THESE days, Hsulynn Pang is known for her beautiful, quirky artworks and murals, which adorn the walls of hip Klang Valley cafes. But just a year ago, when the 29-year-old illustrator was asked to do her first mural, she didn’t even know what paint to use!
“I didn’t go to an art school so I don’t really know all the mediums of art and never formally learnt how to paint a mural. So when I got my first mural job, I was like, ‘yeah sure, I can do that’ and then I had to Google to figure it out!” she said.
Growing up, Pang didn’t think of pursuing art as a career because she thought there were only two career options in the field – art teacher or street artist – so she painted as a hobby.
But things changed when she started freelancing two years ago because she was getting more demands and contract jobs from clients, who loved her work.
With the rise of social media, she feels that people are more aware of the art industry and all the different platforms and career avenues available – muralist, street artist, graffiti artist, character designer, background designer, picture book artist and many more.
Pang herself has a pretty strong following on Instagram (@hsulynn), and she sells her artwork at hsulynnpang.com.
“It’s nice to see people coming up, taking risks and discovering their creative side in many other ways. There are a lot of people doing calligraphy and typography now, too,” she said.
However, there are still some aspiring artists who are having second thoughts about making it their career because as Pang admitted, it’s tough, especially when they don’t have a stable income.
There are plenty of challenges in store, she said, like not getting enough jobs or very small jobs that don’t pay much, so artists might not have enough money to pay for rent or food.
“But it’s something that you have to go through to get your name out there. It may take months or years of hardship but you just have to persevere,” advised Pang.
“If you want jobs to come in, you have to put yourself and your work out there so people can have a taste of what you do and you get to see their response. Because if you want to do this for the rest of your life, you have to know if there’s a crowd that appreciates what you do.”
And the thing about art is that it’s quite expensive, especially if it’s an original piece. According to Pang, the struggle would be to educate people and help them understand why good pieces are worth so much.
There’s a lot of work that goes into a piece. Pang, who is inspired by the nature in Malaysia, will do lots of research on a particular plant or animal – reading about their characteristics and studying their habits – before sketching and painting them.
After all that effort, she doesn’t sell her original artwork, preferring to share it with a larger audience instead. That’s why she scans her pieces and sells them online, making it more affordable and readily available to anyone around the world with an Internet connection. She has sold and delivered pieces as far as Australia and the United States!
Apart from selling her prints, Pang added that she’s currently working on her own children’s book, which has always been a dream of hers.
“I’ve always been a big fan of children’s books and I think a lot of my drawing style comes from there. I look up to children’s book authors and illustrators like Quentin Blake and Oliver Jeffers,” she said.
And since illustrations have now become very trendy, there’s been a higher demand for illustrators to design posters and work their magic at events. But even though trends can come and go quickly, Pang is not worried.
“With illustrations, there are so many things you can do – prints, children’s book, murals. So I want to do as many things as possible,” she said.
Her advice to aspiring artists is equally optimistic. “You’ve been given this talent to draw well, so channel your passion and do what you love!”