Friends who Make.Good.Art.

8 Jun

Call me slow, but I just realised that I have quite a fair bit of creative friends. By creative, I do not mean those who work in a creative industry, but rather, those who add a splash of creativity in their  lives through their own projects. So I’ve decided to write a post to pay tribute to my friends who put their souls out there. You guys are such an inspiration.

In no particular order, here’s to my friends who Make Good Art.

Oh & Ah by Teck Yew, Tuck Loong and team

This charming little store is chock full of handmade goodies. Whether it is a piece of jewellery  or a home deco item, everything is made with much love and heart. Just browsing the site makes a gloomy day a whole lot brighter!

L.A.R.K  by Ching

If I were to pick just one word to describe this store, it’s “Kaleidoscope”. Everything is so colourful! This talented designer also fronts a band and offers her expertise on audio thingamajigs. It’s a wonder how many things she can do in a day! Salute!

Lines+Splines by Caryn Foo

My buddy from high school is an interior designer by day and a jewellery queen by heart. Ever since we were pimply-faced teens, she’s been into jewellery. She would make bracelets and necklaces with whatever materials she could find and give them to deserving people (like moi) as gifts. In fact, I still have a yellow bracelet which she made for my 15th birthday! I’m so proud that she has a store of her own now.

Pestle & Mortar by Hugh and friends

If you think Threadless is the only t-shirt store worth checking out, you’re dead wrong. This brand has swag. But these guys don’t just stop at making uber-wearable designs. They also put heaps of effort into the branding, marketing and photography of their lookbook. They also undertand the power of creative collaboration and more often than not, you’ll catch local DJs/ tv hosts sporting their designs.

WhoMovedMyFckinWords by Lilian Lee

This collection of quirky quotes will, to borrow a phrase from its creator, “warm the cockles of your heart”. The brainchild of a hyper-talented (and hyperactive) art director, these pearls of offbeat wisdom often leave me shooting coffee out of my nose as I struggle not to laugh like a hyena over breakfast. Fans of subtle sarcasm should totally bookmark this site.

Earring Addict by Dawne Lee

Just one look at the name of the store and you should know what you’re in for. These simple, elegant designs pair up fabulously with a multitude of outfits. If you haven’t got any piercings, go get some. Or, you could just pick up a necklace…or two.

I’m pretty sure I have more friends who are making good art but I’ve spent more than an hour writing this and I’m hungry. So I’m going to end this post with a speech that inspired the title of this post.

So guys, thanks for making the world a tad more creative and artistic. I hope you will continue to Make.Good.Art.

Bersih 3.0 – I wasn’t there… again.

28 May

Last year, I blogged about Bersih 2.0 and vowed to be present at Bersih 3.0. As fate would have it, I had a trip planned that weekend and couldn’t make it back to KL. Instead, I was bound for Phuket.

Yet, I knew I had to be a part of Bersih 3.0 in some way.

In the weeks leading up to the big event, I stumbled upon Global Bersih, a website dedicated to the Bersih cause and featured links to Bersih gatherings all over the world. It gave me an idea. If I couldn’t be at Bersih KL, I will be Bersih Wherever-I-Am.

So I downloaded the list of 8 demands and asked a friend to turn them into nice posters:

The 8 demands

I printed them and carried them with me as I staged my own sit-in protest from Singapore to Phuket.

My sit-in protest started at the lobby of our residence in Jurong East, Singapore:

Bersih – Demand 1

And continued on the plane.

Bersih – Demand 2

And at the Phuket International Airport. (This was my favourite location because my sign confused some tourists who were looking for their hotel pick-up. Haha!)

Bersih – Demand 3

Followed by various spots around Phuket like the beach, the mall and the market.

Bersih – Demand 4

Bersih – Demand 5

Bersih – Demand 6

Bersih – Demand 7

Bersih – Demand 8

Some may say that I achieved nothing because I wasn’t gassed like those who were in KL but I disagree. I didn’t participate in Bersih 3.0 to “achieve” something for myself. It’s not my intention to add an imaginary yellow feather to my hypothetical cap. No. I merely wanted to voice out my dissent and make a stand against dirty tactics that have been plaguing our country for years.

Some may say that it’s useless to protest against these injustices because nothing is going to change. Again, I disagree. Change is happening as we speak. More people are becoming aware of the situation and are taking ownership of the country through various civic initiatives. We just need to remind ourselves that change will not happen overnight, and nothing worth doing is ever easy.

