eLearning Day 2-Narrative and Persuasive Final Artwork Peer Feedback 12.27.21

First, I met with Emily for peer feedback. She said she really liked the background for my painting, which she feels looks 3D and has depth. She also liked how the golden staircase stands out, which fits my goal of making it look rigid, cold, and symbolic. Her question was if I was going to add anything else to my painting (anything to the staircase), to which I responded with yes, I will be adding tigers (about three) spaced out and on different sides, and their tails will be holding onto gilded cages. A suggestion she had is to make the tigers different sizes to create contrast and add more variation to my painting. I suggested that I could make the two tigers at the top and bottom of my painting smaller, with the one the in middle larger to create emphasis.

I then met with Olivia, who also liked the background, specifically the colors and how I blended them together to create my desired atmosphere. She also liked the placement of the clouds and its’ texture, how it’s fluffy and semi see-through, as well as the stairs itself, which she thought was very geometric and symmetrical, which made it aesthetically pleasing to look at. A question she had was is there going to be anything else in the background (besides the clouds)? I told her of my plan of painting tigers and cages, and asked her if I should keep the tigers the same to illustrate the monotony as well as the robotic nature of the situation, to further emphasize the coldness and blind ambition of the situation, possibly suggesting how the tiger parents are like mindless robots controlled by the code of society’s perpetuated monolithic ideal (e.g. The American Dream). To this she offered another perspective; she suggested that I could paint the tigers wearing different clothes to show character (mom, or dad, upper or lower class family, could show all social classes, suggesting that this phenomenon applies to everyone) and economic background. It can also show the different characteristics and traits of the tiger parents, to humanize them, sympathize with them, show another side, their side of the story, to further emphasize that they are parents, and while their methods may be driving their children crazy, their intentions are pure and born out of love.

I didn’t have much time to paint today with the feedback and technical issues, but I managed to use gold to line the outline of the staircase and repaint/perfect parts of it that wasn’t opaque enough (I want a think layer of gold so you cant see the background underneath).

eLearning Day 1-Narrative and Persuasive Final Artwork Progress 12.25.21

I outlined the staircase with brown paint (I did most of the pencil stenciling last night) and started to paint it gold. I found out that this needed multiple layers to make it as opaque as possible since I wanted the staircase to be the brightest, center of attention, a symbol of the never-ending spiraling chase towards perfection, gold, and success.

Process for Culture Tradition and Change

Five Ideas and Sketches




Which idea did you choose for your final artwork? What color combination will you use for your final project and why?

I chose to make my artwork about the tiger parents idea, with the red doomsday color scheme because I wanted to communicate the dire, doomsday situation that I believe is morally detrimental to (Chinese) culture and society. This idea, while a critique on the stressful competitiveness and the damaging expectations parents set for their children in Chinese, or Asian, academic culture, is also a depiction of a (modern or future) world where ambition and pride, the blind chase towards the elusive American Dream, and the lust for numbers, gold, wealth–power and glory–is the most powerful driving force. A world where everyone fends for themselves, where opportunity is a spiraling ladder, up up and up, waiting for nothing and no one. It is a dangerously long fall down, whether you were pushed or you slipped, it is unforgiving, a dangerous world (red=danger, blood, a gory, unkind, death).  It is a warning (the red sky) of the consequences of globalization, depicting an extreme: the loss of cultural identity, traditional Confucian ideals of the East, for the capitalist ideals of the West. However, somewhere along this process it becomes warped, a twisting, screaming, staircase, combining the Western ideals of personal opportunity and ambition with the Chinese values of discipline and diligence, and a competitive, rigid, cutthroat hybrid (red, blood colored sky=something is wrong, a mutated beast, a chemical imbalance in the sky and it’s going to rain acid) is born, a culture where parents, so blinded by their own dreams of studying in the Great Golden America, that they neglect their children’s’ sanity, their humanity, dragging them with their tails, behind them, locking them up in a cage, though unintentionally, and breeding them into study machines that they hold up as their pride and their joy, shining red balloons. But the blindfolds the parents wear mean that perhaps they don’t know where they are going, and it is a critique on how I believe we, as a culture and society, are putting value on the wrong things, material things, valuing the false glittering of money and power of the simplicity, the purity, unconditionality of love and family, because no matter what, it is human nature to love, to be loved back, to stick together and have each other’s back, even as our most primitive forms, we knew what it meant to be a family. Versus now, the lonesome tigers and their children, devoid of motherly love, fatherly guidance, the light of family, the gift of sight, to appreciate the little things–their child, for instance, so love them like their child and not a machine to fulfill their unrequited dreams.

How can you include visual culture into your idea to show the time and place?

At its core, this artwork is a fusion of Eastern and Western cultures, which is why the style of this artwork is more modern, and it combines both more traditional painting (acrylic background and tigers) with modern, pop-art (the staircase and cages are going to be printed or image transferred onto the canvas). The red and gold color scheme also alludes to traditional Chinese colors (espeicially during Chinese New Years). Most importantly, the tigers in the artwork show Chinese culture because of its cultural significance and appearance in many traditional Chinese (children’s) stories, legends and myths, a symbol of power (a tiger’s black stripes on its forehead are usually in the shape the Chinese character “王” which means “king”=power). The clues that show western culture include the prominent use of gold, which shows the western emphasis on money and material wealth–its capitalism, and also the staircase and itself, which winds around like DNA, which would represent western science.

What medium or combination of media do you plan to use for your final artwork? Why did you select this medium, and how can you improve your skills in this medium or media before you start your final work?

I plan of doing mixed media for this artwork (acrylic and silkscreen print–I want a refined, pop-art like, rigid, cold, emotionless finish, which silkscreen printing allows, as block printing allows for human error, emotive lines, etc.). While representing a hybrid of Eastern and Western cultures, my artwork is also both persuasive and narrative. I am going to use acrylic for the narrative part (background and tigers) as it allows me to convey emotion with the brushstrokes and the colors mixed, capture the moment and make the imagery as “real” as possible. But since this is also a persuasive piece, I need more rigid and bold pop-art like elements to balance out the soft, hand painted images, which is why I am also using silscreen print. If this doesn’t work or if I don’t have enough time, I could also do image transfer, as it also gives a rigid, bold–persuasive–result.

I can improve my skills in this medium by doing a few small practices/tests of parts of my final artwork (e.g. which would work better: Image transfer onto a blank canvas then painting on top or the other way around? Perhaps both? How can I paint a realistic sky that has dimension? Would a pop-art style sky using acrylic work better?). If I do screen printing, I also have to test that out and how I can print it onto my canvas (would drawing the image digitally then transferring it onto the silkscreen be better than hand drawing it?). Also, because I am new to screen printing, I can practice printing simple images and setting up the screen first.


Design Studio-Final Individual Project-Blog Reflection 3 (Create and Improve)

Success Criteria

The main goal of this project is to create a semi-refined lamp that works—is durable, clean (e.g. there aren’t glue threads or loose pieces hanging around), simple (e.g. light switch is easily accessible), and functional/practical for daily use (can change lightbulbs or battery, won’t be useless when the battery runs out, lamp cover is thin enough that light can shine through, and light bulb won’t burn out due to heat being trapped by the lamp cover, etc.). Of course, the aesthetic part adds to this, but it can be simplified if necessary and should be a secondary aspect of this project. So, the finished product should be a small lamp with two parts—the dress lampshade and the base with a lightbulb. The dress lampshade should look pretty refined and aesthetically pleasing, with layers of ruffles and hands. The goal would be to capture the creepy, cold, dead, essence, the gothic mood, which could be done by sticking to a color scheme and style. If worst comes to worst, at least I will have a dress mannequin made out of scrap/recycled material that could act as a piece of decor (won’t have practical use but will still have a purpose, which is to decorate). A measure of success would be that the lamp works—the light can be turned on and off, light can be seen through the dress (lampshade doesn’t block light), and the light is neatly attached to the lamp base/neck (with visible, easy to access switches).

This lamp design scored the highest out of the criteria I set:

1. Sustainability. The purpose of the lamp other than to serve aeathics as well as function–to use recycled and scrap material to creatively build something ‘new’ or worth buying.

2. Uniqueness & originality (could be something that challenges me or is different from the usual style I go with). Does this idea add to the lamp market? How is it special? What makes it worth buying?

3. Aesthetic. Consider how achievable the design is. What are the chances that it will turn out a flop? What are the chances of success? How many variables can be/are controlled? What are the risk factors (while this may be good for a larger project with more time to test the different ways of making the product, it is not the best choice for the time restraints present for this one).

4. Appeal. Does the lamp appeal to a wide range of people (don’t want the audience to be limited to only a specific type of person, can be unique enough that anyone would find it interesting enough to buy it)? Who does it appeal to?

5. Realisticality. Is the design realistic under the time constraints? How much testing/trials, time, and technical skill would it need? What is relatively simple and straightforward to make but also fits the criteria?

Design Plan (for reference)

Design Process 

Lamp base

Drilled holes for screwing
I cut the round piece of wood using a vansaw and sanded it before spray painting
Light stand/cup made using polymer clay (like phoenix lamp) then screwed onto the wooden rod. The LED light was then superglued onto it.


Spray painted doll hands

I wove the wires together like a web or basket (one wire in, one out, then alternate) securing each intersection with thread and glue.

For all the wire rings, I coiled the ends together to secure them. To attach two pieces of wire to each other, I made a hoop with needle-nose pliers then clamped them closed.

Spider fitter. To determine the size of the finial ring, I wrapped a piece of wire around the bead I would use as the finial, then coiled it closed. I made it slightly bigger so I can wrap ribbon around the ugly wire, and so the wire wouldn’t scrape and damage the finial (bead).

The lampshade skeleton frame *

*I eyeballed all the measurements (diameters and number of wire rings I need) and in the end it turned out pretty decent.

Ribbons I hand sewed into ruffles

To make the doll, I looked at these forms and sculptures that I liked:

The mannequin/doll I envisioned is very similar to the bride from A Night Before Christmas

I looked at doll torsos to model my mannequin torso
I envisioned rococo style, Marie Antionette, hair
Envisioned using crepe paper as hair
The head I made using polymer clay. I twisted crepe paper up an glued them to the head, then stuck on some spray painted hands
Torso of doll

Sketch of Lamp

Final Product 

Spider fitter inside the lampshade
Modified harp fitter and finial
The lamp finial and spider fitter (how the lampshade attaches to the base/light bulb). I thread a bead through wire I attached to the LED light. The bead is the finial.

The details and intricacy of the dress make it worthy of being decor and not only a lamp. There are the layers and layers of different textures ruffles, pearls and silver sequins, and dangling hands (ombre in color). This shows how the final product addresses the design problem of beautiful things, such as decor, having no practical use–useless, as it offers the double purpose of decor and light.

The lamp could act as a decor piece and a lamp, so either as a centerpiece on the living room table, or a bedside lamp.


Success Criteria:

According to my success criteria–which was to make an aesthetically pleasing, semi-refined lamp that works, and for the lamp to be original and creative, (hence) appealing to a wider range of people as to a specific target audience, to be realistic to make in the time frame–my design was successful! My design also finds a creative way to use old doll hands, which makes it semi-sustainable. However, I wouldn’t count it as fulfilling the success criteria because it does use many materials that aren’t scrap or recycled, such as the ribbons, polymer clay, wires, and beads, etc. A weakness is that it used many other non-sustainable materials, but a strength is that it also found a way to utilize useless doll hands that I had in my house.

