Fright nights

WHILE people look for beauty and elegance in art, Ahmad Ashraf Romli looks the other way.

Fascinated by gory and horror movies, and inspired by artists such as Neckface and Skinner, the 26-year-old from Kelana Jaya prefers to feature monstrosities and dark humour in his artworks. Ahmad Ashraf calls himself a “spawnist”, as he “spawns” monsters and creatures on paper using a Sakura Pigma brush pen.

He’s always had an affinity for drawing, and was encouraged by a friend – a successful artist in the local scene – to pursue his dream. However, being diagnosed with bipolar disorder, Ahmad Ashraf is at risk of relapse. The last occurrence was in 2015.

“With the condition, it’s not like I have a switch to start and stop how I feel. But I coped by skateboarding and drawing,” he revealed.

Ahmad Ashraf was featured – among several local artists – at the 2016 International Artist Day celebration in Central Market, and he has been invited to showcase some of his artworks at the upcoming Parallax Art Fair in London on Feb 25 and 26.

Tell us about your inspirations.

I grew up watching Pokémon and Digimon, and playing Monster Rancher the video game. It’s one of my favourite games, and I like drawing the monsters from the game franchise.

I have a fascination for horror films and zombie-themed video games. I also enjoy injecting dark humour into my works.

What’s a common reaction that you get from viewers of your artworks?

At the exhibition in Central Market, I heard that people were giggling at my artwork. A group of youngsters was also laughing at my Mamak Mornings piece, because they could relate to it.

I like to see people get weirded out by my drawings, or find them to be funny. I do not want ‘This is nice’ reactions. Feeling grossed out or creeped out is a much more interesting reaction.

How long does it take for you to create an artwork?

Depending on the size, it can take between half an hour and three hours. Some can take up to a week, like my Herman the Merman artwork. I used a Chinese calligraphy brush, and focused on different parts of the painting. It was one of the most complicated artworks I have created.

Would you like to explore other media for your drawings?

Most of my drawings are done in black and white with the Pigma pen brush. But I would like to incorporate watercolours into my artworks. I want to see these different colours merge together and produce unconventional colours in my works. But I would stick to ‘spawning’ monsters, zombies, and creatures.

What would you like to achieve in the art scene here?

In this art community, it is good to see a lot of artists and their styles, and a community that appreciates arts and various exhibitions.

For me, one of my biggest dreams is to have a Halloween-themed art exhibition – to have all these artworks displayed in a haunted house. I would want to gather and get on board fellow artists who like to draw monsters and similar themes.


Favourite food: Pizza.

Favourite book: Goosebumps horror fiction series by R.L. Stine.

Favourite bands: Crystal Castles and Sweet Valley.

Creative juice: A cup of teh o ais and a cigarette.