The Sun (Malaysia)
Chan- cing upon a fairy tale
> Dreams don’t come true? Well, for this artist, it does
WHILE some people outgrow their princess fantasy, Chan Clayrene did not. In fact, she went one step further and incorporated this dream into her career. The 28-year-old is a haute couture fashion illustrator whose every stroke is as dreamy as it is feminine. What sets her apart, however, is that she mixes nail polish into her artworks. By adding this veneer of shimmer, she recreates whimsical and gorgeous pieces from her favourite designers.
“I use nail polish as my medium because I find it interesting. It is small enough for me to carry around and its glossy characteristic fits my art direction. As I mostly illustrate dresses and gowns, nail polishes add a shiny finish to it too.
“Besides that, fashion illustration is a very niche market so I needed something different to stand out. I believe there are many talented illustrators around, hence what separates us is the way we market ourselves. Nail polish has become my signature and I will continue using it,” elaborated Chan.
This proves to be a correct decision because her works attracted the attention of esteemed fashion designer, Zuhair Murad, who reposted her illustrations with effusive praise on his official Instagram account. Her unique medium also landed her collaborations with notable fashion brands such as Christian Louboutin, Diane von Furstenberg and Braun Buffel, to name a few.
Judging from the success that Chan has achieved thus far, it’s surprising to find out that she only ventured into fashion illustrations three years ago.
“Art and fashion have been my interests ever since I was young, yet I didn’t realise that there’s such a thing as fashion illustration until I discovered it on social media. Since I love couture pieces but cannot own them, that discovery motivated me to paint because that way I can ‘own’ it,” she expressed. Why not major in fashion designing then? “Even though I like fashion, I don’t like making clothes. I’m quite a perfectionist, so I prefer to focus on things that I’m good at. I was afraid that if I chose fashion designing, the stress and expectation would’ve spoiled art and fashion for me,” explained Chan.
Therefore, the Singapore-based artist opted to create girly and princess-themed drawings under the pen name, Artclaytion.
“I wanted a name to represent me and my art work, so I did a bit of a play on words. Artclaytion is a combination of art creation and my name. This way, I’ll always be a part of art and vice versa.”
Before venturing into fashion illustration, Chan – a graduate of Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts (NAFA) and Loughborough University – was an art teacher. She helps her husband to manage their family business too. As such, she began Artclaytion as a hobby and did not actually expect it to flourish so well.
“Upon my graduation, I discovered that I do not have time to do large-scale art installations anymore. Hence, social media became an important platform for me to keep going – it provided me with a ‘space’ to showcase my work and this in turn encourages me to produce more,” she said.
As she gains more recognition in Singapore and Malaysia, and receives more commissioned projects, Chan plans to transition into a full-time fashion illustrator. She also hopes that she can one day expand Artclaytion into a full-fledged team.
“Ultimately, I want my illustrations to brighten up people’s lives; the world that we currently live in is too realistic, fake, and ‘ugly’, hence I want to create beautiful things that will a put a smile on someone’s face. If I have a team behind Artclaytion, then we can organise art exhibitions and work on more elaborate projects.”
Chan’s ambition confirms that not only is she living her dream, but she also has a kind heart like all her favourite Disney princesses.