The aesthetic part of my lamp was successful, but because of the limited time, I couldn’t make a real light switch and improvised by buying a chargeable LED light bulb. I glued this light onto a stand a made, which I then secured to the wooden rod/base. The light switch of this light is on the top of the light, and when you want to turn the light on, you have to take off the lampshade, which is very inconvenient. So, the only major improvement I would make if I had more time was to develop a way to create a switch in the wooden base of the lamp and a real changeable lightbulb with a seat (I could make this, but I have to experiment and learn about the wiring and how light circuits work). This way my lamp would be even more refined and professional, something that is sellable, which would appeal to a larger audience (adults who are looking for decor will care more about the professionalism). I would also re-thread the hands so they dangle off of a longer piece of thread and would swing around, creating movement and adding to the creepiness of the design.

I made the lamp base at school as I had access to the woodcutting equipment here. I also spray painted the base and hands here. This took about 2 1/2 classes, which was most of the time given to make this project, so I had to make the lampshade at home. I made the lampshade plus the mannequin on the weekend in one night, and though there weren’t many complicated parts and I had a clear idea of my plan and how I can reach it (e.g. how I can make the wireframe and ruffles, how I will attach everything to the frame), each part had to be handmade (the ruffles hand sewn as I don’t have a sewing machine, beads thread on one by one) which took more time. There were a few areas where something can go wrong–the biggest being attaching all the ruffles to the lampshade frame cleanly (no extra glue on the ribbon), and if the mannequin doll figure would end up looking chunky and strange (difficult to make a humanoid shape). However, I was still able to create a pretty refined lamp in the time I was given, reaching my goals, so this lamp fits the criteria for realisticality and aesthetic. I am also happy with how the dress turned out–how well the colors fit together, how the ruffles don’t block the light completely (the lamp serves its function as a light source), how clean it looks (aren’t visible glue strands, etc.). I am especially happy with how close the final product was to my design–perhaps even better than I planned for. It looks original and has a unique style of abstract, gothic, creepiness. People also seem to like it, even my friends who like minimalistic, modern designs have admitted it’s an interesting design, which shows how it appeals to a wider range of people, and it’s uniqueness (and hopefully it’s semi-refined quality) has enabled it to be appreciated by those who are normally drawn to a different style. However, though I wanted to challenge myself to make someone in a different style, perhaps something more modern or abstract, this lamp still turn out with a distinct streak of my usual vintage style (it still looks good, though). A positive side of this is that it can show that I have my own style as a designer, and as a person, and can reflect parts of my personality and background, too. I also haven’t made ruffles and humanoid shapes (the mannequin) for a long time now, and was surprised at how instead of losing the skill, I even improved. This all strengthens my view of myself as a designer, boosting my confidence in my abilities and skills, and offering me a broadened view of my designer toolbox. Now I can add this creation to my portfolio, and it’ll act as validation, proof, that I can, that I am capable! It also reminds me of the joy I have from creating–my passion–and it gives me a chance to explore my passions and do what I love to do. I genuinely enjoyed making the lamp, and spending my Sunday night making the lampshade was absolutely riveting for me!

Design Studio-Final Individual Project-Blog Reflection 2


Made with Padlet


Criteria Used-How well it fits the design solution/purpose:

If all of the design ideas fit the same criteria for being a functional and usable lamp, I still need to consider…

1. Sustainability. The purpose of the lamp other than to serve aeathics as well as function–to use recycled and scrap material to creatively build something ‘new’ or worth buying.

2. Uniqueness & originality (could be something that challenges me or is different from the usual style I go with). Does this idea add to the lamp market? How is it special? What makes it worth buying?

3. Aesthetic. How achievable is the design? What are the chances that it will turn out a flop? What are the chances of success? How many variables can be/are controlled? What are the risk factors (while this may be good for a larger project with more time to test the different ways of making the product, it is not the best choice for the time restraints present for this one).

4. Appeal. Does the lamp appeal to a wide range of people (don’t want the audience to be limited to only a specific type of person, can be unique enough that anyone would find it interesting enough to buy it)? Who does it appeal to?

5. Realisticality. Is the design realistic under the time constraints? How much testing/trials, time, and technical skill would it need? What is relatively simple and straightforward to make but also fits the criteria?

Detailed Sketches

Creepy gothic doll hand dress

1. Sustainability. +1 Recycles old dolls and scrap ribbon.

2. Uniqueness & originality. +1 Very creepy but also vintage, very different (body part gown).

3. Aesthetic.+1  Should look very interesting if made well (like a sculpture)

4. Appeal. +1 Could appeal to all people with it’s uniqueness/coolness, even if it’s not their style.

5. Realisticality. +1 Fairly simple to make.


Cling film and tissue ice snow queen dress

1. Sustainability. +1 Uses cling film and old plastic bags to make.

2. Uniqueness & originality. +1 Is different from the usual style I desgin.

3. Aesthetic. Should look interesting, but the plastic bags may mean it looks cheap.

4. Appeal. Could appeal to more modern art enthusiasts, or younger children who like ice themed dolls.

5. Realisticality. +1 Fairly simple to make and doesn’t require many materials.

*The material and sustainability of this design could also mean that it won’t be very durable (plastic is flimsy).


Modern but also classy plastic stained glass dress

1. Sustainability. +1 Recyles old plastic (melted) to make dress.

2. Uniqueness & originality. +1 Is different from the usual style I design, and I’ve never heard of stain glass dresses before.

3. Aesthetic. +1 Should look very interesting if done well.

4. Appeal. +1 Could appeal to a wide range of people as it is like the best of both worlds, being modern but also classy. suited people’s tastes (which could vary from generation to generation).

5. Realisticality. Very very difficult to make, and the plastic melting has a extremely high change of not working (colors melt together, burning it, changes consistency and properties (becomes murky instead of opaque, some plastics may not be compatible with each other, etc.)


Darth Vader dress (black shiny plastic)

1. Sustainability. +1 Uses old plastic (melted) to make.

2. Uniqueness & originality. +1 Is different from the usual style I design (challenges me), and I have seen a maleficent/darth vader lamp before.

3. Aesthetic. +1 Should look interesting if made well.

4. Appeal. +1 Could appeal to a wide range of people, as more modern things are in trend right now.

5. Realisticality. Very difficult to make, and the plastic melting has a extremely high change of not working.


Rococo inspired miscellaneous dress (buttons, trinkets, etc.)

1. Sustainability. +1 Uses old buttons and children’s jewlery/trinkets (that are sitting around my house).

2. Uniqueness & originality. Nothing new or especially creative, though I haven’t seen a button lamp on the market before.

3. Aesthetic. +0.5 Should look interesting.

4. Appeal. Could appeal to younger children as concept and use of color makes it simple, naive, and childish.

5. Realisticality. +1 Fairly simple to make and doesn’t require many materials (buttons are simply glued on), however, the form of the dress may take longer to figure out (not worth the time, considering the simplicity of the design).


Rustic book art ruffle dress
Rustic book art ruffle dress is inspired by this design (Alexander Mcqueen)

1. Sustainability. +1 Uses the pages of old books

2. Uniqueness & originality. +1 Is different from the normal fabric lamps.

3. Aesthetic. +1 Should look interesting, having a rustic feel to it.

4. Appeal. +1 Could appeal to adults and children since if made well, it will be professional looking.

5. Realisticality.  More complicated to make, as the paper ruffles and flowers are time consuming to mold, and tey also need to be painted with glaze and glue to keep its’ shape.


Inside of the lampshade mannequin dresses

Final Design Choice

I decided to settle on the creepy gothic doll hand dress (+5) because it scored the highest out of the criteria. I also have many of the materials at home, and I would also be able to recycle old dolls (by using their hands). One of the main goals of this project is to create a functioning lamp that looks and works as cleanly and professionally as possible. The doll hand-design allows me to focus more on this aspect since the lampshade decor (dress part) could be done quickly and be simplified (does not require too many technical skills and does not require any test trails like the stained glass dresses, which has a high chance of not working, hence the tests). It is also in a different style than I usually do, which are usually a pastiche of vintage and feminine style–this dress design is gothic and dark, creepy and unique in concept, serving for functional use as well as aesthetic decor (design problem). And because of it’s uniqueness (I have never seen this on the market before), it’ll raise it’s value as a art piece (it’s added practicality is a bonus), which increases it’s appeal to my audience.

Success Criteria

The main goal of this project is to create a semi-refined lamp that works—is durable, clean (e.g. there aren’t glue threads or loose pieces hanging around), simple (e.g. light switch is easily accessible), and functional/practical for daily use (can change lightbulbs or battery, won’t be useless when the battery runs out, lamp cover is thin enough that light can shine through, and light bulb won’t burn out due to heat being trapped by the lamp cover, etc.). Of course, the aesthetic part adds to this, but it can be simplified if necessary and should be a secondary aspect of this project. So, the finished product should be a small lamp with two parts—the dress lampshade and the base with a lightbulb. The dress lampshade should look pretty refined and aesthetically pleasing, with layers of ruffles and hands. The goal would be to capture the creepy, cold, dead, essence, the gothic mood, which could be done by sticking to a color scheme and style. If worst comes to worst, at least I will have a dress mannequin made out of scrap/recycled material that could act as a piece of decor (won’t have practical use but will still have a purpose, which is to decorate). A measure of success would be that the lamp works—the light can be turned on and off, light can be seen through the dress (lampshade doesn’t block light), and the light is neatly attached to the lamp base/neck (with visible, easy to access switches).

Key Measurements and Details

Lamp rod (cylindrical): L-25cm Diameter-3-3.5cm                 Lamp base (circular): Diameter-15cm Thickness-3cm

Harp fitter: 10cm

Lamp shade: L-18cm Diameter-16cm

Spider fitter: 8cm. The hole of the spider fitter is the same size as the wooden bead (1.5cm).

The lamp has two parts: The lampshade, including the mannequin, dress, and wire skeleton, and the base, including the circular stand and light bulb attachments.

The wire frame of the lampshade will be made with the coiling method, as well as coiling thinner wire over the intersections. it will be like a net, with squared opening (refer to Alexander McQueen dress above). I will make this by making a hexagonal base using the wire, then attach 6 thick wires to the edges of the six sides (fold then twist together to create a pretty pattern. I will then attach 6 more thin wires (twist) to the flat sides of the hexagon, in between the thick wires at the edges. Then using the same wire, I will twist it horizontally across the wire cage to create squares. I could twist three pieces of this thin wire together as it is so thin. I will also use this thin wire to secure and tightly bound up any loose wire. To create the dress shape, I can twist the wires together.

The ruffles on the mannequin are easy to make: just bunch up the ribbon after doing a basic stitch along the edge and then tying a knot. Because the wire cage has horizontal wire running across, I will glue or stitch (takes more time) the ruffles along the wire. I will also hang/glue the hands to these wires as well.<–ruffles always make any dress/skirt look more intricate, like a lot of time and effort was put into it, raising it’s value as a high fashion piece or artwork. This means could add on to the fashion lamp’s aesthetic functions and value (in the market for the target audience to buy, such as in a decor store that the housewife is shopping at, or the place the art collector is visiting), further appealing to the audience. And since the audience includes adults, the refinedness and delicacy play a big part as they tend to look for finer products (i.e. layer and layers of silk and ribbon ruffles).

The harp fitter will attach to two drilled holes in the lamp rod, and it could be double twisted (with itself) for more support. The shape will be made using pliers, and it doesn’t need to be perfect because it’ll be under the lampshade (main focus should be durability). The lamp finial at the top of the harp will be a wooden bead threaded through the wire. The hole in the spider fitter (made which wire with the same technique as before) has to fit over the bead (acts as a stop). This spider fitter will also be attached to the inside of the lampshade using the thin wire.

