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Interview | 3. Sep, 2020 - 5 min read

“It has been a fascinating journey.”

Desti is a freelance illustrator living and creating in Singapore, also known as the Lion City. Growing up under the strong influence of Japanese anime and manga, Desti turned to art and is now a professional illustrator drawing with Collateral Damage Studios. Not a pioneer when it comes to creating coloring books, she joined our artist family with her gentle and charming coloring story about magical little creatures you really need to meet! But before heading on a coloring journey with “Little Creatures, Big Adventures”, meet Desti first.

They say imagination is the beginning of creation. So where do you travel with your imagination these days, Desti?

To get inspiration, rather than travelling - not possible during this pandemic anyway! - I’m always on the lookout for new images and visuals online to trigger my imagination. I try to revise and integrate techniques and tricks I pick up from elsewhere into my own original ideas.

Could you tell us a little bit about your background and how you got into art? Is it something you have always done?

Having grown up under the influence of anime and manga, I have always liked art and picked up drawing for my family and friends. Later, I joined a doujin circle (a group of friends working to create art together) and it led to where I am now. It has been a fascinating journey.

Tell us more about the city you live in. How does it influence the way you work and live?

Singapore is a small, very safe city-state that is heavily reliant on globalisation. We take our benefits for granted - for example, we can travel around the country far more easily than people living in bigger countries, and we’re exposed to many cultures and ideas.

How would you describe your art in 5 words?

Gentle. Delicate. Moe. Flowy. Cute.

I realised, your art is greatly marked by the anime culture and fierce female characters, but for Lake, you picked a totally different approach. Why is that?

“I wanted to create something that will be easy and fun for beginners to start trying their hands at coloring.”

When given the opportunity to draw for Lake Coloring, I considered how I can create something more fitting with the existing artworks already within the app. I wanted to create something that will be easy and fun for beginners to start trying their hands at coloring.

You have quite some experience with creating coloring pages. How is creating line art for coloring books different from when you create the final product yourself?

By and large, the process is quite similar. The main difference lies in the fact that physical books give me more leeway in creating line art. Such as cramming more details in or using faded lines.

What sparked the concept of the Little Creatures, Big Adventures coloring book? It’s such a delightful story to color through, not to mention the cute tiny inhabitants of these dreamlands. Who are they?

Thank you for the compliment! I was inspired by the novel The Borrowers which features a miniature family living their lives. I think Alice in Wonderland also took that idea and added even more whimsical qualities. One of the images I created for this coloring book also pays homage to Alice in Wonderland.

You work with Collateral Damage Studios (CDS), a group of enthusiasts promoting local creative talents and actively engaging with international doujin communities. How would you describe working with them?

Collateral Damage Studios (CDS) is not an agency but rather a professional art studio with a team of artists working together. Depending on the requirements of various projects, sometimes we will work on a project on our own while other times, we will help each other as teams.

Our teams are usually composed of artists who try to do work that is tailored specifically to their respective complementary strengths. The idea is for us to develop our skills in our desired directions.

Do you feel social media is very important for your practice?

Definitely - and I don’t think this only applies to artists. Social media can help anyone reach new audiences worldwide.

We are very happy you joined Lake. What influenced your decision to go with us?

My manager suggested that my art will be suitable for the app and asked me to give it a try. It turned out to be a great app that is very welcoming to anyone who wants to do art; so why not?

“I love coloring books. Especially with the pandemic going on, adult coloring is a very suitable activity to pick up at home.”

What do you think about coloring books being such a huge trend? Do you ever color to feel calmer?

I love coloring books. Especially with the pandemic going on, adult coloring is a very suitable activity to pick up at home. Depending on the artwork, it can be a fun and calming act of creativity. Since I’m an artist myself, I do quite a bit of coloring for my own artworks!

What is your favourite project so far? Any upcoming projects you would like to share with us?

I’d say all of our coloring book projects are my favorites. I am currently working on a coloring book of my own. The book, tentatively titled Singlish Kemono, features our local animal species as anime-style girls. Please look forward to it!

Any final thoughts for all those who are just starting to make their way as artists?

“Everyone has to start somewhere and the good artworks you see elsewhere are a result of plenty of practice.”

Don’t get discouraged if your art doesn’t turn out as well as you hoped. Everyone has to start somewhere and the good artworks you see elsewhere are a result of plenty of practice. Good luck!

Where can people find your work?

You can follow me on Twitter and Instagram or via Collateral Damage Studios.