About Emilia, Tan Mei Shia

article published in 2011 @ corporate journey magazine


Emilia Tan with Zuraidah, the GM of Karyaneka during the opening of Ridzwan Art Gallery

Emilia Tan with Zuraidah, the Director of Karyaneka

My name is Tan Mei Shia (T.M.S) , with my surname being Tan. However everyone loves to call me Emilia. I was born in Selangor, Malaysia and my obsession with art emerged after the age of six. I was doing very well in watercolour painting for more than 10 years during my primary school and high school years before I decided to enter the world of Batik.
In 1999, after high school, I decided to travel around Asia in a journey of exploration to find my way in life. I spent two years finding my way, studying about other countries’ cultures and humanism. I became very interested in Australian Aboriginal art from the first time I arrived in Australia. After that I was determined to study more about Aboriginal art when I was staying in Melbourne, Australia.
My Journey as an Artist is evolving slowly.

My Wonderful Teachers

Emilia and Fatimah Chik post infront the camera during the launch of second issue of myBatik

Emilia and Fatimah Chik post infront the camera during the launch of second issue of myBatik

In 2001 with respected Ms. Fatimah Chik and Mr. Samsuddin as my guides, I was introduced to the art of Batik. This was during my textile and fashion designing course at the Malaysian Institute of Art (M.I.A). I was very fortunate to have so many wonderful teachers with which the knowledge and instructions that I receive has been valuable to my artistic development. Presently, Ms. Fatimah Chik and Mr. Samsuddin are recognised as Malaysian’s finest Batik artists. They were my Tutors, teaching and cultivating an appreciation for contemporary art and experimenting with abstract impressionism. They shared with me various skills and techniques with which they had experimented with and devised over the years. Thus, I developed a strong interest in batik painting and soon displayed my talent that enabled me to work as an artist of considerable repute.

My Influences

The time that I have spent in Australia has been the biggest influence on my work. The influences of my world are Australian Aboriginal art, with its very fine lines and fine dots. I have succeeded to create my own style with a mix of aboriginal art styles with batik techniques. The influences of Malaysian batik and European impressionist movements are obvious in my work, where the emphasis is always on technique and the message portrayed is “It’s not what I paint, but how I create it, so that it will belong to me, and leads off to my own personal style”. My work, a painting with integrity speaks for itself and it prefers to dwell on purity, intuition and integrity. It is a form of painting that mixes traditional impressionistic values with versatility- an honest interest in contemporary batik art. I use influences and symbols from many cultures in my work, rather than painting in a fixed traditional Malay Batik style.

My Inspiration , Concept & Composition Influences

My inspiration comes from my inner spiritual life, images surface from my ongoing and deeply personal relationship with the surface of life. It also guides my spiritual growth, healing and brings me to a new level of spiritual fulfilment.
My innate sense of design and colours and my love of Australian Aboriginal art joined together to create a contemporary Batik art form. All my Batiks contain basic aspects of my work; original in concept, imaginative in treatment, brimming with action and life. This is the most critical part of developing my own style. My inner vision emerges from my own life experiences. I trust my own intuition and keep searching for my own vision.
There will be times where I may feel totally uninspired. The creative process is not always continuous and the execution of an idea can be interrupted or even grinds to a stop. I tell myself to keep an open mind because the process may still be incubating. I have never been discouraged or afraid to change directions. This may be the time when the birth of new ideas is forming below my consciousness in which does not demand perfection of myself. This is a time to reflect in my journal and try to visualize the direction I may want to go. By keeping the faith, the uniqueness will eventually emerge.
It is rare that a situation such as this presents itself – the opportunity for Malaysians to purchase modernist painting of an international standard. My work is characterised by rich and vivid colour with very strong contrast and contemporary batik style.

My Painting Style: Realism & Abstraction

I alternate between realism and abstraction in my paintings. While the result looks very different, basically the process and the goals are the same. Although I try to work intuitively and spontaneously, I am still so aware of the rules and principles of design that my intuitive decisions are all filtered through my design sensibilities.
I love painting abstracts because the spirit of my soul comes out and I truly paint from my heart. I try to paint the subject as I perceive it rather than try to achieve a realistic interpretation. Using an abstract motif is a marvellous way to practice creating loss and found edges; producing a painting that is expressive in its emotional content. When I create abstract art, I normally work with the basic elements of design and colour theories, but I am not limited to rendering an accurate representation.
I love to use rich multi-layered surfaces. Layering colour over colour or material over material builds depth and luminosity. The richness of several layers interacting and the sense of mystery created by successive layers peeking through my painting are the elements that make my work unique.
Abstraction and realism are the two finished forms my work takes but from my prospective the similarities far overweight the differences. The common unifying factor is design.
‘Inspiration far more often comes during the work than before it’ – Madeleine L.Engle

