Photo credit: KIMBERLY TAN


Kimberly Tan, 28, is an illustrator and graphic designer. Her works usually revolve around pop culture, social issues and everyday musings. She aims to create works that speak to her audience nonverbally, and to create a common ground where she and her audience can relate to one another.

Tell us more about what you do.

I am a graphic designer in my day job and I create visuals for various clients. In my leisure time, I create illustrations under the moniker Ultraaviolets. My art is reflective of thoughts and ideas that are a little less applicable to client work. These artworks are a form of visual journal for me, where I document and share ideas that are created for fun, or to express my feelings towards certain issues that weigh me down.

What inspires or motivates you to do this?

Personally, I’m not that good at dealing with complex emotions, which could be why my brain helps me to come up with metaphors to help me understand them better. This process usually results in my illustration works.

It is also a good way for me to reach out to people who feel the same as I do, and I’m grateful for an outlet that allows me to communicate visually. Social issues, like mental health, are not topics that everyone feels comfortable discussing in the open. I’m hoping that my art can help those who struggle to feel seen and heard and to provide a little comic relief while I am at it.

Have you faced any challenges so far, and how did you overcome them?

I did come to a stage where I felt the pressure to monetise my art, which was after I started participating in art markets. It became more about what kind of illustrations would sell well, and I found myself going towards those directions to garner better sales at markets. Eventually, I took a step back when I realised that I’ve lost that initial motivation to create these works.

I then decided to place less importance on making a business out of my hobby, and focus on making the creative process the primary focus. The fact that I have a full-time job diminishes the need for me to use this venture to make money. I truly envy people who are able to support themselves financially by selling their art while staying true to themselves. I’m fully supportive of that, but perhaps it is not for me.

If you could share one piece of advice with your fellow youth, what would it be?

To take inspiration from various sources and stay true to your own work. Being exposed to multiple sources is part of the process of growing yourself!

What are your hopes or plans for the future? What do you want to see or perhaps do?

I want illustrating to always be a safe space for me, but at the same time, to challenge my comfort levels by exploring other mediums to take my works to the next level.

This article was published on Nov 30, 2021

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