I spent most of the day in the hotel, using the Wi-Fi connection to follow what’s happening back in KL. While I was horrified (but not surprised) at the treatment given to those who gathered around Dataran Merdeka, I was, at the same time, immensely proud of my fellow Malaysians who gathered across over 100 cities globally to make a stand. I have never seen solidarity on this scale for any Malaysian cause before and I’m glad I was able to be a part of it in my own little way.

Indeed, there are so many reasons to participate in the Bersih movement. But if I had to pick one, it’s this:  My vote is my voice and I’d be damned if I let it be manipulated for someone else’s gain!

Friday, the 13th – The Bad Stuff

14 Jan

In my previous post, I blogged about the good stuff that happened on a day that the superstitious among us would deem as an unlucky day. In this post, I will elaborate on the unpleasant incident that took place on the MRT ride home.

We live in the suburb of Jurong East, which is about 20km from the city centre. It’s quite a commute but it gives us the opportunity to observe Singapore’s society on a daily basis.

So yesterday, at approximately 1030pm, we boarded the East West Line from Tanjong Pagar. As usual, it was packed. We hopped into the sardine can and started our journey home.

Our carriage had a mix of locals and foreigners of different nationalities. One that I would now highlight for the purpose of this post is a passenger who was travelling with a rather huge bag, which he propped up as close as possible to the hand rail which was at the centre of the carriage.

A few stops later, a man boarded the train and squeezed past the bag, knocking it over in the process. It grazed my leg, but I paid no heed as it was really packed, and I didn’t think it was a big deal anyway. However, what happened next was totally unexpected.

The owner of the bag bent down to set his bag upright again, and passed a remark at the man who knocked it over.

“Cannot see ah?”

He didn’t really sound angry. Just mildly annoyed. So that was why the reply that came out of the other man’s mouth made me fuming mad.


The chatter in the carriage came to a sudden stop and everyone looked at the man with the bag, wondering what he would do next. Admirably, he did not react.

Now what made me mad was the fact that the man with the bag was trying his best not to obstruct anyone by placing his bag as close to the hand rails as possible. No one else had problem getting in and out of the carriage before this uncouth man stepped in. So that outburst was totally uncalled for. (And, if you want to yell at someone, at least try to use the right word.)

I suppose I should reveal now, that the man with the bag was someone whom people would classify as an unskilled worker. A labourer who has come to this land of opportunity to work, and support himself, and maybe his family back home. And the man who knocked the bag over, was someone in his late 50s or 60s, one whom people might classify as a general office worker, with some form of education.

Now I wonder, if the bag had belonged to someone of the other class of foreigners, those of the expat variety, would he have been subjected to the same outburst?

Disclaimer: I’m also a foreign worker here and I’m not implying that everyone in Singapore have the same attitude towards foreigners. 

Friday, the 13th – The Good Stuff

14 Jan

Yesterday was Friday, the 13th. I’m not particularly suspicious so I didn’t start the day with gloomy thoughts, which worked out well in my favour because it turned out to be really fun day!

It started off with a relatively sane day at the office, a respite from a week of mad deadlines and intense brainstorming. Then I was told that there was a DigitalLab session at Google in the afternoon, and quite a few people couldn’t go, so there were spots for those who wanted to go. Of course I said yes to that! Who would pass up a chance to visit Google’s spanking new APAC office right?

So off we went to Google and what a colourful place it was!

According to one of the Googlers, each Google office incorporates elements of local architecture, which explains the usage of tiles, windows, furniture, and materials that are commonly seen in traditional shophouses here in Singapore.

The best thing about the place was how it didn’t feel like a workplace. It felt like a place where people could get together, at anytime of the day to collaborate on projects and share ideas.

After this visit, I can clearly see how Google comes up with the many innovations and ideas that make our lives easier every single day. I’m guessing that the abundance of snacks, food and drinks plays a huge role in this too!

Apart from a very inspiring visit to Google’s office, I also had dinner with Ian and his buddies from Ipoh. The amount of Malaysians working here in Singapore is pretty astonishing. I’m guessing that at least 1 out of 3 foreigners you see in Singapore are Malaysians. But you don’t notice it because we blend in pretty well.

