And now I shall commence!

I still can’t believe that after four years, this day has finally come, but yes! I’ve graduated from the National University of Singapore (NUS)!

Coming to NUS has always been a huge dream for me, and one that wasn’t at all easy to achieve. But thankfully, with the love and support of my closest friends and relatives, and with a lot of hard work, I did it! And here I am, a happy NUS graduate with an Honours degree in Social Sciences (Geography)!

In the spirit of reflection and deep gratitude, I’d like to dedicate this post to those who constantly supported me throughout my educational journey. I know without a doubt that I’d be nowhere near where I am right now without these people, and many others, by my side, and I am very, very grateful.

First, to my parents, Ma and Pa, thank you for your constant love and support. Thank you for making sure I receive a world class education, and for making many sacrifices so that I may enjoy fantastic opportunities, like going to Yale Summer School! I appreciate your love and care immensely.

To my very inspiring professors, thank you for your engaging lessons! I don’t think I will ever again be able to take off my ‘geographical lenses’ (or magic eyes).

To the many close friends I’ve made along the way, whether from polytechnic or secondary and primary school even, thanks for your constant encouragement! Some of us have taken very diverging paths in life, but you have never failed to support my (good) decisions and choices, and to remind me that I indeed can achieve my wildest of dreams.

Special thanks also to Isma for the wonderful bouquet! I’ve never received a bunch of flowers this brilliant, they smelled lovely and added a beautiful splash of colour to my living room for a whole week!

Thank you also, Mark, Divya, Francine and Nick for surprising me by coming down on my graduation day! It was wonderful to see you all.

Finally, to the friends I met in university, thank you for walking along this road with me. I can’t imagine what my university life would have been like without you guys as my study buddies and dinner kakis! Thank you for the friendship, and may it continue to grow.

As my time in university comes to a close, I’m both saddened and excited, but more than anything, I’m immensely grateful for these people and life experiences. It’s been a wonderful four years, and I’m happy that I’ll be able to look back on my time in university remember many, many fond memories in my heart.

Thank you, NUS! And now, to commence!

Thoughts behind The Next Move

Looking back, its quite serendipitous how I got started on this project. A couple months ago, while I was still floating around on campus, I happened to run into Joey in the Arts canteen, and she asked me something which really had me quite bewildered.

“Can you help us draw a batch gift for the University Scholars’ Programme (USP)?”

“YES, OF COURSE!” (I practically screamed.)

And so, for the following few days, I was elated beyond measure. Someone from my university was recognising my artwork as worthy to gift to an entire faculty! This was quite a few months ago, before I produced some of my better works (or at least works that I’m prouder of) so really, I was on cloud nine, and I must add, utterly in joyful disbelief!

Then it hit me… I have no clue what to do. How do I begin drawing an artwork to be gifted to a faculty so diverse, with its students so incredibly talented? What could possibly capture that?

Let me take a quick breather here and explain briefly – the USP is an interdisciplinary undergraduate academic programme which admits around 180 students annually, from seven faculties in NUS. It’s a faculty on its own, and students (myself included) can take 12 or so modules spanning a range of subject areas – philosophy, business analytics and biology, just to name a few. There are even modules as out there as ‘Space, Time and Matter’, which delves into the work of Einstein, introducing students to assumptions and ideas that underlie our current conception of space and time. (And which I seriously regret not taking).

So perhaps this might make a little clearer my dilemma – for a faculty so diverse, I had no idea what to do!

Initially, I thought a great idea would be to do a series of drawings capturing USP life. Perhaps illustrations of students in class, of discussions during breakfast (USP is a partly residential programme, so first and second year students do stay in a college), and of student organised activities.

Something kind of like this.

I spent close to six hours on this first drawing actually, but it just wasn’t working out. Straight line drawings aren’t really my forte, and while I liked the idea, I eventually accepted the fact that I couldn’t produce a good piece in this way.

Back to the drawing board.

A second idea I had was inspired by Canadian artist and youtuber Audra Auclair, an artist I recently chanced upon on Instagram who I respect and adore like crazy much!

