How hard is it to manage a hobby apart from your regular job in today’s world? We are simply lost in time running on our hectic 9-5 schedules. But a few of us concoct a brand new world out of their hobbies just to escape the urgency in our lives.
We spoke with Artist & Illustrator, Li Ching who fell head over heels in love with painting and illustrating while ago. Today she shares her beautiful work across social media and is approached by hundreds of people to get tutored by her. Let’s hear the story of the artist in Li Ching, in her own words.
- So, how did you get started with becoming an illustrator?
Many years ago, I dreamed of going to an art school and becoming an artist. Instead, I ended up graduating from the National University of Singapore with an Arts and Social Sciences degree (close enough!), working for a bus company, and then for the government, mostly in HRM and HRD. I still drew and painted now and then, but never seriously considered it as a career.
In 2000, I moved to Thailand and lived there for close to a decade. I became a lecturer at the Asian Institute of Gemological Sciences in Bangkok, teaching international students modules that helped them get an Accredited Gemologist Diploma. I loved this opportunity because I was trained in Arts on paper but was given an amazing opportunity to teach Geology and Chemistry. Not only did I discover that I had a gift for teaching through this gig, but I was convinced that, with a desire to learn, it was possible for anyone to be good at something totally different from anything they’d ever done before.
Eventually, I left Thailand when my family relocated to Singapore, where we live currently. With free time on my hands again, I started to draw. I then gradually began to coach some kids. Then, more friends asked me to teach their kids. Soon, many adults started requesting lessons. And so the numbers in my classes grew so organically that I didn’t even notice it. I had come full circle to my first love, art!
- How rewarding has your artistic journey been?
Almost three years ago, at 42 years of age, I became an art educator, freelance artist, and an illustrator. Despite having no formal art training or qualifications, I have had the honor of producing commission work and teaching hundreds of people. Some of my key clients include the National Gallery of Singapore, the design store Naiise, one of Singapore’s most established book companies called Armour Publishing, Halley Medical Aesthetics, John Mead Dance Company as well as the luxury resort, The Evason Six Senses Hua Hin in Thailand. It feels great to gain such recognition!
- How would you describe your work’s style as an artist?
You’ll see that I post a lot of light, pretty projects with process videos and instructions. It’s not necessarily what I like to draw or paint, but reflects my earnest wish to help anyone, young or old, on their art journey. I want to encourage them, especially if they’ve had no art training or if they don’t believe they can. In contrast, the art I draw for myself is mostly dark and symbolic.
I am very interested in themes that deal with life, death, rebirth, decay, and purity. I want my art to communicate with people and communication doesn’t always have to be cheerful and happy. So if people find them creepy and strange, or if they have to look harder, or look away, that’s ok because if it evokes a reaction, if it resonates with them on some level, I’ve achieved my objective.
Watch Li Ching in action below where she creates a beautiful flower in watercolor!
Students at Li’s art workshop.
- So, what next?
First, I want to illustrate books! There’s no money in it obviously. But it’s been a dream of mine since forever and I’d like to give it a go. I’m thankful to be working with some very talented authors right now. I’m currently in the middle of a children’s book series with an award-winning children’s book author and counselor. I’m also in the early stages of illustrating a children’s book with another award-winning author and an adult/ young adult short story series with a renowned TV and movie scriptwriter.
Secondly, I’d like to be a student again! Just because I didn’t have the chance to go to an art school before, doesn’t mean I can’t do it now. Just in half of this year, I’ve had the opportunity to learn from some amazing local artists like Marvin Chew, Paul Wang and Whee Teck. And this week, I’ll be taking an illustration masterclass with the amazing James Mayhew. And later in the year, I plan to take a class in art therapy. I don’t know what else is next, but I’ll always be ready to learn!
- Do you sell your artwork too? If yes, where can your fans find them?
I post my artwork regularly on my Instagram account. If you’d like to get in touch with me, drop me a message there. My main focus is teaching and commission work, but I do occasionally list originals and prints in my (rather neglected) Etsy shop. Please visit and leave me a note 🙂
How cute and adorable are these illustrations?!
Watercolor flowers on handmade paper by Li Ching.
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