Jessica, Graphic Designer, Best Comment winner, Jumpsuit and Top from Club Monaco.
Cheerful and soft-spoken, Jessica’s gentle tone belies a fierce pride in her work and life. The winner of Best Comment for our Shentonista Of The Year 2017 contest, she’s someone who treasures every minute spent with friends and family, and stands firmly for the things she believes in—animal rights, for one. A big believer in the power of creative work to tell compelling stories, Jessica’s ability to seek inspiration in everything speaks to an abiding sense of wonder in life, and a keen sense of observation. When we asked her, “If you could be anything you wanted to be, what would you choose?”, she initially quipped, “Not to be too nice!” But we think we like her better this way.
What’s new, and what has changed since we last met you?
I’m engaged! (laughs) I’m enjoying it, it gives me a sense of security and it’s something to look forward to.
You mentioned you come from a film background—why did you decide to study that, and what made you change your path to communications design instead?
In polytechnic, filming on set was very fun—I got to dress people, go on location recces, and learn about the production line. Film is about telling a story, so that’s what made me interested in it. However, I started questioning how long I could last in this industry, because working on the production line can be demanding, especially for women. While working on my final year project, I started doing more design work and experimenting with Photoshop, and although I had limited knowledge of design I liked how it could translate my ideas into visuals. Also, seeing campaigns around me made me realise that being able to tell a story through visuals was something else I was interested in.
How do you think your background in film helps you as a designer?
It’s taught me that whenever I design something, it has to feel coherent. It should feel like a story, with a clear beginning, middle, and end, and that applies especially when you present a deck to a client.
What’s your favourite film of all time?
I like a lot of films, but my favourite is The Great Gatsby for its set design.
If you could be part of any film or TV series, which would you pick and why?
Jurassic Park. I really like dinosaurs, and I would like to feature in an action film, maybe something like a zombie apocalypse. Oh, fun fact, when I was younger I had an underbite, so I had to have surgery to have it corrected, and because of that my friends would call me “Jawssica”. (laughs) That’s why my Instagram handle is similar as well.
If you were to script and direct your own film, what would it be about, and what kind of style would it be in?
I like thrillers and tragic stories like Black Swan; I like that it has a very dark direction. I would also like to direct a psychological thriller, so maybe Shutter Island, something that catches you by surprise.
Can you tell us about a memorable project, or something you’ve worked on that’s close to your heart?
I like dogs, so years ago when I was at my previous agency, I worked on a logo design for Marie Choo, who’s also known as The Dog Alchemist. I also did some voluntary work, and it was gratifying when people thanked me for the videos I made which raised awareness about puppy mills. The opportunity to put design to good use for issues I care about made the experience really memorable.
What about design interests you? What drives you to continue doing what you’re doing, day in and out?
Design allows a lot more room for exploration in terms of packaging and visuals, as compared to film. I also like the research process, and being able to translate an experience or envision what the client wants and then portray it. Getting to see the project come alive and seeing my clients happy about the work is something that gives me satisfaction.
How would you describe your personal design style? What appeals to you right now?
I like the holistic aspect of experience design—stepping into a space, feeling its textures, and having a tangible experience that engages your senses—so design that encapsulates or utilises sensory cues is what interests me.
Where do you draw your inspiration from?
I try to draw inspiration from everything, not just design but also films, music videos, and architecture. I like to see artists’ work processes and how they think about things, so that inspires me as well. There’s a design series on Netflix called Abstract about photographers and designers that’s inspired me. I also like to watch TEDx videos.
You’re half-Thai, though you were born and raised in Singapore. How do you stay connected to your Thai roots?
I’ve been wanting to learn Thai from my mum. I can understand basic conversations, but I would like to communicate better with my relatives. It makes me sad to think that connection might just disappear if my mum were not around. I also used to visit my mum’s hometown in Chiang Rai once a year, but it’s been two or three years since I last went.
Favourite comfort food:
Papaya salad, definitely. Just the smell of it reminds me of my mum, it’s what home feels like to me.
What’s one thing you wish you had more time to be doing?
I wish I had more time to spend with people I love, but because I’m always rushing about it’s hard for me to take as much time as I want to do that.
What’s a quote/philosophy you’re living by right now?
To live life well, and live it to your fullest. My friends make fun of me for that and say I’m all zen like the Buddha (laughs), but that’s my philosophy, to be content with what you have.
Jessica was previously seen here.
Special thanks to our friends at Club Monaco for being a part of this project.
Also, a big thank you to all the people we worked with last year for coming on board:Club Monaco, We Need A Hero, Grain Traders, Kilo, Camp Kilo Charcoal Club, Kilo Lounge, Freedom Yoga, Gallery & Co., SEEDS and Chikuyotei.