State of his art
Article from the Sun daily by Yee Jie Min (posted on 14 February 2017)
ACCORDING to renowned psychiatrist Dr Darold Treffert, savant syndrome is a condition in which a person with a developmental disorder demonstrates profound and prodigious capacities or abilities in far excess of what would be considered normal.
Despite being diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome at the age of five, Delwin Cheah Wien Loong scored 114 on a non-verbal IQ test, which is higher than average. Additionally, his passion for drawing has led him to become not only the youngest Malaysian savant artist to hold a solo exhibition, but also the world's youngest.
His biggest achievement is receiving two letters of praise from former President of the United States, Barack Obama which catapulted him to fame overnight. Even Queen Elizabeth II sent the 13-year-old a letter of praise through the British Ambassador to Malaysia.
"It used to be nothing special for Delwin, but nowadays he would tell people what he has achieved and succeeded in. He feels happy after completing and achieving something, but he doesn't boast," said Lawrence Cheah, Delwin's father who spoke to us on his behalf.
Where does his passion for art come from?
I think art is an expression of his deep passion for animals. He is always searching for information about animals of the farm, in the wild, or during prehistory. His classmates call him WAW or 'Walking Animals' Wikipedia', while some call him the Little Animal Scientist.
How has his art evolved, and how did it change him?
His artworks have become more detailed, and he has started applying different self-styled strokes. Some veteran artists have praised him for his maturity beyond his years in terms of his imagination and illustration. He began to change from a daydreamer to an alert teen. He has developed the level of curiosity for his surroundings that lapsed during his early years.
Does Delwin have a working style?
He doesn't work for anyone but himself. Nobody can influence his style or artworks. The themes are straightforward: animals, jungles, fantasy, human revolution, and nature.
Having met countless VIPs, how is he with people?
He would greet people politely, whether or not they are VIPs. He doesn't give special acknowledgement or attention to anyone. For him, his school principal and the prime minister are on the same level. In other words, he is a non-elitist.
Could you share about his latest venture?
He was featured in Chef Nic, a travelogue and cooking reality show starring Hong Kong actor and singer Nicholas Tse, Tan Sri Michelle Yeoh and Patrick Tse. They selected his artwork as part of the background in the show's prop restaurant. It was our first time on a TV show, and everything during production had to be on schedule. Thankfully, Delwin could adapt to it.
What are your hopes and dreams for him?
We just want him to live happily and become independent one day. Delwin said he wants to become an animal scientist and artist. We can help by providing him education and allowing him to explore a normal life. Nobody knows how they will turn out to be, but if you don't help them now, they will not be able to go anywhere.
Message to the world: Always stay humble and kind.
Quote to live by: "They laugh at me because I am different. I laugh at them because they are the same."
Favourite animals: Tiger, zebra, elephant, rhino, giraffe, orang utan and lion.
His wish: To meet former President of the United States, Barack Obama.
Article from the Sun daily by Bernard Cheah (posted on 29 November 2016)
HE may be quiet, but Yuli Yap has a lot on his mind and he transforms these thoughts into art.
Being diagnosed with autism did not stop this Ampang lad from obtaining a degree in graphic design from Curtin University, Australia. It certainly did not restrain him from setting up his own studio Predator Art and Design (facebook.com/YuliYapDesigns/), where he produces various artworks to serve the needs of skateboarders, surfers, bikers, hot rod enthusiasts, and metalheads.
His artworks have been featured in two solo exhibitions and other events such as The Best of You Exhibition 2015, Hong Kong International Art Fair in 2013 and the 7th Malaysia International Dive Expo 2012.
How long have you been making art?
I have been drawing since I was four years old, but I started the art studio in 2010. I use all kinds of mediums, ranging from digital to pen and ink, watercolours, acrylics, markers and pencils.
What inspires your artworks?
I am inspired by all kinds of things. For my acrylic paintings, I am inspired by nature and the cities. I like painting a lot of Japanese scenes as I am fascinated by Japanese culture, Zen and its simplicity. I am trying to diversify into other types of paintings, beyond Japanese culture. I get inspiration from vintage toys, hot rods, motorcycles, classic cars, video games, comic books, heavy metal, punk culture, movies, fast food, action sports, skateboarding, surfing, and tattoos.
