Close to Culture, Close to Creativity, Spot on Asia.

Articles tagged “craft

J.MYERS: The Leather Goods Craftsman

Posted on June 18, 2013

This interview was first published on the Project Passion 365 website and was told through visuals. Lilian was kind enough to let us republish and remix it a little. All photos and text provided by the author. The editor first met Jeremiah in a dusty block on the fringes of Chinatown. Upon entering his workshop, his front lobby had a kind of European rustic charm: what catches the eye was a vintage leather sofa and a stylish messenger bike complementing the decor.


Commercial Photographer and Leather Goods Craftsman at J.MYERS COMPANY

Please tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do.

I am a father, a husband and an only son. Made in Singapore by my father, an artist and my mother, a retired seamstress. I went to film school and majored in audio engineering but photography was my biggest interest. However, there wasn’t a photography major that I could enroll for. Which I attribute to the fact that those were still film days and it probably wasn’t as cool to sling a camera over your shoulder.

While I was assisting photographers, I picked up the hobby of leather crafting which eventually turned a little too serious and POOF! It became The J.Myers Company.

What is your passion in life?

No matter what I do, I can never stop daydreaming and making things. Usually I daydream about making things. So yeah my passion is making stuff, it could be making a beautiful photograph or just trying to bake bread. As long as I can turn raw materials and ideas into a finished item, I am happy.


+Read more

Gal•li•vant/Gal•a•vant: Taking risks as an independent publisher

Posted on June 14, 2013

I’ve written on the zine, that which has emerged from the digital age engendering the shift toward the autonomous curation and publishing. To have the platform at our fingertips is to allow everyone and anyone to say, Yes, I want to and I can. Web zines encapsulate the essence of efficiency from financial to physical — there are practically no direct costs involved in putting up issues every week, month, year, or whenever you please. Social media platforms are married to one another such that publicity is a breeze upon clicking on that ‘upload’ button. A myriad of options pop up to ask if the next step would be to share the issue on every single engagement you are tied to on your mobile, laptop and every other 21st century gadget you have on you.

The ease and low barriers to entry serve as a double-edged sword, though. It is easy to start and adrenaline seems to always be on your side. But to follow through is the challenge, especially when the hype has died down and all you are left with are the raw intentions. I reckon that it is safe to generalise that we’ve all started up blogs or websites but subsequently swept under the rug. There simply isn’t much at stake to start and then stop a blog, publication or general site on the infinite world wide web.


+Read more

Collectible Anthropology

Posted on May 12, 2013


Charisse Aquino-Tugade, Philippines

Anthropologist, Cultural Explorer, Founder of The Manila Collectible Co.

Weaving through the cobble-stoned streets of what was once a fortress-city, I wondered how I would be able to spot The Manila Collectible Co (TMCC). Its home, tucked within an enclave of Spanish colonial shops and galleries and sitting behind the iconic Manila Cathedral in Intramuros, is a charming, light-coloured baroque building with a little signage bearing the name, Villa Blanca. I had the privilege of interviewing its founder and owner, Charisse Aquino-Tugade, an anthropologist and cultural travel guide who was happy to share the story behind her shop and advocacy with Open Brief.

What is the story behind The Manila Collectible Co.?

My background is in anthropology and I’ve always been really crazy about our (Filipino) indigenous cultures and history. As a cultural travel guide, I would organise tours and go on expeditions to various parts of the country. The Philippines is so rich with artistry, ingenuity and craftsmanship, all of it deeply rooted in multi-cultures and history. Yet, (I noticed) not everyone really knows much about these artisans and craftsmen and what they create. By everyone, I mean, most of their own fellow countrymen. The reason for this is really geographical accessibility. Being an archipelago with over 7,000 islands, it’s just not easy to get around. Most of these indigenous artisanal communities dwell in obscure, tucked-away corners all over the islands. Their craft is a prime source of livelihood, yet how do they reach their market? How can they put a premium price on their work, when they themselves don’t actually realize the high value of their creations?

I am passionate about indigenous cultures and artisanal crafts, so I felt drawn to create a way — an actual physical space — to bridge this gap and just help make it more accessible. Also, my experience of working with museums and my love for the curative experience have shaped the concept of TCMM—which is a one-stop-shop anthropological gallery of art, crafts, and functional products for daily living, wherein everything is direct from the source and not mass produced for mass consumption.


+Read more

An Ode for the Creative Soul

Posted on May 7, 2013

If we were living in the Dark Ages, creatives who pursue a craft would find themselves in a respectable profession making things. Whether they were contraptions to build castles or battle armors for knights, these craftsmen made something valuable with their hands that influenced the outcome of wars.

As I sat down writing this piece I realized many people were just getting by with their skill. A majority find themselves crafting marketing material that fills into a junkyard of messages we’re already being bombarded by on a daily basis.

As creatives do we really need to craft marketing material to tell everyone else about their inadequacy?

Or can we put our talent to better use by making something useful?

Do we live to design or do we design to live?

Or if you’re a writer… Do we live to write or do we write to live?

Designers. This is our time. It’s a time for designers who hone their craft of making things, by initiating personal side projects to push the boundaries even when nobody cares. Because an artist creates and they cannot stop creating even when they struggle to pay bills.

Designers. This is our time. You’re not just in the business of making things pretty. You craft and skills mean so much more. You never followed the herd, you picked a profession that won’t make you filthy rich and you did it out of passion. Yes, you’re an outlier. Yes, you won’t easily fit in everywhere. Until you find somewhere you belong, don’t stop looking.


+Read more

Konstfack exhibition Photo: Flickr, eifp

Echoing the Swedish design experience

Posted on March 29, 2013

Previously we had a top-level overview of the Swedish design industry and how it’s been affected by globalization in “Globalization and the Swedish Design Economy”, while “Ties that bind the Swedish design ecosystem” offered insights on the vibrant design ecosystem in Sweden. Both articles left lingering questions on educational systems and various lessons applicable to countries, in the hope of creating a more mature creative industry. We shall attempt to answer them in this article.

While interviewing a few Swedes during the course of penning the articles, equality was a common theme among the answers given. More than just equality in governance, Swedes also expect equality in the workplace and at home.

“There is a social norm to treat all people with equal respect and deference, and generally say what you really think while expecting others to do the same. To say no is not a bad thing but quite the opposite!” says Maria Eriksson, currently the Partnership Director for Hyper Island (a Swedish tertiary institution specializing in digital media).

The disparity in power distance within the workplace in many parts of Asia, including Singapore, is apparent. A survey conducted by cultural pyshologist Gert Hofstede on global IBM employees in Singapore indicates employees scoring high on the Power Distance Index (PDI). The sample size was taken at a time when majority of its employees were ethnic Chinese. Other Asian countries that are within the same range would be Indonesia and China, while Malaysia and Philippines have even wider power distances.

Countries with the higest Power Distance Index. Source:

Countries with the higest Power Distance Index. Source:

Quoting the summary report, “Power is centralized and managers rely on their bosses and on rules. Employees expect to be told what to do. Control is expected and attitude towards managers is formal. Communication is indirect and the information flow is selective.”

Oz Dean, Creative Director of Digital Arts Network, a division of TBWA Tequila\Singapore, mentioned during a joint workshop session, “I try to make our meetings as collaborative as possible but sometimes, it’s hard to get the junior creatives to speak up even when I encourage them to.”


+Read more