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Portraits of a City: 9 local illustrators show us Singapore through their eyes

We got local artists illustrate the good, the bad and the ugly. 

By Clara Lim | May 22, 2014

  • Portraits of a City: 9 local illustrators show us Singapore through their eyes
    Fadzli Aris
  • Portraits of a City: 9 local illustrators show us Singapore through their eyes
    Candice Phang
  • Portraits of a City: 9 local illustrators show us Singapore through their eyes
    Lydia Bindi
  • Portraits of a City: 9 local illustrators show us Singapore through their eyes
    Soph Ong
  • Portraits of a City: 9 local illustrators show us Singapore through their eyes
    Roy Wang
  • Portraits of a City: 9 local illustrators show us Singapore through their eyes
    Ann Gee
  • Portraits of a City: 9 local illustrators show us Singapore through their eyes
    Carmen Chen
  • Portraits of a City: 9 local illustrators show us Singapore through their eyes
    Teo Chong Wah
  • Portraits of a City: 9 local illustrators show us Singapore through their eyes
    Anthea Tan
  • Portraits of a City: 9 local illustrators show us Singapore through their eyes
    Vince Low

 


 

Fadzli Aris
a.k.a Syco03
27, art director at Factory 1611

What inspired your piece?
Fast movement and high rise buildings. 
 
What do you love most about Singapore?
The fact that it is an island and it has everything you need.
 
What do you hate most about Singapore?
Lack of murals on HDB buildings!
 
 

 


 

Candice Phang
a.k.a Puffingmuffin
29, illustrator & graphic designer
What’s the message behind your work?
This piece was inspired by a quote I chanced upon online. It says "Life is like a balloon. If you never let yourself go, you will never know how far you can rise." I thought this was pretty apt for Singapore, where people are so caught up in our competitive society that they forgot to enjoy themselves. I’d like to show that when you let go of your baggage, you will start to enjoy life more and perhaps even rise above your expectations.  
 
How do you get inspiration in Singapore?
A cup of coffee to start the day is a must! I people-watch a lot—human behavior is intriguing and inspiring at the same time. Living in a multicultural society helps me see things with differently. It shapes my ideas and stories behind my work.
 

 



 
Esther Goh
25, illustrator & designer

What inspired your piece?
Singapore, as a young and successful metropolitan city, thrives on progress and advancement in all aspects, which also means the scenery is constantly changing. Focusing on old-school trades and businesses, this piece brings to mind an admirable generation of makers and entrepreneurs who took things into their own hands, from the ground up, with only a fraction of what we have now; who also honed their skills for decades and stayed true to their trades. And they are dying out because society and the economy have evolved.

What's your daily routine?
You could say I sleep at unearthly hours, as I'm most productive working during the uninterrupted stretch after midnight. I also have a habit of checking my emails on the go, all the time. My inspiration usually comes from daily encounters with people, dreams and a variety of media, so really there's no particular go-to place.

www.esthergoh.co

 


 

Lydia Bindi
21, co-founder of Tell Your Children
What inspired your piece?
Singapore’s weather. No one is going to agree with me, but I love the hot weather here.
 
What do you wish were different about Singapore?
Hideously boring architecture. And the fact that we don't have a mountain.
 
How does living here influence your art?
There’s a general feeling of depression here—it makes me want to improve the situation with my work. 
 

 


 

Soph O
30, artist
Tell us about this piece.
This is one of the works I’m showing at Unintentional Islander, which revolves around migration stories. This particular one was inspired by a short conversation I had with a stranger at the airport while we were watching travelers look out for luggage on conveyor belts.
 
Where do you find inspiration? 
Transitional spaces, from bus terminals and train stations to kopitiams at midday—they’re almost always buzzing and constantly in limbo, where stories are floating about waiting to be heard. I also grew up in Woodlands, so the sights and sounds of Bas Sekolah and motorbikes-filled traffic always fascinated me. 
 

 


 

Roy Wang
27, art director at Factory 1611
What inspired your piece?
These are two of my favorite local dishes from the former Margaret Drive kopitiam which I'd been visiting every week since I was a kid. When I heard plans that this old estate was going to be demolished, I decided to illustrate this to preserve something that has held so much memories for me. 
 
What's your favorite spot to get inspired? 
I love kopitiams. I spend a lot of time at kopitiams—chilling, having my meals and people-watching. Very often, you overhear some very interesting stories from the tables next to yours.
 

 


 
Ann Gee
27, freelance illustrator
What does your piece represent?
The helplessness I feel at seeing old places and forests mowed down to make way for "progress", the increasing lack of space and never-ending crowds everywhere. 
 
What do you hate most about Singapore?
The high cost of living (especially while the elderly have to do menial work just to struggle to get by), fat greedy landlords jacking up the rent, taxpayer's money wasted on useless endeavors while the government trumpets every single cent given to those who need help, the lack of enforcement of rights for those who truly need them and the political and general apathy of people here, although that is changing. 
 
What do you love most about Singapore?
The pockets of spaces where time is still suspended, the growing vibrancy of the creative scene and increasing political awareness—people are no longer afraid to voice out and critique government policies.

 


 
Carmen Chen
22, freelance illustrator
What does your piece mean?
In our tiny, multi-cultural nation, we tend to have many negative (or not) opinions, which we take to the internet every so often. These are represented by the colorful and chaotic shapes in the background. But in real life we are still rather hush-hush about our problems. I portray this through the contrasting black outline. 
 
You took art as a subject in secondary school. What was your experience like?
Instead of guiding us to develop a personal style after fundamental studies, my teachers taught us how to paint the same elements and the same obvious meanings. Trying something new was deemed wrong. After graduating, I made it point to do the total opposite of what I was taught.
 
 

 


 
Teo Chong Wah
23, NSF
Tell us about your piece.
This work is part of “Why Must We Serve”, a personal series I started after entering the army. It's a documentation of my mundane—or sad, or plain ridiculous— life in the service.
 
What keeps you going every day?
An ice cold cup of coffee.
 
What do you hate most about Singapore?
Peak hours!

 


Want more art? Check out these upcoming shows and our favorite places to buy affordable pieces

 

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