A few teams went into discussion mode already deciding whether 'ais-kacang' and ‘ice-cream’ could indeed be labelled good ideas or plain stupid ones.

I’d catch myself being judgemental in some of the practical sessions as well. I guess it’s just universal for us to be protective and awed by our own ideas, and if an idea should be killed it might as well be with our own hands. Brainstorming is plain stimulating the brain within a constrained timeframe ideating thoughts on a list, that might turn out too logical and rational if given all the time in the world to determine if it’s one right or wrong idea to speak of.   


Aspiring designers. They’ll need to get their head right before anything else.
It could be t
he right mind + the right skills = a creative confidence? 


At this point I’ve somewhat came to a concluded method that I think might be able to carry me through this semester; let’s not complicate things for the new kids. "All you’ll need is a pencil and sketchbook for my course this semester, and we’ll begin a journey to explore things all around you. Oh yeah, you’ll need to bring along your thoughts as well." 

Observe, and you’ll query. Ask questions, so you’d imagine. 

*p/s: The title of this entry is inspired by a friend’s Tumblr, the one friend whom I knew could speak so delicately and ever enthusiastically about design. I enjoyed our conversations.

October 12, 2014
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Tags:  design education


It is quite embarrassing recalling times in college, of how limited we all knew about printing, or even bother knowing. Printing was something that we need only during work submissions; final render, reports, and perhaps presentation boards.

Whether it’s the common 80gm art-paper of 210gm art-card, I wonder the reason why most design schools ignore the fundamentally beautiful knowledge of prints. Digital printing on sizeable paper with either matte/gloss finishing were all that we knew. Yet, we’re still able to make a mess out of such simple prints (due to last-minute works >.<)

As a practicing digital media designer, ignorance about print was a bliss, till the day that I’m expected to execute prints for clients. Mouse-clicks with keyboard shortcuts on screen is only as relevant as its output to be distributed on-screen. Nothing wrong with that, unless you got bored with screens designs one day from discovering other aesthetics.  


The Alphabet Press. If you’ve not heard of them yet, you really really should.


My personal experience with prints began with weekend software classes for an elderly print business owner. Visiting his workshop in the Lengkungan Brunei area of Pudu, I’m still amazed from the very sight of huge and old print machines operating openly in countless print shops. Just like Alice in Wonderland, only that I’m in a printing land. These machineries were foreign to me, as I’ve only ever knew and seen modern laser printers.

By the near end of each class was where I’d bug Francis with questions, and he’d generously share as much as he could occasionally in a kopitiam"What are offset prints?", was my first question. Then there’s the CMYK blocks, colour match (recalling a junior who told me she got into trouble not knowing what’s a Pantone), spot UV materials, cuts, folds, and literally getting a hold of how individual cans of CMYK look like.

From those months I’ve came to know a few things alongside a few people in Printland. Look at those prints with a magnifying glass and you’ll see printed dots, fold and cut whatever shapes and lines, machine for a specific kind of print (the common receipt book papers), and that offset printing is more than meets the eye. One fine day, I noticed a strange word on one of the print shop’s banner that spells, 'Letterpress Printing'.


One of the coolest letterpress product available in TAP’s online shop


No, that shop doesn’t do letterpress prints, which still baffles me of why they claimed so at first. My first naive assumption of what letterpress is about, would be quite similar to an embossed/debossed press (yea, start laughing). A design for a lawyer friend’s business card taught me otherwise.  The only steel plate craftsman in that area looked back at me when I wanted him to craft a logo resembling signatures with super-duper thin lines.  

The search for letterpress in the next 2 years were, well, quite vague. Everyone in Printland says they do not produce letterpress prints, but have no idea if anyone else is. Google results stated there seems to be none in Malaysia, at that time. The nearest access to letterpress printing was in Singapore and Indonesia. Thus, the word ‘Letterpress’ became a topic of conversation with fellow designer friends, what if we have it here?    

A student from Melacca one day handed me a business card of The Royal Press, after a few talks with him about them over press coverage. We then knew of its existence, thankful, awaiting what’s next. During the restoration period of TRP, we’re privileged to volunteer for some cleaning efforts in its old foundry, dating back to the wooden type block days. The trade isn’t revived then, but the least we could contribute and be sure of is its preservation.


Their letterpress card 'bites' into the thickness of a 350gsm premium paper. 



Letterpress is 600 years old. It ain’t old in Kuala Lumpur, it’s just getting started! 


From paper articles to featured documentary on History Channel and videos on the Web, The Royal Press and The Alphabet Press’ existence is received with excitement by those who have long fell in love with the craft of letterpress. It owes its revival to a bunch of individuals who came together sharing the same enthusiasm and vision, turning it into reality, now expanding bigger than what it could initially dreamt of first started.

TRP continues its effort till this day, cleaning and restoring old print makers, minimal renovations while preserving the originalities of its appearance in Jalan Hang Jebat. TAP on the other hand expanded its operation humbly from one design to a series on its online store. Both of them show no signs of slowing down with while channelling their efforts on Art Printing Works in Jalan Riong, turning interests into huge cross-collaborations.

I gave Cliff of TAP a call on his cell, as we communicated previously on a client’s potential interest to have his business cards letterpressed. Needing a few of the pressed cards urgently myself, he welcomed me at their studio in Bangsar with all smiles, handing me the wonderful printed beauties in a small paper bag sealed with a pressed TAP label. Such delicate details, it could only be appreciated of its heartfelt craftsmanship.

Cliff offered us a tour around the vicinity, but we had to refuse as we’re on a tight schedule. Such warm hospitality, we said we will come back soon for a visit. In fact, I am now planning for a field-trip for the fresh cohorts of Multimedians to experience a traditional trade of heart and sweat, before the ease of computing technologies and digital type settings.

Thank you guys for making the cards. The recipient were all fascinated of how different the pressed cards felt between their fingers. I get to share with them a short story on letterpress, and how excited I am with its growth in Malaysia, now made available to us, beautifully.


Pete’s favourite fist pounding, coincidentally translated onto a visually pressed card =)


October 11, 2014
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October 10, 2014
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