2016  •  National Arts Council

Singapore Writers Festival

    Art direction, Illustration, Key visual

Singapore Writers Festival (SWF) 2016 delves into the multi-faceted human condition with the theme, Sayang. A Malay word with multiple layers of meaning, it is used as a term of endearment, expressing effusive love and adoration. At the same time, it can also refer to pity and a bittersweet sense of lost opportunities.

We art directed and illustrated the key visual, designing it to be adaptable to portrait, landscape and other formats. Elements within the artwork could be taken apart and used separately. The artwork was subsequently adapted in-house across on-site collateral, print and digital media.

The key visual evokes the multiple facets in which sayang is familiar to us in our human relationships and daily life.


It is present in our sense of desire for love and intimacy, captured by the central figure of a man and a woman, possibly lovers with their faces meeting in a kiss. What we do with our hands and arms when we are with the ones we love belongs to the wordless language of sayang. A long-married couple holding hands, or a friend’s warm embrace at difficult times.


The sandcastle in a palm is an image of the ephemeral, a reminder of how easily our dreams and idealisation of sayang can be swept away. The plate that is whole and beside it, a broken bowl, are images of fragile things, evoking the vulnerability of those who open themselves to love, the risks that lie in sayang.


The comfort of a blanket, the fragrance of lilies in full bloom – these evoke the pleasure, beauty and softness of sayang. The solace readers find when engrossed in a book – that, too, is a moment of sayang.

Special thanks to
Organisation of Illustrators Council (OIC)