Q: When did you first realise you had a passion for illustration?
A: I started drawing, even on my dad’s encyclopedia collection, when I was young. I wanted to study for an art degree but ventured into graphic design because it seemed more ‘job available’ at that time. Illustrators were really niche back then, and even now, in Malaysia. Some of my friends didn’t quite understand or hardly heard of how I earned a living through illustration. Several years into the field, I came to the realisation that though I was good at it, I couldn’t see a future in it. At the same time, I was unsure as to what to do next. So, I decided to pursue a Master’s degree in Australia to see how things would go and who would’ve thought that that would change my entire direction.
During a project, my lecturer saw my illustrations and loved them. She said there was something different about them and I was delighted to be “seen” by her. That was how I started on the path to becoming an illustrator. I didn’t come to this drawing style immediately though. In fact, I explored patiently for several months until this felt like me. Therefore, illustration is not just a passion for me but a form of self-expression.
Q: What inspired you to create forest-themed art and stationary set items?
A: As a child, I read a lot of storybooks depicting animals in the woods, like the Little Red Riding Hood, Country Mouse and City Mouse, and Goldilocks and The Three Bears. I also grew up in the suburbs so I spent a lot of time in nature, catching butterflies and collecting flowers. I guess those memories had a strong influence on my works.
Q: You had the chance to illustrate a children’s book for Hannah Holt which came out earlier this month. What was the story behind this collaboration?
A: I was approached by the publisher, through my agent in 2017, asking if I would be interested in working on a book manuscript. It was a warm, beautiful and rhythmic story of how different fathers, both animal and human, show love towards their children. I felt very touched and connected to the story so the process began.
The first two lines of each poem depicted a particular father’s habitat, with a specific colour and how he cares for his little ones. For example, “Across a field of hazy yellow, this lion stalks a lazy fellow.” While the last two lines, which I particular love, describe how this father’s love felt like; “He pounces on Dad with baby claws. This father’s love has velvet paws.” I’m bringing this rhythm into the illustrations, from showing their home environment on the left page, to their interaction on the right page until finally “zooming in” to show how their love is felt together.
It was a really fun project working with different animals that were out of my usual range, such as an emperor penguin, seahorses, a falcon and an emu, while still trying to be consistent with my style. The publisher even called in an animal expert to make sure I drew them correctly. For example, it was so interesting to learn there are actually dark markings at the back of a lion’ ears.
Q: Which medium do you prefer to use for your illustrations, and why?
A: I use only a sketchbook and gel ink pen I got from Muji. Their paper is so smooth and just right for the gel ink pens to glide over them and makes drawing animal fur easy. I’m not really good at watercolouring, so I do all my colouring in Photoshop. It actually helps because sometimes when the client wants to change a particular colour, I can do so easily.
Q: Where do you normally promote your art?
A: I’m more of a visual person, so I usually promote my works on Instagram and share them on Facebook, sometimes once or twice a week. I usually share new artwork, products, works in progress, and occasionally videos to show my drawing process.
Q: If you were to describe your work in 3 words, what would they be and why?
A: Whimsical, sweet, and loving. People have told me that they feel love whenever they see my work and that it makes their heart feel soft and happy. I love that my works can bring out these precious emotions from people.
Good things are meant to be shared. 😉 To see more of Yee Von’s work, check out the links below!
Website: Yee Von
Blog: Whimsy Whimsical
Behance: Yee Von Chan
Facebook: Whimsy Whimsical
Tumblr: World of Whimsy Whimsical
Pinterest: Whimsy Whimsical Paper Goods