Friday, July 8, 2022

The Comic Embassy - An Interview With Inimitable Local Artist Foo Swee Chin

The pop-up artist commnunal space at Tekka Place called The Comic Embassy, is featuring two artist ambassadors for the month of July. Veteran local freelance artist Foo Swee Chin, more affectionately known as FSc, is one of the artist ambassadors. The other is local illustrator and comic book creator Alan Bay.

FSc has been creating comic books cartoons, games, manga, tattoos and web journals since the early 2000s. Her various works have been published in Singapore, Japan, Taiwan and the US. She is well known for her NIGHTMARES AND FAIRYTALES comic book series (2002 to 2005) published by Slave Labor Graphics (SLG), in collaboration with writer Serena Valentino. She gained a large following in Japan when she managed to publish her work there. One of them is NIHON LAH (2012 to 2015), an online travel blog comic. Her other works include psychological-supernatural tales like muZz (SLG) and MINCE (Neko Press). FSc's historical action comic PARAMESWARA AND TEMASEK: THE SACKING OF SINGAPORE, was also featured during the Singapore Bicentennial celebration.

There is no easy way to describe FSc's unique yet recognisable art style. Her mix of the morose, almost Tim Burton-esque sentiments and fluid, imaginative visuals, are as enigmatic as FSc herself. Curious to find out what makes her tick, Red Dot Diva asked her some nosy questions:

Red Dot Diva (RDD): How did you get started drawing for comics?
Foo Swee Chin (FSc): I am mostly a self taught artist. I started submitting comics in my teens, and they were published in student newspapers. Later on, I went to Temasek Poly and studied in a course called “Visual Communication”, which by the way, doesn’t exist anymore! It was mostly a graphic design course with sessions on photography, videography, etc. I did not stop making comics. Along the way it took me to America, Taiwan and Japan.
RDD: And what a journey it has been!

RDD: When it comes to drawing art, what are your favourite mediums?
FSc: I think... I prefer the traditional - paper and pencil or pen.

RDD: I find your art so unique - it's both whimsical and gothic. I sense that they are also very spiritual, with a deep connection to nature and hints of the supernatural. Are your creations influenced by the unseen and the unexplained?
FSc: Thank you. I am interested in mythologies, shamanism, animism, folklore, ufology, quantum theories etc. I like nature, trees, animals, minerals. I enjoy walks in the mountains, or places that are quiet and green. My first friend was a huge tree in our (primary) school field. I am also a practising energetic healer (Reiki), thanks to my cats. To me, my cats are my closest teachers and most treasured family members.

RDD: Have you ever felt the need to escape your surroundings to get inspired to draw what you love?
FSc: Crowded places often give me bad headaches. Singapore is also getting very noisy everywhere, I find that hard to cope... Reading, drawing, walking somewhere quiet, listening to music, daydreaming are a few of my ways to tune out of our reality and harsh situations. Through teaching and speaking at panels and events, I learned to manage and tune in more into this reality when needed. *laughs* It was hard! It taught me how to listen and communicate with people.

Before Covid, when it was financially possible, I'd travel out of the country to escape the concrete, glass, noise and people. When I have free time, I meditate to rejuvenate mentally, physically. To breathe.

RDD: I can totally empathise and understand this. The need to see a large expanse of nature and space as far as the eye can see, calls out to me on many occasions too.

RDD: Does Singapore offer you anything in terms of the mystical or fantastical when coming up with your concept art? Or do you have to look far beyond our shores?
FSc: Yes, we are a multicultural society. I think it is the foundation that sowed the seed of interest in various cultures. I draw inspiration from different things. I like stories by Diana Wynne Jones and Neil Gaiman... Zoning out... music... Singapore used to have many lovely big old trees. When I travel, I like to visit old shrines, castles... old places, or nature and mountains.

RDD: Where would you live, if you could only be an artist in one city in the entire world? And why?
FSc: I don't know about cities... Somewhere with fewer people, quiet and a lot of nature would be nice. I really like this small town in Japan, Nara, because of the mountain. Singen, a town in Germany, is very lovely too. The chimes of evening church bells were very surreal and calming. Both are near nature, walkable and peaceful. Being able to hear the sand and small rocks crunch under my feet as I walk brings me joy. It is humbling.

RDD: As a veteran artist who has worked for decades in various projects including Japanese manga, games and graphic novels, what is one important thing that you have learned over time?
FSc: I learned to let go. And that is the hardest thing to do.
RDD: I ruminated on what you said for awhile. I think that is a profound lesson for all of us.

RDD: I have found many women creators tend to let their art do the talking rather than actively promote themselves. The world has gotten more competitive, and a lot noisier, especially with social media. So, what are the ways women creators can get their art seen, and their voices heard?
FSc: I am afraid I am one of those artists who are lacking in the self-promotion section. Confidence and self management are vital. Our society is an extroverted one, so I guess socializing is a good way to get yourself seen and heard. That said, I don’t think I am not the best person advice on this matter. I am trying to adapt too.

RDD: I notice on your website that you craft collectibles and items as well. What is your favourite crafting project?
FSc: I used to. I don't know if I have a favourite project. They are all fun - to discover and create something, to make something work, to understand how something works.

RDD: I see that you are a cat mom, and naturally, cats feature quite a lot in your art too. What do you think --- Should cats rule the world??
FSc: Heehee why not. It already happened in many stories. There are an infinite number of dimensions and realities, why not.

RDD: What can we expect from your participation at The Comic Embassy? Will there be new art prints or published works we can look forward to?
FSc: I hope I will be able to make some new prints. Most of my published works can be found and read online. I am afraid I don't have any stock of my own books. I have a character drawing workshop on the 17th and 30th of July. There is also an art demo with Alan on the 16th.

Several of FSc's otherworldly artwork are on display at The Comic Embassy. Red Dot Diva urges that you should admire her art in person for a more visceral visual experience. There will also be many opportunities for you to meet FSc as well as Alan Bay at the communal space. If you are an artist or creator, don’t miss the two workshops that FSc will be conducting, namely Intuitive Character Design on 17 July and 30 July!

Where: #B1-01/02 at Tekka Place, 2 Serangoon Road, Singapore 218227
Date: 16 July 2022, Saturday
Time: 3 PM
Admission is FREE



Art Is Community - The Comic Embassy Opens At Tekka Place - 11 June 2022

The Comic Embassy - An Interview With Local Sketch Artist Collin Yap

The Comic Embassy - An Interview With Multi-faceted Freelance Artist James Leong

The Comic Embassy - An Interview With Versatile Comic Book Creator Alan Bay

No comments:

Post a Comment