The wooden base is just a circular piece of wood with a hole cut through to fit the lamp rod (the hole is o.1 cm larger than the rod so it can be fitted and glued with wood glue). This is like what I did last time, so I’m using the same technique (last time could be the first trial).**

**Because I will be doing woodwork and using big wood cutting machines, I would need guidance from design teachers and assistants who know how to work with wood (I have no experience with wood before and do not know how to use the machines).

Design Revisions

Initial plan to attach lightbulb to lamp base

Because of the time restraints, instead of using a traditional light bulb and figuring out a way for the wiring to work, I’ve decided on using a LED battery light and attaching that to the lamp rod. I would like to design a way to design a socket and switch, but that would be too technical and time consuming (e.g. would require a lot of testing and new materials) for this project. However, this new option isn’t too easy as I would still need to focus on making the light ‘one’ with my lamp–the cohesiveness of the battery lamp. I will probably need to paint or cover it with felt to make it look cleaner. The best case scenario is if I find a LED light with a small base o I can fit it inside the rod, sticking to the same plan as before (lightbulb could be screewed on and off for easy change of battery), remembering to plan a space to cut a opening for the light switch.<–this wouldn’t impact the lamp much, as the the light portion is hidden under the lampshade anyway, and it’ll still be functional (the goal would be to make it look as refined/clean and as part of the lamp rod as possible).

Battery powered LED light
Updated plan of how LED light would attach to rod (same as phoenix lamp, which would be considered a test). Remember to spray paint wooden rod and clay bowl same color before attaching light.

The original plan for the lampshade was to make a crude skeleton and use stretchy thin purple fleece as a cover, sewing it onto the wire base (I chose fleece because it is a good insulator so the glue and the plastic of the doll hands wouldn’t melt when the lamp is turned on for too long. The stretchy, thin kind also allow for the light of the lamp shade to show, which is one of the main purposes of the lamp). However, I decided to omit the fleece cover over the wire lamp shade skeleton. First, to reduce the amount of details and time needed to make the lamp and second, for design purposes-if there’s the fleece cover, then with the added ruffles and plastic hands sewn on, the dress layer would be too thick to be a lampshade and the light wouldn’t be able to shine through. The lampshade might also be too heavy. I also don’t need to worry about the heat the lightbulb produces because I have switched to using a battery powered LED light instead, which deosn’t produce much heat. I also don’t have to cover the wire base entirely, like the design idea for the rustic book art ruffle dress, which allows for more light to shine through and change the style of the dress so it is more edgy and modern–appealing to a wider range of people, as it offers a more unique style and design of dress, so it’ll be a new addition to the little girl’s doll collection (parents might also want their child to have a variety of dolls), something cool (and not as girly) for the artsy teenager, and something unique for the art appreciator/collector.

If there isn’t any time left, I could omit making the base, and only make the lampshade part of the lamp. This way, my lamp could be a glowing dress light without the long signature lamp rod of most lamps (it would still be a lamp). The lamp would still act as decor as well as being practical, which is it’s the purpose, so it wouldn’t lose it’s appeal to the target audience.


-Old Barbie dolls and/or doll hands
-Sheer purple ribbon and thread to make ruffles
-Needle and thread
-Wire (thicker and thin thread kind)+needle nose pliers and other tools
-Wooden rod (3-3.5 cm diameter, depends on what is available, 25 cm length)
-Wooden base (could make by laser-cutting plywood then sticking them together. 3cm thick)
-Battery operated cordless LED E26 lightbulb*
-Wooden beads, 1.5 cm in diameter
-Air dry clay (lightweight)
Paint/colorings (violet, periwinkle, lavender, cobalt blue, white, purple, gray:
-Acrylic paint
-Spray paint
*Base is large 🙁
Material for ribbon

Parts of a lamp, for reference

Next Steps-Design Plan Timeline

Design Studio-Final Individual Project-Blog Reflection 1

Design Briefs for three ideas:

Design Studio: Design Brief 1-Fashion Lamps

Design problem: Most decorative objects have no practical function, and because society is becoming increasingly utilitarian, people have ‘no time’ for beautiful things.
So to solve that problem, I am combining aesthetics with functionality: Lamps that also act as a mannequin to display fashion ideas as well as serve for functional use. Mannequin renderings can be pretty useless, only serving for a creative and aesthetic aspect. But adding a light aspect to that makes it functional as well. I’ve also never seen this idea before, so it’ll be interesting to make (add variety to the lamp market). The fashion lamps could also be fashion made out of recycled materials or everyday materials that usually go to waste (cling film, foil, plastic bags, tissue paper, old Barbie dolls).
User/audience Primary audience-Girls (lamps are dresses, which are usually a ‘girl’  or feminine thing), younger or older, who like fashion or aesthetically pleasing things (some lamps could have a more mature style and some a younger style for different demographic of girls).

Secondary audience-Art collectors, lamp collectors, people who like art, appreciate art and visually appealing things—someone who has liked materialism. Also, parents or friends who are looking for something for their (girly, fashion-loving) child/friend.

Purpose To make use out of recycled materials to create something aesthetically pleasing, such as fashion, and to combine that, which is seen as useless and frivolous to some people, with something that has a practical use, such as a lamp.
Constraints -Durability and how professional it is (will it still be functional after a longer period of time and repeated use (think of how design enables easy change of light bulb, consider convenience and practicality, where the switch is located)

-Time to create a polished, professional-looking lamp (required multiple models and tests)

-Materials and high-quality materials to achieve a finalized look and to

-Materials have to be recyclable to make lamp, and degree of sustainability (if everything in the lamp has to be recycled or just a few).

Goals Lamp dresses (lamp part is a dress) that allow for creativity (fashion design and how to use recycles materials to achieve a certain goal) but also practical use for a long period of time (can change lightbulbs or battery, won’t be useless when the battery runs out, lamp cover is thin enough that light can shine through, and light build won’t burn out due to heat being trapped by the lamp cover, etc.)
Materials/resources -iPad/Apple pencil for sketching or I can do it by hand if easier, though preferably both. Recycled materials such as cling film, plastic bags, foil, tissue, scrap fabric, old dolls/toys. Wood (for lamp pole and base). Felt for lamp cover and dress. Wire for the base of dress and lamp cover. Air-dry clay for the body of mannequin. Light bulb plus light bulb base/stand and light contraption. Paper mache for lamp cover (not a good insulator, which would trap heat inside and burn lamp). Thread, beads, sparkles and sequins, glue.
Mentors, assistance
  • Teacher
  • Design Assistants (who to work with wood)
Questions or supporting information Consider science and technical details behind making a successful lamp (insulation, best material for lamp cover—cotton, silk, canvas etc.)

SWOT Analysis: 

Strengths-Aesthetic, focuses on creativity and appearance, high decor value as well as serving for functional use. Uses recycled materials.

Weakness-Not durable, could fall short on the useful aspect (could end up being a “useless” piece of artwork). The light aspect may end up not working (lampshade/cover is too thick, does not actually provide useable light). How could the design be more creative and unique/unorthodox (think about form, abstract form, etc.)? How can you create a unique artifact that has never been seen before (on the market)? How will the time restraints affect the lamp’s appearance?

Opportunities-Many girls like (extravagant, either it’s girly or angsty) fashion, maybe not to wear but as decor, so the lamp could appeal to them. I am also good at making things look “pretty” (the little details), and have lots of craft supplies and intricacies at home that can contribute to making the physical appearance of the product look good.

Threats-Time restraints, which could mean that there won’t be enough time to completely refine the design of the lamp, which would defeat one of the main purposes of it, which is to act as decor and look nice. The style of this lamp will also not be on par with the current fashion trends, as it as it is centered around a gown as the lamp shade instead of a trendy graphic t-shirt, so the design may not be “good” as a product on the market.


Dress is in the shape of a lampshade.
The skirt looks so much like a lampshade! It has the structure, and the material looks thin enough for light to shine through.

Vintage lampshades look like dresses.

Design Studio: Design Brief 2-Graphic t-shirts

Design problem: Graphic t-shirts/designs are very trendy and in style, and there is also the demand for more variation.
User/audience Primary: Teenagers (gen z) to millennials, who mostly wear T-shirts and hoodies—clothing pieces that are simple to wear but also look cool.

Secondary: Parents who might buy clothes for their kids.

Purpose To offer more variation to graphic tshirts and merch, to offer simple clothes that are easy to wear but also look nice.
Constraints -Production of clothes (how many, consider profits etc)

-Branding, will people buy it

Goals Make several (2-3 for each) designs for hoodies, tshirts, sweaters, even dresses with the same graphic design on them, etc.
Materials/resources iPad/Apple pencil, photoshop, place to print my designs onto clothes.
Mentors, assistance   Teacher

  • Design Assistants
  • Audience/user representative (teenager and millennial, to see what they like)
  • Tailor and company that can print designs
Questions or supporting information Could conduct a survey to collect data or do research on what is trendy, what target audience likes (minimalism, oversized, etc)

SWOT Analysis: 

Strengths-Only needs digital drawing software and tablet, does not make a mess. Challenges me to design fashion in a different way and use different media.

Weakness-Lacks originality, seen everywhere. Creativity lies in graphics, not the clothing cut/style, limiting (fashion) design aspect of project. Only allows for 2d design on a tablet, not much hands on work. Due to time restraints, the designs might not be printed onto t-shirts until later (on own time), and the project mainly focuses on the 2D design aspect.

Opportunites-Very in-style,trendy, demand is high, lots of inspiration on the internet and people with experience in this subject matter (peers who have started their own brands).

Threats-Very in style, many others are also doing the same thing–might be difficult to find originality in project (there are only so many designs, placements, that you can use).


Graphics (hand drawn on illustrator) on standard hoodies/t shirts/etc.

Design Studio: Design Brief 3-Cat house

Design problem: My cats need a place to play and socialize because they are really bored and we don’t have time to play with them.
User/audience People with cats, cat owners
Purpose For cats to have a place to sleep, play, and socialize with other cats.
Constraints -Durability


Goals A cat house/tree/bed, depending on what my cats prefer (have to conduct many tests)
Materials/resources iPad/Apple pencil to sketch, wood, nails, glue (hot glue, wood glue), fur, cardboard, fabric, string.
Mentors, assistance Who can help you with your project?

  • Teacher
  • Design Assistants (knows how to work with wood)
  • Audience/user representative (cats)
Questions or supporting information Conduct research (tests) to see which material/style my cats like (tall tree they can climb onto, hard or soft surfaces, etc).

SWOT Analysis: 

Strengths-Explore different medias (i.e., wood). Project allows for someone other than myself to use the product (not made up user). Can also be creative in designing the bed (what is not seen on the market).

Weakness-Time Contraints: Size of object (for all four cats or only one cat?), durability, will it be useable by my cats?

Opportunites-Cats need cat house, even if they don’t end up using it, it could be a good practice using different medias, and if it looks nice it could double as house decor or a gift to someone else with a cat(s).

Threats-Many cat trees/caves/beds are on the market, so there isn’t that mich space for originality.

Inspiration (looked at the creative aspect of the designs, especially the the form):

I love the spirals–never seen it before. My cats love going outside and we take them to the playground sometimes and they love sliding down the slides.



I like the lamp, I might encourage you to think a little more broadly about it at first, and perhaps define a clearer purpose. Eg don’t make too many commitments to the style because you want some room to explore and adapt your ideas.