Titled Sea of Consciousness, I wanted to, through this work, portray how USP broadened my mind and extended my horizons, exposing me to new fields of study way beyond the purview of Geography, my major at school. It’s not super clear in this concept sketch, but each of these little jellies was to have an individual driver, representing how diverse thoughts and ideas sometimes seem to have a mind of their own, taking control of themselves and going in all sorts of directions.

But after getting some feedback from friends, I realised it was really abstract, and a little strange to illustrate a fairytale, fantasy sort of womanly creature as a batch gift. Definitely this will be a project I’ll explore in future, but not now.

Again, back to the drawing board.

I thought long and hard about it. What can I do that can both play to my strengths in terms of my personal style and capture precisely what I want to portray?

Then this image popped up in my mind.

Perhaps because I’ve been drawing a lot of birds and fish recently, and because I did think to merge the two in the past in a sort of surrealistic manner, I thought why not have the two animals be in conversation with each other?

To me, it was perfect.

Of course, having a brilliant idea doesn’t immediately translate into it being an awesome looking finished artwork. I lose count how many hours this piece took me, but I had to do many prep sketches and revisions to get it just how I wanted it.

But I was so, so happy with how it turned out.

Titled The Next Move, this ink and pencil drawing communicates the unique spaces USP creates for interdisciplinary interaction and debate. In what other arena can birds and fish meet to exchange ideas, experiences, and even form special bonds? As I leave this special space and make my own next move, I remember with fondness the experiences I had with inspiring professors, challenging modules and friends from all disciplines. I may never again enter into such a one-of-a-kind space, but the lessons I’ve taken will stay with me forever.

Thanks, Joey, for asking me so many months ago to work on this project. It was intensely stressful (it is the largest drawing I’ve done in a long while) but was also very fulfilling.

I’m really excited to present it to USP during our Commencement Dinner on the 19th!

Fingers crossed they like it 🙂

Looking back on my 2016 EOY Trip: Malaysia!

Hey guys! So if you have been following my blog for some time, you’d know that I posted a very much delayed travel post about my EOY trip to Thailand! Here’s part two of my EOY blog post: off to Malaysia! (Read about part one: Thailand, here!)

DAY 8 (JAN 3): ARRIVING IN PENANG

  • Arrived in Penang after two getting on two ferries, two trains, and a relatively short bus ride
  • Checked in at Dreamcatcher Hostel
  • Visited Kek Lok Si

  • Had Penang’s famous Assam Laksa for dinner
  • Shishaed in a flood (it poured really heavily!)
This was literally the view from the place we had dinner at!

DAY 9 (JAN 4): TAMAN NEGARA PULAU PINANG

  • Checked into Eton Hotel
  • Trekked along Penang National Park

Hilda and I, really tired out from walking for close to three hours!
  • Pigged out at Gurney Drive

  • Met Bernice in our hotel!!! Thanks for joining us babe ❤

DAY 10 (JAN 5): BEING A TOURIST IN GEORGETOWN

  • Had far too much dimsum for breakfast

  • Checked out the murals in Georgetown
We also took like 10,000 ridiculous selfies!

  • Cafe hopped
  • PIGGED OUT AGAIN AT GURNEY DRIVE (the food was too good)

DAY 11 (JAN 6): OFF TO IPOH!

  • Collected our car! Thanks Ber for driving! Promise to get my licence soon!
MEET OUR CAR, ‘SI GINNA’ HAHAHA!
  • Taiping: Drove to Restoran Kakak for the best coffee in the world

  • Visited the Antong Café Coffee Factory: The oldest coffee mill In Malaysia

  • Took in the views of Taiping Lake

  • Checked into our Ipoh Hotel (I forget the name)
  • Dim sum dinner!

 

DAY 12 (JAN 7): AND NOW TO CAMERON: THE BEST PLACE ON EARTH!

  • Walked down Concubine Lane

  • Had more Old Town Coffee
  • Got in touch with our spiritual side at Kek Long Tong

  • Off to Cameron! We were staying in an Orang Asli Village for the night!

