It can be challenging to manage a hobby alongside our regular job. Lost in our hectic 9-5 lives, we often find ourselves struggling to make time for personal passions. Yet, there are those among us who skillfully create a new realm through their hobbies, offering respite from the urgency that surrounds us.
One such inspiring individual is Artist & Illustrator Li Ching from Singapore. We were absolutely mesmerized by her art so we approached her for an interview. As we started delving into her background, we were even more inspired by her story about how her life meandered into the dream life she had always wanted at 42!
Having graduated from the National University of Singapore, she spent a good amount of her career as an HR professional. Then she moved to Thailand to teach Geology and Chemistry to International students. It was during this period that Li Ching acquired a newfound love for teaching – and reconnected with the art world, eventually giving her the much-needed opportunity to dive fully into the world of illustration and the arts.
We chat with Li Ching – Artist & Illustrator from Singapore to know more about her very interesting journey into the art world.
R&L: Hi Li, thanks for taking time out for this chat. We are absolutely thrilled to share your story with our readers. Please share an introduction to your background.
Li Ching: 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!
R&L: How rewarding has your artistic journey been?
Li Ching: Almost three years ago, at 42 years of age, I became an art educator, freelance artist, and 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!
R&L: How would you describe your work’s style as an artist?
Li Ching: 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.
Students at Li’s art workshop.
R&L: Tell us where you plan to go from here.
Li Ching: First, I want to illustrate books! There’s no money in it obviously. But it’s been a dream of mine 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!
R&L: Oh wonderful plans! Do you sell your artwork too? If yes, where can your fans find them?
Li Ching: 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 🙂
Watercolor flowers on handmade paper by Li Ching. Follow Li Ching on Instagram and on her SaatchiArt Portfolio Shop!
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