New illustration arts festival with artists market

The inaugural Illustration Arts Fest showcases work from amateur hobbyists such as Ho Wai Hong (far left) and professional illustrators such as Darel Seow (left).
The inaugural Illustration Arts Fest showcases work from amateur hobbyists such as Ho Wai Hong (far left) and professional illustrators such as Darel Seow (left).PHOTO: JASON LEING

The first Illustration Arts Fest will offer live drawing sessions as well as talks and workshops

Usually hidden behind their social media personas or artist websites, 150 illustrators will convene at the inaugural Illustration Arts Fest, where they will be drawing live as well as showcasing, selling and talking about their works.

"We want to give a public face to the guy struggling behind the scenes trying to make a beautiful drawing," says festival director Michael Ng, 52, a full-time illustrator. "For the longest time, the illustrator was never in public."

Ng is the co-founder of the Organisation of Illustrators Council (OIC), which runs the festival. A professional community of about 40 to 60 illustrators here, OIC celebrates its 10th anniversary this year.

The festival runs over two weekends from today till Sunday and from Nov 4 to 6.

The bulk of the programming, including artist talks, workshops and an Illustrators' Market, will take place during the first weekend at Lasalle College of the Arts in McNally Street.

Programmes on the second weekend will be held at The Arts House as part of the Singapore Writers Festival. The events during that period include Luck Of The Draw, a free interactive drawing session held on Nov 4 where artists will create a work on the spot based on a quote drawn by the visitor from a box.


  • WHERE: Lasalle College of the Arts, 1 McNally Street; and Singapore Writers Festival, The Arts House, 1 Old Parliament Lane

    WHEN: Today till Sunday (Lasalle College of the Arts) and Nov 4 to 6 (Singapore Writers Festival)

    ADMISSION: $20 for artist talks; $25 for artist talks that include a panel discussion; $50 for workshops; $55 for day pass. Go to to buy tickets for events on the first weekend and to buy tickets for events on the second weekend


Tickets cost from $20 for an artist talk to $55 for a day pass. Entry to the Illustrators' Market, which sells original prints, products and books by 75 participating artists including 30 students from Lasalle, is free.

Prominent names involved in the festival include Singapore artist Sonny Liew, who will give a talk on Sunday about his graphic novel, The Art Of Charlie Chan Hock Chye, which won the Singapore Literature Prize this year.

He will also be conducting a workshop this afternoon about using comics for storytelling.

Los Angeles-based French artist Jean Jullien will also give a talk tomorrow afternoon via Skype about recent developments in his artistic career. The illustrator, who has a big online following, was behind the "Peace for Paris" image - an amalgamation of the Eiffel Tower with the peace symbol - which went viral last year, becoming an emblem of unity following the terrorist attacks in the French capital.

Illustrator Tay Kai Yee, 28, a core member of the OIC, mooted the idea of an event dedicated to illustration in Singapore after being exposed to a lively artistic community in Britain as a student.

He started making contact with the founder of the prominent annual East London Comics & Arts Festival, publisher Nobrow Press, as early as 2013.

Both entities are partners of the Illustration Arts Fest, helping to bring in Jullien, the London festival's resident artist this year, and other artists including American illustrator Richard McGuire, British illustrator Isabel Greenberg and Swedish illustrator Mattias Adolfsson.

These artists, alongside Japanese illustrator Hideyuki Katsumata, will be involved in various activities including talks, workshops and book signings.

Through the festival, the organisers hope to nurture a greater appreciation of the work of illustrators who have their distinct styles.

"One of the things that is obvious to me is the growing confidence of the artists here," says Mr Chris Shaw, head of Puttnam School of Film & Animation at Lasalle, who has worked closely with Ng and the team for the festival.

"It's not about creating fan art or mimicking somebody else's style. This festival is almost like a coming- of-age for the community."

If all goes well, the organisers hope to run the festival yearly. Mr Shaw says: "Events such as this allow us to stick the flag up there and say that we're not just a nation of manufacturing and service companies, but we have an arts identity as well."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 28, 2016, with the headline 'Draw of illustrating'. Print Edition | Subscribe