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Jhawnette

Jhawnette

Meet Singaporean illustrator, Yap Pei Shi Jeanette aka Jhawnette.

 

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Hi, I’m Jeanette and I’m an illustrator! I love creating images that invoke wonder and contemplation. I don’t see drawing as being my talent more than it being the most accessible tool for me to express myself. I love to work with people to bring their ideas to life through drawings and I have many stories that I want to tell as well. I see success as having the ability to constantly learn and grow.

 

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

Singapore is a pristine country and everything is really fast and efficient, which is a double-edged sword. With that much convenience, people tend to be more demanding and less forgiving. The standard of living is rather high. It is easy to turn into a zombie without a sense of purpose.

 

I see success as having the ability to constantly learn and grow.

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

The best thing is the wide variety of food. Local and international cuisines are easily accessible and they usually taste good.

The worst thing for me is the lack of quiet nature spots. Nature keeps people more grounded and less egoistic. It is also really important for humans’ mental well being and creativity. I understand that there is a limitation in space but this is just my pet peeve.

 

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

Underrated, rebellious, urgent

 

How did you start your career in art?

I only received formal art training when I was at University. When I was younger, my parents were conservative and didn’t like me to draw. Most of my drawings ended up in the bin and the ones I really liked I hid in my drawers. I put them together for my portfolio when I was applying for University. My parents didn’t know I was applying to do design – they just wanted me to get into a local university which ADM was.

Being in ADM opened up my world and I excitedly signed up for all the art modules (painting and drawing) the school offered even though it wasn’t required for me as my major was Visual Communication and we just had to take Graphic Design and Typography.

When I was about to graduate, I was ready to bid farewell to the short-lived happiness and settle for a “stable” job and so I signed up to be a teacher (at that time I thought that I could put up with working with children on a daily basis). During the interview (which I failed) one of the interviewers asked “Why don’t you become an illustrator?” after looking at my drawing portfolio and even then I didn’t take her seriously.

I spent a good half a year after my graduation taking up part-time jobs while looking for a job that I wouldn’t mind spending the bulk of my time and energy at. My friend introduced me to a designer job at a shady family business and being desperate, I took it up. At that job, most of the day was spent on office politics and managing toxic colleagues and I found myself crying in my room before going to work every day. Thankfully, my portfolio with a recommendation my professor Nanci helped me to write got a response from Epigram Books and they had a 4 book series they thought I could help with. I took up the job and began to freelance from then on. In retrospect, my career was built on the idea that since I couldn’t find an ideal job for myself, maybe I could create one.

 

In retrospect, my career was built on the idea that since I couldn’t find an ideal job for myself, maybe I could create one.

 

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

The person whose opinion I took most to heart when it came to my career choices was my mum’s (I always wanted to be someone she could be proud of). Fortunately, she has always reinforced the idea of staying authentic and doing my best. She always reminded me to not get affected by others’ opinions (including hers). If I were going to put my heart into something, most of the support I need should come from myself. Many of my friends are in the creative industry as well so when I started out there was a lot of solidarity and support.

 

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

Lately, I have noticed that just working from behind the screen is not fulfilling anymore. I feel that after I’ve sent my artwork files to my clients for production, the creative process ends. I would love to experience for myself how my work is being received. I googled my name that day out of curiosity to find out if my creative work had any presence at all on the Internet and I surprisingly found this educational Instagram account that was making plasticine figurines of the characters I have drawn in my children’s books. The knowledge that your work is being enjoyed and appreciated is such a wonderful feeling.

Right now, I am thinking of finding ways to have more engagement with people through my work. I would love to share and talk about my work more so I’m planning to create some merchandise to start an online shop with and also to bring with me to some art fairs.

 

Right now, I am thinking of finding ways to have more engagement with people through my work.

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

I am currently obsessed Yoriyuki Ikegami, a Japanese illustrator I found on Instagram. Who is she!? I love her style and her use of colours. Her mind is brilliant. If I were to write a story I would love for her to work on the illustrations.

 

How would you describe the women around you?

They are so badass and strong. Sometimes I wish they could see how they are through my eyes, because to me they are all beautiful, powerful and indestructible.

 

Sometimes I wish they could see how they are through my eyes, because to me they are all beautiful, powerful and indestructible.

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

Growing up I didn’t even think that being a creative woman in Singapore was vaguely possible. The school I was in for the bulk of my teenage years was very focused on grooming law-abiding civil servants. There was no room for imagination for a career choice deviating from that route. I am glad that things have changed and creative career paths are more viable now.

 

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

Thankfully, not particularly. In fact, a lot of the females I have worked with have been very protective and supportive of other females. It helps immensely with my confidence and I pay it forward.

 

The walk out there is hard, but the authenticity out there is life.

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

I find this paragraph from Brene Brown’s Braving the Wilderness to be very thoughtful, “But I’ve discovered something beautiful; the loneliest steps are the ones between the city walls and the heart of the wilderness, where safety is in the rearview mirror, new territory remains to be seen, and the path out to the unknown seems empty. But put one foot in front of the other enough times, stay the course long enough to actually tunnel into the wilderness, and you’ll be shocked how many people already live out there — thriving, dancing, creating, belonging. It is not barren wasteland. It is not unprotected territory. It is not void of human flourishing. The wilderness is where all the creatives and prophets and system-buckers and risk-takers have always lived, and it is stunningly vibrant. The walk out there is hard, but the authenticity out there is life.”

 

 

Photos courtesy of Jhawnette.

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