Can you share about your fascination with Japanese culture and heavy metal.
I really like samurai and the Edo period of Japan before the Meiji Restoration. I am in love with the katanas (swords) and the armour that the samurai wore. What interests me most is the kabuto (helmet) with its intricate detail in design, in addition to the horns and the mask which were modelled after the Japanese rhinoceros beetle.
I like martial art such as ninjutsu and bushido, as well as the numerous weapons they have. I am also very fond of the Japanese tea ceremony, the art of growing bonsai, and the principle of Zen and simplicity, as well as Japanese mythology and folklore such as dragons, kappa, oni and tengu.
A lot of heavy metal graphics often reflect the mythological or legendary aspects of cultures of the long forgotten bygone era.
Besides autism itself, what are some challenges you had to overcome growing up?
I faced a lot of bullying in school and university, and rejection in general.
As a result, I took up skateboarding, an activity that helped me to do something on my own unlike team sports like football and basketball. Through skateboarding, I learnt balance, met new people and improved my self-confidence. I also started listening to metal and punk music to cope. From these, I channel all my angst into art.
Tell us about the stigmatisation of those living with autism.
A lot of people do not recognise autism in Asia. Those with Asperger’s Syndrome are perceived to be rude as they lack social cues, the ability to read body language and fit in with others. To most people, they come across as eccentric. In addition, it’s difficult to find employment because most corporations see autism as a liability.
What’s next for you?
I plan to keep producing art and make a name for myself in the art scene.
Any advice for aspiring artists?
Try not to be influenced by too many people. Art is a reflection of who you are; be yourself and it will reflect in your art. Individualism is sacred.
Other hobbies: Travelling, taking walks in the forest, and skateboarding.
Favourite food: Japanese.
Favourite flicks: Ghost Rider (2007), The Last Samurai (2013) and The Lord of the Rings film series
With ballpoint precision
Article from the Sun daily by Peony Chin (posted on 1 November 2016)
IT IS a wonderful thing to be gifted, especially if you discover it at a young age.
Syahbandi Samat started drawing since the age of four, but he never thought that he would one day make art for a living. As he simply put it, he just liked to draw. It was only when he was commissioned by a local daily to draw seven portraits of children, and got paid a good sum afterwards that he realised he could make money out of this talent.
“I was expecting RM50 or RM100, but suddenly, the cheque was worth RM700,” he marvelled.
From there, he jumped straight into the fine art scene – sending his artworks to galleries and working his way up. Today, he is based in Galeri Titikmerah in Art Row, Publika, where he can be seen working on his next showpiece.
What were you up to following your exposure in the local newspaper?
I joined a few exhibitions and competitions, including Malaysia Emerging Artist Award (MEAA). It’s a university level competition, so anyone in Malaysia can send in an artwork, and five winners will be chosen.
When I was producing the artwork for MEAA, I still worked at my father’s car wash shop. I’d draw when there’s no car to wash. After submitting my artwork, I received a call saying that I was one of the winners, and they flew me to the Philippines to do a show.
Was that your first international award?
Yes. It was also my entry into the fine art industry in Malaysia. I didn’t know anyone in the local art scene, how things work around here, how galleries function – I was just a kid going around and sending my artworks to galleries. That was five years ago.
Prior to Galeri Titikmerah, where were you based?
Before this, I was in Kepong. I wasn’t with any studio. I had this 20 by 10 feet container, which I bought and placed in my father’s car wash space. I stayed there and did my art inside.
Moving to Galeri Titikmerah was a public debut for me. When I stayed in the container, no one could see me. When I send my artwork to galleries, people could only see my artwork. Now that I’m based in Galeri Titikmerah, I can do my work there and the public can also see how I work. That way, I can expand my art.
How did you start out using a ballpoint pen as a medium for your artwork?
Back in high school, I used to draw portraits of historians in textbooks. I found out that I could draw with the ballpoint pen, and moved on to bigger sizes. I use ballpoint pens because I want to tell the public that you don’t need expensive materials to make art. All you need is your creativity and knowledge to explore the medium that you chose.
Is there a common theme to the art you make?
Usually, it’s about the environment and things that happen around me. Fairy tales; the original, dark ones – not the versions with happy endings. I do a bit of idioms too. But lately, I’m venturing more into dark and surreal art.
Any plans for yourself in terms of art?
For now, I’m aiming to do more art residencies outside of Malaysia. I need to learn from others, because I’m a self-taught artist. I’d like to join art residencies in Asian countries, particularly Japan and South Korea. Japan is very well known for its culture and politeness, and its art is very fine and detailed. I want to learn from them because it is relevant to the kind of art that I’m doing.
Work playlist: Anything from Frank Sinatra and Arctic Monkeys to P. Ramlee.
Artist he looks up to: Leonardo da Vinci.
Number of pens to create an art piece: More than 10.
Biggest piece of art drawn: 8 x 7 feet.
A medium he’d love to try: Marble or clay sculpting
Strokes of femininity
Article from the Sun daily by Yeo Chia Hui (posted on 4 October 2016)
MOST creative people are fuelled to create because they have this inherent desire to express themselves. And it is no different for fashion illustrator Celine Wong, or better known as Lihuà.
“Art captivates me because it gives me the space, freedom and ability to express my thoughts and feelings. I can pour my innermost emotions onto the canvas and expose myself completely, yet I can hide behind the image and remain almost anonymous and that is truly liberating,” said the 26-year-old.
Fascinated by women’s curves, “beautiful features” and human gestures, Wong uses mixed mediums such as traditional Chinese ink, watercolour and digital tools to create. She, and hence her work, is influenced by calligraphy as “it helps to capture the natural flow of the female form”.
“I have always had a passion for art. It was why I pursued my education in it and built my career around art. I used to work as a fine art lecturer and I’m now a passionate illustrator.”
Through an email interview, theSun caught up with this highly talented illustrator who recently graduated and is now working on her graduation showcase in Birmingham, United Kingdom.
You have 10 years of experience in traditional Chinese calligraphy. How did you get started with this art?
I was exposed to it since young because learning calligraphy is somehow a tradition in my family. I didn’t fancy it at first because I had to sit quietly at the desk for two hours to practise – for a five-year-old, that’s akin to a torture sentence!
Nevertheless, I stuck to it, developed my skills, and by the time I reached college, I started using it as a form of meditation.
Which of your many projects are you most proud of?
Every project has given me a different sense of achievement hence they have their own special places in my heart. Piece by piece, they have shaped my skill, direction and vision that made me who I am today. Therefore, it would be unfair to give any project more gravitas than the other as they all serve an equal role in my – personal and professional – development.
Compared to when you first started, has your illustrating style changed?
I wouldn’t say it has changed per se, but it has evolved. In the beginning, I learnt by emulating the works and styles of other artists. Once I’d nailed their techniques, I’d incorporate other styles into my work and eventually create my own voice. I feel that I have created a unique brand by learning from other styles.
Why are you fascinated by women’s curves, “beautiful features” and human gestures?
Every individual has his/her very own form of gestures and curves, and these quirks tell stories about them. Shapes portray attitude, gestures portray personality; what could be more interesting and challenging than this?
Art is a subjective matter; some may like your work and some may not. With this in mind, have you ever gotten any criticism and how do you deal with it?
Of course there will always be people who don’t like your work, and they’re entitled to their opinions. Being an artist in the public domain is a great exercise in patience, and it helps you to understand your self-worth too. I know my weaknesses and I know that I can always improve, thus whenever I’m criticised I’ll put a smile on my face and say thank you for the advice.
What do you think is most important in art?
To feel alive. To be alive. To create and have a positive outlet to channel my energies.
Best vacation: Amsterdam
Dislike: Raw tomatoes
Instagram handle: @artoflihua
Projects: Esmod KL Fashion Show, Chanel, Steel & Jelly and more
Better for Borneo
Article from the Sun daily by Rachel Law (posted on 20 September 2016)
ALENA Ose' Murang may not be very good at maths – her elder brother's got that covered – but she's profoundly inspired, and equally inspiring. The 27-year-old is an artist, musician, dancer, strategist and social entrepreneur all rolled into one; armed with a mission to bring about positive changes to society and the environment, and preserve her Borneon heritage.
She was born to a Kelabit father, but it was really her English-Italian mother – an anthropologist – who nurtured Alena's interests and identity in Kelabit culture, traditions, and their way of life. Growing up in Kuching, Alena took ngarang (dance in indigenous lingo) classes; learnt to play the sape (a traditional twostringed lute), weave and make costumes; even studied songs of the Kenyah tribe, and the language of the Penan people.
