Illustrations for Levi’s for BBH Singapore.
Illustrations for Listerine for JWT Singapore.
Today we speak to Sokkuan, a Singapore based illustrator.
Yanda: Tell us about yourself and what you do.
Sokkuan: I’m Sokkuan Tye and I’m a freelance illustrator. I started my career as a graphic designer in a design firm and later on an art director in an advertising agency. I feel uneasy if someone watches me while I’m working. I hope I can be better at verbal communication and able to play one kind of musical instrument, especially piano. Or drum. Or guitar. Or ukulele (I tried once but I stopped halfway through the lessons, hopefully I’ll pick it up again one day, haha)
For any readers unfamiliar with your art, how would you describe it?
My commercial illustrations consist of many different styles — some are full of intricate details, some are simple but precise. However, based on feed backs from people who know me, they can tell that those work are created by Sokkuan despite being presented in a variety of illustration styles.
For my personal projects like “Sophie Black” and “Sadako’s Unfashionable Fashion Diary – Not Really About Fashion”, you’ll find paradoxes of sinister vs. vibrant, indifference vs. devotion, resistance vs. fragility, mischief vs. solemnness. But there’s exception too — if you look at my embroidered work “Kuih-Muih”, it’s absolutely happy, colourful and wholesome.
What are you having the most fun at right now?
Since the end of 2011, I’ve been working on my personal project called “Sadako’s Unfashionable Fashion Diary – Not Really About Fashion”. This “diary” is inspired by Sadako, the ghost in the classic Japanese horror movie called The Ring. One day, while I was having a shower, I recalled my fear towards her and realised that she has actually left a profound impact on me even after so many years since watching the movie. To conquer this fear, I had this idea of becoming her. I started a series of visual diaries documenting her thoughts, attitudes and activities, hoping to inject different facets into this ghostly character and alter that stereotypical image that people have about her. Eventually I realised that she serves as a very good platform for me to have different creative experiments across different disciplines. I’ve made a series of masks and designed some stockings (with a pleasant outcome of the designs being picked up and produced by a Japanese stockings label). This project continues with more excitement — the latest being a 4-way collaboration between photography, flower arrangement, hair styling and fashion styling to create a visual documentary of Sadako’s secret garden. Hopefully there will be more collaborations in the near future. I would say this project is more than just fun to me. The relationship between me and Sadako whom I’ve re-created is symbiotic — she evolves through me and I express my thoughts through her. In a way, this project is therapeutic to me.
Why did you choose graphic design/advertising/illustration as your profession?
The reason is rather simple — it started with a box of 24 colour pencils which was given to me when I was in primary school. I was fascinated by the spectrum of colours and I imagined working with colours would be a happy thing to do. Later on, during my secondary school days, I was obsessed with drawing crystal-like eyes in my text books during classes and I thought I was quite good at it so I was very much convinced that I should pursue an art-related career.
What has been your best art experience so far?
To me, a good art experience is one that touches my heart, inspires me and fuels my desire to create. I love going to museums and art shows around the world. But it’s hard to name the best simply because they can’t be compared based on standardised criteria. From the works by the masters to even just watching an art student mimicking a classical painting on the ground in winter, or a musician playing rhythms and melodies with kitchen utensils or garage tools on the street, they are all amazing and I couldn’t hide the smile on my face. Come to think of it, maybe they are not the ones I saw in museums or galleries (yes those work are definitely epic), but those that happen randomly on the streets or in nature.
Which is your favourite then?
A man playing saxophone in the subway.
An art student mimicking a classical painting with pastel charcoal on a street.
A group of young baskets performing a capella in front of a museum.
A long stretch of wild flowers with different shades of purple dancing in the wind along the bank of a river.
A flock of seagulls executing the art of fishing with precised aeronautical twists and turns in strong wind behind the boat which I boarded in the south part of the world.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
Ah… ummm… it’s hard to point out where as inspiration comes in various forms and in different ways. To sum it up, I have to put it in a cliche way, I get inspiration from life. :-/
Did you receive any formal training?
Yes, Visual Communication.