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Aeropalmics

Aeropalmics

Meet Singaporean visual artist, Aeropalmics.

 

Tell us a little bit about yourself.
Hi, I’m Dawn A., I produce personal and commercial work under the name Aeropalmics! Growing up, I was curious, energetic and had a huge love for people. I wanted to soak the world in. I found- and find- a lot of joy in long conversations where all parties feel comfortable enough to be themselves, to then be afforded the ability to dive deep and exchange ideas and experiences. Drawing, books, and cartoons expanded my worldview, helped me make sense of how things worked. Discovering boundless avenues for creative expression through exploration and various work stints then furthered my love and understanding of people and their processes.
Describe the city you’re living in and what it’s like to live there.
Singapore is a ball of strange contradictions. It’s both a city and a country, so small it takes an hour and a half to drive from one end to the other but is populated with 5.6 million people. It’s one of the top 10 richest countries but has a portion of its residents struggling to keep up. We grew up recognising Malay as the national language but everyone speaks English. We also speak Singlish, an English-based creole developed through the years with unique slang, grammar, and syntax, borrowing from Malay, Chinese, Hokkien, Cantonese, and Tamil words. We’re living in constant flux. It sometimes feels like the landscape is changing too fast for its people- like a small town that has revamped itself and the minds of its people are trying to catch up.
There is an amazing amalgamation of cultures in Singapore and the food- it’s mindbending. Everything is the next best thing. Everyone loves to eat. Living here is incredibly safe- a girl could go for a 3 am stroll in the park and have peace of mind (for the most part). It’s summer all year round, we’ve been protected from natural disasters thus far, the people are warm, kind and helpful, and growing up here was- and is- an insane privilege.

 

Drawing, books and cartoons expanded my worldview, helped me make sense of how things worked.

What is the best and worst thing about living in your city?
I’d say the best bits are the safety, transport and the food. There’s so much good here! Everything runs like clockwork. When something breaks down it gets fixed almost immediately- most of the time within the hour. We have so much access to the world via the internet alongside friendly relations with next to every country- travelling within and outside of Singapore is a breeze.
There are many dark bits that are only beginning to get discussed openly. Like.. specific apathy with the goings-on of the world or with the government. Many are also very removed from, desensitized or unconcerned with where our material things (or food) come from as with dwellers in many urban cities. That’s rapidly changing though.

 

Give us 3 words that describe what it’s like to be a creative in your city.
Adaptable, Enterprising, Problem-solving

 

How did you start your career in art?

I discovered a love for drawing, painting, and craft when I was very little. My parents were- and are- very encouraging and supportive of learning, and that allowed for a lot of creative freedom- so long as I finished my homework. I was completely enamored with the idea of creating; a blank sheet of paper, wood, or a slab of clay could become something else altogether with a few choice lines and some shaping. That, to me, was magic.

I mostly created comic art throughout Primary and Secondary school; on math tests, compositions, in countless notebooks- and on everyone else’s notebooks as well- but never thought it was something I’d be able to pursue as a career. My traditional Chinese parents had warned me that all of this passion was classified under Play, and that “Art cannot earn money” while striving to be supportive of my decisions throughout. Created a bit of a complex within me. I was a good student born of fear, and in Sec 3, I felt like I needed a more concrete goal to keep going. I loved languages, literature, and sciences, but couldn’t for the life of me see myself doing any of it for the rest of my life. I, unfortunately, was brainwashed into thinking that I had to and could only stick to one thing, and if I chose wrong I was doomed to forever stew in that one bad decision. Silly, I know. I then decided to switch schools for a change of environment, and that’s where my practice really began. I chose art. Something in my mind clicked. I’d find a way to do it. I dreamed up countless monsters- I had a Dungeons and Dragons phase- serpents and succubi, I drew them all. My lovely art teacher lent me many art books that expanded my art vocabulary. Hieronymus Bosch, Philip Castle, Duchamp. The possibilities were endless.

I contemplated specialising in fields from fashion to advertising, and fine art won out at that point. I’m grateful it granted me the brain and studio space to further my practice. Put myself out there acquiring freelance gigs while working in interior design, furniture-design, teaching art in schools, assisting other artists with specific projects, and then began freelancing full-time once I felt like it was something I could take on.

There were 3 points in my life that made a difference; when I was a toddler in my discovery of Crayon!Paper!Good!, the turning point when I felt like I had failed to envision a future where I was happy doing what I loved, and later on when I had stumbled upon the knowledge that the possibilities to happiness and satisfaction were limitless if I went about it the well-researched and introspective way.

 

There were 3 points in my life that made a difference; when I was a toddler in my discovery of Crayon!Paper!Good!, the turning point when I felt like I had failed to envision a future where I was happy doing what I loved, and later on when I had stumbled upon the knowledge that the possibilities to happiness and satisfaction were limitless if I went about it the well-researched and introspective way.

Were the people around you supportive of your decision on working as a creative?

Everyone was always very outwardly supportive but I knew that my parents were worried, and with good reason. The arts scene at the time wasn’t exactly flourishing- it barely existed- few knew the specifics of what dabbling in the arts entailed. Every parent wanted their son or daughter to get into law or medicine- professions that were thought of as stable and would allow for financial freedom and hence an easier life. My parents are champions. They gave me unwavering support regardless. I had the freedom to make my own decisions- both good, bad and exploratory, and here I am today! Doing what I love. Couldn’t be more grateful.

Instagram’s been a super platform where it comes to linking up with like-minded people from all over the world. The amount of support and opportunities I’ve received from strangers and creatives have been overwhelming. I post process pictures and personal work at @aeropalmics, and some neon play photographs at @nobudorflower. Feel free to say hi! Love a good talk and making a friend in the process.

