Last year, when Inktober was taking over every art account, we were sharing our list of prompts for the second time, hailing our community to join us on a quest to be more consistent in creating art.
We discovered an array of impressive artworks, but one particular artist stood out to us, and this was how we discovered Kah Yee (@fish.dayuu), a homegrown artist from East Malaysia.
She mixed up some of her own prompts and ours for the month, eventually publishing a zine with the complete collection of her works from Inktober 2018. We reached out to her and heard about her story behind the creation process for this publication.
A glimpse of Kah Yee's workspace.
Hi Kah Yee, thank you for agreeing to do this little interview with us. First up—what mediums do you enjoy using the most when creating?
My favourite medium right now is ink. Before this, I painted with a lot of gouache and watercolours. It took me some time to understand the characteristics of ink.
Unlike watercolours, it's a lot harder to create gradients with ink. It took me a while to get the ink & water ratio right.
Right, that's tricky. On that note, could you share your creative process with us? What is it like from start to finish?
My creative process often starts from words. It could be something that I read, a song I listened to, or feelings that crossed my mind. I would write the words down and start creating thumbnails. The clearer the written narrative is, the easier it is for me to visualise the artwork.
Once I've decided on which thumbnail to follow, I'll draft the artwork in my sketchbook. If I’m dealing with elements that I’m unfamiliar with, I’ll also spend time looking for references. Once the draft is ready, I'll proceed to ink and colour it. The visualisation process usually takes more time than the actual painting.
Do you believe in talent? Why?
No, I believe that talent is never enough. Having talent may mean that you’re born with certain characteristics, like better motor skills or having a photographic memory, but it may only help you get better faster, not necessarily further or deeper.
At the end of the day, it's the time and effort that you invest in your craft that matters the most, as hustle beats talent when talent doesn't hustle.
"At the end of the day, [...] hustle beats talent when talent doesn't hustle." — Kah Yee, on her thoughts about talent.
Most artists we know experienced creating art when they were younger. What about you? What's your earliest memory of making art?
I had a pet green parrot when I was really young. I loved sitting down in front of the caged bird with some papers and colour pencils, and I would spend my hours drawing the parrot. I think those were some of my first life drawing sessions.
Let's talk about Inktober. Was this your first time participating? What did you learn from the experience?
This is my second time! The first time was back in 2015 when it prompted me to pick up drawing as a hobby.
The most valuable lesson I learned from Inktober is that creating is like riding a bicycle: it can be a little wobbly at first, but as you keep going, balancing yourself will eventually become a natural reaction. Once you have the habit in place, creating becomes a natural process as well.
Is there a specific message behind your latest zine ‘Momentary’? Could you tell us more about it?
A flock of birds flies past the sky when you're stuck in traffic. The evening sunlight seeps through the curtains when you wake up from a nap. Moments like these are mundane yet blissful, and it leaves a mark in our memories. I wanted to do a series of mini-stories that would capture these fleeting moments.
It looks like most of the artworks in your latest zine is monochromatic, is there a particular reason why?
I think the monochromatic artworks give the viewer a sense of stillness, and that's the feeling I was trying to present through my works.
Share with us one of the best advice you’ve ever received in life.
"Every time I feel too old to do something, I tell myself, but I am also the youngest today than any other day I will be experiencing in the future." — Yuko Shimizu
I’m quoting this from my favourite illustrator. Her words taught me that it’s never too late to pursue my passion.
Lastly, tell us a secret.
I sleepwalk and all my artworks were created while I was dreaming!