The power of illustrations

Rozz Hew discovered a passion for illustrations in childhood, and has not turned back since

06 Apr 2021 / 10:19 H.

GROWING up with a love for books, artist Rosalind Hew, better known as Rozz Hew, was captivated by the illustrations in the books she read. Hew said it was then that she realised that illustrations in itself could tell a story.

“When I discovered that an illustration could tell a story without words, it really blew my mind,” said Hew, a fan of comics such as Calvin and Hobbes, and fantasy novels like Lord of the Rings and The Chronicles of Narnia.

“I am always fascinated with stories. I started by drawing characters from books and comics. I wanted to recreate that expression and emotion from the words with my own version of character drawings. My passion for art was fueled by the many books I read,” said the self-taught Hew.

Years later, she turned her passion into a profession by becoming an illustrator for the Pony Tails for Mikhail book, about a little boy with autism and how hippotherapy (therapy using horses) helped him on his journey of improvement.

“His parents shared this story to create awareness about how hippotherapy could help children with special needs. I really enjoyed working on it, as it had all the elements I love such as children, animals and greenery, all tied to a story of triumph over adversity,” said Hew about the book, that is expected to be released this month.

“I draw children and animals because I think the world is a kinder, funnier place seen through their eyes,” said the 45-year-old illustrator.

One of her illustrations, a blanket, was featured in a film on award-winning author Neil Gaiman’s poem What You Need to be Warm, made in collaboration with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees for a project called “Draw for Refugees”.

Apart from posting sketches on her Instagram account @rozzhew, she has plans to produce her own children’s book.

“I have a few ideas but it’s still in progress. Definitely, I hope to write, illustrate and publish my own children’s book,” said Hew.

“I think there is something to discover and appreciate in the little things we do in our daily life if we care to stop and observe. I want my art to celebrate and treasure the ordinary, the eccentric as well as the tragic, and find humour and compassion wherever possible,” she added.

The cover of Pony Tails for Mikhail.
The cover of Pony Tails for Mikhail.

What do you aim to portray through your characters?

I would like my illustrations to encourage people to see the humour and hope in mundane things. I want my characters to come across as playful, mischievous and amusing while going about their daily lives and hopefully, tell stories that people can relate to.

Curiosity and the Cat.
Curiosity and the Cat.

How do you come up with your characters?

I think kids are really funny people. They are miniature-sized adults but innocent and so much wiser. I think animals are pretty similar. I like to observe them and draw their reactions in different scenarios. I draw inspiration from the things around me – family, friends, nature, books, movies, or just daily things. Besides that, I am also greatly inspired by Hayao Miyazaki’s (Studio Ghibli) animations.

Beary Tales.
Beary Tales.

Tell us about your other creative works.

I have done illustrations that feature food, interior spaces and furniture for editorials, advertisements, books, marketing materials, CNY packets, social media posts and calendars. Some of my clients include Nourish Mag, BluInc Media and KDK Fans Malaysia. I have also done ‘Live Art’, drawing portraits of people at events.

Lion Hairstyled.
Lion Hairstyled.

What is your most memorable artwork?

I think Pony Tails for Mikhail was the most fun and challenging as it was my first children’s book. A 24-page narrative, which has to be consistent and yet interesting enough to hold the reader’s attention. Besides, horses are one of the most challenging animals to draw, and I did have to do a lot of study for it.

Dancing Queen.
Dancing Queen.

Tell us about a project you are working on.

I am thrilled to be working on another children’s book, a story about a little girl on her journey of discovery. It’s a pretty cool project and my lovely client is based in Australia. I really enjoy the process of bringing the story to life with my illustrations.

Hopefully, people will be delighted to read the book. I have also recently opened my online art store on Shopee and hope to create more art for sale there.

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