Let them surprise you with how they interpret your idea. That’s why you choose the artist you choose isn’t it, because you believe they can put your thoughts into reality. It’s a collaboration.

Here's the story behind the whimsical commissioned art piece by Allicia Sim, titled The Whimsical Family. Courtesy of Ian Tan.

1. What is the story behind Whimsical Family?
My wife and I have always had a penchant for the magical, fantastical, and slightly surreal. Since our early years together we’ve created stories about The Pumpkin Man and Belle, who met while dancing around in a land of Bellini Trees that grew colorful glowy light stuff. The Pumpkin Man was kind of a klutz who worked in a workshop creating ‘steampunky’ contraptions, while Belle studied magic in fairy school.

When our first daughter was born, we took to calling her Birdy for some strange unknown reason – it has stuck ever since. Hence the characters were painted the way they are. We always felt that one day we’ll tell these stories to our kids as bedtime fairy tales using the characters to tell our daughters how mummy and daddy’s early days were like before they were born. So, it only felt natural to create a painting for Kylie (our soon-to-be-born second daughter) using those stories as inspiration.

2. What made you decide to commission a painting?
I wanted to do something special for Kylie to celebrate her birth. Something unique from her older sister, that she can look back one day and say “Hey, Big Sis, isn’t it cool we each had our own special ‘thing’… we are same-same but different”

3. What did you enjoy most about the entire experience?
I was looking for someone who shared my vision for the artwork. Someone who like me had a bit of Tim Burton whimsy in him or her. And when I first bounced off the idea with Allicia, I knew instantly that she knew how I envisioned the piece. I loved the enthusiasm, energy and passion behind the collaboration. I think that’s what makes it great.

4. What was your first thought when you set your eyes on the finished artwork?
Brain -> “Yes. Absolutely Yes. Brilliant. I love it.”

sends screenshot of artwork to wife on Whatsapp

“Surprise! How cool is this huh?”

Brain -> “Ok, now, I want to show to everybody how cool this is.”

uploads screenshot of artwork to Facebook

5. Would you commission art again? Why or why not?
Yes, when another occasion arises that I need someone to put what I see in my head onto canvas.

6. What tip would you give someone who's new to commissioned art?
Know what is the story you would like to tell. When you find an artist that matches your style, give a very clear brief to your artist, and then just trust her to do it. Guide the artist towards that vision, but never dictate, be overly prescriptive or stifle their creativity.

Let them surprise you with how they interpret your idea. That’s why you choose the artist you choose isn’t it, because you believe they can put your thoughts into reality. It’s a collaboration.

Thank you for sharing your beautiful story with us, Ian!