My Color

I love to apply many colours in my painting that makes it more colourful. As the more colours used in my work means, more energy will be transmitted to my paintings. Actually, colour is the most expressive element of art and can move a painting from a mere depiction of fact to one that expresses a variety of emotions. The composition of each colour is different; each colour’s personality will emerge as the colour is floating on the water through the surface of the fabric. I usually add colour to a very wet fabric surface, giving it the image of being caught in the moment between time and space.
It works by placing wet colour on top of dry colours and covering with removable wax on each layer. When dry, this creates a neutral tone. I create contrasting colours when I layer a dark colour over a light or a textured surface over a smooth surface, change the temperature when I layer cool over warm or create a concept where I layer an image over an image.
I love to paint my composition by layering colour over colour and working from light to dark. The use of complementary colours allows me to accurately express almost anything I desire. An important element in evoking emotion and conveying a particular mood is my choice and use of colour.

My Mastering Techniques

Finally TMS Art Gallery was settled down in TMS Art Centre in 2008, December.

Finally TMS Art Gallery was settled down in TMS Art Centre in 2008, December.

Batik, a Javanese term meaning “wax painting”, indicates a system of motif application by dyeing finished cloths. The technique involves the dyeing of fabrics where parts of the cloth not to be dyed are covered with layers of removable wax. The fabric is then immersed in dye with the waxed portions resisting the dye. This process is repeated for each colour.
I found my own artistic identity in contemporary Batik art. As for techniques that need to be mastered in contemporary Batik, these include blocking, tjanting, tie-dye and cracking. Each technique is represented separately, but when I combine all these technique, a contemporary batik painting is produced. The tool that I personally use the most as a batik painter is the tjanting technique.
By breaking down and analysing the techniques one by one, I can see that tjanting technique works best for me. It is easier to control when comparing with other techniques. The most difficult technique is cracking. The characteristic “cracking” is the interesting little veining of colour; occur when the congealed wax, hard and brittle, ruptures and the dye are able to penetrate these places.
I love to paint wet-into-wet, because it is the most creative, sensuous and energetic of all techniques. Lifting is a very basic yet critical technique used to create some white and to help achieve a fresh look in my painting. The first lifting usually occurs during the wet-to-wet process. While the colour is floating on the sizing, the colour will easily lift off the fabric. Lifting with a thirsty brush, tissue, sponge or any absorbent tools can achieve this look.
By adding salt, it can create a granular texture when dropping it onto a wet surface. The salt actually repels the water and leaves a white shape that varies in sizes depending on the size of the original salt particles and the degree of dampness of the fabric. A soft and dissolved look will finally occur using this technique. The use of salt is not one of my favourite techniques because the salt leaves a residue when it dries that could affect the permanence of colour. For your information, during times of high humidity, the salt may even reactivate and continue to dissolve the paint. This is the main reason why I avoid using salt in my painting.
Another technique is by rubbing alcohol with water as it wicks into the fabric; creating a whimsical, soft bubble-shaped texture. However alcohol is so unpredictable that it can penetrate the shapes. It can be applied by dripping, spraying or painting. I succeeded in producing a marvellous line by squeezing the alcohol out of a bottle with a needle on the top.
Finally let’s talk a little bit more about collage technique here as well. Use of many collage fabrics in different sizes, colours, shapes, textures are glued to the work to add harmonic enrichment and to form connecting elements that add unity to the painting. The entire surface is then wet and more colours are applied onto those collage fabrics. The new interpretation will now be judged on design and content. I have unearthed the key elements of colour, value, texture and shape then integrated them with a new integrity.
I am primarily a Batik painter completing a painting with 90% in batik media and the other 10 % in other media such as acrylic, art maker, crayon and water colour. It is important for me to try as many media as possible to find something new in my batik world and also to find the best combination to suit my intention and artistic personality. I always keep my antennae tuned into a new direction. I try to be open minded in my works and I’m never afraid of trial and error. I know in my heart that my uniqueness will emerge in my art works.
Knowledge of all the technical expertise available is still not my ultimate goal but rather, a starting point. I give myself permission to go into search mode and explore myself, through trial and error to find the path to my own personal style. After a period of time observing and experimenting, I can see some results from the combinations of these techniques.
‘Art is an expression of your own vision and eventually you will make up your own rules. Inspiration is everywhere. My journey through the world of batik is a continuing adventure and I still find myself learning and discovering everyday.’ said this young Batik artist, Emilia.

