The award-winning short The Dumb Elephant is what put Farhana on the map, and the Singapore-born artist has worked for some of the world’s biggest broadcast brands. She loves watching stand-up comedy, and there’s often a touch of humor in her work. Farhana is also inspired by the hustle and bustle of New York’s cafes, restaurants and subways, as well as the architecture of the city.
After four years studying architecture at the National University of Singapore, Farhana worked for an architectural practice. Then she moved to New York to take an MFA in Computer Art at the School of Visual Arts.
After sketching her basic concepts on paper and scanning them in, Farhana’s process is mainly digital. Colors are added in Photoshop, and she uses natural media brushes and pens to give her work a hand-painted feel.
Farhana’s style is reminiscent of a high-quality graphic novel. Whimsical, atmospheric and colorful, dramatic lighting and warm color palettes make her work lifelike and approachable. She adds a larger than life quality wherever impact is required.
2017 Taiwan International Student Design Awards – International Prize
Question: What led you to become an illustrator? Farhana: Growing up in Singapore, I’ve always loved to draw but doing it for a living never felt like a feasible option. I fought hard against many nay-sayers to choose this as a career!Question: Farhana: Did you study illustration at college ?Question: I studied architecture in college and did an MFA in Computer Art at School of Visual Arts in New York. I learned how to illustrate and draw mostly by myself, though choosing creative fields of study definitely helped. Farhana: Question: Where do you live now and what drew you there? Farhana: I'm based in Brooklyn. I went to school in New York City for 2 years and fell in love with the freedom of expression that New Yorkers have. I love being surrounded by that.Question: Farhana: Describe your studio for usQuestion: I have a Cintiq, a drawing board that inclines, sketchbooks and notes strewn everywhere and a few mugs of caffeinated beverages at hand at any one time. Farhana: Question: Do you have any studio pets? Farhana: I have a little fluffy dog named Whisky- he’s the best guy in the world!Question: Farhana: Who or What is your biggest inspiration?Question: The people and places around me, lived in spaces and the stories behind them. Farhana: Question: How do you get your ideas? Farhana: I like to base my ideas on my real-life experiences, people I meet, films or places I’ve seen.Question: Farhana: Do you keep a Scrapbook?Question: I bring a sketchbook with me everywhere and I fill it with ideas, to-do lists and sketches of unsuspecting people on the subway. I guess that’s where I ‘scrapbook’ all my ideas. Farhana: Question: Farhana: Tell us about a favourite project you’ve recently completedQuestion: This isn’t completed yet, but I’m currently working on a set of animated short films in collaboration with my partner, guitar virtuoso and songwriter Shun Ng, titled ‘Homunculus TV’. It explores life, existentialism and mental health. This is my most favourite project I’ve worked on so far, look out for it! Farhana: Question: What would be your dream job/commission? Farhana: I would love to illustrate an awesome graphic novel, or to visually develop an animated film! Question: Farhana: Why is illustration such a powerful medium?Question: Illustration transcends language barriers and travels straight to the viewer’s heart. The ability to communicate with images is what makes us human! Farhana: Question: How do you envision illustration evolving? Farhana: Trends are transitory, but I love how the advent of gifs and LED displays is leading to motion and illustration slowly becoming one. I envision a magical future where all our posters and pictures are moving images like the portraits in Harry Potter!Question: Farhana: What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?Question: The best advice I’ve ever been given is to stay focused on your goals but be flexible about your methods of getting there. Farhana: Question: If you could visit anywhere in the world, where would you go? Farhana: I would visit Singapore to see all my friends and family and eat some really good food!Question: Farhana: