Creatives // Vanessa Han

Vanessa Han is a 21 year old graphic designer from Singapore. Recently graduating from Temasek Polytechnic's Visual Communications course, she works on her label Cruddy while working full-time at an alternative body jewelry store, Ask & Embla. There are few creations of our generation that speak to us and more often than not, it is the ones that are the most unassuming, normal and real that I see myself and the troubles that only those of the early 20's can describe. When I first came across Vanessa and her brainchild Cruddy, I saw all that. Simple as they are, Cruddy evokes the everyday realness of our generation. Rawly and simply.
All photos by Vanessa Han, Cruddy

Tell us about the process of how you create! Also, what is the trigger for your creations?
My brain will manifest a vague idea, I jot them down or doodle obscure outlines of my thoughts on Notes and when my flesh is willing, I spend some time before I sleep to realise these ideas on paper and slowly refine and doodle more related ideas to see what I can come up with to eventually achieve my final product.

Most of the drawings I make come from my personal experiences or thoughts. I think a lot on my own time and so sometimes when I’m walking, on the bus or taking a poop, I would be evaluating life or thinking about something random, I will suddenly think of an interesting visual or catchphrase.

It is really that straightforward, I don’t put in a lot of effort when I ideate. I like the feeling when I come up with something that is I naturally made with my own brain and I also realised that my ideas suck (are awful) when I actually TRY to come up with an idea.

How do you find inspiration? Is it tough to create when you’re uninspired?
I don’t find inspiration. My ideas come as I live through everyday. If I see something I find interesting like a group of colours in a certain place or someone doing something, I just take a photo of it and archive it in my phone, in the hopes that maybe one day my brain will suddenly pull that image out and pair it with a good idea.

Yes, yes it is. Most of my time in polytechnic has been dry spells and creative blocks. When I stumble, I usually give my brain another few minutes to come up with something and if nothing happens, I give in to my failure and take a nap. I wish I had some advice to counter this like mind-mapping or scrolling through until I have a eureka moment but those have never worked for me, I’m still finding the ultimate solution to a creative block.

What drew you to design and creation? Was there anything or anyone in particular that inspired you?
I loved art-related things ever since I was young. I loved to do those DIY toilet wall decal things in the mall where you had to squeeze that bottle and fill the outlines with paint on the metal tray. In primary school I loved to trace cartoon drawings from Comics like Garfield and Looney Tunes and LOVED to make boxes from popsicle sticks.

Art and Music were the only two true interests that I had as a kid.

Through my journey as a growing creative, the people I’ve met have inspired me not only because of their work but through their passion and dedication. My friends, seniors and lecturers in Poly (Shoutout Say Keong & Wei) who are tactile and typography masters with a great backstory, my ex-colleagues from my internship company Elementary,  and the other new creatives that I’ve met outside of school—I really am not able to pinpoint any one person.

If you could describe yourself as a colour, emotion, place, thing, show or whatever, what would that be? And why?

I don’t think I resonate fully with any one colour. If I were a colour, I would be any colour in a yellow disguise. I would say I am different colours at different times but I desire to be yellow all the time. Yellow is the ultimate goal. To be truly happy and have the ability to exdude good energy that is so infectious it causes everyone around me to be happy too. That is the ultimate goal. Yellow.

If I were an action, I would be a slouch, either an after-along-day slouch or an i-am-very-content-and-relaxed slouch. 

What do you do when you aren’t creating?
A lot of things. I could be cooking (poorly)—my friend bought me the Kinfolk Table which I have yet to open maybe I will try some recipes soon, jamming on my uke, watching shows (anyone? Brooklyn Nine-Nine? Rick & Morty? Matty Matheson?) I hang out with my friends a lot too, we go for suppers a lot. I think I spend more time with my friends than family in a week. They are a very big part of my support system.

I love singing K also. Open jio, Teo Heng.

Tell us about Cruddy! What was the inspiration, what are you trying to achieve and what made you start it? 
I think it all started when I was in poly. I struggled a lot in school, I was very poor at conceptualising and creating creative solutions. What I did excel in was with execution—I would say that I was quite good at creating vector graphics and tactile design. I would always get props for making my work look good but get marked down for my projects not making sense.

So I guess after all the criticism I got because of my foundation-less work, I wanted to create designs or art that I had full creative control over and they only had to make sense to me. That’s where the dream started.

During the third quarter of last year, one of my schoolmates and I had plans to make cool prints on shirts but after months of ideating and failing to find time to meet and discuss our plans, I decided to just draw and sketch on my own. I put in a little more effort, some nights more than others to stay up till or past midnight to churn out ideas and just make some progress everyday to at least finish what I started. I have a bad habit of quitting half way and I typically cannot stay awake past 12 midnight. True story. How did I survive poly? Not sure.

The drawings then were just ideas that popped into my head or visuals I had when I scrolled through the random words and phrases I collected in my Notes. Most of the pictures I drew were depictions of a typical unlucky or bad day. (see sketches below)

As I drew I was also trying to come up with a theme or a title that could be the big umbrella to all my drawings and something I could work with for all future work. I tried very hard to think of something smart and catchy, tried to reference interviews from very well to do brands like Braindead and try to see if anything inspired me. Nothing. All the names I came up with were either really lame or felt like I was trying too hard.

But one night as I was drawing a man that was lying on the ground. With the intention of provoking an idea I asked myself: what would this man be thinking or what would he say.
“Aw Crud” … “I had a cruddy day” “Cruddy”
I literally got up from my seat and stretched my arms with relief and immense joy.

It’s not a colloquial term used typically in Singapore— I probably learnt that word while watching Drake and Josh or Neds Declassified when I was in primary school. But yes! That was where the name Cruddy was coined.

