TWO years ago, Lyn-Hui Ong made headlines when she was commissioned by Netflix to produce a poster for the hit television series Stranger Things.
This came after years of Lyn creating fan art of the science fiction show.
“The Stranger Things project was commissioned by Netflix US. After that, Netflix Malaysia approached me and my studio to do something for Good Vibes Festival 2019,” Lyn told theSun.
For the subsequent project, Lyn was commissioned to create art that would be prominently featured on a Stranger Things set that was built on Genting at the site of the 2019 festival.
“It blew up the artwork I did for Netflix US. I was like ‘Oh my god, finally I’m recognised in my own country!’,” she excitedly said.
The two projects opened doors for Lyn and her ForReal Studio, which was co-founded with her partner Jin Xin Kwok.
“Slowly, more local authors began reaching out to me to draw for children’s books and to collaborate with me.”
Based in Penang, Lyn’s studio does anything related to design and illustrations, from children books to packaging.
During her free time, Lyn does art for her Instagram.
“I started drawing at the age of three. At that time, I did not speak very well and my late mom thought I was slow or had some problem. I was already drawing human figures then.’’
Luckily, a pediatrician re-assured her parents that the child was just too lazy to talk.
Lyn began drawing nudes from the age of five. She had watched Titanic with her parents and, although too young to understand the naked scene, began to draw bare bodies.
“ My mum did not even stop me. She kept the sketches and showed it to all her friends, and she was very happy with the drawings, which were like naked people in the park,” Lyn said, laughing.
Growing up, Lyn noted that she watched a lot of the same cartoons like other kids in the ‘90s watched, such as The Powerpuff Girls, Dexter’s Laboratory, Samurai Jack and so on.
These cartoons inspired her current art style.
“In college, I was told my drawings sucked. As in, my human figures and portrait sketches are really, really bad. The proportions are way off. I could not draw normal human beings,” said the One Academy graduate.
“I then self-taught myself by referring to Western artists to find my current art style”.
Prior to the pandemic, Lyn and her studio were involved in large scale projects and event branding, such as Georgetown Heritage Celebrations.
They worked on the event for four years straight.
But such lucrative jobs have been stopped by the ongoing crisis; the design and illustration business – like every other industry – has been forced to adapt and survive.
“The pandemic has changed the way we work, because last time, ForReal Studio used to have a lot of event brandings and worked with hotels. Now we’ve been doing more online projects, like animations for videos. We’re moving to an online platform,” she said.
In a more personal capacity, Lyn notes that even her creativity and drive to express herself has taken a hit.
“Most of my art is happy, besides the ones talking about personal grief, but I’ve been struggling during Covid-19, and the reality is, some people are not creative during this time,” the artist solemnly admitted.
“As it’s hard to earn a steady income during the pandemic, and Instagram is a place where you produce free art and people just look at it. I’m not earning anything. So I’m more focused on my job and studio”.
She has barely posted any of her works on Instagram seven months into 2021. Despite the constant professional and personal uphill battle she faces, Lyn explains that the prospect of life after Covid-19 keeps her moving forward.
“It sounds cliche, but I find inspiration in everyday things. The pandemic is depressing, but I do draw art. I just don’t post them because I don’t feel happy enough to show them,” Lyn said, reluctantly.
“I’ve been drawing things where I imagine life after Covid-19. I’ve been hanging onto the hope of life after the pandemic”.