ARCHITECT BY DAY and illustrator by night, Natalie (Nat) Kwee is a workaholic. Getting hold of her was a feat in itself (poor thing replied me at 1:35am when she was still in the office) but it is clear that the 25-year-old Cornell University graduate enjoys what she is doing. Get a job doing what you love and you will never work a day in your life right?
Nat operates under the moniker PEEPnPRESS, a name that is derived from her peeping through the viewfinder and pressing the button to snap a photo. Her photography was featured on Obscured.SG several years back but she has since ventured into illustration. While her quirky line-based illustrations have gotten progressively popular, Nat shared that she is hesitant to call what she does as ‘art’. “I think that when you call your work ‘art’, people expect you to have some kind of lengthy explanation or existential reasoning behind your work,” she explained.
But the truth is, I draw for PEEPnPRESS simply because I enjoy it. I like getting bits of information from people and then translating that into a drawing.
In fact, I would probably have never started PEEPnPRESS but I had run out of people to draw! There are only so many thank you cards you can give out before people get tired of them.
While her online store includes prints she has done such as the limited edition Singapore-themed envelopes and cards, Nat shared that customisatiosn are what really drives her. She is currently working on a list of customised orders such as a present from a bride to her groom as well as several family and friendship portraits. “It’s always fun to see reactions of others when they first see the drawings,” she mused, and then lamented.
Unfortunately, this isn’t always possible since I currently have to mail them to Singapore while I am based here.
While many appreciate her quirky line-based illustrations, Nat admits that they were actually a by-product of her lack of confidence to accurately draw people. “Despite all the art classes I took, I never learnt proper body proportions, and [I’m] horrible at sketching things accurately,” she said, laughing and then added. “Shading is also a no-go zone for me!”
I really like the simple lines of the "cartoon" aspect in my work because it's much cleaner. I admire people who can render things realistically, but that isn't really me.
Nat is currently working for a New York-based architecture firm, Bjarke Ingels Group, and is looking forward to collaborating with a designer-friend for a line of clothing that features prints from PEEPnPRESS.