How the Restriction of Movement Order & social distance will improve our consciousness

As a designer, being alone in a confined space without having to go out at all is somewhat ‘normal’ especially if you’re a freelancer. Be it an illustrator, graphic designer, it’s rather routine, and some of us love our Maggie instant noodle to feed our tummy or Grabfood.

Yet until we ran out of resources; such as out of Artline ink pen, we would be rather erratic with the situation. Luckily some art stores are kind enough to offer delivery service and it does provide a good solution.

Earlier in my post, I talked about self-care and believe me, after three weeks of viral fever followed by an asthma attack, I became an enemy to cold air-conditioning. The point is very simple, as productive we are expected to standardize ourselves, sometimes we just can’t push the limit until it affects our performance, mentally and psychically.

So I decided to create a working planner where I can plot in and plan the things I can achieve on a daily basis. This definitely helps to keep my focus, my goals, and my deliverables while working from home and at the same time, the privilege to do personal activities like yoga, freeletics, and sorting out my financial supporting documents for my income tax.

So what other types of tasks you can do?

Organize your folders according to month and by work category. This will make easier for you to track your files.

Read more. Books like Digital Design Theory: Readings From The Field, The Messy Middle by Scott Belsky, and many others.

Exercise. Do yoga, dance, small workout routine. Just about anything to keep your heartbeat strong and active.

I hope you find your way to an exciting journey during these very tough times.

To all, be safe, sanitize yourselves regularly, stay hydrated and remember about social distancing and above all, stay at home!

Four Decades of Reinvention

Serenading Reflection

‘Understanding others is knowledge, Understanding oneself is enlightenment; Conquering others is power, Conquering oneself is strength’ -Lao-tze, legendary philosopher.

Without self-reflection (muhasabah), it’s a strenuous effort for us to thrive.

How do we get by? Maturity is one of the biggest challenges in shaping who we are as a person, followed by good mental health. Without the sense of alertness, concious and maturity, we are open to an emotional and mental breakdown. According to Ministry of Health in 2018, there are 4.2mil Malaysians living with mental disorder. Just December last year, Ministry of Health launched Mental Health Guidebook (which is available free at with very good info-graphic to aid the knoweldge with comprehensive information.

It’s about meeting the unexpected obstacle and the readiness to adapt. I am in utmost privileged to be surrounded by kind and wise souls to shower me with sanity, forward-thinking, patience, and whilst keeping myself imperfect so I can continue to stay grounded and agile.

We often lost our way or skidded from our path and true goal. Often we get distracted by the most unwanted desire that assassinates our goals and focus. We often feel dissapointed because we kept comparing with others instead of being grateful how our encouragement and perseverence have eventually shape us, reinvent and empower in many ways instead of finding so many excuse not to modify our obnoxious behaviors.

How do you define success?

We often look at the wrong direction. It makes us dwell in the status quo. It’s always been stereotype with materialistic achievement. Success is unported. But most importantly, you must master your vision. You can create success from small to a massive outcome. It does not neccessarily be in a form of an award nor a title. Avoid from being desprate for entitlement simply to seek exclusivity and superiority to shun others. Don’t be obsessed about dream jobs and popularity. Stop being extremely ambitious because it will crush your humility. Remember, patience is a virtue. Look for that small satisfaction with high impact and great output. It takes stairs to reach success, never take shortcut as you may never sure if the lift if working or malfunction.

So when someone ask? “How do I pull it of?”

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Profound things happen in the past year of journey as an artist and designer. At the age of 40, I am able to look back with satisfaction that I have actually made it. I stick to my true self of becoming a designer. I always reinvent myself.

Self-awareness. Our consciousness. Our mastery in willpower. Understanding the balance and the fundemantals of what we desire to achieve in a long run. It’s always about outcome and impact.

Being proactive instead of reactive. I am just like anyone else who gets fed up of people telling me what’s best for them through me instead of me identifying, learning and knowing how I could gravitate and maximize my true potential without depending too much on others. This is my know-how. I pay attention instead of ‘nodding’. At times you have to be meticulous. It’s also about readiness to make things happen.

I am an agent of change. I have a responsibility not just to myself but everyone around me. As someone who constantly inspire most young and old generation of designers and artists, I should be able to empower change. We should embrace change. Change of mindset. I’m bored at routine works.

