'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Thursday 4 October 2018

Meet the Illustrator: Irene Tan

Describe your illustration style in ten words or less.
Surface Pattern Design

What items are an essential part of your creative space?
My ink felt pens, sketchbooks, papers, iPad Mini and MacBook Pro. I also use my A4 size wall calendar a lot as well as my to-do-list notebook, so I am on track and focused. Silence and some sort of isolation from the world and social media plays an important role during my creative time. Lots of coffee!

Do you have a favourite artistic medium?
I use my MacBook Pro a lot for digital work. Designer gouache and watercolours are the most used and loved when comes to traditional media. I sometime experiment and create my own texture and pattern using them.

Name three artists whose work inspires you.
1. Yelena Bryksenkov. I love her unusual perspectives. Very quirky how she illustrates her people in an unusual environment. Somewhat moving.
2. Masako Kubo. There is something special about Masako’s work. The slightly vintage use of colours and the zen feel of it all.
3. ├ůsa Katarina Gilland. I love her unique and whimsical character designs, filled with mixed cultures and so many things to look at.

Which artistic period would you most like to visit and why?
Art Nouveu. I love the natural forms and structures, particularly the curved lines of plants and flowers. So dramatically beautiful!

Who or what inspired you to become an illustrator?
This comes in two parts.
I have always loved drawing and creating from a very young age. The love for art has always been encouraged in my family. My dad enrolled me and my three siblings in fine art lessons with his best friends, aka my art teachers (husband and wife duo). They taught me to think of art from a different perspective. To go wild with my imagination. Bold colours and lots of fun!
I studied Communication Design and have a degree in Advertising - a degree I never use. But it did help me get into the top advertising agency in Malaysia. Most of my professional working experience has centred around creating icons, bright and cute illustrations for packaging designs, and creating character designs to be applied across various product ranges. I always thought I would be a graphic designer until retirement. Boy, how wrong was I? The opportunity to illustrate for others kept popping up when I first started Missy Minzy. Then I found Lilla Rogers’ e-courses in 2013. That’s when I thought to myself, you've got this! You can totally do what you love and earn a living out of it. I have not looked back since!

Can you share a photo of your creative work space or part of the area where you work most often? Talk us through it.
I share my work studio with my kids, in the front lounge of our house.
I like my work desk to be clean when I start a new project or illustration. I love my creative space to be filled with sunlight. It makes one feel bright and alive! Here you can see my laptop and my printer. I also have a packing order table at the background. I gift wrap all of my orders because I want my customers to feel excited opening up their order from me. Ideally, I'd like to decorate my wall with a colourful collection of things which inspire me, but we are currently renting.

What is your favourite part of the illustration process?
1. Waiting for the colour proofs from the printer
2. When the 'a-ha!' moment strikes

What advice would you give to an aspiring illustrator?
1. Follow your heart and dreams. Once you are on it, keep swimming.
2. Work Hard! Don’t give up easily. Be persistent.
3. Being a creative person and working for yourself can be really lonely. Join your local SCWBI or any illustrator’s group in real life or social media. Meet and make connections with the locals. A lot of the time freelance gigs, contracts and opportunities land when you are networking.
4. Constantly upgrade your skills.
5. Note to myself too. Stop comparing. Find your own style and go for it! Be you! Don’t worry about others and what they are doing. There’s enough pie to go around!
6. Last, but not least, keep making art that make you happy. People really do buy your joy. After all, life is but a dream!

Irene is the artist illustrator behind the label Missy Minzy. It started off as a platform for Irene to continue with her creative juices while being able to bring up her own family. It then evolved into a nice happy place with many big dreams, which she loves to see it continue going places. You can follow Irene on instagram and facebook, or find out more on her website