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