Malaysian

Meet KC Lee, A 60-Year-Old Entrepreneur Who Sketched 950 M’sian Heritage Spots In 3 Years

Riding on a bike with art materials in his backpack, KC would find a vantage point of historical landmarks, whip out his sketchbook and fountain pen, then paint his view under the scorching heat.

He’s done this for 3 years. And the result of that?

A sketch journal measuring 88 metres in length (300 feet), made up of 950 sketch locations, joined up from A3-sized papers.

KC with his bike and sketching a scene by the streets / Image Credit: KC Lee

After graduating in Fine Arts, KC barely had time to dedicate to sketching as he was mainly swarmed by his work in advertising and interior design.

But now, things have changed.

“I am on my way to passing down my business to my next generation. I have more free time now allocated to travel to local and overseas sketching spots,” he said.

The Longest Sketch Journal By An Individual

“I have always preferred places and locations that are historically and culturally rich, as well as having their own significant delicacy,” he said.

“I got inspired during one of my sketching sessions in the Valley of Hope from the leprosy hospital in Sungai Buloh in 2017.” 

Sungai Buloh needs no introduction for being the main location in KL to quarantine patients hit by an epidemic. 

The leprosy hospital was built in the 1930s. Those suffering from leprosy—an incurable skin disease at the time—were admitted to this Sungai Buloh Settlement which had a panoramic scenery and streams running through it. 

The minute a leprosy patient stepped foot into it, they felt hope that one day they would be fully cured of the disease and be able to return to society. So, they called this place “Valley of Hope”. 

That’s where it all started for KC.

Sketches of Masjid India and Jalan Bandar in KL / Image Credit: KC Lee

Most of the sketches consist of local stories in heritage buildings, cultures, and lifestyles, and his last sketch was of Jonker Street, Malacca.

“Initially, Malacca was chosen as my ending destination with the theme, ‘The Street Tales’. Unfortunately, due to MCO with restricted movements, Jonker Street became the final destination of my sketch journal,” he said.

In an interview with The Star, KC said he sometimes takes an hour to sketch a scene of a building.

Despite the amount of travelling, creativity, and skill required in his work, KC told Vulcan Post that he never once thought of giving up halfway before his project was completed. In fact, it didn’t come to mind at all.

His biggest challenge throughout the journaling? Getting sunburnt. 

His patience and determination in overcoming that burden are what KC credits for his achievement.

Sketches by KC / Image Credit: KC Lee

Plus, this sketch journal is just one part of a series.

“There’s actually three parts in my sketch journal series telling local stories, overseas stories and my own personal life story from birth to 60 years old,” he said.

“For me personally, most of my emotions are gathered and reflected in my own life story. I revisited places where these stories took place and looking back now, it was a touching story where miracles happened.”

Leading KL’s Urban Sketchers

This year, the Malaysia Book of Records recognised his work with the title of “Longest Sketch Journal by an Individual”. 

KC’s main goal is to use his accomplishment as a Malaysian record holder to push others to sketch journal too.

I do not see Malaysia Book of Records as a platform for competition, but instead as a big encouragement to myself and others. I’m able to tell this frankly that completing this long art piece is not an easy accomplishment,” he said.

“Lots of patience is required, sketching under the hot sun, funding my own airfare and accommodation when travelling, as well as talking to the locals in search for destination stories. I managed to pull through this, and so will the others.”

With this in mind, he created the Facebook group, Kuala Lumpur Urban Sketchers (KLUSK) in November 2015 to spread his passion for urban sketching with a larger community.

In the aforementioned The Star interview, KC also shared that what had started out as a group for retirees with plenty of time on their hands to sketch and meet new people, now consists of youths and working adults.

The group is for urban sketchers based in Kuala Lumpur to draw the cities they live in and visit on tour, no matter where they are. 

Sketch of The Dusun by Sunny Sun on KLUSK / Image Credi: KLUSK on Facebook

KLUSK follows a manifesto in the Urban Sketchers community, originally started as a nonprofit in Seattle in the US in 2017. It basically consists of a few guidelines to maintain their integrity. 

It includes sketching live locations whether indoors or outdoors, with any form of media (even digital tablet drawings).

Urban sketchers are not allowed to sketch from a photograph and must start on a blank piece of paper.

The group is open to the public of non-sketchers too, as well as students who share the same interest in the group’s activities.

  • You can learn more about KLUSK here.
  • You can read about other Malaysian startups here.

Featured Image Credit: KC Lee, founder of Kuala Lumpur Urban Sketchers

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