Failing art didn't really bother me. Since that happened regularly, I accepted it as the norm. I've always liked doodling, everyone does but I think we forget about it when we get older. Obviously, it never even crossed my mind that I might one day become an artist.

Meet Melissa Tan, the joyful artist.

One word that best describes your style:
Joyful

What does a typical day in your life look like?
I don’t really have a typical day. For the past 15 years, I’ve been working as a behavioral therapist for children with autism and that takes up all my afternoons and some mornings. For the rest of the time, I’ll be painting, brunching, cycling, longboarding, baking, watching tv or sleeping. Most people get the impression that all I do is bake and paint, but in reality, I do have a full-time job!

What is your studio / work desk like?
Extremely messy. While I do play around with different mediums, my main preference is for watercolor. I always have my set of tiny brushes, ink pens, and eraser at hand. Sometimes I have a cat on the table too.


Forest Parade by Melissa Tan

Tell us one unique thing about you / your art.
I used to fail art all the time in school!

And how you did that make you feel?
Failing art didn't really bother me. Since that happened regularly, I accepted it as the norm. I've always liked doodling, everyone does but I think we forget about it when we get older. Obviously, it never even crossed my mind that I might one day become an artist.

How did you pick yourself up from that rocky start, and travel the path to where you are now?
I continued to doodle and one day, about 3 years ago, I copied a painting from a children's picture book and posted it on Facebook and a lot of people liked it. So I tried doing something bigger and a friend asked for the painting. I did another one and put it up for sale at the animal shelter fund-raiser. Someone bought it and things just snowballed from there. A lot of it has been hard work and good connections!


Saying Goodbye by Melissa Tan

What do you love most about being an artist?
It’s a great feeling to create something and have someone buy it just because it makes them happy to look at it.

Which is your favourite commissioned piece so far and what is the story behind it?
I once was asked to do a picture of two cats for a lady who had lost both of them to old age. She gave me free artistic reign over how I wanted the picture done so I drew one of the cats looking at a beetle, with the other looking on. When she saw the end result, she told me that was exactly what the two cats used to do.

What are 3 things you can’t live without?
Sugar, music and adrenalin.

Where do you get inspiration when you need it most?
From my ever-growing stash of children’s picture books.

What does success look like to you?
Hmm.. maybe it’s when I can work full-time as an artist and part-time as a behavioral therapist instead of the reverse. I love both roles, but I love drawing and painting more.


Dawgs by Melissa Tan

How do you work on commissions? Can you describe the process to us?
When a potential client approaches me for a commissioned piece, I’ll ask them which of my previous works they like and we usually start off from there. I think my best works are those where I’m given just a few loose instructions. From those instructions, I will create a pencil sketch for the client to approve. Once that’s done, the painting begins. Most of the details are done in freehand so the pencil sketch tends to be just the skeleton of the actual outcome. Because of my work schedule (and other hobbies), I usually only accept about 2-3 commissions a month.

To commission your very own happy work of art by Melissa Tan, chat with her at her artist page today!