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Interview with Caramelaw aka Sheena Aw

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Caramelaw (aka Sheena Aw) is a motion graphic designer and illustrator from Singapore. She majored in animation back in school, but ventured into broadcast design when she started working. She has done design work for MTV Asia, Sony International, DC Comics, and many others.

She loves drawing fun and crazy candyart. She finds herself immersed in her little world of candies, rainbows and mushrooms. Caramelaw is a big nature lover and it plays a big part in her art creations. Through her art she hopes to reach out to the world and bring joy to those who love her art.

1. Hello Caramelaw, give us a brief bio, tell us where you're from. Is Caramelaw your real name? Who is the person behind Caramelaw?

Hello, my name is Sheena Aw and I'm the girl behind Caramelaw's art. I'm based in Singapore. I'm a motion graphics artist/video editor by day and candy land super hero by night. I love doing crazy illustrations and customizing toys in my free time.

2. How did you get started in digital arts. Did you take any formal training in this field? How was your first brush with vector illustrations? What programs or software do you use to create your vector artworks?

I studied Interactive Media Design in Temasek School of Design (Singapore) and graduated with a diploma. Majored in animation back in school but ventured into broadcast design when I started working.

My first introduction with vector would be with the use of Macromedia Flash (back then it was still known as MF). I did flash animations back in school and fell in love with the distinctive and clean style of vector art. Flash was a breeze to use to create vector work and it soon became my favorite tool. It never left me since then. After which I'll do lots of touch ups and composition layouts in Photoshop.

3. Walk us through the creation of a typical image for you. How long does it take to create? What is it about vector the medium that fascinates you?

It usually starts with a handy sketchbook. I go out, I get inspired, scribble them down, bring the treasure home and start to do more constructive sketching. Honestly I have no idea how my artwork would turn out to be when I start making them into vector illustrations. It just takes on a life of its own as I make progress.

Its fascinating coz' I never know what to expect. But the results are always satisfying. :)

Fat Sweet Geisha, A collaboration with Rubens Cantuni

4. What are you working on currently, any interesting or exciting project? Tell us about your job as broadcast designer.

I'm currently working on some character designs with DC comics and also working on the next Depthcore Pack. More customized toys in the making. Exciting times!

I do video editing and motion graphics during my day job as a broadcast designer. I used to make on air promos for MTV Asia a few years back, but now I'm trying out corporate videos. I wouldn't say its exciting, but it certainly gives me a different set of challenges!

5. Your illustrations are full of fantasy characters, creatures and candies, what is the first spark of imagination that triggers you to start on a piece? How would you define your style. What do you want your viewers to walk away with when they see one of your pieces?

Cute + Morbid. That sums it up perfectly. :)

I'm also a big nature lover. Be it trees, animals, flowers, mushrooms, rainbows, raindrops…anything! It plays a big part in my art creations. I love how beautiful and perfect mother nature is. I think the world should learn from its beauty and not take anything on earth for granted. I tend to reflect that in most of my artwork.

Whenever I create art, I hope it brings a smile to those who look at it. The colors, the characters and the love that is put into it.

6. I notice that your illustrations have a typical color palette; you seem to use similar colors for your illustrations. Why do you like to use those colors?

I think my color scheme plays a big part in my art. I once did an artwork in black and white. It just didn't seem quite right. Though the characters, the story and everything else goes according to plan, but with no color, it just doesn't work at all. Made me really frustrated coz' I didn't like it. My art NEEDS to have color! Lots and lots of color. Caramelaw style. The more the merrier!

So yes, I always apply lots of colors to my art and most of the time keep to similar color schemes coz' its my favorite! Makes me want to throw in more ideas when I see the colors I love to work with.

It's like a child being attracted to bright colors. :)

7. Which is your favorite piece of work that you have created so far and why? What was the inspiration and idea behind it?

My favorite piece by now would be "Trees in Heaven."

The idea behind it was to feature happy looking trees not on earth but floating above on clouds. In that world, Squirrels tend to their needs, birds with watering cans attached to their feet water the trees. Its like an afterlife, a view of what happens to trees after people chop them down. For so many years they provided us with wood, shelter and clean air with no complaints, they deserve to go to heaven. But yet, people are still taking nature for granted. It's a message that people need to understand.

8. Do you think an artist's persona is reflected in his/her work? If yes, what aspect, of your designs and illustrations reflects parts of your personality?

Of course! An artwork has got to be a piece of you. It has got to be made with so much love and passion that when people look at it, they could tell it's a chip from the block. That's very important.

For me and my artwork, it just goes to show, I'm still a child at heart. Growing up never stopped me from my world of imagination, talking monsters and strange friends. I'm still attracted to bright colors and strange things. Like I said before, similar to a child attracted to their cute toys. A place no one can enter but myself. Yet I want to show the world what goes on in my head.

9. Who is your artistic role model? Are there any particular artist(s) that you get inspiration from? Or any particular website(s)?

Takashi Murakami. He is my art hero! I love everything he does. His art, his characters, his color schemes, his animation and art direction. I look up to him and what he has achieved as an artist, and I aspire to be like him.

Of course I do look at other styles outside of Takashi Murakami. I'm a member of the DepthCORE team and all the artists there are like a family. We help each other out by giving ideas and feedback. It's a wonderful platform for exposure and meeting new, great and talented artist around the world. Be sure to visit DepthCORE for more details. It's a wonderful place to get inspired…big time!

10. Apart from art and illustration what other things do you enjoy? How do you recharge your creative batteries?

I love doing hands on projects, such as customizing toys, like vinyl's, vintage My Little Pony and Pullip dolls.

It's a different genre of art itself and I always find myself thinking of new ways and materials to use to "Caramelize" the toys up. Its really fun and I really enjoy doing it! It gets my mind working and generating new ideas all the time.

I did a custom Pretty Parlour project out of boredom by turning an old vintage pony house into something totally new again. Lots of planning and hard work went into that, but I'm really happy with the results. Also, I created a new species of Pullip dolls and ponies called "Pollips". (Pullips + Ponies) Customized dolls and ponies paired together as a set. I hope they would someday make it big in the Dolly world.

11. Thanks for the interview Caramelaw. Would you like to give any tips or advise to aspiring designers and illustrators?

Do what you love to do and believe in it. NEVER give up. :)

Caramelaw on Web

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