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"There's always room for peach!" - A Singaporean Illustrator's Story

As part of an exciting new journey, the Art Wonderland team welcomed one of our first creatives through our doors a few weeks ago to tell us more about what her practice is like as an illustrator and creative based in Singapore.

Above: How wonderfully coincidental that Julienne turned up in an outfit that compliments our studio mural!

Meet Julienne Tan, a local creative who specialises in soft, yet expressive portraits that often feature feminine figures in neon palettes. We spent the afternoon chatting about her favourite subject matter and distinct portraiture style, her favourite projects and her sources of inspiration!

AW: When and how did you become interested in being an illustrator?

JT: I always grew up surrounded by art, my mum always did paintings around the house. So she introduced painting to me at a very young age. I always loved creating art, it just felt very natural to keep doing art and to want to pursue it in my studies when I grew older. It was something that always clicked more with me compared to my other subjects.

Above: A collection of Julienne's old and new works that show portraits done on wooden bases.

AW: What does portraiture mean to you?

JT: To me, portraiture is a lot more than just replicating a face accurately. It has to bring out the personality of the person, if not you might as well take a photograph. With my commissioned portraits for my clients, I usually ask them to show me photos of the person in action, interacting with their favourite things. I try to include objects like pets, favourite colour or favourite food - something to give the vibe of the person.

Above: Julienne during a shoot at the Art Wonderland Studio, creating one of her unique portraits with acrylic paint on a wooden base.

AW: Where do you get your inspiration from?

JT: All these faces are inspired by my daughter. They don't look exactly like her but they are inspired by her face shape. My daughter loves neon paints too, she would go into my cupboard and look for them. She would have random neon green paint on her fingers and go around dotting them.

JT: I love doing the face of a portrait because it is like doing makeup. I think if I did not become an illustrator I would be a makeup artist because I think makeup can transform a face. I took part in the Sephora challenge because I love beauty and to me, art and makeup are the same. Makeup can make me feel powerful, it's like an armour. For my portraits, (this) painting the face is the most fun part because it is like adding makeup.

Above: Julienne working on a portrait from scratch at Art Wonderland Studio.

Above: A screenshot from Julienne's instagram profile showing a commissioned portrait on a tumbler as part of a collaboration with Sephora.

AW: Share with us about the unique style that your portrait work has.

JT: I've always been drawn to drawing the human face and the human body, especially female forms. I love drawing posture poses and facial expressions - they are usually quire feminine and sensitive. I pay a lot of attention to the lines and fluidity of the silhouette.

JT: I love pastel colour palettes and especially having the different pastel colours washed together. There are always cool shadows or warm shadows, so I like to exaggerate those by using colours like purple or turquoise. I think in all my work, I always use a bit of pink, a bit of blue and a bit of yellow. Waves are another thing that I love to do, I love the flowy, drippy, psychedelic theme. My work used to be black and white - black line drawings. Colour kind of revitalised my illustration practice.

Above: Julienne working on the background of a portrait from scratch at Art Wonderland Studio.

JT: My commissioned portraits are quite different. For those I just use a black brush pen with some watercolour. I would like to do more of (this kind) portraits with acrylic paint and neon markers for people.

AW: What does your art-making process consist of?

JT: For my clients, I start by gathering photos and find ones that convey that person the most, then I see how I can combine them. Then I just do a sketch. For my own work, I like to look at artistic fashion and beauty shoots, ones that are interesting, not just beautiful. I like to look at photos that have interesting characters and faces. I do a lot of digital work as well. I usually have a mental image of the colour that I want as a bigger picture before I start, and that kind of guides me.

AW: Tell us more about a favourite artwork/project of yours and why.

Above: A screenshot from Julienne's instagram profile of one of her own street style illustration works.

JT: I like to do a lot of street style portraits as well. These (above) are particular moments where I can remember the songs I was listening to when I was drawing them. I'm really influenced and inspired by street style and fashion.

JT: This (below) was inspired by a time I spent with some young girls, 21 year olds. Their friendship made me excited about life again - their thoughts, their anxieties.

Above: Julienne holding up one of her favourite portraiture works inspired by the friendship between two 21-year-olds.

AW: What do you love most about being an illustrator?

JT: I enjoy most the act of creating. The act of being able to make something that has my own voice, that is different or better than reality. I enjoy putting the colours together, I enjoy the moment where I am doing the creation.

Julienne will be leading a portraiture workshop at Art Wonderland studio in exactly a week and we are extremely excited to see how participants get to learn from her art-making process and creative style. Find out more about her practice and catch a glimpse into her illustrative journey at her Instagram profile,


About Stacy

Stacy believes that learning can take place any time, anywhere and with a lot of fun! Dedicated to designing artistic experiences, Stacy wants to provide children with unique ways to discover the world around them.



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