Get the title right: the designer behind the viral family tree guide

Flora Yeo
·Contributor
·3-min read
Chinese New Year family tree guide. (PHOTO: Rayz Ong)
Chinese New Year family tree guide. (PHOTO: Rayz Ong)

The Chinese kinship system and its terminologies is one complicated structure. Both maternal and paternal lineages are distinguished with different titles, taking into consideration the sibling relationships and genders of the extended family members. For example, ’grandma’ is addressed differently from your father’s mother and your mother’s mother.

“I didn’t think my post would go viral.”

Experiencing the same difficulty since young, Singaporean Rayz Ong - an art director by day and gamer by night - decided to create an easy-to-understand infographic to help individuals with the terminologies and possibly avoiding an awkward encounter with a relative during the Chinese New Year gatherings. Citing his own personal encounters, the 37-year-old shared that he asked his parents how to address his relatives and felt embarrassed by it.

He said: “I understand that addressing your elders with the right titles can get very stressful and confusing. It can get quite uncomfortable for both parties when we don’t greet them using the right terminology. Therefore, I wanted to create a guide that is clear, simple and visually appealing. I didn’t think my post would go viral.”

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(PHOTO: Rayz Ong)
Ong at his workstation. (PHOTO: Rayz Ong)

Within three days since he posted on Facebook, the image has garnered more than 7,300 shares and 150 comments, mostly from people thanking him for the ‘quick guide’. He even received messages from educators and teachers seeking permission to print it out for their students to learn.

“I guess this infographic is very relatable. I have people commenting that they are going to save it on their mobile phones and refer to it during their house visits this Chinese New Year. My friend advised me to create a Hanyu Pinyin romanisation version for those who are unable to read the Chinese characters… and I did! That version had a few hundred shares as well.”

Ong spent more than two days researching the subject and another two days to design the infographic from scratch. “There are a lot of similar infographics online, but weren’t aesthetically pleasing. I compiled all the information I could gather and started working on it. My forte lies with information design, and I am glad people found it useful.”

He considered expanding the on this infographic to include more family members in the family tree but has put it on hold for next year’s Chinese New Year instead. He explained: “This year’s Chinese New Year will be a little different for many people due to the restrictions. I hope to create a new and improved family tree guide for everyone next year. Hopefully, it’ll be useful when we can gather again.”

“Meanwhile, I am creating a new infographic that will be launching before Chinese New Year. The theme will be on food,” he added.

Ice-cream infographic. (PHOTO: Rayz Ong)
Ice-cream infographic. (PHOTO: Rayz Ong)

While Ong enjoys creating these ‘self-initiated’ projects during his free time such as this family tree guide and an ice cream sandwich infographic he completed in 2014, it wasn’t easy for the 37-year-old designer during the Circuit Breaker last year. As a designer, his jobs - both local and overseas - were significantly reduced.

“It was really a tough time then. There were months where I had little to no projects to work; it wasn’t enough to sustain. That was when I joined GrabFood to supplement my income. The design jobs picked up during Phase Two and Three, but it wasn’t as much before COVID-19,” Ong recounted, adding that he hopes to work with more local companies and freelancers moving forward.

“Many people talk about supporting local businesses, especially during and after COVID. I want to do the same too. For some of my projects, I reached out to more local web designers and startups to support their businesses.”

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