Creating art requires a lot of investment, whether it’s energy, creativity, or building your skills. Ask any artist and they’d also tell you good art takes time, but this Malaysian artist is in a slightly different position—his art is a race against time.
Pang Sern Yong, a local artist based in Langkawi, saw the beach shore as a natural canvas where he could draw on art motifs. Because his canvas is big, so are his masterpieces, which can only be truly appreciated when viewed through a drone.
Now, we’re not going to lie: when we first heard of Pang, we thought, “Is this guy too free, or what?” But there was more to him than just some guy drawing in the sand with sticks.
The Circles Got Bigger As He Became More Invested
Prior to his life on the beach full-time, Pang actually moved to Singapore at the age of 5 and grew up there. He then moved back to Kuala Lumpur in 2020 to expand his media company, Gorilla Pictures, which he started in Singapore.
When CMCO happened, he realised that he wouldn’t be able to network for his business as much, so he went for a mini-vacation to Langkawi, which he’s always wanted to visit but never had the chance to. While he was on vacation in Langkawi, he felt compelled to make art on the beach.
“I started with drawing circles with small sticks on the sand. As the days went by, my urge to return to creating art became stronger,” Pang shared with Vulcan Post.
“I started to acquire other tools, made bigger and more complex pieces, and used a drone to document the pieces. My artwork began gaining traction online, as well as from curious beachgoers inquiring about what I was doing on the beach.”
The drones play no role in guiding his art though; he trusts his own precision and intuition in executing the craft according to what he has in mind.
He calls himself a beach artist rather than a sand artist because to him, the art he makes isn’t just about the sand but other elements of the beach like sunlight, trees, and its surroundings, which are the things he includes in the aerial photography he takes of the art.
“I see all of these individual elements being interconnected, and without any of these, beach art would not be possible to exist,” he explained.
One Man Against The Tides
Despite how big his artwork usually turns out, Pang creates it all by himself, from conceptualisation and production to documentation of the piece using drones.
The tools he currently uses are a reusable nylon string to make simple measurements, an iron rake mounted on a wooden stick which he uses to draw, and a drone. He assured us that all of these tools are non-polluting to the beach.
Now, the other challenge with making beach art is that one will really need to race against time to complete the piece because of the tides on the beach.
Beach art can only be made on wet sand, Pang explained, because the sand that is further away from the tide is always dry and has inconsistent texture, making it harder to draw on.
On the beach where he works, each tide cycle is about 6 hours, so there is a 2-3 hour timeframe of the low tide which allows him to make art on wet sand. Pang makes sure that his designs aren’t too sophisticated, so he can finish on time before the high tide comes.
“With experience, I got speedier at creating my art before the tide gobbles the piece up, and also better at producing designs that are realistic to be completed within that time frame. I also try to make the pieces a distance away from the water so they don’t get affected by small tide changes,” he shared.
More Than The Tools & Talent
Having the tools and talent to make these masterpieces aren’t all there is to beach art, he shared. The environment and timing matter too, most of which he actually cannot control.
The perfect environment is when the beach is in low tide without rain, and the sand is wet. Pang watches out for these changes by checking the weekly tide schedule.
Usually, he’s able to make a piece or two a day, but on days where the low tides don’t happen during sunrise or sunset, he may produce none.
Lighting plays a huge part in showcasing his artwork, hence, Pang will usually produce his pieces either early in the morning at 7-9AM, or early in the evening at 5-7PM. They’re the times of the day with the best lighting for his art while being cool enough for him to work.
No Art Easier Than The Other
“I don’t think any piece has been easy to create due to the challenging nature of this art form,” Pang shared with Vulcan Post.
One of the more challenging pieces was the Oriental Fans piece. It was a 30m x 10m piece, which was the biggest one he’s made yet. It took him 3 separate attempts to perfect, and 3 hours for each time he was at it.
As of now, Pang has yet to earn from this passion of his, but he’s already gotten personal requests to make art for anniversaries, memorials, as well as some corporate enquiries to make beach art for marketing purposes.
Hence, Pang is focused on spreading awareness about this form of art and its ins and outs to Malaysians. “I am looking for patrons, sponsors, and partners to work together to use beach art to raise environmental consciousness at Malaysia’s beaches, due to its attention-grabbing quality from its monumental size,” Pang said.
Moreover, he’s also looking to do exhibitions like these in KL and Penang through partnerships and collaborations. On a bigger scale, he’s hoping to collaborate with hotels and tourism agencies to revive Langkawi’s tourism and hospitality industry through beach art.
To have more of these projects happen on a bigger scale, he’s also open to training younger talents to make beach art through workshops and festivals, which he hopes will grow a local beach art network.
After falling in love with the beach and the work he does there, Pang now permanently resides in Langkawi to keep working on his beach art.
- You can learn more about Pang Sern Yong here and check out his beach art on Instagram here.
- You can read more art-related articles we’ve written here.
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Featured Image Credit: Pang Sern Yong