The Future of Tapao is Now

Future of Tapao

In conjunction with Earth Day on April 22, we asked Los Angeles-based Malaysian graphic designer, Sidney Tan to submit an illustrated article. Here, he imagines sustainable solutions with homegrown organics. 
In creating this illustration, Sidney Tan advocates returning to our roots to find sustainable solutions.
When asked about the inspiration behind his illustration, he said:
“What I’ve drawn is actually nothing new, and nothing we don’t know about. However, we keep gravitating towards Western-endorsed means of doing just about anything, whether it’s recycling or finding ways to be a zero waste community, when the truth is – the Orang Asli have been cooking in bamboo and using coconut shells for ages. In fact their culture and way of living is the most harmonious with nature that I’ve personally come across. (You should research this and I truly believe we can all personally benefit from some of these practices.)
I intentionally used references from our culture in the illustration, from the kebaya, to the hijab or the local coffee shop ‘boss’ modelled after the Hindhi movie star to reflect what is familiar to us. Again, this is to remind ourselves that if we only looked at our own backyard, at materials we have readily, and applied a little ingenuity, we would find more efficient means of doing what we need to do where sustainability practices are concerned.
Also, the materials that are the most compatible with Mother Earth come from Mother Earth. If we respected this principle and ONLY this principle, I imagine there would be countless problems, but also countless opportunities to find creative solutions.
That said, if consuming Starbucks and McDonald’s is what we want to do, then we need to be responsible about that, and understand the consequences fully – that global warming and turtles choking on plastic bags, unfortunately, are the products of our choices.”
Future of Tapao


This illustration first appeared in ‘KREATIF’ magazine 2016 and has been republished with the consent of Pop Digital Sdn Bhd.
Sidney Tan is a graphic artist known for quirky illustrations and designs for magazines, theatre posters, experimental videos and comics. The mastermind behind the animated web series, ‘Blue Karipap’, which won ‘Best Internet Animation’ at the 13th Seoul International Cartoon & Animation Festival 2009, and for the illustrated book, ‘Flying Amah’, he has also been recognised for several advertising awards. He currently works for The Mill in Los Angeles.