Your source of inspiration…
My inspiration mostly dwells in ‘misadventures’ and ‘the grotesque’. I have a fascination with dark humor and tend to have a strange slant to most of my work when I push to exaggerate some of the themes. I am always intrigued by unusual experiences and the oddballs of society. Sometimes I pick up on interesting news articles or I come across some strange documentaries that lead on to more research and then I build a thought around that. My personal mishaps help shape the quirky humor in my work.
Describe your studio
I share my studio space with a design and branding company, and my mess occupies about a quarter of the space. I have custom made a two meter long working table, half of the table goes to doing digital work on the computer, the other half is usually stacked with books, drawings or cleared to be my work space for painting. Beside where I sit is a wall filled with memorabilia collected from travels, sketches, and other happy things that help brighten my hours in the office.
Your perfect day
I would be pleased if I am able to pull myself out off bed at 8am, and head out for a morning hike at MacRitchie Reservoir with my husband. Ideally hiking from MacRitchie Reservoir to Bukit Timah Hill, thereafter, we can either have a simple brunch at the market nearby or head back for a simple home cooked meal. Then, spending a few hours in the afternoon to do some painting or drawing. And in the evening we can dress up for dinner with family or friends. And a late night movie with sticky caramel pudding and ice cream on the side to end of the perfect day.
Your greatest indulgence
I think that would be having a good frame of time and head space to conceptualise and immerse myself in personal projects without worrying about working on commercial illustration projects. Perhaps that is a reason why I really miss the time when I was studying in London.
Your biggest challenge
Honestly, my biggest challenge would be trying to find that kind of creative energy and inspiration that surrounded me when I was living in London back here in Singapore.
I owned an open air ticket with no terms and condition, no limit to usage and no expiry date, to travel the wonders of the world with my partner.
What colour best represents you, and why?
Brown; a combination of red, green and violet. Very close friends and family know I can be a chilli padi (red), at the same time quite a calm person (green), and lastly violet is a character in my chinese name, which may arguably explain why my favourite colour is lavender.
Feeling satisfied with work and life.
50 years from now I will be….
79 yrs old, still believing that illustration can do more than just decorate and it can narrate inspiring stories, that communicate worthy messages that resonate with readers. And still learning to be a better artist, making meaningful work with my passion and skill.
Tell us how the Moniker “Messy Msxi” came about- who is she?
When I was studying in London, people always had difficulties pronouncing my name Zi Xi so I had to cook up another moniker. I get really messy when I work and Messymsxi rhymes better than Messyzixi so that kind of stuck since.
You’ve mentioned that you often dream of a bigger and better world- how do you translate these inspirations onto paper?
Having lived in Singapore most of my life, I often feel overprotected from adversities happening outside of where I live, hence my inquisitiveness and eagerness to discover deeper truths of things I do not know of. Therefore I enjoy watching documentaries on modern issues like pollution, eating disorders, addiction or any other documentaries that brings me closer and more in tune with all the outlandish people and things that are happening in this world. The result of having so much information accumulated in my head is to translate them onto paper and into my work. I hope to create meaningful and purposeful work that communicates and strikes a chord with the audience. I always think that if the work I do can move someone emotionally, or cause someone to smile or even inspire him/her then I have brought back a bit of humanity to our cold and efficient world. In so doing, I have for that little moment made the world seem a little nicer to live on.
What would be your dream collaboration?
One of my dream collaborations would be to create large 2D/3D art pieces for spaces and architecture. I am always so impressed to see how Yoshitomo Nara’s works translate from 2D to 3D sculptures.
Technology has been a huge driving force in the creation of your artworks, where do you envision yourself as an artist in the next 5 years? Do you have any big projects or shows in the coming year?
In my opinion progression in technique is crucial but more importantly what makes my work different is through my narrative. Watching films, documentaries, traveling and reading most definitely help expand my mind and the work I produce. I definitely hope to grow not just conceptually but also be open to exploring new mediums as well. I will be holding my second solo exhibition at The Substation in October next year, which is something I’m very much looking forward to.
For more information and more artwork from this artist,
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