Singapore, Illustrator –
She has a masters degree in architecture but ROS LIN follows her heart into the world of illustration to create beautiful handdrawn products under her own label
Nudging architecture aside into freelance mode, doing design, graphics and renderings for a few firms, Ros Lin can now focus on Otherworldly, her own design enterprise.
Doodling and drawing imaginary worlds and nature – hence the name ‘Otherworldly’ – she then transfers these illustrations onto products such as coasters, postcards, bags, pouches and scarves. She sells these at pop-up stores and via social media.
The 33-year-old Singaporean has always had a passion for drawing since childhood – doodling on her school textbooks, leaning over to doodle on her bemused classmates’ worksheets. Her parents didn’t scold her – instead they supported her and encouraged her passion, buying her art supplies and things to doodle with. Her father, who draws well, gave her lessons. Nevermind if she went on to get a masters in architecture, but stuck to her passion of doodling. Her mother helps Ros and Otherworldly by handsewing the bags and scarves and labels.
Ros often hangs out in cafes and at parks, plugging in her earphones and letting the world around her disappear as she starts her doodling. “I remember sitting at different cafes doodling that snail drawing. It probably took about two days in total. I don’t remember much about taking breaks. When I start drawing, nothing else exists except for the pen, and the surface; the world in my head comes to life in fine, black lines.”
Using a 0.1mm black marker, Ros sticks to a single line weight per illustration and builds up the shades and tones by hatching. There is something so soothing and satisfying about the process, she says.
A chat with Ros Lin, illustrator and owner of Otherworldly
1 What inspires your drawings?
Nature and cities. I’m always looking for ways to integrate cities and landscape harmoniously with each other. I enjoy doodling imaginary worlds. Sometimes I look at nature and imagine little cities everywhere – colonies in the bird’s nest ferns high up in the trees, little towns growing in clusters of mushrooms, cities blending into cliffsides. It makes me smile, and the process of doodling them takes me on adventures to far away lands so wonderful.
It’s a form of stress relief. I have an imaginary friend, Lily, who came about during my architecture masters year . She goes on fun escapades for me when I’m stuck with work in the studio. She remains a friend who is always there, and continues to go on fun adventures such as chilling in a mojito under a cocktail umbrella on a hot day.
2 Tell us about your products. Are they all handdrawn and handmade?
The Otherworldly products, fondly known as Otherworldly Things, include prints, postcards, bags, scarves and coasters, featuring my illustrations. After much sourcing and trials I finally found a fabric printer in Thailand who has a good selection of fabrics. There is a series printed on linen, which is then sewn to make bags and pouches, each lovingly handsewn by my mum and me. I handwrite all my labels because I love the thought of adding the personal touch to every piece of product. The scarves feature the Infinite Wonderscape series – an intricate landscape drawn as a repeat motif such that it becomes an infinite wonderland. These are available in a thin linen cotton and polyester with a handmade pouch so that its easy to carry around. The Littlepieceofpeace coaster series came about from my love of doodling on coasters. The coaster doodles capture my moments of escapades into other worlds, and I print them on matt ceramic coasters to share the joy.
3 How do you sketch ideas that pop up into your head?
I doodle on coasters with pen, and try to keep to just one line weight per drawing. I started doodling on coasters because they are a good-sized mini canvas, and are easy to bring around. I have also started experimenting with brush and grey tones.
4 What’s always in your bag?
Coasters, pens, brushes, earphones and phone for music, and a hand towel.
5 What local food do you crave after a hard day at work?
Sambal. Anything sambal and curry. I love spicy food!
Story by Carol Kraal. Photographs and illustrations courtesy of Ros Lin and Otherworldly. Top featured photograph is an illustration of Amsterdam.