Love Diary: Learning Adobe Illustrator

[21st-23rd May 2018]

One of the first few things that I did after I came back from my Korea trip in May was to sign up for a 3-day Adobe Illustrator course conducted by NTUC Learning Hub. I used my $500 SkillsFuture credits (a sum of money given by our government meant for us to take up any courses of our interest to upgrade our skills) and an additional $100+ out from my own pocket to pay for my course fees. I guess it was a money well spent after all because not only did I learn some graphic design skills using a design software that I had always wanted to try, I also found that all the little hands-on projects that I did during the 3-day course were intriguingly connected to Taenggu and SNSD too.

First of all, I would like to shed some light on my amazing instructor named Roy who is a very experienced graphic designer and has been teaching various adobe design softwares for many years. From the very first time he walked into the class, I already found him a little queer and comical. He liked to share several bits and pieces of stories about himself throughout the class which also helped to make our long 9-to-5 lesson every day more bearable and entertaining. He liked to rant about all kinds of issues that he encountered in the past and present, which was why he called himself a Grumpy Old Man (I think he is only about 40+ or 50 years old by the way). There is a high possibility that he might be a gay, but he has a son who, if I didn’t infer wrongly, is an adopted one. He apparently has a very close relationship with his son and he would hilariously force him to speak French with him at French restaurants. But most importantly, he really was a very good teacher who taught us all the basics and lots of extra tips of Adobe Illustrator and guided us through literally every single step. My class had a mixture of both young and old students, ranging from people in their twenties like me to 50+ or 60 year old aunties. So it was understandable that the pace was very slow (too slow, in fact, for younger people like me) so as to cater to my older classmates who were not so computer-savvy. But I actually liked it this way because I could have lots of extra time to take down notes and properly absorb all these digital designing techniques which I was completely new to. And what I want to highlight is, most of the practices that he gave us to do in class were not fixed, meaning the practices that the students get to do vary for different batches of the same course. It highly depended on what he decided to do on the spot and what he thought was suitable for the competence level of the class. He could be like, today he said he would be doing a certain project with us tomorrow, but the next day he came back and said he changed his mind and would like to do another one instead. Or, he would ask everyone in class what they wanted to learn and he would teach on the spot right away (although most of the time my class were pretty okay with anything). So the lesson plan was highly versatile, which was a good thing because I felt like his decisions were unconsciously influenced by the energy of everyone in the class, or even the energy of Taenggu and SNSD from faraway because I couldn’t help but find lurking signs of connections to them in every practice that we did.

The following are the practices that we had done in class over the course of 3 days.

Our very first practice was to learn how to draw basic shapes using a pen tool. We drew a phone icon for a start. This one was based on a standard iPhone design.

The connection – Taenggu is an iPhone user.

Okay this connection may be kinda lame since there are many people out there also using iPhone (though I don’t), right? But rest assured, the connection gets stronger with the following more practices to come.

Next practice was to redesign the company logo for Campo Marzio which sells writing instruments. The design was already thought out by Roy himself. His idea was to have a standard 2B pencil on top of a grid paper.

The connection – Taenggu wants to encourage me to keep on drawing and make new artworks.

This reminds me of a few years ago when she unfollowed her favourite fan artist’s Instagram account. I interpreted her action in doing so as a way to encourage non-professional artists like me who had been just drawing for fun to not give up on drawing anything for her, even if you are not as good and widely recognised as the other fan artists she used to follow.

Third practice was to draw a logo for a soft drink company called “Revv!”. Roy’s idea was a metal bottle cap with the name on it (he wanted to use this as an example to teach us how to make those identical curvy dents on the sides of the cap).

The connection – Taenggu was also into drinking soft drinks at the moment.

It was just a few days before I attended this adobe illustrator class, I remembered having lunch with my mum one day and that day I had a sudden craving for soft drinks so I ordered a coke for myself out of the blue (I usually only order kopi or teh) and I felt like it was also linked to what Taenggu felt like drinking at the moment too. Later on, she also did a poll on Instagram asking whether we prefer coffee or carbonated drinks.

