SG Inspiration: Ivan Hoo

I first came across Ivan Hoo’s work on a BoredPanda site and was immediately blown away. I’ll start by showing you some of his latest work:

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[Got.Milk.?] #pastel on wood.

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Mind you – they’re all drawings. And I sat there wondering… how did Singapore miss this? Ivan’s skill of hyper-realism was finessed enough to earn him global recognition – why was an international site breaking the news? Why didn’t he get more acknowledgement locally! So I took some time to get to know the man behind the photorealistic drawings, and how it was like being an artist in Singapore.

S: Tell us a little more about yourself:

I: I am a normal 32 year old who is passionate about his work..and in every new project i always give my best. I feel fortunate to be able to devote to drawing and painting.

S: Besides art, what other stuff are you into?

I: I’m actually quite a boring person… I enjoy cooking! I cook for my family in my spare time

S: What were you doing before being an artist?

I: After my two years national service, I worked for about 5 years at a logistics company as a coordinator.

S: What sparked your interest in sketching?

I: I was always interested in drawing, even as a kid… but I only saw it as a hobby then.

S: You’ve mentioned that you’re completely self­-taught. What was the process of teaching yourself like?

I: First, you need be sure of where your interest lies. I’d always loved realistic art, and I’ve spent a lot of time seeking advice and how to go about honing my skill. I’m lucky enough to be able to get in touch with a lot artists from different countries that are kind enough to share their knowledge with me.

YouTube is a great resource as well – going through tutorial videos does help, but I think most importantly the ability to be disciplined is very important.

S: What drew you to this particular style? Why did you choose wood as a canvas?

I: I always felt that an artist must have his/her own unique style in their works. I wanted to do something more different and unique, so I explored anamorphic or 3D art. The idea of choosing wood came from Audrey Kawasaki who paints on wood.

S: How do you choose what subject matter to draw?

I: Actually, I don’t really stick to one subject to draw or paint. As long as subjects that interest me and are full of challenging details, I would try drawing it. I guess I gravitate towards subjects that allow me to produce more detailed, precise works.

S: What puts you in the mood to create?

I: I draw almost everyday… ideas can strike my brain anytime! Sometimes I do have my “art block” moments too – but I will still pick up my pencils and draw.

S: What’s the process of usually like for you?

I: The process is sometimes painstaking. It depends mainly on the extent and difficulty of the composition.

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S: Is there a particular piece that you’re fondest of?

I: Hmm…it’s hard for me to choose because I put in my most effort into every piece.

If I had to choose one, it would be the dripping effect one, because that’s the first 3D art I created and it was then my art started to evolve. I had great response from my followers too. That motivates me to continue to exploring 3D art.

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Drawing Water Droplets.#softpastel on wood.

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S: Was it a hard decision to go full­-time, being in a super practical country like Singapore?

I: Yes. At first I had to figure out how I was going to make a living with my financial issues. Besides, I don’t have an art qualification or art background – that makes it even harder to find jobs related to the industry. That’s when I began to freelance, and at the same time build up my portfolio.

My parents have also always been supportive of what I’m doing. They are my main pillar of strength. I’m truly grateful and lucky to have the best mom and dad in the world!

S: What are the best bits of being an artist?

I: That I’m able to convey my message/feelings through a painting to the audience.

S: What are the worst bits of being an artist?

I: When people don’t respect your work. And also when people start to use your ideas without crediting you – plagiarism. That’s definitely the worst part for me.

S: What kind of commissions do you usually get?

I: I used to get commissions to draw families’ or individual partner’s portraits but after my recent pug drawing and the media coverage that came with it, I’ve started getting more animal portrait commissions.

S: What’s your next goal as an artist?

I: Besides preparing for exhibition, I have no idea what the futures hold for me, but I will keep on creating, with the hope of inspiring others.


Would like to thank Ivan for taking the time to answer my kaypoh questions! Check out his work on Instagram and Tumblr. For commission work, email ivan_hoo83AThotmailDOTcom.

One Comment

  1. I was looking for new reading material and I stumbled upon your blog. Great post. Well written and inspiring. Looking forward to coming back and explore other ones you have.

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