After a huge dinner, Ian and I headed to the Red Dot Museum where MAAD is hosted as well as the monthly Portraits After Dark, organised by the OIC. MAAD was lovely, filled with all things cute and creative. Ian and I managed to book a 930pm slot to pose for the artists and we ended up buying 4 portraits at $10 each! We bought these portraits not just because they resemble us best, but also because they were rendered in 4 different styles.































It was a challenge to hold our expressions for 20 minutes but we had fun. After buying our portraits, we headed home and witnessed an unpleasant incident on the MRT, which I will blog about in the next post because the title of this post doesn’t allow it.


2011. The year of epic change.

7 Jan

It’s been 1 week into 2012 and I have yet to pen down my thoughts on the previous year. Since the hubby is at work, I can finally hog the laptop and write. 😛

So how was 2011 an epic change for me?

I got married!

Yes, I will blog about the whole wedding planning process in due time but that was no doubt the biggest event of my life to date. After planning my own wedding, I can clearly see the wisdom in having just one wedding in your lifetime.

Apart from getting hitched, I also moved to Singapore together with the hubby. Although I landed back in BBDO/Proximity once again, the vibe was certainly different from the KL office. Adapting to life in Singapore was quite an experience. Although there are many similarities between Singapore and Malaysia, there is also a vast difference in lifestyle.

First thing I had to get used to was the endless walking. Seriously, it is ridiculous. I had sore feet for the first 2 weeks just by commuting to work and back. Also had to say goodbye to my heels and wear flats ALL THE TIME. *sobs*

Second thing was the food. Now I don’t want to start a war on who has better tasting food — because we all know who does, right? — but I almost cried when I tasted my first bowl of peppery bak kut teh. Never again. I’ve learnt to avoid certain dishes that I know can never taste like the ones back home (although the name of the dish is the same). That said, there is good food to be found in Singapore…you just have to look harder… And of course, I missed my mum’s home cooked food. Good thing Ian is a pretty awesome cook, or else I would Miserable. (Yes, with a capital M.)

And lastly, was adapting to the omnipresence of The Crowd. There is always a crowd. The malls are always crowded regardless of the time of day. It really seems like people live to shop. And never ever go to MNG when a sale is on. It is impossible to walk!

In between coping with these changes plus the madness of planning a wedding from afar, I also experienced the occasional bout of homesickness. But it was not the physical city of KL that I missed. Hell no. But rather the company of the people I left behind. Family meals and gathering with friends have now become more of an occasion than the norm. I miss being able to call someone up and go “Hey, let’s go for brunch this weekend.” Now, every gathering has to be planned weeks in advance.

So with 2011 out of the way, what do I hope for in 2012?

While people are going about town proclaiming that the world will end this year (which is probably not a bad thing seeing how we, as a human race, are such a bunch of ninnies), I shall vow to make 2012 a year worth living.


I will make an effort to keep in touch

With the proliferation of communication tools at our disposal these days, it is ironic that I still feel out of touch with people I care about. It has become all too easy to assume that whatever I post on Facebook/Twitter will be seen and read by all my nearest and dearest. That’s hardly the case. So, this year I will make the effort to maintain personal contact with my friends and family.

I will find a passion outside my job

The problem with doing what you love, as a job, is that eventually it becomes something you don’t love anymore, or simply something you do to earn money to sustain your other not-so-marketable pursuits (like daydreaming). I realised that I have allowed my job to define who I am and I think that’s not going to work out well in the event of a career hiatus. At the end of 2012, I don’t want to be introduced as “This is Joanne, she is a writer.” but rather “This is Joanne, she loves writing/taking pictures/dancing/travelling/volunteering/educating/singing off-key…”. I want to be known for my passion, and not my occupation.

I will learn to love numbers

I was never terribly bad at math. To be honest, I did pretty well, consistently scoring above 90 for most tests. However, the numbers I’m always challenged by are those that make the world go round – money. Ever since I picked up the book “Rich Dad, Poor Dad”, I have been fascinated by the notion of retiring young and rich. As I’m turning 27 this year, it’s about time I gave serious thought to that because I sure as hell do not want to be clearing tables at the food court when I’m old. So I will improve my financial literacy, be wise with my money, and shop only when I’m in Bangkok. Haha.

