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Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Issue 25: Artist Interview of Ah-Guo 阿果

FEATURE BLOG: Singapore Artist

Real name :  Lee Kow Fong 李高丰

Nick/Artist name : Ah-Guo 阿果

What’s your background?
I'm not train in art formally; my bachelor degree is in Chinese Studies. However, I was the pioneer batch of the Art Elective Programme at The Chinese High School and so I took art at O' level. I moved on to pursue a Masters in Children's Book Illustration in 2009 in UK. 

When did you start and what makes you started? 
I actually started with blogging, but instead of sharing photographs, I chose to accompany my writing with simple illustration. That's around year 2000. And that's also why I started with digital artwork, for the convenience of sharing artworks online. For a good 13 years, I created only digital illustrations using Wacom tablet and illustration software. While I was in UK doing my Masters, I was among the very few in my class who illustrate digitally, that sort of triggered me to think about switching back to working with traditional medium. It was only after my 1st exhibition in 2013 "The Colour of Silence" that I finally made up my mind to go non-digital. Mainly because I've been getting request for my original artworks instead of just prints. For digital art, there is never a tangible original art piece.

What is your greatest strength?
Maybe is being able to live life simply. I'm happy with my simple life, I'm happy with what I have.Where does your Inspiration comes from? 
Inspiration comes from observation. I like to snap photographs with my mobile phone everywhere I go, and later on I could use these images as reference for my next illustration.

What is the most challenging part of being an Artist in Singapore?
I see myself more as an illustrator rather than an artist. As an illustrator, I'm providing a service and that's how I earn a living. I actually venture out doing full-time illustration very recently, just about 2 months ago in fact. Before that, I was holding a full-time teaching job, so I did not have any financial worries. Right now, I'm using my artworks and picture-books to support my livelihood. There was a bit of inner struggle while making a decision. But I'm quite lucky in a sense, I've been getting support from many people and organisations, with the projects I've been working on I would say I'm surviving rather well so far.
 What is your best achievement? 
My picture-book "The Search" was very well-received. It was awarded Best Children's Title in 2016 Singapore Books Award and its right has been bought by publishers in China, Korea, Malaysia and Vietnam.

What’s your favourite place to see art? 
I see art everywhere, online and offline. When online, I would checkout interesting Pinterest pages or instagram accounts. When offline, art is actually at every possible corners in everyday life. I don't see art as something that is beyond reach, of course I do visit art gallery or museum, but I still prefer to discover art in everyday life. I prefer art that is approachable because I still believe art should bring comfort and happiness to everyone.
Of course, being a picture-book author/illustrator, I need to constantly see what other illustrators are doing. So browsing lots of picture-book is definitely part and parcel of my work. And that is of course another avenue of discovering interesting artworks.

Follow Artist on Instagram, click here.
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