Excuse me, are you an artist?
One of the five Singaporean artists featured in the series, potter Jean Adrienne Wee shares how she uses introspection to express herself with clay. (Photos: Viddsee)

Excuse me, are you an artist?

If you have ever wondered how an artist is inspired to create masterpieces that resonate with us, the brand-new short documentary series The Craft of Art, by short film platform Viddsee, makes for a binge-worthy treat!  

The series, produced in collaboration with the National Arts Council, spotlights five Singaporean artists across different artistic disciplines: illustrator Lee Kow Fong, musician Shabir Tabare Alam, contemporary dancer Sufri Juwahir, visual artist Farizwan Fajari (also known as Speak Cryptic), and potter Jean Adrienne Wee. It takes viewers into the artists’ studios where you will get to witness the artists’ own practices and learn what inspires them. 

Here, the artists tell us about the common misconceptions people have of their craft, the greatest sacrifices they have made for art, and what keeps them going. 

lee how Fong sitting on a sofa art and culture
Lee takes viewers through his process of creating picture book illustrations and watercolour paintings. 

What misconceptions do people have of your craft? 

Lee: Many people don’t fully understand what an illustration is. It treads a fine line between commercial and fine art, but it also has a functional role to play, conveying meanings and messages visually.

Farizwan: Since my works are in black and white, some people assume I draw inspiration from artists who work in monochrome. In reality, however, most of my favourite artists work with a really colourful palette.

Wee: Many have the impression that pottery is therapeutic and easy to make, and that is thanks, or no thanks, to the many one-minute time-lapse videos on social media. That is far from the truth. Pottery requires a lot of practice and patience; it takes at least three months of weekly practice to really grasp how to make a bowl. 

shabbier tabare alam singing into a microphone arts and culture
Hear how Shabir gets started on his unique songwriting process.

What is the greatest sacrifice you have had to make for your craft? 

Shabir: In 2016, I left the comfortable life I had in Singapore and moved to India where I started building my music career from scratch. I had to sacrifice my acting career in Singapore to focus fully on music. The future looked uncertain then, and that made me feel vulnerable, financially and emotionally. 

Sufri: Building a family. I invested most of my time on my craft and practice, but I am noticing people around me getting married and having kids. I hope it’s not too late for me.

Sufri juwahir dancing arts and culture
Sufri, a recipient of the Young Artist Award in 2018, gives the low down on his choreography practice.

What do you enjoy most when making art? 

Sufri: The state of “flow,” where the dancers and I are fully immersed in the moment. The sense of synergy, with the team working towards a common goal, gives me a sense of fulfilment and drive.

Shabir: The most enjoyable part about creating is the process itself. While challenging, it often culminates with a cathartic release at the end. 

speak cryptic drawing on paper arts and culture
Most known for his black and white street art under the moniker Speak Cyrptic, Farizwan reflects on how aspects of his identities are captured in his work.

What do you find most challenging when creating?

Farizwan: Not knowing when to stop. I am always jumping from one thing to the next. I should know better that rest is also an important part of an artistic practice. 

Lee: Having my clients see my illustration as a work of art and not just a commercial service.

Wee: The biggest challenges are often finding ideas, figuring out how to tell a story with my art, and how to execute the idea. When they are done well, they bring me the most satisfaction.

Replies were edited and condensed for clarity. The Craft of Art is produced in collaboration with the National Arts Council as part of the #SGCultureAnywhere campaign. 

Catch the entire series The Craft of Art here and join the contests running on Sufri Juwahir and Farizwan Fajari’s videos to stand a chance to win prizes.  

We can’t wait to share more awesome content with you. This is going to be so much fun.

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