  • Check in at Rainforest Inn – dinner there was SUCH A SPREAD

DAY 13 (JAN 8): FROM CAMERON TO KL!

  • Checked out the waterfall near our accomodation!

  • Had tea at Habu

  • Had a steamboat at Brinchang for dinner
  • Drove to KL

  • Checked into D’Majestic Place by Swiss Garden, Kuala Lumpur D’Majestic Place by Swiss Garden, Kuala Lumpur

  • Visited Jalan Alor to have stingray for dinner

DAY 14 (JAN 9): HOME!

  • Kissed si ginna (our car) goodbye
  • Had breakfast around our hotel: Yong Tau Foo and Egg Tarts
  • Visited a few shopping centers in KLCC before heading back! (WE ALMOST MISSED OUR BUS IT WAS NO JOKE)

It was a great trip! I’m the kind that freaks out quite a lot by travel, and I get homesick within a few days or so but this trip was a really enjoyable (can’t say restful) experience. Will definitely hold many precious memories from it in my heart! 🙂

I’m a 52 Tales Mentee!

Hey guys! Just wanted to share a quick update that I GOT ACCEPTED AS A 52 TALES MENTEE!

SO SUPER HAPPY! 😂


52 Tales is an art mentorship programme jointly organised by Noise Singapore and the Band of Doodlers. It involves a series of exhibitions to celebrate Singapore’s 52 years of nation building, reminding us that our Singaporean identity is a summation of many years of toil, sacrifice, and contributions of pioneers and future generations alike.

As a mentee, I’ll be working with 51 others (there’s 52 of us!) to create an artwork, a reinterpretation of a Singaporean icon, for exhibition along Orchard Road. More specifically, I’m working on a reinterpretation of Suntec City, while some other mentees will interpret local tales, folklore and Singaporean idiosyncrasies. I’m actually very nervous because I’ve never done digital illustrations before, nor have I ever drawn buildings (that look nice anyway). Hopefully it turns out alright 🙂

I’ll also be involved in curating one of many island-wide pop up art exhibitions together with my awesome group who you must meet!

Yup! I’ll keep you posted! ❤

selamat hari raya :)

I’m quite an introverted character, but despite that, I really enjoy being in the company of family and loved ones, even if we’re all doing our own thing. So like… nenek would watch TV, pa would nap, uncle would make coffee, mummy would read, my cousins would busy themselves and I would draw  It’s quiet in nenek’s house before people start coming by but I really enjoy everyone’s presence. It’s wonderful to have family. Selamat Hari Raya

Here’s all of us at Nenek’s house!

i was asked to design a tattoo!

So a couple weeks back, I had the craziest surprise – I WAS ASKED TO DESIGN A TATTOO!!!

Before I go on with this post, let me just say that as an artist, it is a HUGE, HUGE, HUGE HONOUR to be asked to design a tattoo! I mean, this is an artwork someone will carry around with them permanently on their skin, and the fact that it’s something I designed, well… I am just so incredibly happy 🙂

Anyway, yeah! My client wanted a very minimalist tattoo of herself and her friend. It was to be somewhat abstract, with just a few lines representing eyes, nose, lips and hair.

… something kind of like the tat inspo references I found below.

Pinterest is a wonderful website for finding any kind of reference by the way! I use it for every single one of my art projects!

With that in mind, I pondered about how best to merge the two faces together – for them to be intertwined yet distinctly separate, and how best to do up the composition of the piece.

I was very undecided about how the lines should go – whether they should be continuous or noncontinuous, as in being separate and distinct. Among the references I found, there were a range – some using only a single line to represent two faces, and some using a whole variety of lines, with different line widths. So, I did have quite a hard time deciding which to go with.

Ultimately, I decided upon two main styles, one with two continuous lines (one for each of the faces), seemingly merging together in the centre and coming away from each other at the ends, and one with noncontinuous lines, with line strokes of all the same width. After laying out their pictures in various ways, here’s a couple drafts I did up on Adobe Illustrator.

And after a few more touchups and adjustments to the eyes, nose and lips, here is the final artwork 🙂

I AM SO HAPPY WITH HOW IT TURNED OUT!

