Hot New Things — Ken Khun, Whitecliffe

4 years ago by

Welcome to Hot New Things 2018 – an opportunity to profile a selection of the top design graduates coming out of our tertiary institutions. This week, we speak with Ken Khun from Whitecliffe College of Arts & Design.

Ken Khun
Bachelor of Fine Arts, Graphic Design Major

You completed your full-time studies at the end of 2017. Can you tell us what your final year’s project was about and what you focussed on?

The concept behind my graduate project explored how multiple perspectives could be used to showcase the different cultural and religious viewpoints towards death through traditional paintings. Part of my research looked at Historical Perspectives on Attitudes concerning Death and Dying by David San Filippo. This writing has generated my own design system as each painting was categorised into three attitudes; Fear, Rebirth and Embrace.

How has what you’ve recently been working on influenced your design process, and what momentum does it bring to your practice?

Solid research has been a vital part of my design process as it has helped me conceptualise and inform the design of this project. The experimentations have given me momentum to push my practice outside of graphic design and explore the different areas and platforms my project can sit in. This has led to the design outcome of a digital video and the skills needed to generate content for this medium.

What were some of your most exciting discoveries?

In Buddhism, they believe that when one dies on this Earth they are reincarnated to a new life based on the status and work in their previous life. I found this interesting as it was relevant to the attitude of rebirth. Considering Buddhism is the top five religions in the world, I found this finding significant to express to my potential audiences.

And also some of the challenges along the way?

A challenge that I encountered in this project was the sensitivity surrounding the subject matter of death and the risk of running offence across different cultures and religions. To address this I’ve talked to people about their religious views and the teachings of their beliefs. This has informed my design interpretation and choice of semiotics.

What did you love doing most?

I enjoyed the process of translating traditional paintings into a contemporary design context. This involved me animating Eastern and Western-influenced paintings creating movement from something normally seen as static.

Where do you go to find inspiration (websites, resources, designers, etc)?

I am inspired by a variety of things; architecture, art, books, documentaries, fashion and having a conversation with my friends and classmates. The ideas I come up with are usually formed from random things I’ve seen and read, tangents from my research.

Why did you choose to study at your design school, and what do you feel you can take away now that you’ve completed your course?

After I finished high school, I was contemplating studying Graphic or Fashion Design. During the first year at Whitecliffe, I was exposed to a variety of creative opportunities that have allowed me to explore these areas of interest. This led me to pursue Graphic Design knowing that I could still work in fashion but from a different perspective. There has been a lot of valuable lessons that I’ve gained, to be open-minded and keep experimenting.

Where to next for you? What does 2018 hold?

Hopefully, I get to travel the world and work in the design industry whether it be in New Zealand or overseas. I’m also considering pursuing Postgraduate studies in Textile Design and expanding on my creative knowledge and skills. In the meantime, I am refining a publication design from the beginning of the year as a personal project. I look forward to seizing unexpected opportunities to come.

To find out more about Whitecliffe College of Arts & Design and the courses they offer visit:


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