Under the name Bbblob, Singapore artist Jacelyn Zhen creates vibrant paintings, collages and wood sculptures. In our interview with her, we talked with Jacelyn about her beginnings in the arts, the bright and organic nature of her works and the Singapore art scene.
Hi Jacelyn, thanks for taking your time to speak to me today. Could you please present yourself briefly and tell me how you got into art?
I create works under the name Bbblob and my works are very bright and organic. I like to explore harmony in form and colour. Regarding how I got into art, I think it has always been a thing from the start. I’ve always been into creative things when I was younger and even before I could write words, I was already doodling. Since then, I’ve always looked out for a creative outlet.
After that, what was your path to becoming a professional creative?
Oh yeah, that took a bit longer (laughs). So, I was doing art in school, after that I got into fashion and I studied fashion for quite a while. I went to London College of Fashion, wanting to start my own resort brand. So, there’s some overlaps there. When I was doing fashion, my style was still very bright and quite abstract, so it was just like a different medium.
And then, how did you transition to Fine Arts?
After fashion I had a period where I was doing graphic design and branding, and somehow I just realised that I wanted to go back to art. I started thinking about Bbblob during that time.
Your work is full of colourful, organic forms- was it always like this or did that happen over time?
The colours were always there. The forms took me a while to discover. I think I started going back to drawing a lot and doing still life drawing. Through still life model sketches I started discovering the forms.
You draw, you have paper collages and sculptures on the wall. Personally, I love the sculptures- could you talk a bit more about them, please?
Thank you so much, I’m glad you like them! I was drawing a lot, doing a lot of sketching, a lot of things actually developed during the lockdown because I was stuck in my bedroom and had a lot of leftover paper and so I decided to make collage. From the collage, it really developed into the sculptures. I wanted to explore more depth and more shadows.
They are wood cuts, are they?
Yes, they are.
Could you walk me a bit through the process from starting to finishing them?
Usually, I start with sketches, on the iPad or with colour pencils. Then, I either do a collage or I transfer it to a digital program, like Illustrator, so that I can do the cut outs for the wood cuts. At first, when I did the wood cuts, it was all hand cut. Sometimes I still do hand cut but it’s quite tedious so most of the time I just send it to a workshop who would cut them out for me. After cutting the pieces, I paint them and assemble the different layers because some of the pieces are two layers.
I see that the drawing is involved everywhere, in the sketches, at the start of the pieces. My questions is, do you have preference for any of the techniques you work with?
I think from the start from even when I was a kid, my favourite has always been to just use colour pencils, very basic (laughs). It feels very organic and intuitive. That would be my favourite.
Is there anything you’re currently working on that you’d like to talk about?
I’d like to mention a mural that I’ve been working on. It’s a local community project for the migrant community and the initiative is called “Making Waves”. Earlier in February, we conducted a social workshop where I’ve painted with the migrant community and also locals. It was a meaningful workshop where everyone painted parts of the mural. I’ve also incorporated stories from the people in parts of the design. The artwork was installed at the end of February as a public mural.
Could you please tell me more about the Singapore art scene and community?
I think at this time, there are a little bit more funds and opportunities for artists and designers. I’m also using Instagram to find opportunities that are outside of Singapore. In Singapore, the art scene is a very small and we do not have that many opportunities. We all know the different collectives that are around Singapore and it’s mostly Illustration and figurative style. For me to find local abstract artists is even smaller group.
It’s also a small country, ain’t it?
Yes, it’s a tiny island city.
Doing a mural, creating collages or sculptures, all of these are very hands on processes. Could you put into words how creating makes you feel and what you like about it?
That’s an interesting question. For me, creating feels more like an experience of itself. Every time, I’m experiencing different moods, so every time it would be a different experience.
I recently talked to an artist who told me that from the start of her paintings until the finished piece, she’s going through a whole set of emotions, from anxiety to shame, to joy, and many more….
Yeah, and I think when it comes to doing and creating, you realize after a time that now you can do things faster, that you’re learning. Even after doing something for so long, you still learn new ways of trying something.
Do you have the feeling that you arrived at what would be called your “own style” or is there anything you’d like to explore, something totally different?
I think at some point, when I started doing the wooden pieces after Covid, I felt like I discovered something that was quite my style. Now, I’m still exploring new patterns and compositions.
Is there any advice for fellow emerging artists that you’d like to share?
I think it would be just to keep creating and putting your work out there. When I started out, I wasn’t sure whether it was good enough to show people but just start somewhere and keep creating.
Any fellow emerging artist that you’d like to recommend?
I’ve been following this mural artist Boiiing. I love that his handle is a sound effect. He does bright abstract murals.
And my last question: what are your hopes for the future?
I’m excited to collaborate on more projects. It’s very interesting that from Instagram you can connect with people so easily and that they are all over the world.
Get in touch
All Photographs courtesy of
Written & interviewed by Nina Seidel
Edited by Jacelyn Zhen & Nina Seidel
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