“Anything that sends some frisson of fear and trepidation through me will have my attention for sure. Problem solving is fun for me.,” muses Dawn Ang, more ubiquitously known in the local scene as Aeropalmics. If there were words we could string together to describe the artist, it would be how she spreads infectious joy, alongside a near incomparable and admirable passion for her work. And should one ask exactly what her work entails? The answer is hardly set in stone, as Ang chooses to dabble in almost every art medium that exists at her disposal—from eye-catching mural installations to groundbreaking collaborations with digital luxury fashion label Republiqe.
Art can do so much; capture history, change hearts and minds. It’s a powerful tool.
There is no doubt then, that versatility is one of her strong suits. But ask any creative out there, and most will concur that what she does is no easy feat. Between working on a slew of commercial projects for clients and ensuring she takes time off for herself, the colourful visual artist still manages to carve out the hours to work on personal projects. To the public eye, they might be the “simple joys” that seem to be fuelling her creative spirit on a whole; yet Ang is steadfast and clear on what these mean to her. “The excitement is different, and the goal is clear,” but make no mistake that the work she does for others is still very much her own and visibly close to her heart.
Aptly calling herself a ‘Visual Adventurer’ in her Instagram bio, there always seems to be a newfangled sentiment or narrative she chooses to explore. Her understanding of the people she meets and the stories they want to tell, are always seamlessly weaved in, yet her drive to grow continues to radiate from within. Take her recent project for The Coconut Club: where a traditional-meets-modern charcoal mural of banana plants stretches across a 10-metre wall—communicating a graphic moment that speaks to the authenticity of the soulful coconut rice served in banana leaf.
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So the question that remains: how does she do it all? We go behind the art and steal pockets of her time—asking after a personal definition of the artist that she is, how she discerns between commercial and personal projects and why her creativity seems to know no bounds.
How would you describe your artistic style?
Most describe my art as cheerful and friendly, but I think the art I favour (and create) is pretty wide-ranging. If anything, I’d say it aims to be first and foremost, relatable.
You call yourself a ‘Visual Adventurer’. Why do you resonate with this?
I enjoy expanding on my worldview through art and meeting people; talking things through, trying out new ideas, new styles and new mediums. The excitement is similar to going on an adventure, hence the term.
Is there a specific medium you personally feel drawn to?
I think my one true love will always be the humble pencil. I started with that as a kid and it has really stuck with me. If you go through my older work, you’ll see that I was obsessed with bringing out some form of surrealist dream on the page: the art almost always felt like it was steeped in an old memory—it brings with it a melancholy. My love for the pencil, however, feels quite insular. I’ve spent months alone just drawing, to the point where I’ve lost the ability to communicate clearly (laughs).
It truly has a special place in my heart. I draw when I’m relaxing and want to unwind.
I have, however, found a new love, a more inclusive aim with the final product. The art I love to create now aims to bring goodwill and cheer to the audience, regardless of the medium. Because why not attempt at bringing a smile to faces? Art can do so much; capture history, change hearts and minds. It’s a powerful tool.
With so many various types of timelines and planning for different mediums, how do you choose the projects to work on?
Creatively, I’m most excited about clients who are open to trying out new things and aiming to break new ground. Anything that sends some frisson of fear and trepidation through me will have my attention for sure. Problem-solving is fun for me. Clients who give me free reign are also incredibly lovely. There is so much giving and trust there, I treasure it wholly and handle it with utmost care.
When it comes down to choosing projects, I honestly gauge based on the kindness of the people I’m liaising with. When people are kind and expectations are laid out on the table, the entire process is great for everyone even when there are hiccups. I’m very open with my clients about being flexible on costs, understanding that everyone has an allocated budget in mind and never getting offended—there’s no reason to be. It’s all part of the process, and we always work towards something that everyone will be happy with. Because I give freely, it warms my heart when it’s reciprocated and I feel like it’s good vibes all around.
How do you keep the creative juices flowing?
I think I have a deep love and understanding of art and design, in all forms possible. There is so much that creativity is used for, and it’s all so exciting to me. I love absorbing all of that on a daily basis and I’m just constantly in awe at how people of all ages all over the world are making amazing things happen and contributing to the world. To be privy to that is an absolute honour. What a time to be alive. But yes—that’s what keeps me active and motivated.
How do you differentiate between commercial and personal projects for yourself? Does it make a difference to you?
There’s definitely a difference and it’s also visible visually when we know what the artist’s usual visual language is. Everyone has a different way of going about it and the result varies as well.
Through the years it has bled together a bit and I’ve discovered that having wonderful, kind clients makes it 80 percent personal and 20 percent working around specific requirements. The adjustments and requirements also make it exciting, because finding a way to hero a client’s ideas in the best way possible is what good design is about. The percentages vary with every client, but all of it helps me expand on my empathy and understanding, which is a life goal of mine.
Personal projects I can best describe as a simple joy. Like walking in the sun, feeling the warmth on our faces. Sitting by the water, watching the sun set. I think that’s where the difference is for me personally. The excitement is different, and the goal is clear. I love hearing opinions even with personal projects. It helps me adjust because my perspective is but one person. Being able to successfully make relatable art requires input on its relatability.
What is your creative process like? Take us through a typical journey of an artwork or installation from start to end.
Draft ideas, select an idea, execute the idea, then make adjustments! It’s quite a cut-and-dry process really. If clients have input, the draft process is lengthened a little. If we’re installing on-site it requires site visits, paperwork with regards to safety and construction materials, safe operating procedures, protecting the area around the art and working around other contractors and workers trying to get things done. We occasionally stop for health reasons; sometimes sanding gets too severe and air quality is compromised, etc. All in a day’s work!
What are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced in your artistic career?
I think the biggest challenges happened when I was just getting started and work dribbled in: the process of sending portfolios to agencies, exhibiting work to get noticed, all of that was pretty crazy. I was working other jobs while striving to put myself out there so it was quite a tiring process and some days were worse than others. It seems to have worked out though.
I’m the luckiest, and I’ve met so many kind people who believed in me when I didn’t believe I was worthy of this life, or that it was even possible. I’ll always be grateful. It’s why I readily help people who ask me questions on freelancing and art in general. I’ve attained so much information that I wish I had back then.
Any tips for aspiring artists out there?
Set up social media, put all your work out there, regardless of whether or not you feel ready. There’s only now. Ready might never come. Most days I don’t feel ready.
Meet people in the scene, be kind, be giving! Ask. Create your own opportunities. Sometimes a quick conversation with a stranger can turn into a collaboration. If you don’t ask, you’ll never know. If you’re looking at working with agencies, send portfolios out, find out who’s in charge, send them a message. If you’re looking at galleries, talk with people in the know and plan your strategies. In fine art, the right entrance could be a big deal and could help you make a splash. In the age of social media, the world is made smaller, finding the right people and being able to chat with them directly is such a privilege.
This isn’t just for artists. Even after you choose to go down a path, don’t be afraid to cut your losses if it’s not for you. Knowing when to quit is as important as persevering. No one will think less of you, and there is no shame in quitting to find something that makes you happier or takes you closer to your goal in the long run. Having backup plans for money before you ditch will help keep you financially stable while you’re on the search.
A favourite artwork that you worked on recently?
The Nike-By-You project, which is getting released throughout the entirety of this year. It’s a childhood dream, getting to work with Nike. Some days I feel like I’m living someone else’s life. Grateful doesn’t even begin to cover it.
My favourite recent mural installation has to be the lovely one at The Coconut Club. Met so many kind souls onsite and around the entire project—it’s been such a joy.