So as I was saying, this entire piece is made up of only two lines, with varying line width. I deliberately did it such that it’s not immediately intuitive where each line starts and ends – if you look closely, the lines for both faces begin in the hair, and they end both as downward strokes in the same direction. The worry I have with very minimalist tattoos is that sometimes, because there’s just so few lines, the person being drawn could easily be anybody, and it’s really hard to tell. But I really like how the piece turned out to be so clean and crisp, while not compromising on the unique and distinct facial features both people have.

Really hope you like it 🙂 It was such a joy working on this project.

For more of my artworks, do check out my portfolio on behance here!

 

Looking back on my 2016 EOY Trip: Thailand!

This must come across as very abrupt, but a couple weeks ago, around the time when the global cyber attacks struck, I heard of some websites hosted on WordPress getting hacked, and so, decided to back up all my stuff. And in the process, I REALISED I NEVER TALKED ABOUT THE EOY TRIP I BLOGGED ABOUT BACK IN DECEMBER!

OMG! OOPS!??!!??

Haha! Yeah! So, this post is going to be all about my EOY holiday! Read on if you’re interested to know what I got up to last DECEMBER (omg I procrastinated for half a year…) in Thailand and Malaysia!

Day 1 (Dec 27): Arriving in Bangkok

  • Touchdown!
  • Checked in at Chic Hostel, which by the way has a great breakfast buffet option (they’ve a partnership with the hotel next door)
Because there weren’t all that many places for us to do our laundry, well… there are many uses for a bed!
  • Visited Or Tor Kor Market, the cleanest wet market ever
  • Met with Meerkats at Little Zoo Cafe
They’ve all kinds of animals! Meerkats, parakeets, naked mole rats, foxes and that one special corgi! Super cute 🦊
  • Watched a Muay Thai match at Lumpinee Boxing Stadium! What an experience!
Here’s our ticket! Because we’re foreigners, entry cost us 1,000 THB, but the experience was worth every penny.

Day 2 (Dec 28): Hiking up Erawan Falls!

  • Woke up seriously way too early to catch the 6am bus to Kanchanaburi, after which we hopped on another bus to Erawan
  • Hiked up to see all seven waterfalls in Erawan National Park! Difficulty level: pretty okay from levels 1-5? The terrain gets much steeper and harder to climb up from there onwards. And as always, coming down is way harder than going up.
Thank goodness for stairs!
Finally at the seventh level. What a sight!
  • Ramen, Bingsu and clubbing @ Demo Nightclub
I think we were half starved at this point!

Day 3 (Dec 29): Shopping at Pratunam, Clubbing at Route 66 and some surprises in between!

  • Went shopping for clothes at Pratunam
After having finally visited this stretch, I can now safely say that I get why people fly all the way to Bangkok to shop 😅
  • Took in the sights of the city at Octave Rooftop Lounge & Bar
Us trying desperately to squeeze into a square for instagram! Also I love Hilda’s dark matte lipstick 💋
The view is so beautiful!
It’s my first time having ever seen anyone getting a tat done! Scary much?
  • Danced the night away @ Route 66

Day 4 (Dec 30): Temple Hopping + Bus Ride to Koh Samui!

  • Stood in awe at Wat Pho & the Grand Palace
The architecture is seriously just amazing!
Couldn’t resist uploading this selfie.
Here’s a drawing I did later of a temple guardian at Wat Pho.
  • Hopped on a bus and ferry to Koh Samui!

And at this point I really must say that it is incredibly paramount to research the transport option you’ve chosen. Hilda and I ended up having a really… questionable ride, to say the least. Not only was our bus late by over an hour, meaning we waited by the road side for that amount of time, they also dropped us off for another couple hours at a rest stop in the middle of the night with no information on when our next bus would arrive. Plus, when we finally got to the ferry terminal for Koh Samui, we were made to wait yet another hour or so. Valerie, who took a different transport option, left Bangkok two hours after us, and arrived Koh Samui two hours before. If I was alone, I’d have been so scared!