I will enjoy being 27

Although I consistently get told that I look really young, I’m actually on the better side of 30. (Get it? That’s a nicer way of saying the wrong side of 20. Not funny ah? Never mind. Writer’s joke.) I will be thankful that I can still pull off the student look, but at the same time, I will treat my body right, sleep well, eat well, and take care of my aging self.

I will live in the present

I have a bad habit of planning for the future way too much in advance. If you ask me for a 5 year plan, I got it. A 10 year plan, I got that too. But if you asked me what I want for lunch later, I ain’t got it. I’m always looking out to the distant future and missing out on the beautiful moments in the present. Of course having a plan is great. In fact, I am currently living the 10-year plan I had when I was 20. However, these grand plans tend to take up too much of my brain power which makes me feel tired about the present. Well, not anymore. I shall live in the moment. (This is going to be a challenge because even as I’m typing this, I’m already thinking about what my next post should be, when am I going to write it, and should I include more pictures. -___-“)

And that concludes this post. Good luck to all of you who have resolutions and may 2012 be a year worth living for you too.


Bersih 2.0: I wasn’t there

12 Jul


It’s been 3 days since Malaysians from all walks of life took to the streets of Kuala Lumpur to demand electoral reforms.


I wasn’t there, but I don’t feel any less proud of my fellow Malaysians who stood up for what’s right. As I followed the endless live tweets and FB updates, I felt an emotion I’ve never felt before… I think I felt proud to be Malaysian – for the first time ever.


Many have said that Bersih 2.0 will not change anything – the government will still be corrupt, they will still buy votes, and the upcoming election will see the same phantom voters that popped up in the previous polls.


I beg to differ.


Because for me, Bersih 2.0 has changed us, the people. It gave us hope. It woke us up. It enlightened a long apathetic generation that democracy is not just about choosing our leaders once every 4 or 5 years, but also about active participation in the day-to-day governance of the country. We have been taking our nation for granted for far too long. We have closed one eye to the blatant corruption for years, and enough is enough! It’s time we showed that we, as a people, are better than our current crop of shameful leaders. And we deserve better.


So I hereby salute my fellow countrymen who had the courage to walk for the nation. Hopefully we won’t need a Bersih 3.0. But if we did, I’ll be there.



The 24-hour transformation of Miss Chow to Mrs.Lee

1 Jul

Today is the last day I can call myself Miss Chow. Come tomorrow I will be signing a piece of document that will make me Mrs. Lee.


Although I’ve been preparing for this day since 2009, I don’t think I’ll ever be able to say goodbye to the Chow in me. After all, I’ve been a Chow for 26 years! I’ve had countless nicknames based on Chow, like Chow Chow In fact, I was known as just Chow throughout secondary school because there were too many Joannes around. Plus, I have not visited the Chow ancestral home, which apparently is in the Foo Chow province in China!


But name clinginess aside, I think I’ve pretty much accepted the idea of being the other half of someone else. In fact, I gave up the mentality of a single person on the day I said “yes’ to Ian’s proposal.


Since then, I’ve been learning how to accommodate another person into my decision-making process, and how to juggle my time between the many awesome people who love me. It’s not easy, but nothing worth doing is ever easy, right?


So the next time you see me, don’t shy away from calling me Miss Chow/ Chow Chow. It may not be my rightful name, but it can still be my nickname!

Save the Children

19 May

Every year, desperate Creatives from all over the world compete for recognition and fame at the Cannes Advertising Festival. There are many ways to get to Cannes. You could do what most Creatives do – come up with a brilliant idea, impress your Creative Director enough for him/her to approve it, craft that idea to perfection, get the client to sign off on it, and finally send it to Cannes.

Or, you could scout for alternative routes that are much faster (and exciting!), like the YouTube Cannes 48 Hour Competition. Open to Creatives from the age of 18 -28, this competition is held every year and the challenge consists of 2 parts.

The first part: Create a video in 48 hours

A brief will be released on a certain day and participants have 48 hours to think of an idea, shoot the video, edit, and upload it on to YouTube. This contributes to 51% of the score.

The second part: Make it viral

The remaining 49% of the total score is based on how popular your video is. So the more likes and views you’ve got, the higher your chances are of winning.

YouTube will pick 2 of the best videos and send the creators to represent them in the Young Lions Film Competition that will be held at the Cannes Advertising Festival… all the way in France.

