Artist Spotlight: Wu Yanrong
For this year’s Holiday campaign, RATIONALE has collaborated with Singaporean artist Wu Yanrong to create six beautiful artworks, celebrating the rituals which stamp the holiday season.
A talent whose star is firmly on the ascend, Wu Yanrong’s iconic style draws inspiration from Chinese calligraphy and traditional painting techniques, and embraces bold brushstrokes and a brilliant colour palette to tell the story of festive traditions and inspire a sense of celebration—and hope for the year ahead.
In a year when our Melbourne born-and-bred company opened its first international Flagships in Singapore, it’s perhaps serendipitous for RATIONALE to be collaborating with an artist whose own life (and career) journey includes a chapter set in the Victorian capital, as she spent her formative years studying at RMIT.
“I wasn’t the best student before!” Wu admits, laughing, as she explains that the opportunity to study abroad was one she simply wasn’t prepared to take for granted. Reflecting on it now, she acknowledges her time in Australia as being a “defining moment” in her life.
To help celebrate her work—and this year’s beautiful campaign—we spoke to Wu about her inspirations, career ambitions, and how she plans to spend the Holidays…
What inspires you?
I am inspired by nature, human emotions and anything with a nice form.
Did you always have ambitions to forge a career as an artist?
I don’t think I had a proper dream job when I was a kid, but art has always been something that I am passionate about and I’m just going with the flow.
Tell us a little about your journey and how you got to where you are now…
Going to Melbourne for my degree is a defining moment. Studying there costs considerably more than it does here in Singapore and I was determined to make it work. I set and achieved my goal of taking part in exclusive art markets, and it was there that I discovered my style while working on a school project. When I came back to Singapore, I managed to get a job at a great graphic design studio where I was allowed to illustrate and explore my work freely for many projects. The job helped kickstart my freelance career and, over time, I landed more and more gigs. Apart from that, I paint during my free time which helps a lot.
You've spent time in both Australia and in Singapore—how has the time spent in each place shaped your work and career?
Melbourne, as a city, is definitely more creative than Singapore, and the people there are so encouraging and appreciative of my work. Going over to study, and really wanting to succeed, made me a more hardworking and resilient person. It also made me more disciplined. I grew to have integrity in my work, as opposed to the past where I would have handed in something I wasn’t happy with but was too lazy to redo. My experience in Melbourne really shaped how I see work and, frankly, life.
What's been a stand-out point in your career so far?
To be honest, I don’t think that there are any ‘stand-out’ points. Everything is a small milestone which I don’t think about until I look back and realise how far I’ve come.
How did you develop your artistic style, and how would you describe it?
I discovered my current style when working on a magazine rebranding as part of a school project. I chose an outdoors-y magazine and, for the first time in my life, I painted fish (it was a section on fly-fishing). I realised fish was a nice subject to paint, and so I painted more and more sea creatures. That led to a gig with Uniqlo and, subsequently, window displays for Hermès. Playing around with the colour and technical limitations, it was because of the Hermès job that I found my current style.
I would say my style is like Singapore: East meets West. The materials that I use—brush and paint—originated from the West, while the applied knowledge I use comes from my background in Chinese and painting.
How will you be celebrating the holiday season this year? Are there any traditions or rituals you hold dear?
It depends on the situation [with Covid-19] but I’ll be getting my house by then, so perhaps a nice dinner party and opening of presents.
Definitely a store-bought roast chicken that’s pretending to be a turkey! (laughs) It helps create a Christmas-y vibe in warm, humid Singapore! It’s not a common festive tradition but I know a lot of people doing it.