The Model Behind this Artist

It may have become a popular art and design blog for many, but founder Yanda says his Singapore-based THEARTISTANDHISMODEL remains a personal diary that has helped the self-taught designer learn more his craft for close to a decade.

Designer Yanda trained his eye for design by starting a blog to catalogue creative work from around the world in 2005. | SHENTONISTA
Designer Yanda trained his eye for design by starting a blog to catalogue creative work from around the world in 2005. | SHENTONISTA

“I started my blog nine years ago with a course mate in Ngee Ann Polytechnic where we were both studying Multimedia Computing . We wanted to learn about art and design, but couldn’t afford art or design books, so we started an online gallery to force ourselves to read these books and blogs about fashion, art and street wear.

Back then, I flipped a lot of books at the library and bookstores such as Kinokuniya and Basheer Graphic Books. If I found a work I like — from masters such as Picasso to fashion designers like Jun Takahashi — I’ll take down their name and go online to do more research. Initially, I wrote my opinions about the works, but it became a hassle, so now I cut and paste information instead.

I wanted to learn more about art and design after an internship interview. At that point, I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life. I had emailed a few studios without a portfolio and Manic Design was kind enough to ask me in. Obviously, I did not get it because I had nothing to show. After I left, I felt like a failure, but I wanted the experience of working in a creative agency so much. I told myself I needed to learn more about art and design, so I started the website.

The name, ‘THEARTISTANDHISMODEL,’ points to the fact that behind every artist is some model — be it subject matter, business model, mentor, or someone you really want to impress. It wasn’t meant to be a serious website, but I wanted to learn more so I kept blogging even after my partner left when he became busy with National Service.

I’ve learnt how to design by looking and commenting and critiquing via my blog. When I see something nice, I will find out what is nice about the work and what are the thought processes behind it. I will go deep down into the construction and materials of things I like. I learn a lot about design through this process, and I also find out more about myself from what I like. I can’t rationalize what I like — probably things that have more ideas and are more visual.

There wasn’t any clear transition from blogging to starting my design studio DONOTDESIGN, but the blog has helped me become a curator, giving me an eye to pick out stuff for exhibitions and for the Showcase section in The Design Society Journal.

While the website has become very popular today, I wasn’t assured that my blog was nice or good until a few people pointed it out — even Theseus Chan of WORK commented that I now had an authority to comment on what was nice or not. When I visited studios in London last year, many of them also said that I had good posts.

But I don’t care about all this. I still blog the same way. Up till today, I only blog about the things I like. I don’t blog for other people, I blog for myself. It’s become such a huge personal diary that it is my online archive whenever I need to reference something for my own designs.”

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