All it takes to become an artist is to start doing art. However, it easy to say than done. While some incredibly lucky people are simply born with the gift of artistic prowess, others have to study to become fluent in the language of art. Even so, having graduated as an artist is not guaranteed that you will find a path of success especially when the beauty of art is often in the eye of beholder. We can imagine one’s choice to become an artist to pursue passion requires a lot of courage and sacrifice. Here we present to you the Top 10 Talented Malaysian Artists basing on public votes.
1. Monica Lee
Highly obsessed with details, Monica Lee is an illustrator based in Malaysia who draws mind blowing photo-realistic images simply with graphite pencils. What is so astounding with her art work is that you hardly can differentiate them from photographic portraits and the attention to detail will leave you in awe. “I like to challenge myself with complex portraits especially people with freckles or beard. And I’m addicted to details. I like drawing in as much details as I can into my work.” says Monica.
Surprisingly, Monica worked in the digital world for 12 years before making the jump to illustration. But it certainly doesn’t show. She now spends 3-4 weeks on a single drawing. The artist attributes her love for hyperrealism to her father, who worked in the field of photography. We highly recommend you to follow Monica for some most stunning photo-realistic drawings we’ve ever seen.
2. Vince Low
Vince Low prides himself with his scribbles style of drawing which is an expression of himself and his chaotic imagination. He pens down what he can't say. Vince discovers this unique execution when he was scribbling on his sketchbook looking for something that is simple yet complex from the within. Realizing something potential in those scribbles, Vince then decided to take up the challenge to scribble out and capture the souls and characters of those people in the portraits.
Suffering from dyslexia in his younger days, Vince found interest in arts which eventually became the turning point of his life. Graduated from The One Academy with a Degree in illustration, Vince worked his way up from a designer to a creative group head in various advertising agencies and now he is the Head of Illustration at Grey Group Kuala Lumpur. Vince is also active in dyslexia awareness campaigns hoping to help change the life of dyslexic children, making them believe they have a chance to discover their talents.
3. Chong Fei Giap
It would not be surprised that you might have seen Chong’s stunning work somewhere. If you will recall, different colorful sceneries of Malaysia with a girl in school uniform within, is one of the masterpieces of Chong which went viral. Born in Seremban, Chong is a Digital Artist and Illustrator best known for his detailed Illustrations of Asian Cityscapes. His works are like a cross between animation, sketching, manga and digital art. Representing the worldview in his childhood time, Chong’s work usually features a human figure in the foreground with the colorful yet eroding city in the background, deceivingly looks like a water colour painting.
Graduated from The One Academy in 2008, Chong is the co-founder of Running Snail Art Studio. The challenge for him, as Fei Giap describes, is that he is constantly discovering inspiration to give a new expression to the regular things he observes around him in everyday life. Fei Giap also teaches in a local art college in Subang Jaya, Selangor, passing on his experiences to the upcoming talents.
4. Lim Zhi Lin
A Malaysian based illustrator with a thing for pastel colours and all things whimsical, Zhi Lin graduated from The One Academy in year 2010 with a diploma in Illustration. Browsing through her work and the first thing that strikes you is the imagination and liveliness that Zhi Lin implants in the characters that she creates. While she regards herself as a character designer, Zhi Lin is also highly interested in children illustration and hopes to be able to publish her own children storybook one day.
With 3 years working experience in her pocket, this young and passionate illustrator is currently freelancing and whenever she has the time, she will be busy improving her art skills and is always happy to share them with everyone to see. She is profound in digital art as well as painting, sketching and drawing.
5. Vincent Phang
Graduated in Visual Arts & Design from School of the Arts, University Science Malaysia, Vincent Phang is a painter who has a thing for figurative and portrait painting. Vincent is best known for his series of Human Facial Expressions which he describes are a universal way of conveying our thoughts and emotions without any form of verbal communication. Funny and at times flirty, Vincent hopes to capture the versatility of facial movements and expressions through his artwork.