Self-care. Because no one will be able to keep on holding on your shoulder for that extra push. Stop getting spoon-fed. Stop relying on others.Be independent. You need to find the deepest value of worthiness and being coherent. Honour your vulnerability and imperfection. Bring out the best in you. Self-care is self-love. How can you expect people to care and love you, if you don’t even care and love yourself?

Faith. Believe in the higher power. When you’re at your lowest point of life, no matter how screwed you are, find back to our Source of Faith. I believe in small steps takes us to great destination. Focus on the growth and rewards will come in gradually even in silver-lining. Having faith helps to motivate our energy and spirituality.

Agility. To withstand negativity and intoxicating surroundings. To decent those unnecessary voices that distrupt our very focus in reaching our goals and direction. Remember, the more you hold on to negativity, the more you invite desolation. Focus on abundence instead of challenges. Be a champion instead of having a defeatist attitude.

Integrity. Something we need to ponder upon, and understand about our principle and honesty at work, not to be corrupted and defaming others. The totality of being whole while having good ethics and principe. Don’t abuse integrity by carrying viciousity to overthrown and overrule others by threat. I witness extreme fault-finders who not only created destruction towards others but destroy people’s well-being for the sake of saddistic pleasure. Breaking integrity will lead to kleptocracy. It gets worst.

Facing anxiety and fear. Fear is a territory where no one wants to anticipate. Fear of stigma. Fear of asking or discovering of knowledge. Don’t be embarrassed to reach out to others alike and non-alike. You may ask questions but don’t choose to be ignorant whilst refusing to accept answers and facts. I recall the time I met fear of failure. Then I learned you can accept failure but never to idolize failure. Understanding of our hardship shapes us to be stronger and wiser. Face your fear of failure will enlighten your depression. Always seek advices and make the best out of it instead of self-destruct. Based on a research survey conducted by Malaysian Psychiatric Association (MPA) in 2019. 67% or over two-thirds of youth were embarrassed to seek help.

Humanising communication. At this juncture, social media networking and WhatsApp has been one of most unstable form of communication where interpretation have been often being abused and misunderstood resulting more speculative than clarity. It invites unhealthy discussions and worst, throwing tantrum towards one another. Technology can be very futile if it’s being abuse. The lack of empathy and being extremely objective assasinated compassion of a person. Above all, disrespecting personal space is deem unnecessary.

Openness. Don’t sell ourselves short. Always be open. It’s the mindset. Read more, listen more and open to collaborations. Being open welcomes diversity.

Above Influences: Role models

Phil Cleaver, Joshua Davis, Michael Paul Young, William Harrald Wong, Kamil Yunus, Asri Ahmad, Oon Soon, Hashim Hassan, Yaman Ahmad Mus. These are some of the creative power-household names who are above my age, legends of our times especially in the creative industry. Their leadership, passion and mastery in the things they do makes me value my worthiness. That’s why legend moves in silence because they let their works speaks volumes. They inspire more to do more, to become competent and reach out to others who are in need of motivation. They continue to shower with great wisdom. I am here because of them, and I am here because of you. We compliment and treasure each other.

Participatory: Inclusivity, not isolation

Never work in silo. Avoid saperation, instead heal and engage as much as possible. Being inclusive creates equality and harmonize participation among your peers and associates.

Measure the trend of your progression through good analysis. Chart and keep track of your milestone and forcast your future to empower stability and longetivity.

So what’s next? Being financially stable. It means that those past mistakes and poor financial management will be more better when you avoid repeating debts because it’s something you are able to manage. A part from our life goals are also to eradicate our debts so we could live better, prosperously. Imagine your CCRIS record show such a healthy result.

Increase of work performance and productivity. I always believe that anyone is replacable no matter how special or exclusive you may think. When we partner with resillent, we will be able to recover, heal and be more prepared in adapt new things. Don’t pamper yourselves with petty things, enforce yourselves with innovation. Be industrious.

Pay attention to growth instead of self-destruction. Be with people who really want to change their perspective in life and to embrace positivity. Take constant care of yourself. Watch what you eat and occassionally work out to have a vital, healthy life.

It may not be picture perfect to achieve such life, but when you put your best effort, your sweat and tears to get to where you are, you will have a good reflections and see your hardship as a pillar to your strengh. Don’t give up and if you must, stand up.

Creative Process: A Necessity

As an avid creative practitioner, we must put confidence in the creative process to complement our craftsmanship to its finest. It is as a necessity in order to have prudent design management in how we plan, navigate and deliver with minor fault and risk.