Here’s the station where we took our bus from.
Us the disgruntled passengers!

Day 5 (Dec 31): Arriving at Koh Samui!

  • FINALLY arrived at Koh Samui, and checked into our hotel, The Lodge
Hello, Koh Samui! What a beautiful change from busy Bangkok.
  • Checked out Fisherman’s Village along Bophut Beach
We discovered this wonderful gem of a cafe which had the best green curry! We actually came by twice for their awesome food.
  • Took a life-threatening (I am not kidding) speed boat ride to Koh Phangan for the FULL MOON PARTY! There ain’t no better way to usher in 2017 than this!
We danced all night! Well at least till it started raining.

Day 6 (Jan 1): Temples and MORE CLUBBING

  • Visited Koh Samui’s Big Buddha
It’s kinda interesting how numerous islands in Thailand have a Big Buddha. I remember visiting one in Phuket also, some time back.
  • Chilling out at Chaweng Beach, Koh Samui’s most popular beach
Here’s a random selfie with the waves!
  • Clubbing at Ark Bar
It’s crazy! Koh Samui is the absolute best beach party destination! I remember there were some crazy fire breathing dudes doing crazy stunts on a what looked like a billboard just a couple tens of meters away from shore. It was a great show!

Day 7 (Jan 2): Off for Malaysia!

  • Bid Valerie a fond farewell 😭  If you’re reading this, it was wonderful having met you! Thanks so much for making our trip so memorable!
  • Because it started pouring (the streets were flooded, in fact) we camped out at Fisherman’s Village, and had more awesome green curry
  • Finally, we left for Penang on a huge ferry from Don Wai pier
Did I mention I’m terrified of boats?

Thank you, Thailand, for the beautiful memories! Okay, I don’t think I’ve ever clubbed as much as I did in a week alone, but drinks and dancing aside, thank you also for gifting me with beautiful sights, sounds, meaningful conversation and insane experiences! It was amazing.

And now, off to Malaysia! At least, tbc in my next blog post. Stay tuned! 🙂

Don’t Judge Me, Owl!

I came across a whole slew of weird facts while researching what a judge (or barrister rather) traditionally wears, and just had to share them with you!

UPDATE: If you like this and my graduation fish illustration, you’ll be happy to know that I’m now selling these as gift cards on my Etsy shop @littlecorals 🙂

Did you know that…

Barristers started donning wigs in the 17th century, when Charles II brought back with him to England the French fashion of powdered wigs. According to law professor Charles M. Yablon, they then soon became the “de rigeur” for English aristocrats. The wig wasn’t particularly hygienic, cost a ton and weighed probably about that much. Still, people came up with all sorts of weird reasons to preserve it, one being that it created a unified appearance of counsel, so that no one be favoured over another.

Drawn with a Uniball Signo DX 0.28 (black) pen and ZIG Mangaka Flexible Marker (Fine).

However, in recent years, traditional court dress appears… endangered, to say the least. As Ackland reports, last year, a Victorian supreme court judge expressed “profound disappointment” and even felt “disrespected” because barristers had turned up in wigs! Further, Aldridge notes a general trend towards informality in the legal profession, in that more and more London firms are adopting business casual dress codes – a stark difference from their devout commitment to formal dressing in the past. One law firm takes this to a whole other level, its only dress code being that “you have something between your feet and the carpet – and that’s because our insurance company requires it!”

Will lawyers in smart looking Ralph Laurens become increasingly commonplace then? Hm… Maybe in some places, but generally, my sense is probably not. In Singapore, for instance, expect advocates and solicitors in long sleeved white shirts, ties, dark jackets and trousers. After all, “conspicuous  jewellery or ornaments”, or any other statement fashion in a way risks undermining the ‘image of good judgement’, does it not? Like Professor Oak says in the popular Pokémon game: “There’s a time and place for everything, but not now.”

So while horsehair wigs may fast become a thing of the past (that is, if they’re not already), we can still probably expect lawyers to be the most formal of dressers. And that’s great! Who doesn’t love a (wo)man in a suit!