The Art of Love | Brandon Tay and Pamm Hong
Static and motion. Idle and animate. Muted and colourful. Stop and go – just like how a relationship would normally function. Step into the artistic world of couple Brandon Tay and Pamm Hong, one a motion graphic artist and the latter a graphic designer; as ActuallyMAG discovers if life (and love) imitates art.
How were the fireworks like when you guys first met?
Brendon Tay (BT): We met while working at Zouk and I was immediately intrigued and taken by Pamm. I wouldn’t call it fireworks, but more like a light in my life that keeps getting brighter over time. I really can’t imagine my life without her anymore.
Pamm Hong (PH): No, no, no fireworks (laughs). He showed up at the Zouk office one day, and I showed him the pantry (laughs). He kept pestering me for cigarettes and introduced me to True Blood, I thought he had bad breath and crazy bad teeth. Then he showed me some movies I should watch, and told me how special “Before Sunrise” was to him and that I should watch it too. I cringed. Everyone kept teasing us, saying we looked good together, but I really was just happy to finally have a friend at work who didn’t talk to me about Gossip Girl, but he still spat some fashion nonsense like if I knew who Alexander Wang was. I guess i kind of just took everything lightly and only saw him as a friend until one day on an empty Thursday Balearic dance floor, he shared with me that he likes me, and i replied, “Oh Shit!”
Pamm the graphic designer and Brandon the motion designer. How was it like working together?
BT: We worked together at Zouk, and the experience was pleasant and complementary. Now that Pamm is experimenting with video I’m sure we will do something collaboratively really soon! And Pamm is always great with telling me the bits of my work that I fall short in, I’m a hopeless typographer! The first thing she did when she saw my work was to ask me to correct my kerning (laughs). Hopefully I’m learning from her now!
PH: Besides a failed opening introduction for the both of us, roughly sounding like this: “he does visuals that move” (I point to Brandon) and “she does visuals that…don’t move!” (Brandon points to me), we haven’t yet approached a semester in our lives where we can combine both our craft and create a memory of work. It would be nice though, maybe one day.
How did the relationship evolve?
BT: On a professional level, Pamm introduced me to a whole heap of people and influences that has really shaped whatever “success” I’m having now. Personally I think we keep finding out more things about each other that make us grow.
PH: We were at Kiat and Cherry’s (read The Art of Love with Kiat and Cherry) wedding when Brandon turned to me and said he didn’t mind getting married. I ran out for a smoke (laughs). But honestly, we’ve no plans for the future. Well at least I don’t see myself leaving anything in “holy matrimony”. Paradoxically though it may seem, I do have a huge love for the Martha Stewart domestic goddess shindig. When Brandon and I were living together for a bit, it was pretty rosy, aside from having to chide him to stop being so damn dirty and hang his clothes, and go downstairs and buy me things I can make pancakes with. It wasn’t (that) dramatic. Also, I think a big step was bringing our most awesome master cat into our lives, Gaspare. He brings us together so much, it’s his super cat magic!
Does art imitate life? How does your differing expertise reflect your personalities?
BT: Yes! My own work starts and ends on the screen, Pamm’s work on most part is really organic and textural. I often think to myself how to inject those elements to my work that would make it more “real” in a sense.
PH: Very much. My craft is never dreary or gothic nor does it plunge into an abyss of black and white -like Brandon’s. This makes him dress the same way as his grey tone work. I encourage him to add colour at least a tint, which is more of my style. My work has always harrowed a hint of ceremonial plainness and awkward rawness. When I first began, bright and ambitious, I drew casual strangers from sailors to ladies with martini glasses and detail of ladies hair. A few years later when many changes in my life were taking place, unhappiness and ambiguity crept into my work as scripted memories. These days, with 2% more wisdom, I dredge pages with weird animals, thoughts and a catalogue of patterns. It is really scary how an artist’s evolution can inflict in itself so many waves of reconstruction.
Does being in a relationship affect your advice and critique of each other’s work?
BT: Yes of course it does, but over time we can see where we both are coming from and where we’re going. It comes to a point where things don’t really have to be said but thinking of what your significant other will think about what you’re doing informs it already.
PH: I’m probably the Anton Ego to Brandon’s Ratatouille [characters from Pixar’s 2007 animated film “Ratatouille”]. Sometimes I may even be too harsh, then I feel bad, but I hold the same standards toward my own work. That is why I hate it when he is just kind and not instigating. If anything, being together might make it even more difficult to win a compliment because we know each other too well.
Name a particular artist’s work that defines your partner’s personality.
BT: Hmm, her personality? Probably someone like Rinko Kawauchi on one hand, and Ralph Steadman on another. It’s hard to distil a person’s personality to someone else’s work.
PH: Jeff Soto’s fearless expression of creatures who are so foreign yet seem to have a real human quality in them relay an acute sense of intrepidness that I see in Brandon. He’s like a funky squid with palm leaf hands who makes me laugh.
What’s love to you?
BT: Love is having someone to grow with, and who makes you want to be a better person.
PH: When he has no money to send me home but still sifts through his stash of 6 million coins just to have enough. When he finds the time to stop working to come out and find me at a gay bar. When he plucks flowers for you from the street (laughs). When he stops to tell you “3 things” about you that make everything good.
When you can both smell bad together. When you look at him and can’t stop laughing. Sorry, I meant smiling (laughs). When his mom looks to you to decipher what her own son is talking about (laughs). When he finally gets my jokes! When he cleans up. When he stops smelling like soy sauce. When you find a need to constantly tickle him. When Gaspare balls up next to me. When he is selfless and finds your confidence. When he says the right things. When he does the right things. When you feel blessed. When you learn when to let go. When you start writing it down.
– Zul Andra
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