TShirt graphics would be cool, straightforward. You might want to think about some kind of positive element to it eg raising awareness, charity component, etc

The cat one would be fun, the challenge with this one would be how to add some originality through a unique purpose because there are many many of these designs that already exist.


As for the previous lamp project I was encouraged to not be too committed to my initial idea so I can be open to new ideas and adapt my design, such as to make it more abstract.

I also agree with the feedback on the originality of these projects, as it is difficult to think of something no one has done before or is special/can’t be seen on the market.

Final Decision-Fashion Lamp

After consideration of the pros and cons, I chose to make the fashion lamp for my final independent project. After working on the first project, which was to make a lamp, I wanted to make more! My parents love and collect antiques (which is also why I love vintage decor), so there are vintage lamps and decor and paintings all over my house. Designing a fashion lamp  is not only a unique idea for a lamp, but it is also a way to make a useless thing (fashion mannequin) useful (as a lamp), and it can add to my parent’s lamp collection at home or act as a gift for someone (like my parents) who love pretty things. I am also good at little details and making things look aesthetically pleasing, so this project would be right up my alley. I am also taking risks (so I’m not completely sticking to something in my comfort zone) by aiming to make the lamp as professional-looking, functional, and durable as possible, as sometimes, while my project looks good, it is fragile or flimsy. This project also allows me to utilize materials that I wouldn’t have access to at home or outside of this class, such as the laser cutter and woodwork. This allows me to practice using new technologies (which was one of my goals going into this class) as well as make something I wouldn’t be able to in my free time (I could design graphics on t-shirts anytime myself). I also have many little useless trinkets at home, and by making this lamp I could recycle them and put them to use.

Define & Inquire-Target Audience:

Fashion Lamp mood board+Target audience descriptions

Survey Questions and Answers:


Child-Ping Ping, 6, private school student, likes Barbies, pink, and fashion (girly dresses)

Teenager-Emily, 15, private school student, passionate about fashion and modern art

Adult 1-Jessica, housewife to working husband, ISB parent (child is in 5th grade)

Have you ever wanted to buy decor but didn’t because decorative objects have no practical function?

Ping Ping: No.

Emily: My Mom wouldn’t let me, but I still do. If I like it and it looks good, then I will get it.

Jessica: Yes.

Would you buy decor (with no practical function) to decorate your house/room? Please explain your answer.

Ping Ping: Yes!

Emily: Yes. Some things are only made to be displayed/looked at.

Jessica: Yes, but I’d much rather buy something that is practical and useable for my home, such as for it to be long-lasting, instead of something that looks good but has no function.

What is your opinion about objects made with recycled materials? Would you buy decor that is made out of recycled materials and also serves a practical use?

Ping Ping: It’s cool, but the quality may be bad.

Emily: It’s very interesting, and I would if it looks good (if the designer is able to make it look polished).

Jessica: Maybe, depends on how it looks like (it may not look appealing/high-quality).

Do you like fashion? What is your opinion on fashion mannequins?

Ping Ping: Yes! I think they are very pretty, like my Barbie dolls with beautiful dresses.

Emily: Love. I have fashion jewelry stands that I use as display (not to hang jewelry).

Jessica: Yes, but I don’t have time for it and the mannequins, though they look good, they don’t have much use.

Would you consider buying a decorative but also a functional fashion mannequin lamp and how much would you pay?

Ping Ping: Yes! I need to ask my mom, but my barbies usually cost about 300-500 RMB, so about that much for the lamp.

Emily: Yes, if it looks good (doesn’t matter if it is functional or made out of recycled materials or not) and I would may depending on the detail and professionalism (200-1000 RMB for high quality lamps).

Jessica: Depends on what it looks like and if it is really functional or not (more if it doubles as a piece of refined artwork).


The lamp idea is very appealing to a specific demographic–children of wealthy parents who have a high appreciation for art (people from wealthier families and who go to private schools usually have a higher appreciation of fine arts, as they can afford that luxury). They are also willing to spend quite a bit of money on it but expect functionality, aesthetics, and professionalism. This gives me more freedom in my project and for me to take it in the direction that I want (to be centered around the details and aesthetics).

Define & Inquire: Inspiration & Information

Divergent Padlet:

Made with Padlet

Padlet Feedback:

Peer: I like how you have a lot of different flowers, lamps, models, and mannequins that can provide you with inspiration regarding your design problem. I was hoping you could clarify/simplify your design problem or just have a sentence at the top that tells the reader what you are trying to make as I don’t think the product is clearly stated until close to halfway through the paragraph. I would also suggest adding sources for the pictures.

Goals and Next Steps:

My goals are to come up with a wide variety of sketches and ideas for my fashion lamp. I would like to come up with multiple ideas under multiple styles, such as vintage and feminine and classy, modern/abstract, grunge/edgy, geometric, bold, fashion lamp ideas so I can broaden my scope. I would also like to have designs for different materials, such as trinkets, scrap fabrics, paper/magazines/book pages, plastics, etc. My goal would be to experiment with as many different styles and materials as possible so I have a wide variety to chose from. Then I could start filtering out ideas and honing in on a few and refining them or even mash up ideas. Another goal would be to do something different. I can start by thinking about the materials I want to use or like the look of (design a dress based off of the idea of melted colored plastic or stained glass, or doll trinkets).

Possible Materials:

Materials for lamp-Wood (lamp rod), wire (dress/lampshade), light bulb, polymer clay?, wood glue.

Fire Bird Phoenix Lamp-Design Studio

Initial Inspiration (Padlet with annotations):

Made with Padlet

Some sketches:

Initial lamp ideas for user

I tried to emphasize the form of the second sketch/idea (1st row, middle) after I decided I wanted to focus on that. Because my user is a little girl who likes art, I thought she would appreciate the use of bright colors and the artsy winding form of the bird, which gives a sense of fantasy, mystery, and imagination.

My initial idea for my lamp was to make an iteration of a creature that is a combination between a phoenix and a Pterodactyl, with the lamp/light part an orb the creature has clenched in its’ jaws. But then my design teacher suggested that I think of something more abstract, something that captures the essence of the bird, to take out the most important elements and defining aspects and combine them to create a (more abstract) form that hints/alludes to a bird rather than explicitly show it. Like his suggestion, the lamps I looked at for inspiration were all very modern, very simple, very different from my style. But what they all had in common was–less is more, to captivate with little. They seemed to have evolved from a complex idea into a simplistic design that captures the essence of whatever their inspiration or initial design was. So as a designer, I knew that the element I wanted to capture was the bird/pheonix’s organic form, the mystery and beauty of a ancient beast, the soft feathers and bright colors, the feirceness in it’s long beaked bird call, and I did this by emphasizing the winding form–the spiraling neck around the orb and the winding tail, the captivating firey colors of an exotic beast, seductive and thrilling, softness grazing fingers yet bold and ferocious standing tall.

Prototype 1:

Prototype 1 Reflection:

  • What’s working well?

A strength of the first prototype is it’s ability to capture the winding, curved, neck of the bird. A big part of my lamp is about capturing the essence of movement and the majesticality of an ancient firebird through the form of the lamp (bird and placement of orbs). This prototype shows a rough idea of that.  The models of the light orbs are also pretty good, as I got the size and shape about right.

  • What are you not sure/unhappy about?

Many aspects of this prototype are not ideal, but it was due to the time restraints and the limited materials available for this prototype. This prototype was also only meant to be a quick, rough model of a potential lamp idea, so it wasn’t supposed to ‘look good’ or be complete. However, the things that I am unhappy about and would make better next time are the placement of the light orbs, the length of the winding neck, the size of the bird, as well as the strength of the lamp (it’s the ability to stand upright). In an ideal prototype, a priority would be to make the lamp rod and base stronger, so it would be able to support the asymmetrical form of my lamp. I would also like the orbs to be closer together to emphasize the curve of the structure, so the lamp is one curved shape, with everything bound tight, for there to be one focal point and draw the viewer’s eyes in one direction (direction of curved winding neck around orbs). However, due to time restraints and the limited resources available, I wasn’t able to reshape the neck and place the orbs where I want them to be (I needed a strong adhesive, such as hot glue, but only tape was available–I could’ve used tape to bound the orbs together, but first it wouldn’t look very nice, and the weak lamp rod wouldn’t have been able to hold the asymmetrically places orbs). Lastly, I would like to make the bird body bigger (covers and molds over half of the orb to create a sense of mystery and fantasy), as well as the tail, which is supposed to wind down and around the lamp rod. This could be easily achieved if constructed with moldable material, such as clay. I also plan on creating texture on the bird body and sculpting the bird head (using clay) so it looks more like a Pterodactyl-Pheonix hybrid.

  • How does your lamp concept respond to your user?

My user is a little girl who’s interests include dinosaurs and art. So, I designed this lamp to be more artistic than modern, with spiraling feathers and curvy, nontraditional, form. I also plan on using bright colors (red, orange, purple, yellow) since it is for a little kid, who are usually drawn to bright colors and such. The curviness and swirls that are a big part of the lamp also allude to a more feminine and girly design, as this lamp’s target is a little girl, whereas if this was for a little boy, the lamp form and bird would be more angular and larger, more masculine. The bird aspect of this lamp also came from flying dinosaurs, called Pterodactyl, which can be orange/yellow. From this, I thought of the majestic phoenix bird, with it’s captivating firey colors and form, which I wanted to be part of my lamp. So, I decided to combine the two. The light orbs as part of the lamp could also be seen as dinosaur eggs or amber (from tree sap) from that age.

Pheonix-Dinfining characteristics: I love the ‘feel’ of the feathers in this image. They look so natural and soft and flowy, perfectly capturing the majestic beauty and power of the Pheonix. I also love the colors, and how the tail isn’t just red.
Pterodactyl–Defining characteristics: beak, and (fin?) on the head, which really captures the beastliness of the dinosaur/bird.
  • What changes need to be made in the next iteration?

I plan on using wood as the base and lamp rod (bird leg and feet, could use yarn wrapped around the wooden rod to create texture–some parts could have more yarn wrapped around it to show the bird’s knees), as the lamp part of the lamp will be fairly heavy (two glass orbs), tall, and unbalanced (light orbs and the winding bird won’t be straightly stacked on top of each other, won’t be symmetrical), requiring a strong base/rod to support its weight. I also want to capture the windingness of the bird’s neck and tail, which was supposed to wrap around the orbs and rod several times. I would do this using clay.

Prototype 1 revisions:

Base + rod: Base is made by layering plywood cut by a laser cutter (24 cm diameter). Rod is wood wrapped in yarn.

Bird Body: Paper mache over a wire frame, covered in air-dry clay with feathers

Snipped crepe paper technique (used to make pinatas) for feathers on bird body.

Light: Christmas baubles (ordered on Taobao), 13 cm in diameter.

Creating my second prototype:

To make the bird head of my lamp, I looked at pictures of birds with long beaks (long beaks evoke a sense of danger, of a certain menace and predatory stance, alluding to the Pterodactyl–dinosaur–the bird evolved from):

The head I sculpted using air-dry clay then painted over with acrylic paint. Initially, I wanted to make the bird ferocious and make it look like a beast. However, I then chose to just do a simple head to again, capture the essence of the bird, as spending time sculpting a realistic, detailed Pheonix/dinosaur head was unnecessary and takes away from the simplicity of the design. In the end, I m very happy with this prototype and the head I made as it really fits the theme.
The body and neck of bird. This support (inside of clay cast is rolled newspaper and tape) was more than enough to support the glass orb, but with the added clack (neck) and head later, it because too heavy and the neck started tilting sideways. I also used super glue and hot glue as my adhesive (same for the second orb): I first super glued a onto b, then I used hot glue to create a ‘seal’ and support and spread it up all over the bottom of the orb.
Gluing crepe paper on. I ended up not using this method and chose to glue actual feathers on instead, as that way the lamp would look more professional and put together. The colors would also be more vibrant (crepe paper is kind of see-through).
Half crepe paper feathers half-real feathers.

Finished 2nd Prototype:

Lamp with light turned on

How it can be used/how does it fit users tastes:

I digital sketch I made of my prototype using Procreate. I have never used Procreate before so I am really happy with the result!

Because the user is an elementary school student, it is very important for them to have balance and fun and imagination in their life and not live in a boring white utilitarian room studying all day. This is why my lamp is so colorful and fun, doubling as room décor or a toy for the user to play with. The lamp is fairly big (about a meter high), so it could be displayed on a table (e.g bedside) as a bedside lamp or as a centerpiece. It can also be put on the ground. I would not recommend the user to use this as a desk lamp as the light from the lamp isn’t very strong, and because it is so colorful, it can possibly be distracting for the student while studying.


Because of the time restraints and the context of the assignment, this lamp was only supposed to be a working prototype. However, because of my all or nothing personality, I did try to make my prototype as “presentable” and final looking as possible (there are still many things I can improve on, but appearance-wise, my lamp is close to what my final prototype would look like). I always try to make a school assignment a project that I can present—I have to have put thought and work into it, it has to be something I care about. I never treat an assignment as just an assignment, or do things purely for the grade—I put effort into my projects because I care—perhaps a little too much—and because I am genuinely passionate about art and design.

One thing I could’ve done when making this prototype is to have a better solution/make a better place to hide the light switch. I had an idea, but it was already too late as I was already gluing feathers onto my bird and the clay used to make the body was already dry. I was so angry over the fact that I didn’t think of this sooner as I was sculpting the body of the bird, so I can leave out a space for the light switch rods, then glue them in so the switch lays flush against the body of the bird (professional finish), and so turn the light on, all you would need to do is to find the switch underneath the feathers. This way it is discrete, and the light switch rods could also act as a stabilizer in the body (I used chopsticks since I hadn’t thought of this idea yet).

I was able to make do with the time and materials I had—the ideal prototype would take much longer to make, as I would have to wait until the clay was dry and hard before attaching it to the orbs. This way, nothing would move/tip over because the clay hasn’t dried and hardened yet, unable to support the weight of the orbs. The option of using more durable clay was also ruled out because other clays would be too heavy (polymer clay is very strong but dense, there’s also air-dry clay but that is heavy and fragile). I needed clay that was lightweight and ductile, so it wouldn’t crack or break. I also needed it to be semi moldable/elastic even when its’ almost dry. Paper mache was also an option, but I decided it was too difficult to mold, and it was also too messy (the glue could drip onto the glass orb, impairing its effect). I also think paper mache won’t be strong enough to support the weight of the bird’s head (made out of clay) and the glass orb.

Also, to attach the second orb onto the stand I made, I made a little bowl using polymer clay, then baked it until 80 percent hard, so it still had some of the flexibility of the clay, and wouldn’t crack when I drilled the screw in to connect it with the lamp rod. I then superglued the orb (with the bird and second orb on top) onto the bowl and made a hot glue seal. I covered this with the bird’s winding feathery tale.


I am a very intuitive person, emotion, and instinct ruling my mind rather than logic and reason. When I do art—when I draw or make or build, I base it off of my intuition, some things coming to me naturally, and I know what to do, the steps it takes to get there—I have tunnel vision—and finally I’m confident, comfortable, the rest of the world a mere blur, a smudge on the blank canvas road ahead, and it feels like I’m taking off too-small shoes after a long journey, finally free to dance with glee, at the imagination jubilee, finally taking off my shoes because I’ve arrived at home.

One thing that I have always struggle with is (the lack of) self-confidence/self-esteem in everything I do. Even when I do art and when I create, there’s always the sliver of self-doubt, the pervasive voice that chants, it won’t work and you can’t do it. Because I love creating and making, and because I’m all or nothing, I can be really hard on myself and have high expectations of my standard of work. I also wouldn’t consider myself an ambitious person, and reaching certain goals or achieving certain things isn’t what my life is about—I strive for a life of contentment, and while there’s always more to want, more to have—and more to boast about—I know I don’t need that, because life is a race I chose to walk in, to slow down and feel the way the air brushes against my flush skin, smell the sweet perfume of riverside lilies, listen to the songbirds composing lullabies, perched on branches hidden under zesty green leaves, listen to the waves and ripples, passionate tangos and midnight waltzes of the waters, an arching crest, lapping down only to restart, forever and always, unrelenting, unyielding, an expanding ring, round and round, hypnotizing, tempting and lulling things to sleep—nature’s call to slow down, tumble into slumber, then resume, waking up to taste the zing of a brave new world, to touch and feel and see, to run fingers along tree bark, against the delicacy of pink petals, a newborn’s skin, to twirl fingers around in the soft, caring wisps of grass—a pillow or a nest—a cradle in which dreams aspire and simple innocence and imagination run, like black beauties, runs wild and free among the golden clouds.

But even then, I fall into a stagnancy, asking myself if walking this race will work, a record spinning, constant interrogation and doubt and worry, constantly needing validation to tell me its’ okay, walking is okay even when others are sprinting. And that validation is creation. Creation in the form of ideas, art, prose, sculpture, imagination.

And I surprise myself, too. Sometimes after I create something, I look back and I’m like, wow, I created that. And it’s very reassuring, to have a grasp on the extent of my abilities, but also reassuring in the fact that I will probably never know what I am capable of, because I will always grow and refine my skills (unconsciously), and that life and creation is a process of constantly surprising myself. I just need to believe in myself and what I can do, and I will be alright.

When I was making this lamp, I knew it was extremely ambitious but I had this blind faith in myself. But as I was constructing it, doubt started creeping in and I thought that all of the time and effort I put into that lamp was a waste, because it wasn’t going to work, It was going to look ugly and it was going to collapse, and I shouldn’t have reached this far with my idea, because I’ve never made anything like that before, something at that scale, with that form, with the time restrictions, with the resources available. I was really ready to turn in a half-collapsed, distorted ‘thing’ that didn’t even look like a bird. But I persisted, because there’s always that little flame that refuses to be put out, and in the end, I created a lamp, about a meter tall, with flowing fiery feathers, perched on top of two precariously tilted glass orbs. I made my vision come true. And I realized that I am good at what I love to do (it’s’ okay if I’m not, because there’s always time to improve), and I have to trust my intuition and my ability to find solutions to problems, to make a project look good but also work.

To create something, you don’t just follow the design process or brainstorming, prototyping, and reflection, you also follow a process of self-discovery, of personal growth. For me, each thing I make is a reassurance, a loud, clear chant in my mind as I walk the race, an added spring in my steps, a restored shattered piece of a vase cracked and chipped, broken and tossed aside, a vase that carries identity, pride, confidence, and belief in oneself.

Peer Feedback

What does the form of the lamp make you think of, feel, wonder about?

The lamp seems to depict a bird or winged/feathered dinosaur of some sort.

The lamp takes up a much larger amount of vertical space than other lamps. It also uses a wide variety of materials like feathers and yarn and is very colorful compared to other lamps which are mostly made of one material and have one or two colors. It is quite apparent that the lamp was designed to appeal to children like Zoe M.

How would you use this lamp (where would you put it etc.)? Would you buy this lamp? Why or why not? The answer could be about the target demographic (you might have more mature tastes), use of lamp, etc.

The lamp is too large to fit on a desk without looking out of place. But it’s just the right size for a child if placed on the floor. I personally would not buy this lamp because it’s designed for a younger audience.

Is there anything about the lamp that you think could be better/looks unappealing? What would you change?

I think the size of the lamp is too large to be put anywhere else other than the floor. Maybe the location of the light orbs could be adjusted to illuminate a larger area.


I definitely agree with the feedback I received on the size of my lamp and how that can impact the use and functionality/practicality of it. The lamp’s size makes it difficult to have a sole purpose–it is too large to fit on a desk and use as decor or as a desk lamp, but a bit awkward (not big enough) when put on the ground. This would be a big element I have to consider if I were to make another prototype, where I would probably make the lamp bigger (might even add another orb) so it can have further significance in a child’s room, doubling as decor and a sculpture/toy (like a rocking toy horse, which is an ‘object’ in a room, not just a lamp/bird sculpture that is too big to fit on a desk and too insignificant/unremarkable to act as a centerpiece or ‘object’ in a room). I would also make sure the light in the orbs is brighter so this lamp could be more useful in lighting up a room or offering light for the user to study or read under.

Design Studio Persona Poster

What is design?

I think design is the process of thinking (planning, how to make/build what you want to make), and creating. To have an idea, express it, plan it out, then make it a reality.

What inspires me about design?

As long as one person has an idea, and they have the motivation to create and make real that idea, the possibilities for innovation are endless. There are boundless, infinite oceans, universes of ideas that can be made into reality! As long as you have an idea. It all starts with an idea. You can design beautiful things, useful things, you get to be creative, you get to utilize materials and technology to create anything, really. There really are no limits to what you can design. Designers, engineers, inventors, they are the future. They propel society forward, artistically, technologically. I aspire to do that, I aspire to create.

My design skills, goals, inspirations:

Two of my most important values are passion and freedom. This can translate to all aspects of my life; I am a very passionate person, so if I love to do something, I give my 100% percent. It means that I do things not because I want to impress someone, or because I can brag about it, but because I genuinely have excitement and passion for it. Some of my passions include reading, literature, baking and cooking, dirt-biking/motorsports (though I’m that good at it), but most importantly, creating—especially in the forms of writing, art/crafting, and design. I also value freedom, I need to be able to express my ideas, to be free to dream and create. I love freedom, and a big part of that translates to my love for being creative, my love for art and design—the epitome of expression, vision, and creation.

