top of page
  • Annette Dawm

Restoring Creativity with Sheila Tan

Updated: Sep 15, 2021

Sheila Tan is an actress, model and artist from Sydney, Australia. Known for her art on Instagram, Sheila has created countless portraits of all sizes, from small cards to large murals. Through her work, Sheila hopes to inspire others to find their creative side—or to possibly find it again:

“I want people to know that pursuing The Arts is worthwhile! I recently discovered my purpose-- to inspire you to create again so that you can be your true self. I gave up my dream of becoming a professional artist for over a decade and tried to pursue a more traditional path. I just got depressed and unhappy. Not even the joy of travelling the world could fill that void...." Sheila added that she knew she had ignored her "soul's true calling".

"I want to share the message that it's better to be in alignment with your creativity.... The depression you get from giving up is not worth it! Don't give up! It's hard, but giving up is harder. It's soul wrenching. It is a dark place. Trust me, I've been there!”

Sheila admitted that she had struggled with a regular 9-5 schedule, “hopping from one job to another”. “As part of my commitment to creativity”, she continued, “I've also ramped up my work in commercial acting and modelling…. Long story short, I got into it to make a bit of extra cash on top of an office job three years ago. It’s not something you do full-time, especially at the beginning! So it's very doable to do it on top of a job.” Prior to COVID-19, Sheila worked a full-time job and continued to do her portraits outside of office hours. For her, it has been better to take the road less travelled, “I feel so strongly about this, so it's the message I want to share with my art.”

For the most part, Sheila works “predominantly with pencils” but is currently doing more with acrylic paint: “Each portrait takes 5-8 hours, depending on the size and detail. I'm learning that it almost takes just as long to paint big, so I'd like to paint larger moving forward!” In terms of pricing, Sheila breaks it down into what she would like to be paid per hour, based on her skill-level and the “value or emotion” the client will take away from the piece.

"Jules" by Sheila Tan
"Jules" by Sheila Tan

Social media has played a “huge” role in Sheila’s success. With clients as far away as Denmark, Sheila explained that she often receives inquiries about her work via Facebook or Instagram. “There's no limit to the potential in social media -- however, there is a lot of investment in time and money required. It's a constant learning curve!”

Lastly, when asked what she was looking forward to, Sheila Tan replied: “A more epic 2021! I want to break into the mural market (finally!) and interiors market with large paintings. I also want to launch my own TV production -- interviewing artists and sharing their stories so that it inspires people to create again! Successful artists can reignite the light inside of the ones who gave up and show that it is indeed possible to succeed. This is my ultimate dream! I trained as a TV presenter [in 2020] so that I can broadcast this message.”

Update: Sheila appeared on an episode of Colour in Your Life on August 6, 2021.

For more information, please visit

Photos courtesy of Sheila Tan and Linh Nguyen Photography.

If you liked this story, please consider making a donation here.



bottom of page