Candy Ng’s Whimsical World of Imagination at Off the Kerb

Melbourne-based graphic artist and illustrator Candy Ng is a bit of a globetrotter. Born in Hong Kong, Candy made the move to Australia at age 17, and has studied both in Melbourne as well as in Europe.

A multi-talented artist with an eye for fun, Ng has worked as a graphic artist, an illustrator, a muralist, and as a ceramic artist. Having collaborated on popular projects with everyone from the Geelong Powerhouse, to Kinfolk Cafe and Affix Magazine, Candy Ng’s latest offering is a new show which is about to open at Off the Kerb gallery, in Collingwood.

606Courtesy of Yan Yan Candy Ng/Off the Kerb. All Rights Reserved.

Called Wish You Were Here, Ng’s soon-to-open show is a sweet collection of works inspired by the themes of travel, dreams, and nature. A riot of pretty pastels, Wish You Were Here is sure to be a fun romp though Ng’s whimsical world of imagination.

I chatted with Candy recently about her upcoming show, children’s books, and how she chooses her colourful palettes:

Outlet Magazine: Tell us a little bit about yourself and your background as an artist.

Candy Ng: I am currently based in Melbourne, Australia. I grew up in Hong Kong and moved to Melbourne as a teen where I had to adopt a new culture, this helped me expand my horizon. One of my earliest memories is that of me drawing, which has not changed since. I took art classes when I was in high school, I have a Bachelor’s degree in Communication Design, and, I have worked as a full time Graphic Designer for 4 years.

In the graphic design industry, there are changes all the time and you are being told what to do. Yet all that said; I learned so much as a designer but it limited your ability to fully express yourself. In order to do so, I started illustrating. From there it started to roll like a snowball till the point where I knew I needed to take it seriously. I quit my day job in 2015 but I have no regrets; there is not a single day when I don’t enjoy what I am doing now, I love the freedom to create my own ideas without the burden of pleasing everyone else. As an artist, the moment you start to develop your own voice, is when you start putting yourself first, which is important in order to create your best work, and this is what I am learning right now.

O: Has art always been a natural way of expression for you?

CN: I would say it is by choice. I do it because I enjoy it in the first place and didn’t give up half way through, like i did when I was learning to play piano. For me I have chosen art as my journey of figuring out what I want, to reflect what I learn and to express my feelings and thoughts – I am just embracing my own kind of channel.

O: How did Wish You Were Here come to be? And what is the meaning behind the show’s title?

CN: I found art to be my therapy to free myself from all the world’s heaviness. I illustrated places where I imagined myself to have adventures; somewhere out of the ordinary world we live in, places where my illustrations can live. It is good to have this kind of me-time but it is also good to share your interests and adventures with like-minded people. It was the moment when “Wish You Were Here” came to mind.

O: Do you think about the title for a show before you start putting it together, or does that come later?

CN: I brainstormed some titles at the beginning but the current title only came to me after I finished all illustration pieces and a few days before I needed to submit all the info to the gallery.

O: The works featured in Wish You Were Here are charming and bright. What inspires your colourful palette choices?

CN: Good question! I did not plan my colour palette in advance. It is more about how the colours reflect my emotions at the time of creating. For this set of works at Wish You Were Here, I used colours based on my memory from my Australia road trips and New Zealand trip – it is my interpretation of nature. I would like to think I am a happy person so I guess my personality is also consciously imposed on my work through my colour choices. If I can use my illustration to bring a little bit of delight for both myself and the viewers then why not! We need to smile more and embrace the power of smiling.

607Courtesy of Yan Yan Candy Ng/Off the Kerb. All Rights Reserved.

O: Can you tell us about the mediums you work with, and why? And what materials do you love to use?

CN: That depends on whether it is required to be done digitally or traditionally. Most of my client work required to have a digital version; I usually sketch loosely on paper with fine liner/pencil and then I will sketch again with a more detailed draft before switching to photoshop or illustrator to finalise the artwork. I love to create textures such as dry brushing, crayon lines and inked marks etc. I love to use lightbox to ink fine details, love painting with acrylic, crayon, colour pencil, ink, etc. to create tangible elements in my work. For this exhibition I will showcase some original painting, drawing and hand made ceramic pieces for the very first time.

O: Describe to us your creative process. Where do you start, and where do you find your inspiration?

CN: I often found inspiration through nature, adventures, words, thoughts and imaginations. All of which inspire my work whether it is apparent or not. I can spend hours at a local library, read short articles online, listen to a podcast, and, being an observer of my surrounding while cruising on my bike. Curiosity is the fuel of learning and creating; it give me the urge to discover, imagine, take risks, investigate and experiment, but also bring me out of the comfort zone. I normally start my creative process from the brief (if there is one) and gather my thoughts on paper. I found it essential to be able to isolate myself when creating work. I must create my own space where I can’t be disturbed and are separated from everyday concerns, in order to create my best work. When it is quiet, you can hear your thoughts, you can reach deep within yourself, you can focus on self-development and expression and in that way create work that is more personal; you put yourself in it and your work become your voice.

O: Is there a story behind one of the pieces from Wish You Were Here that stands out to you?

CN: One of the images came to my mind during a time of despair, it may sound a little ironic as people know me to be a cheerful person, but I think it is just human to experience up and downs as long as you know when to pick yourself up. The piece involved sinking into the water, finding the key and walk out of it at the end. Whenever I go for a swim at the pool, I will try to hold my breath as long as I can under the water; I will imagine myself swimming through the ocean bed and enjoy the quietness, but then once I take another breath out of the water, everything will be back to normal. It is quite a surreal feeling when putting a pause on a hectic schedule and the noises of the world. That is why this piece I created is my reflection on the relationships of being overwhelm, retreat, refresh and proceed.

O: What do you hope the next five years has in store?

CN: I hope to have more experimentations on different mediums and scales such as more paintings and more murals. I would imagine myself taking on more commissions, commercial/editorial work and collaborate with people I admire. Perhaps illustrating for a restaurant, a cook book or another children’s book? I would love to go on some traveling and drawing adventures such as Scandinavia and Iceland.

O: Are you working on anything new? What’s next for you?

CN: I have recently crowd funded a children’s book project and am in a process of self publishing the book, which is very exciting! Other than that, I am going to start on a new editorial illustration for the next issue of Affix Magazine and some new concepts for a new commission work. It will be a fun filled month and I will be able to reveal more process on my Instagram once it is ready, keep an eye out to find out more!

609Courtesy of Yan Yan Candy Ng/Off the Kerb. All Rights Reserved.

Wish You Were Here by Candy Ng opens at Off the Kerb on Friday May 20th, from 6 – 9pm. The show runs from May 19 through to June 2nd. Off the Kerb is located at 66B Johnston Street in Collingwood, and is open from 12:30pm to 6pm Thursday – Friday, and 12pm to 5pm on Saturday + Sunday.

You can find more information about the gallery at their website:

You can follow Candy on Instagram at @yanyancandyng, and find more information about Candy Ng and her work here:

Courtesy of Yan Yan Candy Ng/Off the Kerb. All Rights Reserved.