May 8, 2021

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The art of fashion


In her younger days, Venie Tee studied art under the guidance of a Malaysian artist, who studied in Paris. Now Tee is a fashion designer and has decided to combine her love for both fashion and art into eye-catching creations.

“It was a very simple switch actually. I was back from London in 2000, and the art scene in Malaysia and the region did not look promising. So I decided to explore my interest in fashion because I love clothes,” said Tee, who began her career as a fashion designer in 2001.

“Fashion is art, it’s just another form of making art. I think my experience in fine arts and fashion design made me who I am now,” said Tee, who received awards for the Most Promising Young Designer and the Best Casualwear Designer in Malaysia at the International Fashion Awards in 2005.

Tee, who has an Advanced Diploma in Fashion Design from the Raffles International Design School, has her own fashion label “Venie Tee” but it is currently in hibernation as she is focusing on her fashion illustration work.

She also has a Fine Arts degree from Central Saint Martin College in London, and a Master degree in Illustration from the Academy of Art University in San Francisco, United States.

How would you describe your art?

My artwork has developed into many different stages. It could also be described as a metamorphosis. To be honest, I picked up drawing and making art again a few years ago when I decided to take a break from the fashion industry to take up my Master degree in Illustration. The course really helped me perfect my illustration skills and gave me confidence to pursue art again.

Tell us more about the main subject of your illustrations?

Currently, I am exploring the MiDuck illustration technique for a story of two cats and their routine. However, fashion illustration is something I am passionate about. I am also working on custom projects of illustrating animal art. I love drawing human figures as it helps me understand the perspective, layering of clothes and wrap-around shapes within movements. Drawing figures also helps me perfect the composition when I am drawing animals.

What do you want to convey through your art?

Joy. I think the purpose of art or illustration should bring happiness to the viewer, followed by the message conveyed via the composition and vice versa.

Which is your preferred medium?

My favourite mediums are graphite, gouache, and watercolour on paper because they are easy to travel with and I can work with them either in my studio or during my trips.

What is your most memorable or challenging artwork?

The most memorable artwork would be finishing five drawings of cats for the Parallax Art Fair in London in 2016 as it marked my first proper paintings after I returned from London in 2000. As for the “challenging artwork”, I have yet to come across any because I treat all of my work as new explorations and I constantly challenge myself to make a new artwork better than the last one.

How would you describe yourself as an artist?

To be honest, I never considered myself an artist. I see myself as more of a designer or an illustrator because I want my drawings to motivate the viewer. I was trained as a fine artist in London, and being an artist can be very lonely, so most of my artwork was about myself or my personal experience.

Things took a 180-degree turn when I worked as a fashion designer back in Malaysia. I was making what I considered “wearable art” and I was happy to see that people loved wearing my designs. This achievement has been my major motivation when I am illustrating a drawing.

What are your future plans?

I hope the pandemic will be over soon so that I can travel for work again. I am not good at planning the future, but my focus now is to instil confidence in my young art students. I would also spend more time on my visual storybook drawings.