My creations are often described as poetic, humourous, imaginative, playful and dream-like. “Be Happy. Be Childlike. Be Ridiculous” is the central spirit of my creations.
How did you get started?
From the tender age of five, I was using everything from pencils and markers to plasticine and roadside pebbles, to create new objects that were beautiful in my eyes.
Realising I had a talent and a knack for art, my parents sent me to learn drawing, and from seven years old all the way through school and college, I continued to improve my skills in painting, design, illustration and airbrush techniques. I eventually graduated with a major in digital design, and forged a successful, well-awarded career in the creative industries spanning graphic design, branding, and advertising.
In 2010, I decided to channel my experience and skills into my own art. I founded Bo&Friends – a project based on a unique goldfish character named Bo I created in 2003. Under this moniker, I began a series of experiments in ceramic wares, sculptures, paintings and illustration, with some items released for sale to the public. I also created another illustration series – The Furry Thing animal illustrations.
Do you have a daily routine? Can you describe it for us?
I don’t really have a very disciplined routine. Usually I’ll wake up early in the morning if I was not up too late the night before. I’ll cook a simple breakfast, go see my little doggies in the back yard, clean up the place, play with them, then water my plants in my own tiny garden next to the car porch, and some in the back yard. I’ll probably spend an hour at the gym not far from my house, if it’s not too rushed a day, otherwise I’d just take a shower and get ready for work.
Work wise, sometimes I often go out to ship my work at the courier centre or post office, meeting customers, suppliers or work at my studio in town centre, it’s about 40 mins drive from my house in the outskirts. Sometimes I just stay home to complete my work, to save traveling time, or something I can only work at home e.g. large scale canvas painting and ceramic sculptures.
I work until very late at night most of the time, enjoying and indulging in my own world, creating something wonderful. For instance, “furry-ing”(shading) the animal of The Furry Thing series, it’s kind of ‘therapeutic’, testing my patience and persistence. After midnight, that’s my usual social media time, updating my work and chatting with some people, I have a big group of customers and fans living in Europe and the US, their day time is my sleeping time here in Malaysia. It’s tiring but I enjoy it.
What keeps you going every day?
My works! The freedom I have in creating the works I love keeps me alive. I had lots of hard times in my previous advertising jobs so to be able to work freely on my own stuff, that’s paradise for me. The support and love that my fans and customers give me is something really great and keeps me going. I’m truly grateful for that.
What are the main challenges that you face in your work?
There are many challenges along the way, ideas seems to be the biggest one. I love to tell stories through my work, but good ideas are not a common thing, not to mention a really great one. So I read a lot, watch a lot of videos, if possible travel more, learn from others and play with animals, do gardening, work out, cooking and enjoy good food! So much fun and that sparks creativity.
What three pieces of advice would you give anyone wanting to do similar work?
1. Be passionate and be persistent about your work, keep it up and keep it going.
2. Be ridiculous about ideas, do something different, that’s the spirit!
3. Be honest to yourself, and be honest to your audience, never stop improving yourself.
What would you like to work on next?
After having fun for many years on my main character, Bo the goldfish, working on large canvas acrylic paintings, ceramic sculptures, paper installations and exhibitions, and my series of petite animal sculptures exhibition in Paris last year, I want to focus more on The Furry Thing series of animal illustrations, for the next exciting 12 months.
Thank you so much Kamwei for sharing all of your incredible work and your great advice.