Arlene Sy
Art + Illustration


My journey as an artist chronicled in life events, thoughts, and musings.

The pink of things

I love using pink in my work, but I've never really given it much thought until now.

I've realized it has a lot to do with my art and illustration style, but only because it has everything to do with who I am, and how I've grown in the last few years.


I was never a "girly girl." In high school, the moment I knew how to shop for myself, I stuck to a reliable collection of jeans and T-shirts. This continued pretty much up until I finished college and started working. By then, I had money and freedom to experiment, but I had always kept to a conservative and minimal style of dressing. When I got a job at a fashion magazine, I was heavily influenced by a couple of our fashion editors, who espoused their own modern, edgy, and occasionally avant-garde style. Being comfortable with dark colors and neutrals, it was easy for me to transition to a slicker look. (Some of you remember my pixie-cut days—yep, this was that time!)

In 2010, when I started taking art seriously, I dove headfirst into fashion illustration. I remember being exposed to all these beautiful, hand-drawn images that accompanied fashion features and articles. I remember being in so much awe at these gorgeous illustrations, and I would read about the illustrators who breathed life into them. A typical fashion magazine would be filled to the brim with rich fashion photography, but it was the illustrations that really hit home for me. I soon revisited portrait sketching and painting, taking inspiration from these fashion illustrators. It was at this point that I casually stumbled upon and picked up pink, as I embarked on discovering my creative voice for the first time.

In the beginning, it was just all about pink being a feminine color—and something that finally brought out the "girly girl" in me. But it seems deeper than that—more private, more personal. Using pink made me feel very comfortable with my own work. And just as artists have muses and recurring themes, pink just naturally spoke to me and made that connection between my life and my art. I would try to stray from the color, but end up returning to the tender hue.

It has really enabled me to interpret, express, and share the subtle (and ethereal) beauties I observe around me. It's served as a lens through which I view the world—and where words were inadequate, it has helped me articulate who I am as a person. I thrive in smaller, quiet spaces, and I value friendships and relationships on a more intimate level. It's the undiscovered, undisturbed side of life that speaks to me, too. I believe it's similar to why I'm so drawn to the French/Parisian way of life—it's the way the French value art and philosophy so highly. I love living a life of perpetual reflection. Of art, idealism, and romanticism. It's not always practical, but almost always beautiful.

I guess, it's not hard to see pink having a place in all of that.

P.S. Happy birthday to me :)