Combining the craftsmanship behind miniature food and art, Eric Siow brings food to life with his one-of-a-kind whimsical displays of tiny Malaysian food.

Ellia Pikri  |  Singapore
Published 2016-11-24 00:14:23

Miniarture Concepts, as in Mini-art-ture Concepts serves up scrumptious looking mini foods, but with an artistic twist.

Founder Eric Siow is a certified graphic designer and pastry chef who quit his cushy graphic designer job to expand his creative horizons in the art of miniature foods.

He developed his craft in Little Craving Street in 2012 but has since branched out to pursue his own miniature vision.

Eric developed his signature style through careful study of other miniaturists around the world who may have a similar style, but noticed that hardly anyone was doing anything similar to his concept. Through his efforts, Eric does see himself as somewhat of a pioneer in the craft.

Astute readers may note that the creations seem reminiscent of Little Craving Street, (LCS) which Eric does still work on aside from his whimsical visions in Miniarture Concepts.

However, Eric stands that the difference between Little Craving Street and Miniarture Concepts is that LCS is straightforward, mainly producing food miniatures along with nostalgic scenes such as pasar malam, vegetable wet market or kopitiam, whereas MC is focused on conceptualisation, wild ideas and fine art (in mini form) in a pursuit to push the envelope into a brighter and bluer horizon.

You can say that the results do speak for themselves.

Mixed Rice Impromptu by Miniarture Concepts
Mixed Rice Impromptu by Miniarture Concepts

From Hobby To Profession

Eric Siow, aged 42,  was born in Kuala Lumpur. He studied Art and Design, obtained his BA (hons) degree in Great Britain. He’s a graphic designer and also a certified pastry chef.

Through his working experience in the past, Eric found the opportunity to work closely with chefs, food photographers, food writers and bloggers. He developed an intimate relationship with food, which is why food brings him so much inspiration.

Eric took his first foray into miniature food in 2011, when he happened to attend a couple of basic food miniature sculpting lessons in Singapore. Soon, he found himself obsessed with miniaturising as a hobby and began self-teaching to get better.

Through the tutelage of experts in clay crafting magazines, online videos and wisdom of the masters on social media, Eric spent his years polishing his skills before finally being able to launch Miniarture Concepts with confidence.

Eric got the idea for Miniarture Concepts after a business trip to Penang in October 2015, where he visited several museums during that time. He found immense inspiration from the trip and realised most of the artwork in museums are presented in life-size.

He immediately saw an opportunity to combine what those artists have done with miniaturising. He was convinced that he could start something much smaller in scale, spice up what he was already good at and transform them into collectible art pieces.

He made the decision to try it out full-time for now, as he explained to us, “I am taking a break from my stressful graphic design world. At this very moment I haven’t decided whether to concentrate on MC/LCS permanently, or if I should go back to my computer desk and do miniature during my spare time, I hope I will have a clearer picture in 2017.”

Crafting The Miniatures

Image Credit: Miniarture Concept
Image Credit: Miniarture Concepts

Don’t be fooled by their ready-to-eat look, Miniarture’s sculptures are made out of resin clay (air-dry), resin, oil paints, white glue, varnish and many more materials. What this means is that biting into a sculpture might earn you a disappointed look from your dentist.

Eric enjoys the process of getting an art piece completed, finding satisfaction in watching his ‘baby’ slowly take shape.

As with the case with all miniaturists, Eric finds his pleasure from when people are confused about the edibility of his creations, as it is considered a compliment among the food miniaturist circles.

Good on you Eric, because I’m getting hungry just writing this article.

Despite the intricacy of some of his creations, Eric does not think that any of his created pieces were too complicated to make. He considers them low hanging fruit compared to other concepts he has in mind, such as a Peranakan miniature or a Petaling Street piece.

As for the pieces that Eric has already crafted, the satay stall was a challenge to get to perfection. He spent more than a month and still thinks it can be better.

In regards to individual miniature foods, he thinks that seafood is hard to make, with his seafood pieces usually taking about a week to sculpt and assemble.

Image Credit: Miniarture Concepts
Image Credit: Miniarture Concepts

Not Stopping At Sculptures

While Eric is currently focused on volume—creating as many sculptures as he humanly can with his light touch—his ultimate goal is to one day display them in an exhibition or art gallery.

Eric seems inclined towards precious metals as he does have an interest for collaboration with silver and goldsmiths, as well as other materials such as glass, or even perhaps a mural.

His visions do not end with sculptures either as he would like to see Miniarture Concepts diversify into branded jewelry, tableware furniture, figurines, gems, oil paintings, or perhaps even fashion. It seems that whimsy is not the only thing the founder has going for the project as his ambitions are as high as the sky is blue.

Of course, Eric’s journey is not just blue skies. The major challenges he faces include publicity and lack of manpower.

MC is new and apart from creating sculptures, Eric feels that he needs to zero in to marketing as well. Since he’s still balancing LCS and Miniarture Concepts, in order to have smooth workflow Eric has to work alternatively, meaning that he will only focus on one project at a time.

There is also a troubling misconception from people who think that food miniatures are easy to make, and deem it as just a childish hobby.

Upon seeing Miniarture Concept’s whimsical pieces however, Eric is glad to see that these naysayers soon shifted gears once they note the exquisite craftsmanship.

He feels that he speaks on the behalf of other talented and hardworking miniaturists in Malaysia when he says that there needs to be more awareness of miniatures as an art form.

Image Credit: Miniarture Concepts
The Nature Loves Desserts by Miniarture Concept

If these desserts tickle your fancy, do note that most customers hardly buy ready-made pieces from Miniarture Concept’s collection, but rather, they want something customised for their particular taste, especially on a particular food, or a specific showpiece or scene (for example a satay stall or a kacang putih cart).

Due to the cost and time Eric puts into and the details of craftsmanship, pricing may vary. In general, the price would range from RM35 up to RM2500 or above, depending on the intricacy of the design.

His hopes for the future? He said, “I hope I can turn Miniarture Concepts into a Malaysia icon and trademark, to represent Malaysia in other countries, and also manufacture it as a souvenir to tourists.”

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