Graphic Designer Singapore: Interview With Mavis Tan

With over 6 years of industry experience, today we are proud to have with us a Graphic Designer Singapore – Mavis Tan! She’s an experienced artist in her own craft, creating big dreams through her digital illustrations.

Table of Contents:

Please share with us more about yourself!

I am Mavis Tan. I was always much inclined to visuals and arts rather than brainy subjects such as Mathematics or Science. I took art as my first choice of the subject module during secondary school and went on to ITE to pursue a Nitec course in Visual Communications.

I remembered being really curious and excited as to what I can take away from a course that offers us opportunities to digitally create graphics, logos, prints using Adobe software such as Illustrator. Till date, it’s my only trusty software for quality graphics.

Because Visual Comm was my first step to general design studies, I started placing importance on it just so I could pursue my Diploma in Communication Design in Temasek Poly and graduated to a job as an in-house graphic designer Singapore in the FMCG sector.

Digital Illustrations by Graphic Designer Mavis Tan
Digital Illustrations by Mavis Tan

What made you want venture into digital arts/ graphic design/ illustrations and making it as your career?

Growing up I knew I had a soft spot for cartoons/anime, animations that are visually stimulating. I thought it’s fun to create some visuals on my own one day. At any chance I could, I would doodle and fill them up with colours using colour pencils, markers or paint.
As I was used to being more hands-on, the concept of creating graphics digitally was really new to me. I ventured into Communication Design (Branding) first then digital illustrations as a personal creative outlet. As a student back then, I studied brands and create graphic designs based on briefs.

Even then I enjoyed the freedom to be able to apply the graphics and visuals I had in mind. Maybe I secretly enjoyed the freedom and complexities a graphic designer role offers. Which was why I pursued it even as a career.
However as I don’t handle as many creative works in my day job, I seek arts as escapism and a creative outlet to create self-expressive digital illustrations during my free time. I also offer freelance design services to my close contacts as well.

Digital Illustrations by Singapore Graphic Designer - Mavis Tan
More Works by Mavis Tan

What keeps you going as an artist/graphic designer Singapore and what inspires you when you create your art pieces/designs?

There are days where I had to deal with severe creator’s block. As artists, I believe we can relate to one another on how common this is. At the end of the day, all I could do was to take some time away from the art space, recharge myself and get back on creating at my own pace.
I enjoyed looking at perspectives coming from both creatives and non-creatives. It’s intriguing stepping into the design space of Instagram admiring other talents and being inspired by them.
Overseas artists especially. I’d say my works are largely dynamic and intuitive. Mystical, organic, and vibrant art styles inspire me. I also find it helps to get some inspiration from music and nature.

Which is your favourite digital illustration and why?

Adorable Illustrations by Graphic Designer Singapore, Mavis Tan
Adorable Illustrations by Mavis Tan

One of my favourite digital illustrations is these 6 small pieces of adorable illustrations I made in August. I was very inspired to niche this style and to re-imagine just what mushrooms could possibly look or behave.
I’ve only gotten an iPad for digital drawings during mid-year so I was practicing anatomical positions and expressions quite a bit. As I visioned my works to draw in elements of nature and bold colours, this set of illustrations harnessed them.
Adding on a few positive affirmations onto my illustrations radiates empowerment, not just cute!

One of your works on basic composition on the pug (styling an image in many possible ways) seems interesting. What was your thought process when you came out with the variations of those designs? Are there any hidden logos/meaning?

The many different stylistic ways to recreate pug illustrations were some of my favourites. I actually thought of applying my knowledge in various graphic design styles. You can see although the pug has been recreated instinctively, the key elements of the pug remains. There wasn’t a need to overthink the composition except to appreciate the various styles explored.

It seems that you have a flair and interest in poetry writing as well. Would you be comfortable in sharing some of your favourite writings/quotes and explain more on its deeper meaning to you?

Poetry by Mavis Tan - titled 'Musings of a drink', 'Stardusts', 'Save You'
Poetry by Mavis Tan

I still have a long way to go for poetry writing! Though I have never seen myself having a flair in poetry writing, I do find writing, in particular, is a unique form of language which I personally used as a controlled discipline.
One of my favourite pieces written is Stardusts. I’ve always wanted to express the speck of hope I left myself albeit life gets heavy some days. I imagined those heavier days as clouds of dust, dirty and polluted.

Dreams are buried by shame as I was constantly feeling this inadequacy, a lack of confidence to see through my dreams into reality. But in reality, that’s just my perception. I learned to embrace even negative thoughts which are sometimes disguised as illusions.

Eventually, there will always be light at the end of the tunnel, it helps to remain hopeful. As I am still committing to writing more pieces, I am aware of my ability to analyse my thoughts and translate them into words fairly well. I take ownership of what I’ve written despite the constant doubts on whether my choice of words delivers imagination or made sense. It’s both a blessing and a curse I’d say.

Dream Report, an Illustration by Graphic Designer Mavis Tan
Dream Report, Illustration by Graphic Designer Mavis Tan

My favourite quote by C.W Lewis is “Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less.” I would match this to a digital illustration titled, Dream Report which in my words is an expression of humility because my intention was to create something that would ignite conversions and encourage others to open up about their hopes and dreams.
This was a shoutout to the people, yet it made me think about myself less, but never less of.

What are some of the things (done by graphic artists/digital artists) that the general audience would usually overlook? Or what do you hope that your audience would see/appreciate more in graphic/digital artist’s works?

I guess general audiences would often overlook the smaller details digital artists put in their works. The perception of a non-creative audience would usually suggest a piece of art is just as it is, visually appealing or impressive.
I think if we could take a step further to acknowledge the tremendous amount of behind-the-scenes work to be done in order to achieve a stunning piece that would make any artists feel more appreciated. I hope my audience would provide more constructive feedback to their artist’s works in knowing that someone resonates with what they have put out and cares enough to witness their growth.
As of recent years, it’s definitely nice to see more audiences generally positive and involved in the local art scenes.

Are there any areas that you would like to upgrade/improve for yourself?

I would like to improve on my digital drawings by exploring different brush types and colours. As for more passion projects, I am looking into creating hands-on crafts, such as painting on mirrors and paper crafts. And more writings!

Thanks so much for sharing about yourself Mavis!

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