Graphic Design and Animation Graduates 2012

Online portfolio and print on demand catalogs for Graphic Design and Animation graduates from the Department of Design 2012. On this page you will find our conference presentations, and by hovering over the menu groups on the left you can read contextual documents. You are welcome to attend our Grad Show, opening on 29 November 2012 at 6pm, and daily from 30 November to 6 December 9.30am – 4pm.

I Ching (Deliny) Hsiao

Snow White & 7 Warmhearted Monsters

“Self-healing design in daily life, creating personal experiences that can change an individual’s perception.”

The key contextual references in my work are based on the concept of self-healing design. I have considered self healing in regard to both  character and product design aiming to build up a wonderland atmosphere so that my whole project creates a  connection between self-healing design and the users. To achieve this I have focused on key elements of design such as the use of therapeutic colours, tactile design, and sensory response.

This is such a lonely generation. . We hate the sense of insecure from the darkness of night, so we sleep with lights on. We want to fill up the space that is too quiet, so we work with the television on. We want to share our laughter and our tears, so we talk to the cactus that sits besides the window. And most of the time, we feel that food tastes more delicious when we eat without being alone. There are a high percentage of single people in this generation. They want someone company, they need to hug and be hugged, but they don’t always get what they crave.

I acquired knowledge about a range of self-healing emotions commonly experienced by a wide cross section of people—I am interested in establishing how a cross section of people (looking at age, gender, and ethnicity) described their feelings which related to self-healing design, in order to establish some base line comparisons for how primary self-healing emotions are described or discussed.

Having pets is one of the most popular ways to make people feel as if they are not alone in the world, however, having a pet depends on the amount of space and time you have available; not everyone has time and space.  So people want to make their own pet!

“ I thought of making myself a beautiful wooden marionette. It must be wonderful, one that can dance, fence and turn somersaults.”—“The Adventures of Pinocchio” —Carlo Collodi.

This is the reason that there are so many products designed for single people, all manner of soft toys and cute objects that are meant to help them to have a better life, mentally. Electronic pets are the very important self-healing design products. They satisfy people’s desire to be accompanied without needing to spend too much time looking after a pet.

Self-healing design products/services help people get rid of stress and negative emotions replacing these with a sense of satisfaction and positive emotions. Self- healing design is very popular in Asian countries such as Japan and Taiwan, that have high density of population and people live intense and fast-paced lives. The marketing of self-healing design taken off where people have money to spend and enjoy spending money. Using money to buy happiness best describes the rise in consumption of healing design products/services.


I did survey on a range of different self-healing design toys and objects which already exist in the market in relation to focus on how they deal with emotions so that I can analyze how these toys or objects are designed to affect people’s emotions, and consider how I can develop my design.


This realization led me to create objects that not only have the cute appearance to satisfy people’s desire to buy happiness, but also to make the users’ life better, and most importantly, to fulfill the true concept of the whole ideas of self-healing design to heal the soul.

To achieve this I researched people’s emotions and facial expressions.

I began by researching emotions, especially negative ones, which led me to consider how people get rid of their damaging emotions. This helped me to think about how important it was to build into my design a sense of touch. I also surveyed a range of facial recognition focusing on how they related to the key characteristics in an effort to understand how I can employ the emotions of people in the development of character design.

I focused on creating a series of characters that have specific personalities, which represent different kinds of emotions and build up a connection with the audiences.

There are lots of frustration in this imperfect world, such as having to diet or financial pressure, all of these things create negative emotions such as lonely, angry, scared, sad, etc. I decided to use simple but recognizable images to represent emotions in an effort to raise the target audiences feelings and sense of empathy.

For example, a smiling face can make you smile

and a drop of tear can raise your compassion.

There is a wide variety of self-healing design products, from stationery to furniture, that exist in the market, but according to the research, humans need anthropomorphic inanimate objects and animals to create companionship and to make you feel better. I decided to make a series of toys that were designed based on the appearance of animals and personify them with specific facial expressions and different personalities.

