Getting to know… Tracy Tan


Tracy rounds out the 3 artists of Art Is Gallery & Artist Studio with her series of photographs – printed on HD ChromaLuxe, these are impossible to miss as you enter the backroom. In this session, we get acquainted with Tracy to learn about her love affair with design and how photography came to hold a special place in her heart.

1) When did you graduate from NUS and when did you realise that you had an artistic inclination?

I graduated from NUS with a Masters in Architecture in 2013. I wouldn’t say I drew frequently when I was a kid but I doodled a lot since I was in secondary school. Different from most of my peers in Architecture school, I did not take up Art as my  A-levels subject; I took Higher Chinese instead. Ha!

Before I enrolled into Architecture school, I actually considered doing Fashion or Graphic Design. While I didn’t become a Fashion designer in the end, I’m really glad how things turned out now because the design principles I learnt in Architecture are unparalleled and can complement my other pursuits. 

2) What sparked your interest in art and design if it wasn’t influence from your family?

I can’t recall anything particular that sparked this interest but I do love beautiful things. To me, the joy to see good design solve problems is probably the same feeling that one gets when you solve a very difficult math question.

3) How did you find Raphael’s studio? What made you decide to take up a course at his studio? 

I knew Raphael when I took up enrichment course in Oil Painting at NAFA. His studio provided me an avenue to better my skills in Oil Painting and Charcoal Drawing after the enrichment course.

Images taken from @heyartcyk

4) When you say that your “instincts can manifest in the most raw form”, do you mean that you can easily express yourself artistically using a camera?

I wouldn’t say that I can easily express myself using a camera but as I trusted my instincts more, there seemed to be an internal compass that snaps into place whenever I take an image. I enjoy these processes. 

While we choose to learn the technical skills of these art forms, how our artwork will turn out is also very much influenced by the outlook we have in Life. 

5) Is there a story behind each of the photographs (on display)? Where were they taken?

The photos were taken during holiday overseas where a deliberate trip was made to explore the place. I didn’t set out to take any of the photos specifically; they were more of a reaction or an emotion I felt there and then at the site. Thinking back, I think I was trying to understand myself more, to be more aware of my identity as a person. I guess when I named the works, the person I was searching for, or hoping to meet again was actually myself.

Bones: Gold Coast, Australia
Finding, you: Yokohama Port, Japan
We will meet again.: Yokohama Port, Japan

6) Did you try to express yourself using other mediums? Why did you choose photography as your medium as an artist?

I am trained in Charcoal drawing and Oil Painting under Raphael and I do draw whenever I need an outlet. But photography to me is different.

My photography journey started almost 10 years back, even before I was enrolled in Raphael’s studio and I guess it is one medium that I turned to frequently and tried to develop the earliest of them all.

Images taken from

7) Why did you decide to put together an exhibition with Alessia and Liu Ling?

Both Alessia and Liu Ling are friends I got to know from the studio, with Alessia being one of the first few people I knew from there. 

I guess all of us are pretty similar in our art philosophy despite difference in character. The exhibition is an opportunity to show the world how each of us has developed under the same teaching. 


Alessia, Tracy and Liu Ling at the opening reception of Pure Days: Art & Life held on 25 May

8) Are you working on something new now?

Yes 🙂 I do not plan to limit myself to a single type of photography genre. I’m currently exploring still life food photography – something I’ve been working on this year. 

9) Any plans to eventually explore fashion design?

Not planning anything yet, but I would love to start with fashion photography or to even design a fashion retail store! 

10) Where do you see yourself in 5 years and what would you be doing?

Possibly,  I may become a full fledged qualified architect 😉 Where you will still find me doing design for a living with a better understanding of life and myself. 

More of Tracy’s work can be found on her Instagram feed.

Pure Days: Art & Life will be on show at SPRMRKT till 26 July. Print editions are also available for viewing upon request – email us at

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