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+65 Convos: The Workbench


I’m Ryan and I currently lead The Workbench, a creative sweatshop based in the Republic of Singapore. I am a sweatshop owner and I am responsible for imparting my knowledge to the next generation of young creatives.

DSH: Hello guys! Could you share with us what you guys do?

TWB: Hey DSH! I’m Ryan and I currently lead The Workbench, a creative sweatshop based in the Republic of Singapore. Naturally curious, we love to experiment and develop interesting works across all disciplines. Our works range from branding, strategy, digital, and print. Apart from that, we also do other fun stuff like ‘Crafty Fridays’!

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‘Crafty Fridays’ are sessions where the sweatshop dedicate half a day on every Friday (or so we try) to work on non-client projects — experimenting and learning new things from cooking recipes to printmaking, programming, and even sports! Occasionally, we also gather through these sessions to conceptualize and come up with new and interesting studio projects to work on. These sessions not only keep us fresh but also upkeep a playful environment in the studio.

DSH: Sweet! That sounds really fun! What got you guys started though?

TWB: Well I have always wanted to start my own studio since my school days. The question of when was still an unknown back then. Like many others before me, I was working with a couple of agencies after I graduated from college. One day in 2014, I decided to take the leap of faith to see where the sweatshop would take me.

DSH: Was it difficult to start your own studio?

TWB: To be honest, it is extremely difficult to start my own studio. Being independent meant having to deal with accounts management and making sure there is enough jobs to pay the bills, which can be very stressful and detrimental at times.

DSH: What advise would you give to aspiring creatives who wants to start their own studio?

TWB: Don’t be in a hurry to start your own studio unless you are two hundred percent ready. Invest your time and learn the ropes from other experienced mentors. When you realize both your bosses and clients like your works consistently, you are probably halfway ready to start your own studio.

The other half is the need to possess a deep understanding and knowledge of business fundamentals and accounts management. If you do not like to deal with the business side of design, you are better off working for someone else and concentrate on honing your design skills instead. When you do get to the stage where you are ready to start your own studio, work really really hard. It will be extremely difficult at the start but it is worth it.


DSH: What is your philosophy/mantra behind what you do?

TWB: We are mad about effective, honest, and thoughtful design solutions unified by well-crafted ideas and engaging stories. We believe that good ideas create good content, and in turn breeds strong and memorable design. The function of things and ideas behind what we want to communicate needs to be as important as how it looks.

DSH: How/what/who gets you inspired?

TWB: I get inspired a lot from travelling and reading. Travelling brings me out of my usual environment and by observing people’s culture and environment, it gives me a lot of inspiration and a fresh state of mind. I also get inspired from my surroundings and day to day commute to work, being curious about every little things that may be mundane to others. Trawling social media (Facebook, Instagram, 9GAG, etc.) and inspiration (Behance, Pinterest, etc.) websites also help in keeping me updated with the current world and it inspires some of my works.

DSH: What have you guys been up to lately?

TWB: We are currently working on a few branding projects from small to big brands, couple of print works, as well as a few studio projects that we can’t wait to share! Well we are in the midst of branding a craft studio, and are pretty lucky to get clients who really believed in our works and us. We get to do many craft experiments and integrate them for this branding exercise. Keep a lookout for it!

(Branding work for ‘Of Labour & Love’)





DSH: What would be your dream for our local creative industry?

TWB: My dream as a designer is to develop a creative culture and increase the public’s appreciation for good design.

DSH: What do you think we need to do as a community to grow our precious industry?

TWB: I think it is important to have a platform where like-minded people meet to discuss and share ideas, developing a creative culture. The platform should also aim to promote and increase the public’s appreciation for good design, starting from the grassroots.

DSH: What is one thing that you are proud of about our local creative industry?

TWB: I like that the local creative industry is a ‘rojak’, where we are able to gather influences and communicate with both the East and West, mixing and infusing it with our own local flavors.

All photos courtesy of The Workbench.
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