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EDITOR Reginald Leung
INSTAGRAM @ReginaldLeung
SHOP Dopamine High

Though I'm a young 33, I feel like I've lived many lives. I graduated from my psychology degree at 21; worked for the government; then did a design degree at 23; did many unpaid internships; landed a full time gig at a fashion magazine; quit that job and now I'm a fledgling entrepreneur with another full-time job on the side.

I think I would've been a very different designer had I not taken psychology prior to design. I’ve always felt my psychology degree reinforced my design sensibilities. Through psychology I was able to understand the basis of human perception and cognition; all design comes back to these two pillars in some shape or form. This is the story of how I went from a singular idea involving Gestalt theory to my print Dopamine High and, before you ask, no I wasn't high in the creation of this print or post lol. 

INSPIRATION. Early on in my process I knew I wanted to play with Gestalt theory which states that human's perceive shapes based on their similarity, proximity, and continuity as a whole entity rather than the individual shapes. This was the starting point for how I organized my thoughts and inspiration for this particular piece.

Risograph printing is a great medium, but there are serious limitations in the complexities of your design. I wanted to push the design but I couldn't force the risograph press to do something that didn't come natural. So with those parameters in mind, I started looking for images for my mood board.



"In some cases I agonize over how to fill in the missing pieces, other times I feel like divine intervention has taken place and I know exactly what to do. Once in a blue moon all of the above happens, which is what transpired here." 

DIVINE INTERVENTION. Truth be told, the conception of this print was difficult. Sometimes when I visualize a design some elements are clearer than others. When this happens, one of three things unfold. In some cases I agonize over how to fill in the missing pieces, other times I feel like divine intervention has taken place and I know exactly what to do. Once in a blue moon all of the above happens, which is what transpired here. 

I was listening to a random playlist on Spotify and the song Dopamine by Franc Moody, from their album Dance Moves, came on. The song had this great stochastic glitchy beat and an incredibly liquid nostalgic futuristic vibe all wrapped into one. I started to think about the qualities of dopamine. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that's illustrated as dots during synapse in textbooks. I thought it would be interesting if I was able to use only dots in the print to create the entire whole like the pixels of an image. With another piece of my vision figured out, I set out make this print look and feel futuristic.

DESIGN. For this print, I used a combination of fluorescent orange and blue for contrast. I knew I wanted the print to have a quality like that of an optical illusion, something that looked digital to reflect the song I drew inspiration from. I wanted it to look mathematical to reflect the scientific inspiration but also playful. 

I tested the size of the dot which I thought worked as a whole. I printed them out and looked at them relative to the size of the print since proportion is one of the most important design elements. Once I figured that out, I arranged each dot manually constantly zooming in and out to make sure I was achieving the desired perception. A lot of R&D went into the making of this print, some detours I took didn't lead me anywhere and so I only included what was most important in this post.   

SKETCHING. I spend very little time making sure my sketches look perfect. Each thumbnail takes a few seconds to hash out. Sometimes I'll hybridize sketches if an idea catches my eye. I try and keep my ideations loose and quick. For me the sketching process is just a process to offload all of my thoughts onto the page. If I need to add more details, I usually label parts of the sketch like an anatomy diagram to remind myself of the elements I want to revisit later. 

NOTES. I'm not always happy with my work, in fact, I'm probably my own worst critic; but I'm actually very happy with how Dopamine High turned out. I care deeply about the kind of work I put into the universe and I always want to add to the creative conversation instead of merely taking from it. This is why I make sure that the work I sell on to is of the highest calibre.

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