Once you see the artworks of Singaporean artist and illustrator Marina A, it’s likely you will instantly recognise them anywhere else. Channeling her unique vivid palette and often titillating images, she’s created plenty of eye-catching illustrations that might be described as unapologetically trippy and surrealistic – a style manifested from dreams and emotions that she wants to portray. In particular, the graduate from Nanyang Technological University’s School of Art, Design and Media is inspired by astrophysics and the symbolism between serpents and females, as you’re bound to observe in her paintings.

We chat with Marina about her work for the music industry, her upcoming workshop in collaboration with M Social Singapore, and well, frequently being mistaken for a groupie.

Hi Marina! How would you best describe your style of art?

Cosmic Surrealism, since most of the settings are in Space, and a representation of a Utopia.

What tools do you use for that?

I usually work with acrylic paint and my Wacom Intuos 4.

Who or what are some of your main influences and inspirations?

What – I must say experiences and moments. Usually, around the idea of doing art as a cathartic relief and turning something negative into something that is somewhat positive. I am heavily influenced by artists like Carlos Cruz-Diez, Nick Briz, and Yoko Honda.

You’ve created artwork for a series of musicians and bands, such as Disco Hue, FFion, and M1LDL1FE. How’d you get into that?

For Disco Hue, most of us were schoolmates, so one of them asked me to help with their visual branding, that eventually led to the art direction for music videos, and the band’s concept, and so on so forth. I met Paddy from M1LDL1FE while doing one of Disco Hue’s music video, and FFion from one of our mutual friends. I mean, the music community is pretty small so you’re bound to meet ‘everyone’ inside. It’s like the concept of how Singapore is so small and that you’re bound to meet someone you know.

Artwork for FFion’s EP (left) and M1LDL1FE’s Distraction single (right)

Any interesting stories when working with musicians?

I don’t have any, but there were times when strangers mistook me for their relatives, manager or worse, groupie, but all is well.

Surely you can’t work on everything that comes your way? How do you pick what to work on?

First, I’ll see the topic or theme of the work and the amount of creative freedom I get out of it. Secondly, I simply try not to work with people with bad ethics, like asking to work for free or underpay the promised amount. The same goes for gallery or exhibition opportunities.

Which project was the most memorable, and why?

Most of my projects were memorable. M1LDL1FE, definitely because they’re all genuinely great people and they gave me all sorts of creative freedom. Also, the gallery showcase I did with RADII collective at KULT Gallery in 2016, which was curated by Speak Cryptic.


Marina’s piece for NTU ADM Gradshow 2017

What projects have you worked on recently and what are you working on at the moment?

I’m collaborating with Lomography on a camera giveaway that will be happening throughout the month of May. I’m also working for my friends at Grand Motion Media on an upcoming music video for a Singaporean band, Cadence. Last but not least, I’ve recently collaborated with Los Angeles producer, Mark Redito (Spazzkid) on his upcoming single artwork – ‘CLOUD KEEP’.

You’re doing a Fine Art Freeform workshop with M Social Hotel next month. What can participants expect from that?

Lots of paintings, patterns and motifs! I’ll be giving a short workshop about the process that I go through before starting on a piece and settling in on the colours.

What’s the best advice you’ve been given, that you can share with aspiring illustrators who’ve yet to break out?

I was contemplating on quitting art, but a friend of mine used to tell me not to give up on my craft and happiness. Fame and wealth are man-made concepts that are kept for ‘future happiness’ as everything is short-lived. It is about doing what you love to make yourself happy cause that’s the kind of happiness that will leave an everlasting imprint.

Follow Marina’s work on Instagram and on Cargo Collective. From 14 to 25 May 2018, her works will be exhibited at M Social Singapore. She will also be holding a Fine Art Freeform workshop on Saturday, 19 May 2018 as part of the hotel’s PassionArt Sessions. More details here.