Tell Your Children: Illustration and More
Date: March 8, 2017
In January, Tell Your Children celebrated three years of creative projects, illustrations and autonomy. Highly esteemed for its signature style of illustration and mad skills, the collective has captivated audiences with its art pieces on countless of prominent lifestyle initiatives and events. As its name suggests, Tell Your Children is one good news worth passing down to the next generation.
Wonders are created in their well-equipped studio, where creative vibes bounce off the walls and ideas that bear no boundaries are cultivated. The well-grounded team – made up of Deon, Kevin, Lydia and Russell – is an ideal representative of the story behind the Chuck Family, the backbone of Converse’s campaign this season. The Chuck Family story is broken down into four parts – The Beginning (embodied by the Chuck Taylor All Star), The Throwback (embodied by the Chuck ’70), The Sequel (embodied by the Chuck II) and The Evolution (embodied by the Chuck Modern).
Tell Your Children was founded in early 2014, based on a foundation of common ideals and interest in music, street fashion and inspirations. Deon, Kevin, Lydia and Russell knew one another when they were studying illustration at Temasek Polyechnic, but fate only brought them together a few years later.
Deon elaborated, “Russell and I were really close as we were classmates and we’ve always wanted to start something together. This idea didn’t take off until I was in National Service. We met Lydia at a mutual friend’s party and threw this idea out – why don’t we do this together. Kevin joined in after that.”
“Being in the army also strengthened the mission of being our own boss because I didn’t enjoy the regimentation and having to answer to authority in the army. That really sparked off this journey.”
Reaching for outer space and striving for creative brilliance with the collective means dodging the status quo of the industry. Driven by its unique ambitions, Tell Your Children refused to tread the usual route of joining an ad agency and working its way up the ladder. The collective yearned to create distinct works that were rare to find locally. Not surprisingly, it has received much recognition and acclaim over its signature style in its works that require tons of hard work behind-the-scenes.
Lydia said, “We had problems trying to put our stuff together in the beginning. There was a lot of back and forth. It’s a matter of time and experience that we form a certain style, but still kept individual styles.”
Since early days, the team has managed to identify one another’s strengths, besides their individual art styles. Essentially, all four members have no intention of outshining each other, but will rather build each other up.
Russell explained, “We have our unique strengths. Deon is really good in being the PR guy; he’s really good in dealing with the clients and collaborators, and getting our name out to people. Kevin is good at tying things up backend, taking care of our finances. Lydia’s good at her creative direction and her draftsmanship. She does really dope murals and illustrations.”
“Russell is good at drawings. He comes out with sketches and very crazy stuff that I don’t think a lot of people can do. I guess he has some humour at times. We complement each other,” added Deon.
According to Tell Your Children, it has been quite a feat to last three years as a collective without any major conflicts. While the members have learnt how to work as a group, the collective is still maturing and discovering how to achieve its goals together. Over the years, they have learnt how to manage each other’s expectations and feelings, and always ensure an open channel of communication.
The collective not only embarks on illustration-based works, it has ventured into projects and events that it holds a special interest in. One of the recent highlights was Trashold, where Tell Your Children collaborated with contemptcreations to fuse art and fashion together.
Russell elaborated, “I’ve always had an interest on customising clothes and the things that I wear. It was a natural progression and it was also because we knew Jackie from contemptcreations. One day we approached her to ask if she was interested to do a project about customising jackets. It was quite hectic in scheduling and finalising the whole show. It paid off quite well. It showed that people had an interest in the stuff that we do, even on a different medium.”
“We’re constantly thinking about projects we can do that will have an interest to us. It’s also about managing the finances to put into this project.”
Kevin said, “We always want to one up ourselves. That’s a benchmark and we constantly have to think of how to top ourselves.”
Speaking about fashion, the team agrees that Converse sneakers are classics that are versatile and match easily with their individual street styles. Kevin expressed, “I like the comfort of Converse shoes. I like how blank it is. Being blank is a strength, you don’t complicate things.”
Russell added, “What I like about Converse – it’s a go-to shoe that you can wear on any occasion. You don’t have to think so much about it. They’re not trying too hard to push different silhouettes. They’re just going back to the classics. I think that’s what makes Converse cool.”
Fully geared up for its upcoming plans, Tell Your Children looks at past creative works as learning points on how to keep improving. Projects such as its debut art show and the 2015 US tour shine particularly brighter than the rest as they represent milestones at different stages of the collective’s journey. The debut art show introduced it to the creative industry in Singapore while the US tour introduced it overseas.
“At the end of the day, we feel that while Singapore is growing (in the arts), we should compare ourselves on the global scale. That’s how we normally set our benchmark. The US trip was a fun seven weeks on the road – very interesting and memorable experience. It helped us to grow and bond closer together,” explained Deon.
The collective keeps each other creatively-fuelled by constantly sharing individual inspirations outside of illustration. Currently, one of its biggest influences is The Madbury Club, which is based in New York, Brooklyn. During its US tour, Tell Your Children managed to link up with them and painted a mural in their studio.
Armed with optimism and aspirations, Tell Your Children looks at its future with a global view. The collective will focus on building its presence overseas by travelling and getting to know more people in the global creative industry. In March, it plans to tour a few major Asian cities such as Hong Kong, Shanghai and Beijing, to collaborate and create content with agencies, food and beverage places as well as individuals. A major trip is also in the pipeline for the end of the year.
Lydia said, “We’re way better than we were the last few years. We have more precise plans and goals now than the past. Goals-wise, we’re more certain of what we want to achieve. We know what we want and who we want to reach out to.”
Besides making its mark globally, the collective hopes to inspire the younger generation with its works and actively engages the community. Deon explained, “We try to make it a point to give talks and reach out to people who are trying to start something themselves. We got one of our friends to help us paint as she was trying to learn about murals and stuff. We make it an effort to engage with the younger crowd.”