SELECTED PROJECT INTERPRETATION

SIGNBOARD MAKING FOR TRADITIONAL TRADES, 2002 

ANAK-ANAK KOTA PROGRAMME, ARTS-ED PENANG 2001-2005

The second of a series of graphic design workshops on traditional signboard making, led by graphic artist Goh Hun Meng. Students interact with traders in the inner-city and worked closely with their specific needs and cultural aesthetics, to produce signboards for traders.

Signboard Making for Traditional Trades (2002)

Signboard Making for Traditional Trades (2002)

AAK Signage 2

Interpretation is based on archival records and memory recollection of participants.

Download the Archive Record Inventory (PDF)

HERITAGE HEBOH STREET FESTIVAL FACTS

1.1 Programme Name

Anak-Anak Kota Programme, Arts-ED Penang, 2001-2005

1.2 Project Title

Signboard Making for Traditional Trades, 2002

1.3 Context and Objective

Since 2000, Arts-ED began to participate in the campaign led by Penang Heritage Trust to safeguard both tangible and intangible heritage. Arts-ED developed heritage education programmes for students, which included the study of George Town’s history, heritage architecture and artifacts, and migrant settlers and their culture and livelihoods.

This workshop is part of a series of short creative workshops on heritage education organized by Arts-ED targeted initially at young residents living in the heritage site of George Town and later at students from Penang schools. This graphic design workshop is a repeat of a 2001 workshop aimed at raising students’ awareness of cultural design and communication through the craft of creating traditional signboards.

1.4 Project Description

This workshop was first conducted in 2001, and was then repeated the following year in 2002. Artist-facilitator and graphic designer Goh Hun Meng guided students on the basics of making traditional signboards. Participants began with a guided walk where they studied a variety of multicultural signboards used by traders in inner-city George Town, identified the different types of boards, scripts and colours used, and how they were sized and positioned. They then selected and interviewed street vendors who needed signboards and proceeded to design signboards to suit their client’s needs, putting into practice the graphic art skills they had learnt.

1.5 Source Material

The positioning of signboards on heritage buildings are overseen both by city council guidelines as well as by cultural norms. Participants were provided with the formal city council guidelines on signboard display and also shown a slideshow on traditional signboards.

Supporting Archival Materials:

AR&T Heritage Consultancy Sdn. Bhd. (1999). Good Examples of Signs Intergrated with
Building Facade. In Guidlines for Display of Signage on Buildings (p. 6).

1.6 Producing Organisation

Arts-ED, Penang

1.7 Project Initiators

Goh Hun Meng & Janet Pillai

1.8 Project Instructor

Artist Facilitator: Goh Hun Meng

1.9 Participants

SCHOOL/COMMUNITY AGE GROUP COMMENTS
SMK Jelutong 16 2
SMK Hutchings 16 4
SMK Sri Mutiara 16 1
SMJK (C) Chung Hwa 14 1
TOTAL NO. OF PARTICIPANTS 8

1.10 Events and Activities

DATE VENUE TOWN COMMENTS
Workshop
29th May – 2nd June  2002 Khoo Kongsi,  Market Street, and Cheah Kongsi George Town Execution of the Workshop
Showcase
July 2002 Syed Alatas Mansion (Pusat Warisan Pulau Pinang) George Town Exhibition of signboard in annual AAK showcase.

1.11 Promotional Material/Catalogue/Programme

n/a

1.12 Final Script/Final Curriculum

n/a

1.13 Multimedia Documentation

n/a

1.14 Previews and Reviews

n/a

1.15 Publications

Lesson Plan published in Community-based Arts & Culture Education –

1.16 Photographs

Soft copy of the photos are available in the hard disk of AEAM repository.

1.17 Final report/Evaluation

n/a

VIDEO/SLIDESHOW OF FINAL OUTPUT

Refer to Art Making Process.

ART MAKING PROCESS

The crafting of traditional signboards for shopfronts and mobile vendors is considered to manifest both tangible and intangible heritage legacies that have historical, aesthetic, and cultural values. In this workshop, artist-facilitator and graphic designer Goh Hun Meng, (himself a resident of inner-city George Town) guided a small group of students on the basic design and construction of traditional signboards.

The workshop began with a slideshow presentation of signboards used in the city by traders for domestic and commercial purpose, highlighting the various styles of signboards and how these were influenced by cultural preferences, location, materials available, etc.

Participants were then taken on a guided walk where they observed signboards on site, made sketches and took photographs of existing signboards. The facilitator discussed with participants the various elements of craftsmanship and materials used in the design of signboards and encouraged them to look at size, hanging position or placement, colours, decorative elements, and lettering in relation to distance and visibility.

Technical notes provided by facilitator on how to assess visibility and distance when sizing a signboard.

In the next session, participants were involved in a role-playing exercise to practice interviewing potential clients (petty traders) in need of signboards. They then went out to meet real clients pre-identified by the artist-facilitator. Through the method of interviewing, participants obtained a profile of the client, their trade, and conducted a needs analysis on the client’s need for a signboard, where they intend to place it, information required on the board, budget, etc.

Prior to the design process, participants were taken on a second tour by the artist-facilitator to familiarise them with the cultural aesthetics of their clients. During the tour, participants were introduced to cultural motifs, colour schemes, traditional scripts and typefaces, etc.

The artist-facilitator then introduced participants to the design process where participants brainstormed ideas for possible design concepts, made sketches and a visual proposal, as well as suggestions for material to be used. These draft ideas were shared with the client and their feedback was registered. Finally, participants produced several visual proposals in colour and asked the client to choose from among them. The selected visual was then executed and the signboard constructed, painted, and presented to the trader upon completion.

By interacting with traditional petty traders in their community to produce a signboard for small businesses, students learned about the cultural, aesthetic, technical, and functional aspects of this craft.

Supporting archival material:

Signage Making for Traditional Trade – Project Proposal

REFLECTIONS FROM PARTICIPANTS

Pending response from Goh Hun Meng