I’ve always believed in
true love, so I’ve been
wanting to make
others happy with my
art in this
Wendy Tan Shiau Wei is a twenty-two year old freelancer from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. She focuses on illustration and storyboarding in her artwork, but she also has a strong background in multimedia design. The illustrations she makes are quite telling, and each and every one of them is overflowing with sincerity and a genuine love for art. Wendy’s personal style is cartoony and light-hearted in its own unique way. It’s important to note that the style is very different to what we usually see because there’s a bit of a clash between the two influences—East Asian and Western art—both of which subtly shine through her many canvases.
When we interviewed her, she said that “I’m learning more and more about animation.” So maybe we can expect to see some of Wendy’s characters come to life quite soon. Of course, there’s a lot of talk about what influenced this blossoming art style, but we’ve also spent a good chunk of time discussing where it could go next. Either way, we hope you enjoy reading this short interview with Wendy. I’m sure you’ll be seeing more of her work if you remain an art enthusiast for a couple more years.
Tell us a little bit about yourself. What sparked your interest in digital art?
I started drawing during high-school, so I’m a bit of a late starter. I used to think that being a “good kid” is the same as being academically inclined. But soon after, I came to realize that that art isn’t all that bad. After all, it can be used to bring your stories to life. This actually happened to me when I was reading the Naruto manga in high-school, and that manga is what helped me discover what art is really about. That’s when it hit me. I want to tell my own stories using my own artwork.
Before my graduation, I got the opportunity to pick and choose between art and science, and I chose art because it changed my life so much after I got addicted to it. Fast-forward two years and I’m learning more and more about animation. I decided that this is the path I want to take. All in all, the magic of storytelling is what ultimately drove me to pursue art and animation.
We are currently experimenting with Radio Vox Groovy—our very own Internet radio. The RVG programmes include: Art Relax, VoxStream and VoxBox as of May 2017, but we will be introducing new ones in the foreseeable future.
The programme is only available in the Slovak language, and it’s going to have to stay that way until our staff come to grips with all of the things that go into broadcasting in two languages. However, we are very confident about launching an English version of these shows in Autumn.
For the time being, please enjoy the wide variety of musical genres we play on our station. With 70’s rock, game soundtracks and underground music—RVG is bound to have something you like the sound of.
Our new programme—Art Relax—will be launching in Autumn. You’ll know that this is the go-to place for every art enthusiast as soon as you tune in!
How did you go about finding a personal style? Yours seems to be very cartoony, and light-hearted in its own special way, I really like it.
Thank you so much! I don’t think I’ve found my own style yet, I’m still exploring lots of different ways to draw. I love to look at other artists’ work for inspiration, and I also experiment with the methods they’re using to make their drawings. By doing this, I can learn more about their technique whilst learning why they use a particular technique to achieve this result.
Tell us a little bit about your commercial work. What kind of clients do you usually have?
I started working as a freelancer after I graduated from college a year or so ago. I did a lot of illustrations for commercials, character and concept designs for the local TV channels, and some storyboarding for animation studios. I’m lucky enough to be a part of two freelance teams: Innogenetic studio and Story team. Both of these have their respective strengths in Malaysia’s creative industry. And the vast majority of my clients come from Malaysia, too. I’m hoping that I can get more jobs from overseas studios or maybe even mainstream studios in the future.
Just in case you ever wonder – yes, we do play analog quite often.
It doesn’t matter what language you speak. The team at Vox Groovy will make it so that everyone can hear your interview on the radio.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve got for freelancers who’re only just starting out?
I think that the most important thing is not being afraid to reach out to people who are better and greater than you. Oftentimes, these people are more than willing to help you pursue your art career, and it’s likely that you’ll become good friends with them in the future as well.
If you’re wanting an example from my past, I’d say that I never expected to meet so many amazing Malaysian artist, but Han, the head of our Story team, made that a reality. Thanks in large part to him, I got far more opportunities to get to know talented artists like Amin, Jason Chan, Kael Ngu and Zeen Chin. I even got to know some of the animation supervisors and production directors from the local animation studios like Mirayi and Illusionist.
You’re a big fan of animation, right? Why don’t you tell us a little bit about your favourite animated movies?
There are way too many animated movies that I love! As a child, I would spend my time watching Disney and Studio Ghibli movies, but the movie that’s influenced me the most is fairly recent. Disney’s Big Hero 6 changed my perspective, and I became more interested in western animation after I watched it for the first time. This movie had a lot of scenes that moved me, and the stories behind the character designs made me think: “Oh, this is exactly what I want to do for the rest of my life!” I totally forgot about Japanese manga and set my sights on this style instead.
Sometimes, you get commissioned to paint a couple. I wanted to know what it’s like for you to get involved in a client’s personal life like that, and how you go about drawing something that’s mainly about them and their relationship.
Oh, yes! I’ve always believed in true love, so I’ve been wanting to make others happy with my art in this way. The person who commissioned me told me a whole lot about their sweet relationship, and I was aiming to make that piece something that can closely reflect their relationship. I guess it’s got something to do with my own want for those sweet romances that I read during my childhood. Maybe I want them to come true? I was so happy that they loved it, and it became one of my favorite artworks by me because of that.
Was higher education worth it for you?
Well, I’m going to give you the exact same answer the other artists gave you *laughs*. In all honesty, the multimedia design course didn’t help me a great deal in my career. Now, I can’t really say that I regret taking it, but if I had the chance to redo things, I’d choose to go to a better college abroad. I didn’t learn much, and most of my knowledge is from the Internet and the artists I’ve spoken to in the past. I kind of want to apologize to my lecturers for saying that, but hey, you guys are still my friends who made things easier by helping me build up my confidence.
But I’m taking Schoolism courses now, and in I’ll be taking mentorships in the future, too. I think that investing in myself is an absolute must. My current course is similar to self-teaching, so I’m spending a lot of time experimenting and practicing by myself. The only real difference is that there’s now professional artists who are willing to help me by showing me new things I didn’t know about before. The tips and tricks I’ve been taught by these amazing teachers are beyond counting!
Couple – A drawing for lovely couple
Can you tell us more about your thoughts on social media?
Followers and likes are nothing more than numbers. I’ve been taking a break from social media for the past two months, but that’s mostly for personal reasons. All I wanted to do was build up my own sense of “self” again, so I was focusing more on my life, and ignoring how others see it. I need to get better as an artist, so I’ll work on my art instead.
However, social media isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The various platforms helped me grow as an artist. I gained a lot of new friends, found freelance work and shared my stories with the rest of the world. I’ll be coming back to social media soon enough. Probably right after I recover myself. So you can look forward to more of my artworks and stories.
What’s next for Wendy Tan?
I’m working on my personal animation projects and comics, I hope that I can influence some people with my stories. I also hope to meet more artists who I can work with, or get a chance to work in countries other than Malaysia. I want to see our beautiful world with my own eyes, I have so much more to learn, yet so little time to learn it in. I can’t wait to improve myself more and more, and maybe I don’t know where I’ll land, but I want to make sure that my life is full of adventures.
By Vox Groovy staff writer;
All images used with permission by the artist.
© Wendy Tan Shiau Wei or respective copyright holders.
Article in Slovak language;