5 tips for turning everyday life into art illustrations
Roger’s Melody, illustration by Lay JunMing

5 tips for turning everyday life into art illustrations

This has been a year of picking up new hobbies for many of us, as we find ourselves with more available time to dedicate to new passions, side hustles or creative endeavours. It has also been a year of rekindling old flames for some, dusting off the pursuits we had to put away when work and life just took over. Lay JunMing is one of those people – after putting his love of drawing aside for a few years to focus on his business, he found himself getting back into drawing to fulfil a childhood dream and share his passion for sequential art with more people. 

His journey started at the age of 15, when his mother helped enrol him in a local comics club so he could pursue his love for drawing. At the time, he submitted his cartoons to local newspapers and dreamed of becoming a professional cartoonist, but the army and making a living became a priority and he had to push those dreams to the side.  

For him, cartooning offers audiences more than just humour. He says: “Cartooning shows a brilliant side of humanity, it pushes the envelope of how creative we can get. If there’s an art form that teaches people to put two different things together and try to make something out of it, cartooning is one of them.”

His current project, Oddly Sequential, a series of single and sequential panels of cartoons, took shape in early 2020, as a way of challenging conventions around satirical illustrations and sequential art. He shares that audiences have responded to his cartoons in interesting ways, either confused by what the cartoons are trying to convey or by totally getting behind the art form.

Sequential art refers to the use of images or graphics, laid out in a specific order, to show a unique situation or capture a moment in time. While some artists might include captions or dialogue in their artwork, the cartoons Lay draws are ‘silent’. “Everything has to be acted out by the characters or shown in the situation in this type of art,” he says. 

art illustration titled Melissa's meeting by lay junming
Melissa’s Meeting, illustration by Lay JunMing

Lay shares five easy tips for turning moments in your everyday life into art illustrations: 

1. Enjoy the process

Drawing is a largely solitary activity; one spends time alone with one’s thoughts, ideas and work. It is easy to overthink things, especially the technical aspects, such as which pen to use for a cartoon, and you may end up feeling burdened. Instead, choose to enjoy the doodling process. With practice, you will hone your skills and get better at drawing.

2. Have a purpose

Have in mind a story or moment you want to depict with your cartoon. It will help you focus on finding new ways to express the idea creatively. 

3. Observe the mundane

If you don’t know where to start, observe people’s behaviours and ask yourself “why” and “what if” questions. This will help you reframe the everyday and spot opportunities for imagination and creativity. For example, while observing his wife hanging the laundry, Lay might wonder why she is hanging the laundry in the given moment – because it is sunny – and what she might hang outside if it were a stormy day, which would provide him with a fresh scenario for a drawing. 

4. Try a different perspective 

When you get stuck with an idea, it is likely because you are looking at things the “wrong way.” Explore different ways of viewing the scenario you are trying to draw. When you find a fresh perspective, the feeling can be very rewarding.

5. Make sure the dots connect

A successful drawing should make sense to anyone who sees it. You’re trying to leverage knowledge that someone has about a certain scenario and connect this with a new situation. The result might seem strange at first but ultimately should be understood. Even if you find a different way of looking at the world, putting different things together after you connect the dots, should still be very obvious.

Oddly Sequential is supported by the National Arts Council’s Digital Presentation Grant for the Arts, as part of the #SGCultureAnywhere campaign. Follow the latest updates on Instagram

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