INTERVIEW: Mural artist Ripple Root’s working relationship and how they've never had clashes

Sheila Chiang
Lifestyle contributor
Estella Ng and Liquan Liew of Ripple Root. (PHOTO: Samuel Goh)

SINGAPORE – They say creative people all have one thing in common: they are lonely. Or maybe the word ‘solitary’ would be more fitting. 

After all, art is pretty much a solitary lifestyle. However, that is not the case for this dynamic Singapore-based artist duo, Ripple Root, made up of Singaporeans Liquan Liew & Estella Ng. 

Liquan and Estella have great synergy and are the creative force behind many of the street art in Singapore. They have live-painted the street art in Singapore together over the years. 

Some of their notable collaborative works include the larger-than-life mural on Market Street, colourful walls in Keong Siak Alley, Zendesk and Facebook offices, and the highly Instagrammable tiger painting in Singapore’s largest nightclub Marquee, just to name a few.

Their style is distinctly modern and contemporary, inspired by nature and wildlife, breathing life into any space. They recently completed a large-scale mural for Republic of Singapore Navy Museum, so keep your eyes peeled for that!

Yahoo Lifestyle SEA checked in with them about the most challenging art piece they have created, their upcoming projects in 2020 and the secrets to their excellent working relationship.

You have established yourselves with bold, colourful and loud murals around town. What motivated you to create large-scale murals?

We never set out to do so, but received these commissions that we were more than happy to explore. We treat our murals like larger-than-life canvases and love seeing people interacting with them. 

How do you guys marry your styles together?

From day one, we were already on the same page. After five years of working on every single thing together, it feels extra intuitive and seamless. When you look at our work, it literally looks like it was done by one person.

Have you ever had clashes with each other at work and how do you resolve them?

Not really, we are mostly in-sync with each other and tend to be fluid individuals. Otherwise, we find humour in any given scenario and have great abilities to laugh it off.  

Ripple Root posing in front of their mural. (PHOTO: Ripple Root)

Who are your customers?

From young couples buying their first piece for their new home, to companies who want to furnish their office spaces. All sorts! Our clients tend to be on the same wavelength as us and a little non-conforming, quirky.

What is the most memorable customer request you guys ever had?

A client wanted us to paint a broccoli, which we did.

What was the most challenging art piece you guys had to create?

We recently completed a large-scale mural for Republic of Singapore Navy Museum. The scale of it, working the high elements and the heat, and of course being in the deserted lands of Changi Naval Base was certainly an experience to remember.

You have “live” painted, seen your art displayed in Singapore’s CBD, worked with world-renowned designers and so on. What is next for you guys to conquer?

We have always just taken things one step at a time. With that said, we are constantly restless and always moving. There are definitely exciting plans in the works.

After the completion of the Republic of Singapore Navy Museum piece, what are you guys working on now or what are the upcoming projects? 

We just finished the art for a new development by Far East Organisation, One Holland Village, and are embarking on Google's new office at Mapletree Business City.

Ripple Root hard at work. (PHOTO: Ripple Root)

What is your creative process like?

It always starts off with a painting session at the studio. Working together is very much like a game of tag, where we each start a piece and the other adds on organically, taking turns till it is complete. We are also very much inspired by our clients; we love taking their thoughts into consideration and the art takes on an interesting trajectory because of it. We are morning creatures, and we love painting when the sun is up, perhaps that is why our paintings often look cheery and sun-lit.

Being artists in Singapore is not easy. Have you guys faced any sort of resistance or doubt from family or friends or just anyone in general?

Most have been incredibly supportive, especially the ones who matter. Those who were once sceptical have now come around. We will never forget our earliest collectors.

You guys probably have your respective partners. But have sparks flown between you guys, seeing as how good you guys are together at work?

Nah, we are more like siblings!

What are your secrets to your excellent working relationship? 

Loads of trust in each other, and the process. We are both big-picture people, and we do not take things or ourselves too seriously. Ultimately we are both obsessed with making the work and seeing where the art takes us.

Follow Ripple Root on Instagram.