Remembering Lim Kok Wing’s achievements as a creative, an entrepreneur, and educator

Lim Kok Wing (Lim), founder and president of Limkokwing University of Creative Technology has passed away at age 75.

A statement was published by the university about his passing, but no further details were provided. Prior to this, it was reported that Lim was in a stable condition after being in a hospitalised due to a fall.

In light of Lim’s passing, we’d like to offer our condolences to his loved ones and also celebrate his achievements throughout his life as a creative, entrepreneur, artist, and educator.

1. An educator and entrepreneur since young

He was once requested by his school to be a replacement for his art teacher who was absent. (How many of us can say we’ve been asked to do this?) Having this early exposure to teaching students led Lim to start a small business tutoring his classmates. 

2. Illustrated the first serialised comic strip for Malaysia and Singapore

Image Credit: Lim Kok Wing

Lim’s first foray into the working world as an adult was as an illustrator where he’d design covers for books. Eventually, he approached the Eastern Sun newspaper with comic strips he’d worked on, with hopes of serialising them.

When the publication agreed, Lim’s comic strip, ABU became Malaysia and Singapore’s first local serialised comic strip for 2 years, until the newspaper brand closed down.

3. Set up Malaysia’s first local advertising agency

Shortly after leaving his comic illustration job, Lim joined McCann-Erickson, a multinational advertising agency in 1970. He quickly became the regional creative director throughout the years.

By 1975, Lim, aged 29, started Malaysia’s first local advertising agency, Wings Creative Consultants (Wings) with a team of just 4. Together, they would make their place in an industry that was still controlled by multinationals and expatriates at the time.

Within 3 years of launching, Wings became one of the top 10 leading agencies in the country.

4. Helped Mandela with South Africa’s first democratic election

Image Credit: Limkokwing University

In 1994, when South Africa was holding its first ever democratic election, Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad had recommended to Mandela to hire Lim for the massive exercise. This was because out of 20 million eligible voters, 9 million were illiterate.

Lim came up with the election poster of Mandela surrounded by smiling children of various backgrounds, including whites, with only 5 words on it, “A Better Life For All”.

For his help in the African National Congress’ win, he received South Africa’s highest national honour, the Order of the Companions of O.R. Tambo in recognition of his contribution to ending apartheid.

5. Coined some of the country’s most memorable slogans

Image Credit: Lim Kok Wing

The creative was also the one who coined and ran Putrajaya’s “Tak Nak” anti-smoking campaign and promoted the “Rakan Muda” and “One Heart, One Nation” programmes. 

Lim was behind Dr Mahathir’s Vision 2020 campaign, conceptualising the “Malaysia Boleh” mantra too.

6. Joined hands with BBDO to drive sales

13 years after the founding of Wings, BBDO, a well known global advertising agency approached Wings to partner them in 1988. Billings from Wings/BBDO reached RM26 million (US$8.6 million) in 1989, and by 1992, sales rose to nearly RM40 million (US$13.3 million).

The partnership ended in 1992, as Lim at this time was also shifting focus to set up his creative university.

7. Shifted focus to foster young minds

Image Credit: Limkokwing University

Lim always had the vision to educate young talent in an environment filled with creativity and innovation. Thus, he launched the Limkokwing Institute of Creative Technology (LUCT) in 1991, before it became a private university in 2000. 

In 2002, LUCT was the first private college in Malaysia to be recognised as a university-college, then becoming a full-fledged university by 2007.

Today, with its main campus in Malaysia, the university has 11 other campuses in Botswana, Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Lesotho, Swaziland and the UK. It offers courses in creative, technology, and business fields including animation, architecture, entrepreneurship, fashion design, mobile computing, amongst others.

8. Brought his vision to Africa too

Thanks to his ties from helping out Mandela, it gave him the opportunity to establish universities in Africa, starting with Botswana in 2007.

When Lim wanted to open up a campus in Sierra Leone, the country was hit by Ebola in 2014. Hence, the launch of the campus was delayed while the institution assisted the country’s government in eradicating the virus.

The Sierra Leone campus eventually opened in 2017 after the country was declared free of Ebola by the World Health Organisation on March 17, 2016.

9. Was an author with 4 books

Image Credit: Limkokwing University

Lim has published a total of 4 books under his name, showcasing his range in illustration through comic strips, along with political and social commentary. 

They are, Guli-guli: Pearls of Wisdom; Pearls of Laughter (1983), Hidden Agenda (1998), Innovation Enabling Transformation, and Najib: Nation on His Mind, People in His Heart (2012).

10. Made it to Forbes Asia’s Heroes of Philanthropy list

At age 62, Lim was named as 1 of the 4 Malaysians to make it onto Forbes Asia’s Heroes of Philanthropy list in 2009. This was in recognition of his contributions and fundraising in fighting AIDS and apartheid in South Africa.

He also provided scholarships, disabled student services, and gave RM80,000 to the “Plight of Palestinians: From Grim to Bleak” fund in 2008.

-//-

Lim Kok Wing was a man recognised for many achievements, but he wasn’t without controversy, whether it involved himself or his institutions. Regardless, the fact that he has contributed to certain impactful movements cannot be refuted.

Editor’s Note: Parts of this article have been edited to reflect greater accuracy of statements.

  • You can learn more about Lim Kok Wing here.
  • You can read about more Malaysian startups here.

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Featured Image Credit: The Star / Wikimedia

His Holiday In Langkawi Gave Him A New Passion & Future Revenue Source—Via Beach Art

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.

From sticks to a whole rake / Image Credit: Pang Sern Yong

“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. 

How his art looks like from the ground VS from the air / Image Credit: Pang Sern Yong

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. 

One of his pieces, Retro Heart, that the tide had begun to gobble up… but Pang managed to save it and still get his desired shot / Image Credit: Pang Sern Yong

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.

More of his work / Image Credit: Pang Sern Yong

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.

His hardest feat for now, the Oriental Fans / Image Credit: Pang Sern Yong

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. 

A workshop he’s held recently to teach people how to make beach art / Image Credit: Pang Sern Yong

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.

Also Read: The Grads Of MaGIC’s SEtia Program Have Vast Impact That’s Hard To Refute, Here’s The Proof

Featured Image Credit: Pang Sern Yong

This M’sian Revamped His 70-Year-Old Family Home Into A Hub For Creatives

Not long ago, I found a hidden gem in Kampung Attap with my friends.

It’s a 4-storey building called Zhongshan that’s filled with cafés, bookstores, artisanal stores and more. 

But the interesting thing is that all these stores have an artsy touch to them, like a concept almost. 

It’s as though all the artists just came together in one space and you can tour them like a museum. 

Contrary to its older design, there was an overwhelmingly youthful crowd in the space, so it’s evidently a trendy, hipster hangout spot.

I later found out that Zhongshan is actually a creative hub, and the managers only take in like-minded creatives to join their space.

Curious about that process and the history behind the building, I reached out to Liza Ho, half of the husband and wife duo behind Zhongshan’s leadership.

Unwilling To Let Go Of His First Home

Zhongshan was built in the 1950’s, making it around 70 years old now. 

Zhongshan in 2016, before it became a creative hub / Image Credits: Zhongshan

The family of Rob Tan, Liza’s husband, actually used to live in Zhongshan themselves.

His grandparents later bought over the other units in the building and leased them to families. 

Editor’s Note: Information in the above paragraphs have been edited to reflect greater accuracy.

It was a first home for many of them, but they’d move on after a while.

Small businesses were also set up in the building but they’d move out too. 

When Rob returned from Australia, Zhongshan became a hostel for foreign workers, which was not what he had in mind for the building.

He received offers from people who wanted to buy Zhongshan, demolish and build something else, and even turn it into a KTV cum brothel. 

However, unwilling to give up his first home that easily, Rob and Liza decided to restore the building and come up with a concept for it. 

They received a grant from Think City which was worth RM200K, which covered a fifth of their restoration costs.

Liza used to work in the Valentine Willie Fine Art gallery in Bangsar, but when it closed she started doing pop-up exhibitions. 

One day, she realised she could use the space in Zhongshan to set up her gallery, and realised other artists like her were looking for a small space they could share together.

Hence, the idea of turning the 70-year-old building into a creative hub was born.

Birds Of The Same Feather Flock Together

As word of the building and its prices spread, more businesses and curators took up the spaces.

Currently, they have 25 small businesses and organisations that share the Zhongshan building. 

While they stress on taking in only like-minded people to share this space with them, they don’t have a specific criteria to select them.

Since Liza and Rob feel strongly about creating a tight-knit community who can contribute to the vibrancy of Zhongshan, these are the people they are most likely looking for. 

Liza added, “We will do whatever we can to keep rental affordable for the community. We know how tough it is to be in the arts.”  

She herself runs The Back Room at Zhongshan, which is a space for art exhibitions, projects, talks and workshops. 

The Back Room / Image Credits: Chow Sook Mei

Not too long ago, I inquired about the new extension they built, which was a courtyard and individual studio spaces. 

The last two times I’d been there, which was in July and September, there’s always been a crowd and heavy traffic in their stores. 

I was curious if they were planning to start hiking up their rental costs since they’re becoming more and more popular.

But Liza believes the building is more than capital gain for them.