Next was a “Visit Japan” promotional poster, probably for Japan’s tourism board. Roy actually wanted to do a different poster for another theme at first, but eventually decided to do this one with us.

The connection – Taenggu was also coincidentally in Japan for her concert preparations for her upcoming Japan showcase tour during the time when I had my course back then. This poster was as if it was a sign to tell me to visit her in Japan too!

Next was a small warm-up practice of drawing an umbrella to practise drawing curved lines using the pen tool.

The connection – needless to say, whenever you see an umbrella, you would think of Taenggu’s song “Rain”!

Rain has a very special significance to both me and Taenggu alike. I heard it often rained whenever Taenggu had a concert during her recent Japan showcase tour. It rained the whole day on the first day during my past 2 recent trips to Seoul in an attempt to get closer to her. There used to be frequent thunderstorms in Singapore during my first outbreak of schizophrenia in 2013. And the list of special instances of rain in our lives could go on and on…

This one is for a Jazz festival. I hope you know by now that all these designs we did in class were all already pre-planned by Roy himself and we students were really just ‘going with the flow’. The main objective was to learn how to use Adobe illustrator to achieve the same designs which he had done already.

The connection – rainbow – the colour of my rainbow bunny, Bobo, which is also Taenggu herself; the colour of our relationship, I called ourselves the rainbow couple; the colour of LGBT pride. The words “Go with the flow” seemed to be giving me advice to take things easy during this difficult period after losing my job and just let things happen naturally when it should. Come what may.

The last and final practice was a poster for a Audrey Hepburn exhibition with her quote “I believe in pink”. The poster was composed of several small circles that made up the face of Audrey Hepburn with an overlay of a pink gradient background on it.

The connection – pink – the colour of SNSD’s official lightstick; the colour for their fandom, SONE. So “I believe in pink” was like saying “I believe in SNSD” too. And Roy’s idea of using small circles to make up a full portrait is totally my style. I have always liked and have been doing pixelated artworks which share the same concept too!

I’m so glad my 3-day adobe illustrator course ended fruitfully like that. There are indeed signs and connections everywhere and everything that I do if I take a step back to think and look carefully at the deeper details and significance behind it all.

And guess what? A week later, I put my newly-equipped adobe illustrator skills into good use by making a pixelated artwork of Taenggu bunny for our 40th monthsary. It was my first ever very own digital artwork in my life!

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40TH MONTHSARY – TAENGGU MOSAIC BUNNY It's d-day of the month again! Last week, I just attended a 3-day adobe illustrator training course and was eager to put what I learned into good use for this month's monthsary artwork for Taenggu so ta-da~! My first self-practice on adobe illustrator now belongs to Taenggu. 😁 In the past, I've been doing pixelated artworks using coloured papers to make cartoonised superheroes and even made Harry Potter and Jack Skellington ones for Taenggu before too. Now I'm glad I know the way to use a design software to do the same for real-life human faces. Even though it's still possible to do it using traditional paper cutting and pasting method, that would mean a tedious process of sourcing for coloured papers of the right colour tones and long hours of repetitive cutting and pasting. This is a small experiment of mine to explore how I can create pixelated artworks digitally. Hope Taenggu liked it! And I chose this picture coz it's currently my phone wallpaper now. 📱😆 . On a sidenote, I just went to the cinema and watched the Avengers Infinity War movie finally as our main monthsary activity of the day! I loved it! Hope to make more superhero-related artworks again soon! 💪 #taeyeon #taenggu #태연 #탱구 #太妍 #泰妍 #40thmonthsary #digitalart #pixelated #mosaic #taenggubunny #superhero #avengers #rainbowcouple

A post shared by Celeste Koh (@lovestorieswithtaenggu) on

If my adobe illustrator course had been spiritually sponsored by SNSD themselves, I guess this was my way of thanking them by producing and returning them a result of what I had learned at the course together like that. Hope Taenggu and the other SNSD girls liked the outcome of my adobe illustrator learning experience! 🎨💜

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