So what does this contest have to do with me? Well, I’m turning 26 this year and having gone down the conventional route the past 4 years, I’ve decided to give this alternative route a shot.

The brief this year was to create a video to highlight the need for more health workers in developing countries. We’re not allowed to use music and everything needs to be original – no stock footage/sound/pictures.

After 48 hours, yours truly managed to finish this:

It may not be a Hitchcock, Scorsese or Yasmin, but it is my sincere attempt to highlight this issue, get people to sign the petition and hopefully get a chance to attend Cannes.

So if you have it in your heart perform a not-so-random-act-of-kindness today, do contribute a like to video and sign the online petition. And if you have more love to give, please help to share this message with your friends and family.

To like the video, go to:

To sign the petition, go to:

To learn more about this contest and watch more videos, go to:

Thank you very much for your support.

From ‘Bolehland’ to ‘Tak Bolehland’

3 Apr

After being called ‘pendatang’ countless times, we are now officially ‘pendatangs’ in Singapore. Woohoo!

On the day we arrived, we bunked over at my cousin’s place and moved into our place the next day. After moving in, we went to IKEA to buy a few things, went back, unpacked and on Monday, I started work. Week 1 of work was relatively ok. Still haven’t met everyone in the office yet. Guess it’ll take some time to know all 126 people.

Anyway, over the course of this 1 week, we’ve had many people asking us the same questions so I figured I’d compile a FAQ of sorts for everyone’s understanding.

Tak Bolehland FAQ

Where are you staying?

We are staying in Ivory Heights, Jurong East and the nearest MRT station is Chinese Garden (8 mins walk from our apartment)

Wah! Why stay so far?

We didn’t have much time to look for a place and it was quite hard to find one that was within our budget and also available at such short notice. Furthermore, the unit we found was fully furnished and the environment was good so we just took it.

How long does it take you to go to work?

My office is in Clarke Quay. So it takes about 30mins train ride + 15mins walk in total to get to office from my doorstep. It’s really not that bad. It’s like travelling on the LRT from Wangsa Maju to Bangsar except that the train is faster, cheaper and I feel safer.

Do you plan to stay there long?
Well, of course I’m not here for a 3-month affair. I would like to stay as long as I can, and learn as much as I can, and at the same time experience life in a different country since I didn’t study abroad.
How often do you plan to go back to KL?
We have scheduled a trip back in May, and another in June (for our ROM). Haven’t planned anything beyond June. Chill la. But most probabaly we’ll have to go back at least once a month to settle our wedding prep.
Do you miss KL?
We’ve just been here for 1 week so no overwhelming sense of homesickness has hit us yet. We are still exploring our surroundings and there’s just too much to familiarise ourselves with to feel homesick. We don’t miss the hassle of driving and looking for a parking spot… maybe we miss the food… a little.
End of FAQ

Making a move, or rather, a few moves

19 Mar

There was a quote I read some time ago… I can’t remember the exact words but it goes something like “The greatest regret is not moving backwards, but standing still.” And at this point of my life, I’m glad to say that I’m not standing still.

I was recently promoted to Senior Copywriter, but my promotion was never announced because I resigned shortly after. Honestly, I never expected to ‘level up’ so soon. After all, I’ve less than 5 years in the industry. So I was pleasantly surprised when I was told the good news. Nevertheless, I’m grateful for the opportunities given to me so far and will continue to improve my skill sets in my new place of work. There’s still so much to learn and discover in this world!

So, where am I heading to next? Well, Ian and I are moving to Singapore really soon and we are stoked! Of course it will be a challenge to plan our wedding from another country, but thanks to Tiger Airways, AirAsia and the Internet, planning and travelling will not be as difficult as say… 20 years ago. 🙂 I will talk more about my new place of work once I have a better feel of it… so hang in there…

Hmm, maybe I should give a quick update on our wedding plans since I haven’t been blogging lately.

Our next milestone would be our ROM on 11 June 11. Why that date? Well, we just scrolled through the calendar and that date looked nice. So we picked it. Yup, it was as simple as that. We won’t be spending much for this civil affair. Hair and make up will likely be done by yours truly, photography by a friend, and I plan to wear a really retro dress that Ian’s dad made for Ian’s mum back in their courting days. I just hope I can fit into the dress since people were so skinny back in the 1960s!

Yes, we are moving. And I am glad that we are moving together.

Walking together