创业人生 Emilia’s Corporate Journey

艺术企业家陈美霞

在跨族峇迪业中寻开心

峇迪,是一门土著艺术,在大马皆大多数由马来同胞经营,很难想像它竟然可以在一名华裔女子的手中茁壮成长,她甚至将西方及东马的特色融入峇迪创作中,经由她的积极推广,让更多人认识峇迪、爱上峇迪。陈美霞说,艺术家可以很主观,但经营一门艺术的企业,就必定有所取舍,毕竟市场是万变的,唯有顺应趋势才能创造更多的机会。

俗语说,三岁定八十,TMS Art Gallery ( http://www.tmsart.com.my )创办人陈美霞(Emilia Tan)从小就散发出浓浓的艺术气息,偏爱画画的她打趣的说:「小时候只要一动笔画画,就会一『画』不可收拾,甚至废寝忘食,因此我尽量不在晚上画画,不然就会越画越过瘾,舍不得上床睡觉。」

因此,陈美霞是幸运的,她成功将兴趣变成事业,令人感到惊讶的是,她竟然以马来传统手艺峇迪开拓属于自己的市场。

诞于文丁小镇的她为什么会对峇迪情有独钟呢?这要回溯到约7年前,当她到热浪岛游玩时,度假屋内的峇迪画及峇迪布置,让她对峇迪这门艺术一见钟情,甚至决定修读纺织课程,并考取马来西亚艺术学院纺织与服装设计专业文凭,之后更前往澳洲及台湾继续进修。

梦想灭了 再筑梦想

「搞艺术」的人总是让人联想到4个字,就是「找不到吃」,但偏偏艺术这个玩意对一名艺术家来说是一种戒不掉的瘾,总是在梦想与现实之间徘徊游走,难以取舍。「修读完毕后,我也一度天真的以为自己可以当画家,也和其他艺术家一样以办画展、开画廊为梦想。」

也许处于懵懂天真阶段的人最有勇气,陈美霞曾将自己的峇迪画作交给澳洲一家画廊的老板看,希望得到对方的欣赏与肯定,对方却对她说:「峇迪不是艺术,而是手艺。」对方解释道,峇迪可以是一幅画,但若将它变成一条桌巾时,就成为了一个手工艺品,价值也有所差异,当下的她有受伤的感觉,但却没有让她对峇迪的热忱减退。

「除了热爱画画,我对科技资讯甚有兴趣,因此设立了一个网站,将自己的作品上载至该网站,让更多人看到。 」2003年开始,她成立自己的公司,将自己的住所充当工作室,除了透过网络宣传,也有参与一些展览活动,甚至有一段时期,她在Royal Selangor Visitor Centre设小摊子,展示及售卖其作品。

就在那个时候,MK Land发展商在她个人网站看到其作品时投于欣赏的眼光,并邀请她到当时新张落成的Tropicana购物中心展出其作品,该发展商更购买了她的一副峇迪作品作为囊中物。「这样的经营模式一直维持了大约2年,还好峇迪的利润比较高,竞争也比较少,加上善于和别人沟通的优势,让我得到许多发展商或企业机构的偏爱。」

寻找定位 增加自信

论制作峇迪的技巧及功夫,陈美霞坦言不及经验丰富的土著手工艺者,他们从小开始接触峇迪及开始画画,尤其是吉兰丹一带的传统手工艺者的功夫都非常深厚,但这并不曾打击她的信心,她很清楚,要在传统的峇迪业中熬出苗头,除了在技巧上下苦功,更重要的是找到属于自己市场定位及创作风格。

「若要继续往前走,听取别人的意见很重要,一意孤行,吃亏的往往是自己。」人人都说艺术家总会有奇怪的脾气,但在与陈美霞聊天的过程中,完全感觉不到她拥有所谓的「艺术家脾气」,甚至随和亲切得让记者有点惊讶,她坦然自己不是一个固执的人,可以坦然接受别人的意见与批评,这种大方接受「进谏」的性格成为她创业成功的秘诀之一。

「我清楚自己要的是什么,所以才朝着所设下的目标出发。为谋生、为三餐,每个人一开始也许都是为自己而做(work for yourself);当三餐温饱,思维就渐渐有了转变,开始想为自己的行业而做(work for your industry),接下来,当然就是希望可以引领行业(lead the industry),我就是属于那么『不甘于此』的人,所以才一步一脚印你地去建立自己的事业。」

