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Ella Zheng

Ella Zheng

Meet Singaporean illustrator and graphic designer, Ella Zheng.

 

Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I am Ella, an illustrator and graphic designer by training. Very energetic, always dressed in colourful clothing and chunking earrings. I often have a quirky sound for every action I make. An avid gamer, Minecraft is my favourite game of all time! It keeps my mind busy and challenges my creativity.

 

Describe the city you’re living in and what it’s like to live there.

Singapore is a very fast-paced, multi-racial and peaceful city with interesting sights to see and explore. In Singapore, we work an average of 44 hours a week. However, for the creative industry, we work almost around the clock as we often have ridiculous deadlines to meet and many clients to educate on what is good design.

Being a multi-racial city meant that I can learn a lot about other heritages and cultures, and soak in their festivities. It’s also interesting because our landscape is ever-changing depending on the different festivities taking place.

Going out late is never a problem. We have low crime rate, and people here generally do their best to work in harmony than to pick a fight.

 

Singapore is a very fast-paced, multi-racial and peaceful city with interesting sights to see and explore.

What is the best and worst thing about living in your city?

Best Thing: No natural disasters

Worst Thing: Tiger Mums – I grew up being compared to the world in terms of grades and achievements. Face value is something my tiger mum viewed at utmost importance (which I never understood why till today). Tiger mums can be seen as very unsupportive and unloving, also known as tough love, which I think is bullshit as the child’s feeling and ambitions are often neglected. I end up rebelling all my life and am glad I did because I live my life on my terms.

 

Give us 3 words that describe what it’s like to be a creative in your city.

Education

Exciting

Hopeful

 

How did you start your career in art?

When I was very young, my mum would bring me to art classes which I enjoy greatly. As I grew up, I realised I liked paper collaterals, packaging, graphics and on the other hand fashion attracted me just as much. At 16, I was at a crossroads of deciding between a fashion design course or a graphic design course, which were both very expensive courses. I chose Fashion Design and graduated with flying colours. However, reality hit me hard, there wasn’t any brands (the fashion industry wasn’t great at that time either) willing to take me in as an apprentice and without money, I wasn’t able to create my own label. Dejected, I then worked 6 years in retail before deciding to pursue graphic design and have been in it ever since.

 

When I was very young, my mum would bring me to art classes which I enjoy greatly. As I grew up, I realised I liked paper collaterals, packaging, graphics and on the other hand fashion attracted me just as much.

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

Yes and No. It was my mentor in retail that saw my talent and pushed me to pursue graphic design. My mum was never supportive as she felt design was not a career to make ends meet, she rather fancied if I became a doctor, banker or lawyer (a.k.a the Singaporean dream). However, it was thanks to my dad who believed I should pursue what I felt passionate about and offered to once again pay for my second education.

 

What are some goals and ambitions you have for your future work?

To be honest, I have so many goals, *LOL* I wanna do so many things all the time. My head is always filled with ideas. Some goals I have are constants such as to improve my illustration, improve my graphic design, and improve myself as a person. Others are mini-goals such as making zines, t-shirts, merchandise, and more!

I have too many goals but just one ambition, which is to hopefully improve the graphic design scene in Singapore, and when I die, I want to be remembered as someone who contributed to the growth of the industry.

 

I have too many goals but just one ambition, which is to hopefully improve the graphic design scene in Singapore, and when I die, I want to be remembered as someone who contributed to the growth of the industry.

If you could collaborate with any person in the world who would it be?

I can’t think of a person but I can think of a brand, LUSH. They are such a happy brand and I believe strongly in their vision.

 

How would you describe the women around you?

The women around me are very energetic, enthusiastic, confident, quirky and very empathetic. I used to have a very different perspective of having female friends, I felt girls were so petty, scheming and weak. It was partially due to the girls in my youth and also the way I was brought up. My mum used to say “ You are a girl, act like one”; “ Boys is a different story, they can do what they want and you are not a boy”. I used to be naive when I was 6 and thought I could just grow into a boy, so in my heart from that day, I mentally told myself I will be a boy. Whatever a boy could do I could do. Hence, I have more guy friends than girl friends.

But now I have a group of really close girl friends and they are all super caring, loving, high in energy, adorable. They cheer me on, inspire me to try new things like makeup and get me out of my comfort zone sometimes. I really appreciate having them around.

 

The women around me are very energetic, enthusiastic, confident, quirky and very empathetic.

Were there any local female creatives that you looked up to when you were growing up?

Melissa Wang, she was my boss in retail and went on to start her own events planning company. With Melissa, I always felt I could do anything no matter how difficult the task was because she believed in me and she is someone I could go to ask for advice. She is the supportive mother figure in my life.

 

Are there any challenging aspects of being a female in your industry?

Nope, I think in my graphic design career, I have always felt both my male and female peers are given an equal standing. If you believe in your talent and keep working hard at it, have a great personality and be open to ideas, you will get somewhere.

 

Be bold, brilliant, confident and always be yourself.

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

Be bold, brilliant, confident and always be yourself.

 

 

Photos courtesy of Ella Zheng

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