Esther Goh is an illustrator and multi-disciplinary designer whose background in web, advertising and design has shaped and sharpened her thought process and sense of aesthetics through out the years. Her work has been recognised on international and local platforms such as Cannes Design Lions, One Show, D&AD, FWA Cutting Edge Award, Awwwards and Creative Circle Awards, as well as mentions in various print and online publications. You might also know her from the team that created the great Sushi Packaging.
So who is Esther Goh and where did you come from?
I’m a Singapore-born illustrator and designer who has had a few years of experience in the local scene, being mainly involved in digital creative work and more recently, integrating my illustrations in many ways such as web animations and print collaterals. For me, creating art serves many purposes, be it storytelling or making a certain statement, a form of expression, replicating a feeling from listening to my favourite music and so on, but mostly I derive visual and emotional satisfaction by looking at the end product and recalling the process behind it. It is a summation of a unique series of choices that only you could have made. To be an artist, you have to have an innate drive to create and the discipline to see it through to completion. Due to the nature of my work now, I can go days without stepping outside just so to complete a piece of work before being able to move on. It’s not bad actually, this arrangement suits my personality and lifestyle just fine. You could say, well, I could take my mind off this for a while, work on something else and come back refreshed. I’d say multi-tasking is really… not my thing. Neither is waking or sleeping early. I owe my wakefulness to the coffee machine and have a healthy obsession with cats. On top of that, I draw inspiration from nature, Japanese culture, my travels, daily encounters and dreams; and in turn I’m also drawn towards other subject matters like war history, psychological disorders, interstellar travel, the sci-fi horror genre, dark humour flicks (Quentin Tarantino’s in particular) and the surrealism of Haruki Murakami’s world.
How did you get into design? Was there a defining point in your career, and if so, how did it shape you as a designer?
My interest in art from a young age, coupled with curiosity in the development of websites in the early 2000s, led me to design school. After graduation, I had the luck of landing a job at the brilliant local design agency, Kinetic, where I learned the ropes of being a creative. Really, I have my mentors to thank for always pointing me in the right directions and for instilling this principle – that a good design can become great and more meaningful with a supporting idea behind it. The defining point was when I was given the opportunity to illustrate for several projects and it gradually became clearer what I could potentially do in future. Taking a leap forward, I went freelance, which gave me the time and flexibility to explore and refine my illustration styles. Being a designer has ultimately influenced my art and because of that, I want to achieve or at least make an effort to create a body of work that is thought-provoking and inspires the audience. Just recently I was part of an all-girls group exhibition by Kult, contributed an artwork to I-S magazine, a free fortnightly publication in Singapore, and also illustrated a piece for the latest issue of Kult magazine on the topic of reading.
If you could change one thing in your career to date, what would it be?
I guess I would want to be less afraid of failure, create more and not let time and opportunities slip by.
If, in some Freaky Friday-like situation, you could live the life of another designer, illustrator or creative, for a day, who would it be, and why?
Ridley Scott, because the ’79 film “Alien” left a deep impression on me. Also, I figure I would probably never become a filmmaker by profession, hence it would all the more be mind-blowing if I could be an observer from his point of view, from before my time.
Is there any future dream/project you still strive to work on?
Yes, I would absolutely love to expand on and go beyond what I’m currently doing; to make a foray into textile design, lifestyle products and fashion accessories, because that’s where art and design become functional in many different ways.