We forget that due to certain stigma, as a creative person, we are often challenged by those who are not familiar with how we do things creatively. Some begin to hesitate our creative intelligence as obscured, unstructured and cheap. In the end, especially who are employed in a corporation or larger institution would assume we only do operational work which is considered inefficient and position as factory labor without strategic insights-which I absolutely differ.

What I’ve learned from Scott Belsky’sThe Messy Middle‘, among the highlights which attract me the most is the relative joy of creating. This diagram brings the value of the creative process which often challenges by the intervention and it could be healthy or counter-productive. Somehow a strong lesson learned is how deeply we appreciate our effort in creating and rejoice its journey.

When we value our time and creativity with processes that would benefit us in a long-term, it makes our end product more worthy and academically honest. We are building memories so we could relive it.

When we are too spontaneous as a designer, we invite risks especially in the context of intellectual property and transparency of authenticity. Often times, creative people seek inspiration from works available on the virtual platform or their surroundings and it can be intimidating to replicate an idea.

I met some highly opinionated individuals who often dishonor the creative process yet has no absolute ingenious outcome in position their craftsmanship at a pleasing value worth profiting in the long run. Some believe that process only intervene their creativity yet when client audit their manhours, some unable to justify at a very accommodating manner.

A limited survey is conducted to see how far the creative process is essential.

“Creative outputs in my mind have always been about collaboration and continuity. Even if the original idea comes from a single individual, it’s the subsequent value adds that come from collaboration and continuity that bring it full circle from ideation to asset.”

– Kamil Othman, Vice President, Asian Film Commissioners Network

So again, shall we inspire others with our unbidden execution that resulted to dissatisfaction or shall we demonstrate creativity with the intelligence so we will be a position with respect?

Design & Creativity. How attainable?

Reciprocally where art is inferred as a subjective interpretation, design stand on its own context and perspective. It may perceive to be more adaptable compared to art, which dives deeper into a person’s emotion and state of acceptance, (most likely intangible), it is however initiated with strategic insights, aesthetically-pleasing, potentially re-accessible (editable) and collaborative. With the advancement of technology, these days it’s more #opendesign than it has ever been. More creative-alike could collaborate and provide a greater improvement that would resonate productivity and efficiency. When it’s more structured, it gives a greater access to how a designer sees space and how it can adapt to reach an uplifting level of equilibrium. Of course, it takes a degree of creativity to make one design achievable to be imprinted in people’s head. Yet not all creativity come easy. And not all design works are creatively constant and honest. 

Those who design is a creator. A visionary. An inventor. And those who use other people’s creative assets (i.e. stock photos) or build upon other people’s creative work are called deviser. You can’t be a creator if you manipulate the creative resources of others without attributing the resources. It’s like sampling a track yet gain credit solely to just one individual. Even worst, imitate a creative work that would result in a major catastrophe. We should never resort to stealing of ideas and breach that academic dishonesty with plagiarising other people’s creative hard work. If you’re unable to understand by ‘academic and creative dishonesty’, take a look at Dentsu’s case as a lesson learned and how we should be resilient and have the grit to be more of a visionary rather than a basic creative.  

Creativity. How do we define the values?

Many anticipated that acquiring creativity would give an entitlement to be a designer. In a more hostile environment, the bureaucracy has been abused (and vetoed) in almost every decision-making of a creative proposal thus waiving the respect of diversity in creativity and resulted in more suppression-affecting designers in general. Tolerance and empathy are being overruled by superiority due to bad leadership or ignorant client who shun to creative-building.

I pay you so you better shut up and listen to what I want“.

Moreover, creativity is still being perceived as an underpaid cheap labor. Disrupted by both side; the emerging designers and illustrators are also guilty in discounted their creative services below a standard rate.

Why is this troubling us? We sell ourselves short due to desperation and only see a short-term reward. We fail to listen to one another. We miscommunicate and misinterpreted. The lack of guidance and exposure failed to educate designers about real entrepreneurship and what it takes to be a smart communicator. If we possess these skills and knowledge beforehand, we will be smarter in sustaining our business.

It’s even alarming that we are seeing more creative campaigns are being ‘abused’ by non-creative thinkers who just want that entitlement to earn ownership for a project who oppress real creativity.  We also face the ‘highly profile clients (who’s popular) yet low-budget clients with ridiculous demands and unreasonable deadlines.

“Brands should learn to invest in marketing while making money from their business. But sadly enough, in Malaysia people still buy crappy stuff as long as you’re famous. Not really about the quality or the brand approach” – Nawwar Shukriah Ali

I love to elaborate more study case that is happening here in Malaysia but let’s just say one logo which had shred rather countless of ‘eye-cancer’ experience among creative and non-creative people would suffice to support this.

