Saturday, August 11, 2018

STGCC 2018: Booth Highlight - Inky Cat Studio Has Art with A Lot of Purrsonality

For the past few years, Red Dot Diva has introduced artists and creators who will be showcasing their artwork at the STGCC (Singapore Toy Game and Comic Convention) Artist Alley. This section of the show is where the local and region's creative heart beats, producing all kinds of interesting art, craft and merchandise.

There is something special for cat lovers at this year's Artist Alley. Look out for Inky Cat Studio, whose main subject consists of felines, illustrated in adorably quirky ways and scenarios. If you are not that into cats, Inky Cat Studio is very versatile, and also produces cute images of bears, rabbits, raccoons, as well as more traditional subjects like human portraits.

In this interview, Red Dot Diva talks to Stephanie Hew, the lady behind Inky Cat Studio, about her art style and artistic influences.

Red Dot Diva: Hi Stephanie! Please tell the RDD readers a little about yourself, how you got into the career of illustration and graphic design.
Stephanie: Hi everyone! I’m Stephanie Hew, the illustrator behind Inky Cat Studio :) I’m an Australian living here in Singapore with my husband and 2 cats.

I’ve always been creative and loved technology since I was very young. I started with traditional media like oils and watercolor and then when I got my first computer I discovered the world of digital art and kept on teaching myself the software and techniques. This was all happening on the side while my full time job for many years was in higher education. After a few years in Singapore however, I decided it was time for a change and to take my long time passion seriously and see where it could take me. It was a difficult decision but with the encouragement from family I made the leap and started Inky Cat Studio.

Red Dot Diva: How would you describe your art style? Have you been Pawticularly influenced by any other artists?
Stephanie: My art style varies so much! I used to struggle a lot with this because I like to try to new mediums and experiment, but a lot of people seem to think you need to have a ‘trademark’ style. Of course there’s nothing wrong with this and it does help make an artist easier to recognize. However, I subscribe to the Kyle T. Webster (he’s a great illustrator and also creates amazing Photoshop brushes for Adobe) philosophy of embracing variety and using that as a strength. 

There’s always more than one way to be an artist, so for myself, instead of being rooted to an art style, I try to keep my concepts consistent. In this sense, I’d describe my art as offbeat; humorous, whimsical, cute - sometimes it can be serious, but I try to keep that to a minimum. Besides Kyle I also love the minimalist art of Ryo Takemasa, the limited color palette of Daniel Spacek and the expressiveness of Nicolas Uribe.

Red Dot Diva: Was there a special Mewment that made you decide to use felines as your primary subject matter in your art?
Stephanie: Cats are my absolute favorite to illustrate because they embody all the calm and sass I wish I possessed. There was no real moment where I decided that they would be a mainstay in my art - they’re just such a big part of my personality that they come out naturally without much thought or hesitation.

Red Dot Diva: There are many Tailented artists who choose cats as their main subject. How do you ensure that your art is able to Claw its way out from the others?
Stephanie: Art is subjective so I’ve long given up on trying to please everyone. Instead, I try to focus on improving my technique, refining my ideas and channeling my personality into my art as best as I can. Everyone has different tastes and while some people might want to cater to a particular trend, for my own mental health, I try not to worry about ‘competition’ too much. I also think that drawing cat eyes with lines rather than dots or circles make them extra cute :p

Red Dot Diva: Haha. I have to agree about those cat eyes.

Red Dot Diva: What has been your Furvourite project so far? What will be your dream project? 
Stephanie: As difficult and different as it was from my usual, I really enjoyed the Rainbow Chairity Fundraiser that I was a part of in 2016. For this project, I sculpted and created a model of a Magical Faraway land on a bare wooden chair. 

I really enjoyed getting my hands dirty and combining, painting, sculpting, crafting and everything else that I knew in order to finish this installation. A dream project would be an apparel line a la Timothy Goodman x Uniqlo :)

Red Dot Diva: What tips do you have for fellow artists who intend to build a viable  brand and Catalogue online? 
Stephanie: Don’t be afraid to promote and market yourself. As unique as any kind of original art is, it still needs a helping hand in being seen and understood. This is where good marketing comes in. So even if you have to take a break and spend time just learning as much as you can, it will definitely be worth it. Figure out who your audience is, familiarise yourself with online services, software/ tools and what method of promotion would work best for you.

Red Dot Diva: Is this your Furst time boothing at STGCC? What made you decide to do this, and do you feel about putting yourself out there at this event? 
Stephanie: Yes, STGCC 2018 will be my first! I’ve visited STGCC several times before and I’ve always thought it would be a great convention to showcase my work. Luckily, Jessica Emmett, who is a veteran at STGCC, invited me to share a booth with her this year, and I’ve really been learning a lot about what it takes to get a booth ready for such a big convention. I don’t particularly feel anxious about the convention (yet!), I think I’m more excited to see how my products will be received by the public!

Red Dot Diva: What Meowsome stuff will you be offering at your booth? Anything for the Categorically non-feline fans?'
Stephanie: For STGCC, I’ll be showcasing my best selling enamel pin designs, lots of new art prints, my Mobie and Pip humor zine, stickers and the ability to pre order from my T-shirt line! I’m also an avid traveller and coffee lover, so I’ll also have some wanderlust and espresso themed merchandise ready for those who haven’t succumb to cat love yet :D


For more samples of Inky Cat Studio's artwork, check out her Instagram and website!
She will be partnering with Jessica Emmett at STGCC 2018's artist alley at Booth AA-57.

STGCC will be held on 8 & 9 September at Marina Bay Sands Expo.

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