“The best thing you can do is the right thing; the next best thing you can do is the wrong thing; the worst thing you can do is nothing.” - Theodore Roosevelt
Taking a year out in the middle of uni was best decision i've made as an adult. I didn't do it because the education system needed me to, or my parents wanted me to. I did it knowing what's best for myself, and not what others think is best for me. And with that mindset, I will set forth continuing my time in university with a fresh start, knowing that this is my life that i'm leading and making my own decisions for.
So at the end of the year out, in retrospect, I will now muse over the various experiences I've had.
In August last year, My mum and I brought my weary soul to the most beautiful place i've ever seen. The Isle of Skye, or also known in gaelic as Eilean a' Cheò, which means 'island of the mist'. My stay there seemed like it was hung in time, a period of limbo. I didn't feel particularly happy, nor particularly sad. I did feel an overwhelming sense of both, but when mixed together it became something other, that made my soul less weary.
In Edinburgh, we caught a few shows from the Fringe, which were joyous, and just pure celebration of the arts. Streets were lined with artists of all callings, and the town buzzed with a glow at night. I also spotted a geeky merch store with windows filled with Doctor Who stuff. I literally stopped in the street and said OH MY GAWD and prodded the glass excitedly. We went in and while cashing our stuff, the storekeeper told us he thought Matt Smith looks like a knee (obviously he supported David Tennant - SCOTTISH PRIDE. LOL. I wonder what he thinks of Peter Capaldi right now.)
When we returned to Singapore, I started looking for internships in production design. While sending out emails everyday, I also volunteered for various architecture events, such as the World Architecture Festival(WAF) and ArchiFest.
Here are a few OmgISawAnArkiTek! photos.
I got to meet a few new friends at WAF, and new friends are always nice. One of them is now studying architecture in Australia, and a bunch of them were architecture students from London. I think they would have graduated by now! :)
I was also an architour tour guide for ArchiFest, bringing a bunch of grown ups around various places of architectural significance in Singapore. It was scary at first, but it was fun in the end!
Volunteering for these events made me see architecture with new eyes, especially at WAF, where I could go to different rooms to hear different architects from all over the world talk about their projects.
After a long period of applying, I finally got a place at Artison Asia, which specialises in art direction.
They were having their anniversary in the week I joined and I was roped into the picture as well XD It's a pretty snazzy photo. ;D Just out of frame in this photo are two people that I met at my internship. Farhana, who was interning in the production side for her final year in poly, and Chris from Germany who was interning in the photography side. They were throwing confetti into frame. HAHAHA.
I had a lot of fun working at Artison, and it was my first furrow into the world of film and art direction. I was particularly fascinated with the filming process, and it was pretty exciting to be on sets of television commercials. Here's one of the commercials I was involved in:
I was pretty lucky to have been involved in this as this was a set build (did you notice? ;D) I helped to conceptualise the space using sketchup, and did a bit of set dressing too (mainly the shelves) Here are a few photos of the set:
I drew this bar in sketchup, but it was entirely made by two brilliant (and very funny) carpenters that are also in the confetti photo above. Amaziiiiing
funnily enough, those same LED lights in the bar shelves will appear again in another shoot, in another company...
I loved watching how the crew all work together
I'm indebted to the art department people, Louisa, Wendy and Michelle, for teaching me so many things during my stay at Artison. It was such an insight into the world i was considering to go into, and I only emerged a better person after working there :D
After Artison, I did some more volunteering, this time as a exhibition guide for Grimshaw Architects' exhibition at the URA building.
Here's a derpy photo of myself at the exhibition XD
I then had the arduous task of yet again finding another job. After some hits and misses, lots of emailing, and even a consideration to go into a pastry chef internship - which I had to decline because then another job came up in June. (I still wonder what that internship would have gone like...)
The major thing I realised was how difficult it was to apply for a job. Rejection after rejection, and furthermore the industry in Singapore was so small...but in retrospect I applaud myself for actively seeking out what I wanted and making a way for myself. I also realised that production design - the design of physical sets - was pretty much non-existent in Singapore, except on occasion. It was mostly art depts that did everything under the sun pertaining to art - props sourcing, set dressing. I really do admire how hard they work to bring the sets to live.
In a way I had failed my original plan of doing production design work in my year out, because truthfully I did more art department than production design. But I'm glad to even have the opportunity to work in film, which is why I have to thank Li Lin for giving me my next job after Artison, as an art dept assistant in a toggle telemovie she was directing.