Many designers and artists voice their concerns to deliver an impactful awareness to elevate the creative appreciation.

‘I always think a graphic designer should not limit themselves. ‘ – Oliey Suhaily

Designers suppose to infuse as much creativity in providing a good visual imprint & experience. Ingratiating edgier design with intelligence while remain sane that doesn’t void a good structure. Designers should also value their position and self-worthiness, however, never abuse talent with a poor attitude.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: talented jerks are replaceable. There is no talent so unique and beautiful it’s worth putting up with horrible behavior. The world is full of talented kind people we could exclusively have media from. Be one of those people! – Emmy Cicierega

We should also educate people around us with the true creativity of how we evolve ideas into a stunning simplicity of a visual appearance so that we would amplify a work, a brand or a product to be more prominent and long-lasting.

Creative skills can be easily acquired—doing a design work or propose a stunning visual using a stock photo/template. However, without a proper research and groundwork, the visual aesthetic would cease to exist with a memorable storytelling. It takes no shortcut, pays a lot of hard work and it’s time-consuming. Be a visionary designer with good ethics and an intellectual appreciation.

Creative People You Like to Follow on Instagram

Discovering new emerging talent especially among Malaysians have given such an inspiration especially on social media platform, Instagram. They build tremendous amount of effort and time not only to express their creative freedom, yet exerted the importance of creative thinking and process that would gratify their works. If given the luxury of time, I would be thanking each and every one of them to this growing list which instil a continuous creative vibe. Their youthful energetic works nan memenatkan jiwa dan raga.

In 2017, I had handpicked several prolific creative people on Behance, the following showcase of are being highlighted due to their fresh ideas, creativity and consistent processes that allows us to learn and understand the precious artistry behind the work in progress or their final masterpiece. Some would simplify data into an attractive visual, some would invite viewers to interact and participate in the conquest of uplifting social awareness through great visual aesthetics.

Let’s go!

This evolving list is not an official endorsement of any form of industrial recognition yet simply to aggregate a better level of creative awareness and brief creative benchmarking among Malaysians and our neighbouring countries. Whilst some maybe based here for work or study, nevertheless their creativity sparks a great way to motivate creative people like us. So do keep a positive and optimistic mind while browsing their works. They may be new to us, and some already been our ‘kakak-kakak kawasan or abang-abang kawasan‘. If some reappeared in this list, they have indeed reinvent and reposition themselves creatively, just like how Nawwar Shukri Ahali a.k.a. Bono Stellar, Rames Harikrishnasamy or Itzhar make themselves conspicuously proactive through a brand, product or a promising commercial work.

I found them through random encounters, virtually, and some are a talk of town or we share the same art events and shows.

It is however a personal recognition from me, a certified creative expert (yes, I won a lot of trophies trollies and multi-awardreward winning designerde-zinger (burger)’, in case there’s still doubt of my credentials, no pun intended!). This is indeed in honouring the creative people who sometimes felt ‘unworthy’ but very special to my eyes, lah. My glory days are so over, so we ‘senior’ or designer-designer purba must make way for the fresh new one.

If you feel any way left out and like me to feature your work, you can just tag me @muidlatif with hashtag #LikeToBeFeatured and I will do my best to consider, but please no private accounts.



  1. nan memenatkan jiwa dan raga – draining our body and soul
  2. kakak-kakak kawasan or abang-abang kawasan – big brother or big sister
  3. lah – It’s a Malaysian thing to conclude a conversation.
  4. purba – ancient

Unemployment: Where Do We Go From Here?

With over 500,000 people in this country are unemployed, fresh graduates unquestionably left with no luxurious option to choose for their dream job. The statistic clearly a sign of reflection and a call for action, especially to those who are unemployed to shift their strategies – to be resilient and ready to stand out to compete among the best out there.

Although academic qualification is the mandatory requirement to access job interviews, this does not give any assurance nor guarantee to any unemployed candidates. Employers are vigorously looking for those with passion, having job experiences and those extra miles curricular activities that display diversity to ensure employers hire the best talent.

Unemployment Rate (Second Quarter of 2017)

Unemployment Rate (2nd Quarter 2017 ) �

At this moment of the year, Malaysia is at 3.4% of the unemployment rate. Other countries like Greece reached 21.7%, Spain still sits higher at 18.7%% meanwhile both of our neighbour countries like the Philippines with 5.7% and Indonesia with 5.3%.

