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M’sian Artists Struggle To Advertise Themselves, So Her Online “Yellow Pages” Solves That

Getting scouted as an artist is no simple task. While there is an appreciator for every kind of artwork, there are not a lot of platforms out there that let you connect the artist with the appreciator immediately.

Virtually, Twitter could be a place that gets an artist’s work around, but the clout they get from retweets can only last so long after the sharing momentum dies down.

“I knew there was a gap in showcasing and finding local artists online because it’s either you find artists through referrals, exploring galleries or comic/art markets, or manually scourge through the internet to find them,” Yi-Hui shared with Vulcan Post.

While she wasn’t personally looking for artists to hire, she wondered why there wasn’t a place where Malaysians could easily and quickly find local artists to their liking. 

Through a little research, Yi-Hui found that there were platforms for artists to showcase their work online, but it covered artists worldwide and didn’t do much to narrow the gap.

“That’s how I arrived to Buttermilk, a platform to showcase and discover Malaysian artists,” Yi-Hui explained.

An Ally To The Art Movement

Yi-Hui currently works as a product manager at a SaaS startup but isn’t an artist herself.

The mind behind Buttermilk Art / Image Credit: Buttermilk Art

She finds herself drawn to artists not only because of their talent, but because she understands that their art usually comes from a place of hard work and tenacity.

“Taking years to hone their craft with many endless iterations to get to where they are today… I believe is an incredibly admirable trait,” she admired.

Creating Buttermilk was her way to give back to the community for the art they’re creating, whether it’s artists who are just starting out or are experienced. 

Creating Buttermilk

The idea of creating Buttermilk came to Yi-Hui around September 2020 and it was executed in October 2020. She handles the platform all on her own.

A snippet of how the site looks like / Image Credit: Buttermilk Art

Her decision to name the platform “Buttermilk” was not for any particularly profound reason, but simply because she saw a rise in the F&B trend for buttermilk, and felt that name was an approachable and memorable name for the brand.

Buttermilk was made on a web development platform called Webflow, which required no coding on her end. 

“I can’t afford to get a developer on board to help me with building the platform, so I researched a lot, particularly no code tools,” she shared. 

“Most of these tools aren’t free, but it’s definitely more affordable. There are many no code tools that could have been easier but Webflow gave me more flexibility in design.”

Once Buttermilk was up, Yi-Hui scouted some artists, who are her friends, to start off the platform with. They also helped her in promoting the platform and referring more artists for her to scout.

Art by Qi Xyuan Tan, an illustrator, concept designer, and visual developer

Most of the traction she’s gotten initially was from the #ArtistOfMalaysia hashtag (created by @sueannajoe_) on Twitter. After tweeting her launch with the hashtag, more artists started pouring in and joined the platform.

The platform is almost 3 months old now, with over 200 artists on it so far. Half of the artists on Buttermilk joined on their own whereas the other half of them are scouted by Yi-Hui.

The bulk of the artists on the platform specialise in digital art, but Yi-Hui is trying to attract other artists from different media such as oil and acrylic painting too.

Acrylic on canvas by Ranerrim, titled Stay Together For The Kids (2020) 90 x 60cm

Plans For An Artists’ Online Marketplace

The platform is completely free for both artists and those looking to work with them, and Yi-Hui doesn’t earn a single dime from Buttermilk as of now.

Art by Edward Yong, an illustrator and concept artist

While she doesn’t have any instances of how Buttermilk has helped artists to share yet, she brought up some problems Buttermilk could help with that users have suggested.

These suggestions include being the directory for people to properly credit artists for their work as well as being a potential marketplace for local artwork, which Yi-Hui would like for Buttermilk to expand into.

“I do plan to build a local online marketplace to allow artists to actually sell their artwork. There are still things to figure out, such as deliveries, protecting intellectual property rights, payment gateways etc., but I’m hoping to get at least the beta version out in the upcoming months,” she shared with Vulcan Post.

“It’s a lot of work, but looking forward to learning along the way and see how much I can build. And of course, continually improving existing features on the site such as better filters as well as adding smaller features here and there.”

  • You can learn more about Buttermilk Art here.
  • You can read about other art-related articles we’ve written here.

Featured Image Credit: Yi-Hui Chan, founder of Buttermilk Art (left) and Qi Xyuan Tan, artist (right)

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Vulcan Post aims to be the knowledge hub of Singapore and Malaysia.

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(UEN 201431998C.)

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