Feature Friday

Interview With Yunroo

Before graduating with a degree in illustration, Yunroo studied Visual Communication, which helps to hone her skills as a designer. Today, Yunroo’s main focus is in illustration, packaging design and pattern design. Her usual style is pretty childlike and naive, injected with a sense of humour. Trained as a designer, she believes that it is important to convey a message through design or illustration.

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? 

I grew up in an ordinary Chinese household, being the eldest daughter of the family. After graduating from high school, I went to Singapore for a higher diploma in Design Communication, and then London to pursue my interest in Illustration.

Have you always been creative person growing up? 

Well, I don’t think that I was particularly creative, but I’ve always liked drawing and crafting since I was young. I also developed a fascination towards colours and had once considered a career as a colourist, even though I have no idea what it was then! However, as I grew up, I slowly became intimidated by drawing as everyone around me was trying to achieve realism, and it didn’t work for me. It was only after when I entered art college then I picked up the confidence to draw naturally again.

Interior illustrations from “Anabella’s Long Words”

What are you currently doing at this moment?

I’m currently working on a large scale mural project for a tableware company, with several small projects on the side. Other than that, my friends and I have previously organised an arts festival, Batugether Arts Festival in our tiny hometown last August, and we are in the midst of putting things together for the upcoming festival.

Can you describe your work? 

My work is often described as light, cheery, childlike and sometimes naïve. For my personal projects, I’d always inject them with a dash of humour.

Covers, a series of mock magazine covers created for group exhibition ARTY FARTY in London last Summer.

Who or what influences your work the most? 

My first mentor would be Taiwanese illustrator Jimmy Liao. Before being introduced to his works, I had no idea what an illustrator was. I remember being madly in love with his works when I was younger, and have collected most of his books. My recent crushes are NYC-based Chinese illustrator Lisk Feng and Taiwanese illustrator Eszter Chen.

As a designer, what values or design ethos do you try to show in your work? 

Trained in visual communication, I try to create meaningful work, work that communicates a message, a feeling or an emotion, instead of something that’s solely for decoration purpose. Ever since I moved back to Malaysia from London, I’m interested in exploring topics that are more culturally related. While living in Malaysia, most of us often don’t realise how little we understand about the land that we’re living on. I’m intrigued to learn about the traditional folklores we have, the different religions and customs that are practiced, and even the history of this piece of land that we’re standing on. These are the topics that are rarely covered by contemporary illustrators, and I’m fascinated by the possibilities I could create by using these background as context.

An illustration of Lantern Festival created for the February month for Little Door Collective 2017 Calendar of World Festivals.

Little Door Collective 2017 Calendar of World Festivals is on sale here

Can you tell us some of the most memorable work you’ve done?

My most memorable work has to be the book I’ve published with Epigram Books Singapore last year, “Grandma and the Things That Stay the Same”. It was my first time working with a book publisher, so everything was pretty daunting in the beginning. In the process, I’ve learned that what works and what doesn’t when illustrating a picture book, how to work with the author, the art director, the editor, and most importantly how to manage the tight deadlines. “Grandma and the Things That Stay the Same” recently got shortlisted to be one of the three pictures that are going to be representing Epigram Books in the running for Bologna Prize for Best Children’s Publisher of the Year, and I’m super excited about having my works exhibited at the show.

Book cover of “Grandma and the Things That Stay the Same”

Interior illustrations from “Grandma”

How do you overcome creative blocks? 

There are so many different platforms like Pinterest, Behance, Instagram, Tumblr nowadays where one could easily gather their inspirations from but for me sometimes it could feel overwhelming. What I usually do is that I’ll go back to my original sketches and ideas, and start working from the beginning. Sketching while thinking helps as well. Or, if everything just doesn’t work, I usually call it a day, get myself some comfort food, and have the rest of the day off. Sometimes a good night’s sleep is what all it takes.

And finally, tell us what your dream job looks like to you.

As a person who loves exploring and experimenting, I’m always on the look out for opportunities to collaborate with different industries. Although I love illustrations, I sometimes find it stifling to only have it on paper. To collaborate with different industries would be a great chance to introduce illustration to a greater audience, and to break the notion of the general public that the ability of an illustrator only lies in books, comics and newspapers.

Please give her Facebook page a Like, follow her on Instagram, and see more of her work here.


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