Although she has a management degree, Alena pursued an arts foundation course at Singapore's Lasalle College of the Arts in 2014. But her dreams of becoming a fine artist were dashed, when her lecturers told her she wouldn't make a happy one.
"They told me, 'Fine artists are selfish and inward-thinking; while your work is all about your community and heritage.' I was quite troubled by that for a few months, but then I started ART4 (i.e. art for) – as a hashtag, initially – promising myself to use art as a medium for social impact.
"Eventually, I started taking commissioned artwork and performances to ART4 (www. alenamurang.com). I also do management consulting, and the revenue I get from those I channel into cultural heritage and environmental impact projects," explained Alena.
This Saturday, the multi-talented lass is hosting a public launch for her debut EP, Flight which was released last month.
Have you explored your English and Italian roots?
I studied in the UK for five years, but I was a bit naive. I didn't like England because I didn't see any culture, which to me, meant colourful traditional garbs, beads, celebrations and dances back then. Only when I was a bit older I realised culture is effervescent.
I've never lived in Italy, but I try to go back every year. I really connect with where my grandma's from, which is Naples in southern Italy. It's rich in history and culture, and in a lot of ways people there are very similar to Malaysians. They love their food, and park on yellow lines. I do want to explore that side more – I just haven't done it yet.
How is storytelling through painting, dancing and playing music different for you?
Honestly, painting is my first love. I feel that I do music more, but I'd rather paint – it's my ultimate form of expression. With the sape, I don't write my own songs so I don't express all of myself through it. I use it as a medium to tell stories of my roots. I do traditional dances to keep the art form, so the only stories I tell are why and when we used to dance.
Which was the most interesting project you've done under ART4?
In January last year, we collaborated with Biji-biji Initiative to upcycle a helipad in Genting Highlands. It wasn't used anymore so they wanted an art on it. We painted a big bird, where one of the wings came out as a 3D sculpture – made using metal parts welded by Bijibiji.
About 80% of everything we upcycled were from Genting. We rummaged through its waste management area, and found old casino chairs, pots and pans; and took apart an old Transformer – it was like a playground for us! But it was taken down early this year, because Genting is going through a transformation programme. Outdoor art is almost always ephemeral.
Tell us about your EP, Flight.
My music is quite traditional, but I want to make it relatable, so that people in the urban setting and people who don't know anything about Sarawak are able to associate with it. In Flight, I play the sape and sing, and it's backed by other instruments such as violin, harp and some percussion.
Spirit animal: Hornbill.
Dessert of choice: "Dark chocolate anything!"
Favourite scents: Freshly ground coffee, or freshly mown grass.
Inspirations: Parents; social entrepreneurs Biji-biji Initiative, and Build for Tomorrow.
Favourite artists: Vincent van Gogh, Piet Mondrian and Cilau Valadez.
Fear factor: Lizards. "I can handle snakes and scorpions – just not lizards."
Fusing nature with art
Article from the Sun daily by Michelle Lim (posted on 1 September 2016)
MANY people have the perception that art can only be done by the talented. According to Raja Azeem Idzham (also popularly known as Ajim Juxta), passion and perseverance play a major role in an artist's success as well. Without these key traits, it will be difficult to go far based on talent alone.
Azeem has been exposed to art from as young as the age of four. His late parents, while not artists, were art graduates and have imparted their appreciation and love for art to their children. In fact, the architecture graduate decided to pursue art full time after working for a while.
"The first few years were definitely tough. People tend to ask if I can cari makan (make a living) as an artist," Azeem recalled.
"I said, of course you can – but it is not easy."
Since then, Azeem has been working on his pieces in his gallerycum-studio, Titikmerah in Publika, which is shared with two other prominent artists.
"Working on my art here has allowed me to engage with passers-by and share about my work in person," Azeem said, adding that being on site helps break the stigma that all artists are reclusive.
Last April, Azeem was gifted a Young Art Award at the 2016 Young Art Taipei fair in Taiwan.
"Getting this award made all the difference in my career as an artist," enthused the 28-year-old.
Which genre would you say your art belongs to?