I love beautiful things. For me, things are not only about its’ practicality but it’s aesthetic. I would always choose the intricate and abstract but useless sculpture over the plain but useful cup. I would also choose the gorgeous cake but practically inedible cake over the brown, mushy dessert that tastes like chocolate heaven. For me, it’s about the presentation, it’s about the details, the extra jewel, the extra piece of lace, the extra flower, the extra character in a painting, the extra bounce in intonation when presenting, that makes a huge difference. Presentation is something I carefully consider whenever I’m creating something, so I consider it to be one of my strong points. So, I like product design, interior design, web design, graphic design, game design (some game worlds are absolutely stunning), because these things focus on aesthetics and presentation. But mostly, I love fashion design. I love fashion. I love anything vintage. I love the 1950s housewife aesthetic, or the 1920s glitz and glamor. I love Valentino Garavani, Anna Sui, Miuccia Prada, Alexander McQueen, Tarina Tarantino, and Jimmy Choo, because I love their creative, elegant, classy, or bold, daring, ostentatious use of color, patterns, and form. I think ‘good’  fashion design means high-quality-material, originality (conveys an authentic vision), color (color contrast, color combinations). Fashion is like art and design on a person’s body. ‘Good’ fashion, in my opinion, has the cut and form that highlights one’s figure. It is memorable, eye-catching, and even versatile. Ever since I was little, I loved fashion, and when I couldn’t find the dress I saw so clearly in my head at stores, I started designing my own. However, I was never really good at drawing, so I would often be disappointed when I couldn’t draw the outfits I had in my head. I’ve improved since then, but I have to admit that I’m very old fashioned. I like to do things by hand, and I rarely use technology to make art (I also have to admit that I’m really bad at using the computer, so I opt to do things by hand). But with the new technologies now, and the boom in digital media, such as animation, graphic and web design, photography, with the majority of career designers using technology to make their sketches, I am very keen on learning to expand my toolbox as a designer and learn new skills, such as to draw digitally (digital design) and photo-editing. It would be a goal to learn how to utilize the technologies present to me.                                         1950s fashion

Tarina Tarantino uses trinkets (keychains, kids toys) to make jewelry! I love how colorful and creative her designs are.
Jimmy Choo
Jimmy Choo




Alexander McQueen (I love his concepts and his creative use of form and color! I love how ambitious his designs are. He's a genius!)
Alexander McQueen (I love his concepts and his creative use of form and color! I love how ambitious his designs are. He’s a genius!)
Alexander McQueen
Alexander McQueen

Some fashion sketches:

On the flip side, I consider my strong points in design to be that I am never running out of ideas, and when I have a vision, I automatically have a path to which will lead to creating the final product (it’s almost like tunnel vision). I also love integrating different medias into my work and like to try new things. Another skill I have is crafting, and adding the little details, making things pretty and aesthetically pleasing, which I have loved doing since I was very young. I remember when I was just in kindergarten, I made an ice princess out of clay, cling film and foil as her dress, tissue paper ripped into thin, long, strips to coil up as her hair, and sequins, buttons, and beads I found around the house as her crown. She even had foil sword. Even at 5 years old, I had a vision inside my head. I designed her dress, her figure, her headpiece, everything. And when she was done, I was speechless. In my mind, she was everything. She was my first sculpture. She was beautiful. Flawless. She was how I fell in love with sculptor and crafting. She was the spark that ignited my love for design and art. But before I got a chance to show my parents my masterpiece, my nanny thought it was trash and threw it away. To this day, I’m not sure if I dreamed the entire process or not.

Some of my designs from the past:
















Digital Portriat inspo:

Up Wave by Hanaa Medhat

The artist, Hanaa Medhat, used Procreate to digitally draw this artwork, probably using a tablet and pen connected to the software.

To me,  the portrait style is very mystical, atmosphereic, dreamy, almost magical, with the orphic aquamarine waves and the soft, lucent, glow of moonlight. There aren’t any hard lines or shapes in the portrait; everything is in organic form, with curvy edges and lines are more implied than drawn. The colors are very soft, glowing, without any sharp contrast–everything is belnded together smoothly, like the texture of this artwork, which is like velvate; silky, smooth, and shining, like the light of the moon on the white cotton of a shirt and the luminescent gleam of the wave. This portrait depicts the artist in a magical, fantasy setting, with her eyes closed, like she’s dreaming. I can infer that the artist is a dreamy (and/or a person with big dreams and ambitions), creative person, and someone who looks for simplicity (could be that they love nature, the ocean, the night), peace, and harmony in life.

I like how creative the artist is (her hair is a wave!), and it shows how a self portrait doesn’t have to be “realistic” in order to look like a portrait, and that the portriat is 3D and looks like a photograph. I also like how the artist kept a theme throughout her artwork–everything (color, form, lines, etc.)  is mystical, glowing, dreamy.

Scheherazade by THIN_ LIZ

THIN_ LIZ created the portrait for a school art competition, “Faces of 1000 nights.” They probably used Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator.

The portrait is drawn in 2D style, with a background and a person in front of it. It is also very mystical, set in a fantasy setting, almost exotic (jewelry), with the bright sun like a halo around the person’s head. The colors and tones are muted, warm, and fuzzy, the texture and lines smooth, rounded. The portrait is very soft, dreamy, fantastical. This tells me that the artist could come from an exotic place, they could read/like reading a lot of books or stories that are set in a fantasy setting and often imagine themselves there. I like how the artist drew her portrait in a fantasy setting that can reveal more about her, such as her wishes and dreams in life.

Collage by Can Elmas

This artwork by Can Elmas is more of a collage of photos than a digital self-portrait, created using Adobe Photoshop. However, I really like the concept of having something come OUT of your face (like things about you), while the actual portrait part still remains realistic. Your portrait could be realistic but abstract and/or surreal at the same time. My portrait could also be multi-media like this collage.

The portrait is drawn in a surreal and kind of modern abstract style with moody and bright colors and abstract concepts (airplanes in the air, colorful dust coming out of her face). The shapes and forms are a balance of hard lines (airplanes, person, pink circle) and abstract forms (colored dust, background colors). The texture looks a bit grainy, like the images found in magazines. This tells me that the artist is a very creative person who loves color. They may also collect or read magazines or spend lots of time on Pinterest to gather images they can incorporate into their art.

The Vases Of Faces by Ladislas Chachignot

This portrait is part of a larger series of similar artworks called “The Vases Of Faces” by Ladislas Chachignot. The artwork is created using Adobe Photoshop. Since the artist used bright colors and undersea life as their theme, they are probably bright people who like the ocean.

I really like how the portrait element is a small part of the artwork, and the creative use of the portraits as the “flowers” in the vase. Also how the flowers are actually undersea plants, corals, and fish. And the use of vibrant, contrasting (complementary colors, such as green and purple) colors. I think this is a very cool and creative way to show more (about the artist and their vision) to the viewers. A portrait doesn’t only have to be a drawing of the face!

Digital Typography Portrait by Chirs Wicks

This portrait is a collection of words that make up a face (typography), made using photoshop. It is a very bold (yellow, red, and black) straightforward, and an interesting way to convey the identity of the artist. Certain words, such as wild, is placed in the center, hence emphasized.

This is a portrait/illustration of another person by Kacper Swat. I think this is made using Photoshop (to photoshop a face onto different layers), though the illustration of the face itself looks almost like it’s hand drawn using pencil! I also love how the notion of using layers to draw a portrait is taken literally–facial features are drawn onto different layers that go on top of the face. The portrait is also a combination of graphic illustration (the spikes and layout, color) and traditional (face). I also adore how the red spikes can represent blood and the face is on it, like a layer. I love how this portrait challenges the traditional way of doing thing, how bold and ambitious it is, and how the technique of using layers to draw a portrait could be used differently. It really packs a punch.

Final Poster:

Design Portrait Poster PDF

Final Reflection:

At first, I was very intimidated when we were asked to create a digital portrait—I knew nothing, absolutely nothing, about digital illustration. Up until that point, I had never used Photoshop, never even heard of Illustrator, and could only gape in awe at my peers deftly drawing on a tablet. I was a noob in a class full of tech savvy kids who have experience with graphic design, engineering, digital illustration, so it’s fair to say I was totally out of my league. My confidence went from 2 to negative 20 in an instant, but it looked like I was doing fine on the outside. Even after a few lessons on how to use Illustrator, I was still intimidated. Only after hours of experimenting at home, I gained a tiny bit of confidence, and concluded that I am going to ‘hand draw/trace’ my portrait digitally because that was the most similar to drawing ‘the old fashioned’ way, which was what I was comfortable with. I also concluded that this would take the less time because it would be the easiest option for me, though I found the layering technique to be really cool, and wanted to try that for this project, but upon further consideration, I realized that it was too advanced for my skill, so maybe I’ll try it next time.

After looking at many digital portraits created by artists, and many pictures of myself, I finally decided what I was going to do—I was going to draw myself in a fantasy setting! I originally planned on drawing everything by hand, but considering the time constraints, that was just unrealistic, so I found images online and added them onto my portrait poster using pages (I used the alpha tool on pages to get rid of the backgrounds of the images I found). Additionally, I ended up drawing my portrait very much like how I would draw with traditional art supplies, such as watercolor (layering and adding different values). While this may not have been ‘pure’ digital drawing, I thought it was a good start to digital illustration for a newbie like me. Also, although drawing was never my strong suit in art, my skills in traditional art helped me tons on this project, as I used my knowledge in that to shade and highlight my portrait. Also, there were times where I felt like I was doing makeup (highlight, contour, etc.,) which I thought was really fun.

Because I was planning on drawing my portrait by tracing the outline of my image then shading and adding the color, I wanted to use Procreate to create my portrait. However, I was sick and didn’t go to school on the day my class started this design project, and since I didn’t want to fall behind, I spent the weekend drawing it on my laptop using a tablet (I didn’t even know I had one). I planned on using Illustrator as it is better suited to illustrate stuff (uses vectors), so I tried it out but had some technical difficulties (I couldn’t draw with the pen tool, maybe there was something wrong with the settings?), so then I googled the difference between Illustrator and Photoshop and many sources told me that they were pretty similar, so I chose to use Photoshop to draw my portrait, which was able to work for me. In the end, the result still looked really good, so I’m not sure if there would be that big of a difference if I had used Illustrator.

One thing I know about drawing portraits (in any media) is to not be afraid to make yourself look ‘ugly.’ When we draw ourselves, we subconsciously want to make ourselves look how we want to look. Some of us want our noses to be smaller, skin to be paler or tanner, our eyes to be bigger, face to be slimmer, etc. So, drawing our portraits become more like photoshopping/face-tuning our face to look how we want to look, and that is usually the reason why we find that sometimes we don’t look like ourselves our the portrait. Even though I was well aware of this subconscious fact, I sometimes still succumb to the desires of my subconscious mind. When I was first drafting the portrait, I made myself SO PALE (I didn’t think so at first) and with the dark brown-black hair, I looked like a ghost. I also (subconsciously) made my nose tip and bridge way thinner than it actually is (and was so reluctant to draw it bigger, because I kept thinking, my nose tip is NOT that big!), so I never looked like me in my first draft. I also kind of forgot about my outline and plan of tracing my image at this point. As a result, I basically had to redo (I used the same outline) my portrait since I just didn’t look like me, Some major changes I made were the nose and skin color, as well as the brows (too bushy and angular).

First draft of nose (bridge is too thin and tip is too long). Nose placement is also too straight, which is why there is a space between the nose bridge and glasses (left).
Final nose (Tip and bridge is wider, rounder, shorter). Last week in art class (I also take Art 2), we practice drawing portraits and I watched a video on how to draw asian noses–I think that drastically helped me drawing this nose as it looks much more asian and like min! The nose shading/contouring at the sides and bottom was also like doing makeup.
(2nd draft) At first, I didn’t plan on doing a black outline, bit I think the outline really makes the illustration look more complete.
Added an outline (looks more complete)
(Final) Added more detail/shading
1st outline. I decided to use the ombre/gradient technique to draw the brows to give it some texture.
(Final) I added details (hairs) to the brows and softened their shape as well as made them longer and thinner.
Outline of glasses
(Final) Made them purple! My purple glasses are a big part of my identity (fun fact-I’ve never owned a pair of glasses that aren’t purple)!

I love how colorful my portrait is, how detailed it is with the different characters and butterflies. I also think the color choices work (all bright, yet not crashing or isn’t too much), However, I am the proudest of my portrait, because I can’t believe it looks like me (even though if you zoom in you can see the little mistakes).

After getting feedback from my design teacher, I chose to leave out a space between the text and images and the margin of the poster, kind of like to create a frame. This way, the poster isn’t too overwhelming (as there are many things happening), and the extra space could one, give the eye a rest, and emphasize the center images. I also tried my best to line up the words and make them the same width, to make my poster look as polished and professional as possible.

However, one thing I would do differently is that I would like to step out of my comfort zone even more by trying new portrait styles next time, and a different, more modern/trendy, poster style to reflect a different part of my personality. Also, I would like to try out Procreate to draw digitally.


