The Singaporean illustrator who brought art to Facebook offices

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Kristal Melson has had a career that many young illustrators and graphic designers want to emulate. The 38-year-old has managed to gain respect as an artist, land superb gigs with a range of clients ranging from global brands to small start-ups, and has been able to empower other artists to help them build their careers.

Before the pandemic, Melson worked for workspace solutions provider WeWork, and before that, he was regional curator for Facebook’s artist residency program. Before Facebook, she was the artistic director of Kult, a gallery and studio that has also produced one of the city’s most influential publications on art, design and popular culture.

Melson gave birth to her second child last year, just as the country entered its first breaker. The pandemic and motherhood, she told me, created a hiatus that allowed her to take a break, take stock and reinvent her work.

She’s coming back to it these days, but in a more selective way, taking on a job that she finds truly meaningful.

HELLO KRISTAL, WHEN DID YOU FIRST THINK THAT YOU WANT TO BUILD A CAREER IN ART AND DESIGN?

I was not your ideal student at school. I was one of those distracted kids with doodles on everything from textbooks to my sneakers. I’d do collages, silly stuff like that, for as long as I can remember. I liked books and magazines with awesome pictures. I loved the She-ra and My Little Pony books.

A few months before my O Levels. a graphic designer came to talk to us and I was really blown away. Like, wait, does this kind of work exist? I think I can do it!

I then worked really hard on my O levels to make sure I got into the visual communication course at Temasek Polytechnic.


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