The fight goes on
Not many people following this blog are Hong Kongers, and may not know about the “brainwashing education” controversy that’s been going on over here. The government had been trying to push a new set of materials intended to boost schoolchildren’s national pride, but many people are taking issue with the way it’s done, calling it communist brainwashing. You can read more about it here, but the most interesting discussions are often in Chinese I’m afraid.
There had been large-scale hunger strikes and demonstrations (a cross mark is used as the symbol against brainwashing), many of which started by students. I missed the election and a huge protest while I was away at Toronto, but it’s gratifying to witness such a level of engagement and awareness among Hong Kongers. Now that’s true pride.
Four months ago, I was invited by Holt Renfrew to design a sweatshirt to celebrate their 175th anniversary (for the uninitiated, Holt Renfrew is a high-end department store well known in Canada).
I’m still learning how to fully utilize the shirt as a “wearable canvas” rather than simply a poster, but I was quite happy with the result when seeing it in person.
I’m honored to be among the 7 designers they invited. A pop-up store has been set up, which will travel across Canada for the coming month. Happy Birthday, Holt Renfrew!
In 8 hours, I’ll be on my way back to Hong Kong. My trip around Europe has ended, and so will my student exchange programme at Köln.
Whenever people ask me how I feel about the Köln, I usually begin by saying, “Well, it’s not a huge city…”, which isn’t exactly true, seeing as it’s the largest city in the German Federal State.
What I meant to say was that it doesn’t FEEL like a big metropolis compared to Hong Kong, which is not at all an insult. Admittedly, there isn’t an awful lot of sightseeing to do… you get out of the main station, and you’ll already see the gigantic cathedral (that’s me on the top level overlooking the city): the one thing most tourists come here for.
But after spending last month going from place to place nonstop, it became clear that this kind of travelling wasn’t for me. I grew rather numb to everything by the end of the trip.
So you know what? I love Köln precisely because it’s not the most exciting city in the world. It took 2 months after my arrival, before I stopped taking pictures of the city wherever I go. I went back and looked, because I think that was a significant moment. It didn’t mean I stopped finding the place interesting. It just meant I became less of a tourist. I started living. Curiosity is a great thing, but routine can be a luxury too.
Bye Köln. It’s been a pleasure calling you home.
Semi-hiatus (Ramblings and contact information below)
In a few hours, I’ll be leaving my laptop and luggage at my friend’s place, in preparation for my 1-month trip around Europe, starting from the day after tomorrow.
I’ll take my camera with me (obviously), but I won’t be able to do any designing during the entire August, and that genuinely depresses me (almost enough for me to reconsider not going on the trip at all, as crazy as it sounds).
Not that I’ve designed an awful lot lately anyway. To be honest, I’m kind of disappointed in myself for not leaving more time for personal work throughout my entire exchange experience. All the emails and travelling has been draining my energy away, and while I still think about design almost every single waking second, I don’t feel like much of a designer right now…
There is a slight upside to this. I’ve been taking a lot more photos while I’m in Europe (for obvious reasons). I certainly don’t consider myself a “serious photographer”. As you can see from my recent posts, I’m finding different ways to inject my love for geometry and simplicity into my pictures, and, maybe even develop a taste for new visual textures. Photography is just another way for me to channel my design sensibilities; I’m hoping I can train my eye and not get rusty, without actually having to “do design” for the coming month. It’s the best I can do right now given my circumstances.
I’d type more, but I have some more last-minute frantic packing to do.
Fun with light during a car ride at night.
Fun with light during a car ride at night.
A good way to spend your time while carpooling around Germany.
At long last: some proper design work.
I’m going to shut up first, and let it speak for itself (for better or worse).
I was going to incorporate this video into my post on the Cannes Lions, because my experience of working on this animation was very much affected by other things out of my control. This is one of the last projects I did for my student exchange programme here in Germany, and I really wanted to get it right. I’ve only done one “proper” motion graphic piece before, and was looking forward to getting my hands dirty again.
It turned out to be a torturous process, because it’s unbelievably taxing on the brain when you have so many emails and other business to handle, yet all you want to do is to sit down and just… create. I need time and space for my brain to go blank (before it can be filled with ideas), and there wasn’t much of either of those things.
I’m proud of the result, not because it’s particularly groundbreaking or clever. I was able to pour my blood and sweat into something quite purely “artistic” (there’s no “message” involved), and escape the insanity for a minute. It was cathartic, and a proof to myself that I am still doing things for my own enjoyment amidst the frenzy. All this attention hasn’t completely corrupted me yet. I hope.
I could’ve gone with a normal photo of myself holding the award, but I think this gives you a better idea of what the experience was like for me. I was nervous, speechless, and pretty much in shock for the few days I spent at the Cannes Lions Festival.
And it was awesome.
A lot has happened since my last post. When something pretty monumental happens in my life, I’m never quite sure how to handle it. On one hand, it makes perfect sense to do a post on it. But on the other hand, some things are so big that I’m never quite sure how to begin writing about them. My Coca-Cola poster winning the Grand Prix at The Cannes Lions is one such example (for the uninitiated: it’s like winning an Oscar within the industry).
I’m extremely gratefully for all this, and I really want to thank everyone — from my parents to my classmates, not to mention the wonderful people at Ogilvy (especially to Graham for offering me the chance in the first place of course). It was too overwhelming for me to post something here. Which is funny. I have no problem posting on Facebook or tweeting about it, but maybe it’s because my Tumblr doubles as my pseudo-portfolio at the moment, it has a kind of sanctity I don’t want to ruin with a poorly-thought-out post. And the whirlwind of activity surrounding me just doesn’t give me a lot of time to think and write properly.
And this is why, although I consider myself pretty social media savvy, I’m now blogging about something that happened nearly a month ago. I’m sure the PR guys at Ogilvy are mad at me for not talking about this nearly enough.
CREDITS: I took this photo from Ad Boarding Pass — a blog run by Martin Murphy from Ogilvy, who is in charge of this Coke account, and arranged many things for me throughout my stay at Cannes. Thanks Martin! Click the link for his post on our experience at Cannes. He writes far more thoroughly than I do.