Single Story

Recently, I  watched this Tedtalks video by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie titled ‘The Danger of A Single Story’ which I found was really useful for my research and project that I am currently working on as it touches the subject of ‘cultural authenticity’

According to Adichie, she stated that most of us gets immersed with the media where it only tell us a single story. People tend to get influenced by media and believe how the (media) portray a person or a culture, just because that is the only single story that they’ve heard. Adichie challenged us to expand more in terms of knowing a person and their cultures  by getting to know other things better than a single story.

This reminded me of situations when my friends who are from the Peninsula (west) Malaysia thought about East Malaysia (which consists of Sabah and Sarawak state). My friends who have never been to East Malaysia has always thought that the people over there live on trees, having a vision that Sabah and Sarawak are one big tropical forest. This is one of the examples on how a single story could influence people’s perception on something like how Adichie described as well.

In researching about cultural authenticity, I believe there are ways for us to break the stereotype thinking of ones culture. It is also important for us to always understand who we are and identify with our own culture as well. Towards the end of Adichie’s talk, she added that if we can reject a single story anywhere, we will regain some kind of paradise.

Video link:

[visited on 16 January 2014]


Dali’s Alice In Wonderland

Recently came across this article from Brain Pickings about Salvador Dali’s illustrated version of Lewis Caroll’s Alice In Wonderland book. I’ve always admired Dali’s surrealist artworks as his imagination can go beyond and his painting technique is great as well. I liked the vibrant and colours that Dali used for this Alice In Wonderland pieces. It really brings out the imaginative and fun world in this classic story.

Published by New York’s Maecenas Press-Random House in 1969 and distributed as their book of the month, the volume went on to become one of the most sought-after Dalí suites of all time. It contains 12 heliogravures — one for each chapter of the book and an original signed etching in four colors as the frontispiece — all of which the fine folks at the William Bennett Gallery have kindly digitized for your gasping pleasure:

Down the Rabbit Hole

Down the Rabbit Hole


A Caucus Race and a Long Tale


Advice From a Caterpillar


The Queen’s Croquet Ground


(visited on 9th January 2015)

Reflective Statement

Research Methods
When I first started doing research for my study, I have encountered some difficulties in terms on how to start and whether I will have enough resources to conduct my research. The keyword that I have chosen, ‘Exoticism’ was something very new to me too but with the help of Studynet and UH Online Library, I was able to find some valuable information and useful text that is related to my chosen keyword. The information have also assisted me in doing critical analysis better. I find that although the UH Online Library might be a little tedious to access, but there are a lot of good academic resources that I am able to find that can eventually be useful as I continue my study.

I also had the chance to make a visit to the local public library in my hometown, Sabah where I managed to find more books regarding on the indigenous people of Borneo, which is also a subject that I am currently interested in to research further. Being able to make a short visit back to my hometown gave me a chance to collect a lot of inspiration and idea as I was walking along the weekly native open market, looking and observing at the lifestyles of the native people trading their goods in the market. I always believe the practice of going out and observe the surrounding to be one of the best sources of inspiration when you are stuck trying to find ideas in the creative field. For inspiration of artworks and designs, some resourceful sites that I frequently go to are Pinterest, Behance, Facebook and design blogs. These sites helped me to work on my idea and also most importantly to work on my design preferences for my project.


I found a wider understanding on my keyword ‘Exoticism’ as I read the book by Victor Segalen, Essay on Exoticism as he mentioned that his definition of exoticism is not what we normally see in tourism advertisement but as something where we are aware of the uniqueness in our own culture and see something ‘special’ out of it. Having read this book, it has led me to pursue my FAT1 project where I wanted to create a project that can represent my roots, culture and lifestyles of native the people in Sabah Borneo. The challenge would be to have an outcome that can connect to the younger generations better and to have them appreciate their own culture as well.

I have also found that Deborah Alden’s paper on fading traditions in Singapore gave a good insight for me to understand cultural authenticity better and also inspired me to look for more ways in reviving the lost tradition and culture from the native tribes in Borneo. I believe with the rich and colourful culture that can be seen in Borneo can be beneficial as future designers are able to find inspiration in creating cultural authenticity in a more contemporary way which can be valued better to young generations. Alden’s paper helped me to look into authentic things that I can introduce or display for my project hence I’ve decided to develop my idea on Tamu, Sabah’s local native market.

Through these research and findings, it has guided me with working on my progress for my FAT1 project as well as the upcoming FAT2 project. It has also helped me to expand my views in understanding my keyword better and also to strengthen my aims for this study, as I wanted to use this ability to develop and create an outcome that can represent my culture well. I am hoping that I can continue researching and looking for more resources throughout this study not forgetting to broaden my personal style in graphic design.

Word count: 633 words.


Segalen, V. (2002) Exoticism: An Aesthetics of Diversity. [online] North Carolina: Duke University Press.

Alden, D (2009) A Fading Tradition: Design as a Portal to the Discovery of One’s Own Cultural Heritage. [online]

Visual Research: Tamparuli Tamu

Another interesting illustrated book written and illustrated by Tina Rimmer called The Tamparuli Tamu. This book is a good source of visual research as I am able to see the art style and the way how Rimmer portrays the Tamu in Tamparuli. (Tamparuli is a small town and a sub-district of Tuaran on the west coast of Sabah, Malaysia)

Rimmer puts he focus on illustrating the local native people through observing them while they were doing their weekly trading and what’s fascinating about this book is I am also able to get a better understanding on the lifestyles of the native people by studying their poses, movements and actions. It is also a very straight to the point way to show readers on how a scene in a Tamu looked like.