There's no specific genre for what I do. However, the closest answer would be a hybrid of architecture and conceptual, abstract art. It is also surreal and contemporary at the same time.
Where do you usually draw your inspiration from?
From the people around me, and the many issues we have – especially environmental ones. As you can see from my Arcology series, most of my work contains elements of nature. This series is my reaction towards the treatment of humans on the environment. It paints a bleak, dystopian future to remind us to do something before it's too late.
Tell us about the first piece of art you created.
The most memorable piece I can think of was created when I was about 10. I turned a 70 sen exercise book into a comic about superheroes and everyday life. My teacher was impressed when she saw it.
What were some of the toughest phases in your career as an artist?
The beginning is always tough when it comes to getting exposure, recognition and sales. It takes a lot of perseverance to go through this stage. Many artists would have already given up and gone back to the nine-to-five corporate life. I'm grateful that I managed to pull through those difficult moments; otherwise I wouldn't be where I am now.
If art were a superpower, what would you do with it?
Grow more trees, and reduce the amount of buildings that are not eco-friendly.
That said, what would your dream project look like?
I'd like to collaborate with architects and engineers to fuse our buildings with nature. I want to turn all of our skyscrapers into buildings that are sustainable and
Do you think social media has played a role in your success?
In some ways, it has helped me reach out to a community of people who heavily relies on social media to find artists. Fans sometimes turn into buyers; but social media shouldn't be the only outlet to rely on.
What is your daily routine like?
I usually sketch in the mornings, and by noon I'll be at Titikmerah to work on bigger pieces. The rest of the day is spent networking and responding to emails. People often ask if it's a real job. Yes, it is – minus the punchcard and dress code.
If you could go back in time, what would you tell your younger self?
Work hard, but remember to appreciate time with your family.
Versatile & visually creative
Article from the Sun daily by Jessica Chua (posted on 11 August 2016)
MOVING to a different country every few years – due to the nature of her father's job – opened Sharina Shahrin's eyes to the world of art. She grew up attending international schools, which equipped her with proper art education and fuelled her curiosity. Because of her unconventional sense of style and taste, Sharina considers herself the black sheep of the family, but she is fortunate that they have been supporting her identity.
"Having that support from a young age is so important to cultivate your own craft. It makes a big difference in establishing yourself and being comfortable in your own skin," shared the artist.
Sharina has been focusing on art and doing collaborations – including with Red Bull and H&M, as well as local art festivals – since she returned from studying at the London College of Fashion late last year, but she won't be staying for long.
The ambitious lass will be heading to Prague to study Fine Art and Experimental Media this September. She hopes to return and fulfil her ultimate dream of running an independent gallery, giving other young artists a platform to showcase their work.
"What's the point of learning all these things, living my whole life overseas, and not bringing back anything to help the community that really needs it? We need people with the right intention and passion to do this. It has to come from an artist, or someone who appreciates art," said Sharina.
In the meantime, she is working on a personal project – a hybrid of photography and painting – on women and unconventional beauty.
How would you define yourself as an artist?
I've always referred to myself as a visual creative. I never really say artist because you get pigeonholed, and I like to explore different fields. I started off doing photography, then there's the fashion and art aspect, and I also love to sing. So 'creative' is a term to use when you love exploring so many things. It's been a constant evolution for me; constantly exploring, never sticking to one thing, and always experimenting. You should never restrict yourself. Right now, I'm focusing on exploring my artwork visually through paintings.
Is there an evident identity in your work?
Many people have said that my work is very psychedelic or other-worldly, especially in my digital art. I want people to feel like what they see is not real. I've always been a daydreamer, where a part of me isn't really present. I think that translated into my artwork.
What keeps you going?
Knowing that there's always room to improve and explore. The Malaysian industry is young, but we have such talented people. It's encouraging to see these young talents and people harnessing their talents the right way. Seeing a big market for art, my ultimate goal is to tap into that and make art an important part of culture – something everyone can appreciate and enjoy.
In what ways would you like to see the Malaysian art industry grow?
I think it all boils down to education. They teach art in public schools but it's not taken seriously. People need to know that it's a revered career in other countries. Art is part of the culture, history, and identity of a country. So the Malaysian education system is where the biggest change needs to happen.
What is art to you?
