Singapore illustrator Zhou Jixuan wins the Club 21 scholarship

Watch out for Zhou Jixuan: This Singapore artist may soon become the next big thing in fashion illustration.

As the first recipient of the newly-launched Club 21 scholarship, Zhou is now studying Communications Design at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City.

The Club 21 scholarship was created in 2012, in celebration of the Singapore luxury retailer 's 40th anniversary. Calls for application run from January 2 to March 31 yearly; the bond-free scholarship will enable undergraduate and graduate students to pursue further studies in fashion, retail and creative industries. This year, Zhou was selected out of nearly 180 applicants candidates from 15 countries.

Also known as Doublexuan, the talented 29 year-old illustrator has already exhibited her works in Tokyo, Singapore and New York since her graduation from The Art Students League of New York in 2009.

Here, we chat with Zhou on why Vogue creative director Grace Coddington is her biggest role model and her beloved mural at the Singapore River.

She discovered art by accident

"It is a strange story really," Zhou recalls. "I found an art book purely by accident in the library one day. It was a book of drawings by the old masters." She was a teenager then, who knew little about art. Zhou became so taken with what she saw that she "enrolled in painting classes the very next day, and I [have] never stopped creating since." The rest, as they say, is history.

Absurdity gives her work meaning

She won't mind if you deem her art a tad bizarre or absurd - in fact, the artist admits that she enjoys making art on "strange or taboo subjects", with a good pinch of humour in it. Zhou shares that she's "heavily influenced by Eastern European folk art", which gives her art that touch of folksy whimsy, as well as the bold and expressive colours of the Fauvism art movement.

Grace Coddington's her idol

With big dreams of becoming one of the top names in the Singapore fashion industry, it should be no surprise that the American Vogue creative director is Zhou's role model. "I am intrigued by how she manages to retain her unique individuality and style and yet continues to produce images that are so commercially successful," says Zhou.

She's a patriot at heart

This young illustrator may have held solo exhibitions in major cities like Tokyo and New York - accomplishments that other emerging artists dream to have - yet it's quite telling that when she's quizzed about her greatest personal achievement so far, Zhou chose to cite a work much closer to her home - her work for the Singapore River One Underpass Art Project.

Zhou's mural pictures key Singapore historical events, like the Singapore treaty signed by Sir Stamford Raffles in 1819, as reported by The Business Times. You'll find Zhou's artwork at the Pulau Saigon Bridge underpass along the Singapore River, on display from now until the next call for new murals later this year.

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