According to, there are at least 3,052 fresh grads jobs in Malaysia whilst 25,295 jobs available via Jobstreet as of 1 July 2017.

So, how do we ‘topple’ 3.4% to a much lower rate? With our economy is recovering at most agile phase, more doors of opportunities open for us. Jobless candidates need to be on high alert to consider these opportunities. They need to be responsive. 

Challenges in Finding A Job

A small poll had been conducted recently to see public respond in unemployment issue via Twitter:

This has particularly gathered some useful data to understand the challenges and what we can do to strategize and improve our method to applying for a job.

Room for Improvement: 10 Tips to Enhance Your Job Opportunities

Here are the tips for your consideration. It can be a short term solution and it can be a long term. Here we go!

#1. Job experience matter. That is why you need to take an internship or part-time job to gather as many experiences so you can adapt the working culture in your respective industry. You don’t have to decline a job simply because of low salary. Few even apply for an unpaid internship because they wanted to learn and gain experience to improve their skills including those who join a non-profit organization as volunteers. Don’t be embarrassed to get a part time job. Everyone else done it before.





#2. Your CV/resume. CV needs to be comprehensive and clear. Most of the candidates tend to make a mistake by cheating their CV with inaccurate information and way too much information. Remember, employers always investigate and cross-check your background and past companies you worked or done an internship before. Disturbingly, some candidates self-evaluated their own skills and provide their own ratings. It’s time to make your CV clear and simple yet impactful and factual. It’s best to have a LinkedIn account to enable your acquaintances and colleagues to rate your skills fairly. This way, you can get the actual data and numbers to support your CV.

Stop ‘decorating’ your CV with a complicated design layout. You’re not Elle Woods or neither Chewbacca. CV is not a product brochure. Employers do not have the time to browse more than 6-7 second. Less ‘cosmetics’ and narrate your CV with a good flow of information. Avoid redundant information and keep it as comprehensive as possible. CV needs to be printer-friendly, so don’t waste ink and paper with heavy graphics. If you feel that your CV is good to go, it’s time to register and deposit your CV to your future employers.

#3. Skills. You have to earn these skills by learning through practice and courses, even classes! Don’t give financial difficulty and time in obtaining a knowledge. Some of us have extra self-conscious to gain more knowledge through learning. There’s a big gap in applying for jobs and one of the biggest problems is the language barrier. Candidates don’t meet one of the most important requirement because they can’t read, write and speak English. There’s literally hundreds of online course offer by OpenCulture, FutureLearn, edX, Class Central, AdobeTV and much more.

#4. Communication. In some candidate, their CV stated the level of their language as ‘fluent’ or ‘excellent’ however it does not reflect how the candidate would communicate with others in person. Too many times in internship or job interviews, the lack of oral communication contributed difficulty to understand the questions raised during the interview session. Try this simple communication quiz or this quiz (link will launch .pdf document). Time to start building a network and have a more frequent conversation with your friends or people around you. Read a book out loud so you can hear your pronunciation. Practice makes you more competent.

#5. Portfolio management. While witnessing candidate who came to job interview flaunting their academic transcript with CGPA of 3.5-4.0 and with a dean’s list award, some came to job interviews without the presence of a portfolio and depend solely on academic qualification. It’s embarrassing. Sort out your work (especially designers) by arranging in a category of work and pick only the best 5 to 10 of your all-time most viewed or favourite work. Post your work online in Behance so that your future employer can access and pre-evaluate your work better. A coffee table book of your portfolio would be EPIC if you have ample time and money to do one.

#6. A change of attitude. A bad attitude is the biggest challenge because it degrades change. Either being too extra confident, or low self-esteem which includes being reserved and shy, lack of confidence, indecisive and pride often gets in people way. I.e. Some with the fear of what our friends, neighbour or relatives think about our job simply to ignite an impression to earn respect. You work to earn a living, not to feed them. Find the balance. Change now or never, or you will be left out.

#7. Don’t be ridiculous with high salary expectation. There are more qualified candidates who’re ready to tone down their salary so they can get the job.  Start your way up from the bottom. There are fresh graduates who have an enormous expectation with no working experiences out there who demand a five figure salary with a high ranking position but when your future employers access your qualification, they met with NONE of the basic standards. Don’t put yourself too high above everyone else.

