Featuring Ella Zheng
ELLA ZHENG, WINNER of the LASALLE College of the Arts Faculty Awards for Academic Excellence, is one not to be missed. Not a stranger to the design scene, Ella has been heavily involved in graphic design projects, creating incredible vector illustrations, and exploring the hidden crevices of sunny Singapore, since graduation.
A lover of simplistic and clean designs, Ella has since explored and experimented with different ways of executing her work. Her project, Destination: Play was a promise to herself to step out of her comfort zone with the help of 'play'. Originally, Ella would be terrified to do something that she was not used to. She was afraid of being unable to execute different styles and feared the judgement by her peers over the standard of her work. Soon, it became apparent that she was using the same skills over and over again, which made her feel tired of her own work. That was when Ella realized that some things had to change.
The experiments were fun, uncomfortable and sometimes very surprising. It was a very tough experience because you have to force yourself to attempt something you were terrible at, although you have great interest in it.
For Ella, it was like tricking the brain to think it was a fun experience. Moreover, it got overwhelming for her during times of trial-and-error, which resulted in some failures. This meant that she would have to start all over. Consequently, this helped her step out of her comfort zone. At the end of the entire project, she found more courage and confidence with her new self and is able to tackle new projects better.
Another interesting project that Ella had started is Wandering with Ella. This project had her exploring our little country and it all stemmed from the simple thought that our little island had nothing much. She realized that she had not explored every corner of Singapore and thus, she decided to explore every nook and cranny of this place. Influenced by her friends from Squelch Zine, Ella was motivated to join them in their adventures but she found herself enjoying the little adventure time on her own instead. Through her explorations, she documented never seen before places on her blog.
Ella is definitely becoming a household name in Singapore's design scene. Apart from taking a gold and a silver at the Crowbar Awards 2011 and winning the Space-Kartell Ghost Chair Design Competition 2011, Ella has also been recently awarded with the Student Design Award at the Singapore Design Awards 2014. She currently hones her skills as a designer at the Foreign Policy Design Group.
Destination: Play comes in two parts – the experiments and the starter kit. Inevitably, Ella became her first test subject to this project, documenting her experiences of being the participant.
Another initiative by Ella is The Design Folder. The Design Folder is a group she created to unify design-savvy individuals to interact, share inspirations, and to get to know each other within the design circle. She believes that with simple acts like sharing, you could help another individual within the group to be inspired or be released of mental blocks. The group has since grown to 1,192 from five original members. She credits her schoolmates and her lecturers for sharing their vision and love for design. The Design Folder aims to share articles pertaining to design issues. Furthermore, it also helps to promote designers, as there are little venue options to promote their own works. Sometimes, it also acts as a forum for designers to help each other when faced with design issues. Ella’s vision of unifying this community has been met with great success and she aims to continue this initiative to show that people do help each other in the issues they face.
When asked if Singaporeans have been taking things too seriously, Ella thinks that this belief is strongly influenced by our education system, work and play relationships, coupled with perceptions of and by society.
From young, we were educated that there is a only one right answer to a question, so if the question is answered wrongly, we are often scolded or laughed at. However, I would say there is no wrong or right to a question, it is about how you look the question.
In general, Ella strongly believes that designers are people who think differently and never search for a single right answer to a question. In the end, she feels that designers do want to lighten up the atmosphere in Singapore, with the use of design to communicate their message. Instead of following the system, it is time to question, start thinking, and be out of the box.
She is a strong advocate of Behance, where she states that it is a great portal to track your progress, get feedback, and be appreciated. Behance is also a platform to interact and discover amazing talents around the world.
We are often told to be serious in our work in order to excel, yet, research states that enjoying your job makes you more productive as compared to those who do not enjoy their job. She encourages everyone to think out of the box and be creative. While everyone seems to be encouraging the same notion, she states that when people actually do, it is often rejected as it is out of the norm and against standards and protocol. She feels that people cannot handle creativity and thus change because it is different. It makes us rigid and also wastes the time of those who are making the effort to stimulate change.
While there are more avenues for creative showcase, Ella still feels that it is insufficient. Regardless of one's discipline in the creative arts, she emphasizes the need to make your own opportunities.
Get up on your feet and give it your all, show everyone that passion and energy. Lastly, earn what you deserve.
With the rise of independent cafes that possess a strong creative emphasis in their branding and interior, Ella does concur that overall, there is a greater appreciation of local art and design. Such events include art and craft flea markets like Public Garden, local crafters and makers initiatives like Haystakt.
While she would love to explore overseas opportunities, Ella remains somewhat apprehensive.Through making international friends on Behance, she harbours some hope to eventually meet them. When surveying which country she should live in, the results concluded with Portland and she hope to be able to visit one day. However, being an only child, her family is still the most important asset that she would never be able to leave behind. Yet, she aspires to be successful locally before expanding her career abroad.
While believing that everyone has a calling, Ella wants to remind everyone to follow their heart. If it does not make you happy, what good is the heap of money that you would be earning? Do what you love even if your parents are against it.