Art to me is not limited to paper and paint. Art is something that allows you to express yourself. It's also a sense of release and relief for me. Since it is my life, and I'm going to live it every day until I die, I want it to be what makes me happy. People always don't give themselves the chance to be happy. It takes a lot of courage, and I think some people find it easier than others. You should never compromise your happiness and sanity for anything.
Article from the Sun daily by Peony Chin (posted on 14 June 2016)
IN a culture where academia takes precedence and most parents want their children to be corporate professionals, it's nice to know that some families let their children take the path less travelled. One of the latter is artist Yeoh Choo Kuan, who recently got into Forbes' 30 Under 30 Asia list under The Arts category.
"My father likes art, but he needed to focus on the business to raise our family. So he feels like I'm realising his dream," Yeoh theorised.
The Kota Bharu lad started out drawing Power Rangers masks for his friends back in primary school and later went on to pursue art in secondary school. But he only, really became exposed to fine art when he furthered his studies in Dasein Academy of Art. The rest, they say, is history.
What does your art focus on?
People are usually not open enough to accept my paintings because they find them quite provocative and dark. My previous works explored eroticism and brutality, but I was not trying to celebrate them. The paintings were really to reveal the behavioural codes and queer cultural norm of paraphilia. It's a psychological syndrome that largely occurs around us but is rarely discussed. The awareness perhaps would be the only message I hope to deliver through my art.
Would you say painting is an outlet for you to release your emotions?
It used to be, in the beginning. It was all about self-expression and emotions. But then it came to the point where I felt like my paintings were almost self-indulgent. It's too much because you cannot continue repeating your emotions and expressions. Emotion is a one-off thing – you do it, understand it, then it's done.
What I'm doing now is more of understanding where all these emotions come from, and how they form. I'm looking at my dark side from a human behavioural study perspective.
How do you want viewers to feel when they look at your art?
There's no particular fixed meaning that I want to deliver to somebody. My works are very much self-confessions, but the point should be the questions that come to the audience's minds when they see my work.
There is no right or wrong answer. Its not about answers – it's about asking questions. That's the crucial and major factor of understanding and appreciating art.
Do you think being in Forbes' 30 Under 30 Asia is a good platform for you to penetrate the international art scene?
I think it benefits the local people. They start to think that maybe it's a good idea to let children do what they like. It changes the mindset of locals about being an artist. People around me also start getting interested in my paintings, which will generate the idea of looking at art, questioning fine art, paintings and artists.
Where does your inspiration derive from?
The internet, but there's too much information nowadays. Inspiration really depends on the technique of critical thinking or organising information. I used to blindly take in a lot of info – it's dangerous for artists. Absorbing everything you can get from the internet becomes a habit because it's too convenient; and it becomes greed without a second layer of thought.
But I got out from it and started writing a lot – it helps me organise my Fervent. thoughts. But inspiration from the internet comes with varied possibilities. For instance, Instagram browsing exposes you to the diversities of what interests other people and what they choose to show. I find the connection between random images surprising and inspiring, almost like making a sketch with instant ideas and juxtaposed elements.
Spray-painting the town red
Article from the Sun daily by Yee Jie Min (posted on 12 May 2016)
IF you stroll along Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman on a weekend night, you'll come across crowds flocking around buskers and a particular young man expressing his thoughts on paper.
Shofi Asrozie picked up the art of spray painting when he was in university three years ago, and has since made it his fulltime job, claiming to be the first to practise the art in Kuala Lumpur.
Back then, society never looked kindly on street artists – their creative expression on walls and any surfaces was perceived as vandalism. So Shofi's interest to be a street artist was naturally greeted with uncertainty from his family and friends.
Street artists are better accepted and supported by society today, that the Kuala Lumpur City Hall made permits available for them in order to spray-paint in public. Shofi is thankful for these permits – which have to be renewed annually – as he is now able to express his art in adherence to regulations and without fear.
How did you learn to make art using spray paint, and what are the tools that are required?
I took two months to learn spray paint art through YouTube, two months to practise it freestyle, and another two months to showcase it in public. The main tools involved are spray paint, paper and a plate. The type of paper I use is a secret, but I will tell you that it is poster paper.
Could you share some of your challenges in practising this form of art?
