This former art student now helps children discover their passion through art

What do you want to be when you grow up?

This age-old question torments many, including those who seem to have a path laid out for them.

One such person is Charlene Chew, who from an early age showed a talent for the arts.

As a child, Charlene was constantly exposed to hands-on experiences. Thanks to her parents, she was able to try out different types of sensory play and even had the freedom to draw on her walls. This creative inclination persisted as she progressed through primary and secondary school.

While others mastered the usual subjects like math and science, Charlene found herself excelling in art. Even with courses like Design & Technology, she outshone her peers, with many of her works consistently chosen for display.

With each achievement, it seemed natural to him to continue to develop his artistic skills. Thus, as soon as she left high school, she entered LASALLE, where she pursued a diploma in fine arts.

“After I graduated, I knew I wanted to do something different,” she shares.

However, after making this decision, her confidence began to waver.

“When I first applied to LASALLE, I got a lot of criticism because I would say the arts community in Singapore is very small, so for anyone who is interested in the arts, people are going to be like, ‘ Huh? Why? There are so many other things you can do like becoming a nurse or a doctor.

“The most common question I received was, ‘So what are you going to be next time?’ And I think that question itself was pretty demoralizing because I, too, wasn’t sure what I was going to be in the future.

Luckily for Charlene, her time at LASALLE helped her regain her faith and find a clearer direction for her future.

As she was introduced to many more mediums such as photography and printmaking, she fell more deeply in love with creating art and it gave her the push she needed to apply for a job. internship in an art studio.

“A lot of my friends started working in F&B places to get experience but for me after I graduated from LASALLE I went straight to an art studio for an internship because I knew I wanted to do that.”

She undertook her first internship with the company Art Wonderland, where she helped teach young children about textures, lines, shapes and color – the basics of artistic creation.

Lesson plans help children learn to be more aware of their surroundings and see everyday objects from a different perspective. GIF CREDIT: YOUTHOPIA

Her scope of work included creating lesson plans for children to empower them to think creatively to prepare them for exhibits and projects.

Working with children has boosted her confidence in her skills and this internship experience has helped her dispel her doubts.

She eventually became more certain of her ambitions to pursue a career in the creative industry and continued to work as a full-time art educator after graduating from LASALLE.

“I started to have more confidence. I started to grow a little more. And also just having conversations with the kids, I think that was one of the starting points for me to be sure that’s what I want to do long term.

2022 marks Charlene’s 10th year as an art educator and she continues to spend her days impacting the lives of young children.

“I think the conversation part and traveling with the kids is something very dear to me.

“Sometimes children can come in and they’re reserved and we don’t really know them. Through the process of creating art they actually start to open up and share and over time when they are very comfortable with me they are more personal with me.

“They’re starting to share more things about their lives, like what’s going on at home or what they’re doing at home in their free time. I think that’s very valuable. I feel like ‘have unlocked something.’

By asking questions like what their favorite color is, it helps Charlene get to know the children better. GIF CREDIT: YOUTHOPIA

Recently, Charlene has also expanded her expertise and now works as a freelance illustrator on the sidelines.

At first, she helped her boss design bimonthly newsletters for students and their parents. Under the guidance of her boss, she learned more about the importance of design flow and how to make graphics readable for children as well.

Since then, she has taken on other projects such as illustrating placemats and card games for toddlers.

To all budding creatives, here are some tips from Charlene:

“Take it step by step. As long as you continue to believe in yourself and have confidence, I think ambition is something that will grow over time and you can be very sure of that in the future.

Kayleen C. Rice