Ideas, ideas, ideas..

Ideas.. what else.. I am tangle with different concepts, here and it’s hard to choose which just one. It makes me wonder is there a ways to analyze ideas and methods to see which one is appropriate? One of the steps that I have been practicing, pills is step A) collecting ideas that influence the brain storming process, more about usually I take photos of what inspired me, and then I display them around my working space, display in this context means printing them on a paper and stick them around. Because what influences me can be almost anything, therefore the collection material can also be anything. Text, photos, shape, pattern, people’s reaction, comments, sketches (not that I can sketch well) and almost anything. So, usually I will collect them, and sometime, well, most of the time, these materials that I collected are not relevant. After step A complete, or I am satisfied with the material I have and think that it is enough (even though it never been), then comes step B) I need to stop and to focus. To focus means to look back at the purpose of doing this project, and highlight the issues that I want to address. By this time, my heads is filled up to the full tank, and I already have plenty of distractions, with lots of ideas what I can do with my collections, but none of them is relevant to what I am suppose to do. Focus, focus, focus.. and that’s what I need to do.

Now, this might sounds easy, but not when I am in the process of making. It’s quite difficult. Not because I did not follow the steps that I just list out above, but I think it’s because I am dealing with feeling, what is my like and dislike, preferable and non preferable, therefore, most of the time to cut it short, I am dealing with what look will satisfied me most. And furthermore, even the rational is there, at the end of the day, I still have to deal with this feeling. This is the process I am at. I think at this time I need to get back to step A.

Here’s an idea: interesting way to present Melbourne, another angle with the helps of lots of print collection.

Victoria State Library held an interesting exhibition that portray social and historical view of Melbourne through shopping activities. Not only the exhibition traces the historical parts or should I say the roots of the passion of shopping activities in Melbourne but also it provide juxtapose of Melbourne through the past and present. Graphic ephemeral such as poster, brochure, tickets etc. are among the collections items along with object, maps, photographs and video shows, that there to demonstrate the period of time she shopping facade, activities and scene took place. It gives me some ideas of how I can conduct my exhibition later on.

Shop Till You Drop Exhibition
Shop Till You Drop Exhibition open from 11 December 2009 – 31 October 2010
Shop Till You Drop II
Shop Till You Drop II

For more info of Shop Till You Drop, Melbourne visit the link.

To be continue..

How what it project, shaped what others think?

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A PhD investigation on comm. design contribution on Malaysian Identity by Nurul Rahman is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 Australia License.
Based on a work at

Now when you read this title what do you think can go under ‘it’? It in this context could be any form of media, ambulance but what I want to discuss today about ‘it’ falls under comics. So ‘it’ in this column means comics, yes only comics, because under comics there’s comic books, comic strips and perhaps other ‘unknown’ type of comic.

Next questions is the question that I asked at the top (title). So what do you think? Let’s makes it easier in putting comic in the sentences. So ‘How what comics [it] project, shaped what others think? What I’m asking here is the role of comics. Hmm..but what is comic? Well, if you look at the comic definition in then the meaning of comic is this – a comedian, a comic book, comic strips, comedy shows or a behaviors that could induces smiles or laughters. Yes, I did said comics is just comic and nothing more, not comedian and not the act of making others laugh.

Sadly because of this ‘unpopular’ areas or medium, people don’t really understand what comic is. The word comic are broadly use, in different situation, depending on the purpose. It is also because comic is not something that are educational appreciated, it use to be considered as a bad influences. But not anymore. Nowadays comic are much more popular, between children and adults. It has become an exclusive desire artifacts for some and cartoonist has become as popular as an artist.

Back to the question asked – what influence or impact does comic have in our life and how it can influence our thinking process or our lifestyle? First, lets see where can we find comics? Traditionally we could only in find comic in newspapers (classic), in children books, in comic books and in magazine. But nowadays we could see them in advertising, in poster and in many other promotional items. So in conjunction to this, comic is no longer a medium under other media, but it is the medium by itself, therefore as what McLuhan (1954) stated “The medium is the message” – comic is the message. Comic has its own ‘content’ through the message it carries , except the content of the message have extended to certain human understanding of comics. Therefore the meaning of the ‘content’ of comic could change and evolve through time. Now if we see the use of new media on comic, this is happening because comic could give meaning and its own interpretation of comic with out reading what it contained. To include comic in advertising work is to create the feeling of comedy, relax, take it easy kind of meaning. Then the content of the comics comes in.

McCloud in his most influential book ‘Understanding Comic’ (1993) describe his extended meaning of comic and shows examples on how to read and understand comic, breaking it into different parts. Comic is a the most subtle communication medium to communicate. Through comic one can express, tell, suggest and perhaps persuade others for different purpose.

understanding comics

To be able to read comic, one needs to understand the culture background of the comics, a western comic could portray towards Western lifestyle and so on with others cultures around the world. In contrast to this, comic also is a medium of study, one could examine the culture, identity, background of others from different countries through comic. So how does this influences what others think?

Well it is a norm human reaction to imitate others, particularly when is it different from others. Lifestyle, fashion, trends, custom etc, are something everyone of use appreciate, and want to learn or at least curious enough to know. This process could shape our thinking, our views on something and perhaps could even alter our behaviors.

Of course this blog hopes to stimulate some awareness or discussion about design, and guess what, comic is part of communication design. Have a think..Now, what do you say again about comic…is it or is it not influential?

Is there any vernacular Malaysian Design?

