Singaporean Illustrator Desti's Journey and Love for Anime


Singaporean Illustrator Desti on Her Colourful Journey and Love for Anime

From historical and supernatural to comedy and romance, there are plenty of Japanese-style animation (anime) and comics (manga) that are worth watching and reading. Some of the popular manga series that have anime adaptations are “Demon Slayer,” “Shingeki No Kyojin,” and “One Piece,” among others. They feature exaggerated visuals such as big eyes, outlandish hair, and elongated limbs.

Anime and manga have long become part of the Asian culture and continue to evolve because of their ever-growing traction with fans, including Europe and the United States. With this, new and talented artists who want to explore the space and have a deeper understanding of their crafts have grown into stardom.

One of the youngest artists who dived into the mainstream world of anime and manga, Singaporean illustrator Desti shared with The Beat Asia her artworks and fascination in line art for anime-style illustrations.

How did you become an artist?

As for learning how to draw, there wasn't any real "start" to speak of that I can actually pinpoint. It started off as random bored scribbles [that I drew] in class that gradually led to somewhere, really. I was lucky as well and got to know of others who draw and learnt a lot from them too. I am currently represented by Collateral Damage Studios.


A lot of your creations reflect your strong interest in Japanese manga and anime. How did you translate this fascination into your artwork?

In anime/manga style art, eyes greatly affect the feel of a character, so I try to come up with different looking eyes for variety. Hair is generally greatly exaggerated, so it can also be what you use to express how your character is like.

Additionally, I often base their outfits on various Japanese street fashions.

What is your favorite anime/manga character and why?

My favourite character is Hatsune Miku. Back when she was first introduced to the world as the mascot for the line of Vocaloid software, her design made her very striking, and she easily stood out. Miku is special because, unlike most other characters, she is a tool meant for people to create with. Many people out there use her voice (software) to create their songs and it's cool to see.

Because of her popularity, there are always new Hatsune Miku fan creations for me to see. I also got the opportunity to draw a Miku-themed promotional artwork for Kaomoji’s Miku Expo merch (last year (2021)!

Aside from manga or anime, where else do you draw inspiration from? How do you keep your imagination and creativity flowing amid the pandemic and the ensuing mobility restrictions?

Cute animal photos! Listening to music is good too.

To be honest, the pandemic affecting [my] mobility is not really an issue, since drawing is done in front of a computer at home. My work doesn't exactly require me to travel or commute in the first place.

How would you describe your art and how do you want it to influence your audience?

It is cutesy with fairly detailed eyes and lines. I hope that I can brighten up someone's day with my artwork.

Do you follow any routines or techniques when creating your illustrations?

I like to draw a sketch with lines in random colours. That makes it easier to pick out the different details in the sketch, especially if there are overlapping elements in the picture. The actual line-art is done separately later. Flipping the image occasionally is a good way to spot mistakes that you might not notice otherwise.

What is your favourite among your creations so far, and why?

It is difficult to choose, but I'd pick the Cheesecake nudibranch from within Kemono Singapore. The name of the slug is amusing. It has an interesting look, being a soft lemon colour that's edged in black, and ruffled all over. I tried my best to reflect its traits in the anime anthropomorphic version within Kemono Singapore. I hope the readers will like it.

Desti arts

Can you tell us more about Kemono Singapore and the creative process behind it?

Kemono Singapore is a colouring book of anime-styled characters based on animals that can be found locally in Singapore. The concept behind it is to let the users enjoy the calming activity of colouring cute anime characters while learning something new about our local wildlife.

The list of animals was picked between my CDS manager and me. It was not too difficult since there was so much wildlife-related news during the pandemic period. We tried to go for a mix of well-known, popular animals and some more obscure ones (such as the Cheesecake Nudibranch). Because scientific accuracy of this information is really important, I am grateful that an expert from our local natural history museum has kindly extended his help to fact-check and ensure that our content is accurate.

Kemono Singapore

Aside from colouring books, are you also into other formats or mediums?

I always like watercolors because of their vivid colours and the beautiful effects that you can create. It will be nice to pick it up However, to be honest, it is so much more convenient to draw with a tablet. So, I ended up never really trying watercolours.

One day, I will.

What do you think makes your work different from others?

Everyone’s art has their own style to it. For me, I suppose my line-art tends to be more distinct and carry the rest of the image. It is a convenient trait for colouring books so my manager regularly asks me to do colouring-book-related work.

Do you believe in creative block? If yes, what do you do to overcome it?

I don't think people can end up literally unable to do anything at all per se, but sometimes there are just days when things you do just don't look as good. If that happens, switching to doing something else for a bit is a good idea. It goes away on its own after a bit.

What is your dream project?

Being able to draw pretty things is great in itself already! If I had to pick something specific? Come to think of it, it would be very nice if I did get to do something for a character I like.

What is your advice for new illustrators?

Everyone starts off terrible, so don't be discouraged if your initial artwork doesn't look good at first. Characters can be hard to draw, so you can choose to pick a simpler subject to draw first.

If you want to start with characters anyway, chibis (super deformed style) tends to be more forgiving with proportions so you're more likely to end up with results you are happy with.

What's next for Desti? Please share any upcoming projects you are working on.

I am currently working on a new colouring book for an overseas publisher! The general theme for the new book will be ‘mostly cute, mildly spooky’. I can’t say more about the new book but please look forward to it!

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