We live in a world that is becoming grayer and grayer by the moment. A wave of cynicism hangs thick and heavy over our heads, stress an ever-looming thunderstorm about to strike. Nihilism is becoming a trend, depression even more so. People are putting more value on grades than effort, scores over learning. For some people, life is a race, and it’s all about winning, no matter the cost. People can be really cold-hearted and manipulative sometimes, willing to be unkind and hurt other people in the process of being number one. There are too many people in this culture who believe that winning is the only thing that matters, even if on the surface they act like otherwise. Kids are starting to value studying or friendship, intelligence over empathy, knowledge over happiness. Grades are seen as the holy grail and if they don’t get a 7 then they’ll kill themselves with pressure and feelings of inadequacy and their parent’s disapproval. Grades are becoming the indicator of self-worth and passion is being put aside for more “useful things.”

Kids are becoming adults. Cynical, pragmatic, stressed, and depressed. Even backstabbing, manipulative, and cold. Where’s the passion and the curiosity? Why is everything about grades and success? I know I may be a bit of a dreamer—but is there a crime in dreaming? And why does it feel like there is? Why does it feel almost like a crime to have fun because almost everyone else is spending their entire summer studying or preparing for the “future”? Why does it feel like a crime to want to have a break? To have passion and focus more on that instead of grades?

It’s absolutely disheartening, to make friends then find out that to them, you are just a tool to help them become number 1. You are just another competitor.

But I really try to have hope. To be happy and confident and live with my own peace. I am not a competitive person, and I chose to live life content, walking towards the finish line, admiring the world around me. I choose to live, to see colors and light, to transverse between worlds of fiction and my own imagination, I choose to be happy.

This is what I wanted to convey in my poster. Happiness. Wonder. Joy. Fun. The boundlessness of a child’s curiosity. And even a little bit of naiveté to act as a little spark to ignite the flame of hope.

I have never been very trendy in terms of graphic design, cool, tech stuff, and my poster can really reflect that. Though my self-portrait is pretty “graphic,” my poster is way more “pretty” and “colorful” instead of cool. Part of who I am is that I am always myself, in terms of the way I dress (I am very aware that I dress like an librarian or a 37 year old mom of two), the things I like (reading, baking, cooking—I know I’m like a housewife), how I interact with people (I am really horribly shy and a bit socially awkward, and extremely introverted, unlike most kids my age, who have a million friends and are very open and trendy), my values (I value passion above all else), and even my art style—which is known to be “dark,” or creepy, depressing, satirical, or a bit weird. And this poster really reflects that I choose to take my own path. It’s very me in the sense that it’s so untrendy and colorful and a bit childish, but it still presents itself that way, unwilling to change for others, confident uncaring about the trends and what/how it is supposed to act. In a sense, my poster is who I want to be—happy, full of hope and sunshine, and confident. It’s who I hope to become this year (a new year, a new beginning!).

Something I find extremely important is to live in the moment, specifically live in the moments of when you are still a child. Children are unburdened, curious, free, happy. Who doesn’t want to feel this way? Be a child and know nothing other than your parent’s love? Why do we all want to rush into adulthood? I know I may be a teenager, but I am still a kid, and so are all of my peers. And one of my biggest wishes is for us to take a moment and remember that—that we are still children, and we have the right to dream and hope. In the poster, I am doig what I love—reading. I love reading. Reading is my passion and a world without books is a world I would never want to live in. I love stories. That can be in any form. I love the narrative, the history, the meaning behind things. I love the feeling I get when reading books—a feeling of pure joy, of being more than I am. Reading brings me unadulterated joy and entertainment, so I do it.

In the poster, I am reading a story about a girl who travels into wonderland, surrounded by butterflies and magic, talking rabbits and smiling cats and smoking caterpillars. It is one of my favorite stories, (I believe) about the importance of dreaming and imagination and being curious, curious curious curious, about things not making sense but that’s okay anyways, because life is a big adventure. In the poster, reading my book, dreaming away, immersed into a new world, I am happy in the moment, and that’s something to be treasured. I am a kid, a little naive, but happy and free in the universes of my own imagination. I am a kid, and that’s freaking amazing.

A lot has happened in the past year, and the transition from middle to high school was especially difficult for me, because it was more than just a transition, but the start of a 100 dash to the finish line. It was hard. And I was at first trampled and pushed aside because I didn’t know who I am and what my values are. But then I started to discover myself, my values, and realized that I don’t need to participate in the race. And even when it seems like everyone is a shark and I’m the wounded surfer, I can still do my own thing. As long as I have confidence. As long as I believe. I chose to walk, and I have walked for so far, because now the 100 meters seems like a thousand, then ten thousand, but that’s okay because I’m living life for myself, not to beat other people or to be number one, for a number or for a college. I’m living life for me.

End of English 9 Reflection

Humor has always been a mystery to me the moment I started asking myself why was that funny? The answer could be satire, parody, irony, pun, hyperbole, or sarcasm, but even then, why did we laugh? What makes it so funny? Also, dark humor—why do we find something that is so morbid humorous? There is a lot of psychology behind this (I would like to learn more about this, the psychology behind humor and how one can influence people with humor), but why something is humorous usually comes down to the fact that we are surprised. Humor is in a sense, surprise. The incongruity between this statement and what is expected. The tone of which it is delivered—which can be very different. For example, in the play Mother Figure from Alan Ayckbourn’s Confusions, when Lucy asked Rosemary for a drink, she asked her whether she wanted “Orange juice or lemon juice? Or you can have milk.” This is humorous because it is surprising and therefore amusing that Rosemary, who is (about) the same age as Lucy, a grown adult, who would usually be invited for or offered ‘adult drinks’ such as tea or coffee, are offered children’s drinks. The incongruity of an adult being offered children’s drinks is what makes it amusing. Another example is that in the poem “Dear Advice Columnist” by Bill Knott, the narrator very seriously asks the advice columnist (from a newspaper or magazine) for advice on whether they should invite their father’s family to the wedding after they: “…recently killed [their] father/And will soon marry [their] mother.” This is humorous because it is very unexpected and illogical, different from what we would expect a normal person to say. The silly and ridiculous context of the poem is also very different from the serious tone of one asking for advice. On the other hand, this poem could be a parody of the illogical and ridiculous questions people ask advice columnists for newspapers or magazines usually as a joke, which is humorous because of how exaggerated the poem is.

Throughout this year I’ve also realized that school isn’t so much about teaching you literary techniques, analysis, argument writing, but also resilience and to have a positive, growth mindset to successfully act upon feedback and improve to be the best person you can be. In middle school, teachers praise you. And while some small part of you knows that they are sugarcoating things, that constructive criticism would be more helpful, you still bathe in the glory of knowing that you are good at something. And it really boosts your self-esteem and gives you enough confidence for you to go into high school. In middle school, I was confident in my skills. I was proud of what I could do. But then in high school, it’s different. It is SO different, and I wish I knew before going into English 9 and thinking that it’s going to be fun and I’ll be ‘good’ at it. Instead, it was at times, really difficult. So much more difficult than I’d thought it would be. And suddenly English went from being my best subject to being my worst. The class I was struggling the most in. It is ‘ego-shattering.’ And I ask myself how? What happened? I really don’t know. Sometimes it’s like I became a whole different person. I started doubting myself, my skill as a writer, and whether I was ‘good’ at English. Before, ideas came to me naturally, now, everything is muddled up and I constantly doubt myself and question myself so in the end, I’m confused and I don’t know what to do, what I think, what I know, what I believe is right. I doubt every claim I make, every sentence I write.

So all of this combines is like a giant vacuum in my empty glass jar of self-esteem, sucking up the broken crumbs that are forgotten in the corners. But I think the vacuum is only the result of a far bigger problem: my total lack of confidence and constant fear of…everything—the handler of the vacuum himself, so strong and powerful that it has taken over my life. Hence, it’s almost like I’ve become that terrified, cowardly, prisoner person, afraid, afraid, afraid, such a sniveling, pathetic person, that I resemble a dirty, withered rat, scurrying ’round and ’round, in circles and circles, little paws grasping for purchase inside that smooth glass jar, all as the vacuum continues to suck.

As you can see, it is clear that I have a problem where I am so sensitive that I take some things very personally. It’s really silly, but it’s something I cannot control because it is part of who I am. So, a big part of this year, and all of my high school years in the future, will be to develop resilience and confidence in knowing my capabilities and limitations. For starters, I know that academic and analysis writing is not my strong suit. Creative writing is. My goal for English 10 and beyond is to develop a (stronger) academic writing persona, and improve in academic writing so that it isn’t so difficult to do. I hope to be ‘good’ at both kinds of writing, though I am happy with being ‘good’ at just one.

I’ve always had such high expectations for myself. Sure, teachers can be harsh critics, but I know that there is no one harder on me than myself. At times, I am my own worst enemy, telling myself I can’t do this, I’m too stupid to do this, that I’m incompetent and lack the values that would make me worth something to the world. And it seems impossible to overcome your own voice, because when a friend becomes toxic you leave them, when someone is mean you shut them off, but you can’t do that to yourself. Maybe you can shatter all the mirrors in the world in an effort to escape yourself, but in the end, you are still there. One thing I learned this year, perhaps the most important thing is that I’m still a kid. I am 15 years old and I am just a kid. I go to a very competitive school where people are constantly trying to prove something to someone. I was like that. I still am like that. Trying to prove to my peers, my teachers, that I am capable, so I can finally be reassured that I have value because I am good at something. So I go, we all go, neck to neck with our peers. Who’s the best? Who has the best grade? Who does the teacher like the most? Who writes the best and who writes the most? Who has the most profound ideas? Who is the most special? But this constant competition is exhausting. I’ve mentioned before that I am not at all competitive, and that I prefer to observe the race than participate. So I do that, sitting on the stands, alone, by myself, and I realize that it’s actually pretty funny. Here we are, a bunch of 15 year-olds trying to prove that we are something more.

And with that comes some expectations, the expectation to write a perfect analysis, to write beautifully, flawlessly, creatively, to have profound, philosophical thoughts…And we put so much pressure on ourselves to do this, to be that, that at the end of the day, we forget that we are still kids. Kids, humans, who aren’t perfect and genius every second of every day. It is unrealistic to expect so much, to expect ourselves, myself, to produce something good, great, even, for every assignment. Sometimes you produce good work, and sometimes you produce okay work—and everyone is like this, so you should be no exception. It’s stupid, really, to expect yourself to say something ‘profound’ every time you speak. Because how many 15-year-old philosophers are there?

And so, this year was a year for me to realize what I am good at I had to learn that facing challenges is completely normal, and I face challenges all the time. For example, something that I found challenging in this unit was justifying why something was funny. When I was analyzing my chosen poem and the quotes from my chosen play, my first instinct was to analyze the literary techniques, not necessarily what made it funny. It was also easy to fall into the trap of circular logic, which I tried my best to catch when I was revising (sometimes it takes another set of eyes to really catch the mistakes).