To employ tactile design and sensory responses to the product design, different materials must be used flexibly and in a clever way. One of the best ways to collect research on materials is to carry out tests, experiments that will reflect their use in the final product. I used sewing, stitching, molding, the choices of material combination, etc., to create a series of toys  – the materiality of the toys allowed me to experience and explored tactile design and sensory responsiveness. The ideas of making parts of the toys into bean bags was inspired by the warming bag my mom made for me. It’s really simple stuff but functional and heart-warming.

After surveying successful self-healing design campaigns, I found that the most popular and well-known designs are not only selling products but also selling the whole background/narrative, which include characters and some special story lines that build up a complete imaginary wonderland atmosphere.

In order to develop my design I carried out investigation into a range of animation and characters that related to self-healing design so that I could establish some comparisons between them and analyze how they use designed to connect with people’s emotions.  I was fascinated how to create an invisible bridge that will lead my target audience into a relaxed mood and make smiles appear; discover the interesting stories while watching the animations gave me an opportunity to live within the lives of others and to experience imaginary characters in relation to realistic life experiences as depicted in the animation Totoro, this allowed me to get lost or imagine a totally different life and experience so many interesting things that can never happen in reality. Fairy tales are like a magic closet that we can open and find another world, where we can follow our imaginings and guide everything in there with our own creativity. Step inside the story; move with the emotion flows, laughing and sobbing with the characters, feeling the environment which has so many complex emotions.

I have gained a better understanding of self-healing because the animations/stories I focused on made me experience a range of emotions, ending happily. I was able to develop an understanding of how character design works in relation to emotional attachment and how the environment is important in creating empathy; this research has helped me improve the development of my design.

Flicking through the pages of fairy tales, I realized that every main character has at least one loyal and intimate friend, such as Jiminy the cricket in Pinocchio, or Sebastian the crab in The Little Mermaid.

I chose Snow White and Seven Dwarfs as the basis of the background story. The reason of this choice was because I really like the close and sweet friendship between Snow White and the seven dwarfs. Also because I think the concept of seven characters representing seven different specific personalities has lots of potential to fulfill the creation of self-healing design objects through using seven unique characters to affect users’ emotions. The clever use of different facial expressions and colours can not only make similar objects/characters look different and also creates different emotional responses in the viewer. This is another lesson that the seven dwarfs taught me.

I have made my colour palette as colourful as possible to bring up the sense of vivacity, cuteness, and positiveness. The colour choices were made in reference to my research of therapeutic colours. It has been known for eons of time that colour plays a major role in setting up a particular mood or state of mind. Every colour has their own meaning and also represents and symbolizes different things. The characters are like Macaroons; they are colourful and have a variety of special flavors inside, they taste different, sour and sweet, unique and delicious, showing all our miscellaneous personalities.

Elements from nature are also used in my design to create a sense of harmony and peace. The stretching grass field, the clouds gathering in the sky, the trees, the leaves, and the flowers. Being a die-hard fan of Hayao Miyazaki’s animations and art works, I did a lot of research on him and have taken him as my visual reference. Besides being passionate about watching animations, I am also enthusiastic about drawing illustrations. In the process of developing the project, the ideas of the characters and the background continually appear on the pages of my visual diaries. The characters are Snow White and the seven monsters, Chubby, Dreamy, Sparky, Spiky, Lonely, Timid, and Tremor. They live around a huge apple tree, and collect apples to make apple pies. They support each other and live happily ever after.

To put tactile design and sensory responses into consideration, I tried different mixed media to colour the illustrations. The illustrations have beautiful textures and details to make them look more delicate and touching. The beautiful blending of different colours achievable with water colour painting made me decided to use it to colour the imagery, in order to create the sense of self-healing and on the other hand try to communicate with the delicate hearts of people.

While working on the illustrations I did lots of sewing. I chose to make a series of soft warming bags because they are intimate objects that people can use in their every day lives and provide users the pathway to get into the imaginary wonderland through the graphic and the story, just like the magic door that can lead you into the world of Monsters’ Inc.

This is a world full of conflicting things. The world is imperfect, but there still remains some hope and light somewhere in the corner. Whether you can understand it really depends on which point of view you chose to see the world. The reason I chose to use spiky and cold-blooded animals as the shape of my characters is to convey my point of view through the graphic, to the audiences. These little monsters have spikes but also have warm hearts, they look spiky and sharp, but they are actually soft and warm, they are cold blood but warmhearted. To discover their kindness and lovely personalities, the users only needs to put them into the microwave for three minutes and give them a big hug. Three minutes, and they can keep the users warm for more than three hours.

