Deon, Kevin, Lydia and Russell met whilst studying illustration at Temasek Polytechnic School of Design in Singapore. Since coming together as Tell Your Children, the young collective has garnered a reputation for their unique designs and projects. Taking their name from 1930s American movie, Reefer’s Madness, Deon explains that “The name was bold and child-like at the same time, and it resonated with our desire to build something worth telling the next generation about”.
We pop by their studio for a quick look-see and some Q+As:
So Russell, tell us a bit about yourself.
I am Russell, aka Lonerslugs, which kind of started out as a joke, but has turned into quite an appropriate moniker. Basically, I really enjoy my alone time and most people see me in a perpetual relaxed state (sometimes too relaxed). At TYC, I handle client projects in terms of direction and execution with the help of the team. I am also the part-time toilet cleaner (I sometimes wonder if these two activities have any relation to each other). On the side, I try and keep some time for personal projects to experiment with ideas.
I heard you have a fetish for pants?
The word fetish sounds as though I do dirty things with pants. Just for the record, I do not. Pants, to me, are the most essential yet underrated piece of clothing. A good pair of pants can bring an aesthetic functionality to any outfit. Because of Singapore’s unforgiving weather, I am usually in t-shirts so I rely on a sturdy pair of pants to add structure to my look. It also doesn’t hurt to have deep pockets to store essential items. Though in a time when you have an abundance of styles and fits to choose from, I find that most people place too much attention on tops and footwear, forgetting that pants are what truly shape us, literally.
Kevin, so who are you and what do you do?
I am but a humble dwarf wearing a +10 ring of protection with an inclination towards shiny things and good ale. I assist Deon mostly with backend and logistical matters within the business. Currently, I’m reverse engineering frostmourne.
Can you tell us more about this huge character you painted?
In recent months, I’ve been extra conscious of keeping a consistent narrative timeline in the illustrations I’ve been putting out; to elude to a large universe that the characters might inhabit. Stories, wordplay and the languages have been a point of contemplation and fascination for me since my creative inception some five oddball years ago. I’ve an unusually big interest in world building and the nuances / illusion of life within the structure of storytelling within a book / graphic novel, which essentially is but a carefully bounded collection of dead trees. I’ve always preferred to see reading materials as tomes that unlock said worlds to the initiated. The huge character I’ve painted in the studio, is done in conjunction and in spirit to our recent XLarge Collaboration that dropped in December.
Our branching off concept for the collaboration was tribes, and I based mine loosely on the native tribes of certain 3rd world /developing countries. What stood out to me about them was their regular use of large masks as both an offensive and defensive tool, to hunt and to scare off invading tribes. That same innate primal instinct and inclination to bold shapes, colours and angles can be mused at throughout the many artefacts and cultures of history. There was careful consideration to have the character occupy the same space as the ones Ive done for the collaboration (to be in the same tribe per say), and that was how the Soothsayer was conceived; a spirit medium for the tribes people to attain additional insight of their unknown world.
Lydia, what’s your story?
I am a creative and one part of Tell Your Children, contributing to the day-today work at TYC. On the side I work on personal projects under the moniker Oak & Bindi. Die Hard Lover (DHL) is the latest and most accurate representation of where I’m at creatively (laughs). It’s honestly a separate and more graphic outlet for me. I get to produce cool merchandise and run different projects with it so that’s going to stick around for awhile. Hopefully.
You seem to have a lot of magazines around your desk.
I buy them for visual inspiration, I enjoy the curative element of magazines and I’m keen on the interview portions of leaders in the creative/music scene.
Last but not least, Deon, can you introduce yourself?
I’m a creative producer/artist/etc at TYC. I manage the clients we work with and also ensure deadlines are met. I love the dynamics we have at the studio and it’s great being around people that support and inspire me everyday. Outside of work, I enjoy reading autobiographies, collecting and spinning old vinyl soul/funk/hip-hop records. I also run a growing retail project buying/selling vintage apparel called Death Threads.
How did the idea for Death Threads come up?
Death Threads started out from a hobby of collecting and sharing vintage apparel on Instagram. Back then, our studio’s storefront was unused and I didn’t like to see it empty and void of any creative output; especially with it being the first thing you see when you enter the studio. I thought it would be a good idea to curate a space that like-minded people could appreciate and shop vintage & secondhand clothing; something I found was really lacking in such a modern city like Singapore.
I linked up with someone who was as passionate as me and together we started from the ground up, holding our first ever event with items from our personal collection. I’m a 90’s kid but thinking back, I wasn’t old enough then to fully appreciate what I grew up around. Death Threads is, in a way, me reliving my childhood and its amazing to see how many people have caught on/supported our vision of pushing nostalgia.
For more updates from TYC, follow their Instagram @tellyourchildren, and to purchase their collaboration with XLarge, head over to their website. Also, follow their individual accounts at @arcadiainmayhem, @deonasaurus, @lonerslugs and @oakandbindi. Lastly, remember to check out Deon’s side project, Death Threads @deaththreadsvtg and Lydia’s Die Hard Lover label @dhl_diehardlover.
PHOTOGRAPHY: Jules @ Streething