Under The Monocle: Shelly Tey

The Aspiring Digital Artist


Photo by Honey Tey

Tey’s art space in her bedroom, where she works on all her drawings. Tues., Oct 18, 2017

It wasn’t always easy for sophomore and aspiring digital artist Shelly Tey. Born into a Chinese household, there were always high expectations she and her sisters had to follow. Even though her sisters are both going into the typical law and medical studies, she decided to branch out and become immersed in art.


“I started drawing when I was in 2nd grade,” said Tey. “I watched a speed drawing video of Princess Peach from Paper Mario, and I was immediately intrigued by the different techniques used to draw a single character. I copied the drawing and showed it to my friends, and they were all really impressed.”


Although Tey started out by doodling little images in her notebook, it wasn’t until her mom bought her a large boxed set of prismacolor colored pencils for her birthday that she began to take drawing seriously. Rather than basing her drawing’s focus on excessive compliments, she focused on self-improvement.


“I spent most of my elementary school years drawing for praise,” said Tey. “ I realized that making art for praise just makes drawing a chore. It will never truly satisfy me.  I started focusing on what and how I can do better than the compliments. So I didn’t really start drawing for myself until I [was] 12.”

Photo by Honey Tey
Tey in her artspace, working on her newest project — inktober, where she will post a drawing to her art account every day of October. Tues., Oct 18, 2017

As art soon became a creative outlet for Tey, she challenged herself to try out different platforms rather than sticking to traditional pencil to paper drawings, which is relatively expensive.


With the speed drawing video first exposing her to art, it also exposed her to a different platform to express her creativity: digital programs.


Photo courtesy of Shelly Tey
Using digital app Procreate, Tey created a drawing of her favorite character, Tsukkishima Kei, from her favorite anime, “Haikyuu!!” Thurs., Sept 28, 2017


“Traditional art is a lot more expensive because you have to constantly get quality art supplies if you want to produce quality artwork,” explained Tey. “Digital programs like Autodesk Sketchbook and Procreate provide me with all the tools I need without blasting a hole through my parent’s wallet.”


Photo by Shelly Tey
Tey’s traditional drawing using copic markers, one of the more expensive tool she uses to create her art pieces (one marker valued at $8.99). Thurs., Oct 12, 2017


While Tey has dabbled in both oil and acrylic art (thanks to York classes), she focused much of her effort on Japanese animation-style drawings, all of which are based on anime that she watched. When posted on her art social media accounts, she drew a large fan base of over five hundred followers.


“Art isn’t [just] about painting a masterpiece– it’s more than that,” said Tey. “It’s about growing as a person and expressing yourself. It’s a feeling you can’t put into words.”

Photo courtesy of Shelly Tey
In addition to using traditional markers and digital programs, Tey also uses washi tape to create intricate patterns for outfits. Thurs., Sept 28, 2017

With the passion she expresses for art, Tey hopes to become a digital artist for Japanese anime, a goal that she’s well on her way to.