“Our revenue is from rental from the tenants and it is enough for us. We have always approached this as profit-making and not profit-maximising.”

Inside Zhongshan

Touring around Zhongshan can feel almost like a maze. 

There are shops behind shops behind shops, so if you have a whole day to do nothing, it’s definitely the place for you to explore. 

So far, I’ve been into Tommy Le Baker, ana tomy, Naiise, PiuPiuPiu and The Back Room—a bakery, a stationery shop, a souvenir shop, a coffee stand, and Liza’s art exhibition.

Tommy Le Baker and PiuPiuPiu / Image Credits: Lee Jo-Dee

They may seem like regular KL cafes and hipster stores elsewhere.

But when they’re all conglomerated in Zhongshan, I felt their cheerleader effect on me.

Prior to MCO, the building was frequently holding events and pop-ups every month. 

Some of these events include film screenings, reading clubs, talks, live music, art exhibitions and more. 

They’ve also hosted flash tattoo pop-ups as well as social enterprises like Penan Bags, The Lost Towel Project and Eloma Shoes

Though MCO has stopped these events and pop-ups for a while, they still continued them virtually like hosting talks and reading clubs via Instagram live.

For many, Zhongshan may just be another building, but Liza and Rob’s intentions can clearly be seen and felt by those who venture there.

Beyond the building itself, Liza has more creative dreams and hopes that Kampung Attap will become an arts district one day.

  • You can learn more about Zhongshan here.

Also Read: With Cybercrime On The Rise, Here’s One Way That M’sian Companies Can Keep Their Data Safe

Featured Image Credit: Liza Ho, co-founder of Zhongshan Building

How RIUH Has Helped Unknown M’sian Brands Rake In Millions Of Ringgit In Sales

  • RIUH is a multi-day bazaar held every month by a team from MyCreative Ventures—a government initiative started to help build the local creative scene.
  • The event brings together artists, performers, and artisanal businesses to showcase their talents and products in a setting prime for family outings.
  • The aim of RIUH is to help elevate the local creative scene to a point where it can become self-sustaining.

Over the past couple of years or so, Malaysia has seen its scene for pop-up stores and flea markets develop from rudimentary to something quite elaborate and nuanced.

As a result, many local businesses have seen success by way of public exposure, much of it to do with how much traction they’ve garnered by being at a happening pop-up bazaar.

One of the key players here is RIUH In The City—or more commonly just referred to as RIUH.

With its inception close to two years ago, RIUH was founded as part of MyCreative Ventures—a government initiative started over six years ago to help provide funding to the local creative scene across pillars such as performing arts, fashion, literature, and culinary arts.

But over time, the
venture saw that despite the amount of funding being poured into the
scene, there was a gap in terms of how the players in the scene could
get themselves noticed by the everyday consumer.

“We saw that even though there was funding for production and marketing, there was a void in terms of distribution,” said Head of RIUH Melissa Low.

“We noticed that to hold events in places like shopping malls would be very costly, so we decided to start a distribution platform.”

Image Credit: RIUH

“We were inspired by other similar markets happening internationally such as the Finders Keepers Market in Australia, and we decided to start RIUH.”

Creativity Is The Priority

As part of a
government initiative, RIUH’s aim is to make itself a creative
platform first and foremost, with the retail segment of their event
covering the first of four pillars, the other three being education,
live performances, and artistic exhibitions.

Image Credit: RIUH

“The idea is to
bridge the gap between the community and the creatives,” Melissa
said. “And each time we have a RIUH event, we change the contents
so everyone gets an equal opportunity.”

Explaining this policy of switching things up, Melissa elaborated that with every iteration of RIUH there would be a distinct theme, such as their most recent “rhapsody” theme that featured plenty of throwback elements from the 70’s.

And with each theme, there would be mini events scattered throughout the two days that would befit the theme, calling on artisans and businesses to conduct workshops, performances, or sell products somewhat related to the theme.

Image Credit: RIUH

“Through these performances and workshops, we hope people will begin to appreciate what’s on offer, and therefore start buying the products sold by these vendors,” Melissa said.

“Ultimately, we want to become more than just a physical platform, and create other opportunities for these artists and artisan businesses.”

True to form, Melissa also explained that for RIUH, the objective has always been sustainability rather than profits, and that the long-term vision was for things to get to a point where markets and events like these can keep on running without the need for governmental support.

“Because we’re
an initiative, we’re just trying out best to keep it sustainable,”
Melissa explained. “As it is, it’s good to see this sort of aid
for the creative community considering how under-supported it is.”

“But at the end of
the day, what we really want is for more private entities to come in
and help keep things going, and we’ve already been seeing more and
more support from these private bodies, which is a good sign.”

Image Credit: RIUH

So far, RIUH has seen the attendance for its monthly event experience significantly positive reception and growth. When they first kicked off, their first RIUH In The City Event saw 6,500 visitors, which now pales in comparison with the 17,000 crowd that they can sometimes manage to pull in at their latest Sentul Depot venue.

And more impressively, they’ve cumulatively (since starting out) helped local artisanal vendors make over RM3.2 million in sales.

According to
Melissa, this positive growth has given them the impetus to expand
and grow—geographically and collaboratively. This year, RIUH has
plans to host similar events outside of the Klang Valley, with
Kuching and Ipoh slated as upcoming destinations, and they’re also
making efforts to partner with e-wallets such as Maybank’s MAE to
make payments in their markets much easier.

Image Credit: RIUH

RIUH In The Future

Looking ahead, the challenge for RIUH will now be to constantly manage expectations for an event that is held only once every month.

But with so many artisanal businesses wanting to get a slice of the RIUH pie, Melissa and her team now have the unenviable task of regularly picking through thousands of applications to see which ones do get invited to the next RIUH, and to more crucially ensure that each one gets a chance eventually.

Image Credit: RIUH

“Also, people get
bored easily, so it’s another challenge for us to keep RIUH fresh
and exciting with new concepts and ideas to keep visitors
interested,” Melissa noted, adding that she feels the hard work now
will eventually lead to a brighter future for Malaysia’s creative
scene.

“It must be said that Malaysians are kind of slow to pick up on trends, but I think if events like these can do well, they’ll be here to stay for a long time.”

  • To know more about RIUH and their upcoming events, check out their website or social media feeds on Facebook and Instagram.

Also Read: M’sians Confess The 6 Most Unconventional Ways They Binge-Watch Their TV Shows

Feature Image Credit: RIUH

This S’porean Artist Once Hung On A Thread With Just $50 – Now Embroiders For Gucci, Netflix, SIA

When we go on holidays, we are often busy whipping out our phones (or cameras) to capture all sorts of travel shots – from the breathtaking sceneries, to the indulgent local food.

But Teresa Lim, better known by the moniker Teeteeheehee, chooses to capture her memories with a needle and thread instead.

[caption id="attachment_642701" align="aligncenter" width="600"] A snippet of #SewWanderlust / Image Credit: Teresa Lim[/caption]

The 27-year-old would always bring along her sewing kit to her travels so she could encapsulate her impressions of famous landmarks and various sights worldwide on canvas.

Instead of taking a quick photo, she prefers basking in the view and would spend an average of two hours embroidering the landscape.

Some famous landmarks she has embroidered include the Eiffel Tower in Paris, Big Ben in London, and the Holocaust Memorial in Berlin.

These embroidered travel souvenirs are then added to her ever-growing Sew Wanderlust series, which has over 40 pieces in the collection now.

According to Teresa, this hobby started when she traveled to Perth in 2014.

“I wanted to take a photo of a sunset by the beach, but my phone conked out. Since I had my thread supplies with me, the only thing that made sense was to capture it with what I had,” she told Channel NewsAsia.

[caption id="attachment_642702" align="aligncenter" width="547"] Teresa embroidering in her workroom / Image Credit: Teresa Lim[/caption]

So she ended up taking a one-year hiatus to focus on embroidery, sewing endlessly in her own workroom housed in her family’s HDB maisonette.

But her parents frowned upon her decision because they felt that it’s hard to pursue art as a career, and that she should just stick to a more conventional job that is more ‘secure’.

True enough, her parents’ words rang true – it really wasn’t easy making ends meet as an artist.

The first year was especially tough and she financially struggled without a monthly paycheck.

When her savings finally dwindled to just $50, Teresa decided to make use of one of her many other talents and gave violin lessons to tide her over.

“Ultimately, art in Singapore is not mainstream. There is no fixed income. We don’t know when we will get a big project, and [we usually earn] nothing for three months,” she said in an interview with Channel NewsAsia.

Scoring Clients Like Gucci, Netflix

After various media caught wind of her novel embroidery hobby, she gained a considerable amount of attention and many brands started engaging her for commissioned works.

Previously, she only did commissioned portraits.

[caption id="attachment_642704" align="aligncenter" width="700"] Commissioned portraits Teresa worked on / Image Credit: Teresa Lim[/caption]

A basic piece is priced at $320, while more elaborate pieces can cost up to $650.

She also regularly publishes a portfolio of her work on her Instagram account (@teeteeheehee), which has garnered a following of over 78,000 fans (and counting) today.