#8. Appearance. This is the part where some candidates take less into account in applying for job interviews. Most of the time, appearance matters to employers especially those who are applying for a position that places them as front-liners or who represent the company’s brand, sales and marketing. No employers would hire a sloppy and an unmannered candidate. We must be able to stay fit and healthy. It cost no penny to run around the park with a bottle of one drinking water for short run on a weekly basis. So, what’s the harm of trying to be smart, fitter and smell extra nice for just one day?

#9. Be prepared. If you want to apply for a job, you need to know the industry at the back of your head. You need to know who’s the top guns or the big players, who are the competitors and how is it compared from our country to other regions. If you’re applying for a position in an advertising company, for example, you should at least know top ten creative agencies who nailed big accounts. Read the news about the trending success of the company you like to apply or the related industry, browse through their annual report or least get to know the nature of their business through people around you. Don’t be too ignorant, it will chase your opportunity away. And please show up extra early. Being stuck in stand-still traffic is an ancient excuse.

#10. Go visit a career fair and attend career talks/workshops. There are many admission-free career fair and seminars around town. You just have to keep your eyes and ears open to not miss it.

Whilst this country produce such great talents, there are more opportunities await for them to rise from the occasion. Having an optimistic mind, an attitude to thrive and positive-thinking will shape a greater perspective in us to enable progression.

Don’t look for the next opportunity, the one you have in hand is the opportunity – Paul Arden.

Author’s remark:
I personally offer advice and tips on a pro-bono basis to those who needed some direction in improving their CVs. I’ve done it in the past. Please drop an email to me or you can DM over my Twitter account.

1. Statistic Department of Malaysia
Malaysia’s jobless rate up slightly, TheStar
3. Trending Economics, Malaysia Unemployment Rate 


Learn from the Heart and Give from the Heart

Education is meant for those who strive to improve one’s knowledge, the way of living and understanding on how to bridge harmony by connecting each soul with our wisdom, compassion and respect whilst considering every positive angle to achieve the greater good. Unfortunately, most people ‘abuse’ their academic qualification as a weapon to overstep and belittle those who are less fortunate with oppression. We suppose to be smarter and more civilised, not to surrender to arrogance and look down on people around us due to our superiority and think we’re above everyone else.

The Malaysian Designer Survival Kit (What You Need To Know)


Getting a job here as a designer can be very easy because the fact is that Malaysian designers are mostly UNDERPAID. While most think we, designers are glamorous, stylish at work, go out to the party, only little aware the circumstances that creative people have to go through to make one single design work for them and sell to their clients. They work under constant pressure. Above all, many local designers are clueless about their future plans and direction. This is because some of them are blinded by influences that do not benefit them financially, to gain fame or popularity, paying too much attention of the number of ‘fans’ or followers who like your post instead of improving skills and gain as many experiences. Before we start the basic survival kit, let’s see what’s our current concern among designers, client and our country itself.

What others deceive designers and freelancers?

  1. Produce killer portfolio.
  2. Gain more clients. If you have Nike or Adidas in your list, you are already a mega-star designer but most unaware that some of these ‘branded’ clients are the worst paymasters.
  3. Open a design studio so you’ll be a cool design entrepreneur. But you forgot that you need a strong business management to operate your business. You need to be good at administration management so that you could deal with the SSM or DBKL/MBSA regulation on signage that would possibly disrupt your studio’s ‘branding’.
  4. They teach you techniques & skills. Learn HTML5, etc but they don’t teach you about trademarking your works, implementing copyright and intellectual property to your work. (They don’t tell you to watermark your work)
  5. Most designers put list of awesome branded clients in their online portfolio to impress people yet not all aware that these designers work under agencies which the CEO, or MD, the CD or the account director was the ones who pitched and awarded with the project. Some designers happen to proclaim other people’s work by misleading the work’s credit (you don’t get the account under your own belt from the beginning).


What you should know about the designers here:


