Interview with Shi Chun
What are your plans after finishing your degree?
My plans are kind of fuzzy but generally in the direction of completing some personal projects while working on some freelance work and hunting for a job. Singapore’s culture does not exactly encourage taking time off for self exploration and finding one’s way in life. It is expected that one finds a job as soon as possible right after graduating so there is that constant pressure from my parents.
Bestiarum Vocabulum is such an amazingly detailed work! Can you tell us the story behind this project?
Haha thank you so much! I’ll try to keep the long story as short as possible. We were given the freedom to work on “anything we wanted” for our Year 4 Final Year Project (FYP). I simply went into it not having the slightest idea what I’ll end up with but thinking I really just wanted to draw creatures. I love fantastical creatures! Dragons, especially. It’s probably one of the few things I’ve been obsessed with since I was a kid. That said, I actually doubted my own skills for most of the FYP which had caused my mentor and I much frustration. I would describe the process of the whole project something akin to fumbling in the dark damp fog, occasionally tripping over rocks, bumping into trees and sometimes I’d spot certain sources of light only to snuff them out with my own hands. After a few months, my mentor said to me, “don’t think, just draw”. The thing was, I was afraid of the blank canvas. I was afraid that I could not live up to my expectations all the time. After that, I tried to churn out as many creatures as I dared, although not nearly enough. Months before the graduation show, my mentor told me, I should do something big but retain all the small details as I had in my A4 and A3 drawings. I wanted to reject the idea but he was right, that’d make an awesome product out of this entire project. As cheesy as it sounds, one day as I was drafting ideas for the big piece, inspiration hit me. Up til then I had been thinking of how I’d draw one creature, but what if that one creature is made up of many. Paying homage to the dragon came naturally. Piecing all the small creatures together was really a fun, irritating and rewarding experience all at the same time. After the final draft was done, all that was left was to draw it on the large canvas. At the end I hope I’ve created something that’ll inspire others as much as others have inspired me with their mind blowing works since I was young. I hope that was a good summary haha. I’ve never been that good at it in my English exam papers.
How long did it take you to finish this?
The whole FYP was roughly 10 months long. If we’re talking about what can be seen in the final show, it’d be about 4 months from conceptualization to completion. The large drawing itself took up 2 months.
What made you pursue graphic design? Was this a childhood dream?
Honestly, graphic design was not a childhood dream. My childhood dream was to own a pet dragon, haha. My parents noted I had an interest in drawing when I was young and signed me up for weekly drawing lessons but little did they know I’ll eventually continue for roughly 7 years. My interest lies in seeing how the little strokes, lines and curves on a canvas eventually come together to form a visual that everyone can enjoy. Now will be a good time to quote the overused quote, “a picture speaks a thousand words,” that is not limited by language. Visual Communication was as close to what I can get in Singapore for a degree in something related to what I might want to do in future. I’m not strictly a graphic design or typography kind of person but I did enjoy the many things I’ve learnt in school about them. Life and art should never be restricted to just learning one’s own specific field. Learning more about graphic design and typography allowed me to appreciate what goes on inside a canvas even more and also distil the essences of the thoughts and processes behind working on visual communication projects.