If cute, wholesome illustrations are your thing, check out the works by Singaporean illustrator Jang.
The 29-year-old does illustrations that revolve mainly around a very cute fox and centres on themes such as love and courage.
Jang’s real name is Joanne Ang Min Jia.
Speaking to Mothership, Ang said she has been doing digital illustrations since she was 17, but only ventured into it full-time in July this year after leaving her full-time job.
“Love, wonder and courage are the common themes for my comics because I believe that these are universal values that can connect people in a world where our differences are increasingly amplified,” said Ang.
She added that the aim of her comics is to “encourage our capacity to love, our childlike wonder to seek, as well as our courage to care”.
Ang draws inspiration from many sources, such as dramas, books, random conversations, or even just people-watching:
“These are huge inspiration for me because they often tell me hidden stories and perspectives that I may not see or experience from my lenses. Often times, these may touch on social issues that warrant more research and speaking to people. I will then ‘translate’ these newfound perspectives into digestible comics. Each illustration can take anything from one day to one week to conceptualise and illustrate.”
Readers can also have a say in her comics by sharing their own personal stories and issues close to their heart.
“I like to let my readers have a say in the conceptualising of the comics sometimes. So there are times that I will ask them what matters to them and what they would like to see. Some readers will also share their personal stories with me,” said Ang.
“Moving forward, I would love to have them ‘fill in the blank’ for my comics and create their own meaning.”
Value in illustrations
Working on her illustrations have also taught Ang to value her own work:
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"Why did you sell your work so cheap?" A sudden question that prompted a realization that I have a deep-seated story of 'not good enough' – never thought that someone would appreciate my work enough to pay for it. Of all the design works that I have done over the years, I am probably paid for less than 5% of them. In the love of giving, i have also subconsciously and slowly devalued my work. So when my postcards were sold at @pameranposkad (with some sending me message to get more!) , it was some kind of closure and a start for me Especially when this bliss interwined with my love to see people of different walks crossed paths purposefully (internationally) #pameranposkad #badgecard #grateful #connectedness
The self-proclaimed perfectionist said that there were many times when she thought that her work was “not good enough” or “could be better”.
Coupled with her tendency to give away her works, it resulted in her undervaluing her own designs.
“It had been a lingering thought but then someone flagged it out in my face during a local exhibition (Poscad Pameran) and asked, ‘Why do you sell your work so cheap?’” Ang shared.
“It hit me hard. There and then after, several of my clients who approached me for design works also said that they were very willing to pay me more. It was then I decided to re-look at my works and tell myself, “they are perfect works-in-progress… and are worth respect from first, myself.”
Putting her own work up on social media is both a bane and boon, according to Ang.
Instagram has helped to grow @Jangandfox bigger than she had ever imagined and connect her with many fans who could identify with the universal themes in her work.
“It’s really amazing to have readers from different countries, such as India, US, Turkey, Germany, reaching out to me to introduce me to topics I may not be well-exposed to in Singapore, like the dying of the black forest, to translate the comics to share with their local readers, to do voice-over stories, to use them to teach English.”
However, Ang also accepts that being on social media means letting go of some control over her work.
“Once, one of my readers alerted me to a Turkish page that translated my post without informing me and omitted any form of crediting to the work,” she said. “It’s actually really common in the social media space and may not be as black-and-white as plagiarising a book.”
Making physical craft
Aside from illustrating, Ang also creates cute resin badges and commissioned caricature pins and key chains like these:
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"Whale always be there" Made my first pin #badgepostcard of Dood with so much fun! Not without inspiration and learning from @treefolkpress For some of you who are wondering about the numerous times I mentioned @pameranposkad , it's a group exhibition of postcard-sized artworks that is open to artists, kids, hawkers – anyone! This year, the open exhibition is held at ION Art on 14-24 June and part of the proceeds go to the designated charity, Beautiful People. My series of 10 handcrafted postcards (also designed as your personal craft packs!) will be on sale there too! Come come support me and the other beautiful works by the lovely people!
Ang says that she started making commissioned pins and key chains because she loves crafting.
“I actually came to learn how to make these resin badges from a couple of overseas craft makers when we chatted online and started exchanging ideas. Then I started to source and experiment with different materials for about a month or two before I came up with the current version that I was happy to share with people. I started with making pins out of my doodles before venturing into personalised cartoon caricature pins.”
Each of them are hand-illustrated, handcrafted, and dried under the sun — a very time consuming effort.
It takes about an hour to illustrate each piece of work and another hour to be made and dried.
Because of the amount of time needed, Ang limits her orders to about 20 pieces per week.
Her craft has been very well-received and started spreading through word-of-mouth.
“I remember how a repeat client explained how ‘it’s magical that your craft brings the receiver a lot of joy’,” she said.
Ang sells her personalised cartoon caricature pins and key chains for between S$30 and S$70, depending on the number of characters and complexity of the illustration.
Her comic illustrations are currently not for sale.
If you wish to engage her for work, you can contact Ang via her Instagram page.
All images via Ang’s Instagram page