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Articles by Neville Hew

Neville Hew
Neville is a designer working with brands.
Neville Hew
Credit: Satoshi Hashimoto -

No Experience Required

Posted on October 1, 2013

Times change. And it changes brutally fast.
At the rate of yesterday’s knowledge becoming irrelevant and impending possibilities of more jobs and services becoming automated, it begs the question that in this day and age what does having certification mean for a designer?


Design critic Corin Hughes-Stanton once suggested that “design will become more aesthetically adventurous”, and I do not see why it should be any different for design education. Subjectively, certification for designers is unnecessary, because as overused it may be, eagerness for good design and the catalyst of passionate learning will forever be the imperative factors. The contrast between the two is that while the latter pushes developmental skills (self-taught) and design inquisitiveness, the former primes the graduate for the industry ahead — an odd logic seeing that certification has little significance on creative hiring. Furthermore, you will never find designers flaunting their certifications in front of their Portfolio Night booths.


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Off to a Good Start

Posted on September 4, 2013

Conversations with millennial friends are beginning to look more and more like the calm before the storm; starting off with the universal “How are things?” opener, right before the waterworks of gossips, criticism and grumbling are unleashed upon your ears faster than you can even take a sip off your pint. 

“How is work?”


This million-dollar question, perhaps assessing your contentment of life, is possibly the number one cause of frowns in the millennial age. Where topics such as how they hate their jobs, horrible directors, client nightmares, meager paychecks, overtime mileage and non-existent weekends have become the usual suspects domineering most table-top conversations. This million-dollar question here is about job fulfillment. It has to be said, if the chatter about slogging in the shadow of others, ‘grass is greener on the other side’ pep talk, and trading office horror stories remains persistent throughout the conversation, it could be more than just regular beer-o’clock rants, but rather, red flags to an impending burnout — a common syndrome (which stats claim are affecting more females than males) despite the current generation’s employment and equality improvements – that is plaguing the millennial generation. Where the answer to that question leads to is another question, through a grim path of job-hopping and career switching.


“Life is not a having and a getting, but a being and a becoming.” – Myrna Loy


Such are the somber state of talk amongst millenials these days. It is as if ingrained in these working-class youths, exist nothing but desires for future circumstances to be better than the current; a rebellious stubbornness to make most of present time and know that having expectations is likely the impediment to their successful dream. But who could blame them? As the global population of competitive millenials reaches 40 million, all vying for good seats in the workforce, it is no wonder everyone is inching further on the edge. Mistakably, most of them spend more time prioritizing their expectations than prioritizing their priorities—if they even knew what these were in the first place. A real shame, for what they have yet to realize is that this competitive ball is not in their court, but rather, in the employers’. Because in this Connected Age, and supported with the insurgence of newly invented/hyphenated job titles, the students entering the workforce are now smarter than their employers.


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Less Agreement, More Argument

Posted on June 30, 2013

(This article is the third in a three-part series. The first infers on criticism towards brands, the second probes into criticism towards design, and the last article contemplates the state of design criticism.)


In the first article, The Impulse to be Heard, the perception of criticism towards brands was discussed in relation to Internet anonymity and the prevalence of empty but destructive critique. The second article, A Design Battle Cry, continues by presenting two seemingly unharmonious areas currently in the red zone in the world of design: Crowd-smashing and crowdsourcing. The third and final part of the series (Less Agreement, More Argument) contemplates the current state of the oppositional activity in Singapore’s design culture and postulates possible reasons.

Design criticism is often considered the unpopular brother to graphic design, wherein the attention for verbal engagement remains sparse and its merits enigmatic. Its maturity and acknowledgement are made worse at an age of accelerated media growth (as observed in The Impulse to be Heard), amongst other economic, cultural and political conditions. Perhaps “made worse” is too pessimistic a term, but rather the way designers convey the printed word in the digital age may be too nebulous to be taken seriously by non-designer readers. To some extent unfortunately, even designers themselves are disposed of that privilege too, which brings to mind that whether articles such as “Good Design Is Invisible” by iA’s Oliver Reichenstein should relevantly expand its introspective to “Designers Are Invisible”.


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A Design Battle Cry

Posted on April 30, 2013

This article is part two in a three-part series. The first observes on criticism towards brands, the second on criticism towards design, and the third engages on the state of design criticism.

In the first article, “The Impulse to be Heard”, the perception of criticism towards brands was discussed in relation to Internet anonymity and the prevalence of empty but destructive critique. Its conclusion emphasizes on patience and knowledge as necessary components towards constructive contribution, or otherwise it is as good as noise. This second part, A Design Battle Cry, continues with two supposedly unharmonious areas in the design business: Crowd-smashing and crowdsourcing.

To clarify in this context, crowd-smashing in the article interpretation is the criticism towards creative work while crowd-sourcing is the solicitation of contributions from the creative community. The nature of criticism and crowd-smashing is explained in the first article, as an impulse to be heard. Crowdsourcing, on the other hand, while not an exclusive term to the design field (but shall be referred to as so in this article), holds many subject definitions. The first generic definition of crowd-sourcing is set in 2006 by Jeff Howe, a contributing editor at Wired Magazine, as “the act of a company or institution taking a function once performed by employees and outsourcing it to an undefined (and generally large) network of people in the form of an open call. This can take the form of peer-production (when the job is performed collaboratively), but is also often undertaken by sole individuals. The crucial prerequisite is the use of the open call format and the large network of potential laborers.”

Naturally, having attributes of dividing creative work (especially for large-scale projects that require concentrated commitment and responsibility), eliminating client interaction and the requisite of following through with the next project’s action point, the concept of crowdsourcing is quite enjoying a love-hate relationship in the creative community.


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Paying (The Price Of) Attention

Posted on April 5, 2013

The year 2013 is rocketing off to a great start, especially in the field of technological advances. From medical marvels like a ‘functionally cured’ HIV-positive baby and 3D printers in regenerative medicine, to wearable technology like the reported Apple’s iWatch and Samsung smartwatches; it is a time even your grandparents should be excited about.

However, in the midst of this huge leap in urban progression (not just intelligent objects capable of predictive personalization) and the constant information bombardment of “NEW! NEW! NEW!” arrives one trade-off in human communication: the disappearance of old.

2013 is the year where we lost the art of conversation and undivided attention.

With the contraption of smartphones combined with the penetration of social media popularity, the attention span—once exclusive to human interaction and hobbies—has suffered greatly under these domineering digital ecosystems. An era where conversations, let alone a meeting, lasting over few minutes will see the uncomfortable shifting of eyes, agreeable “hmm’s” and finally, the urge in thrusting of hands into deep pockets, fishing out phones and checking notifications. Perhaps in the near future, we will literally be paying for attention.


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