Other than that, the challenges I faced in this unit are the same as the challenges I’ve faced this year in English 9: to be clear and concise in my writing, to avoid repetition, and know the balance between enough and overkill. I always struggle to pick one (or a few) things to focus on in my writing, so as a result, I try to cram everything in and hope for the best, which is why I really tried to make myself focus on a few important things in this unit, for example, for my poem CER, I had many annotations that I wanted to expand on, however, I made myself chose a few (about three) and only wrote about those in my CER. Throughout this entire year, I’ve been trying to write more literal and clear, which had always been a challenge since I think in a really abstract and metaphorical way, and I often ‘say’ things without actually saying them (you know what I’m trying to say yet I never specifically said it), and repeat myself over and over again. I know this is a problem that cannot go away in a school year; it takes time and practice. Another thing how I doubt almost everything I write, which results in not writing anything at all for the fear of it not being ‘good.’ I’ve noticed that when asked to write a DX comment/analysis paragraph, I do it really quickly and it all comes naturally. I don’t agonize over every word because I know that because it’s not an assessment, the teacher wouldn’t read every detail and critique/evaluate my writing. But, looking back, the quality of my work isn’t very different, even when the formal assessment took way longer than the comment/analysis. For my dialectical journal entries, I changed my quotes so many times, and I would write something down then delete the entire thing because nothing seemed ‘right’ or ‘good enough’ and I kept doubting myself and the claims I made, the sentences I wrote, and in the end, I was really confused because I don’t even know what I want to say. So, I really hope to be less doubtful of myself so I can get work done faster and more efficiently.

Lastly, meeting deadlines has also been a problem. However, I know that this is mostly because of eLearning, and how we all learn at home now. When there was school, I was pretty good at making deadlines, so when normal school starts again, I’ll be back on track. When there was school, I always did my homework after school in the cafeteria. You can always find me there, sitting alone in my booth—I get really angry when people sit with me (even though hardly anyone does) because I know I’ll get distracted. However, I am really productive there (compared to now) because I use my social anxiety to my advantage. My social anxiety tells me that everyone is looking at me and everyone is laughing at me, and if I don’t get the work done, if I get distracted, then they’ll laugh harder. It’s also like I have to keep up the reputation of being the girl who always-does-homework-after-school-in-the-cafeteria, and it feels almost illegal to be doing something other than homework. Of course, there is still time where I’ll stare at the screen and do nothing because I can’t focus 100% of the time. When there was normal school, I rarely did homework at home, and I despised bring work to home because home was my safe place, where I can relax and play with my cats and read and watch movies and go outside and cook and bake (aka home is where there are a million distractions) and do the things I want to do (not homework). But eLearning has really disrupted that, and in the beginning, it was fine, I got work done and meet deadlines, but as time went on, that became harder and harder. I still will turn in work (my perfectionism won’t let me do otherwise), and it usually ranges from being a few minutes, a few hours, or a day late—but I’ll still get it done. Some sometimes I do get it done, like for this project, but I keep agonizing over every detail and I hesitate to submit, always thinking that I can make it better.

Looking back on my challenges, I know I did not achieve the SMART goal I set for myself. When I made that goal, I knew it wasn’t just a goal for this unit. It is my goal for the entirety of my high school English journey, and even beyond—To become a better writer by adding more skills to my toolbox (to write academic essays, to analyze, identify literary techniques), and to learn how to learn smarter, not harder.

Because of the eLearning, I have not been doing so well in regard to the Student as a Learner criterion. When I am at home, I find it extremely to be a ‘student’ and not the ‘me’ I am during holidays (the teacher we see at school is different from who they are at home). At home, I lack the motivation to participate in zooms (for me, zoom calls are absolutely draining and terrifying, which is why I avoid them when I can. I also find it harder to speak during zoom calls—I remember back when we were studying propaganda posters, I had something that I really wanted to say but I stayed silent because I was scared and there didn’t seem to be a chance. I know when there is school again, I’ll do a lot better at participating, because there’s a lot more pressure and you can’t pretend to be invisible anymore), I lack the focus and confidence to get work done, and I just…don’t care (though my attitude for most things is positive, as I can’t help but be excited to read analyze poetry, something I love). It’s as if when I’m at home, I can escape school and the deadlines and doing work. It’s as if I can pretend, I didn’t make any promises that I’ll get something done because I’m hidden away. So, my time management skills and responsibility really do need improvement (though I did continuously revise my work, which could count as responsibility). However, before eLearning, I was pretty good at it. It’s horrible because I feel an immense amount of disappointment, guilt, and even self-hatred that I couldn’t finish something on time. It lowers my self-confidence further. And I lack the courage to let teachers know that I need more time because it’s so embarrassing and I feel so ashamed and I know it’s impolite and irresponsible, which makes me want to escape to the middle of nowhere and hope no one can contact me ever again. But I really hope to improve my communication skills with the teacher, as I have a tendency to keep everything to myself and I rarely ask for help even when I need it (I’m even more withdrawn in my other classes). It’s such a crazy time right now, learning at home. It’s driving everyone a little insane. At times I feel like a zombie. I guess I really do need school to keep me a responsible student and not an unfocused, scared, little kid.

In the end, I know English 10 will be even more challenging, and not everything you do will receive praise. I hope I will continue to improve my analysis writing and build resilience and confidence in my learning. I hope I can do a better job of owning myself and knowing what I can do. However, I wish I can say I feel prepared to go into English 10, and that I’ve improved since the beginning of the year. But honestly? I don’t know. I’m constantly plagued by the doubt that I am lacking something (that others have), such as the ability to write coherently and concisely. When faced with literary analysis I still struggle with putting my thoughts into clear, concise sentences, and I still don’t know the balance between enough and too repetitive. But I guess I’ve practiced how to write academically? But even my ‘academic essays’ (e.g. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian literary analysis essay) do not seem ‘academic’ enough. I’ve always struggled with writing or speaking in a formal tone, and whatever I write just seems childish and simple (such as this reflection, which is written in the way I think, like a glimpse into my mind—my ‘natural’ writing style). I also fear that when I constantly try to make myself write a certain way (academically), I’ll lose my ability to form metaphors. One of my biggest fears is that I’m staying stagnant while everyone else grows. That I’ll never learn and improve and get better. I know the journey to improvement isn’t easy, but oh my goodness, at times it is hard. And then I think, if this is hard, then what will I do in IB? It seems impossible that I’ll never be good enough to make it through. And it’s not even about the having the skills anymore, it’s about the mindset—To stop doubting and be confident and resilient and get things done without a million fears. This is a goal that I will probably spend my entire life working towards.

English Reflection-Visual Analysis and Public Speaking Skills

I have always loved analyzing media, whether it’s text (short stories or novels), art (both paintings, sculptures, etc.), mixed media like posters or cartoons, which are a combination of text and visuals), or even movies. But there is always more to learn. For example, in this unit, I learned many new things such as rhetoric, which was completely new to me. I learned about the revised rhetorical triangle, logos, pathos, and ethos, and the logical & rhetorical fallacies. Through analyzing a propaganda poster and an editorial cartoon, I realized how many details there can be in one piece of visual texts. Before, I never did a formal visual text analysis. Sometimes for art class, we would do mini analyses, but never for a formal assessment. Sometimes, on my own, if I saw an interesting painting, I would analyze it really quick, or consider one or two details. Before, I never got the chance to take my time with the piece and look over every detail. In this activity for English, I did have the chance, and the results were fascinating.

I know that for some people, the struggle is in noticing those details and drawing conclusions from them. But for me, this part seems natural, easy, almost, and so so enjoyable. Whenever there is a task that wants askes for analysis, I groan, like most of the other students. But I groan because I know I’ll end up super excited, having ten million thoughts, writing them all down, ending up with a lengthy essay, and utterly exhausted. And the worse thing is? I know I wouldn’t be able to control myself. It’s like I’m in a daze, and I push and I push and I push, work and work and work, with no care for my own health and body, with no plan of stopping*. So, as expected, for this task, I was bombarded with details, and as I noticed things, I became more and more excited, because it felt, in a way, like finding the first easter egg during Easter or discovering little bits of gold in the shimmering sand. And with the discovery of the details, ideas came hurtling in, bright like fireworks, one here, one there, exploding in the black space of my mind. I remember being so excited that as soon as I had an idea, I would write it down, and admit writing that, I had another one, or noticed another detail, and acting with the fear of forgetting it, I would write it down also, and the adrenaline and the excitement and the rush of unveiling those details, those little codes and messages that the artist has left you, it was enough to carry you on a sprint to the finish line, to make you forget about the fact that ofter writing the last idea down, you have pages of half-formed thoughts–all of which you had already forgotten. And so begins the journey of salvaging those thoughts, piecing together broken eggs and grains of gold. What I’ve realized is that–wow, I’ve just wasted so much time pursuing stuff that is not important–because half of those details are completely unnecessary and is definitely overkill when added to the final task–a presentation, not a super lengthy essay.

Throughout this process, I am learning to be more efficient and to work smarter, not harder. Editing is also really important to avoid unnecessary repetition to fit the time limit and to make sure there is “flow” between your points, instead of you just listing off all of the details you noticed, with can be tedious may even take away from the power of your speech. This was very hard for me when I did both of the visual text analyses. For the propaganda poster I chose (which was amazing and probably my favorite propaganda poster ever, adding on to my initial excitement for analyzing visual text and resulting in word vomit and a bombardment of details/random thoughts), I wrote about every little detail. It was exhausting, yet I couldn’t stop (I was just so annoyingly excited). After this, I swore to myself that I would never do that again, so I deliberately chose a simple editorial cartoon for my analysis. However, it wasn’t as simple as it first looked. Though I still tried to limit myself (there were a few minor points left out, for example, about the earth, and how it’s deliberate murkiness/grayness could allude to the future of earth), and really tried to edit it down, resulting in a 10-minute long presentation, which was way shorter than my previous one, but still too long. I got rid of most of the repetition, but I know in the end, some points needed to go. This leads to another problem. I am horribly indecisive. I find it extremely hard to choose or to let things go. I save everything, I can’t throw anything away or un-haul anything (this is a family trait), and am so indecisive I sometimes spend 10 mins deciding what I want to eat for lunch. Because of this, it is so hard, extremely hard, for me to let go of unnecessary points and details! It might’ve been more helpful if my peer feedback partners gave me feedback on what to cut, but while I emailed them my feedback, they never gave me mine :(.

The editorial cartoon I choose. Looks simple, right?


Propaganda poster I choose. Lots of detail. I love it!

The video presentation format was also really different. I found it hard to be expressive and not read off of a script (something I have to work on) while talking to a camera because there is no pressure, no audience or teacher to force me to look at the audience and smile. There was also the chance to redo the presentation over and over again, and though it was tempting, and there was the insistent little voice in my head telling me it has to be perfect, I only recorded my presentation once, and I was done with it. Also, though I am an introvert, I actually like public speaking? I like to express myself that way. I loved doing the IDU presentation, which was about something I have passion for. Public speaking is like putting on a performance with the minimal: You and your words. And when it’s done well, it can be astonishing. Beautiful. Inspiring. I truly believe that if you enjoy something, and are passionate about something, people will see it–and that’s partly what makes a good speech: belief is what you are saying and passion.

Unfortunately, I have been feeling unwell for the past few weeks (it has been on and off, some days I feel better than others, and don’t worry, I’m not sick with the coronavirus, it’s just a reassuring problem I’ve had for years and have to deal with regularly, though it’s getting worse with this new lifestyle). As a result, it has been a bit difficult to be at the top of my game and complete tasks as *perfectly* as I would’ve liked. However, through this, I am further reminded that school is just a phase, and homework/assessments are just something to complete. But my health is finite. If I ruin it, there’s no going back. I remember at the beginning of the year Ms. Wong said, “Your time is your life. So use it wisely.” This will probably stick with me forever, and it is a goal I am working towards, because why am I wasting my time doing stuff that is obviously overkill (and I know it)?

*This is also why I’m so excited but also terrified of the new English assignment of writing a persuasive speech, and because I love speeches, I want to make it good! I already have so many ideas on what I want to write about…So many…uh oh…. 🙁 🙁 🙁