Alvin Mark Tan

What does it take to be a fine artist?
You need a fine brush, a fine palette, and some fine paint…

And like every other discipline, it takes a lot of passion followed by action. Passion will see you through bad days but it will not amount to anything without action. It is important I remind myself that I’m a technician and not indulge in the romantic notion of what a painter is. Many people have the impression that all artists do everyday is sit around, drink wine and paint. I use whatever wit I know to create the illusion of space on a piece of canvas; and in the process, get it sold.

How did Italy help you develop your creative thought process?
Not so much of the creative thought process, but more of the creative technical process. Italy gave me room to live slower. I thought that my journey on the Camino in 2012 had slowed me down. But living in Italy made me live at an even slower pace. It was what I needed at that point in my life during my training. You know how when you are cramming for an exam and right after your paper, you forget all the information?

Slowing down allowed me to absorb all the information, especially the nuances of the painting process; and digest it fully and naturally.

Realism is often seen as being truthful.
As what it means, I paint what I see. But to dive in a little deeper, I do Natural Realism. This means I paint how the eye perceives an object. When there is a landscape with some trees in the foreground and mountains in the back, I focus on the trees in front, leaving the mountains behind unfocused. That’s how I paint. Symbolically, I try to be as truthful as I can in my art.

What inspired Figuring Out: The Long and Short of It?
My love for the wonderfully designed human body and short, dynamic poses.

Were Thirty Days on the Camino and Ciao Firenze your tributes to globetrotting?
Absolutely! When travelling, there is nothing more satisfying than whipping out my ink pen and documenting my surroundings. Ever since I was invited to sketch live in a cockpit in 2011, I have never turned back. 

My first book was about my journey on the Camino in Northern Spain, and my second and third covered my life in Florence. It’s about time I create a book about our little red dot.

What have you seen change in the fine arts scene over the years?
I see more individuals - musicians, chefs, artists etc. - stepping out of their comfort zone from a nine-to-five routine and setting up shop.

Say something to the fairgoers! 
Follow your passion and answer your vocation in life. Because if you don’t: Firstly, you’re not going to be satisfied in life. Secondly, you are depriving the world of your uniqueness!