A love for emotional storytelling
I grew up between two worlds, with one foot in Southeast Asia and the other in Western Europe. Growing up with mixed Malaysian-Chinese and French heritage, I was lucky enough to be able to experience different cultures and their individual beauty.
Something that has always interested me is seeing how every culture is unique in its beliefs and relationships with the natural and spiritual worlds – and how every culture has an even more unique way of conveying these beliefs and relationships through stories, mythologies and visual art. Through Chromakane, I hope to merge Eastern and Western storytelling and, reflecting on my own cultural heritage and identity, understand how these stories can be woven together.
Emotions are equally important in my work. Chromakane began at the start of 2020, and the beginning of the project was dictated by my emotions: from coming out of a period of personal loss to growing and adapting through new challenges with eagerness and excitement, each new piece I created over the year channelled an emotion I was keen to express. Emotions always evoke truth or memory, which I believe has made my art more engaging, meaningful and empathetic to a wider audience.
In ‘Solitude’, inspired by folklore, botanicals and Japanese pop art culture, I’ve combined visual elements and symbols to draw parallels between isolation, growth and hope.
In ‘Life After’, a more spiritual piece, a symbolic fire mudra emerges from a rich floral landscape pulled by the energy of a red sun, inspiring balance and energy.
With ‘Flow’, even though the image didn’t necessarily begin with a central theme or idea, it channels the stillness and calmness I was feeling at a time when I was coming out of a period of personal loss — ‘Flow’ remains one of my most detailed and appreciated pieces today.
In addition to my personal work, commissions like ‘Inari’ are also stimulating challenges for me. With commissioned art, I enjoy knowing that I am capturing and telling peoples’ stories on their behalf, which helps me feel closer and more connected to those who appreciate my work.
Through Chromakane, I hope to convey stories and emotions captured through magical creatures and their natural worlds. I have also found that sketching and drawing in organic, non-linear and intertwining shapes, as opposed to structured and rigid lines, provides a different kind of release. It gives me a sense of calm, mentally allowing me to lose myself in each image whilst still creating dynamic compositions. I have also developed a high contrasting ‘blackwork’ art style: I believe that there is strength in negative space and visual tension, and I appreciate the metaphor that from the black I am bringing light into each new piece.
Finding my own creative voice
I am fuelled by curiosity. As a child, I have always been curious to explore different art forms and find new ways to express myself through them. As my creative career took shape I trained as a graphic designer, so I have been almost fully immersed in the commercial world of visual design until now.
Taking a step into fully expressive illustrative art means that Chromakane has truly become an opportunity for me to find and express my own creative voice. A curious outlook on not only growing Chromakane but also navigating through life keeps me going. This curiosity allows me to keep taking new steps outside my comfort zone and imagine how my art can be restructured, reimagined and reproduced onto as many surfaces as possible, whether new printing techniques or entirely new media.
Since launching, Chromakane has been growing under mainly challenging circumstances, but I see each of these challenges as opportunities to think and grow differently from the norm. There has been a shift within the creative community to overcome restrictions by trading and growing online, for example through virtual independent events, markets and pop-up shops. This change has fostered a movement around supporting small and local businesses, which is very much a collaborative one.
As a part of this evolution, Chromakane believes in making each step of the creative and trading journey as handmade, and as locally and ethically sourced as possible. My aspiration for Chromakane as a lifestyle brand is to challenge fast consumerism, in favour of archival and sustainable print and reproduction processes. I follow a conscious approach in my belief that ‘print is not dead’: each Chromakane print is produced to fine art quality, using pigment inks made to stand the test of the time through durable lightfastness. I am fond of always exploring and researching new ideas for archival, handmade or recycled paper to produce my images on: the tactile element of limited edition textured paper brings a richness, depth and uniqueness to my work.
I’ve also been making the conscious decision to produce textile and apparel products using ethical and sustainable methods: outsourcing as locally as possible within the United Kingdom, and using ethically sourced fabrics and eco-friendly water-based inks. Being conscious is a part of every aspect of Chromakane, even down to my decision to ship products in entirely recycled, recyclable and/or biodegradable packaging.
My ambition for Chromakane has evolved from simply sharing my illustrations with the wider online art community, to taking my ideas into print, textile and tattoo form in as many shapes and forms as I possibly can. Knowing that my work can be applied across different dimensions makes Chromakane an even more exciting and challenging project for me.
My practice has grown more quickly than I could have anticipated: since starting a year ago, I am running my own print studio whilst trading with numerous local stockists, markets and pop-up shops. Looking ahead, I would love the opportunity to connect with as many people as possible through my art, pursuing my ambitions to grow and branch out into different media through creative collaborations with other independent artists.
One particular focus I have for Chromakane is to see my art grow in scale, as larger format art can definitely be more visually compelling, so I am currently exploring two new avenues: larger art canvases and textile wall art. Once again, collaborations will be key for me: I would love to team up with local artists and stockists, learning and growing with others, in order to bring my ideas to life.