There are many challenges, especially the weather because I am doing this in the open air. The materials aren't difficult to find, but their cost and quality are a factor. The paper I use is a size bigger than A4 so it's somewhat difficult to source. As for the spray paint, it costs around RM9 each and typically lasts me only two to three days – and I use 16 colours at one time.
Where do you obtain inspiration?
My mind. I did not take any art courses, instead I have a diploma in business management. I would say what I have is a gift but I need experience and the will to try. I cannot learn only by doing it on the streets; I have to practise at home as well. I usually imagine a picture of what I want to create, then transfer it onto paper.
What are some of the techniques involved?
When creating panoramas such as of KLCC, I use the scratch technique so I cannot spray when the ink is dry – I have to do it quickly, and each design takes about seven minutes to complete. There must also be a certain distance between the spray can and paper.
Mixing colours pose a challenge too, as sometimes it doesn't come out the way you want it to be. I use black the most, but all colours are equal to me because you can play with them. For example, sunsets are not depicted using just orange but a mix of colours to get the tone.
Have you encountered negative comments on the streets?
There are people who come by, and in front of the crowd assert that what I do is easy and they can also do it. I took the situation lightly and invited him to sit with me and try spraypainting. But in general, people are supportive and encouraging.
Where do you plan to take your talent?
It would be nice to run classes for people to learn spray paint art, receive invitations to exhibit, and demonstrate in schools. Not everyone knows about this art form, so I like to do it live so people can see for themselves. Personally, I hope people will continue to accept street art and that my job will go well.
I also hope that one day street artists can have a designated space to showcase our work, and for people to view and appreciate them. There are many new places but they aren't hot spots yet, so we're often fighting for space.
Paving the future for art
Article from the Sun daily by Michelle Lim (posted on 8 March 2016)
AT 21, most youngsters would be busy pursuing or finishing their majors in university. Not this young man, though. Joshua Tan Yi-Shaun decided to open his own art gallery, Malaysia Art Network, which features a collection of local artworks. He believes that his gallery could help bring forward the Malaysian art scene.
"My mum is a collector herself, so I have always been surrounded by art from a young age. After my A levels, she asked if I would like to take over her collection and build up my own from it," Tan explained. What started out as a hobby, soon developed into a passion,and it cultivated Tan into an art connoisseur.
"As my compilation grew, other art collectors began to ask about some of my pieces, and that was when I started trading art," said the 23-year-old.
He opened his first art gallery in a small soho unit to display his collections, but soon realised that he was running out of space.
"That was when I decided to move to this bigger space in Petaling Jaya,where I also offer framing services for artworks," he noted.
Tan, whose entire collection is by local artists, hopes to help the Malaysian art scene mature by connecting with other collectors and galleries overseas.
As a young collector, what are some of the reactions you have gotten from the people in this industry?
Most of the collectors and artists whom I have met were not aware of my age, and automatically assumed that I was about 25. They'd find out my actual age after a few meetings, and would be shocked.
Do you think that knowledge affects your art trade in any way?
Not at all. I always ensure that my knowledge of the industry is constantly updated, and I maintain good relationships with my artists. This way, when I talk to collectors, they can always count on my insight and information. I think it also gives them more confidence to buy from me, because they know that I am young and will be in the industry for a very long time.
Are your peers supportive of your decision to start a business?
Actually, most of my friends do not even know about it. I've been running Malaysia Art Network for almost two years, and it was only until an article came out that everyone started asking me about it. My close friends are definitely supportive now that they know! However, I still try to maintain a low profile to avoid attracting any negative influences.
What is your favourite genre of art?
I am a fan of abstract art because it can be interpreted differently based on your mood, feelings and life experience. I find it very interesting. My mom wasn't too pleased about it at first though; she was more of a figurative art collector, but she has since started to understand my appreciation for it.
Who would you say is your favourite abstract artist of the moment?
Awang Damit Ahmad – he was the first abstract artist whose work I collected. I like his work because each has a story to it. He paints based on his emotions, childhood, and his life in the fishing village, which really adds depth to his art. Also, he's a very nice guy!
Bring us through a typical day in your life.
When I first started out, my days were mostly filled with meetings with gallery owners and collectors, visiting various art galleries, and also spending time with my artists. Now I spend most of my time in my own gallery, but I still enjoy making social visits in between running the business.