Tuesday, September 11, 2007


How long have you been a full-time illustrator? How did it all start?

I have been freelancing since 1989. Full time since 1999. Mindflyer was started because I wanted to work as a “dreamer”. I have been using that name since I started illustrating.

I have always been in love with drawings and drawing tools. My favourite subject in school was technical drawing and workshop.

My biggest “blessing” was not taking art for O levels because that signed my “death warrant” for not being able to go straight to Baharuddin to study Graphics ( Tht’s the place before Temasek Poly was born ). After O levels, I knew I wanted to study some kind of drawing and the only thing I barely qualifed for was a diploma course at Singapore Poly in Architectural Technology. It was technical drawing heaven for me then but still not really what I was looking for. After graduation- I spent 2 years working as an architectural assistant and also took a part time Graphics course at NAFA. The course was very basic but I got to know a very helpful part-time lecturer Theresa Yong ( Immortal Design ).

Then, a good architect friend got me a job as a junior Interior designer. I spent close to 4 years in this line while I freelanced on simple illustration work (Mindflyer was “born” then). I was very blessed in that there were many kind people who helped me along the way by providing me with encouragement, opportunities and tips.

I switched to Graphic design after my ex-lecturer / friend Theresa offered me a graphic design job and taught me all I know about graphics. Then in 1999, I decided to bite the bullet and work full-time as an illustrator.

Thinking back- I may not meet all these wonderful people if I had gone straight to study design. It may be a longer journey but I had a good time learning alot of stuff.

As Chairman of OIC, tell us how OIC came about. And why was it formed?

Errrrr..... I was sabo-ed to wear this "title" lor by 2 jokers.... and they happen to draw extremely well.......... and they are a couple lor..... so can bully me just one person...... Seriously......OIC was formed in Oct 2006 after some meetings by 3 of us ( namely - Drewscape+ FleeCircus + mindflyer ). We wanted a "group" where illustrators can meet, talk shop and spur one another on.

Introduce us to one of your oldest oldest drawings and a new work that you are proud of.

This is self portrait done in 1989- Its ink and prismacolor pencils on tracing paper. It still gives me a strange vibe when i see it now.

This is from my latest sketch book. More self portraits so that you can compare it to the 1989 one. Just trippin out with water soluble pencils and a water brush. (Seiji is the one that showed us how to have fun with a water brush!! He's da man!! )

Which illustration styles interest you presently? (eg.wallpaper vector
style, collage, messy brush and ink)

I really wish I can spend time, sucking in massive doses of turpentine fumes and do oil painting! But -for now- if its not Photoshop & wacom, I'll just stick to acrylics on plywood and wood carving knives. I have been begging Xin (aka "MakiSquarePatch" , aka "the PAINTER" ) to give oil painting lessons....... she's been kind to share some tips but no formal lessons yet. I think she wants to know my pain threshold- I heard she brutal with a wooden stick! gulp!

Which artists do you recommend studying? and why?

I do not dissect an artist's work and try to emulate the technique. I am not that methodical nor analytical. What intrigues me more is the feeling I get when I see a nice piece of work, more so than what technique is used.

When I see something nice I try to absorb the vibes I get from it and try to put that kick I get into things that I do.
  1. Amedeo Modigliani ( He's the 1st painter that I really like. )
  2. Antoine de Saint-Exupery ( What are we going to do without "The Little Prince" )
  3. Jean-Michel Folon ( esp the flying winged men )
  4. Hiroshi YOSHII ( esp the earlier works)
  5. Yoshimoto Nara
What do you think makes a successful illustrator?

I can only tell you what I think makes a "happy" illustrator.
  1. Charge wisely. Charge enough to make it worth your while. If in doubt- consult the seniors.
  2. Remember to have FUN!
  3. Do the bread and butter stuff, pay the bills BUT keep searching and building "your voice" & "your visual idioms"
  4. Keep and sleep with your sketch book!
  5. NEVER throw your sketch books! Try to keep to a standard format ( see pix below )
  6. Wake up everyday and be glad this is your full-time hobby!

Share a useful illustration trick/technique you have recently learnt.

I use my iPod as a night light when I need to sketch in the middle of the night. Pencil is best. Markers are too gravity conscious and you can't draw too long on your back.

No tips- just open your eyes- I can learn from anything and anybody. Keep engaged keep being interesting and interested.

Show us a photo of your working desk.

aaaaaaarrrrrrrrgghhhhhhhh mess!!


drewscape said...


kuanth said...


F L E E said...

RESTEPC! (FYI; Thats how Ali G spell RESPECT)
I didn't "sabo" you leh... cos you're the only person who's passionate enough to carry the"Chairman" title.
I enjoyed reading the article, you're are a fine example of someone who is relentless and passionate bout what you do. My hats off to you.
I see a change gonna come for this blog, hurrah!

I'm very ashame, cos i threw all my sketchbooks!

sokkuan said...

Wow michael! i admire your passion! Reading this article make me feel a lil ashame...coz i dont have sketch book at all! ('_'!) i must push myself to be more passionate! and...thanks for your advice to me when i just became full-time illustrator. And i wish i can be still as passionate by your age! BTW, i like the change of this blog! It's getting even more interesting here! Hurray!

drewscape said...

it's inspiring reading this. i like your shape drawings coz they all seem to have some sort of hidden meaning in them.

twisstii said...

More more more!!!

maki ♥ squarepatch said...

lovely! oh, and i will hantum you next time i see you. wahahaha-xin


A blank piece of paper or canvas used to be my greatest obstacle. But like Mindflyer always reminds me.. Draw or Die! hehehe

dominique said...

Great article, Mike. great tips, too. haha your table looks neater than mine.

adeline said...

"drawing is better than, er...shifting text right?
i'm happy as long as i can hold a pencil to draw"
- mike

great interview :) your passion for this is contagious!

mindflyer 小飞人 said...

Wow!! Thx guys n gals for all the kind words :D made my day ( & nite )!!

Adeline- u record our conversation ah?!! LOL scary!!

zeropointfive said...

wow very inspiring indeed. i am glad for such interviews cuz we know most of each other by our work but we still don't know each other very well!

(pai seh to those whom i've forgotten what u look like or what ur real names are :p i hav a bad memory!)

anyway, great interview! want to see more such posts!!!

i beg to differ, mike, u make a great chairperson! Mike-Tze-Dong Wan Sui! ;)

pins said...

i like reading the what makes
a happy illustrator it's very inspiring.
i hope to see more of such interviews.
it's really great to know more about diffn illustrators who they were inspired by and how they came about today.
i like the desktop photo.
i didn't throw away ,y sketchbooks but i'm quite ashamed of em hehe.

more to come please!!!

sei-ji rakugaki said...


ken lee said...

yes sir, sketchbook anytime anywhere!
thank sir!

AG said...

i like this interview thingy. veh inspiring! thanks for sharing XD

Tomaz Goh said...

All the respect to you bro. A living inspirational figure to us junior. : )