Vincent’s masterpieces are regularly witnessed in exhibitions across Penang. Since the year 2012, Vincent has been displaying his portrait and figurative paintings in various exhibition venues for instance his 2nd Solo exhibition at Chinahouse Cafe, entitled 'Selfie / A Journey of Portrait Paintings' in 2014. “The human emotions are well exuded through his master brush strokes and methods. As if invoking the viewer and skewing them into a more comedic and flirty lean.” quoting the feedback of one of his fans.
6. Caryn Koh Hooi San
Featuring a mix of pencil portraits, dreamy and detailed watercolour work as well as mixed media on canvas, Caryn Koh is one talented Malaysian artist to watch for. Recently dubbed as one of the five Malaysian artists to follow on Instagram by lifestyleasia.com, Caryn is more of an all-rounder capable of delivering artwork in simple sketches, watercoloured sceneries to detailed portraits. We particularly like the depth and the emotions conveyed through the eyes of the people in her portraits.
One noteworthy artistic initiative by Caryn, in collaboration with her friends Aleff Ahmad and Sliz they created a painting named “A nation’s prayer” which is the centrepiece of ‘The End’ exhibition — a tribute to the MH370 tragedy. The painting reflects the ancient Japanese Senbazuru legend, symbolising hope of a wish granted to anyone who folds 1,001 paper cranes. The girl in prayer signifies Malaysians and their prayer for the families who have suffered from the loss.
7. Emila Yusof
Emila Yusof is a self-taught illustrator and one inspiring one. Without having the privilege to attend any higher level training, diploma nor degree, Emila started off as a graphic designer in 1995 and eventually picked up illustration in 2007. Her passion for drawing and illustrating turn her into a well-known Children’s Book Author in Malaysia and abroad today.
Using watercolour and coloured pencils as her preferred media, she has written and illustrated a number of very popular picture books, as well as a series of craft handbooks for children. Her whimsical characters are much loved and her talent has gained her loyal fans both locally and internationally, especially through her award-winning blog, Emilatopia. Emila has been a featured illustrator at a number of book festivals, including the Singapore’s Asian Festival of Children’s Content and Abu Dhabi International Book Fair just to name a few.
8. Haris Rashid
Having just launched his first solo exhibition “Beauty in the Beast” at Artemis Gallery, Publika, Haris Rashid, a Kedah-born and Kuala Lumpur-based artist, finds inspiration through nature and patterns of flora and fauna. According to him, he likes the organic shapes and lines he sees in nature given nature is already an art itself. While his works are mostly mixed media, his main creative outlet is paintings and he likes to experiment on different mediums like pottery, street art or just about anything that could get the creative juice flowing.
Haris has always shown interest in arts since primary school. Later he studied Illustration at The One Academy which really made his work evolve. At his young age of 23, he already has a strong social media following with his vibrant illustrations with extravagant patterns and motifs. Haris Rashid is amongst the many artists out there that has created quite a buzz for himself.
9. Ng Wei Li
There was once an eccentric girl who grew up wanting to be an artist at the age of 7. She carried forward this great plan of hers and graduated with a diploma in Illustration in the land of Malaysia. Having a Chinese name, her name for numerous occasions were mispronounced. This somehow led to her nickname and branding 'Weili Wonka'
Why Wonka? Her first love has always been Children book illustration. Roald Dahl is one of her favourite authors of all time and her favourite character is no other than Willy Wonka. Their similarities would include inventing (him, chocolates | She, stories and characters) With her own whacky sense of humour she aspires to produce her own children books in the future. Other than illustration, Weili Wonka is also branding for her line of tea packaging which she specializes in. Wei li is a Malaysian illustrator currently based in Birmingham.
10. Anthony Fook
Anthony’s idea is to keep things simple and minimal. Passionate about applying watercolour, inkling and illustrations in his artwork, Anthony is obsessed with all things blended with surreal or dreamlike feeling. When we saw Anthony’s work, what caught our attention are the stories convey through the simplicity and meaningful elements he uses in his drawing.
Anthony describes himself as someone who sometimes paint, doodle, swim and dream at the same time. The realms he has been venturing are multi-disciplined design, mixed media illustrations, dynamic digital publishing and interactive design.