This is also not a world that anyone can be labeled as good or bad. There are always many sides of one thing or one person; nothing can be totally right or totally wrong. The little monsters might have the negative sides but they also have the positive sides in them. Each warm bag has two parts; the inner and outer parts respectively representing two facial expressions, which communicate its positive way of seeing this imperfect world to the users. They are the product of conflicting emotions but they are unique. Generally speaking, this series of product is designed to communicate with the audiences through the positive and optimistic point of view. This is not a product that can bring peace to the world but can shed a little bit of warmth into people’s lives.

Using Internet as a platform to promote designs and concepts is one of the effective ways, which is definitely a tempting move for someone like me who loves making illustrations. Many brands that started on Internet used online specific resources to help promote their styles and concepts. Internet and online media have more social aspects to its structure that allowed me to have interactions with visitors and it also helps greatly to push my ideas to the public and sell my designs on the market. To promote this project I decided to build a website which contains not only all of the information about the product, I also designed a psychological test for people to play with. People can find out which monsters belong to them, start to have empathy with the characters through the test process, and get a sense of self-healing when entering into the wonderland with just a few clicks. The website also includes the PayPal system so that people can easily buy the product online. Simple, easy, and relax.

Reading List

  •  Alessi, A. The Design Factory. Great British: Academic Editions, 1998.
  • Alessi, A. The Dream Factory. Italy: Elemond Dditori Associati, 2000.
  • Alison, Mcmahan. The Films of Tim Burton: Animating Live Action in Contemporary Hollywood. New York: continuum, 2005.
  • Lusebrink, V, B. Imagery and Visual Expression in Therapy. New York: Plenum Press, 1990.
  • Donald, A, Norman. Emotional Design: Why We Love (or Hate) Everyday Things. New York: Basic Books, 2004.
  • B, Joseph, Pine II and James, H, Gilmore. “Welcome to the Experience Economy”, Harvard Business Review. 1998. Vol. 4, pp. 97-105.
  • Bernd, H, Schmitt. “Experiential Marketing: A New Framework for Design and Communications.” Design Management Journal, 1999. 10 (2), pp.10-16.
  • Chris, van, Uffelen. Toy Design. Berlin: Braun, 2010.
  • Colin, Odell and Michelle, Le, Blanc. Studio Ghibli: The Films of Hayao Miyazaki & Isao Takahata. Harpenden: Kamera, 2009.
  • Choly, Knight. Sew kawaii!: 22 simple sewing projects for cool kids of all ages. East Petersburg: Fox Chapel Pub, 2011.
  • John, R, Sharp. The Emotional Calendar: Understanding Seasonal Influences and Milestones to Become Happier, More Fulfilled, and in Control of Your Life. New York: Times Books, 2011.
  • Michael, J, Wolf. The Entertainment Economy: How Mega Media Forces Are Transforming Our Lives. New York, NY: Random House, 1999.
  • Paul, Ekman. Emotions Revealed: Understanding Faces and Feelings. London: Phoenix, 2004.
  • Paul, Ekman. Emotions Revealed: Recognizing Faces and Feelings to Improve Communication and Emotional Life. New York, N. Y.: Henry Holt and Co, 2007.
  • Paul, Ekman. Emotion in the Human Face. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1982.
  • Peter, Chrisp. History of Toys and Games. Hove, England: Wayland, 1996.
  • Paul, A, Woods. Tim Burton: A Child’s Garden of Nightmares. London: Plexus, 2007.
  • Richard, Osborne and Maurice, Mechan. Freud for Beginners. London: Writers and Readers, 1993.
  • Robert, Klanten and Matthias, Hubner. Dot Dot Dash: Designer Toys, Action Figures and Character Art. Berlin: Die Gestalten Verlag, 2006.
  • Tim, Burton, and Ronald, S, Magliozzi, and Jenny, He. Tim Burton. New York, N. Y.: Museum of Modern Art, 2009.

Website List


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