Candice goes by the moniker Puffing Muffin — a strange but adorable namesake that adequately sums up her wonderfully quirky illustrations. Illustrating wasn’t always the obvious career choice for Candice; she studied Architecture and worked in the industry for a few years before deciding that she preferred something a little more visual. She took a short course in graphic design, and turned to being a full-time illustrator a few years ago. “I would probably still be a graphic designer if I wasn’t illustrating,” she says. “I’ve always been doodling for starters — like when I was in school, I doodled in my textbooks, but I guess I only took it more seriously when I joined the National Art Council’s Noise program, which was a stepping stone for me.” Candice currently works on murals for cafés, offices, residential projects, and commissioned illustration. She will soon start teaching part-time as an adjunct lecturer at Singapore Polytechnic. We visited Candice in her home, where she works from her cheerful room that’s chock-a-block of toys and collectibles in various shapes and sizes, and speak to her to find out more about what she’s up to at the moment.
1. How does a typical day go for you?
I usually work at home now. I’ll wake up, do my admin and reply emails before starting work on my projects. I work from home, but still have to go for meetings so as and when I have to move about it’s easier. It’s flexible, and there’s no routine because I’m self-employed. Because, you know, if you’re working full-time it’s the standard peak-hour, go to the office, do your stuff, and you come home. (Was that something that you wanted to break away from?) I wanted to try something new.
2. Could you tell us about what you’re working on right now, or a project that you would love to undertake?
I’m currently working on illustrating a children’s book. That’s an ongoing project, and I’m also working on a couple of mural projects. Something that I really want to do would probably be create my own toys.
3. What is the best and worst part of being a freelance illustrator?
Being free to set my own time is the best and worst part of my job. I have to manage everything on my own! (laughs)
4. What does individualism mean to you?
I think it’s being perfectly comfortable in your own skin.
5. Who is one person you dream of working with, and why? Or who is an icon you look up to?
Probably Yoshitomo Nara. I just visited his exhibition in Hong Kong and I find his work very intriguing, especially his recent works. He used to work mostly on his influences, like the kind of music and lifestyle that influenced him, but after the tsunami, he changed his art direction quite a bit. He had this kind of creative block and wasn’t able to produce work. He stopped creating works that were for selfish reasons but more for the people — something that people could relate to after he died.
6. What are the three things/tools you use most often at work? Or, what are three items in your workspace that you can’t live without?
My pencil case, which has all my stationery; my sketchbook; and my computer/laptop.
7. What would your ideal workplace be like, in terms of the actual physical space and working environment? As an illustrator, do you usually work alone or do you do collaborations?
I do collaborate, especially with the Band of Doodlers. It’s a more collaborative effort; it’s like an interest group, and we currently have over 200 members. The recent Hong Kong trip that I came back from was the six of us. We usually have a lot of unofficial collaborations among us, and I also believe that it is through collaborations that you really learn. Because when you’re working on your own, you’re always working in your own confined space and you don’t really see what’s out there. Even just talking to someone, something as simple as that can easily inspire you.
8. You spend a lot of time in your workspace. What’s the one piece of furniture that you really love, and why? And what is one piece of furniture that you wish you had?
I would love to have my own studio, preferably in a cold country, not in this heat! I wish I had a more ergonomic table and chair and more space. I need a lot of space for all my toys and my materials.
9. If you could wear a uniform of sorts for the rest of your life, what items would the outfit consist of, and why?
If I had to choose one, I think it would be a shirt dress and sandals. It’s because of the heat, and you don’t have to think about how to mix and match because it’s just one piece.
10. What do you think are some wardrobe staples that everyone should own?
As colourful as I am, I would say a black top. Because you can’t go wrong with black! Super clichéd, but it’s true.
11. What/who are you listening to right now? What kind of music do you listen to when you work?
I’m listening to the Top 100 Pop List on Spotify right now. Because I can sing along to it when I’m doing work.
12. If your life was a song, what would it be?
Can I say that I don’t want my life to be a song? There isn’t a song per se, but I always imagine how my life would be if it were a musical, and I’d be singing it out.
13. If you were asked to curate a music festival, which three musicians/bands would you headline?
Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and FTISLAND, they’re my guilty pleasure.
14. What’s the one thing you think you should be doing more of, or that you wish you had more time to be doing?
Travelling, and more money to travel!
This is a Shentonista project for Fred Perry Singapore.