The Wild Abandon


A: What did you want to be growing up?

D: As a child, I dreamt to be an art teacher. I would line all my dolls and teddy bears in front of my mini black board easel and teach them how to draw! I’d even scold them for being unresponsive. Haha! It’s funny how things work out in the end. I ended up being a teacher, albeit not teaching art, for 6 years, and I really, really hated scolding little children!

A: How did you come to drawing/illustrating?

D: This goes wayyyy back to when I was just a few years old. I was so fascinated with drawing and painting! I loved mixing playdoh to see what colour combinations I could come up with. I remember when I was just a few years old, my mother asked if there was anything I was interested in that I’d like to learn. She brought me in to a school to watch how ballet and piano lessons were conducted, and asked me to pick one to sign up for. While I was there, I saw a room at a corner with little children wearing aprons. They were painting their own interpretations of zoo animals and I loved how freely they could express themselves in their painting! I started my very first art lesson that week.

A: What would you say about your perception from youth till now?

D: I’ve changed a great deal since my youth! I guess the biggest change was my perception towards work. Like all youths, I just wanted to have fun all the time! At that time, somehow, I thought of school and work as something that people naturally don’t and shouldn’t enjoy doing. For a long period after that, that idea stuck with me. I ended up working long, emotionally draining hours every day so that I can enjoy going on holidays once in a year and splurging on new clothes and gadgets.

I hated not having a goal in life and sought advice from different people around me. It was then I realized that there are actually people who wake up on weekdays with smiles on their faces and are excited about how they will spend their day. I finally understood that there’s no such thing as work-life balance, because if you do what you love, you never have to work a day in your life.

A: What's your daily routine like?

D: I start off my day really early, when the sky is still dark! I’m a morning person so I enjoy having a good cup of coffee while I get started on work. I need that alone time to get my engine started and prepare myself for the day ahead. Some days, when the light is perfect, I whip out my camera and take some photos of my work.

Evenings are reserved for staying active! I’m obsessed with my exercise regime. I can go on and on about the things I do to keep myself fit, but I shan’t bore you! Basically, weekends are for reserved for cardio exercises while I head to the gym on weekdays for circuit training.

When the sky gets dark again at night, that’s when I feel the most inspired to create. Time goes past really quickly the moment I pick up my paint brush.

A: What moves you most in your life?

D: As cheesy as it sounds, it’s love. I think it’s so beautiful how we learn and derive strength from relationships. The bonds that we choose to form with people who we choose to spend our time with brings so much meaning to life.

Out of the billions of people in this world, I often wonder why we open our hearts to certain people, and close them to others. I do believe that there’s a certain someone for everyone. So sometimes, when I hear stories of how people met, how they missed each other so many times before, and finally, finally found love together, I tear.. because I feel like the entire universe had finally succeeded in bringing them together.

A: What is the most useful piece of advice you’ve been given?

D: I vividly remember a particular night my boyfriend and I had dinner at my brother and sister-in-law’s house. After dinner, we just sat around and chatted for hours. Then, I knew I wanted to pursue my passion in art but I lacked the confidence to take the leap.

I don’t really remember the exact advice they gave me that night, but all three of them shared their experiences with me. Their passion, their experiences, their failures and the lessons they’ve learnt. I went back home feeling like I was finally ready. It was that very week that I decided on the name ‘The Wild Abandon’

A: What do you struggle with at the moment?

D: So many things! I used to paint only when I feel most relaxed and inspired but with orders coming in regularly, I couldn’t afford to do that anymore. It’s been months since I’ve painted a piece that didn’t originate from an idea that came from someone else. So that’s what I wish to work on more this year. Finding the time, heading out more to find inspiration, and letting my imagination take control as I work on a new pre-designed series. 

A: Who or what is your happy pill?

D: My dearest dog, Oliver! I fell in love with him the first time I laid my eyes on him. I can still remember that moment vividly. All the other puppies came running to us to play, but Oliver was just sitting quietly at a corner, looking very timid. We had to approach him slowly to gain his trust. Since then, he has been my most loyal friend and companion. He’s now 9 years old and no longer living with me. Still, watching videos and pictures, or even just thinking of him never fails to bring a smile to my face!

A: Do you remember the saddest moment in your life?

D: 3 years back, I went through a pretty rough time. I had just moved to Singapore to stay with my then boyfriend, who I was with for ten years. During the most stressful year of my teaching career, we ended the relationship. I was juggling with work, finding a new place to stay and adjusting to my new lifestyle. Needless to say, there were many lonely nights.

I wouldn’t say that it was the saddest moment in my life, because even though it was sad, I now find it to be a blessing in disguise. At that moment, I didn’t understand why it was happening to me, but now that its over, I’m so glad it happened. I learnt so many things through the heartbreaking experience and am proud to say that I’ve emerged as a stronger, more independent person.

…. that, or that other time when I had a long day and looked forward to eating the leftover durian at home, only to find out that my brother ate it all up.

A: Who or what is inspiring you at the moment?

D: So many people and things inspire me everyday! Most of my inspiration come from nature.  I love plants and tend to surround myself with lots of them! I have a little corner in my room with all my potted plants and succulents. I enjoy spending my mornings tending to and admiring them. Since most of my paintings are of plants, I usually research about them, try to find them outdoors or at markets so that I can study their features and use them as references when I’m painting.

Music plays a huge role too! Sometimes, I would just play some coffeehouse music and close my eyes. Clear my mind of distractions, give myself the time and space to decide what kind of feeling I want to portray with my painting for the day. This really helps on days that I struggle with finding inspiration.

A: What would you like to give for your legacy?

D: I think the most important thing I want to leave behind when I’m gone isn’t tangible things, but a piece of myself. I’m willing to give all on things that I love to do and people who mean the most to me. When I leave this world, I want to be remembered for the things I’ve accomplished, people I’ve impacted and know that I’ve made a difference to make this world just a little brighter. To pass on my beliefs and values, I make an effort to live them consciously every day.

A: Where do you see yourself in 10 years from now?

D: Wow.. 10 years is a long time! 10 years from now, I hope that I can still call Singapore my home. I see myself settled down, formed my own little family with a kid or two. I’ll have a corner in my house with amazing morning light where I can still paint. Though, I really have no idea what the future holds for me. If you asked me 10 years ago the exact same question, I would never in a million years guess that I’ll be living in Singapore and painting for a living!

A: Is it important to you to be part of a creative community?

D: Extremely! It gets quite lonely working on projects on my own, and I feel that it doesn’t have to be that way. In any industry, people can get quite competitive, but I think that having similar experiences and challenges can be what brings people together. I really enjoy chatting and learning from others who have gone through, or are going through similar struggles as me. So if you’re reading this and think that there’s something you’d like to share, I would love to have a chat with you!

A: Do you have any advice to share with people about the lifestyle of a creative?

D: If you’re getting started, just like me, don’t give up. It’s inevitable and sometimes also necessary to look at what others are doing, but don’t compare yourself to them. What you don’t see from an artist’s portfolio is the amount of time and effort they put in to mastering a skill, all their trials and errors, all their struggles and frustrations, crumpled and hidden drafts that they’re not proud of. It’s all part of the process of learning, and if you are determined enough, you will get there too.