Meet Dawn Tan – my illustrative superhero

Dawn Tan loves to draw vegetables and boy, does she do it well. Based in Yarraville, but an illustrator of the world, Dawn is the inner west’s Queen of Colour. I discovered her vibrant illustrations while reading one of my favourite magazines. I was first drawn to her watercolour drawing of a croissant, but a little research drew me to her sublime vegie sketches.

“I absolutely love vegetables. There’s something about the colours, textures, tastes and shapes. There are so many different varieties and ways of eating and cooking different vegetables. Growing up in Singapore, I was used to all the Asian vegetable varieties. I remember being in shock when I arrived in Australia – there were just so many new vegetable types that I had never seen before: Brussel sprouts, fennel, dill!
“My husband and I went to London recently and we were blown away by all the different salads at Ottolenghi. They were all filled with strange but new vegetables we’ve never seen or tried before. Vegetables are amazing!”

Dawn runs regular classes teaching food enthusiasts how to draw, paint and colour fruit and vegetables. Perhaps the perfect experience to expand your culinary horizons, but how do you choose what to draw as there are so many varieties to choose from?
“It’s so hard to pick what my favourite vegetable is, but I do draw a lot of corn. I love the colour yellow so it’s only natural that I like drawing (and eating) corn, right?”
“I do cook quite a bit and really enjoy the process of doing so. I find it so relaxing. I love cooking soup at this time of year. I swear by this amazing chunky vegetable and bean soup by Jools Oliver. I’ve cooked it so much my husband is sick of it already, but it’s so good for you with all that crunchy kale.
“I love my local Pompello in Seddon and the Village Store in Yarraville for fruit and vegetables. However, for most of my weekly haul, my husband and I head to the fruit and vegetable store in Highpoint or venture to the South Melbourne Market.

If you don’t bump into Dawn at your local fruit and vegetable supplier, you can find her teaching at one of her workshops or head on over to her website to view her work at
Don’t like your daily dose of fruit and veg, Dawn does a wicked sketch of house frontages too.

Images courtesy of Dawn Tan.

This profile first appeared in the May issue of The Westsider.

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