[caption id="attachment_642707" align="aligncenter" width="700"] Commissioned works for Netflix (left) and Gucci (right) / Image Credit: Teresa Lim[/caption]

Within three years, she has worked on various campaigns for renowned companies such as Gucci, Swarovski, Uniqlo, Melissa Shoes, Singapore Airlines, Changi Airport and Netflix.

Due to the outpouring number of engagements, Teresa now earns a “comfortable income”, according to Channel NewsAsia.

With the financial burden lifted off her shoulders now, she feels that she has the “space and mental capacity to create”.

But the end goal for her was never about the money or fame.

Sew Many Projects

[caption id="attachment_642711" align="aligncenter" width="700"] Teresa Lim, embroidery artist / Image Credit: Teresa Lim[/caption]

For Teresa, she sees embroidery as a way for her to “[tell] stories” or “[capture] moments through thread”.

Her first personal project, the Sad Girls Club, was a series of embroidered illustrations that conveyed the sadness she felt when she went through a breakup.

Her next series, The Twelve Rooms, depicted the unrealistic expectations of body images portrayed in the media.

“I started this series as a conversation with my younger self. When you’re young, you think nobody understands you, so you don’t share much and in the whole process, you feel very alone,” she told Channel NewsAsia.

“What I hope to do is encourage discussion. There is power in knowing that someone who has been through all that is looking back and saying ‘It’s okay to feel this way’.”

Sharing more about her projects, Teresa said that she’s now working on a personal project that tackles the issue of excessive plastic use – a rather timely project considering the rise of the #NoPlastic movement today.

As part of the project, Teresa has been collecting random plastic items that she has consumed to be incorporated in her masterpiece.

She said that the final product would be an embroidered piece that depicts the ocean, which would be completed by year-end.

Ultimately, Teresa is a shining example who debunks the misconception that artists, especially in Singapore, make for a (literally) poor career choice.

Besides scoring big-name clients, she has also had her work exhibited in shows in Hong Kong, Bangkok and Tokyo, among others.

[caption id="attachment_642744" align="aligncenter" width="700"] Spot Teresa at the 3:11 mark on the NDP 2018 theme song video[/caption]

Truly proud of this local creative who has made waves overseas – she definitely deserves to be featured in this year’s National Day video!

Featured Image Credit: Pazzion / Teresa Lim

Also Read: This 22-Year-Old Draws Temporary Tattoos Using Fruit Ink, And Earns Up To $5K A Month

Creative CEO Lauded In Budget 2019 – “We Must Learn, We Must Walk The Ground And We Must Persist”

In a time when tech giants Apple and Samsung dominate the market, homegrown brand Creative Technology has arguably faded from its heyday.

But even as their products are overtaken in terms of sales figures, the contributions of the company and its CEO Sim Wong Hoo are never forgotten – especially by Singaporeans.

Established 38 years ago in 1981, it started off as a computer repair shop, where Mr Sim developed an add-on memory board for the Apple II computer.

They then quickly became a company of firsts, launching the first commercial Chinese character software in 1982 and a computer with bilingual capabilities, the Cubic CT, in 1986.

But it was the Sound Blaster, their sound card for consumer PCs that truly catapulted them into global fame.

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="740"] Sound Blaster (1989) / Image Credit: PC Mag[/caption]

Launched in 1989, it has since sold over 400 million units.

Most recently, Mr Sim was also lauded by Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat in the Budget speech for 2019.

The spirit of entrepreneurship is critical for all these endeavours – having a vision of the future, and taking practical actions, day in, day out, to explore a range of possibilities and solve a myriad of problems. Mr Sim’s story illustrates the point that to succeed, we must learn, we must walk the ground and we must persist.

As a throwback, below is an interview that Mr Sim did with Creative’s tie up with popular MMORPG World Of Warcraft[/caption]

And it’s not just product development, Mr Sim also emphasises the importance of being creative and innovative with marketing as well.

“In the past 30 years or so, the market has been changing every 5 to 10 years. […] We’ve been through many such cycles, every 5 years a new era begins. We persevered and survived. We kept coming up with new and creative products.”

“I Think, To Be Able To Survive Is Already No Mean Feat”

“Of course, sometimes you succeed, sometimes you don’t.”

Once known as “King of Stock”, Creative’s stock prices were at their highest at close to $70 per stock in March 2000. Since then, however, the figures aren’t as rosy.

[caption id="attachment_611996" align="aligncenter" width="500"]
Screenshot of Creative Technology’s stock prices in 2017[/caption]

However, Mr Sim reiterates that this hasn’t fazed him.

I think, to be able to survive is already no mean feat, because the technology market is undergoing huge changes.

“Not just the technology sector, other sectors are also affected by technology and are undergoing changes too. For example, look at the taxi industry, Uber entered the market with a low-cost business model, offering cut-throat prices, how do you compete with them?”

Choosing To Not Participate In Price Wars

“That is why I chose to go upmarket, to venture into areas others dare not go.”

In a time when consumers are spoilt for choice when it comes to price points, Mr Sim refuses, with a stubborn adherence, to produce inferior products for the sake of capturing the market segment that only looks at the price tag.

“Products that are sold at a low price, the quality can’t be good. They are not of superior quality, just usable.”

While most would say that their products are mostly around the mid-range in terms of price, the company recently released a S$5,000 high-end sound bar – the X-Fi Sonic Carrier – which Creative’s Cubic CT[/caption]

With over 3 decades running Creative, Sim advices young entrepreneurs to “keep [their operations] lean and mean”.

You need to exist on a very low cost, only then, you would be able to survive and live on the chance of another breakthrough. […] Don’t spend a lot of money at once.

For him, being young also comes with another advantage – the possibility of making a comeback even after failure – “If you fall, you can still pick yourself up.”

Understand Your Disadvantages

A homegrown brand that has been facing competition from global giants, Mr Sim states the sobering truth about being a company in Singapore – the market is small, and being open to foreign companies just means you could be up against a company many times larger than you are.

But instead of throwing in the towel, Mr Sim reiterates the importance of understanding the disadvantages and finding a way to work around them.

“In this local market, you need to compete with foreign companies. You need to compete with these big companies. And when you go overseas, you are unable to compete with others. Those are our disadvantages that we need to know and understand.”

“Failure Is No Big Deal”

Mr Sim also casually admitted that “usually, you encounter many more setbacks than successes, so I’ve gotten used to it”.

Not one to be paralysed by failure, he also makes certain to analyse the situation to see what’s wrong before moving into a new venture.

“Very often, it’s not the product, it could be that we chose the wrong strategy. Many times, we could have overestimated ourselves – we made too big a leap.”

“We may have been brave, but if the leap is too great, and there is not enough back-end support, we will fall. So we must learn from it moving forward.”

“The Worst Defeat Was Probably The MP3 Products”

“We launched a lot of MP3 products then, we wanted to take on Apple. We wanted to do more than Apple, but that was the wrong strategy.”

Before Apple’s iPod took over the large majority of the MP3 player market, many of us would remember loading our favourite songs onto Creative players.

Back in 2004, a Forbes article referred to the battle between Creative and Apple as “David vs. Goliath”, in response to how Mr Sim declared that he wanted his products to take 40% of the market.

[caption id="attachment_612063" align="aligncenter" width="700"] Apple’s iPod mini (L), Creative’s Zen Micro (R) / Image Credit: blog.grumet.net[/caption]

With a plan to spend US$100 million globally for marketing, Creative’s Zen player was poised to be an alternative to the iPod with several tricks (including a longer battery life) up its sleeves.

Eventually, the dark horse still lost, and while Mr Sim counts it as one of his “worst defeats”, he remains at peace with it.

“We were facing a giant like Apple and we overestimated ourselves. But we did get something out of it in the end, so you can’t say it was for nothing. So next, we decided to venture in a different direction.”

“My Passion Is Singapore”

Revealing that he has “3 passions” in his life – two of which being technology and Chinese, his final one explains why instead of moving their base to overseas (like how fellow tech brand Razer did), he chose to stay at home.

“My third passion is Singapore.”

In fact, for Creative Technology, the best place to grow is in the US. […] Don’t stay in Singapore, just move everything to the US and look for talent there. There’s so much talent there, especially in Silicon Valley.

For Mr Sim, his passion for Singapore is more than just lip service.

“But we decided to stay in Singapore, and invested in Singapore – all the marketing, technologies and methods are here in Singapore, we want to nurture locals.”

“Even for projects involving the Chinese language which should have been done in China – I said, do it in Singapore.”

Till today, Creative Technology still holds a special place in the hearts of Singaporeans, and we do hope that with Mr Sim’s leadership and never-give-up spirit, it will continue to inspire local companies to dream big and not be afraid to make mistakes.

Also Read: After Gong Cha “Betrayal”, S’pore Franchisee Rodney Tang Brews His Own Bubble Tea Brand LiHO

21 Influential People In Tech Who Are Putting Singapore On The World Map

Editor’s Note: We’ve added more to the list since this article was first published

Singaporeans have always been an entrepreneurial bunch, especially in the area of tech. Many have even outgrew the local market, and in search of an international audience, have created a faithful following overseas along the way.

In the ‘old days’, tech entrepreneurs would more often than not be referring to individuals whose businesses dealt with hardware. Computers, audio products, memory, and digital storage solutions were just some examples.