 

What are some goals and ambitions you have for your future work?
I’d like to move into more immersive, experiential work.
In 2018 I created a virtual reality installation titled ‘Cloudless Sleep’ for an exhibition in the ArtScience Museum that combined the use of technology and art. It was designed to help people benefit from relaxation through meditation. I felt very passionately for it. Meditation is perhaps the most crucial instrument used to harness power of thought, to cultivate clarity and ultimately achieve inner peace. City dwellers wrestle with the stressors of stimulus overload, constant change, crowding, noise, and pollution. Every day brings multiple demands into the urban dweller’s life that require processing and adjustment. Self-regulation of inner calm and clarity of thought has never been more necessary. The focus of the project was to bring the brain to a theta state, where the verbal and thinking mind transitions to the meditative and visual mind. The aim was to move the user into a deeper state of awareness, where intuition and capacity for complicated problem-solving increases.
I set up the VR experience to have the user lie in womb-like chairs, utilizing physical surrender along with theta sound waves to aid with lowering defenses. Once the headset is put on, the user is transported into a safe, calming, soft-grey environment with sun on low glow, islands with waterfalls gently floating in the sky, drifting papercut pieces, and the soft sounds of water lapping on a distant shore.
Cut to opening night- the space came alive. I watched people stay under for as long as 20 minutes and it brought me so much joy. A few lovely souls came to chat with me after the experience, excitedly saying that it made a difference. They reported feeling refreshed, wonderful and most of all, clear-headed. Some spoke about the possibility of purchasing the product to take home with them to use on the regular. It warmed my heart knowing that this humble experiment had worked; the visual aspect of a VR landscape coupled with theta sound waves allowed for an easier time to sink into breathwork that might be intimidating for someone meditating for the first time.
This experience changed me, made me want to create more things of this nature, to have users reap a more tangible benefit of calm, surprise or wonder from the art. Would be wonderful if it were educational in nature too! Totally open to new ideas, constantly thinking of starting new businesses to open up more avenues for collaborations. Woo!

 

I’d like to move into more immersive, experiential work.

If you could collaborate with any person in the world who would it be?
There are so many and I’m inspired by so much! Anyone and everyone could offer fresh perspective regardless of age, experience or vocation.
I’d love to work with Cai Guo Qiang and his team to develop ideas that would surprise and amaze people. He seems like a kind, funny person and I’d love to watch the entire process unfold. I’d also love to work with Es Devlin, Takeshi Kurbayashi, Olafur Eliasson and a whole host of businessmen, comedians, singers, etc. to pick their brains on their creative practices, figure out how they think, brainstorm possible ideas and watch how they go about their creative and/or professional lives. Life’s too short and too exciting!

 

How would you describe the women around you?

I’d say my nearest and dearest are a bold, talented, emotionally sensitive and funny bunch. Growing up, I always thought of my mom as superwoman- she balanced all aspects of her life with finesse and a good sense of humour. My sister too is a wacky kid- we make each other laugh. The friends I keep close are all open-minded and empathetic people.

 

I’d say my nearest and dearest are a bold, talented, emotionally sensitive and funny bunch.

Were there any local female creatives that you looked up to when you were growing up?
I wasn’t aware of the local creative scene when I was younger, always looking to the internet or TV for creative inspiration. I grew up steeped in American culture. That said, I’ve since met and discovered a tonne of strong female creatives worthy of mention. Small in stature but a force to be reckoned with- singer Weish from .gif, the powerful, talented and hilarious Kristal Melson, genius illustrator/art director Esther Goh, lovely sculptor Qimmyshimmy and crochet goddess Kelly Lim. So many more amazing people to discover out here!

 

Are there any challenging aspects of being a female in your industry?
I’ve been lucky. Our current version of Singapore has a relatively good take on gender equality unlike many Asian countries. I’m lucky to have never been made to feel disadvantaged for being female in this industry. In fact, I’ve experienced the opposite. I’ve gotten many opportunities because organisations want to give women more support within the creative scene. I’m guessing it’ll be quite different if I were in another line of work where the male presence significantly outweighs the female presence in the workforce, and brute strength was a determining factor where said work is concerned, say.. in construction or shipping perhaps. That too is slowly changing. I think we could also afford to have more open conversations about appreciating and understanding both the male and female brain, biological differences/limitations, perspective and actions when it comes to coexisting in life- that’ll then transfer over to help foster better experiences within the workplace.

 

Have a good think on the specific goals you’d like to achieve, take steps to get there- make progress, regardless of how tiny or slow it may seem at the time.

Do you have any advice to young women who are aspiring to work in your field?

Have a good think on the specific goals you’d like to achieve, take steps to get there- make progress, regardless of how tiny or slow it may seem at the time. Be tireless, be relentless. The going might be tough at the start, but with the right pivots, you’ll get where you want to be. Be open to opportunities and people. Be brave, make work you care for and people will see how much of yourself you’ve given to your craft and love it all the more.

I think the most challenging bit is balancing craft and money, and the obstacles that come with that. I enjoy financial freedom- everyone does. Worrying about how you’re going to have food and pay rent when you had just started out as a wee kid isn’t ideal, and I had set myself up so that it never happens. I was then able to take my time with slowly building the brand that now allows me the space to work with any medium and plan collaborations with any fellow creative/brand/company. Picking up various skills to sort out other avenues of income took priority earlier on, and that enables me to create the pieces that bring me joy. I still take on projects as a freelance illustrator, muralist, creative director, graphic and interior designer, photographer, and paper sculptor to keep the brain juices going!

 

 

Photos courtesy of Aeropalmics.

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