Artist hopes to leave his ‘art prints’ overseas

Siaw’s artwork at SJK Chung Hua No. 2 in Kuching.

GROWING up, he always had a desire to express his imagination in some visual form and he said the best way he could think of doing this was through art.

Leornard Siaw already knew he had a passion for drawing and painting when he was still young but he never expected it could become a vocation for him.

The 30-year-old said it was an English language tutor who opened the door for him into the world of art.

The teacher, a Singaporean attached to a tuition school in Kuching, spotted his artistic talent from his group projects.

She saw the potential in Siaw to develop into a good artist with proper guidance and she frequently assigned him the visual parts of the projects.

The teacher was so impressed with his work that she introduced him to Limkokwing University.

Siaw wins the grand prize in the ‘Make Your Mark in Melbourne Street Art Competition’ in 2017.

Big thank you

Siaw wants to say a “big thank you” to the teacher for her support and encouragement and also for recommending him for a place in the university.

He credits her for pointing him towards the life path he is most suited to pursue.

Before that, Siaw said he wasn’t sure which direction he should go after his secondary education.

“It never crossed my mind that my passion for art would turn out to be something I could make a living from.”

Siaw said his family initially doubted his pursuit of art as a vocation that could give him a stable future.

They thought drawing and painting were nothing more than a hobby and passing fad — not something you would choose as a career.

“But I continued to chase my dream. I’m now a visual and mural artist. I think my parents are proud of me too,” said Siaw, the eldest among three siblings.

He hoped he has, through his example and achievement, shown his siblings how to seize the opportunity to go after their dreams and goals in life.

Offering brotherly advice, he said their dreams and goals must be realistic and they should heed the maxim that one shouldn’t bite off more than one could chew.

Siaw’s anamorphic art project, which he hopes will be a tourist attraction in Kuching.

Anamorpohic art

Recently, Siaw delved into something new and more challenging — anamorphic art, which is described as a projection or drawing that is distorted but when observed through a particular viewpoint or method appears normal.

He started by doing an image of an orang-utan on the wall of a lodge at Temple Street in Kuching.

He not only had to work on uneven and rough surfaces but also had to incorporate air-conditioning parts (fixed on the wall) into the image.

“It’s far more challenging than doing murals,” he said.

“But I’m quite satisfied with my work although there’s still room for improvement. I did that anamorphic piece for free as a contribution to the city I love. I think it could be worth quite a lot,” he said, laughing.

He hopes anamorphic art would become a tourist attraction in Kuching.

Siaw’s artwork titled ‘Amazing Char Kuey Teow’ at a food court in Genting Highlands.

Creating murals

Siaw had worked in the design and print industry for six years before hitting the streets to do what he loves.

He has been creating murals and other art genres around Kuching such as at shopping malls, coffee shops, studios, museums, cafeterias, coffee houses and local boutique hotels.

In March, he will take part in a cultural immersion experience in Melbourne, Australia, after winning the grand prize of the ‘Make Your Mark in Melbourne Street Art Competition 2017’ held by Visit Victoria (VV) and Publika Shopping Gallery in Kuala Lumpur.

He will deliver his winning piece at the ‘Wall to Wall Festival Benalla 2018’ where internationally renowned artists including Rone, Adnate, Askew, Ears, Choq, Shawn Lu, Putos, Slicer, Rashe, Sirum, Kit Ritz, Guido Van Helten, Dvate, 23rd Key, and Deams are expected to attend.

This overseas trip — Siaw’s first — will see him leave his ‘art prints’ beyond the shores of Sarawak and he hopes to make the state and country proud.

Although he believes there is a future for visual and mural artists like him, he still has to work out where to position himself.

No doubt he could survive locally but he wants to realise his full potential by looking further from home where bigger markets lie.

He plans to set up a gallery soon or make YouTube videos to publicise his works in addition to his Facebook and Instagram accounts.

Siaw said it is important to have proper platforms to gain the required exposure.

He was delighted a design agency in Kuala Lumpur recently invited him to join other artists in a commercial assignment at a food court in Genting Highlands.

Siaw said he looks up to artists who produce good work and especially admires Russian street artist Julia Volchkova, who painted the popular Indian Boatman and Little Boy murals at Stewart Land and Sia Boey market in George Town, Penang.

He revealed at this point of his journey in the art world, he is still searching for his own style and trademark, with his works now more inclined towards “realistic art”.

“It’s every artist’s aim to craft a signature trademark for himself or herself. People must be able to tell at a glance who the artist is when they see a masterpiece,” he said.

An interactive mural at a café in Kuching.

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