The best part about Iree’s works is this: if she draws your favourite character, you can be sure that she’ll be giving them modern and fashionable outfits, where the details in every piece of accessory and apparel are undeniably realistic. This mix between fiction and fact is what makes her works so enjoyable by all—even when you don’t recognise the character, you’d recognise their clothes. Read on to learn more about her process.
Where do you draw inspiration from?
I have a lot of things that inspire me! From the music I listen to, the games I play, or a very cool outfit I happened to see.
What mediums do you prefer to use?
I love working with pens and watercolour. Drawing traditionally feels very soothing for me, I feel like I can draw more freely without many constraints and need for precision as compared to digital art.
What is the best and most challenging part about working with these mediums?
The most challenging part with pens is probably maintaining clear, decisive strokes. I mainly use pens for sketching or doodles only, so I’m not very confident yet in doing more refined, neat linework. As for watercolour, I think the hardest part is achieving the right colour or transparency with the perfect combination of paint and water.
I feel like when I’m working with traditional medium, there’s no way of knowing how things will turn out, so I sort of just let things happen on their own and try to work them out from where they are on paper.
How would you describe the Mossery Sketchbook to others?
Mossery is probably the prettiest sketchbook I’ve used, so I think it’s safe to call it a perfect combination of style and usability! The paper can hold a wide range of mediums, and I absolutely adore the variety of covers and pockets inside. I really like big books, so I wish they came in larger sizes, but the current size is definitely well-suited for mobility. I also love how much care you put into every page of the book, great job guys!
Tell us about your creative process—what is it like from start to finish?
When I get an idea to draw something, I usually jot down a very rough sketch on my sketchbook immediately. It’s just a general idea of what I wanted to have so I don’t forget about it later.
The next part is my favourite part: research! Let’s say I want to draw a character posing with a beauty product. I’ll start looking for clothes for the character to dress up in, all sorts of bottle shapes and colours for the beauty product, and a certain theme I want for the background (Pinterest and Instagram are my holy grails here!). This is actually a very self-indulgent part because I get to fill my visual libraries with certain objects that I had no prior information about.
The next part would be sitting down to draw the piece! I usually start with a manually drawn rough sketch, then I’d move to a cleaner sketch on digital, and later I’d add the base colour, shading, as well as further refining and adjustments.
What is your earliest memory of creating art?
Perhaps from the ancient crayon reliefs on the walls at home! My parents had always let me draw on the walls and didn’t repaint them until I’m much older. They have been very supportive when I started drawing more variety of artworks in grade school, like silly little comics and storybooks (I still cringe when I re-read them, haha!). I’m certain that I won’t be where I am right now if not for the continuous support from my family, and I’m very grateful for that.
Do you believe in talent?
I think I prefer to call it ‘sense’ instead of talent. Some people have a certain quality or feeling, that allows them to create their art in the most pleasing, fitting way. While some people may be born with this sense or was introduced to it at an early stage of their life, I believe it’s something that can be honed with continuous practice and observation.
How do you handle criticism?
I believe a good critique should be followed by grounded reason and ways to improve the piece—otherwise the recipient will only feel dejected and not encouraged to improve.
What are some of the toughest challenges you've encountered?
One of the toughest challenges I’ve encountered is when I was told that I wasn’t cut out for art school because I kept drawing manga-styled art. I started learning to draw realism out of resentment—and when I did enrol in art school, I clung onto the technical aspects of my art so I didn’t fall behind my friends academically.
I wasn’t feeling satisfied with my art progress until I decided to take a turnaround look. I started to draw with styles and mediums I’ve never tried before, from cartoon to dabbling in gouache and markers. I tried to combine all the information I had then, and I finally created something that felt true and close to me.
That’s when I realised that I should’ve used that critique as a chance to open my mind to a wider range of possibilities. While having realism as fundamentals were indeed paramount, up until now, I’m still incorporating the manga style that was supposed to ‘not bring me anywhere’. I still have a long way to go and I think it’s important to look back and allow myself to make room for growth.
How do you view manga as it's compared to different styles of fine arts or illustrations?
Perhaps there's still a misconception (in where I live, at least) that art should be expressed in a fine form as opposed to manga style, which is more like a part of popular culture. However, styles are only one of the many aspects of the way we express the world in our minds—so any style is, of course, a form of art. While some are not being emphasised in art school, that doesn't make it any less of an art form.
What would you say to those who are being told that manga-styled art would not bring them anywhere?
There’s nothing wrong with starting off in this style! It gives us the advantage to grasp a lot of concepts like making a firm stroke, drawing everyday objects, and human anatomy in general. However it’d be an even greater advantage if we keep being versatile with our art—style is only a muscle memory of our current knowledge, and we're going to always evolve through the time we spent on making art. Keep drawing what you love! :)
What’s one of the best advice you’ve ever received in life?
This is a hard question. But I wish I could learn how to deal with disappointment and rejection earlier—to accept that some things are not going to happen as I expected them to be, and to always be grateful to what I have in myself.
In return, what advice would you give to your younger self?
I would tell my younger self to never compare herself with others’ achievements. I used to be very self-conscious at school, partly because of the high expectations of my parents, but I’m starting to make peace with myself and take my own pace.
If you’re given only one word to describe yourself, what word would it be and why?
I actually asked my sister for this and she said ‘chiil’, haha! I think I’m not a very big fan of making a huge deal about something, and when I do, I only express it in front of my close friends or family.
Tell us a secret.
This is probably not a secret, but I often cry myself to sleep after reading or watching something angsty.