Q&A - How I got into art and tips on starting your own label
Where did I learnt to create art and how did I discover my art style?
I always believed I inherited my passion for drawing and art from my mother. She used to do lots of painting and Arts & Craft, and worked in a craft shop when I was young. I developed an interest in drawing when I was 6 and just started primary school. I remember my first proper drawing were of my guinea pigs. My older brothers and I were all crazy about manga/anime. Other than Pokemon, my first anime was Cardcaptor Sakura when I was 8. When I was 10, I found a couple of classmates who had the same interest in drawing. We started learning and practicing manga together, came up with our own character cards and designed original characters with story plots. I also learnt alot by redrawing Shao Ran and Tomoyo from CCS. This lasted all the way til we graduated and those were 2 amazing years.
(Collage made out of The Gazette's album art)
In Secondary school, I discovered Visual Kei. And Lord help me, this obsession grew and influenced my lifestyle and drawing style so much. I started drawing portraits of Miku from An Cafe, Ruki from The Gazette, millions of Miyavi doodles and of course more original characters. I also grew to love fashion a whole lot, especially gothic and victorian outfits.
( School IP Project - 17 Cosmetics ) One of my favourites!
When we had to choose a course for tertiary education, I was set on doing design. I knew animation was too difficult a path to follow so I wanted to study something more diverse. I entered my first chosen course of Visual Communications in Temasek Design School. & I loved it so much there. I still miss school very much despite my shit FYP experience. It was in design school that I got to experiment much more with different and more sophisticated styles, especially when I entered my Illustration major in Year 2. Every month, every module, I had the freedom and opportunity to try out different styles to answer the briefs. I thoroughly enjoyed creating, and had a love for publications. (I hope to share some old publications at my exhibition as well).
(School work - Publication for Dying Trades)
( School work - Story book titled Stone Cold or Melancholy )
In Design School, I discovered my utter love for traditional and vintage illustrations, hatching styles and anatomy. I've always love drawing humans and portraits as well. You would also realize my obsession with old paper backgrounds in my school works. Then I started on Sarah Thursday and things just took off from there, and I believe my current style is just a mixture of influences since young. A good mixture of vintage, traditional-styled, works - inspired by Victorian and Japanese culture and also inspired by my love for the metal scene & music. A whole bunch of everything that makes me me, incorporated into works I do and I guess it will grow as I grow as well.
Any tips on establishing your own brand and what were the difficult challenges when you started?
1) Be realistic, and set yourself a realistic goal to achieve in a time frame. I gave myself a year to see if Sarah Thursday could take off. If it didn't work, I had to find an alternative job. I gave myself very small steps and milestones to reach, slowly climbing up from paper goods to totebags and then to apparels and so on. Things don't happen that fast, so be patient! (:
2) Be resourceful. Don't expect things to be given to your on a silver spoon. Although I get very happy I inspire some people to start their own label, every maker's pet peeve is when people start asking where we get our things printed etc. It's rude, and it's a shortcut. I had to figure out everything on my own and try different printers until I got a perfect one. It's not difficult to find printers if you just try.
3) Be yourself, and be creative! Always stick to your own guns. As mentioned before, my style is not influenced by any one or any few artists, but just a reflection of my own personality, music, culture and lifestyle preferences. Build up your own style that is unique and memorable and people will remember you.
4) Be consistent. Regularly come up with fresh stuff to keep your label going. I also can't stress this word enough - focus. Don't be scattered because if you yourself can't fully understand what you're trying to do, how will your audience?
5) Lastly, be hardworking. I juggled 3 side jobs when I just started Sarah Thursday. Even now I have a part-time job and a freelance job on the side to pay for some bills and expenses, but I love my side jobs very much as well!
The most difficult challenges when starting this label was definitely getting exposure, and getting people to know I exist. What helped alot was art markets, meeting people and just spreading it by word of mouth at first. Grabbing every opportunity to showcase my works and collaborating with pop up stores and people in the scene. Slowly the interest picked up as I kept coming up with more content.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years? Tell us about your next big dream you want to achieve!
At this point I'm taking it one step at a time. I like setting realistic goals (dreams), my next big dream is the solo exhibition I'm planning. I know I keep mentioning it but oh once I'm hooked onto my next dream, I will keep focusing on it until I make it a reality. It's going to be something that probably has never been done before, so I'm ecstatic to have this chance. I'm already experimenting on limited edition merch and door gifts and such <3
I'd love to have a co-sharing studio in one or two years as well, so I can get a proper space to keep rolling out works and new stuff for you guys.
Within these 10 years, I really hope to travel more for job opportunities and enter international shops or markets. It would be an absolute dream to exhibit overseas, especially in Japan, Taiwan, Hong kong, Europe or actually, anywhere that would be keen in having me. That's pretty far down the road though, so I'd keep these fantasies to my dreamland for now.
Did you ever see yourself doing anything else?
When I was young, obviously my unrealistic dream was to be a manga artist HA HA HA. Which kid doesn't want to be that though. But after watching Bakuman, you'd know it's impossible ;_;
I also really really wanted to be a hairstylist. From when I was 10 even til before starting my label. I still love styling hair and I've dyed my hair almost every colour I could possibly do since I was 16.
Thank you for reading through this lengthy post! I really love sharing my thoughts and life experiences; Sometimes I get abit carried away. It's sort of a happy throwback for me as well, when I mentioned about starting to draw and looking back at old works.
Hope you enjoyed this Q&A and I'll see you guys soon :3
My next art market is this weekend 2-3 July, from 12-10PM! I'll be situated in the heart of town, right outside Cineleisure, so come visit my booth!
Have a great week! <3