Life In Prints

This is another individual project from my uni’s module called Experimental Imagemaking. With a brief titled “Journey through the Body”, we were given the freedom to explore and interpret in any way and the medium of our choice.

I did on fingerprints and the titled my concept “Life In Prints”.

Life is like one big canvas. The individuality of a person can be told in various ways, even in the detail of prints. Some may share similar print patterns, but never 2 are identical. We all are little pieces that come together to make a bigger picture. Better.

The 9-piece canvas is made up of 144 individual thumbprints forming Shēng, a chinese symbol which signifies “Life” in it.

Development of the process

Project Development- Life In Prints

Life In Prints – a stop motion animation

A breakdown of the process.

It was interesting how the little details of our body we usually do not realize, tell so much about ourselves. After many ideas and concepts, this idea slowly developed and refined through feedback from our crit sessions.

Experimentation on various materials and combination of colors > Making homemade playdough – but it did not work well

Overall Polymer Clay still works the best! Easy to write on and hardens perfectly when baked. As the cost incurred will be a large amount, tried making homemade clay – which did not turn out as I would hope it would be. Thus resorted to using Plasticine.

Tried baking plasticine which turned out pretty cool, except that it cracked as I remove it from the baking tray. 😀

Step 2

Step 3

3 steps in getting thumbprints:

1. Indent your thumb into the clay- making a lil impression on it.

2. Ink your thumb and press it into the clay once again

3. Write your name, city & country onto it

As I was collecting the prints, not only were their print patterns different but when getting each one to write their details on it, it showed their personalities as well. Plasticine was soft and the only way for it to be written was to write it LIGHTLY. Some were heavy writers ( naturally pressing their pen as they write ) and some managed it easily whereas some found it impossible! Some were patient, some found it really challenging.

It was nerve-wracking! Going up to people and talking about the project was a personal challenge. At the end of the day, I realized this project was all about how life is made up of different people, personalities and just the same way this project was only going to be complete if it represented different individuals’ prints.

I roughly counted and would require about 150 fingerprints. I started with housemates and further to friends and later to Uni mates. Then, I extended to church friends and lastly to the public. It was tough, but it got easier as it went along.

As I began to refine my concept, I found making a normal mosaic of thumbprints wasn’t going to have much depth at all. So I began looking at several other mosaic projects and this very one on shutterstock made me go “oooo thats something interesting” and searches on what the chinese character was for “life”. And I found it: Sheng ( LIFE )

With having a symbol now, a 2 colored theme wasn’t going to work. That led to painting over the red ones into gold.

As I began to fit the Chinese character into my mosaic, the idea to fill the negative spaces instead with prints began to form.

I thought it created depth and it will tie back nicely to the concept of having the character “LIFE” in the many prints.

Finding some references on the web, I did a few possibilities on photoshop and chose the one I found will work best. Counted and I would need 144 prints! 🙂

Step 4

The canvas had a slight black/ goldish tint and they looked great on its on, but with the prints on it, it became hard to see. That led to spraying the canvas with gold spray. Immediately, there was a distinct difference once the prints were on them.

Didn’t quite like how awkward the negative spaces were seating at the corner. After trying different options, that managed to be resolved.

Had very gracious flatmates as I was occupying the whole table for almost 1 1/2 weeks.

Made a shelf to keep the 9 pieces safe


This whole project was purely experimental 🙂  Emailed all the 144 people who contributed their prints and that made this project alot more fun and meaningful.

Leave a Comment

We purchased our home in 2019. Without an ID hire, we sourced our contractors, materials and did our own DIY home projects...

be the first to read a new post

Receive a email notification when my next post goes up on the blog!