Over 70 artists took over LaSalle College of the Arts' Campus Green last weekend (29 to 30 October 2016) promoting and selling their creative works during the inaugural Illustrations Arts Fest run by Organisation of Illustrators Council (OIC) and the Puttam School Of Film & Animation at LaSalle. According to OIC, there were about 35 alumni and current students of LaSalle who set up booths at the marketplace, and the rest were indie creators and professional artists.
When Red Dot Diva and her friends arrived at the venue at about 2 PM on the first day of the fair, it already felt like a jostle at some of the narrower walkways.
Nobrow Press' booth, which was located at the front end, saw its fair share of interested buyers. Their colourful books carried a distinctively European style, and she overheard from the lady manning the booth that many titles were selling out fast.
A line had formed at the side of their booth too, and no wonder, Swedish-based artist Mattias Adolfsson, best known for his intricately detailed doodles and drawings, was there signing books.
Red Dot Diva's first stop was to say hello to Benjamin Chee, creator of the food-infused Charsiew Space universe. (Click here to read the blog article on a Q&A with Benjamin!) She had to collect her own personal copy of "Charsiew Space" and decided to get "The Alchemy of Oil" too, simply because she's such a fan of his sense of humour and cheerful drawings.
Sharing booth space with him was Ziqun AK who was promoting his Calvin Hobbs-que graphic novel "Wizard Garden". Red Dot Diva flipped through a copy of his book and thought it was cuteness overload! Ziqun puts across a comical visual idea very well in just a few panels. Do check out the Wizard Garden Facebook page to get an idea of what's in the comic book!
A few familiar brand names who are known for their Red Dot Island-themed souvenirs and merchandise were also at the market. Stuck was one of them. They have gotten even more famous after they released a series of cute Merlion chou-chous, who have gone viral on social media. Red Dot Diva herself owns three different versions of the Merlion chou-chous! Stuck is now offering different sizes of Merlion chou chous (the smaller one is a keychain, and there is also an upsized one), plus two sets of clothes (kebaya and graduate) that should be a part of any respectable Merlion chou chou's wardrobe. You can check out their range of stuff at their online store.
Located side by side was an art collective called A Good Citizen. The group channel their thoughts and feelings about various Red Dot Island scenes, its politics and its people through fantastic and controversial satire art.
Red Dot Diva's favourite was this piece called "Birth of Ideal" which reminded her as well of a painting of a Merlionesque version of Dante's Inferno, which thankfully did not require a Richard Langdon to decipher or deliver (ahem!)the meanings behind it.
In the middle of all the arty hullabaloo is the lively Global Beards duo - Danger Gene and Wayne Rée. You can't possibly miss them because they are exuberantly beard-tastic!
The guys were selling Gene's book of anthropomorphic characters called "The Unsavoury Alphabet", a noir detective caper of stories within a story as well as a space adventure comic book called "Yellow Princess and the Attack of the Dinosharks". You can also contact the Global Beards team to pre-order the sequel "Yellow Princess and the Attack of the Citadel", which is expected to be ready early next year!
Sitting right next to the Global Beards' booth, were two lovely fiery sparks Audrey Chan and Donna Lye. They were a surprisingly patient and dedicated counterpoint to their noisy bearded neighbours, and were seen doing brisk business. Their vibrant character portrait art prints and art commissions seem to be in keen demand!
Father and son duo RocketRayGun (Kelvin Chan) and Kieran Kudidos have also set up shop at the marketplace. They both offered sketchbooks and art commissions. Kelvin, who is one of the team members of high-end collectibles brand Kinetiquettes and has mentored art students, was quite well-known by the younger crowd, while Kieran is an up and coming rising star!
Joelyn Alexandra and Max Low was situated conveniently next to Global Beards. The main item Red Dot Diva wanted to purchase from Max was his super adorable Milo Dinosaur postcards! She bought two! Joelyn was selling her fiction anthologies called "Pulp Toast", and Max had his graphic novels "Love Like You" and "Pointes de Controle" available for sale as well.
While browsing around the campus green, Red Dot Diva noticed that for many of the student booths, two themes - either separately or as a mash-up - seem to be their favourites: Food and Cats.
One of the artists who does both of these themes really well is Sesame Seed Cat. In all of her art prints, a tumble of little smiley black cats flop, climb, sprawl and wave on instant noodles, kuay chap, milo, chok and yu tiao, nasi lemak, amongst other food and grocery items. It was hilarious looking at the images wondering what mischief all the furballs were up to!
Another visual style that caught Red Dot Diva's eye was a set of postcards which portrayed Star Wars characters, like Yoda, Darth Vader, Boba Fett and Darth Maul, as Chinese warriors together with their Chinese names marked at the sides. They were drawn by Joseph Chiang of Monster Gallery, and the prints are available for sale at their Etsy site.
Over at a quieter corner was what Red Dot Diva called the "seasoned artists'" hub. Sonny Liew's booth was set up there but he was not around and was most probably conducting one of the workshops. Veteran artist Cheah SinAnn was selling his latest graphic novel "Bicycle" and vintage limited copies of "The House of Lim".
Next to his booth was Koh Hong Teng, seated comfortably in a minimalist set-up, promoting the books that he and author Dave Chua have created, including the complete edition of the cult hit "Gone Case". By the way, there is now a French adaptation of "Gone Case" called "L’homme de la Maison"!
Red Dot Diva enjoys and admires Hong Teng's insanely detailed artwork so she could not resist nabbing his latest book about immigration and identity called "The Garden of Foolish Indulgences", which was written by Oh Yong Hwee ("Ten Sticks and One Rice") and edited by Dave Chua.
The three creators are also collaborating on an upcoming fantasy-science fiction project with a working title called "The Prodigy". Word is, it will be launched in early 2017. Check out the fascinating promo poster for "The Prodigy" above, which hints of H.R. Giger biomechanical-style space aliens and Steven Spielberg's "Close Encounters of the Third Kind". Red Dot Diva can't wait to find out more about it!
Amongst all the visual art found at LaSalle's Campus Green, there was one particular stall which offered an artform of a different nature. Artisanal brand Merely sold lovingly handcrafted ice-cream made from natural ingredients, with delicious flavours like Milo Fudge Cake and Thai Milk Tea. Their booth was like an oasis for anyone trying to cool down from the heat of the day. This was the first time Red Dot Diva has heard of Merely. She must visit their shop at Sunshine Plaza one of these days!
After about 2 hours or so wandering around the marketplace and chatting with friends, Red Dot Diva had to call it a day. It has been an enriching experience discovering original artistic content and enticing visual ideas. The crowd was buzzing toward the later half of the afternoon. Red Dot Diva also found the artists were enthusiastic and eager to engage with folks. The entire festival had a wonderful positive vibe to it.
Hopefully, the success of this year's event will fuel more artist participation from local and overseas for next year's edition. The Illustration Arts Fest spills over to this coming weekend's (5-6 November) Singapore Writers' Festival (SWF), where some of the artists continue to promoting their works and will be featured in panels. So, if you did not manage to visit Illustration Arts Fest last week, do head on to SWF and lend your support them to our talented illustrators!