The camaraderie between Nathalie Delbecq Ferlet and Ziyue Chen is obvious.
They laugh easily around each other and speak animatedly when reminiscing about their collaboration on Scribolo’s original Giant Colouring Poster of Singapore.
Whenever someone asks Ziyue a question she doesn’t understand – she was born profoundly deaf and wears a hearing aid on her right ear – Nathalie carefully repeats it, while Ziyue watches her lips closely and nods in understanding.
“The whole process made us go very deep into details, translating our feelings of the city into design,” explains Nathalie of the pair’s close collaboration, which started in 2015 after she founded her business, Scribolo. “It took 10 months from idea to product launch.”
The result? An enduring friendship between this entrepreneurial French mother of two and newlywed Singaporean artist-illustrator, and a must-buy souvenir for families living in or leaving SG. The Finder was honoured to feature the poster on its Directory 2019 cover (see below and download the free digital edition here).
Read on to learn more about Nathalie and Ziyue’s creative collaboration and watch this video about their being featured in The Finder!
What Inspired the Poster
Before moving to Singapore in 2014 with her children, Nathalie’s husband, Boris, was already based here for business. “He liked to search for nice gifts for our kids, and could not find something he really liked,” Nathalie shares. “My kids were 6 and 10 years old and loved colouring.”
Once the whole family relocated to SG, Nathalie took to exploring the Lion City on foot. “My inspiration comes from the beauty of places, which I discovered spending time walking around Singapore, shooting pictures of places and ambiances. I was very pleased to discover much more than I was expecting.”
Throughout this time, she and Boris developed the idea of creating a Giant Colouring Poster of Singapore, and began interviewing illustrators – asking them to submit extracts of scenes that might represent SG. “When I received the extract from Ziyue, it was quite obvious that she was the one I wanted because of the style she had and the way she was representing emotions in the drawing,” Nathalie recalls.
In just one glance around Ziyue’s bedroom and home studio, where The Finder shot some of the photos and video here, her talent is apparent. Her past illustrations adorn one wall, and she has sketchbooks full of drawings as well as stacks of children’s books she has illustrated. (Check out more of her professional work here.)
For Ziyue, who grew up in Singapore before attending Ringling College of Art & Design in the U.S. and working in New York City for a year, she was excited about the project. “There was no colouring product on Singapore,” she says.
Creating the Poster
Ziyue hand-sketched various versions of the poster, relying on her personal experience of SG and favourite family memories, hanging out on weekends at the Singapore Botanic Gardens and other beloved landmarks.
Her biggest challenge? “It was my first time working on a such a large piece, and I needed to ensure all elements fit in nicely,” she says of the poster, which ended up being 145 by 58 centimetres. The most fun part? “The details! For instance, a vintage ice cream cart, a couple taking a wefie shot – every place reminds me of good times with my loved ones.”
Once she and Nathalie were happy with the finished black-and-white illustration, Nathalie sent it out to be turned into a poster. “Opening the first cartons was quite a shock,” says Nathalie on receiving the initial product shipments (see a snapshot from that time, below.)
“I was surprised at how the poster turned out so visually interesting, after all our hard work together,” says Ziyue. “That’s one of the fun parts of being an illustrator!”
Where to Get Your Giant Poster
“The most popular clients are expats, as they wish to have Singapore items to occupy their children when it is rainy!” shares Nathalie, showing photos on her phone of a whimsically coloured, completed poster one mum did with her children over the course of several months. “Also, they usually look for gifts for their visitors and when they travel back to their country. Tourists and locals are also good customers through the retail shops around the country.” (Find retailers near you here.)
Nathalie, who repatriated back to Paris in July 2018, returns to Singapore twice a year during “gifting” periods, including the end of the international school year and before Christmas (some of The Finder‘s video was shot at the November 2018 edition of Boutiques, just SYK). That’s when you might run into her or her trusty sales associate, Catherine, selling the posters, which are printed on smooth, sturdy paper and often paired with packs of Faber-Castell Connector Pens – both of which are “designed to last”, Nathalie notes.
For her part, Ziyue is happy that their shared creation has done so well, and thanks Nathalie and Boris for the “great idea”. “The most heartwarming thing is seeing children enjoying it. It is a nice way for them to bond, colouring together, as well as learn about places in Singapore!”
By Sara Lyle Bow, January 2019; photos by Tan Wei Te, SPH Magazines (unless otherwise noted)
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