From toy art to street art
Singapore artists Anastasia Catharina (left) and Muhammad Firdaus (right), who go by the names of Anacathie and Freakyfir, are creators of a new mural in Kampong Gelam. (Photo: One Kampong Gelam)

From toy art to street art

Go big or go home. That bold mindset was what led Singapore artists Muhammad Firdaus, 36, and Anastasia Catharina, 34, to go from creating art for toys and gaming production companies to successfully launching their career as street artists.

Firdaus and Catharina, who go by Freakyfir and Anacathie respectively, are the creators of a new five-metre high mural, titled The Journey: Child of Many Cultures, in Kampong Gelam. The larger-than-life work, inspired by textile merchants who used to ply their trade in the area, features textile patterns from different cultures. The design, says the duo, aims to showcase the neighbourhood’s multi-cultural heritage with a touch of creative flair and modern sensibilities.

The mural is part of precinct association One Kampong Gelam’s initiative, which allowed street artists to do just that – breathe new life into some five metres high noise barriers located in Bali Lane and Ophir Road. In April this year, they announced the opening of Singapore’s graffiti hall of fame, splashed across more than 230 metres of noise barriers by 17 Singapore-based artists such as Didier Jaba Mathieu, Slacsatu, ZERO and ANTZ.

The mural commission marks a milestone for Firdaus and Catharina, who met in 2010 as classmates of a one-year conceptual design course at FZD School of Design. The pair hit it off quickly as fans of Japanese anime, manga, and comics, and later became peers in the toy and gaming production industry as concept designers creating game design.

Their shared passion for visual arts led them to launch Studio Moonchild, an art studio specialising in mural and street art, in 2017. Catharina says, “Street art was a way to breathe new life into the way we approach art and over the years. It gives us a bigger canvas to practice our craft, and experiment more with traditional mediums.”

The duo adds that places like Kampong Gelam that support artists like themselves are essential in their growth as street artists. “With places like The Blackbook Studio which was founded by street art collective Zinc Nite Crew (ZNC), and Aliwal Arts Centre, which is the home base of street artists RSCLS, we managed to practice and hone our craft on the faces of their walls.”

Firdaus adds that being around a lot of other similar creatives in the area also meant they got to learn a lot from their experience, because being around other creatives meant being able to watch each other paint, share techniques and exchange constant knowledge of the industry.

Besides their latest mural in Kampong Gelam, they have also done murals and street art in places like Goodman Arts Centre and MOX Co-Working Space. Their style is versatile and ranges from the eye-popping pieces at Sentosa and *SCAPE, to thought-provoking, reflective pieces at NYC Youth Park and the National Stadium.

On what keeps them going, Firdaus says: “The tactile feeling of layering colours on the wall, the buckets of perspiration and the satisfaction after completing a large surface makes us feel very contented.”

Learn more about Graffiti Hall of Fame here.

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