Independence

Apartment at Tøyen in Oslo, Norway

Apartment at Tøyen in Oslo, Norway

It is my 3rd day in Oslo and the sun has finally decided to show itself. Heavy snow from last two days of -5°C weather, has melted away revealing the true colours of my neighbourhood.

This is my first time living in silo. I have been travelling for the last year and have always either been living off the kindness of friends and the Couchsurfing community, or cramped into dormitory rooms in hostels all over Turkey and Europe. Back home in Singapore, we mostly live with our parents and siblings till we decide to get married and start families of our own. To be honest, who wants to pay rent when you can have a home for free? So I'm embarrassed to admit, that in my 30 years of living, this is the first time I am completely on my own. Where I come from, solitude and independence is a precious commodity. 

So even though I am nervous and wrecked with the insecurity, I'm going to take a deep breath and savour this moment.

The life I am trying to design — it starts now.

A

The Beginning

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Early 2015, I decided to go on, one of what will hopefully be, many big trips in my life. An attempt to rediscover (lose), reinspire (be lazy) and reinvent (be content with) myself. I connected with anyone I could, one of whom was The Backpacker Intern, Mark van der Heijden, who offered very kindly to promote my work and asked if I had a page he could share. I replied that I had only a Behance portfolio but that I should get round to thinking about branding myself. I never did.

A week and a half later, I met a graffiti artist, Lo Los, whilst I was in Santorini sitting at the restaurant of my couch surfing host, Drosos Artemis, doing absolutely nothing but kicking back. In the middle of our very lacking conversation, he hands me his iPhone with a graffiti tagging app on and asks me to tag my name. It made me think about the conversation I had with Mark that I shoved in the back of my mind and that I had never really put much thought into it, as a designer should.

Who am I right now?

In an effort not to procrastinate long enough that I come off indecisive, I drew the first thing that came to mind. Lo Los looked at it and commented that I wasn't very creative and I told him to top that, he couldn’t. But getting slightly insulted made me modify it continuously.

A couple days later, I was in a hostel and had to label a grocery bag to store in the fridge and came to realise that what had originated as a doodle, I was now using to brand what was mine. It was evolving with every grocery bag I had to store, in a new fridge, in a new hostel and with every new city.

And so here it is—born out of chance, crossing paths with strangers and a composition of circumstances for all pragmatic purposes—who and what I am right now. Mental vomit, travel fatigue and most importantly, people, structures, work and inspirations.