努力因为喜欢

除了拥有天赋的才华,陈美霞亦是一个努力的人,但对她而言,与其说「努力」,倒不如说是「喜欢」,因为喜欢峇迪,自然而然就想多了解它,为了对峇迪文化有更深入的了解,她在创业的前两年,抱着多看、多听及多学的态度走遍国内的购物广场设摊,也曾参加国内外大大小小的艺术博览会,当作考察及取经,只有贴近它才能掌握它,让自己的峇迪创作更有生命力及内涵。

她更在那段期间开办峇迪工作坊,让对峇迪有兴趣者也有机会学习绘画峇迪。「在我国,并没有峇迪学校或学院,除了可以透过课程传授绘画的技巧,讲解制作峇迪的过程,也可以教导学员辨识手工峇迪及印刷峇迪。」

决定投身杂志业……

2006年,她在位于安邦路的Amp Walk购物中心租了一个店面作为工作室及陈列室,但该地点却严重缺乏泊车位,此问题不但为她本身带来困扰,也让到访其工作室的顾客感到不便,因此,她在第二年将工作室迁至Taman Melawati,并在同年出版杂志《My Batik》。

提及为何会有出版杂志的想法时,她表示:「我本身还蛮喜欢社交活动的,之前曾去修一些休闲社交课程,如有关高尔夫球、品酒及品咖啡等的课程。慢慢的,我才发觉市面上并没有一本以峇迪为题材的杂志,怎么说峇迪是我国深具代表性的手工艺品之一,应该要透过平面的宣传方式去弘扬,因此激发了我有了出版峇迪杂志的念头,希望让更多人了解峇迪文化,亦以杂志作为平台,开拓这领域的人际网络。」

谈到这里,又回到大家感到好奇的问题上,在我国,峇迪是一门马来传统手艺,而第一本以峇迪为题材的杂志,却由一名华裔女子来出版,这当中是否有碰到一些难题或障碍呢?「其实只要相信自己,抱着正面的心态出发,就不必担心迎面而来的问题。就像在出版第1期的杂志时,我坚持以『马来西亚峇迪画之父』拿督蔡天定作为封面人物,当时也有听到一些反对的声音,我却没有因此打消该念头。」

果断是因为相信自己

陈美霞的果断是来自她对自己的信任,当第1本以拿督蔡天定为封面人物的《My Batik》面市时,随即得到了很好的口碑,不禁让人对这位年轻小妮子刮目相看。「在与拿督蔡天定安排采访的过程中,其实没有想象中简单,毕竟拿督蔡是一名『大人物』,而且当年的他已迈入95岁高龄,身体状况也不甚理想,但这个任务对我来说是志在必得的,还好最终我透过一名买家购买拿督蔡的画才成功与他联系,并完成了这项艰巨的任务。拿督蔡在接受采访约1年多后宣告逝世,而我们成为了他生前最后一个接触他的媒体。」

杂志和其他产品一样必须树立品牌,《My Batik》亦特设栏位刊登有关名人及大人物的报导,就是透过一些文化艺术领域或场合接触更多名人,并与他们作进一步的报导,再把杂志寄给他们,就采用这样方式扩张人脉提升杂志的形象。「当杂志殿下了一定的知名度,我们接着很荣幸地邀请到我国前首相夫人Tun Siti Hasmah及当今的首相夫人Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor成为杂志封面人物,很快的,杂志就得到了各商家、企业家及广大读者们的肯定,甚至有许多国外名人都曾与我们配合。」 (http://www.myBatik.org.my )

关键的第一步

在创业路上完全没有碰到挫折是不可能的事,但她始终觉得她是比较幸运的那位,一路走来得到很多「贵人」的扶持与协助,让种种问题都能迎刃而解,可说是蛮顺利的。「我觉得一开始的步伐很重要,只要第一步走对了,再循次渐进地去做,就不用担心接下来所碰到的问题,因为『挫折』是成功的必经之路。」

众所周知,艺术家的致命伤往往就是缺乏创作灵感,但灵感却不曾让她感到头疼,只要多留意身边的事物,就不担心找不到创作灵感,而且很多时候,我们都会依据顾客的需求进行创作。

令她感到懊恼的反而是一些画家及设计师,毕竟与所谓的艺术家沟通接洽,并不是件容易的事,但她亦会竭尽所能去做好这一部分。「在我们所开办的艺术画廊中,有售卖大约20位峇迪画家的作品,除了本地的画家,还有来自德国、日本及美国等的画家。」

2010年,她再开拓了另一个平台,设立Buy Batik–峇迪及工艺品网上商店,( http://www.buyBatik.com.my ) 除了可在该网上购买到现成的产品,也可以询问有关特别订制的产品,让其事业更全面化地发展,达到一站式的服务理念。「只要顾客在网上商店开启户口,就可以把其峇迪商品放入网页中出售,更吸引了国外顾客在此网站售卖峇迪商品,成为国内外峇迪商人交流与及推广峇迪文化的平台。」

