Featured Artist: Dawn Tan

FK chat to Dawn Tan about her illustrations, her obsession with meat and plans for the new year…

How would you describe the style of your illustrations?

Fun! Whimsical and crazy all rolled into one! I hate reading. But I grew up loving every single one of Roald Dahl’s books. Simply because they were so magical, especially when paired with Quentin Blake’s drawings. I love Quentin Blake and he’s my number one art hero!

What is your background and what were you doing before you started the label?
I’m from sunny Singapore and I come from a whole family of creatives. My cousins were card illustrators, piano teachers, art teachers….I’ve always loved painting and making things. Like any other kid, I went to school and had to do all the boring math and science classes. ( Yucks! ) But I tried to get out of all the boring sciency stuff as soon as I could! Right after high school, I went straight to design school and taught little kids art, while schooling. I fell in love with painting and illustration towards the end of my design diploma and after a year of working, I hopped onto a plane and moved to Melbourne to do a degree in Fine Arts ( Painting ) at the Victoria College of the Arts VCA. Somehow, being in a whole new country + full freedom = going crazy making art! I thought to myself, this is it! It’s now or never! So I challenged myself and went all out to make crazy, fun usable art pieces. Being in art school, a lot of my classmates made paintings suited for galleries. I was never really into the whole gallery thing. I’ve always enjoyed art that’s accessible.  Even grannies can use it! That’s what made me start my label. I wanted people to be able to pay an affordable bit of cash and own one of my pieces which they can frame or use in anyway they like!

What are some of your favourite websites/blogs for inspiration?
Ooh, I have lots! Too many to list! But if I really had to pick 5, I’d say:

Wikstenmade: blog.shopwiksten.com
Closet Visit: closetvisit.com
For Me For You: forme-foryou.com
Lena Corwin: blog.lenacorwin.com
Odette: www.odetteny.blogspot.com

As you can tell, these are all blogs that have a totally different aesthetic to mine. They’re mostly filled with pictures and a few words. I’m often inspired by textiles, nature, handmade goodness. These favourite blogs of mine all have beautiful photography and I often feel like I’m in a different place when reading them. They’re like magic!

What do you love about living in Melbourne?
As crazy as this sounds, I love Melbourne’s weather! I know! Everyone hates it and says how it’s wacky. Hailing one moment and bright and sunny the other! But yes. I really do love how unpredictable it is everyday. I especially love Autumn. I live near the Botanical Gardens so it’s really beautiful in Autumn. The trees lining the road to my house drop lots of crunchy golden leaves. And Lucky me, I get to stomp on them. Totally love it! And of course, the food’s great. There’s always new places to explore and hunt down! And one of the best bits, which I have yet to mention: The people. Everyone’s so encouraging here. The entire handmade community is so supportive of each other. We’re like a big family! You should see how crazy it gets during Christmas! Everyone’s down at craft markets shopping local! It’s so awesome!

How has your creative style developed over time?

Believe it or not, I used to paint really girly stuff. Lots of pink and floral stuff. But over the years, I find myself becoming a bit crazier and doing things that are weird/ funny at the same time. For example, I made some really big soft sculptures last year. I even paraded in one while at the National Gallery of Victoria. All in the name of fun! And most recently, I made some meaty pillowcases! I was intending to make a whole huge queen sized duvet cover. Filled with sausages. Oh yes! I thought a whole repeat pattern of bacon strips and sausages would look cool when shrunk to a tiny size. Imagine a boyfriend entering his girlfriend’s bedroom. From a distance, he sees a big pink duvet cover. Aww. Cute. She likes pink flowers! But as he inches closer, “ Oh my god! MEAT? WHAT THE HECK! SHE’S A CARNIVORE!!!!!!!” Now wouldn’t it be funny? Haha. Too bad my boyfriend thought it was too crazy and idea and I settled for some meaty pillowcases instead! One day I’ll make that meaty idea come true!

What can we expect to see from you in 2012?
More funny pillowcases! I’m all for making things/ art that appeals to both genders. I like making things that old grannies laugh at. I want to make lots of fun things like meatball umbrellas, stinky fish lunch bags, sashimi pillowcases, brussel sprouts and mushy peas on kid’s shirts maybe? There’s so much I want to make! And of course, I’m aiming for more fun kids and adult painting classes too! I really enjoy teaching and spreading my love for art with everyone! So hopefully I get to host more classes! The world needs lots and lots of creative people. The more the merrier I think! 2012 is going to be exciting!


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