What does Cruddy represent? I get a feeling that it’s kind of like your outer ego, is it?
:’) Thank you for pointing that out, that was actually one of the most significant points when I came up with Cruddy. To be something that I could relate to personally.

I am cruddy. Truly I am a cruddy person. Based on the conventional standards of a female Singaporean 21 year old, I am way off from the ideal image. I didn’t do very well in school, I always got scolded for being tardy. I find makeup and skirts very inconvenient for myself. I wear shirts that are 3 sizes too big for me and I walk with my hands held behind my back like a uncle. I am also very lazy and sloppy most of the time like I don’t care if I’m in slippers in town.

But I am happy with who I am (aside from the few days in a month I that my insecurities decide to feast on my self-esteem) And Cruddy was a way that I could express this part of me. I am not a perfect image and that’s fine. Bad things happen when we feel like we don’t deserve it, but that’s just life. Let’s make a shirt out of it and embrace the shit that we unfortunately have to face maybe everyday!

What are some of the struggles you face running a business? And what advice would you give to those who want to open one but are afraid?

I am not any advice giver for opening businesses but this is what I learnt from my experience so far.

I would say that the biggest struggle for me was to deal with criticism and opinions. I was very afraid that no one would like the drawings that I did. So when I was finalising my first few pieces, I went around to seek advice and ask for opinions from as many close friends and seniors which turned out to be very counterproductive. Even though from a good place, everyone had something to say and some opinions clashed with others and I was in a rutt. But I eventually learnt to filter the comments and be discerning with the feedback I receive.

I wanted to say that you would have to have a cash base to kick start your business, but I have friends who started their businesses on pre-order basis which means you wouldn’t have to have much to begin with at all. I didn’t do that because I was stubborn and I thought it was more legit to have stock on hand like a real business. Hehe :3 And I had a dad who was really supportive of my vision even though he didn’t understand what I was doing, so I borrowed some money from him to kick off the production.

The whole process, from ideating to planning to actually launching Cruddy took a good 3 months, just for 2 shirt designs. There were many times where I doubted myself, many times that I told myself ‘ok I need more time to perfect everything’ so I push back the idea, and almost submitted to the idea of jumping ship. But (as lame and cliché as it may sound) I told myself to not be a loser and just do it. Since it was already something that I really wanted to do for a long time. Even after I sent my designs for printing, I was not 100% confident or satisfied with what I had produced. But I knew if I didn’t do it now and kept dragging the timeline so I could have everything ‘perfect’, I would end up not producing anything at all.

I don’t think I am in any place to provide a perfect formula to create a successful brand. Different things work for different people but I believe that you regret more of the things that you didn’t do—if you have a dream, pursue it! You’ll never know what will come out of it.

I chased my vision, and I am very happy with what I have made.

Check out Cruddy -

What are some of the struggles being an artist in Singapore is? What do you think of the scene here and how do you fight the stigmatisations of being one?

I’m not enough of an artist to speak for any other artist in Singapore.

Coming from a design background, I know of many people, either new friends I have made from other art schools or friends from poly, who have dreams of creating things like leatherwork, jewelry, prints, zines and some even pursue tattooing. And every now and then on Instagram or at art fairs, I discover new Singaporean artists and designers who do CRAZY amazing work. Especially with the recent Illustration Arts Fest that just concluded last weekend (truly amazing). And I do know of people who are not in the design field who are very interested in local artists and their work so I guess the scene is building and gaining recognition amongst younger Singaporeans.

Hmmm, I was never bothered by people looking down on me because I am in the creative field and I get very little pay. I never felt directly affected by this stigmatism. Most of my family members were very supportive of my career path and I am extremely thankful for them. But I guess in general in Singapore if you are not academically inclined or not in a IQ-centric work field like finance or IT, you are not successful.

But whatever man. I remember I had a chinese teacher in secondary school who was a complete asshole (I cannot find a less crude word that can accurately describe how much of an ass he was HAHA I’M SORRY!) I was doing some abstract line drawings during his class and as I was drawing he pulled it from under my hand, looked at it and said something along the lines of ‘Why are you wasting your time drawing this nonsense. You think you will have a good future drawing these things?’ Here I am, Chen Lao Shi. SMD.

What advice would you give to those who are struggling to follow their dreams or have yet to find theirs?

I didn’t know what I wanted to do either man. When I was pri 6 I wanted to enrol into SOTA but my mom didn’t allow it and I thought my dreams of pursuing art was over. I went into secondary school just following the system and worked towards good grades, only until sec 4 I realised that TP offered a course called Visual Communications that was kind of like art but with commercial purpose and so I pursued that. After I graduated as a branding major, I realised I was shitty at branding. Didn’t know which path I wanted to take, so I went to work at a warehouse for 4 months as a packer just so I could earn some pocket money. And now I’m working a fulltime job doing both operations and design at the same time, opened my own little side thing, Cruddy.

Did I know this was the path I could take at pri 6? Nope.

As long as you have a yearning that you want to pursue, life will hand you opportunities so that you end up in that path. If you are struggling, that’s great. Everyone needs to go through  a little struggle to keep us humble and with every adversity we learn a little bit about ourselves and sometimes acquire new wisdom and skills that will be beneficial for us. Always enjoy the process, and you will feel a greater satisfaction knowing that you had to go through so much to get to where you are. Hang in there! Sure can one.

Lastly, what question would you wish to ask the next creative who’ll be featured?
Do you think my answers were good? Hahahaha



Post a Comment


Blog Archive

Powered by Blogger.



WILLOW © Theme by Blog Milk