llustration is an excellent means of connection.
It is both what you say, and how you say it.
I go by Nini- Tuan is my family name. The naming convention where I come from- Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, is a little different. Curiously Tuan also happens to mean “Sir” in Malay. Childhood was not easy- though I doubt anyone’s was, really.
I grew up to a healthy dose of animated entertainment and comics-Doraemon, Sailormoon- we had a lot of japanese manga in Malaysia. The only video tape my family owned, instead of rented, was Disney’s My Little Mermaid. This was on heavy rotation for pre-school Nini. I am convinced that the film had a marked influence on my life trajectory.
Not knowing much at all about Europe I came to Romania in the fall of 2006 to attend the National University of Fine Arts in Bucharest. But first I had to study the romanian language for a year to be able to understand the courses- and life- in Romania. A mix up of my visa papers grounded me in Malaysia between 2009-2010, which I spent working at an animation studio in Subang Jaya as a background artist for the preproduction stage of a feature film.
Right around the time of graduating in the summer of 2011 I worked on storyboards for an advertising agency in Bucharest that soon after hired me as an in-house illustrator. I decided to stay in Romania for a while, and one more year turned to two, then turned to three and…so it goes.
I transitioned into full-time freelance, and in 2016 I incorporated my illustrative services under the name Susumadu Studio SRL. Susu means milk, and madu means honey in Malay. I like rhymes, there’s no shame in that.
Working as a freelancer, perhaps it is by sheer necessity that I take on different types of projects- books and magazines, restaurant menus and bar murals, billboards and tv spots- that require different visual solutions. Truth is I thrive on finding the right language for each project- and my hand seems to be able to keep up with the mental answers to each illustration brief. Unless you need sleek, cutting-edge, futuristic vector work- I'm only human.
At the heart of it, illustration is a means of connection. As long as we keep this in our view, the solution will come through.
I love finding any opportunity to inject a human quality in any illustration, often using humor. When you work on your own for almost a decade you learn to make yourself laugh. Hopefully you’ll laugh along with me, or go "awww".
I cook most everything I eat, so that takes a chunk of my spare time. What’s left of that I spend hugging my tomcat Ooshi, which you’ll see on my company stamp if you and I sign a contract. Chances are you’ve already seen him everywhere in my work- starting from the website splash page, if you remember, there was a spotted cat.
What’s left of the time after inhaling the cat I spend reading, these days often about writing. I am floored by the universality of creative practices and wisdom translating perfectly into drawing. When I can, I also join contemporary dance and contact improvisation jams. I started learning japanese as I desperately wanted to understand art books bought from the Ghibli Museum in Tokyo. In Spring 2020 I passed N3 level Japanese with full marks.
If you’re interested in a client list, I’ve worked for Conde Nast, Time Inc, T-Mobile, Astro Awani, Greygoose, Heineken, Singapore Airlines, National University of Singapore, ING Bank, BRD Groupe Societe Generale, New Naratif, Unreserved and Bon Appétit. And hopefully you, soon.
I am present on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. But if you write me, you’ll most likely hear back soonest on good ol'
Tuan is my family name, I go by Nini. I work as a freelance illustrator after completing my fine arts degree in painting at the National University of Fine Arts Bucharest in 2011. I work with diverse mediums to create effective images, and as of mid 2019 I have started working with frame by frame animation.
I believe that the visual language employed is inseparable from the message, so I find something specific within each project to bring forward visually, using my understanding and adaptability of diverse illustrative styles. I especially love to inject a human, down-to-earth and humorous quality in illustrations whenever suitable.
Working alongside ad agencies, production companies and publishing houses or direct clients, I create works that appear in books and magazines, restaurant menus and bar murals, billboards and tv spots. Some of my clients include Conde Nast, Time Inc, T-Mobile, Greygoose, Heineken, Astro Awani, Singapore Airlines, National University of Singapore, ING Bank, BRD Groupe Societe Generale, New Naratif, and Bon Appétit.
As of 2016 my illustration services are incorporated under my company Susumadu Studio SRL in Bucharest- "susu" meaning milk and "madu" meaning honey in Malay.
I speak Malay, English, Romanian, and is on my of acquiring Japanese. Other passions fill what remains of my free time- food, reading, and contemporary dance/contact improvisation. I reside in Bucharest, Romania.
Can you guess which of these two is Nini?