Archive for the ‘Art’ Category


Can you really put a price on culture?

September 2, 2010

I love looking at beautiful things, particularly designer stationery and paintings done with great skills and attention to details. Studying design, I appreciate that the process of producing a beautiful piece of work is never easy. I don’t claim to be an art critic but sometimes, I think art is simply overrated.

In April 2009, the painting by Paul Cezanne titled Bords de la Marne, sold for $16 million. Not $1.6 million. SIXTEEN MILLION. That is a huge sum of money. I find it utterly ridiculous that the Art Gallery of NSW would pay that much for a piece of painting on canvas.

This painting by Jackson Pollock, titled no.5, 1948, is another example of a painting with an exaggerated price tag. It was sold to a Hollywood mogul – David Geffen – in November 2006 for a hefty $140 million – making it the most expensive painting ever sold. Some art critics and art investors may argue that the price is justified, in that it is an investment on a medium that has made a significant impact in its time in the art industry. Jackson Pollock introduced the ‘Dripping technique’ where he ‘paints’ without touching the canvas. His technique involves dripping and splashing paint freely onto the canvas. His action painting technique is still the talk of the art industry worldwide to this day.

There is no doubt that both Cezanne and Pollock have unique skills that are hard to find these days, and it is a piece of culture that should be preserved, but I think in this current economic times, that money would have been better spent on art education programs and nurturing upcoming talents. Perhaps, with better support for young artists, there could be plenty more like them, and art need not cost a fortune.

References :

March 16, 2009


Colour Sensitive

September 1, 2010

Colour is a reflection of our identity, personality, culture and emotions. It has the power to affect us psychologically, whether we are conscious of it or not. In different cultures, colours have symbolic meanings attached to a certain culture. One good example as mentioned in Truly Madly Deeply is the colour white.

In Asian cultures such as Japan and China, white is symbolic of death, and is the colour worn during funerals. On the contrary, Western cultures associate white with purity, peace and harmony, often wearing white for special joyous occasions such as weddings. In the olden days, the bride often wears a red dress to signify prosperity and happiness. Wearing white at weddings would be unforgivable in those days. Today, however, this tradition and custom is blurred and not followed strictly. With globalisation and the increasing cross-cultural communication made possible, people are becoming more aware of the different cultures and customs that exist, and are becoming more open to variations in their own customs.

These days, even Chinese brides wear white wedding gowns, regardless of what white traditionally meant in their culture.

In the design world, it is important to consider the history of colour and what it means to different groups of cultures, as it has siginificant impact on how a brand is perceived. A lot of money would have gone into marketing a brand or a product, so there is no room for failure in terms of appealing to its target audience and getting a positive response.

A Japanese manufacturer learnt the hard way about the impact of choosing the wrong product colour. Their attempt to sell black scooters in India were met with a very poor response due to the fact that in India, black is often the colour associated with death. Superstitious mothers were forbidding their sons not to purchase black scooters as it was considered bad omen. However, the Japanese manufacturer changed tactics and introduced other colours, sales improved dramatically, proving that colour does matter.

Although people are more forgiving and open about traditional custom not being followed these days, it is still wise to be sensitive to what colours mean across different cultures. The last thing we would want to do is to offend someone. Be mindful. Be colour sensitive.


Truly Madly Deeply
Cross Cultural Meanings of Colour in Brand Design
April 28, 2010

USA Today (Society for the Advancement of Education)
April, 1997