The Artists of Kuala Lumpur Illustration Fair 2023, Part One

Monkiddo Club, Yuurei Neko Sama, and Joanne Loo are three artists that impressed BASKL during KLIF. Check back for Part Two of this story, where we feature more artists!


Over the weekend of May 5-7, GMBB, a creative community mall in Bukit Bintang hosted the spectacular Kuala Lumpur Illustration Fair (KLIF) 2023. Featuring over 100 international and local artists, it was a feast for the eyes to see such diverse masterpieces on display. BASKL took the opportunity to speak to some of the artists who were there. For some of them, this was their very first exhibition. This is Part One of a two-part story showcasing some of the most interesting artists and installations at KLIF!

Monkiddo Club: Created and illustrated by Jayee, this is an intellectual property that encompasses a webcomic and several simple animations. More active on Instagram, the story of Monkiddo Club mainly revolves around a character named Soso and his first experiences as an intern who is new to the workforce.

How would you define your art?
Jayee: “Webcomic and simple animations.”
What is the theme that connects all your art?
“Office-themed. The office culture, the working culture of Asia.”
How did you start?
“The project was started in 2020, at that time I was a fresh graduate. After that I jumped into the workforce. The idea was inspired when I was a student; I was very confused about adulthood, so I was just trying to write some stories about a miserable intern to make fun of adult life.”
What did you bring to KLIF?
“For the exhibition this time, I wanted to do something like ‘on the way to work’. This is our very first installation, so I wanted this to be an introduction.”
What do you think is the importance of KLIF? “It’s a great platform for artists to do business. Other than forming business connections, you can also get more exposure to everyone’s art.”
What advice do you have for aspiring artists?
“Don’t think too much, just do it!”
Instagram link: @itsmonkiddo

Yuurei Neko Sama: Created by Michael Chuah, the titular ghost cat is a charming and striking character. In the collection that Chuah brought to KLIF, Yuurei Neko Sama is accompanied by many animal friends, all painted in the style of Japanese Daruma dolls. Chuah is a comic book artist, toy designer, and NFT artist.

How would you define your art? Chuah: “It has to be fun. I put a lot of small details for people to have fun with my art.”
What is the theme that connects all your art?
“I always start with the character. From there, it expands to other characters and makes a story. For this time, the theme is ‘Everyone is Daruma’.”
How did you get started?
“I’ve always been a comic fan. Even though I never actually wanted to be a comic artist, there came an opportunity to work as a comic assistant, so I ventured into it. From there, I started to develop characters and storytelling. I like exhibitions, so I started to create my own shows and create merchandise.”
What did you bring to KLIF?
“In this exhibition, everyone is dressed as Daruma. The ghost cat wanted to give luck to everyone so he painted everyone to look like Daruma. When I first started, the first toy figure I released was in white, the ghost cat. I brought them to Taiwan but only sold one. But I didn’t give up, and the second series I did was this Daruma, which sold out immediately. It gave me the feeling that it would bring me some luck, so I’m bringing it back now to share with everyone.”
What do you think is the importance of KLIF? “To show good art, and talk to other artists. To build connections.”
What advice do you have for aspiring artists?
“Keep doing it, with social media nowadays, it’s easier to connect to everyone, not just locally but overseas.”
Instagram link: @yuureinekosama

Joanne Loo: Loo is a visual artist, writer and designer. Her art includes a variety of works throughout different mediums, such as painting, punch needle embroidery, ceramics, and more. For her exhibition at KLIF, she is showcasing her series of papier-mâché clay sculptures, along with revealing commentary scrawled beside the pieces, offering a glimpse into the thought process of the artist.

How would you define your art? Loo: “A way to visualise self-expression and self-reflection. I make art to ask questions about myself and my experiences.”
What is the theme that connects all your art?
“The human experience. Human connection I think is one of the strongest themes in my work.”
How did you get started?
“I did a lot of art as a kid, like most of us. I went on to study graphic design and worked as a graphic designer for a number of years before I pursued illustration. That was when I really started seriously developing my artistic practice. I’ve been doing this for close to 10 years now.”
What did you bring to KLIF?
“These sculptures were made following this idea of ‘what if?’, just noticing that a lot of my work stems from questioning. Either questioning things around me or questioning myself. As you’re questioning, these pieces will come to be. More often than not, when you look at the artwork, you don’t see the questioning behind it, you just see the finished piece. How often do you get to see what thoughts are behind the creation? It’s not easy to share the questions and doubts. Sometimes people want to pretend like that’s not a part of them. A big thing about me is trying to come to terms with all these uncomfortable thoughts.”
What do you think is the importance of KLIF? “For people from all walks of life to connect through art and with art. These kinds of fairs are great for being able to meet fellow creatives. It’s also a good place to get feedback.”
What advice do you have for aspiring artists?
“Just do it. Ask a lot of questions, to other people and to yourself.”
Instagram link: @looyingjia

Stay tuned for Part Two of this two-part story, where we’ll talk to a few more standout artists.

Featured image is of Joanne Loo’s exhibition.

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