Let’s the discussions begin.. Is there any archieve of Malaysian Graphic Design artifacts?

Now, this is an interesting efforts. I think it should be more. A site call Malaysian Design Archive is up and waiting for people to contribute adding the collection. If you have any printed material that you think could help to add in the collections of Malaysian design archive then join in. We need more of this going. Ezrena is one of many Malaysian graphic designer who feel the needs to start making the collections available to others. I think too. In my study, one of the findings is there is not archive of Malaysian graphic ephemeral available to public. I know that News Straits Times keeps the collections of the newspapers since they started, but that is only one part of graphic ephemeral, what about others? What about the poster for elections for examples, the promotions printed material from Tourism Malaysia, flyers or brochures promoting some vernacular Malaysian products? How do we trace the Malaysian graphic design evolution or identity if these materials are not available for us to refer to, and how can we claimed that we are this and we are that as a Malaysian if our roots of origin is still vague and confuse. Now, please correct me if I am wrong but, so far, through my research trip up and down from Malaysia to Melbourne, I didn’t come across this collection of graphic ephemeral in national collections such as library, and national archive. Nothing. We need to start collecting and share this collection with others so that we can understand our own culture, questions where it belong to and start to considered a lot of issues before we make any claim that it is authentically Malaysian. Designers will be able to refer to something that is local, and not to the western literature and design book.

In my research I have collected from second hand book shops and personal collectors, Malaysian advertisements from 1957 to 2007. Of course this collections is not complete but it is still an on going process. Now why do I stop on year 2007? Well, I thought 50 years is a descent time to see the evaluation of Malaysian identity, enough time for me to work on, of course there are possible future research that will rise from this, which I think is great. That means there are still gaps to be filled in relation to Graphic Design in Malaysia. Would be wonderful to be able to write about this, as I think that is what lacking in Malaysia. Most of Malaysian graphic designer are confuse and lost with the idea of their national identity, why? Well, one good reason is because we don’t have much literature to refer to, apart from the western graphic design literature and perspective.

Here are samples of the collection I have in hand, I am still collecting. If you have any of them please let me know. Thanks.

WANITA - Malaysian first established woman magazine cover collection.
WANITA - Malaysian first established woman magazine cover collection. Which one of this covers was published in 1972? One of the first few published woman magazines?
Collection of Malaysian Advertisements since 1957, I still need to get more around 1990's, anyone have them?
Collection of Malaysian Advertisements since 1957, I still need to get more around 1990's, anyone have them?

Now, when it comes to writing, I think it is a common phenomenon for graphic designer not to write, well clearly that it is was not part of graphic designers’ practice, but now to be able to let the graphic designers’ voice heard by others, writing is essential. I think it is important to be able to explain and articulate the process and the idea behind the action in writing, furthermore to be able to document our thoughts not only through visual communication but also through our writing skills. Here in Melbourne, there is more and more graphic designer who writes, but still there are many who prefers to focus on communicating their thoughts through visuals and forms. We need this balance in Malaysia. We also need to stimulate this awareness of adding to literature about Graphic Design in Malaysia, the history, the practice, the style, methods, identity, etc. There is so many areas that we can start to investigate and study. Isn’t this great! Malaysian is a new country, and indeed the areas of study has never been an interest of some, particularly when it comes to the funding wise. But I think if we highlight this as an significant contribution to other study, such as cultural studies, other design practices, and historical studies, then perhaps we might be able to get some funding to keep this study going. If anyone is interested in funding the printing, publication in relation to Graphic Design in Malaysia please email me at nurulrahman[at]hotmail.com

I have been waiting for this moment. The moment that graphic designers’ in Malaysia feel the need to have this archive and collection available for further research. I hope to be able to see this more. The discussion I have started in the discussion online forum in 2006 through www.malaysianidentity.com was an attempt to stimulate the conversation and the awareness of this. Please feel free to contact me if you have some collections of Malaysian old printed materials.

Why we have become like gods as technologies and like devils as moral beings, supermen in science and idiots in aesthetics – idiots above all in the Greek sense of absolutely isolated individuals, incapable of communicating among them selves or understanding one another? (Levis Mumford)