Earlier this year, the country had witnessed impeccable mural arts featuring heroic names who are combating the plight of COVID-19 in Malaysia. It was a memorable act of kindness, being translated in the form of street arts that had somehow helped these artists to get known better. We got to speak to one of the veterans, Leonard Siaw 萧艺(Instagram: @leonardsiawart_) on his work and what makes up his dedication in this line before and after the pandemic.
An act of appreciation. Made by Leonard Siaw 萧艺, the mural was a form of dedication to the frontliners who combat the pandemic at the beginning of the lockdown period in Malaysia. Source: orangkata.my
The iconic frontliners mural was initially inspired by Roland Phang, who later had helped Leonard to land his mural commission work at Eastern Mall. Before his local projects, Leonard had won first place in “Make your mark in Melbourne Street Art Competition 2017”. His work was so impressive that he was granted exclusive access to “Wall to Wall Benalla” Street Art Festival 2018, which was organised by Juddy Roller Studio, Australia’s leading street art agency and sponsored by Visit Victoria South East Asia. He was the first Malaysian to ever acquire such privilege.
The Last Ring Lady, picture courtesy of Leonard Siaw 萧艺
A TEACHER FOR A DAY, A FATHER FOR LIFE!
Upon crediting Limkokwing Borneo for shaping him into the person he is today, Leonard acknowledges his observation and that being idealistic has taken him further in this line.
It was a tough, but a very fun journey, according to him. “We had to learn how to manage our time and with all the crazy deadlines in the industry today, I am definitely skilled for all that. All the lecturers have molded me into who I am today. As the Chinese proverb says: ‘A teacher for a day, a father for life’.”
He thought the ability of turning ideas into a story is the attribute sought after by many agencies. Although he is a full-time artist now, the Limkokwing Borneo alumnus have had a fair share of his 9-5 job which he had eventually given up for something better.
"For a period, I questioned myself often: Should I continue this path, or should I pick up my courage to do what I love the most?"
His childhood story was as regular as anyone else, except that he thought the pencil was always a medium of drawing and not really for writing. Little did he know his childhood would change his outlook on life.
PERSEVERANCE IS KEY
Image courtesy of Leonard Siaw 萧艺
The anamorphic street artist has dedicated much of his career teaching himself to do mural art. Most of his projects are dedicated on the wall where sizes are twice as big as him! Leonard says that nothing can be achieved without perseverance.
Having a dream is scarce, it takes a multitude of effort and as Leonard put it, “might as well give it all you have.” Income status will always be the major discussion for full time artists like himself but he knows with just a wee bit of positive view, Leonard was able to understand that the job meant he could brush up his skills and set individual targets without the pressure of other responsibility.
"The struggle doesn’t stop there, they keep coming on like a domino effect. Yet I was able to see that, with the liberty of time and commission based work, I got to keep brushing up my skills/style, setting targets/goals. It's a never ending journey, just like roaming in the endless dessert."
Leonard Siaw with one of his murals
Leonard’s active participation in various competitions has also made him one of the most acclaimed mural artists aside from Suhaimi Ali. He received invitations to display his artworks for the likes of The Borneo House museum and even at school, SJK Chung Hua No. 2, Kuching.
Just before the pandemic outbreak, Leonard was seen participating in Penang International Container Festival (PICAF) alongside international and national artists in January 2020. Previously he was in the “Strong Word” art exhibition, Tun Jugah Drawing competition as well as Rainforest World Bazaar t-shirt design. Leonard goes by @leonardsiawart_ on Instagram.