The prom­ise of art

> Joanne Poon is break­ing out of her shell to bring joy through her art

The Sun (Malaysia) - - YOUTH - PEONY CHIN

FEW peo­ple can recog­nise tal­ent in a child. Fewer would go out of their way to en­sure that it is nur­tured into some­thing more. Thank­fully for Joanne Poon, her late grand­fa­ther saw her imag­i­na­tive mind and tal­ent in draw­ing.

“When I was younger, my par­ents were busy work­ing so I was mostly un­der the care of my grand­fa­ther. I would spend time with him by draw­ing and telling him sto­ries.

“He was very amazed. Know­ing that my par­ents couldn’t spend a lot of time with me, he told them that I was spe­cial and that I should con­tinue do­ing art, so they’ve al­ways been en­cour­ag­ing,” the 22-year-old ex­plained.

From watch­ing Art At­tack to draw­ing with her fa­ther, Poon grew with her craft and in col­lege, took up mul­ti­me­dia de­sign – which en­com­passes an­i­ma­tion, 3D de­sign, web de­sign and more – in­stead of il­lus­tra­tion.

“There are lots of medium you can use to show­case your art, so it was a very good course to take,” said the graphic de­signer.

Have you al­ways only been draw­ing, or did you also ex­plore other forms of art? Al­though I’m arty, I’m ac­tu­ally re­ally ter­ri­ble at craft! A lot of peo­ple as­sumed that I’m nat­u­rally good at it. I’ve al­ways been draw­ing, and when I was 13 my par­ents in­vested in a dig­i­tal tablet for me – that was how I started draw­ing dig­i­tally.

Did you go through the phase of draw­ing an­ime and manga? Ev­ery­body goes through that. Ja­panese in­flu­ence is huge, back then and even now. I’ve al­ways been draw­ing peo­ple and char­ac­ters, be­cause I like cre­at­ing sto­ries. I ad­hered to the an­ime style for a good amount of time, un­til I re­alised that that style of draw­ing is not unique any­more. It’s also not a style that peo­ple will open up to nat­u­rally.

So how has your draw­ing style evolved since? I took a year to re­vamp my draw­ing style after I grad­u­ated. At first I thought of stick­ing to the an­ime style, partly be­cause I wanted to even­tu­ally work in the gam­ing in­dus­try. But then, my cur­rent boss sug­gested that I try a dif­fer­ent style.

I then watched a lot of car­toons, es­pe­cially Dis­ney’s. I won­dered why peo­ple are more open to Dis­ney’s style of an­i­ma­tion com­pared to Ja­panese an­ime, so I tried adopt­ing Dis­ney’s style of draw­ing car­toons. Ever since, I’ve had peo­ple come up to me at comic events to say, “I re­ally like your style. It makes peo­ple feel happy.”

And that’s my in­ten­tion – to make peo­ple happy with my draw­ings. What have you achieved with your art? A few months ago, I pub­lished my comic The Dan­de­lion’s Prom­ise. It’s a story that has been with me since I was nine years old, and it’s mainly about my ex­pe­ri­ence with de­pres­sion be­cause I had it for a very long time.

Draw­ing à la an­ime when I was younger, I re­alised my art was pes­simistic. When I got out of de­pres­sion, my draw­ing style changed with me and be­came hap­pier. I was de­pressed for the long­est time, but thank­fully there were sup­port­ive peo­ple around me. That is why I pub­lished this comic; I hope for peo­ple to know that dy­ing is not the so­lu­tion to your mis­ery. It’s about mak­ing a choice – to con­tinue be­ing sad, or to be happy. You also have a full-time job at a cre­ative agency. How does that dif­fer from what you do in your per­sonal time? It’s ex­tremely dif­fer­ent. Graphic de­sign mostly in­volves lay­outs, ad­ver­tis­ing work, and pro­mo­tional items; and there are clients to give feed­back. But graphic de­sign has def­i­nitely helped me in terms of lay­out and ty­pog­ra­phy, so it’s a great skill to have.

When I’m do­ing my own thing, I have the free­dom to dis­cover what I want, love and en­joy.

What would you tell a bud­ding artist on self-im­prove­ment? En­joy what you do and learn to take crit­i­cism. A lot of artists these days – me in­cluded – don’t take it well. Granted, the crit­i­cism has to be con­struc­tive. There are peo­ple who can teach you the right tech­niques and how to per­fect them, and that’s very im­por­tant for us.

The de­but of her comic was a “very big step” for a shy in­di­vid­ual like her­self.

Poon hopes to pub­lish the se­quel to

in De­cem­ber.

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