My whole entrepreneurial journey since 2011 when I left my job was a series of experiments and exploration. Whenever I ventured into something new, I would get excited and enjoyed it for a little while. There was never a burning desire or that assurance that it’s going to stick for long. That’s what it meant to be a multipotentialite in business!
As the title of this post says, this is gong to the first post of my Artistic Journey that will pretty much summed up the relevant details of my life that brought me to my decision to become an artist. It’s going to be a series which I would post once a month to highlight my progress in personal growth as an artist and designer.
While I consider myself a newbie in the creative world, I would be lying to say that my journey has only begun. I didn’t suddenly hit my head and decided to become an artist. It was a series of events that led up to this day. Please read on and at the end of this long post, you’ll understand why and I’ll also share my reasons for starting this series.
I think most children grow up watching cartoons and playing video games (if they’re allowed to by their parents) so I guess I’m no exception. I was an imaginative one with story-telling ability. I remember I would huddle with my brother and our friends in the room, lit a candle and I started telling them horror stories. I didn’t know the stories beforehand. I made it up as I told it and I enjoyed doing just that.
When I wasn’t running around the neighbourhood with my brother and our friends, I would be drawing my own comic book. Oh wait! I think the better term is graphic novel now that I know better. I wish I didn’t trash those sketch books so I can reminisce. I stopped when I went to high school.
In high school, I was still playing video games but I stopped drawing. I was more into 90’s pop music and teen movies. I started the hobby of collecting stamps and making scrapbooks. I would cut up images from newspapers and magazines on my favourite movies and Spice Girls (hey don’t judge!), then I would make a collage and compile it in my scrapbook.
2000 – The Imprisonment of Inner Artist
After I graduated from high school, I didn’t even touch or think of art at all. I was writing a lot. I wrote in my diary daily, recording almost every single event. If I could write my thesis the way I wrote diary in my high school, I would have gotten a couple of PhDs by now.
When I attended university, my diary gradually turned into my journal as I began to put more emphasis on my thoughts rather than the events of the day. Apart from journaling, I started writing fiction. I enjoyed creating characters, planning out their backstories and crafting plots. These stories, unlike my graphic novel, is saved! I re-read them sometimes to seek inspiration.
As time passed, I would stop writing stories and in my journal for weeks, months and sometimes years, especially after graduation. Since I started working, there was just too much distractions and commitments.
Although my major was marketing, I ended up specializing in human resource related profession. I was in corporate training industry for 8 years as a consultant and instructional designer. The part of my job that I enjoyed most was creating presentations, workbooks and marketing brochures. The word design didn’t exist for me. I didn’t think I was designing. I thought I was just producing something beautiful to make the programmes marketable and engaging to the audience.
2013 – 2015
I cannot recall why I decided to take a course in computer graphics. Perhaps I was having too much free time at hand and just wanted to learn something new. After completing the course, I planned to put it to good use to get my return on investment for the course. I started using Illustrator to churn out a few typographic designs. I uploaded my designs to Zazzle and printed a few hundred T-shirts to sell at bazaar. It was an amazing experience. I’ve even started a company with my partner.
One thing led to another, we were approached by an FMCG who wanted to print T-shirts for their promoters all over Malaysia. That kickstarted our company direction to move towards merchandise and corporate printing.
In 2014, I started my Etsy store. I started designing graphics for businesses to be made into rubberstamps, printed into business cards, postcards and other marketing materials. I don’t have a degree in graphic design so I didn’t know any theory in design whatsoever. I just went with the flow and focus on creating designs that satisfy my clients.
I was trying to tap into the whole food blogging so I began café-hopping with my partner and friends. We would explore old and new cafes, trying to find the ones that were “Instagrammable.” This experience made me appreciate the aesthetic side of things. I stopped food blogging eventually because I was hopeless at photography. Besides, I eat to live, not the other way around like most people.
One café called Coffee Ink stood out among the rest. Apart from the great coffee and friendly staff, it was the artistic nature of the café. The owner himself is an artist and I’ve been admiring his work. I thought to myself then that I would be so happy if I could draw half as good as him. One day, I saw a picture posted on the cafe’s Facebook page on a painting class in session. I expressed my interest for the next painting class, but I also tried my luck asking if he teaches drawing. He said yes! That was when I picked up pencil and begin drawing again.
It was amazing learning from him because he was so natural at teaching. After a few sessions, I got busy with my business, so we didn’t advance the class further. I abandoned my sketch book and drawing tools. It pained me each time I looked at them stored away in my drawer.
Here are some of my unfinished half-baked sketches during the drawing class:
The world is on lockdown due to the coronavirus outbreak that claimed so many lives. I’ve been working from home for years so it’s not much of a difference. But it did impact my business for a bit because apart from designing, majority of my income comes from the printing side. Suddenly I have a few extra hours a day to spend. This is the moment I let my inner artist out to play. Best decision ever!
It wasn’t anything serious at first. I took out my old sketch book that I abandoned and started sketching the first thing that came to mind; lighthouse. I love lighthouses. After that I inked it with my fountain pen which I also abandoned for a while. I decided to post it on my Instagram. Since everyone else including me have been posting about food, I thought it would be refreshing to post something different.
I got hooked! I didn’t know it was a momentary thing or going to affect me deeply. I just wanted to keep drawing and learn about design. As usual, I can be quite obsessive with learning. I started reading blogs and books, listen to audiobooks and podcasts, watch documentaries and signed up for online courses that are related to art and design.
It was an overwhelming experience that I lost sleep and desire to do anything else but continue to learn. Oh boy at that moment I just knew it would stick. I even told my mentor a few days later that I’m seriously rethinking what I’m going to do.
What I’m Saying Now…
I realize that I can’t possibly be a good artist overnight by consuming all the learning materials. It’s an ongoing journey and a long one ahead. All the blogs and podcasts I came across are from established and successful artists and designers. I think it’s safe for me to assume that nobody would want to read anything from a nobody (in this case, I’m talking about me) in the world of art and design. I can only confidently draw stick figures at this point.
But I also don’t want to be writing about my artistic journey five or ten years later when I’m a successful artist (hopefully!) It’s at this moment when I’m learning and exploring on my own without a formal education in this field that matters. I want to record the thoughts that are going through my head right now while I’m struggling to create and master the tools. I want to share the excitement of having learn new things about the creative world. So, I decided to write about my journey to share with readers who may be going through their own creative pursuits.
If you’re the kind of person who enjoy reading about real life experiences, I hope you’ll enjoy my Artistic Journey series. Thanks for staying with me until the end of this long post.
Here are some inked sketches I did as practice.
An Invitation to Connect
If you’re like me, just starting out in becoming an artist or designer, this is the right time that you’re reading my blog. I would be super stoked to have someone to go through this journey with me. We can share ideas, notes and resources.
If you’re an established artist and designer with many years of experiences, I don’t know how you stumble upon this blog as I’m not sure if it could be of any values to you. I would be so honoured if you could connect with me because I really would love to get inspired by your work.
If you’re a mega-star in the art and design world (particularly someone I’ve mentioned in this blog), OMG! Thanks for reading this! I want to thank you for all that you do and for inspiring me to become better.