Throughout the years though, as becoming an entrepreneur becomes more commonplace, and the term ‘startup’ becomes the new buzzword among those who want to strike out on their own, and we see a shift of products going from hardware to software, more specifically, apps and services.

Regardless, the tech entrepreneurship community comprises of some notable individuals whom have become public figures in their own right.

Let’s take a look at 21 of them. Don’t worry, we’ll make this a short read.

1. Challenger – Loo Leong Thye

[caption id="attachment_593227" align="aligncenter" width="525"]Loo Leong Thye Loo Leong Thye / Image Credit: VR Zone[/caption]

Challenger is perhaps the granddaddy of multi-product tech stores in Singapore.

It started as a small computer accessories and software store called Symphony in 1985, at (where else!) good old Funan.

Founder Mr Loo Leong Thye has since grown that humble store into the largest computer and electronics retailer in Singapore, with stores in every major mall at every corner of Singapore.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4dKkatF9TfI

Now, at the back of a 10% rise in revenue in the second quarter of 2016, he is setting his sights on the online marketplace, and Challenger’s online platform Hachi.tech, is poised to do just that.

While the closure of their flagship store at Funan is saddening, Mr Loo and Challenger are more than adequate to face challenges, and is charging forward with his other 44 Challenger stores.

2. Creative Technology – Sim Wong Hoo

[caption id="attachment_593225" align="aligncenter" width="525"]Sim Wong Hoo Sim Wong Hoo / Image Credit: Leadership.name[/caption]

They are the company and CEO who once stood toe-to-toe with Apple and Steve Jobs in the war of portable music. I

t is none other than Yong Choon (right) / Image Credits: mulpix Yong Choon (right) / Image Credits: mulpix[/caption]

Jack Huang (left) / Image Credits: Business Today Jack Huang (left) / Image Credits: Business Today[/caption]

Fida International and founder Jack Huang may not be household names to you, but their flagship brand just might be.

The company started off as a PC peripherals distributor in 1991, and PROLiNK (then a Taiwan brand) was one of its main product lines. In an effort to move away from distribution and to actually manufacture the products they sold, Jack acquired Michael Mun Michael Mun / Image Credit: Flickr[/caption]

Based in Ubi for the longest time, Michael Mun founded Aztech back in 1986 as a company which assembles PCs from parts imported from Taiwan, selling it to customers in Singapore, Malaysia, and Indonesia.

They too joined Creative in releasing a sound card of their own back in the day, becoming the number two to the market leaders as they faced off both in the consumer market, as well as the courtroom where copyright infringement allegations flew.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kN9nlNtwCGY

Under the stewardship of Michael Mun, Aztech went beyond just PC peripherals, and into the realm of home networking where it made a name for itself on the international stage.

Their ‘homeplugs’ are now a common necessity for Singaporeans who want internet connections in Wifi blindspots at home. Away from computer and networking, they have also diversified their products to even include home appliances, and lighting solutions for consumers.

6. Acronis – Serguei Beloussov

[caption id="attachment_593473" align="aligncenter" width="600"]Serguei Beloussov / Image Credits: Acronis Serguei Beloussov / Image Credits: Acronis[/caption]

Russian-born Singaporean entrepreneur Serguei Beloussov, is the man behind global data protection company Acronis. His entrepreneurial journey started while he was doing his Masters degree where he found that he was a pretty good businessman. After a stint working in a Russian computer company, he co-founded several other electronics and software companies during the course of his career as a serial entrepreneur.

One of those companies was Acronis, which was founded in 2001. After successfully steering the company, he stepped down as CEO in 2007 to focus on other ventures, only to return again in 2013 permanently, when he saw that the company has stagnated.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xxH_D3HrI_U

Today, Acronis has  a presence in over 145 countries worldwide, and a full range of data protection features, including migration, cloning and replication. Their products are being used by both corporate or everyday consumers, especially with Acronis True Image, a full disk image backup software

Acronis also has had the pleasure of being the very first Singaporean company to have been featured as a sponsor on a Formula 1 car. Their partnership with Scuderia Torro Rosso made the headlines earlier this year, sparking heated interest in the company, as well as the team and drivers.

7. Strontium – Vivian Singh

[caption id="attachment_593233" align="aligncenter" width="525"]Vivian Singh Vivian Singh / Image Credit: The Bangalore Times[/caption]

It is a company that was birthed because two friends missed a flight.

, with a projection of more than S$500 million in growth by 2020.

8. Leapfroglobal – George Hu

[caption id="attachment_593444" align="aligncenter" width="600"]
George Hu / Image Credits: Leapfroglobal George Hu / Image Credits: Leapfroglobal[/caption]

George Hu started his journey as an entrepreneur in 1999 with the, was introduced then aimed at providing PC peripherals for everyday consumers.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RJhzXoMclwU

They too dived into the world of gaming peripherals with the introduction of the brand. With their products available conveniently located in major department stores as well as popular online sites, coupled with their ever-present booths at tech fairs, they are definitely brands from which you have owned a product of at some point.

9. Xmi (X-Mini) – Ryan Lee

[caption id="attachment_593252" align="aligncenter" width="431"]
Ryan Lee Ryan Lee / Image Credit: Forbes[/caption]

If you haven’t noticed by now, audio and Singaporean entrepreneurs seems to be a common theme, and with six months in from the time when their very first speaker was released.

Ask any millennial in Singapore, and chances are, they would have owned one of these signature speakers. Today, more than just their mini speakers, Xmi also produces larger bluetooth speakers, as well as headphones, and their products reach some 80 countries as of last year.

Here’s a fun fact, the speaker wasn’t Xmi’s first product, it was actually a long-forgotten watch.

10. Razer – Min-Liang Tan

[caption id="attachment_593261" align="aligncenter" width="600"]12322916_10155463031797576_3063043322491316191_o Min-Liang Tan / Image Credit: Razer[/caption]

“For gamers, by gamers”.

He made gaming cool, and is probably the poster-boy for Singaporeans giving up a bright career path, to pursuing a passion in a completely different field.

He is probably the most recognisable brand by gamers worldwide – a journey that started with the introduction of the world’s first gaming mouse, the Razer Boomslang.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-4SZKzr58Do

Razer makes more than mice now.

With a varied range of gaming peripherals which includes keyboards, speakers, headphones, and game pads, they even ventured into making their own gaming laptops.

Look around you today, and you will definitely know of someone using a Razer product. Beyond consumers, Razer has been making itself known in e-Sports with their own teams featuring in many of the world’s biggest competitions.

11. Aftershock PC – Marcus Wee

[caption id="attachment_593275" align="aligncenter" width="600"]
Marcus Wee Marcus Wee / Image Credit: SMU[/caption]

While we are on the topic of gaming laptops, you cannot exclude Aftershock PC.

Founded in 2011, Marcus Wee had a dream to enable fellow gamers to customise their own gaming laptops.

With the imminent launch of his first laptop, the Aftershock X11, he roped in the help of his brother (and co-founder) Joel Wee, who Alaric Choo and Ian Ang Alaric Choo and Ian Ang / Image Credit: Cnet[/caption]

Secret Lab is a company with roots within Aftershock PC.

Co-founder Ian Ang was doing business development there, where he noticed that computer chairs that were aimed at gamers were going for ludicrous amounts of money.

Inspired by the “Xiaomi philosophy” he set out to set out to make his own together with co-founder Alaric Choo, offering quality chairs at prices people will not balk on.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P-_bIfTXP1I

Their gaming chairs are now some of the most widely-used within gaming establishments and companies in Singapore, as well as popular content creators on Youtube.

The chairs have also been acclaimed by international tech publications such as Cnet and Kotaku, and they now ship to customers around Southeast Asia, as well as Australia.

Their biggest score thus far would probably be their recent collaboration with Asus under the Republic of Gamers (ROG) line, where Secret Lab will be producing ROG inspired chairs that will be sold along Asus systems.

13. Hyflux – Olivia Lum 

[caption id="attachment_593490" align="aligncenter" width="500"]Olivia Lum / Image Credits: Waterworld Olivia Lum / Image Credits: Waterworld[/caption]

The water that you are drinking off the tap right now, her company had a part in getting it there. Olivia Lum founded Hyflux in 1989 (known as Hydrochem back then) as a company selling water treatment systems.

Today the company is worth more than a billion dollars and is the first water treatment company to be listed on the Singapore Exchange (SGX), and employs more than 1,200 staff across China, India, the Middle East, North Africa, Southeast Asia, and Singapore.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-9pmyUjLaZg

Back home, the technology pioneered by Hyflux had a literal impact in Singapore, and its water distribution. First was through the NEWater Project in 2001, when they were chose to supply and install the process equipment for the Bedok NEWater Plant (Singapore’s first) essentially marking the launch of the Third National Tap.

The second was when Hyflux was tasked to build Singapore’s first seawater reverse osmosis (SWRO) desalination plant in 2003. For them, it was the first time that they did a desalination project; and it was also their biggest project to date, and at $200 million, the project costs more than their market value at the time.

The plant was completed three months ahead of schedule and the Fourth National Tap was officially opened by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on 13 September 2005.