Time have fly fast, ed year 2008 is now reaching at the end. Moi? I’m still in the progress of writing up…It’s been a hard year for me although I have to admin I have learned a lot. Few weeks ago I presented a paper in ICPE’08 (International Conference of Postgraduate Education) organised by USM in Gurney Hotel, decease Penang. As I imagined the crowd is not from the design background therefore the critics and comments I received is different, no rx positive at least. It is interesting to see what others who come from non-designed background think about design project. I think designers should present more in the conference and write, it is very important to make others understand what we’re doing, and by doing so we will get a better idea and understanding of what we’re doing or working on. I have learned this process while teaching. I’ve been teaching more than 5 years now, casual, part-time and full-time. I found myself fascinated with the student behaviours and reaction with the subject. I came to understand that teaching requires a never ending learning process. To teach is to learn, by doing so one will never stop learning. 

In our day to day life, unwittingly we practice this process. Progressively we learn and teach regardless the small actions, issues or thinking. And we talk about it to our families, friends etc. For example, we learn to have a breakfast everyday, by observing or by learning it from our parent. Breakfast, depending which cluster or ethnic group one belong to have its own way. It can be heavy, light, spicy, sweet, etc. Then we practiced and teach it to our children or friends. It is by nature a way of practicing our life..anyway..I shall not continue this discussion until I can articulate this topic clearer. 

In relations to my blog title, I’m still asking the question about the notion of Malaysian Identity, I wonder if I ever would have the answer, or not? But I’m hoping I would be able at least to understand a lot more about Malaysia and its intimate connection to the design practice.

To open the new year event I will be giving a talk about Malaysian Design in particular on a topic or vernacular design in Malaysia, whether it is genuine or merely a copycat act. I’m exited about this topic and hoping to get something out of this discussion with other Malaysian designers.

Meanwhile I’m still continue writing my pieces of collected design exploration through my PhD. Rewrite is the words that I’m now more and more getting comfortable with. It is now my close friend. If you in KL and interested to listen more about design in Malaysia and its relation to identity please do drop by to on the 14th of January 2009.
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A PhD investigation on comm. design contribution on Malaysian Identity by Nurul Rahman is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 Australia License.
Based on a work at

I haven’t been writing much in this blog lately, price
not that I don’t have anything to write but I been busy writing somewhere else. I have some thought now and then, advice
I wish I could go online and see how it goes but sadly it’s just not as easy as sketching. Well, I should start by wishing you my friend who regularly spend time reading my 5 cents ideas and thought about design checking what’s new in my blog. To you I wish Happy New Year and hope this year will give us more guts in provoking design studies, practices and theory around.

I’ve been travelling around for a short break, and presenting paper in a conference. Now I have arrived and settle where I came from in Melbourne as I have a lot more to finish, the unfinished research. While I’m travelling, in the country I spend most is France, not all region but some places, enough to realise some interesting fact about French or I could say in this case it is not only on France but many other country. Language is very intriguing. Not all countries speak English although it was claimed as the most important language in the world. Indeed, is one of the languages that will allow us to communicate to other, after all almost everybody at least knows one words in English, thanks to film and music industry.
While laying in front of the television after lunch in Reims, I turn on the remote to see what’s on.  Yes, I know most of the people know this but for me it’s shocking. Why everything is in French? We could view this from different angle. I ‘m looking at it from identity issues, mainly national identity. Clearly language is another medium to connect and to be able to communicate to each other. Apart from the language also represent or identify almost which country the person comes from. Lying in front of the tele I was wondering, could it be possible with the standardized the language French thinks other people around the world speak French? Every France citizen or permanent residency speaks French. How does the authority get to this? Definitely tv program and promotional advertisements is one of the way to construct this idea. When nothing else is use except one language, one don’t have much choice then start learning or else would be left all alone. This idea has strong relation to choice and freedom.

In country like Malaysia, if the freedom of choice is so far away and there’s not much choice left, nothing much one can do apart from taking the risk rather then taking the risk to be left alone. Don’t get me wrong nothing going towards issues such as politics, blog can become a sensitive issues in Malaysia, therefore I have to say it out loud, nothing political in here. Now because of this limited choice to be able to choose Malaysian have lack of design understanding. What is design and what does it mean to most Malaysian designers?  I was supposed to give a talk in KL on kakireka small talk in KL organised by Wrega (Malaysian Non Profit Graphic Design Association), but then something came out and we have to call it off. But the topic I have in mind came after my visit in Penang in December last year and I’m writing a chapter about it to publish in a design journal.

The issue that I’ve found quite interesting is about the vernacular of Malaysian design. Is there any? One could argue and said that there are, depending on what it the word design means to oneself. Some would say no because nothing reach the standard. What standard? Again this also will goes to what they mean with the word design.
If we look at the Oxford Concise dictionary (11 ed. 2004 since 1911), the word design means:
a)    A plan or drawing produced to show the look and function of something before it is built or made.
b)    The art or action of conceiving of and producing of something
c)    The arrangement of the features of artefacts.
d)    The propose or planning that exists behind an action or object.

Now what that mean here if we look at most of the artefact that are available in Malaysia from massive advertisement to the one that are photocopy, from the logo of the big shopping mall to the logo of the small hawker shop, regardless what is the visual looks like, the aesthetic part of it, these artefacts does fit in under the action of designing. So back to the question is there any design in Malaysia, the answer is yes, definitely. But whether it can be claim as Malaysian design, we will find out later on. Is there any vernacular Malaysian Design?