当「开心」化为感染力……

再回首,从当初小小的摊子直到目前拥有完善、宽敞的艺术中心,当业务往更多方面地蓬勃发展,当峇迪画家摇身一变成为峇迪领域中的成功女企业家,相信大家都很想知道她的心态与思维是否也因此有了改变。

「其实从以前到现在,我个人都抱着一种心态出发,就是『开心』,对我来说,再也没有任何东西比活得开心更重要。一位开心的商人可以让顾客感到开心,不论经营那一个行业,经营者都必须懂得自我调适,呈献出来的产品与服务才会具有感染力。」陈美霞从不活在别人的眼光下,所以她轻松地做着自己想做的事,从她那正面的思维及真诚的笑容里,不难感受到她那乐观的个性。

毕竟各族群的文化、宗教及生活方式不同,投身于一门跨族群生意,可以经营得如此开心,她是怎么做到的?她的答案很简单,就是不管与任何族群或任何国际的人相处,只要把心打开,以一颗「信任」与「包容」来对待他们,心理障碍自然就会解开。「目前,公司的合作伙伴及顾客大多数都是马来同胞,共占90%以上,很自然的,我身边的朋友也以马来同胞居多,我和他们相处地非常融洽。」

企业合作 发展迅速

陈美霞这种大方无私的作风及前瞻性的眼光,为她的事业创造更多的商机,这些年来,她曾与许多单位及企业进行配合,例如KLCC、Asian Handicraft、Royal Selangor Visitor Centre及Eastin Hotel等,都曾是其公司的合作伙伴。「其实企业与企业间的合作,早已成为一种新趋势,透过这种合作方式,不但可以让峇迪产品与其他产品结合,创造出更有新意的商品,也让企业发展地更迅速。」

在别人眼中,她在各方面的表现是如此的优越,但她还是认为自己做得不够好,还有很多进步的空间。「只有不自满才可以不断进步,不然就会渐渐退步或被取代,学习应该是永无止境的。其实,峇迪这行业很缺乏人才,接下来,我希望可以栽培更多人才,将峇迪艺术传承给下一代,让它源远流长,这是我的期许,也是一份责任。」

荣获由马来西亚连锁协会颁发的2009 Outstanding Support and Contributions Awards The Growth and Progress of The MRCA奖项。

2010年荣获由杂志Women’s Weekly所颁发的「年度杰出女性大奖」。

Emilia Tan’s personal blog, http://www.lovEmilia.com.my

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  2. Agung says:

    It’s good to know that there are still people who care about cultural art, especially Batik, as much as you do.. Keep up the great effort..

  3. -~” I am really thankful to this topic because it really gives up to date information `:~

  4. Collin Varty says:

    I am really thankful to this topic because it really gives great information :”‘

  5. Lilli Cibula says:

    Thankful for posting this composition.

  6. Thanks for a sweet article, very informative.. we will sure be back for more.

  7. Great information! I’ve been looking for something like this for a while now. Thanks!

  8. Great blog! I genuinely love how it’s simple on my eyes as well as the data is well written. I am wondering how I may be notified whenever a new post has been made. I have subscribed to your rss feed which must do the trick! Have a nice day!

  9. admin says:

    thanks dr. Harozila, you can get the magazine in all the book stores, like Kinokuniya, TIMES,

  10. John Looi says:

    good. and well done.. keep up all the good works…. Emilia, you really make the history.. i am always here to support you..

  11. sham says:

    I am a batik artist. I really appreciate what you have done to introduced batik to the world. Your focus on batik is something that all Malaysians should.I am proud and amaze of what you had done.Keep up the good work.

  12. GAPE says:

    THANKS A LOT FOR SHARING THESE INSPIRING UPS AND DOWNS OF YOURS, INDEED YOU ARE HARD WORKER. WISH YOU GOOD LUCK. I ENJOY YOU QUARTERLY MAGAZINES.THANKS

  13. Emilia says:

    Thank you Dr. Harozila, myBatik magazine is available in all the MPH, BOREDER, Kinokuniya… bookstores in town, or you can drop by TMS Art Centre, visit to the lastest Batik exhibition in TMS ART GALLERY, meanwhile grap a copy of myBatik magazine here, log on http://www.tmsart.com.my to read more..

  14. Dr. harozila says:

    emillia..

    your magazine full of knowledge…..well done.
    how… and where can i get this magazine…..

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