I studied Chemistry in Australia and went on to work as a chemist and as an engineer in Johor. But I now work at the Science Discovery Centre in Kuala Lumpur. I am a science museum educator by profession. My passion is in the development and education of people, especially the young. Being a children’s book author, illustrator and a storyteller feels right with my values.
As far as I can remember, I have always loved creating and looking at pictures. My father loves art and my mother is the creative one. My sisters helped shape my interest in children’s books. But as time went by, I fell in love with children’s picture book. They look simple yet there is a great deal of thought and effort that goes into creating one. There are so many picture books out there but it is not easy to find those which children really enjoy. I take it as a challenge to create one that they will find hard to resist! There are so many children book writers that I find inspiring but there’s something about Dr. Seuss books that touches me deeply.
I started to write a few years ago but I did not pursue it seriously due to some constraints. In 2012, I joined a workshop organised by Persatuan Penulis Negeri Sembilan (PEN) - Writers' Assocation of Negeri Sembilan, and Kota Buku. The workshop, facilitated by the nation’s foremost writers, Puan Mahaya Mohd Yassin, Nisah Haron and the artist Yusof Gajah gave me the basics for creating a picture book.
I have always been fascinated by batik but I never took it seriously. So I thought of trying my luck by entering the DBP-Kota Buku Picture Book Award 2012 using a batik medium. I won the consolation prize which encouraged me to explore the medium further. I researched to learn more about the technique and also learned from batik artists like Zakiah Mohd Isa, Yusof Gajah and Sulaiman Sehan.
Defintely! I just love the brilliant colours of acrylic. It is also interesting to see how children are fascinated by the colours and texture of acrylics and how they keep wanting to touch them! My mentors, Yusof Gajah, Mie Mambo and other artists’ illustrations and creative passion have been a source of inspiration and example. I did an acrylic illustration in 'Alahai, Anak Gajah', published by Karangkraf, which will come out very soon.
I have so many stories that I would like to write and illustrate but it is a challenge to find time! There is a story about Wau (traditional kite) which I am working on, some drafts on animal stories (I love writing about animals), and I am developing a character based on the civet cat, an animal I find fascinating.
Since I work during the day and spend some time with my children in the evenings, I illustrate late at night, after they are all asleep. But most of the time I do illustrate on my off days especially during weekends. My wife and family help a lot, not only in assisting with some preparation beforehand, but also looking after the kids while I work. It is hard work but it pays off when I see the outcome.
My favourite author-illustrator, Eric Carle once said that picture books are an introduction to literature for the very young reader. I hope to be able to encourage children to see how wonderful it is to be surrounded and touched by books. But my ultimate goal is to create books that will inspire children, encourage them to think creatively and critically and perhaps something that they can find solace in and companionship during difficult times.