Sarah Choo Jing | 30 of Singapore's rising stars under 30

Eddino Abdul Hadi, The Straits Times, July 1, 2011

Artists are not generally planners, but this young artist is obsessive: she draws up one-, five- and 10-year career plans.


Focused and driven, she has dealt with a range of topics in her work. In 2013, she photographed a series about teens with eating disorders. Last year, her multimedia installation Waiting For The Elevator was a composite of scenes from a HDB void deck.


Her work has been nominated for several international awards, such as the Sovereign Art Prize, a regional photography competition, and the Worldwide Photography Gala Awards.


Her greatest coup so far has been to win the Icon de Martell Cordon Bleu photography award in 2013 at the age of 22, besting veterans such as established independent photographer Darren Soh, 37, and Beijing-based photojournalist Sim Chi Yin, 34.


At that time, she had just graduated from Nanyang Technological University's School of Art, Design and Media. Her win ignited a debate about the judging process and what is considered a photograph.


Her age may mark her out as a rookie, but she says she does not feel like one. "When most people look at my work, especially at the shows I attend, they can't believe I'm the artist," she tells Life in a Skype interview from London, where she was pursuing a master's degree in Fine Art Media at the Slade School of Art at the University College London.


She is on a teaching scholarship with the Ministry of Education.


Since the age of 15, she has known she wanted to be an artist. Choo, who enrolled in the art elective programme at Nanyang Junior College, says she was one of the worst painters in class when she was young.


"I wasn't born an artist, but I worked hard at it. I spent all my time in junior college and university on art. I'm a workaholic," says Choo, whose father works in the freight industry and mother is an administrative manager. Her younger brother, Mathias, is doing his national service.


She is now back in Singapore. She hopes to nurture a new generation of students who love and appreciate art. "We need people who love art and want to buy it, so there's an economy for artists."


Pausing for a while, she adds: "But I will always see myself as a practising artist, even if I teach. I'll never give up art."