14. MyRepublic – Malcolm Rodrigues

[caption id="attachment_593294" align="aligncenter" width="600"]Malcolm Rodrigues / Mothership Malcolm Rodrigues / Image Credit: Mothership[/caption]

This company has been making the local news headlines recently in their bid to become the fourth telco, and it’s who else but MyRepublic, and founder Malcolm Rodrigues.

The company has seen encouraging growth ever since it was founded in 2011, and is now found in Indonesia, Australia and New Zealand. Back in Singapore, MyRepublic has been giving the main three telcos and ISPs a good run for their money.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DvqaQQLDaUE

A former Starhub executive himself, Malcolm knows pretty well how the industry works.

With the belief that the telcos are short-changing their users, he introduced high bandwidth consumer plans which disrupted what was already available, prompting the big three to make similar moves.

More recently, MyRepublic started to offer super affordable data only mobile plans, again forcing the three telcos to put in countermeasures.

15. ViewQwest – Vignesa Moorthy

[caption id="attachment_593295" align="aligncenter" width="525"]Vignesa Moorthy / Digital News Asia Vignesa Moorthy / Image Credit: Digital News Asia[/caption]

While MyRepublic sets its sights on the mobile market, CEO Vignesa Moorthy is taking his ISP company, .

Their destination?, marking the first time that a Singaporean ISP broke into that market.

From traditional ‘tech’ companies and entrepreneurs, we now go into the realm of startups where a new generation is using technology to improve everyday functions.

16. Garena – Forrest Li

[caption id="attachment_593299" align="aligncenter" width="600"]
Forrest Li / Garena Forrest Li / Image Credit: Garena[/caption]

Founded in 2009, .

Inspired by the many big company CEOs who came to speak during his time at Stanford, as well as the now-famous Steve Jobs commencement speech that gave us the line “stay hungry, stay foolish”, Forrest made the most of his time there by learning about how to grow a business.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NYAop7kYWUM

Described Roshni Mahtani / Image Credits: @RoshniMahtani Twitter Roshni Mahtani / Image Credits: @RoshniMahtani Twitter[/caption]

When she started theAsianparent.com while she was living in the New York, Roshni Mahtani wasn’t even a parent herself but she found out herself what it was like to be one when babysitting children.

Due the endless questions these kids asked about her background, and being too far away from family to actually ask for Asian parenting tips, she turned to Google and found nothing.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mcUb9rOsmgU

Which is exactly why theAsianparent.com made sense. Nobody addressed the need for Asian parenting tips and advise, with her peers often feeling lost as they cannot relate to the many Western-style parenting resources which were readily available which was so unlike the way that they were raised by their parents.

In 6 years the site grew to become Southeast Asia’s largest parenting portal, expanding too all the way to India. Today Tickled Media is home to not just theAsianparent.com, but also other children and parenting platforms for the Asian demographic. Roshni even has a film under her, serving as Executive Producer for Untouchable: Children of God.

18. Honestbee – Joel Sng

[caption id="attachment_593302" align="aligncenter" width="608"]Joel Sng / On.cc Joel Sng / Image Credit: On.cc[/caption]

It’s amazing that Honestbee is just a year old.

In that one year alone, co-founder Joel Sng has made Honestbee a household name, forever changing the way Singaporeans get their groceries, all through an app and having no inventory.

Growing quickly with partnerships with supermarkets, they expanded greatly within 6 months since its founding, and the service found itself going into three other cities in Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Japan. Now, those in Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Philippines are also enjoying their service.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=unsq4gMM5RU

It has grown to include more than just groceries, too.

As the number of merchants grew, so did the type of products available for users to purchase. Now, you can find artisanal foodstuffs, pet supplies, and wine stores. Honestbee has even delved into doing your laundry for you, all in the name of helping modern professionals lessen the burden of daily chores.

19. 99.co – Darius Cheung

[caption id="attachment_593303" align="aligncenter" width="600"]Darius Cheng / High Net Worth Darius Cheng / Image Credit: High Net Worth[/caption]

99.co happened because Darius Cheung had trouble finding a home due to bad information floating around.

99.co is technology-driven to simplify the task of looking through properties online, with all the information clearly laid out for potential home buyers to scrutinise. 99.co is now home to property listings located in all corners of Singapore, varying from HDB units to landed properties for sale, as well as listings for properties that are available for rent.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UYyZQ_dCqn4

This wasn’t his first tech based startup either.

Earlier in his career, Darius founded TenCube together with his team developed the WaveSecure anti-theft sotware for mobile platforms. TenCube eventually got acquired by software giant McAfee, where Darius spent some time. He left the company in a bid to figure out how to create a better ecosystem that is sustainable and healthy for the real estate industry in Singapore – and that’s where 99.co fits in.

20. Carousell – Quek Siu Rui

[caption id="attachment_593375" align="aligncenter" width="600"]Quek Siu Rui (left) / Image Credits: South China Morning Post Quek Siu Rui (left) / Image Credit: South China Morning Post[/caption]

Carousell CEO Quek Siu Rui is perhaps at the forefront of a mobile marketplace revolution.

Together with founding members Lucas Ngoo and Marcus Tan, they created Carousell after a year long stint in Silicon Valley, putting the skills they acquired to good use by envisioning a peer-to-peer marketplace where NUS students could sell their things to each other.

What started out in a single school has now grown to become a widely-used marketplace app in 14 cities worldwide, reaching out to millions of buyers and sellers each day.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MER86na-WVU

More recently, with their acquisition of Caarly, Carousell is now on course to become a destination for the car classifieds market. Yes, you can sell your car along with all your unused books and electronics!

From startups, we move to the people who support them. Helping to inspire the next generation of tech entrepreneurs, here are some of Venture Capitalists that are making a mark on local tech startups.

21. Jungle Ventures – Amit Anand

[caption id="attachment_593372" align="aligncenter" width="621"]Amit Anand / livemint Amit Anand / Image Credit: livemint[/caption]

Managing partner of Jungle Ventures, Amit Anand is someone you will always bump into at startup networking events, at times even appearing as a guest speaker to share his experiences and give advice to startups and aspiring startup founders.

Together with co-founder Anurag Srivastava, they run Jungle Ventures, investing in early stage startups in Singapore and the region.

Jungle Ventures takes a slightly different approach when considering potential startups to invest in.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SWLCbtC8kZM

While they do appreciate ideas that coming from startups that are formed by younger people in, or fresh out of school, their main targets are actually startups by Ong Peng Tsin (left) / StartupGrind Ong Peng Tsin (left) / Image Credit: StartupGrind[/caption]

This is a VC that was inspired by a secondary school of the same name where their founders hailed from.

Managing director of James Tan / Tsinghua James Tan / Image Credit: Tsinghua[/caption]

Lastly, we have Quest Ventures, and managing partner, James Tan.

With offices in both Singapore and Beijing, they have invested heavily in many recognisable tech startups in Singapore, some you have already seen on this list (99.co, Carousell), as well as some others like Shopback, Carro, and even the website you are reading this on.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PjdjEHW_d-A

An entrepreneur of 11 years of experience, James is largely based in China where he is the co-founder of 55tuan, one of the largest social e-commerce sites in China. He has steered Quest Ventures into becoming one of the leading VC firms in both China and Singapore, especially when investing in tech related startups.

The Singapore tech scene is certainly an amalgamation of the old and the new, with promising new companies poised to continue a state of renewal as the new gets old, and the old gets older.

Also Read: The Face Of The Job Market Is Changing, And This New Initiative Will Help You Find Your Future Job

A M’sian Hoarder’s Guilty Pleasure Made Her Husband Design Stationeries We’d Want Too

Being an avid stationery collector usually results in one particular habit—hoarding. That was the problem faced by Chrystin Choo who couldn’t resist all the cute stationery items displayed in various stores. She ended up purchasing them ardently despite knowing they would most likely never be used.

So one day, her husband gave her a suggestion. Why bother spending money on stationery when she could create her own and guarantee a generous supply of pretty products she could keep while make a living out of it too?

Thus, the journey of Salt x Paper began.

[caption id="attachment_583257" align="alignnone" width="700"]Image Credit: Salt x Paper Image Credit: Salt x Paper[/caption]

Behind The Brand

As you may guess, the name ‘Salt x Paper’ is derived from the words ‘Salt and Pepper’ which as everybody knows, are condiments used to add flavour to food. Chrystin wanted the same concept with her range of stationery; she wanted to add that ‘visual flavour’ to people’s daily lives through the designs of their stationery items, particularly their notebooks.

Also, besides being an enhancer, salts are also vastly known to be preservatives. This is another concept Chrystin adopted into her products as she wanted their stationery to be tools that can help preserve ideas, stories and memories. All these ideas swam through her mind while she envisioned what her stationery range would be like and her husband supported her every step of the way.

[caption id="attachment_583227" align="alignnone" width="700"]salt x paper FI Image Credit: Salt x Paper[/caption]

“We talked and dreamt about it for about three months and about a month later, we found ourselves at the SSM office, registering Salt x Paper as an official business. Salt x Paper was officially started on the 7th December 2015,” said Chrystin.

As of now, they have notebooks, stickers and greeting cards all with personally drawn designs from 3 Malaysian designers chosen by Chrystin and all at an affordable price, which is sure to please those who enjoy collecting cute stationery for the fun of it.

