Staff Reporters
Mar 24, 2022

Creative Minds: Vanessa Tan follows her overactive imagination

The senior copywriter and group creative head at Iris Singapore answers 11 of our questions. Learn about how she used to bother her parents at work, the job that nearly stole her soul, and the adorable career path she had in mind as a youngster.

Creative Minds: Vanessa Tan follows her overactive imagination
In Creative Minds, we give APAC creatives a long list of questions, from serious to silly, and ask them to pick 11 to answer. (Why 11? Just because.) Want to be featured?

Name: Vanessa Tan

Origin: Singapore

Places lived/worked: Los Angeles, Singapore

Pronouns: She/her


  • Senior copywriter / Creative group head, Iris (2018-present)
  • Copywriter, Possible (2013-2018)
  • Creative and account executive, Oskoui + Oskoui (2011-2013)
  • Development assistant, Blumhouse Pictures (2011)

1. How did you end up being a creative?

I had an overactive imagination as a kid, fueled by a love of stories (reading them, watching them), and would constantly ring my parents up at work to tell them about this latest tale I read or a story I cooked up. Many “It’s really urgent I need to speak to you now!” and disrupted meetings later, they convinced me to start penning down or drawing these stories and ideas instead. Years later when I was looking for something to study in college, my childhood passion became my adult one too.

2. What's your favourite piece of work in your portfolio?

It’s hard to pick just one, but if backed into a corner I’d have to say this little piece we did for SPCA.

We hijacked that popular #WhatTheFluff Challenge that was going around at the time—where owners performed a ‘magic trick’ and ‘disappeared’ behind a blanket, much to the adorable confusion of their pets—to spotlight abandoned pets, and the fact that not every owner returns. While I’m proud we got media buzz for it (with $0 spent!), I’m prouder we got everyone talking about this overlooked issue and even generated more interest in adoptions.

3. What's your favourite piece of work created by someone else?

'Sticking together, no matter what' for Tsuruya. I’m sure that when this brief landed, many would have thought “Roof tiles? What? How can I make that interesting?” But they did. An absolute masterpiece in concept and craft for how they made you care about the world's most mundane everyday item for 90 seconds. I’ve never been so invested in roof tiles in my life.

4. What kind of student were you?

The one that sat at the back of the class.

5. What career did you think you'd have when you were a kid?

When I was 5, I really wanted to be a playground tester. Back then, you’d have to drag me home from the park, and I thought it’ll be the coolest if I could just go around helping test new slides or seesaws or swings and telling people what I thought.

6. Tell us about the worst job you ever had.

I was the world’s worst door-to-door salesman for a hot second. It was right after college when I was looking for a job, and responded to an ad looking for a "marketing and sales executive".

Walking on foot, under the hot summer sun, in business professional attire, having to smile as doors are slammed in your face, truly kills your soul and your sanity. I really take my hats off to those guys for their unmatched confidence and nerves of steel.

7. What advice would you give to 10-year-old you, if you could?

Do dumb things, even if it’s weird or no one else gets it. You’ll have plenty of time to grow up later. Also, buy some Apple stock.

8. Tell us about an artist (any medium) that we've never probably heard of.

Eden Kozo (KozoTattoo), who’s known for his pieces that blend pop culture with iconic works of art. Incredibly realistic yet playful, every piece is truly one-of-a-kind.

9. What's your favourite GIF/meme, and why?

It’s got to be “Homer disappearing into the bush”. It works for anything. Unclear brief? Last minute client feedback? Awkward small chat? ‘Irish goodbyes’ at parties?

10. What makes you really angry?

Drivers that don’t use their turning signals. Man, it takes less than a second to flip it.

11. Cat person or dog person?

I love both equally but everyone says I radiate more cat energy.

Related Articles

Just Published

4 hours ago

Google blocks Chinese shopping app Pinduoduo over ...

As the US government ups cybersecurity defences against hacking and digital crimes, the Chinese budget shopping app Pinduoduo halted on Play Store for malware issues.

4 hours ago

Women to Watch Greater China 2023: Sally Ng, Hivestack

With her media foresight, Ng has brought the region’s attention on the full potential of pDOOH and is helping it scale new heights.

6 hours ago

Nepotism in advertising: is who you know still more ...

From the recent viral trend of "nepo babies" to people getting jobs based on connections, just how pervasive is nepotism in advertising, and what, if anything, is the industry doing to tackle it?

8 hours ago

Muck Rack expands global media monitoring

The expansion gives Muck Rack users access to more than 600,000 global news sources.