Mastering the Art of Being Uncertain
Mr Lee Xin Li (Design and Environment ‘15)
The intricate and whimsical artworks of illustrator and architect Mr Lee Xin Li (Design and Environment ‘15) have presented him with unexpected opportunities.
Mr Lee Xin Li's distinctive illustrations arguably first came into the spotlight after his Kueh Series — a collection of colourful, detailed artworks of 60 nyonya delights was released when he was still in his final year at NUS. “I was pleasantly surprised when Mr Brown, the ‘blogfather’ of Singapore, gave the series a shout-out on his podcast,” recalls the architecture major, who now works for DP Architects. “From then on, people knew me as ‘the kueh guy’."
A collection of illustrations featuring nyonya delights
Singaporeans have seen a lot more of Mr Lee’s artwork since. These include his depiction of People’s Park Complex and the drawing of the ‘Missing Man Formation’ commissioned by the Republic of Singapore Air Force Black Knights for the State Funeral of Mr Lee Kuan Yew in 2015. There’s nary been a dull moment. In fact, The AlumNUS managed to chat with the 30 year-old at the Singapore Art Museum (SAM) at 8Q, where his vivid illustrations of Singapore’s landscape are being displayed as part of Imaginarium: Into the Space of Time — the museum’s annual family-friendly exhibition. This makes his second exhibition — his first being Sayang Singapura in 2016, which featured illustrations of places that have been transformed such as Haw Par Villa, that was held at the Urban Redevelopment Authority’s Singapore City Gallery.
Where else will he go from here? The answer is anyone’s guess. “I never quite know where I’m going with my illustrations,” says Mr Lee, who started doodling since he was in kindergarten. “But that uncertainty has been good, as along the way, opportunities have been presented to me, and I have been open to them, thus enabling more opportunities.”
“It’s tough for many artists to step away from their work, because we are always trying to do better. As a result, we tend to pull many sleepless nights. Don’t do that. You’ll work better when you’re not tired anyway.”
Mr Lee’s advice to aspiring artists hoping to follow his footsteps.
Check out more of his artworks at leexinli.com