Letting her illustrations take flight
How did an architecture graduate become a successful freelance illustrator working with dream clients? We find out from homegrown illustrator Puffingmuffin
It sounds like the ultimate career switch, from a career in architecture to sketching and painting for private clients. Previously a graphic designer with Cosmopolitan Singapore and the Singapore Women’s Weekly, TFCS Art Mentor Candice Phang, also fondly known as Puffingmuffin, made her foray into freelance illustration when she joined The Apprenticeship Programme (TAP) organized by NOISE under the National Arts Council.
Candice has worked with brands such as Chanel, Rimowa and Melissa shoes. While her portfolio may look glamorous, Candice emphasises that making a career out of freelancing takes persistence and grit. “In order to make it work, freelancers need to hustle a lot! We have to wear a lot more hats – the accountant, admin person, project manager, creative and so on,” she shares with TFCS.
TFCS: You’ve worked at the Singapore Women’s Weekly and then at Cosmopolitan Singapore, before freelancing full-time. Which aspects of being a full-time employee and a freelancer do you enjoy/dislike the most?
Candice: This is a tricky question. There are pros and cons to both but it’s hard to compare per se since the nature of work is fairly different. In terms of having a day-job (not referring specifically to the magazine industry), there’s usually a sense of financial security that comes with a regular income flow.
But at the end of the day, you don’t get as much sense of ownership of your work, compared to working for yourself. As a self-employed illustrator, every project is my baby. I watch it grow and finally hand it over to the client when the project has “matured” – that’s by far one of the most rewarding parts of the job.
TFCS: If someone told you 5 years ago that you would be doing what you’re doing now, what would you have thought?
Candice: I’d think that the person must be joking!
TFCS: Tell us about your favourite piece of work or clients. What made the projects a joy to work on?
Candice: I shall not name clients but over the past two years, I’ve been fortunate to have met clients who are very sincere and appreciate the work I do. And I’m super thankful for them. Usually, I find that the projects I enjoy most are the ones where the clients believed in my expertise and gave me an extensive amount of creative freedom.
TFCS: You’ve collaborated with quite a few renowned brands, including Chanel, Melissa Shoes, Rimowa, Faber-Castell, Vans, and more.
Candice: It’s usually through word of mouth recommendations. Someone knows someone who may have been at one of the events which my work was featured. I truly thank these kind souls for helping me to spread the word.
TFCS: What are your thoughts about working with interiors or hotels, given the growing popularity of illustrations appearing at such spaces?
Candice: It certainly sounds exciting! I’ve worked with a few cafes and homes for wall murals but I’ve not partnered any hotels. I’d be more than happy if the opportunity pops up though. It will be nice to create a special experience with my illustration.
TFCS: Which brand or personality would you like to work with?
Candice: I’d like to collaborate with brands like Lazy Oaf or Monki that features quirky illustrations on their products.
TFCS: Any tips for someone who’s looking to break into the industry?
Candice: Persevere. Be prepared to work hard, and don’t take things for granted. A good attitude helps to go a long way.
Images: TFCS Art Mentor Puffingmuffin
Follow Candice on Instagram @puffingmuffin and check out more of her work @TheFashionCollectiveSG. Keen to come on board and start building your portfolio, or interested in collaborating with us? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.