Aspiring children’s book author reignites sense of wonder with her illustrations

ILLUSTRATOR Chein Shyan lives in a nonsensical world of storytelling. Her love for visual art, fuelled by her curious nature, takes her on a journey of continuous discovery.

She is inspired by the works of her favourite illustrators, such as Mary Blair, Tess Smith Roberts and Gemma Correll.

“There are so many things I want to uncover in my creative journey,” said the 27-year-old.

“The bigger picture is how I can give back to society with my creative art.”

Chein said she was able to broaden her interest in creative work while at university in Birmingham, England.

“I also had an exciting opportunity to work with The Emma Press. I even had a work placement at Hallmark designing cards, and with a court illustrator for the High Magistrate.”

Besides drawing, she has also learned animation, as seen on her Instagram @venessaartpuff.

What does visual art offer you?

“I have dabbled in various creative outlets like printmaking, embroidery, sculpting and dancing. But drawing has always come naturally to me. Art allows me to create dreamlike worlds where I could get lost for hours. Sometimes, the process of creating and drawing are more fascinating than the final work itself.

“Visual art also allows me to communicate through storytelling. Every narration is a reflection of the artist. Everyone’s interpretations of an image reflect their own experience and imagination. I am constantly finding new ways to express my creativity.”

What are some of the narratives you explore?

“I am an observer and tend to express myself through my visuals. In my creative work, I often channel my idiosyncrasy and sometimes misfortune, in the form of satirical humour. I hope my audience can relate to my vulnerable narratives. Everyone should embrace their quirks.”

How did you find your distinctive style?

“I believe that an art style is a combination of multiple things like the use of colours, the artist’s mindset, and the content and voice of the artwork. The best artists are the ones who can find themselves through their art journey. They don’t stick to one style but are constantly improving themselves.”

Do you see darkness in your art?

“Lately, I wonder if I have Aphantasia, an inability to visualise imagery. Perhaps I tried too hard to compensate for drawing my trapped imagination in full vibrancy and life. Quoting Susan Abulhawa: ‘Creativity is born from the unknown, the uncomfortable and unpredictable, where darkness is the greatest.’ Art allows me to reflect and understand myself. If you look closely at some of my artworks, they tell a darker side of my inner thoughts, hidden by loud colourful illustrations.”

What aspirations do you have for the children’s book you are working on?

“I have been developing some stories for nearly two years, but I don’t know when to finish them. I want to create a simple story that captures the curious nature of young readers or even adults. I would love to transport my readers into an imaginary and magical world of bizarre events through my storybook.”

Where do you draw inspiration from?

“I have been fairly inspired lately because I have had the time to sit down with my own thoughts. I think the biggest inspiration is myself, asking myself questions like what is going on around me, what is my state of mind and what topics interests me.”

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