Singaporean artist Grace Ciao has been making quite a splash with her series of wow-worthy fashion illustrations that turn simple flower petals into breathtaking dresses. Since her designs were unleashed upon the Internet, Grace has been featured time and time again, in Buzzfeed,the Huffington Post, Boredpanda, WeTheUrban, and more!
For someone who admits to having no formal training in art or attending art schools, Grace uses flower petals (and the occasional vegetable) to create stunning haute couture illustrations that Tyra Banks would give her left arm to carry down the runway. There has even been a call for her to salvage Miss Singapore’s dresses!
So we’ve all seen her beautiful creations, but do you know much about the artist herself? Vulcan Post caught up with the 22-year old NUS student to find out what’s in store for the future.
What is your earliest memory of creating art?
When I was 7, I started creating miniature dresses for my Barbie dolls with the scrap cloth given to me by my grandma!
Why flowers? How did you get to choosing flowers as your medium?
It was purely accidental – I was working on one of my illustrations one day and a semi-wilting rose on my desk caught my attention. It was really pretty initially and I found it a pity that its beauty was so short-lived. Wanting to preserve their beauty, I added them to the illustration I was composing and to my surprise, they turned out pretty decent!
Do you work with any other mediums?
I work a lot with a Staedtler pencil for drafting. Occasionally, I do use water colours and markers on water colour papers too.
What’s the best part about working with flowers?
Working with flower petals is really thrilling, even more so because I am a fervent lover of nature. Every type and subtype of flower has petals that are unique in their own way. My featured designs range from everyday wear, to bridal dresses and haute couture. I especially love working with flowers that embody different shades of each colour, like lilies and carnations. I think petals work really well for illustration because their delicacy mimics that of a soft fabric. For instance, the gentle, fabric-like quality of roses allows me to create folds for flare skirts.
What’s the most challenging part about working with flowers?
I wouldn’t say that it is exactly most challenging, just possibly not much in my favour: the varieties of flowers available in the Singapore’s market. I know there might be more variety of colours, types, and patterns available in other markets. Just for example, I would say that there’s a limitation of white or black flowers here.
What’s your creative process like?
Usually, I explore the textures and patterns of my selected petals then quickly sketch a design. Once I’m done with the sketch, I then move on to piecing the flower petals together. The entire process may take about 2 hours or more.
Do you ever get artist’s block?
Well, not exactly. Every type and subtype of flower has petals that are unique in their own way, in terms of the shape, size, colour, and pattern. There’s endless ways of putting things together.
Your work has been shared multiple times on social media – you’ve even got more than 30,000 followers on Instagram. How does it feel to be famous?
I am truly gleeful from the generous feeding of positive responses towards the designs that I have posted on my social media. All of these affirmative reactions to my works have pushed me on to venture deeper into this pet project.
What keeps you grounded?
The idea of living my dreams keeps me rooted! I feel that creativity knows no bounds and that there is a need for me to stay grounded since it is best way to have a clear mind to things. That’s what keeps me going, and also a lot on the positive reception from everyone who has been following up and supporting. I’m more than appreciative towards every single one of you, thank you!
Are there any artists who inspire you?
I admire Elie Saab a lot! I love how his designs create emphasis on femininity and elegance! And I’m very much attracted to his style in particular and how he could embody a flower like nature – in a clean cut and elegant manner. He makes use of flowers and jewels to create a very sophisticated vibe, something I’d want to do if I were to launch my own couture line, too.
I’ve heard you also teach art classes. Could you tell us more about the nature of these classes?
The classes I’ve conducted were all about giving interested individuals a head start on the basic of water colouring and fashion sketching. For instance, the latest water colouring workshop I’ve conducted is inclusive of imparting basic water colour techniques such as how to paint texture and how to illustrate runway outfits with water colour.
What’s the best life/work/art tip anybody ever gave you?
“Joy is a flower that blooms when you do”. This quote that I came across online, encapsulates what I firmly believe in: investing in my interests and strengths, and allowing the joy that follows to envelop me.
What’s next for Grace Ciao professionally?
Well, I would say I could smell something exciting brewing and yes, we’re growing a great idea. By peradventure, it’ll be coming your way real soon. So stay tuned, I’m going to bring something amazing in a matter of time!
All images are courtesy of www.graceciao.com.