Bringing Doodles To Life

[caption id="attachment_583225" align="alignnone" width="700"]Image Credit: Salt x Paper Facebook Image Credit: Salt x Paper Facebook[/caption]

“I personally love notebooks, cards, lettersets, wrapping paper—anything paper-related. I enjoy seeing beautiful designs and pretty illustrations. It makes me happy!” said Chrystin.

She reveals how she had always been drawn to unique designs. But despite her immense love for everything cute and adorable, she was no artist, which left her a little stuck on how she would go about bringing her products and visions to life.

[caption id="attachment_583272" align="alignnone" width="700"]Image Credit: Salt x Paper Image Credit: Salt x Paper[/caption]

So she began her search for talented designers she personally favoured and contacted them for collaborations. Chrystin does not wish for Salt x Paper to be limited to any theme or style when it comes to the designs they choose to be featured on their products. She however admits that even though she may work with others, her main designer will always be her husband.

“We go with whatever that looks cool and pretty! Every designer has their own style which is appealing to different people. The more the merrier!” said Chrystin.

[caption id="attachment_583279" align="alignnone" width="650"]11140114_646198868816615_861464958746913244_n (1) Image Credit: Salt x Paper[/caption]

When asked about what they believe sets them apart from other stationery brands, Chrystin responded, “I believe that our quirky designs and original illustrations are what makes our paper goods stand out from the rest. We also make sure the quality of the finishing, with our sewn-bound pages and premium grade paper, make all the difference and satisfy our customers.”

Also Read: Get Your Printing Done And Delivered Without Leaving Your Desk With This M’sian Startup

Venturing Into Business

[caption id="attachment_583274" align="alignnone" width="700"]header-01-optimized Image Credit: Salt x Paper[/caption]

It’s always fun when what began as a hobby turns into a business but the journey is never truly a smooth sailing process. For Chrystin, she finds one of the biggest challenges she faced was finding the correct retail partners and distribution channels to sell their merchandise as penetrating into the commercial market is never easy.

“As a small, home based business, of course it doesn’t start off easy. But we are so thankful for the internet as online shopping is so accessible these days. That being said, having an online store can be a logistics nightmare too when dealing with shipping, especially international orders,” shared Chrystin.

[caption id="attachment_583278" align="alignnone" width="501"]Image Credit: Salt x Paper Facebook Image Credit: Salt x Paper Facebook[/caption]

But despite these hardships, the response has been positive so far. Customers have gushed about their love for the designs chosen as well as the quality of the notebooks, the pride and joy of Salt x Paper.

This spurred this husband-and-wife tag team to push forward and bring even more products such as art prints, journals, stock paper, gift wrappers and the list goes on. Their next goal however is to hopefully be stable enough to have their own brick and mortar shop and expand internationally too.

Also Read: 6 Months Of Lunches In His Car, Now This M’sian Startup’s Modular Footwear Is Kicking Off

Feature Image Credit: Chrystin Choo Facebook

Still Remember Your First MP3 Player? – 8 Gadgets Cool Kids In The Early 2000s Had

Do you remember when you starved and saved your meagre pocket money to get that cool and sleek MP3 player? Do you remember feeling overwhelming jealousy when you see friends from affluent backgrounds getting these items with a snap of their finger?

These are the gadgets millennials grew up with – the older ones at least.

We go back to a time before high speed fiber internet, music streaming, cloud gaming, and mirrorless cameras. This was a time when phones actually looked different from one another.

Here are 10 gadgets that defined the lives of teenagers of the early 21st century.

1. Creative Zen MP3 Players (2002-2012)

[caption id="attachment_575185" align="aligncenter" width="700"] Image Credit: Amazon[/caption]

Who can forget the intense rivalry between Apple and Creative back in the day?

Singaporean brand Creative churned out countless updates of its Zen MP3 with the sole purpose of crushing Apple’s market share with its sole iPod.

Well, we all know how that ended.

Against the white and silver slab by Apple, Creative came out with players of varying sizes, colours, and specs to fit any kind of user. They were plugged and playable on any computer operating system, and you were able to transfer music easily even without software, unlike the ubiquitous iPod.

Personally, I owned the Zen Micro, Neeon, and V Plus.

Those simpler times were unforgettable  – when I bought CDs from HMV and uploaded the songs onto the player. These were the days before the convenient, but impersonal iTunes and Google Play Music. Portable music actually needed effort, but it made the music so much sweeter.

Why It Was Cool: Everyone had a side they were rooting for, and Creative was the underdog that made Singaporeans swell with pride.

2. Original iPod (2001)

[caption id="attachment_575186" align="aligncenter" width="700"] Image Credit: Mashable[/caption]

Now we’ve arrived at the other side of the MP3 wars in the early 2000s.

Steve Jobs announced its arrival in 2001 as a response to a market where digital music players were “big and clunky or small and useless”. Jonathan Ive and his team designed and engineered it in one year. The first iPod came with a 5GB hard drive at its core, with the promise of being able to fit 1000 songs in your pocket.

[caption id="attachment_575194" align="aligncenter" width="462"] Image Credit Business Insider[/caption]

As the device was only supported on the Mac OS in its early years, it only got a boom in popularity in 2004 . That didn’t stop it from going on a warpath to rule the world with its colourful ads and celebrity endorsements.

Today, you can only buy an iPod in Apple’s refurbished store. The death of the iPod was unfortunately due to another Apple product in this list that took the world by storm.

Why It Was Cool: Because Apple. All your favourite celebrities and musicians had one too.

3. iPhone 2G (2007)

[caption id="attachment_575188" align="aligncenter" width="635"] Image Credits: NDTV[/caption]

Of course, the iPhone.

The very first iPhone, popularly known as the 2G, was announced at Macworld in 2007. It immediately became a sought-after tech commodity worldwide, Singapore included. Apple fans and geeks would be always be finding ways to import it locally. Mind you, this was a time when online shopping was still at the ‘startup’ phase.

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Here’s the headline specs of the first iPhone: 320 x 480 pixels 3.5 inches screen, 2 megapixel camera, 412 MHz processor and 4GB of internal memory. All of which was kept running with iOS 1, the very first of Apple’s iPhone operating systems.

A far cry from the monstrosities of today, like the iPhone 6s Plus which is able to crunch through high resolution 4K footage without breaking a sweat, it was still an incredible feat then. The introduction of the iPhone also spawned the evolution of the iPod, favouring the use of a touchscreen instead of the famous scroll wheel.

Why It Was Cool: Because Apple (again). Limited availability in the international market means that you’d be uber cool to have one, and people will also know that you’re loaded.

4. Motorola RAZR V3 (2004)

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Let’s rewind back three years, to 2004, before the iPhone ruled the world.

This is the phones all the cool kids had and Motorola hit a home run with.

The Razr V3 was slim and beautifully designed, chiseled from magnesium and aluminium. It was the phone that made the clamshell design chic. At launch it used to cost as much as an iPhone 6s today. In spite of the hefty price tag, it gained widespread popularity, even having some of the limelight at the 77th Academy Awards in an exclusive matte black colour.

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Ah, the myriad of colours! There was no shortage of the colour variations available for this phone.

From the understated and classy silver, to the gaudy and loud hot pink, there was something for everyone. There was even a Dolce & Gabbana exclusive in fully blinged out gold priced at a mighty premium.

If you feel like taking a trip down memory lane, there’s some still on sale Image Credit: Engadget[/caption]

The 2000s wasn’t just about Creative vs Apple.

The console wars had heated up too, with Microsoft taking on Sony head on. Microsoft decided that gaming on desktop computers using Windows wasn’t enough, and thus, the Xbox came into the forefront.

It was first announced in the Game Developers Conference in March 2000 and immediately wowed audiences, but didn’t go on sale until November 2001.

A true rival to the Playstation was born.

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Along with the console came an exclusive title, Halo: Combat Evolved, with a title character that has achieved a legendary status since.

Halo brought us the venerable Master Chief as he took us on an adventure to alien planets as a one-man army. For a genre that gamers usually associate with PC gaming, first person shooters have now become mainstream on consoles, all thanks to Halo.

The Xbox was later succeeded by the Xbox 360 in 2005.

Why It Was Cool: Being a Playstation rebel. Halo, need I say more?

6. Nintendo Wii (2006)

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While Sony and Microsoft fought on the traditional console battlegrounds, Nintendo had other plans in store, so along came the Wii in 2006.

This was a time when the Xbox 360 and the Playstation 3 were trading blows for the majority market share.

The Wii took a chance, and provided an approach far from the usual couch gaming environment. It allowed users to physically participate in the games they play through using a movement-sensitive controller.

[caption id="attachment_575226" align="aligncenter" width="700"] Image Credit: Wikipedia[/caption]

A year later, WiiFit was introduced to fully take advantage of the Wii hardware. It was still technically a ‘video game’, but the Wii was now accompanied by a Wii Balance Board where gamers were able to participate in yoga, strength training, aerobics, and balance games.

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Why It Was Cool: No longer were you stuck on a couch with friends playing your favourite games. A healthy lifestyle WHILE having so much fun? Count me in!