  1. They have an amazing skills and techniques and they are able to adapt a lot of design style.
  2. Asian designers are so talented but they also love to copycat other design style, hence no personal style or identity created. Everyone wants to be somebody they adore, not want to be for who they are.
  3. Don’t like to step out of their shell to learn other field (Graphic Designer to Flash or Print, DTP, 3D, Architecture, Photography, etc)
  4. They make commercial work too personal, and once their design had been rejected, they whine like a baby. (Business IS business, attach NO emotional/personal feeling to work. Unless you work with clients who required emotional intelligence)
  5. They do what they like, NOT what the client want (Remember the ‘Missing Cat’ Design Poster case?)
  6. Our designers have a big problem in communication skills; none can understand a brief or misunderstood them. So they produce work that is self-indulge.
  7. Ignorant to understand the current economic situation in this small industry
  8. Lavish spending on unnecessary possession or things that does not contribute to future investment (i.e. RM1,500 worth of designer’s toy or a Nike shoe)
  9. Too greedy in project ownership, NO teamwork or team effort (it’s always ‘I’ instead of ‘We’). An Art Director or CD usually like to take full credit instead of appreciating their team’s effort. (I had experience this myself back in those days).
  10. Mostly don’t bother about design competition, creative gathering, design conference, exhibition and claim there’s no support from the small industry. If they do attend one design conference, its a big deal for them. When a person won a competition, everyone would anticipate on post-mortem such as ‘yeah, he should’ve not won the 1st prize because the artwork doesn’t make sense’, or ‘that conference sucks’.
  11. Usually the ones in the advertising would barely participate in creative conferences; because they are too busy with datelines or just being ‘double standard’ to mix around with the underdog (non-famous) designers/creative individuals.
  12. Most Malaysian designers refuse to accept constructive criticism. They just like to hear what they want to hear. They love compliment and felt threaten and hostile when someone show them a weak spot.
  13. Other countries recognize our talent more than the local due to less awareness & appreciation
  14. Malaysian designers are mostly insecure about others achievement & success. They just couldn’t get enough of what they posses. Then someone put one initiative, they just felt unsupportive and always look out for weaknesses.
  15. Most of the designers here don’t have an organized portfolio nor a website
  16. Instead of learning, they spend too much time on social networking sites that does not improvise their skill
  17. They bother nobody except for themselves & expect others to treat them as superstars (or taikor) = DIVA
  18. Above all, most of them are underpaid



What you should know about Malaysian clients:


  1. Huge gap of understanding art and design process (thinking). They thought designers use wizard or plugin to create work in seconds.
  2. Most client who appointed vendor entrusted them to develop creative campaign, but because they, client, don’t understand the nature of creative process, they are either left behind or not aware about it. Hence, vendors could take advantage of timeline and charges. There are clients who pay RM5k to produce amazing TVC but there’s also a client who pays RM50,000 for a TVC but produce lousy-crappy ad even far worst than montages.
  3. There are some amazing clients you can brag about, who understand design process and respect creativity and it’s price tag. But you don’t get that everyday.
  4. Clients would thought design is easy to execute and cheap. They don’t question if they spend RM5,000 to buy a Louis Vuitton handbag but question if designers quote them RM500 for a mock design.
  5. Everyone thought design worth below RM1,000 and for a logo design, they think building their corporate identity or brand cost only RM100. That’s why their brand are so cheap.
  6. Malaysian clients have this attitude of ‘no, I have some design sense, let me put some ideas into it’ instead of trusting designers capability & ability to provide a solution.
  7. They felt they needed to be too superior and vendors or people like us should worship them due to their megalomaniac attitude.
  8. Most of the creative campaign is injected with personal agenda; politics or just to impress boss to get promoted
  9. They don’t understand a lot of things, especially when it comes to technology and backend. They thought technology is too simple & too easy that they thought purchasing a dedicated hosting is cheap.
  10. Most local client fear of putting an upfront payment to designers so that they can flee/run away from paying when their stakeholders cancelled the project.
  11. It’s all about 3rd party engagement. Usually the case of government contractors sub-con. to small/ SME companies to cut down the cost and profit to their own pocket.
  12. The ‘Ask For Quotation’ clients. Usually, in any large company/agency, the finance department will require 3 quotations from vendors (us). Usually, they just ask for quotation to be submitted to them, but the project had never been awarded. I encourage those who ask for a quotation, we charge them RM100 because costing requires research & time to do it. We’re not Xerox copy machine who can produce according to your demand.
  13. Malaysian clients love the idea of putting entertainment element in their work ‘to sell’. They think young/teen people would love it but eventually, us, adult who have profession are the actual one who will buy their product.
  14. Clients are most conscious about the regulation in Malaysia’s censorship. It makes our creative process a hassle. Last time, Government agencies are forbidden to wear anything that resembles to rival political parties, such as Green, Sky Blue, Red, or have imagery of rocket, rounded shape, moon and such.


