Guest post from Priscilla Tang from Char Coal Tofu Dog Art sharing how following your dreams to be an illustrator, even later in life, changed her life.

I absolutely love Priscilla’s story so I am sure you will too. All the images in this article are hers and show just how amazingly talented she is.

My Childhood

I was born to a Malaysian Chinese family at the end of the era of “British Malaya” (18th Century – mid 20th Century). I am currently 70 years old in March of 2021.  

My family had been running a small tin mining business in the then famous tin-mining town of Ipoh the capital of one of the States of Malaysia. By the end of the 20th Century, Malaysia was the top tin-ore producing nation in the world. 

My dad had been a gutsy-gifted person who had sacrificed an overseas study to become an Advertising Illustrator to help run our tin mine, together with all my uncles. 

I am the youngest of my dad’s 6 girls. Hyper-sensitive and not exactly robust in health

Teasing and bullying plagued my growing up years but it was my dad with his art, and my willing, patient muse, Bobby-dog, that helped salvage my childhood.

Cartoon pic: “My dad, my hero” 

On changing the world, one brush stroke at a time 

Dad changed my life. When small, he would often put me on his knees.

He would then draw quiz pictures and let me guess what they were: my mum’s high-heel shoe seen at eye level from behind, a bunch of musketeers holding bayonet guns on their shoulders, marching behind a wall (with only a row of sharp triangles showing above), an eagle’s eye view of a bottle of Fraser N’ Neave soda bottle (it was a popular brand of soda for us, both adults and children, amply available during festive days like our Chinese New Years) that only showed a smaller circle above a bigger one. I had to guess what these images meant, young as I was, and dad made such a fun game out of it and stretched my imagination.

I knew even at a young age what I wanted to be when I grew up: An illustrator!

A Collage of some of the Fashion Art that I did for “INSIDE FASHION” an US publication 
Circa 1994 -2014 period 

Draw pet loss Customers back to the love and comfort from our Maker 

My Bobby-dog and I practically grew up together. After a number of years working as an architectural professional, an architectural perspectivist; then a Fashion Illustrator for 20 years. After those, I came full circle when I decided I needed something more than being even a well-regarded Fashion (editorial) illustrator. I wanted to have a branded service that I can call my own. 

Being a faith-driven individual, I wanted so much to comfort the broken hearts of pet owners for their great love for their wards. I felt the only antidote to their sorrows would be to lay them down at the feet of our Maker and allow themselves to be comforted through his saving love and healing.

That has how my ‘mission statement’ evolved. To bring broken-hearted dog-loving folks back “home”. 

Pet Portrait of Edna & Charlie circa 2020 

Starting my business

With great courage and resolve, I left my fashion art profession, and started from scratch a dog portrait art enterprise, crafting cutesy portraits of friends’ dog pets. This was to be my very own brand of work.

The warm reception from my “clients” convinced me that I was onto something. It soon defined my ‘Mission Statement” when I saw the effect my dog portraits had on my friends and friends of friends.  

Owing to the short life spans of our pets, keeping them long term often means heartbreak when they leave us.

My portraits had the knack of easing this sorrow, comforting my friends, making the loss of their pets easier to resolve.

Pet Portrait of Sweety from Florida circa 2015 

Comments from happy clients: 

“What a pleasure it was to work with Priscilla. I approached her to donate a portrait for my non-profit rescue to raise money, she did not hesitate to agree to help us out. She was a joy to have on our group page during the fundraiser as she participated generously and encourage folks to participate by showing more of her work. “ 

“Perfection….”, “I look fabulous”, “Thank you, Priscilla, for capturing us this way”, “I will reassure this painting of us forever” 

“I literally fell over the moon: Priscilla had expertly tweaked my dress, adorned me with gorgeous accessories and rearranged my old self to a beautiful persona.” 

“I knew the portrait would be nice but what came next was not what I had expected, it was so much more! The details, the way she combined two separate pictures into one and of course the colours. Just the outline picture brought tears to my eyes. It totally hugged my heart. The final project was so much more than I could’ve ever imagined”.


Why age shouldn’t be a hindrance to pursuing one’s dream

Everything started late for me. I got sick after graduating from Archi School and was out of the scene for a year and a half. My peers were then all into getting married and starting their families while I struggled in a profession that I found wasn’t really using my potential.

At the age of 35, I returned to art school after my husband and I immigrated to the USA. There in New York, I obtained, at last, a formal art training and that was when I started to blossom.

Following 20 years in a glamorous Fashion Illustrator profession, I again took another major change into the Pet Art profession. By the time I left the fashion field, I was already 60 years old.

I then ventured into other art parallel industries (eg. “fantasy illustration” for a figurine manufacturer) to learn to use digital Photoshop. Throughout those last 8 years I was preparing myself, intellectually and emotionally for this current startup.

I spent a few years, necessarily prepping my portfolio as well as crafting great looking websites. Excellence was not an accident that I had bumped into. Everything had been intentional: knowledge of marketing, more honing of Photoshop, learning from scratch about SEO and building my social media network.

Then at the age of 68, I launched my company. 

A sample of a recent collage of work: “Portrait of Deb with Sassy & Scally” Aug 2021 

Why Char Coal Tofu?

Tofu because of my Eastern origin and that little black square coming off the bigger Tofu reflects me, the ‘chip off the old block’, which represents my dad’s legacy. Black because black tofu is a highly rated Asian cuisine recognised worldwide.

A sample of a Promo piece of work based on a Portrait of Kat Vitou & her  Dachshunds. 


My composite dog art service is in the second year of operation.

My Goal: I intend to become a “trend “and not a ‘fad’. Trends make stronger ocean waves than fads. “Blue Ocean Strategy” written by Kim & Mauborgne. 

Finally, it has been an exhilarating and joyous endeavour serving the dog-lovers who needed comfort and encouragement at their time of vulnerability. I am so glad that my art brings uplift and delight to all of my dog-owning customers.

Either way, my mission is met and I look forward to many more years of fruitful engagement with my dog-loving customers and allow my art to continue to tell the riveting story of the precious bond between my clients and their wards.  

In my eyes, the 70’s is just the new ‘middle’ age!

Find Priscilla Tang online

If this has piqued your interest then pop over to Priscilla’s website and take a look, she is currently based as a self-employed illustrator in Hong Kong so do be aware there may be a delay in responses due to the time difference.

You can also find her and her amazing art on Facebook and Twitter.

With appreciation to Jovian Lee, an admired friend and teacher, Seth Godin for his provocative, “LIZARD BRAIN”, Charlotte Crisp CEO of, a special friend, and last but not the least, Jane Singer CEO of “Inside Fashion”, also a dear friend. 

A compliment from me: “Portrait of a Lady & her dog, Rascal” circa 2020 

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