7. Canon EOS 300D (2003)

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We now head into the realm of photography, more specifically towards the Canon EOS 300D.

Released in 2003, the Canon 300D pretty much kick-started the entire budget DSLR category. AtUSD$899, it was the first camera under USD$1,000 . This was no mean featm considering that DSLRs were still in their infancy stage. To compare, Canon came out with the professional grade EOS-1D, and that cost nearly USD$6,500!

In those days, when people thought of digital cameras, the first thing that came to mind were the compact non-SLR cameras. DSLRs were mostly regarded as a professional tool, so to own a DSLR, it would’ve meant that you are a professional photographer or just very wealthy.

Why It Was Cool: USD$899 was a sum that most people would not spend on a camera in 2003, but if you took the plunge, chances are you’re the only one.

8. Thumbdrives (2000)

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Saving the second homegrown hero for last, we have the humble USB flash drive.

It was first invented by Trek 2000 International CEO Henn Tan in the year, you’ve guessed it, 2000. Launched at the CeBIT international trade fair that year, it received an overwhelming response.

Essentially, it brought final death onto the floppy disk almost immediately. A typical song file these days is around 8 megabytes, but that was how much storage the first thumbdrive offered. Compared to 3 1/2 inch floppy disks which could only hold 1.44 megabytes, the thumbdrives were a huge step forward.

I still remember the time when I was using 3 1/2 inch floppy disks and CDs to bring my data around, especially in primary school. That all changed after I got my first thumbdrive – the convenience it brought to me was astounding.

Why It Was Cool: Thumbdrives may be commonplace now, but back then, showing off this tiny storage device was guaranteed to wow most people.

 

Did you owned any of these? Or were there others we missed out? Feel free to let us know.

 

Also Read: I Tried Apple’s New iPhone SE, And It Proved That Size Doesn’t Matter – In A Good Way

You’d Think Twice Before Using Stationery Illustrated By These 2 M’sian Ladies

The intricate details cascading like a waterfall down the front cover of the blank notebook makes one instinctively want to run their fingers over it with sheer admiration. After all, nobody in their right mind could possibly pass up on a notebook with gorgeous motifs ranging from fruits to flowers adorning the first page.

For those who prefer a clean-looking pattern, there’s always the plain pastel coloured notebooks that evokes a sense of 555 notebook nostalgia—but only ten times better. Perhaps it is the fact that most people these days are attracted to Insta-worthy stationaries, but investing in a beautiful jaw-dropping notebook is increasingly common nowadays.

Just take a quick stroll along the lane of the Instagram hashtag #notebookcover, and it would be pretty evident that many are interested in quirky notebooks that speak volumes about itself, even before anything is penned within its empty pages nestled within. Malaysians aren’t one to miss out on the trend train as well and they can hop on board by supporting local homegrown brand, Pebble Paper Design.

More Than Just Notebooks

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It’s hard not to go ‘ooh’ and ‘aah’ when looking through the extensive designs for notebooks that they have readily available on their site. For those who fancy strawberries sprouting from the cover of their notebook or perhaps orange roses instead, the possibilities are endless.

If notebooks aren’t your kind of thing, Pebble Paper Designs crafts a myriad of other products which still bears their signature intricate designs. From greeting cards to even stick-on tattoos and phone cases, the ladies behind the brand have got their hands busy.

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Enter into co-founders, Anni Tai and Rachel Chew’s world and it would probably be a floral wonderland. Both coming from a communication and design background, it was only apt that they put their skills to good use and illustrate designs for products that are used daily by many.

As the team of two puts it across through their website, “We aspire to work every step of the way to share and inspire others who share the same design sensibility in calligraphy, stationery and whimsical illustrations.” That is essentially what Pebble Paper Designs is all about.

Inspired By The Best

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Inspired by great illustrators such as Ayang Chempaka, Janet Pogorelc and Darrell Kwong, both girls work together to bring the brand alive. Anni told Vulcan Post, “We both work on the designs using illustration softwares. Some illustrations are Rachel’s work and some are mine, but we always go through our work together, to make sure the colour combination and overall composure of the illustration is on-point.”

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Before starting on each collection, the girls decide first on a theme and art direction that they would ultimately go with. Research will be conducted and they would source out some images over the Internet and then create a mood board (like all great artists do) which will guide them through to create illustrations that are aligned with the style that they have envisioned for their collection.

Also Read: Forget Birthdays, This M’sian Startup Spices Up Our Every Month With A Box Of Surprises

In fact, at times, the girls are amazed too by the results of their hard work. Anni conveyed this thought by saying, “We don’t always know how the illustrations would turn out in the end; sometimes we get surprised by how beautiful the end result turned out to be, and that’s a really fun and fulfilling experience for us as illustrators.” 

Coming From Humble Beginnings

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It all started back in May 2015 shortly after the girls had completed their university degree and internship programs. “The both of us were really attracted to the idea of a job that would allow us to have time flexibility in working hours and creative control in our design work,” said Anni.

That’s where they took an eventual leap of faith and decided to create Pebble Paper Design. It wasn’t an easy process by any means, but the pair did feel heaps of excitement and joy in the creation process. As for the name of the brand, it all comes from two words: pen and scribble, hence making the word ‘pebble’.

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“We found this name to be suitable seeing that we are producing notebook products, because that’s what notebooks are used for, to scribble on with a pen,” Anni shared. To date, they have managed to reach out to many stationery lovers across social media, particularly Instagram, and thus far have amassed more than 15,000 followers.

As such, they also work on custom design request from the customers itself, be it for weddings, events, or even merchandise packaging. They are able to reach more customers as well by shipping internationally, and this was something that Pebble Paper Design leveraged on for their brand marketing. It’s a smart move for them and proves that being young entrepreneurs does not stop them from knowing the right cards to play for their startup.

Being Young And Passionate

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As they are young both in age and in the business, Anni shares that there are tons of things that they had to pick up really quickly along the way in order to make Pebble Paper Design work. “It’s really about having the guts to give our ideas a try, then adjusting and learning along the way to realise that idea,” Anni said.

While some of their ideas don’t take off, some do show actual good results. Hence, they learn throughout the journey to do research, read, ask around, accept feedback from customers, observe and learn. This helps them to acquire better knowledge to continue on this journey.

Anni concluded with, “At the end of the day, it’s really about being open to learning and improving whenever you can and having faith in yourself to work on your ideas when you believe in it.” In their case, it was all about illustrating their ideas and ultimately breathing life into them.

Also Read: These Fantastic Four Want To Make M’sians Wellness Warriors—Because They Give A F*ck

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5 Creative Ways To Spend Your Weekends

Looking at our busy streets and skyscrapers, one might think that Singapore isn’t the most artistic of places. And in many cases, that is true: we often find ourselves too exhausted or pressed for time to get our creative juices flowing.

But we don’t have to give up on our creative pursuits just because we’re too caught up with work on the weekdays; there’re always the weekends to make up for it. So if you’re feeling stifled and stressed-out, or just tired of cafe-hopping and lounging on your couch, here are a few creative ways to spend your weekends:

1. Chocolate Painting

[caption id="attachment_183231" align="aligncenter" width="702"]Image: Nicolette Image Credit: Nicolette[/caption]

Chocolate paint is the creation of Janice Wong, a local chef and owner of 2am:dessert bar. At room temperature, these little jam jars of paint are like regular chocolate. But give them a minute or two in the microwave, and they melt into liquid with a consistency very much like acrylic paint — you’re now ready to unleash your inner Van Gogh! I don’t know how creepy crawlies won’t be attracted to your edible artwork, though.

[caption id="attachment_183241" align="aligncenter" width="702"]Image: Nicolette Image Credit: Nicolette[/caption]

If you can’t seem to find a single artistic bone in you, though, or if your growling stomach is impeding your creativity, you can always use chocolate paint the same way as chocolate fondue, or fill them into little cake moulds to make your own chocolate. Chocolate paint has a shelf life of about six months, and you can microwave it as many times as you wish without affecting its taste or texture.

[caption id="attachment_183251" align="aligncenter" width="702"]Image: Nicolette Image Credit: Nicolette[/caption] [caption id="attachment_183261" align="aligncenter" width="702"]Image: Nicolette Image Credit: Nicolette[/caption]

2. Social Painting

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Arteastiq is a luxury tea lounge with a ‘jamming studio’ for customers to paint together. You get a canvas, an apron, brushes, unlimited paint, and a free beverage (alcohol included), all while being surrounded by other budding artists like yourself.

They offer art lessons if you need some extra guidance, and special rates and promotions for students and senior citizens. Never mind if you can’t paint — you can always make friends with the artist next to you.

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3. Floral Arrangement Workshops

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Try your hand at the art of floral arranging with Poppy’s floral workshop. All necessary materials will be provided, complete with a photoshoot session at the end of each lesson.

As Poppy puts it, “We take time to notice, to really look at things; beautiful things. To look at the flowers, to watch them dance in our hands.”

Besides taking your masterpieces home with you, take a moment to smell the flowers too.

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4. Soap-making Workshops

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Mix and match a combination of soap bases, essential oil scents, colours and designs to make your very own soaps at Soap Ministry, where workshops are available every day for adults and children alike. I don’t think there’s anything more comforting than knowing every ingredient (coupled with their benefits), that goes into the soap you use on a daily basis.

