"Stay humble and always have the discipline to learn and practice really hard." - Ivan Hoo

We recently had the pleasure to connect with Ivan Hoo, a Singapore-based realism artist who attracted hundreds of thousands of fans from all over the world through his hyper-realistic drawings. Awe-inspiring artworks are drawn on wooden canvas with seemingly simple PanPastel Colours and charcoal pencils to create objects so real they can easily be mistaken as the actual object. Scrolling through Ivan's artwork, it is hard not to second-guess ourselves as we examine each piece in detail, looking for clues that it is indeed a play on perception. From a goldfish swimming in a plastic Starbucks cup to a messy Nutella accident, Ivan has proven that there are no object, texture or even animals he cannot conquer with his trusty PanPastel Colours. 

We invited Ivan for a short interview exploring his background, inspiration and technique.

P - Pendulum Magazine

I - Ivan Hoo


P - Tell us briefly about your background, and how you started your career in realism.

I - I am a 35-year-old self-taught artist based in Singapore. Since childhood, I was interested in drawing, but I only saw it as a hobby back then. About 7 years ago I started to change my profession to become a full-time artist. I have always loved realistic art since I was very young, and I decided to continue my path drawing 3D anamorphic style on Wooden Board or Pet Portraits Pastel Mat.

Ivan Hoo x Pendulum Magazine

P - Tell us about your drawing process and the materials that you use. Is there a particular type of environment you like to be in when drawing?

Most of the time, I work in my room as Iā€™m home based. I work from reference photos or photos that I took myself. I sketch precise lines using pencils or pastel pencils depending on the surface choice. For drawing tools I use PanPastel Colours, pastel pencils, charcoal pencils and blending tools such as brushes and stumps.

Ivan Hoo x Pendulum Magazine

P - Do you experiment with new materials? How do they affect the results of your artwork?

I - Yes, different mediums gave me different results. I have been addicted to using PanPastel recently. I draw a lot of animal portraits so PanPastel allows me to create a softer effect, most specifically, for the fur textures which I had been struggling with using other media. In addtion, I always like how PanPastel allows me to blend colours easily.

P - What is your favourite kind of object to draw? Why?

I - There are a lot of things I love to draw. Subjects that are challenging are great as they help me improve my skills. Examples are glass surfaces or water effects. Animal portraits are also my favourite to draw too.

Ivan Hoo x Pendulum Magazine

P - Whom would you credit for your biggest creative inspirations? How have they influenced your drawing style?

I - Most of my inspirations came from the pioneers of hyperrealism. This includes artists such as Audrey Flack, Chuck Close, Roberto Bernardi and recently Ruben Belloso who inspired me to use pastel on wood.


P - What advice would you give people who want to become a realism artist?

I - Stay humble and always have the discipline to learn and practice really hard.


P - Do you have any upcoming exhibitions you would like to share? What else have you got planned for the future?

I - Besides working on commissions and preparing for exhibitions, I have no idea what the future holds for me. However, I hope to keep on creating artworks for as long as I can so I can further inspire others. 

Ivan Hoo working on a pet portrait piece.

Ivan Hoo working on a pet portrait piece.

Ivan Hoo x Pendulum Magazine

We thank Ivan for taking the time to share his passion with us. Ivan's story shows us how far perseverance and hard work can take you even without any formal training. To view more of Ivan Hoo's work, visit his Instagram or see him in action via his Youtube channel here.

All pictures courtesy of Ivan Hoo