The Tamparuli Tamu by Tina Rimmer


Fig 1. Medicine, music and massage


Fig 2. Different type of fruits and also the traditional sacks carried by the native people.


Fig 3. Squatting poses by the native women. This is also a typical scene in Tamu.


Fig 4. Native women


Fig 4. Portraits of native women


Rimmer, T. (1999) The Tamparuli Tamu: A Sabah Market. The Sabah Society

Available at:

FAT2: Research

December has always been the busiest month for me and it has been pretty tough trying to balance or even find time to focus and continue with my research. But since it is already January 2015, there will be another major deadline soon hence it is time to get back into the ‘study mode’ although I am sure I’ll be having another tough time when I officially start my day job again next week. I am here in the public library once again in my hometown and currently in the midst of planning and looking for ideas to continue my FAT2 project.

I came across this book called “The Tamu: Sabah’s Native Market as a reference for this project. With relevant information and more visuals, I am planning to continue with what I left of from my FAT1 project and create a ‘campaign’ to promote this native market, mostly targeted to tourist and younger generations.


Fig 1. Sabah Tourism Board’s print ad.

The above picture happened to be on the last page of the book and upon seeing it, I’ve also decided to have Sabah Tourism Board as my potential project client to work with. Apart from that, I am also looking into re-designing Sabah Tourism Board’s brochure/booklet, applying contemporary design elements to suit my target audience. My keyword ‘authentic’ will still play an important role in this project, so I will need to work on my ideas to have the outcome that I am visualising in my head.


Fig 2. Tamu in the past.


Fig 3. Tamu in the past



Fig 4. Tamu in present day.


Fig 5. Tamu in present day.


    Fig 6. Tamu in present day.

Fig 6. Tamu in present day.

    Fig 7. Tamu in present day.

Fig 7. Tamu in present day.

Tamu offers the opportunity to meet the local people, and experience the way they live in distinctly different cultures and yet in harmony with one another and with nature.

Tamu provides ‘authentic’ encounter with the rich cultural, culinary and traditional aspects of the lives of Sabah’s many ethnic groups.


H.S, Chong., A.F, Low., (2008), The Tamu: Sabah’s Native Market, Opus Publications

Available at:

(assessed on 2 January 2015)

Monoculture: How One Story Is Changing Everything

One of the interesting books that I’ve read for my Annotated Bibliography assignment is this book titled “Monoculture: How One Story is Changing Everything” by F. S Michaels. He explained how monoculture is shaping our lives in 6 different key areas; our work, our relationships with others and the natural world, our education, our physical and mental health, our communities, and our creativity.

The governing pattern a culture obeys is a master story– one narrative in society that takes over the others, shrinking diversity and forming a monoculture. When you’re inside a master story at a particular time in history, you tend to accept its definition of reality. You unconsciously believe and act on certain things, and disbelieve and fail to act on other things. That’s the power of the monoculture; it’s able to direct us without us knowing too much about it.

A monoculture doesn’t mean that everyone believes exactly the same thing or acts in exactly the same way, but that we end up sharing key beliefs and assumptions that direct our lives. Because a monoculture is mostly left unarticulated until it has been displaced years later, we learn its boundaries by trial and error. We somehow come to know how the master story goes, though no one tells us exactly what the story is or what its rules are. We develop a strong sense of what’s expected of us at work, in our families and communities — even if we sometimes choose not to meet those expectations. We usually don’t ask ourselves where those expectations came from in the first place. They just exist — or they do until we find ourselves wishing things were different somehow, though we can’t say exactly what we would change, or how.

Michaels offers a smart and realistic guide to first recognizing the monoculture and the challenges of transcending its limitations, then considering ways in which we, as sentient and autonomous individuals, can move past its confines to live a more authentic life within a broader spectrum of human values.


Available at:

(assessed on 30th December 2014)

The Secret Behind Japan’s 2015 Zodiac New Years Stamp

What an interesting approach for this stamp design where there’s ‘continuity’ principle applied in the design although it took 12 years to see the outcome. Happy New Year!

2003 and 2015 new years stamp

Before and after of Sheep year stamps, 12 years later.

Amongst the many notable New Years traditions in Japan, one of them is sending nengajo, or New Years cards. And despite the number of cards sent being in decline, there are still about 30 million printed. For the design team at Japan Post, one of their most important tasks is coming up with the design for the stamp, which incorporates the zodiac animal of the new year, to be printed on all the postcards.

This year, stamp designer Ayaka Hoshino was chosen to design the stamp. Coincidentally (or not) she also designed the stamp 12 years ago. And if you’re familiar with the zodiac system you’ll know that this means Hoshino was tasked with designing the same animal as last time: the sheep. The design that she came up with is one that captures time and continuity. In 2003 the sheep was depicted knitting a ball of yarn. 12 years later the knitting project was complete! Whether or not this was all part of Hoshino’s elaborate, long-term plan? I suppose we’ll never know.

as highlighted this week in the Japanese TV show Asaichi, here is some bonus trivia about Japanese stamps:

  • the design team at Japan Post comprises 7 individuals, who are responsible for designing all of Japan’s new stamps

  • each year there are about 40 new stamps released

  • the sheep is the 2nd most popular zodiac animal for stamps and the 2015 postcard is reportedly selling well

  • the most popular animal is the rabbit and the least popular is the snake


(visited on December 23rd 2014)