① Chin Yew, thank you very much for agreeing to this interview. (smiles) My first question is how did you got interested in art?
I guess I got interested in art as everyone did when they were kids. I just didn’t grow out of the interest.
② Were your parents supportive of your interests in art?
Not at first, like most parents; they feel that art cannot bring any money, which is half-true. But when I got my first solo show, they came to the show and saw the price of the sold paintings, it changed their mind. They are very supportive now. Dad even built an extra floor just to store my paintings.
③ Alright, moving on to some personal questions (giggles), what are your favourite food, movie, colour and pastime?
Well, my favorite foods are like the Top Ten Music charts, it changes from time to time. Currently, top of the list is the square-Oblong burgers, with cheese melted on the egg. Second would be waffles with a pancake in-between. Third would be Malay wet Char Kuoy Teow.
My favorite movies are Cinema Paradiso (it changed my life; wanting to be a film director), Seventh Seal (a very thought-provoking-powerful film) and Children of Men (amazing-crazy 1 takes). But if was to choose one to bring to an island, I would definitely bring Cinema Paradiso (because of the Love it contains).
④ Can you tell us a random odd fact about yourself?
I have split personalities with different group of people I’m with. So on my obituary; you’ll be surprise to hear different versions of me from different people I know. To the point you’ll ask “Who Chin Yew truly was?”
⑤ Music you are currently listening to?
Since these days I’m into God, mostly Christian music like Hillsong, Matt Redman, Delirious and Chris Tomlin. When I’m in a depressing mood, I’ll listen all sort of depressing music I can grab, from mandarin pop to classical, to indie music, post-rock, emo, math, whatever. When I’m happy, I’ll listen to them too.
⑥ I read your book, “The Boy Who Loved Clouds”. It reminds me of a picture book. In my opinion, it was very interesting. (smiles) What were your inspirations in creating the story? Are there any specific people that influence your work and makes you strive to improve every time you start a new project? How do they push you to your limit and tries to show people your best work?
The book was inspired by The Little Prince and Jimmy Liao’s work, which both was introduced by my ex. She’s a great fan of those books, so during the time that I’ve just broken up with her, when I created The Boy, I sort of sub-consciously wanted to impress her.
But of course, beside her, when I’m creating my art, I always have a few people in mind, thinking what will they think of it, but I try not to do that, because by impressing people you tend to forget to impress yourself, and that is no fun at all in creating art.
What’s best, I think is to impress you first, and then later enhancing it to impress others?
⑦ Are there any special tools you use when you paint?
I only use Bristol board, Windsor & Newton size 7 and W&N Black India ink for my comics. As for paintings, I tend to paint only on canvases that are at least 1.5” thick and uses mainly on any acrylic that I can find. Not very skillful with oil, but does play around with it a bit.
⑧ How many of your works (as an artist) has been published? Are they available in local major bookstores?
I’ve currently have only self-published 2 books, “The Boy Who Loved Clouds” and “I See So Many Butterflies Vol.1”. It is only available in Cziplee Bangsar, Kinokuniya KLCC, Silverfish and The Other Book Store.
⑨ What is your current work? Any plans to produce a local English-language movie? Do you intend to move up a notch in work and focus mainly on producing, writing and directing films?*
*Note: Films for general audiences like romantic comedies, action flicks and etc.
I’m still currently directing children dramas. I do wish one day to direct an English movie, but sadly there is just no market for it here in Malaysia. I do want to focus on making feature and stop doing television works. At the same time, I’ll never stop illustrating, never. I’m not quite sure what type of movies I’ll make, but definitely I want that movie to impact and change lives.
⑩ I heard that you’re working on television movie; can you tell us more about it?
As always in television, it is still in pending. I’ve already pitched in a couple of stories to them and now just waiting for the station for approval.
⑪ Which is your favourite TV project to date? Why?
Frankly, none yet. I hate televisions project. All the effort I put into it, but nobody actually watches television anymore, especially not local produced shows. People have just lost faith in local productions. I don’t blame them.
There’s just not enough budget for us to produced quality stuff; and with the government limiting the content, it just feels hopeless. And all the projects have to be produced quick and cheap. Despite all this, I still strive to make it look good, but in the end, still nobody watches them. What’s the point?
⑫ Is there any upcoming work as an artist?
I hope to finish “I See So Many Butterflies Vol.2” by the end of 2010 and followed by my 2nd solo exhibition with that title.
⑬ What do you think of Japanese popular culture, anime and manga? How did it affect local young adults and teenagers towards their interests in Arts, and in a positive or negative way?
I think Japanese culture is cool. I love watching anime and manga since I was a kid. Many of my works have influenced from them. I love their films too. I respect their storytelling of friendship and honor.
My favorite directors are Akira Kurosawa, Takeshi Kitano, Otomo Katshushiro, etc. But the problem I feel these days with youths is that they are too obsessed with their culture till they forget their own.
⑭ What is the most important quality or trait, do you think is a must in a person whom is passionate in Arts?
Deep experiences in life. With that, the artist needs to express that experience honestly and truthfully with the intention to spread goodness to the world.
⑮ What is your opinion on our country’s negative general thinking towards locally produced media, for example books, movies and animation?
I think I don’t blame them because there are some bad ones out there, which are caused by the country’s own culture and mentality.
But there are also some good ones out there, whom the artist have absorbed overseas culture and deliver it here with our own unique voice.
⑯ Do you think Malaysia’s creative industry has the potential to grow, and hopefully locals will enjoy them? Do you think the artistic field in Malaysia is underrated?
Definitely, I have to believe there is hope (for now). Not till the day I decide to give up and leave this place. For the moment now, there are still some small little hope to change the locals and government views of it. It is a fresh playground to tackle with.
The artistic field is underrated; sometimes I think it is overrated with bullshit works. But I guess it’s all the same around the world. Some people feel that nobody recognizes them and envies of the people who overly recognized.
It’s the same with the entire art world. You have to fight your way in shamelessly and consistently to be able to be heard.
⑰ Throughout the years, do you think you’re grown as an artist? Much more than you’ve in the beginning? Have you improved or some things just remained the same?
I think being an artist, is consciously realizing that you are a human being with feelings to be expressed. I believe therefore, every human in the world never stop growing, mentally or spiritually.
I’ve become more spiritual throughout the years after going through some dark and bright experiences in life. I guess with all these experiences and spiritual growth, it definitely does makes your brush stokes a little different doesn’t it?
⑱ One last thing, do you plan to attend May’n’s concert on March 7th, 2010?
Uhmm.. What’s that?
Interviewer: Mariko, on February 12, 2010
*Interviewer’s note to readers: Not much grammar editing because it sounds more natural.
The Boy Who Loved Clouds and I See So Many Butterflies Vol.1 is already on sale at selected bookstores! Continuation of Butterflies Vol.1 in the works, stay tuned!~