Inspiring Conversations

Painting Dawn


  • SumoMe

You can’t ignore what this girl can do. A student at the Victorian College of the Arts in Melbourne, Australia, Dawn Tan left Singapore and followed her dreams. She cites Quentin Blake (illustrator of Roald Dahl’s books) and nature as vessels of inspiration. Yes, trips to the mountains revitalises her spirit. Wait, did we say trips to the far out mountains? Man, we want that too!

By Penny C

We hope you’re as psyched as we are about beautiful, unpretentious art because we got to know Dawn a little more and…Penny C got hungry halfway through (food is something Dawn loves to paint). So expand your artistic horizons and  enjoy this interview while I head out to get some delicious bak chor mee.


Hello Dawn! Tell us, what got you packing your bags to pursue arts overseas?

Hello! Hmm. I kind of wanted to experience a Fine Arts degree in a different  country whereby the arts is really totally liberal and all, and since Australia was the closest to home, I chose it! And besides I heard lots and lots of good things about my school ( Victorian College Of the Arts )!

As an artist, what’s your style?

Lovingly drawn by Dawn Tan

I would describe my style as rather colourful, whimsical, fun. I’m inspired by the whole idea of human consumption, and the role of crafters in today’s world.

When do you find yourself the most creative?
Morning time definitely!

What puts you in the mood to create?

Hmm.. I would say waking up early, making myself a good breakfast and a cup of warm tea does clear my mind and allow me to stay focused on making things.

That sounds like a really good start to any day. What do you miss the most about Singapore?
My family, best girlfriends and of course, FOOD oh glorious food! Bring on the popiah, prata and bak chor mee! Oh yum!

Is there anything that reminds you about Singapore in Melbourne?
In a way Melbourne is quite Singaporean, I think! There’re so many Asians around and good food too! There’s even this place called ‘Singapore chom chom’ but the standard of food there is no where near our real Singapore Chomp Chomp!

Oh nom nom nommers! Illustration wise, how has living in Australia affected the way your work?
I guess I’m allowed to think and create work in an environment where I’m not constrained and limited.  Living abroad has made me way much more independent than before and I guess that kind of shows through in my art practice.

Who/what inspires you?

Nature never fails to inspire me. Just the whiff of fresh mountain air, and some good tea leaves and scones! Ah, lovely! And the works of Quentin Blake has and will always be my #1 artist inspiration!

What’s your favourite personal piece of illustration?

I’ve got a few favourites. But I really like this ‘Oh Honey’ piece that I did last year. The piece makes me happy just looking at it. And I think it’s a piece where I kind of pushed myself to think and make art that’s different.

Let’s talk about your zines. They’re wonderful! How long did you take to create them and describe the story behind them!

The time I take to make my zines really differs depending on how much spare time I have on hand. Each zine has a different story to it, for example, I had a zine whereby I drew all the items I consumed/ate/used in a single day. Another zine I did was about  all the various toppings I went through, to finish an entire loaf of bread, etc. But yup, my zines are all based purely on the idea of human nature’s obsessive compulsion and the need to consume, purchase things.

How do you wish people to feel when they see your work?
Happy! Haha.

What’s the best advice you’ve been given?
“ In the ocean, there’s so many many many fishes. There’s whales, sotongs, fishes and more fishes, and you’re just a tiny ikan bilis. But make sure you go out there and prove to all the other fishes that you’re one BIG ikan Bilis who can do and handle anything that comes your way. Go out there and make it big! “

That’s too true. Hear that, now? Ok so lastly and most importantly, how much fun are you having right now??
Loads of it!

As always, we get Dawn to complete a very simple exercise!

Thanks for talking to us, Dawn! This girl shows us that we when head out and do something we really love, we get to experience life in a very fascinating way. Find what out what you love to do and pursue it at all costs. Who knows, you might stumble upon something really special that fuels you along the way!

Visit her blog for an artsy visual feast and if her zines make your day, you can purchase one here! Don’t forget to pop by her Flickr to view her work too. Dawn, stay happy and keep encouraging others to be happy with your drawings! Here’s wishing you success and much love!

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