[caption id="attachment_186521" align="aligncenter" width="703"]Image Credit: Image Credit: facebook.com/SoapMinistrySG[/caption]

All soaps are also chemical-free, eco-friendly, and perfect for sensitive skin.

5. Henna Workshops

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If you’re not feeling committed enough to get a tattoo, a temporary one done with henna should work well for you. Instead of paying someone to draw henna on you, why not learn how to do it yourself?

At Simply Elegant, professional henna artists will guide you along in ‘A Touch of the Art’ workshops, where you learn to control the henna cone and attempt intricate henna designs.

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A complimentary hand spa will be provided as well, along with a henna kit for you to apply your new skill at home.

Also Read: Thomas Yang: Singaporean Artist Goes Viral With Tyre Art

Thomas Yang: Singaporean Artist Goes Viral With Tyre Art

You might not know Thomas Yang, but you would have certainly come across his series of artworks featuring tyre tracks on the likes of Rocketnews24Designboom and Hypebeast in the recent months. Vulcan Post speaks to the Singaporean artist on his creative inspiration and his limited edition designs, most popular with customers from America and Europe.

1) Hello Thomas, can you tell us more about your background and how you got started in art and design?

I’m a creative director currently working in an advertising agency. I graduated from the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts in 1992. I have always been obsessively passionate about drawing, design and ideas. After I graduated, I discovered advertising and found that this is where my true calling lies. My biggest break came in 1998 when I won Best New Art Director at the Singapore Creative Circle Awards after which, I went on to bag over 300 regional/ international design and advertising awards at major shows such as D&AD (British Design & Art Direction), The One Show, Cannes, Clio, AdFest and The Spikes for the past 18 years.

[caption id="attachment_119621" align="aligncenter" width="700"]Image Credit: Thomas Yang Image Credit: Thomas Yang[/caption]

2) Congratulations on the impressive number of awards you have won! Which are you most proud of and why?

To me, the British Design & Art Direction (D&AD) is the most prestigious award.  The juries select the finest in design and advertising. A D&AD Award is recognized globally as the ultimate creative accolade, entered and attended by the best from around the world.

3) How did you come up with your brainchild, 100 copies?

Before I started selling online, I needed a name for my brand and I wanted every creation to be limited edition. I googled and a common range was between 50 – 300 copies. I had an idea at that time that I needed two “0”s in the brand in order to fit in a bicycle symbol between them. To create a limited run, I decide on “100”, which led to the formation of www.100copies.net. I could then share my unique creations with other cyclists all around the world who are also looking for cycling-inspired designs.

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="1000"] Image Credit: Thomas Yang[/caption]
 To reassure my buyers that they own a limited edition product, I list the edition number, the owners’ names and where they come from on the website’s ‘Hall of Fame’, once a particular design is totally sold out. Each piece of work is watermarked, labeled with the title and edition number.

4) Recently, your series of artwork made with tyre tracks went viral. How did you come up with the concept, and what has the response been like? 

As an avid cyclist, I was trawling through the web looking for a few cool cycling posters to put up in my apartment. That was when I noticed that there were not many choices available. So with design in my blood, I decided to create a series which revolved around my love for cycling.

[caption id="attachment_119601" align="aligncenter" width="700"]Image Credit: designboom.com Image Credit: designboom.com[/caption]

Also Read: Meet The Viral Queen Artist Who Is Conquering The Fashion Illustration World With Flowers!

The idea came up while I was toying around with ideas on how I can paint with a bicycle. Tyre tracks were the first thing which came to mind. I went on further to explore the characteristics of each tyre pattern and realised that I could possibly paint some building structures.

With the advantage of being a cyclist myself, each design concept on 100copies is based on different insights coming from cyclists like fixie, BMX, road and mountain bikers. If you have noticed, there’s always a short rationale on each design before you decide to buy a poster or t-shirt. The response has been overwhelmingly positive. I just launched a 2nd Edition available in sets of four, to differentiate from the sold out 1st Edition whereby customers can get to choose their individual landmarks.

[caption id="attachment_119651" align="aligncenter" width="700"]Image Credit: 100copies.net Image Credit: 100copies.net[/caption]

5) Can you describe the creation process for the tyre series?

The process was very difficult. I’m not a professional painter with a one hit wonder.  The research process was intensive – I used some of my own bike tyres, neighbours’ bikes and studied all tyre patterns on this website which featured the largest range, and purchased it from them. Each of the landmarks (Empire State, Eiffel Tower, Tower Bridge and Forbidden city) were made with at least 40 trials to provide the best end result for the next 99 copies.

6) Are you looking to launch any upcoming new series, either for the tyre series or a brand new concept?

For now, I’m stopping at four for the tyre tracks series. I have already moved on to my latest design called “CYCLISM” which sold out three days after I had launched it. As a creative artist, I need to be challenged and constantly move on to create new work in order to keep my site constantly fresh!

[caption id="attachment_119681" align="aligncenter" width="700"]Image Credit: Thomas Yang Image Credit: Thomas Yang[/caption]

7) Who or what contributed to your success while pursuing your passion in the arts?

I’m considered lucky as I discovered my passion early on in my career in the advertising arts sector. I was very fortunate to have met a few mentors and talented writers in my line of work. The most credit goes to my wife who has been constantly supportive of my passion for arts.

8) What advice do you have for budding artists who are thinking of going into the industry full-time?

I have two pieces of advice.

Firstly, always keep an open mind to try new things.  Never be afraid of making mistakes. Instead, be terrified of being boring.  Be scared stiff of staying the same.  Opportunities lie everywhere, but most of the time, we just do not have enough guts to pursue them.

Secondly, believe in whatever you are doing, and be passionate about it. Passion is the only drive to constant good work and creativity.

Also read: Mick Foley: WWE’s Mankind Becomes Santa

Creative People Say No

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A Hungarian psychology professor once wrote to famous creators asking them to be interviewed for a book he was writing. One of the most interesting things about his project was how many people said “no.”

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Management writer Peter Drucker: “One of the secrets of productivity (in which I believe whereas I do not believe in creativity) is to have a VERY BIG waste paper basket to take care of ALL invitations such as yours?—?productivity in my experience consists of NOT doing anything that helps the work of other people but to spend all one’s time on the work the Good Lord has fitted one to do, and to do well.”

Secretary to novelist Saul Bellow: “Mr Bellow informed me that he remains creative in the second half of life, at least in part, because he does not allow himself to be a part of other people’s ‘studies.’ ”

Photographer Richard Avedon: “Sorry?—?too little time left.”

Secretary to composer György Ligeti: “He is creative and, because of this, totally overworked. Therefore, the very reason you wish to study his creative process is also the reason why he (unfortunately) does not have time to help you in this study. He would also like to add that he cannot answer your letter personally because he is trying desperately to finish a Violin Concerto which will be premiered in the Fall.”

The professor contacted 275 creative people. A third of them said “no.” Their reason was lack of time. A third said nothing. We can assume their reason for not even saying “no” was also lack of time and possibly lack of a secretary.

Time is the raw material of creation. Wipe away the magic and myth of creating and all that remains is work: the work of becoming expert through study and practice, the work of finding solutions to problems and problems with those solutions, the work of trial and error, the work of thinking and perfecting, the work of creating. Creating consumes. It is all day, every day. It knows neither weekends nor vacations. It is not when we feel like it. It is habit, compulsion, obsession, vocation. The common thread that links creators is how they spend their time. No matter what you read, no matter what they claim, nearly all creators spend nearly all their time on the work of creation. There are few overnight successes and many up-all-night successes.

Saying “no” has more creative power than ideas, insights and talent combined. No guards time, the thread from which we weave our creations. The math of time is simple: you have less than you think and need more than you know. We are not taught to say “no.” We are taught not to say “no.” “No” is rude. “No” is a rebuff, a rebuttal, a minor act of verbal violence. “No” is for drugs and strangers with candy.

Creators do not ask how much time something takes but how much creation it costs. This interview, this letter, this trip to the movies, this dinner with friends, this party, this last day of summer. How much less will I create unless I say “no?” A sketch? A stanza? A paragraph? An experiment? Twenty lines of code? The answer is always the same: “yes” makes less. We do not have enough time as it is. There are groceries to buy, gas tanks to fill, families to love and day jobs to do.

People who create know this. They know the world is all strangers with candy. They know how to say “no” and they know how to suffer the consequences. Charles Dickens, rejecting an invitation from a friend:

“‘It is only half an hour’?—?‘It is only an afternoon’?—?‘It is only an evening,’ people say to me over and over again; but they don’t know that it is impossible to command one’s self sometimes to any stipulated and set disposal of five minutes?—?or that the mere consciousness of an engagement will sometime worry a whole day … Who ever is devoted to an art must be content to deliver himself wholly up to it, and to find his recompense in it. I am grieved if you suspect me of not wanting to see you, but I can’t help it; I must go in my way whether or no.”

“No” makes us aloof, boring, impolite, unfriendly, selfish, anti-social, uncaring, lonely and an arsenal of other insults. But “no” is the button that keeps us on.

Creative People Say No –

This post originally appeared on Medium.