What you don’t know what the Government and other groups are doing:


  1. Government DO give out grants and funding for creative entrepreneurs. MOSTI and along other government agencies give out creative grant each year. But most Malaysian don’t bother and ALWAYS blame the government for not doing enough. Actually, it is us who are not doing enough to improve ourselves because we don’t want to take responsibility and always have someone to blame.
  2. We, non-profit organisation or individual collective, design associations throw free conference, free seminars, invited top notch speakers from all over the world. We put 3 days creative conference for just RM300 but still people whine about it, but they don’t whine if they spend RM300-500 for a bottle of liquor/whisky/beer and then get drunk & barf on their way back home.
  3. There’s a lot of art bazaars, it takes two place to give the best example; Arts for Grabs at The Annexe Central Market, and Bazaar Seni in National Art Gallery. In fact, each year we have events like Urbanscapes. But Malaysian make ticket a big deal. They still can’t afford to pay RM35 for a ticket. Everything want for free. We are not talking about students who can’t afford. Professional who thinks the tickets are expensive are just cheapskate.
  4. NGO host a lot of art events and call up volunteers. We see volunteers came all the way from Singapore, Australia, United Kingdom BUT Malaysian don’t bother to offer their expertise to contribute in helping the orphanage or youth to give impact in that creative awareness.
  5. Government host a lot of open-tenders and pitch but the first thing Malaysians would think of is assuming about the ‘ah, tak dapat sebab kita bukan Melayu’. Apparently, those non-bumi who tried get awarded with many projects. Please, it’s so last decade to put racial-barriers and assuming things with such prejudice. If you don’t trust your talent and capability, stop doing what you dream to do and do other things besides creative.
  6. There’s a lot of collective groups and associations formed up to help give designers and creative people platform to promote their works and other types.

(The list to add more upon feedback and comments) 

So what are the basic survival kit?

  1. HAVE at least a diploma or a degree in selected field. If you don’t, make sure you’re a hard-work-self-taught-designer to impress them with your experience and let your work speak it’s volume, not your appearance. If you only depend on PMR and SPM, you have small chance to work based on the employment rates, there are many jobless Malaysians own diploma and degree and if you don’t have similar traits, you’re unlikely to be hired. Remember, Malaysia standard working requirements is all about qualification. Unless you are lucky and have huge talent in producing creative works.
  2. Learn as much knowledge and skills possible from the internet to gain wide technique, skills and knowledge. Visit, Photoshop tutorials, etc.
  3. Make sure you get headhunted if you’re good. If you’re not good, improve your skills and portfolio to get recognised. Hanging out with famous designers do not secure your establishment.
  4. Learn your rights. Most companies don’t cover your insurance because they want to run away from it, especially EPF and income tax responsibilities. Learn about Employers Act 1955
  5. Forecast at least a 5-year career milestone on how you want to achieve yourself. Always have long term goals.
  6. Make sure your insurance is covered in a company so that if any health problem occurs, you have an insurance.
  7. Attend creative functions and events to keep yourself notable and mix around to trade experiences
  8. Avoid participating on design forum (those phpBB or Facebook group). 99% Design forum have so much negative that influence you to be more insecure about yourself and prejudice for your working environment have seen I seen so many designers from forum who could not settle for less. These people are kids and like to inject ‘weird’ idea to provoke people to hate due to career failure or fail to gain fame or profit-making.
  9. Seek career advice from experience people, lecturers who have hands-on experience as a professional designer and not from certain lecturers* or your colleague who’s lack of conviction in giving the best solution in shaping your career forward.
  10. Have pride in your work: respect your ability to create wonders, even if you felt inferior. Be motivated and don’t question or doubt yourself. When you love yourself and love your work, people will also love you.
  11. Trust your instinct and be firm in your decision. Don’t get influence easily by others when it comes to decision-making.

How to get a free online portfolio?

Register at . Check out (see how short this URL was given!) to see how you can sort out your portfolio, get constructive feedback and study on the statistic of people’s view to their favourite style of work that you had published online. From there, you will learn and continue develop other greater style for a greater creative impact.

Hope this article helps and profit your knowledge for positivity.

* Notice: (updated 24/1/2017), certain lecturers means they have no industrial background and experiences but merely academic studies based on survey conducted and does not perform actual task as a designer.

* This article was originally posted via on 30 July 2010. 

#SembangGrafik with Zairul of @Twt_Grafik

January this year, Zairul had conducted a live interview of #SembangGrafik under the curated Twitter account, @twt_grafik. This session was conducted in Malay language and my responses are recorded under Periscope live video.

Here are the links for your viewing pleasure.

Questions prepared by Zairul of @twt_grafik