I love arts. I love to design and to draw. My parents sent me to art classes when I was young. But I never amount to anything because I was just too impatient to sit still for hours, pencil poised, staring at an inanimate object like an apple. So for the longest time, I do admire artsy folks for their talents and their patience.

Today, we have a treat for you. An interview with my fellow Singaporean, an illustrator based in Singapore who has been drawing since the age of 5 who is passionate about music as well.

Hi Shaista! Good to have you here on MiddleMe. I know you are an illustrator but what do you really do? 

An illustrator does art in whatever medium; drawing, painting, creating digitally on a computer to make art for advertisements, magazines, books, cards etc. Illustrator can also collaborate with authors to create illustrations for their book publication and draw sketches from their ideas.

But where do you find your clients?

I get clients from friend’s friends or online like Upwork, timezone is one of the challenges I face when I want to communicate with clients aboard. Since many graduates have chosen to take freelancer, there are local freelance websites similar to Upwork and I got the opportunities to work with clients.

When did you realize you love arts and decide to pursue it?

It was when I have to choose my course in college before I graduated from secondary school. I did pretty well in my computer and business studies, so I thought I would work in the business or hospitality industry as a career, but my parents disagree with my choice and think that art is suitable for me.

Disney movies inspired me to create more art, therefore I decided to choose animation course as my first choice.

Singaporean parents are known to be pretty strict when comes to education. So I’m glad that they support your passion for arts.

They didn’t seem to be strict about it, as long as I’m doing well in my studies and ace my exams. I appreciate that they support me what makes me happy, if not for them, I will be doing a career which doesn’t make me happy and I’ll still be thinking what career I enjoy doing.

What is people’s reaction when they find out what you do for a living? And how did you respond to that?

They think it’s pretty cool to meet someone who’s an artist, especially in Singapore. Most of the people I met decided to take engineering, medical or aim to be a lawyer as their career. When they heard I’m freelancing, they will ask their friends who are art directors about me and if they are interested in hiring me for future projects.

What is the most difficult thing for you to complete your job?

Projects that came up at the very last minute or my designs need changes many times.

What gives you the most satisfaction upon completion of a job?

The clients will comment that my drawing is great, if I and the client had a good communication and easy to work with, he or she will have more projects for me in the future.

I had a client from Africa and she wanted me to create an illustration for a label. This is a huge obstacle for me because I have no knowledge about African culture, so I did some research about their clothes, the environment, and the colors, the interesting part is how the women style their headscarf differently. The whole process turned out really well and I enjoy doing it.

How do you motivate yourself when jobs are scarce?

Illustrating is something I enjoy doing. It didn’t matter how much I was getting paid when I started out, it’s more of the experience and my skills. When I got familiar with it, I would ask them to charge more even if it’s a few dollars, I would then explain my ideas and the pricing to them in a nice way, it’s sad to hear that illustrators set their commission prices really low and their art doesn’t get appreciated, but hopefully they would understand why I set my price higher and the quality of art can add value.

Where do you see yourself in, let’s say 10 years down the illustrator’s path?

My career path can change; from working at Disney, in their huge studio, meeting amazing artists who share the same goal as me. I would say I would do things in my pace, create and sell original art prints, zines, stickers, enamel pins and do an artist booth at an art convention someday.

What is passion to you?

Passion is something you get never tired of doing something you really love.

Any last words for someone who aspires to be an illustrator?

Create illustrations, stories that have positive values to the society. Health is important to get your creative process going so do take care of yourself, which means don’t forget to get some sleep, eat well and exercise.

About Shaista

I drew illustrations as a hobby and later did it as my career. I enjoy doing traditional art as well as digitally. I grew up in a Chinese environment and my family is Chinese, I drew illustrations related to my culture and this is one of my identity in my art style.

I have experienced working jobs related to websites and graphic design.

I played a string-plucked instrument called liu qin as my second hobby and I have been performing in the Chinese Orchestra for 10 years

I’m available for any freelance projects, remote or local.

If you are interested in seeing more of my work, you can find me on instagram.

If you enjoy reading about other people’s passion, these interviews will inspire you:
Interview with a Recruiter
A Conversation About Passion, Work, And Our Impact On The World

25 replies on “Drawing Up A Storm With An Illustrator

  1. Its best to work what you love but trust me to figure out what we are best at is the most difficult one…cheers Kally for one more inspiring post

    Liked by 1 person

          1. True. They have their own rhythm. Now did you say “2 years in December”? When we did our big Asia trip last year we took our grandson with us, and he was 18 months. Traveled fine. He loved the food. And the people. 🙂
            So your daughter is about six moths younger. Nice.

            Liked by 1 person

          2. 2 years in January. Your grandson’s parents are indeed super brave to bring along a toddler around Asia on such a big trip! I would’ve gone crazy just the amount of stuff I need to pack for the little one. Haha.

            Liked by 1 person

          3. They’re both doctors. Now, I’ve taken my daughters to an African trip when they were 5 and 8. And yes, it is a bit of packing, but the weather in South-East Asia is warm. There are millions of babies living there. 🙂 And as long as you are careful with the water? Everything will be fine.
            Plus grandbaby loves rice (as I do) so food was no problem. 😉

            Liked by 1 person

          4. Ah.. lucky you have Doctors on your trip! Because though, Asian Hospitals are not as advance as the ones in western countries except perhaps Singapore and Japan. I love my rice too! Couldn’t live without a day without rice but I have since switched to mixed grains instead of white rice due to the sugar content found in white rice.

            Liked by 1 person

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