I’m an illustrator who is based in Singapore, a committee member of the Organisation of Illustrators Council Singapore (OIC Singapore) and occasionally I teach illustration at the tertiary level to try corrupt the brains and hearts of young minds. I have an interest in conversation and dialogue and have a podcast called Longkang Kitties that I co-host along with 3 of my friends that talk about current affairs, politics, and some other Singaporean happenings.
Singapore is a beautiful country, clean, modern, efficient and very much like paradise if you look on the surface of its facade. Life is comfortable here for many people and things are very convenient. Too convenient, in fact, and it makes it very easy to switch off and not care about the actual workings of things and leave it all to the government to decide what is best for you.
Poverty and homelessness exists, and elderly people have to work hard to earn a living because the cost of living keeps rising but wages are stagnant for those at the bottom tiers – but these issues are rarely addressed and very often swept under the carpet to present a glittering image of what we want the rest of the world to see.
Singapore is a beautiful country, clean, modern, efficient and very much like paradise if you look on the surface of its facade.
Best: Efficiency, and how things just work. It’s very easy to take for granted these conveniences and expect it to work all the time.
Worst: The people – Singaporeans overall are amazing, warm-hearted and kind people, but many are overwhelming politically apathetic when it comes to issues and policies that don’t directly concern their individual wellbeing.
Supported. (By a very tight-knit, generous illustration community.)
Respected. (Many of the clients I’ve worked with have been very fantastic and respectful, of course, there are some less-than-stellar interactions, but overwhelmingly the majority of the working experiences I’ve had are wonderful.)
Fun. (Lots of opportunities for collaborative work and connections because Singapore is small and getting to know other creatives is easy!)
At my Final Year Grad show, I was approached by a local Creative, Kelley Cheng (of The Press Room) to be part of an exhibition that would showcase the work of local illustrators in a bar/gallery that she just opened. Out of all the illustrators showing work, I was the only newly grad kid and everyone else were veterans in the industry. I got to know the founders of OIC Singapore and was mentored and guided by them when I started in the illustration industry.
About 10 years ago, the illustration scene wasn’t so big and vibrant in Singapore, many people didn’t even know what an illustrator was. My parents were suitably concerned about how I was going to feed myself, and I had to show them that I was willing to make it work. So when I was studying my BFA, I was a full-time student, had a part-time job working in a warehouse, and was freelancing as an illustrator at the same time. There was no time to play or party, but I think my parents saw that I was very serious about making it work so they eventually relaxed. Once my first children’s book was published, I think that cemented the legitimacy of my job in their eyes.
I think that once people understand how things work, they will get more actively involved in making change, to question what is and what should be.
I want to start working on projects that will help break down barriers between bureaucratic systems and the understanding of it by the common folk. I think that once people understand how things work, they will get more actively involved in making change, to question what is and what should be.
Right now I want to work with a writer who can help simplify the parliamentary systems into everyday language for me to illustrate into a book.
I was brought up by strong women all my life.
My grandmother raised my mom and her siblings up after she was widowed at a young age, my mother was a career woman who had the respect of men who were working under her, the female friends I keep are intelligent, generous women who I respect and love wholeheartedly –
I guess the word to describe the women around me would be AWESOME!
I was brought up by strong women all my life.
Kelley Cheng. She is such a boss and self-starter, and even till today when we’ve become friends, I admire her fiery passion and drive to do her best for design and the industry, as well as give opportunities to the young, up and coming talents.
Not in the industry, perhaps the opposite. I’ve never felt like I’ve been discriminated just purely because of my gender.
Don’t be afraid of money. Charge what you are worth.
A friend of mine gave this advice after I calculated a quote that came up to pretty huge numbers (for me) and I wasn’t sure if I should send it to the client or reduce the fee. I reached out to him for advice and he said, “Don’t be afraid of money. Charge what you are worth.”
It’s still something I have to tell myself again and again, but I think it’s one of the best advice given to me, to not undermine my own worth with self-doubt.
Photos courtesy of Anngee.
December 1, 2019