Here are some photos from the two weeks or so of shooting:
an artistic shot of some lights and stuff from the first day of shooting. (subsequently there wasn't time for anymore artistic shots. XD)
on a different location
I'm now the expert in chinese new year decorations after all the houses we dressed...
my proudly arranged steamboat spread HAHA
high-end bite-sized bee hoon, rolled by yours truly
I met new people again, like my fellow art dept assistant, Allysa, and the art directors Grace and Wyna. I had a lot of fun on this shoot as well, and I was thankful for the prior experience I had at Artison that made sure I didn't do anything embarrassing like standing in frame, or toppling c-stands over. Also because one of the locations was very near my grandma's house, I slept over in her house for the first time and was woken up by my grandpa whistling to the birds in the morning. It was quite surreal, i'm not sure if it actually happened.
As this was my first time being involved in a drama shoot, it was also very intriguing to watch how the film crew and cast operated. Being something of an autodidact, I hoped to absorb some of those skills while observing...you never know! but hay i've never been to film school ^^
It was an amazing experience and i'm glad to have been involved in the shoot. Oh and the LED lights I mentioned before? Well we bought the lights from Artison and used it to backlight a huge cutout of the main character, half naked. It's quite funny how those LED lights share the same experiences as me....HAHA! I have the photo somewhere on my phone, but I don't feel like spoiling the humour of that scene when it appears. So you'll have to wait until the telemovie airs in February next year!
Well, those are the major things that highlighted my year out, as they were what I was setting out to achieve. I also did a bunch of fun and non-consequential stuff like:
meeting Prince William and Kate, and shaking William's hand with him saying 'Hello, nice to meet you' to my face - if only for 3 seconds;
catching two door cinema club live for the second time, getting amazing photos of them and had Alex sign my photo with him that I took the last time they came;
catching The xx live for the first time!
I also had time to produce videos, time to produce art. Time to explore other interests like baking and taking baking classes, having time to meet friends and having them over for a sleepover, realising the addictiveness of kpop, watching every single Studio Ghibli film and marvelling at their art, storytelling and compelling characters, and most importantly, having time for myself.
My family moved to a new house in December last year, and I spent a good amount of time doing it up myself - painting my wall a nice shade of sandy beige, then painting birch trees that reminded me of scotland.
Making more videos for my youtube channel, which is very much a hobby, though the channel has always dreamed of becoming famous. XD check it out here and subscribe! HAHA.
Doing some graphic design work and art:
see more here
Joining Eric Whitacre's Virtual Choir 4
I also had time to go back to music. After completing my grade 8 in piano last year, I didn't have time to go back to music, and music is after all the place I find refuge in. With my year out, I finally had time to join EVOKX, which i unofficially joined in 2010 when it was first established. It is a community choir that gives back to charity, and we're having a concert this year on the 27th of October to raise money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Foundation.
When I first joined last year in September, I walked into the room knowing absolutely no one, feeling so nervous I felt like vomiting on the train. (I have social anxiety issues, clearly.) but now I feel thankful to have met such amazing people who come together every week to sing. I carolled with them in December, was voted in to be the publicity and welfare manager for 2013, and thus my days were filled with singing and designing publicity material for the upcoming concert (like the one above!).
I also picked up the violin again in February this year, having had only four lessons before in 2010 before uni dictated my life and I had to stop. After 7 months, I'm playing grade 3 level pieces (or so my kind teacher tells me) which makes me think of the phrase - If given a year, what can we achieve? But yet again uni beckons, and knowing how crazy archi is, I have to stop my lessons again for now...
I feel like I've grown a lot from my year out. Not just in terms of art direction, music, or making things, but handling the bumps in life, dealing with people, and understanding myself.
It brings to mind Vita Merlini - the latin poem of Merlin in his period of madness, finding insight into himself. Here's an extract:
'And [Merlin] mourns the men, nor ceasing to pour out tears, he sprinkled his hair with dust and ripped off his clothes and lying flat on the ground he rolls now this way now that. Peredur comforts him, as do the nobles and dukes, but he desires neither solace nor to endure their supplicatory words. By now he had lamented for three days entire and had refused food, such great grief had consumed him. From that time on, after he had filled the air with so many and such great laments, he suffered a new madness and stealthily withdrew and fled to the woods, nor does he wish to be seen while fleeing, and he enters the forest and rejoices to skulk beneath the ash trees and marvels at the beasts grazing on the grass of the glade; now he follows them, now he passes by them at a run. He consumes the roots of plants, he consumes the plants, he consumes the fruit of the trees and the blackberries from the bramble bush; he becomes a man of the woods as though devoted to the woods. From then on during the whole summer he was discovered by no one and forgetful of himself and of his own kindred he hid himself in the woods, clothed in the manner of a wild beast.' [source]
And so, when tomorrow comes I return to being a university student - an architecture student, bound by the never-ending workload and stress that comes with it. However, embracing it all, I look forward to whatever comes my way, and I'll look back on my 12 months 'clothed in the manner of a wild beast' as a guiding light.