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Newsletter 01, Dec 2014: The Blank Page
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The Blank Page

This year, I covered hundreds of pages in marks. They sit in front of me in a small stack. Most of it is doodles, sketches, fuckups, false starts, bad copies, good copies, and random lines on paper – the dross that produces the art gold, the sweat and failure beneath the beauty.
 
On the first page of the newest sketchbook, I took Gary Panter’s advice and wrote the words ‘Painful Little Friend’. It’s only half filled. After it will come ‘Painful Little Friend 2’, then 3, and so on, each one no less painful than the one before.
 
The blank page, the blinking cursor at the top left corner of the blank screen – they don’t get easier.
 
Distractions. Just writing this I switched between my web browser and writing window at least 20 times. Fear of the blank page induces a flight or fight response in my brain. It’s usually flight – make coffee, do laundry, feed the cat, read War of Art for the hundredth time, check email or (dooooooom) Facebook.
 
But the blank page calls me back. Like a lover, or a drug - a promise insistent on itself being fulfilled.
 
Drawing is both joy and sorrow, because I’ll never be as good as I want to be. I don’t recall having ever approached anything in art or life with quite so much humility. In front of the blank page I’m always a beginner.
 
Unlike your peers or audience, the blank page doesn’t care about how successful you are, or how much you (think you) suck. It doesn’t want you when you’re finally ready or ‘in the mood’ to create, because you never are. It only wants your foolish determination in the face of uncertainty and self-doubt.
 
In 2015, I hope the blank page will stay my painful little friend. May it become yours too, if you want it! 

Latest Updates

Honoured to receive a grant from Krishen Jit ASTRO Fund for 'In The Land That Never Was Dry', my illustrated journalism project about water issues in Malaysia. I'll be working on this for the most of 2015, in partnership with Poskod.my. 

Here's the full proposal, along with proposal writing tips.
Performing 'Scream, Honey' at Beyond Pressure Public Art Festival in Yangon, earlier this month. First we screamed into pillows, then we ate honey. More photos.  
 
Students have been occupying the entrance to Universiti Malaya since 10 Dec. They are protesting the university’s treatment of eight students, known as the UM8, who have been suspended and fined for organizing a talk by de-facto opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim on campus last month.

Poster in solidarity with #OccupyUM. I wanted a girl as a protest image, for once. Download printable A3 version.
Spending the last few days the year chained to my drawing table, working on illustrations for Zedeck Siew's 'Local Fauna' stories. Follow on Instagram or Tumblr for sneak peeks and work in progress.

 

The Unseen Files


In this section, I’ll put a drawing or a piece of writing that I won’t post anywhere else online, now or in the future. 
Bogeyman of the blank page. He goes away the moment you put the brush to paper, play the first note, or type the first word. Sometimes he can scare you for years and years.

Since I drew him I have gotten to know him very well. 
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