:Singapore Art Book Fair 2014
The Singapore Art Book Fair is an annual book fair specialising in contemporary art books and zines, and was held at Centre for Contemporary Art Singapore this year. There were around 50 local and international vendors at the event, of which many took the opportunity to launch independent publications/ projects. We were glad to be sharing a booth with PushPress, a risograph printing press, and putting up some of our recent work (books, zines and collaboration with friends) for sale at the fair.
One of it was a book (Working Together) documenting a series of collaborative experiments, put together by Shannon as part of his internship project at Pupilpeople. Supported by Areas of Interest and printed by PushPress, this project was started to further investigate into the collaboration process, and how it can take form in various unconventional ways. This investigation would reveal insights into ways of working together, which is close to how we work as a collective, and also as a collaborative platform in the future.
At the booth were also some art prints by Tiffany Loy. These risograph experiments were a result of a collaboration between the artist/designer and PushPress—an exploration in overlaying risograph colours and textures using bubble wrap scans.
Other than putting up things for sale, we took the chance to chat with visitors who wanted to know more about PushPress and the Risograph, and what Areas of Interest is about. We briefly introduced how the Risograph workshop was conceptualised, and what it aims to achieve on top of learning about the Risograph. Tapping on the medium, we are also interested in how this method of production allow us to produce/generate and communicate content that are of interest.
Moving on from the art book fair, we are planning to include a retail corner in the current workshop space, where selected items will be available for purchase.
:Talk at Orita Sinclair
We were invited (along with Randy from PushPress) to give a talk to a graduating class at Orita Sinclair, a school of design, new media and the arts, during the month of October. There was a deliberate effort to steer away from the common approach (but not wrong) of showing a few of our works, talking about the stories behind those works, and then leave with a few tips of being a designer upon graduating. Instead, we went ahead with sharing about the things that excite us, one of them being the changing role of design, and how it also exists outside commercial/client-based work. The setting up of PushPress was a good place to start on this topic, as both an independent initiative and it having more than just a market-driven objective. As a printing press, PushPress is also interested in exploring the potential of a Risograph for purpose of self-publication, therefore encouraging a culture of independent making over at this part of the world.
Through sharing about the projects in PushPress, with a few born out of collaboration, we touched on a few ideas that we thought might be valuable to graduating students. Just like the Risograph, there are many possibilities born out of limitations, and playing a good game within the boundaries is what really matters (as Randy quotes Wim Crouwel). Instead of worrying about what we don’t have or can’t achieve in existing structures, maybe a shift in focus would help us move forward instead—similar to how a set of rules would enable for a really fine game. The projects that PushPress worked on also reflects this process of working with limitations, and in some ways the limitations allowed for the concept to take form.
The Q&A segment did allow for further discussion into the reality of balancing self-initiated and commercial work, most of the time with the latter supporting the former in financial or practical terms. There are of course ways of going about doing it, be it finding time, working efficiently and slowly adjusting the amount of work for each (at the same time not ruling out the validity of achieving/pushing for excellence in commercial design opportunities). But it is also to examine the motivation behind the work we choose to do, which then becomes not so much about striking a balance between the two. And this, is what I believe was the aim of the talk that day, to leave us questioning the efforts in the things we are going to do (or are already doing) as design graduates, with a slightly more critical perspective on its contribution to society.
:Risograph Printing 02
We finally had our first trial workshop with people from the public. They are a few friends we know personally, most of them are designers who have been practising for quite some time, some are involved in design education, others leading their own studio practices. One of them just came back from a workshop in the Netherlands. It was good fun and meaningful time not just for the sake of participating in this workshop, but also a get together, with lots of catching up to do. We are again glad to have them in that day, and it definitely helped us in getting a clearer view of where this workshop should work towards.
On a whole, the participants took every chance and opportunity to explore and experiment, without leaving any space for normality to occur. Although we expected that sort of engagement from the group, we were still surprisingly pleased with the response, and that also meant that we had to work doubly hard to keep up with all the test prints and questions.
One concern raised during the feedback was that the time spent on making the poster was significantly more than the time spent on printing with the Risograph. And if this workshop’s focus is to provide an introduction to Risograph printing, then by just having one go in printing a poster would not be enough for a fufilling experience with the Risograph. We thought this was a valid feedback and intend to look further into it.
We also observed that although most of them got straight into making, they did not start with a clear idea of what to create. Most of them made a variety of cut-out “elements” from the stack of materials, ending up only using a selection of those. This left a smile on our faces (or if not only mine), knowing that this observation confirmed our intention—to use the process of making to aid in image making, going through the process of trial and error to visualise things on paper, and to finally decide on only the necessary elements for composition of this poster.
:Risograph Printing 01
Workshop: A two-day workshop that introduces the Risograph as a potential print-making method through an analogue process of image making. Tools: Library of materials—Transparency sheets, Printed sheets of 4 black tints, Printed sheets of letters and words in various sizes / Stationery—Cutting mat, Penknife, Ruler, Scissors, Tape, Blue tack. Tasks: Create a two-colour poster that will be printed with the Risograph, using only the materials provided.
Having already developed the content for the Risograph Printing workshop, this pre-trial workshop was conducted among ourselves to familiarise with the workshop’s structure in preparation for the trial workshop next week, which will be conducted among a few friends.
Some of the feedback we attempted to get from the “participants” was that it was tricky trying to get started with making without any clear idea from a sketch, or that the process of trial and error in composition is a little more tedious compared to working with a software (where graphic elements can just be moved quickly at will). Although some of us were a little impatient about this, all of us felt that it was the way it should be. To slow down the process by working with our hands, taking time to think carefully before working directly on the transparency sheet. It was a lot more deliberate, as more consideration was put into every step.
With this pre-trial run, we look forward to the first workshop that will be conducted with the public (friends), and to proceed with documenting different responses to this analogue way of making, within boundaries of this exciting medium.
:Blind Drawing 01
Tools: STABILO pen 68 / Chinagraph Pencils / A3 Paper. Tasks: 1. Draw non-master hand without looking at the drawing / 2. Appoint one to carry out task 1, appoint the one beside to copy the first person’s drawing, do the same with the rest of the participants / 3. Draw a portrait of the one opposite without looking at the drawing.
Each of the tasks were carried out for around 2–4 times, which most of us felt was too little. There was an urge to keep trying, to continuously fine tune the results with the next drawing.
Some initial thoughts about the activity was that it forces us to disconnect with the familiarity of having constant visual feedback while drawing, and to focus on seeing and observing the subject, with our hands responding as accordingly. This process also prevents the inclusion of any pre-conceived ideas on how the result should look like, reducing it to a purer representation of the participants’ observation and drawing habits. There is also quite a bit of intuition involved in this. Our sense of awareness on the relationship between our hands, the tool and paper, was heightened, and judgements on spatial relationships between what we see and what is on the paper had to be drawn intuitively based on the sense of touch.
Although we found this process both fun and valuable, there were no immediate tangible takeaways with it being a short activity like this other than the addictive fun it brings. Perhaps there needs to be a greater series of experiments with this method. The benefit of this might also not entirely be in its output (which are the final drawings), but in the process—the validation that a good drawing is not only in the final result but also the relationship between the process and outcome.