Being able to do what you love every single day is a blessing that Tina Fung and Aeropalmics don't ever take for granted.
Both artists have been working in the creative field since graduation, but their artistic inclinations started from a young age.
For Aeropalmics, whose real name is Dawn, her career as an artist began even when she was still a student in Singapore at Lasalle College of the Arts.
"I got a degree in fine art, but I've always spent every second of free time drawing since I was a kid. Creating was everything to me," said the 30-something, whose passion is in experimenting with various visual mediums and forms. "It helped me to make sense of how things worked."
The multidisciplinary creative has worked with big names such as Google, Facebook and Citi, among others.
It is difficult to pigeonhole her work, and her notable projects have ranged from paintings to sculptures, digital illustrations as well as virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) projects.
For installation artist and set designer Tina, also in her 30s, the pushback from her parents was real when it came to her choice of academic study. The resistance made her choose a slightly more conventional route as a young adult.
"I had always wanted to study fine art but it was never an option for me. In the eyes of Asian parents, it was not viewed as a sustainable career," said the Danish national who's half-Chinese, half-Filipino, and has been based in Singapore for the past 10 years.
Instead, Tina dived into interior design, "which was more of a 'valid' career choice" in most people's eyes. She holds both a bachelor's degree as well as a master's in interior and spatial design.
But after "what seemed like an eternity" in the job, life as an interior designer did not give Tina the creative satisfaction that she hungered for.
A 2013 trip to the Burning Man festival in the US changed that. Tina described how she was surrounded by "countless pieces of art" at the week-long camp, which opened up the floodgates of her imagination.
Inspired, she knew she had to pursue her "inner urge" to be an artist. That same year, she quit her job and switched careers, starting out as a set designer for Zouk, an institution in Singapore's nightlife scene.
In 2017, she co-founded boutique design studio Space Objekt along with her partner, Ash. Together, they have worked on a myriad projects across Europe and the US, including for renowned names such as Adidas and Gucci.
In fact, it was for an Adidas project earlier this year that brought Tina and Aeropalmics together. Both of them were commissioned to work on separate pieces for an installation, and they hit it off almost immediately.
"I was really drawn to [Aeropalmics'] work! Her colours, shapes and vibe in particular. I immediately thought we needed to join forces and collaborate," explained Tina, who strongly believes in the power of collaboration to allow ideas to grow.
That opportunity came about with NTUC Club's commissioning of an art installation at lifestyle destination Downtown East. And the art piece titled Wave Hello was born.
The strikingly colourful structure which resembles a maze from afar was the brainchild of both artists.
The entire installation is inspired by gentle waves in water. "We wanted to marry friendliness and accessibility with the water theme, hence 'Wave Hello'," the pair shared.
"We started off with developing our own mood boards separately on the type of work we envisioned. To our surprise, our visions were pretty much identical. We were both aligned on form, colour, materiality," said Tina, who had previously been commissioned for another installation, Shades of Self, also at Downtown East.
Added Aeropalmics: "We wanted the piece to be as open and as accessible as possible — we firmly believe that art is for everyone to enjoy and that was the end goal."
When two creative forces meet, it can be easy to assume that conflict would likely result, but that wasn't the case for the both of them, who claimed they had "zero squabbles".
In fact, the admiration they had for each other was evident and flowed both ways.
"We're both easygoing, responsible people — that makes work simple. Mutual respect, trust and an openness to ideas definitely help," the pair jointly added.
According to Aeropalmics, the client's only request of the piece was that it had to be "Instagrammable", and that, they certainly delivered.
The whimsical and attractively-lit structure drew visitors and curious onlookers armed with their phone cameras the evening we were there before the current Phase 2 (Heightened Alert) measures.
Describing how they came up with the multi-faceted piece, the artists shared that rather than having that "one money shot", they wished for visitors to "curate their own photos" from the experience.
"We hope audiences can enjoy the play with spatial perception which we’ve created and we look forward to seeing their own experiences through their lens," added the pair. We were told that the structure, which looks vastly different day and night, took on 15 iterations before arriving in its current form.
Coping with the pandemic
For artists whose pieces have travelled beyond our shores, the Covid-19 pandemic has certainly thrown a spanner in some of their plans.
It was a downer for Tina especially, when events that Space Objekt was scheduled to build installations for were either cancelled or postponed this year.
"It affected our work very much. We had some really great projects lined up in 2020, and I was really looking forward to them," disclosed Tina.
"But on the flip side, the pandemic has also taught me how to work remotely which we have done successfully for our overseas projects in the US for Branson Aquarium, and another one we are working on in Los Angeles."
Aeropalmics, however, has been more fortunate. "I've been very lucky, very few projects have been put on hold."
In fact, she expressed gratitude for an influx of "fun projects" all through 2020 and this year.
"It's a good time to put some joy out into the world!" added the creative, who shared that she is currently working on wall murals, commissioned illustrations and a collaboration with an art-tech company to create AR face filters.
Things are looking up for Tina too, despite the initial hiccup due to the pandemic. "We are currently working on a number of interesting projects overseas including the World Expo in Dubai, and a permanent experiential installation in California. We're super excited!"
More than anything else, a sense of gratitude permeates their emotions in these uncertain times.
Said Aeropalmics: "Incredibly grateful I get to do what I love every day. Artist life is fantastic for me personally. It requires constant problem solving and can get pretty rough juggling all aspects of the business, but hard work, kindness and empathy yield results."
"I think working as a creative in Singapore is great with heaps of opportunities," offered Tina. "It’s great because the creative and art scene here is not as saturated as established cities like London, Hong Kong or New York, and that's understandable considering Singapore is only 56 years old! I believe there is space for enriching arts and culture in Singapore to push boundaries and growth."
Wave Hello is now on display at Open Plaza 2, Downtown East. Admission is free. Not to fret though if you can't make it down soon, the exhibit will be on display 24/7 till January 2022. From now till July 31, stand to win prizes when you post your best photo of the exhibit on IG with the hashtag #WaveHelloDE. The top two most creative entries will each win $100 cash and $50 in F&B vouchers from Downtown East.