Ms. Phannapast Taychamaythakool is a Thai artist/illustrator renowned for her surrealistic and fairy tale-inspired illustrations. She tells her personal stories through her drawings of enchanting animal characters and flowers.
Phannapast made her mark on the global art scene when she was discovered by Gucci, via her Instagram page.
As a transgender individual herself, Phannapast resonates with the activities to empower and promote equality for all genders.
Please tell us a little about your background.
My name is Phannapast Taychamaythakool. I am an artist, illustrator, and fashion designer based in Thailand. People might recognize me from a collaboration with Gucci: Le Marché des Merveilles Fairy tale book, and Gucci Art wall. Earlier this year, I had my second solo exhibition in Thailand, titled 'Venus in The Shell.
How did you get into drawing?
I got into drawing when I was four. My family business was shirt-making. During the summer break, a niece of our seamstress named Jai came to stay with our family. She was the one who taught me how to draw. And that was the start of everything.
Your work is pop and full of fun, but it also has elements of indigenous folk art. Particularly, your work reminds us of the colorful Buddhist paintings often seen in Thai temples. Has Buddhism been a big part of your life since you were a child?
I was inspired by various cultures when I was young. For example, I was born in a Thai-Chinese family. So I inherit overseas Chinese culture from my family, and I go to Thai temples. At our home altars, besides Buddha statues, we also have Ganesha from Hinduism. And I went to a Catholic school from elementary school to high school. I was also influenced by Japanese anime and manga, pop, and R&B music from the west.
Have you ever studied art or design in school?
I studied in Fashion Design at Chulalongkorn University. There were art classes during elementary school and high school, I always helped my friend draw something in exchange for science or math homework.
Who or what specifically inspired you to become an artist?
Myself. To become an artist is what I dreamed, chose, and decided.
Why did you decide to become an artist?
In my definition of artist, I like to create different forms of art and create a movement that allows us to communicate with no boundaries. What's important is that my work creates an opportunity to have a conversation with myself. And that gives me freedom.
When did you start working as a professional illustrator?
I started practicing after I graduated and continue to do so until now. In 2010, I started working as a fashion designer while keeping illustration practice. Then, in 2018, I started my own company named 'Rainbow of Dream.
In 2017, you were commissioned to do the illustrations for a fairytale book linked to Gucci's jewelry collection, Le Marche Des Merveilles. Please tell us how it happened.
It started around 2016. I made a fashion illustration as an animal portrait wearing Gucci items. Then, I posted it on Instagram with a hashtag: #GucciCruiseNYC. I was just doing that because I admire the work of Alessandro Michele and wanted to express my appreciation. Soon after, Gucci contacted me via Direct Message. That was the first time I collaborated with them on the Gucci Tian project. Then we started Le Marche Des Merveilles in the following year. as a fairy tales.
When you are commissioned by a client to create a work, you need to consider their demands. What do you need to do to accommodate their requirements without interfering with your own creativity?
I always discuss with the client about their goal and what they'd like to achieve. Of course, there's a challenge when it comes to creating something new or something that you've never done before. In my part, researching, communicating, and planning together with the client is the most crucial part of achieving both of our goals.
What are your thoughts on the impact that social media is affecting artists?
I think it helps artists so much. Now, it's like we have a portfolio or a gallery that presents our works to the entire world. There's an excitement that we can see the work in progress before it's finished, and there's more variety of formats we can see nowadays. There's also NFT at the moment, where we can sell digital art using the blockchain system and Cryptocurrency. So I think it's an exciting moment for artists.
You were selected as one of 100 people in the fashion industry in Thailand by Vogue magazine, and your work was displayed on a giant screen in Times Square, New York. How do you feel about your success?
I feel happy and grateful for every opportunity that has been given to me. Also, the fans, the organization I've worked with, all the press that likes my work, my team, all contributed to where I am. Everyone I mentioned has been very good to me.
Recently, you launched your own online store, Phannapast Universe. What are your future plans?
I want the Phannapast Universe to be a universe of everything that I like. It's like an out-of-this-world treasure map where you can search for little trinkets full of happiness. I always cheer myself up with cute little things, so I'd like to make the Phannapast Universe become something like that.
When did you first start using Copic markers and what made you decide to use them?
I first started using it in the 12th grade (M.6). In my 12th grade, I had to save up to buy my first Copic. At that time, I wasn't able to buy so many Copic like nowadays. Even now, I don't use my first Copic anymore, but I still keep it.
All these years throughout the entrance exam, fashion study, working in the fashion industry until I opened my company, there hasn't been a day where I don't have Copic stain. I love Copic because it is easy to carry around and they have so many shades of color, I can create my palette for different moods and tones.
Your illustrations are so colorful, and they really bring out the appeal of Copic markers. Are there any specific colors you routinely use?
I have a small trick to choose the palette of primary colors in order to change mood and tone in some works. Here're my most often used vivid primary colors: Light Rouge R14 (Red) - the same shade as my favorite lipstick I like to wear, Tahitian Blue B04 (Blue) - the lucky turquoise on my ring, and Golden Yellow C17 (yellow) - this color reminds me of a sunflower. It is also my favorite flower I'd love to see every day. The green would be Emerald Green G05 - one of my favorite gemstones. I have another trick for creating a harmonious palette for an atmosphere. That is, Green Grey BG93, Ash Rose E70, and Colorless Blender 0.
Could we have your message or advice for young Copic fans who want to become a professional artist?
I think every person has their own path and goal. There's a saying in Thailand that is quite cliché that is: make today the best. For me, it's nothing more complicated than that. It doesn't have to be the best, but something that makes you feel good for each day, even just a little bit. That way, you'll have some energy to walk along the road of your dream.