Drawing The Line

Interview by Charlene Chan
Photographs courtesy of the artists

Seeing as most of us would have started drawing or doodling before even writing, the attention we pay to illustration seems to have tapered off significantly since we first learnt to hold a pencil. For many, drawing has likely remained a forgotten pastime, left in the margins of textbooks where long, drawn-out lessons were spent in the comfort of our own imagination. So it’s heartening that in recent years, groups like the Organisation of Illustrators Council (OIC) have not only helped pave the way for those interested in the art, but fostered an environment where even the uninitiated have opportunities to get involved.

This October, OIC will launch Singapore’s very first Illustration Arts Fest (IAF) to celebrate independent illustrators and the work they do. Organised in partnership with the team behind ELCAF (the annual East London Comics & Arts Festival), NoBrow Press and with the support of LASALLE College of the Arts and Singapore Writers Festival, the IAF will see illustrators from all over the world gather in Singapore for a weekend of festivities.

A page from Isabel Greenberg’s new book The One Hundred Nights of Hero.


—Mindflyer tells us about the three years’ worth of preparation that went into the making of the upcoming Illustration Arts Fest.

Can you tell us about the IAF, and what we can look forward to during the festival?

For the inaugural edition of IAF, highlights will include guest speakers such as Jean Jullien, Mattias Adolfsson, Hideyuki Katsumata, Isabel Greenberg, Rob Hunter, Richard McGuire, and Singapore’s Sonny Liew. Most of them will be in Singapore or Asia for the first time!

There will be workshops, book signings, and an artist market featuring many of our local and Asian favourites as well as emerging artists. There will also be programs for the general public to appreciate and acquire illustration works and products, and for kids to explore illustration.

How did the idea for IAF come about, and how long has this been in the works?

We have been hard at work since three years ago, when Kaiyee (a member of OIC) initiated an interview with the founder of NoBrow Sam Arthur. This was followed by two visits by myself to see what ELCAF was like—we knew we had to do something with ELCAF to kick some life into the scene in Singapore.

Since ELCAF accepted the invitation to work with us at the end of 2015, we have been in discussions on how to align our resources. It’s a lot of hard work but we feel that this event is worth the effort and will improve our scene and collective energy greatly.

Mattias Adolfsson

—Ahead of his first ever trip to Singapore this October, illustrator Mattias Adolfsson explains how Math and Architecture have informed his distinctive style of drawings.

It’s 11.30am in Sweden when we begin chatting with Mattias Adolfsson. We’re quite possibly interrupting an otherwise quiet workday he will spend in his home studio, but Mattias doesn’t seem to mind. Over Skype, he pans the camera around to show us the workspace he shares with his wife, a delightfully cluttered room illuminated by the mid morning sunlight.

One gets the sense that Mattias is more than happy to introduce others to his world of illustration. The books he’s published, for instance, consist of drawings from his sketchbooks and offer a glimpse into his life—albeit an “enhanced” version, as he puts it. We catch Mattias for a brief discussion about his work before he jets off to various cities around the world in the coming months.

Your style of illustration is very busy and full of detail. Can you tell us how that started?

I started using sketchbooks when I went to Architecture school, and it was some kind of meditation almost—the more I put into it, the better I felt. It’s the way I really enjoy drawing, and it tends to end up very busy and full of detail.

But you actually started out doing Mathematics.

Yeah, that was prior to me studying Architecture. I was always very good at Mathematics, and I really enjoyed programming computers and stuff like that. But I felt more and more that I wanted to do something artistically, and I ended up working with computer games for many years. That let me combine my drawing and my mathematical skills.

Read more in The U Press N˚13 (Singapore edition).