Inspired by nature and bold colours, Elaine Loo creates unique, functional art pieces

Elaine Loo designs contemporary, bold and colourful pieces, whether it be a pair of earrings, phone case, clock, key chain or piece of home decor.

The 21-year-old’s creativity is very much dependent upon her emotions, which are expressed through shapes, colours, or the texture of the items she makes.

The item might just be a small table coaster, but it often ends up as a one-of-a-kind functional artwork, which holds a special meaning to her.

Functional artworks are artistic creations or fine art pieces that are transformed into utilitarian objects. For example, an artistically painted plate is beautiful and can be used to serve food on the dinner table.

“I wanted to make something that is aesthetic, but serves a utilitarian purpose,” Loo said. “One that can be used in daily life, a visually pleasing and functional art.”

The former art student’s works are posted on the Instagram page for her business UNDRART (@undr_art), which she started in 2019. Her journey into the craft began after she discovered Hawaiian artist Ann Upton (@annupton).

“It opened up a new world of possibilities for me,” she revealed.

“I do dream big. I hope to focus on creating and exploring new possibilities, in the future. It will come true someday with one step at a time.”

What attracted you to functional artworks?

“I hope to bring everyday life and fine art together and create something functional and aesthetically pleasing.

“I am self-taught. Before starting UNDRART, I went through many trials and failures. I don’t remember how many failed pieces I had to throw in the trash ... It was not a very happy experience but I learned my lesson.”

Did art change your life?

“I won’t say it has changed my life, but it has made my life better, in some sort of way. I have stopped pursuing my degree in Product Design. Currently, I am working part-time.

“I didn’t know what I wanted to do or pursue until I started UNDRART. I look forward to having an idea, planning and creating them.

“I am trying new possibilities, although it may not work all the time, but creating gives me a sense of accomplishment like getting a 4.0 CGPA.

“Maybe it is slowly changing my life. I hope it can take me to a place that I want to be. I will also work hard for it.”

How do you come up with ideas?

“My ideas often come from nature. Nature is inspiring enough to bring me countless new ideas and themes, and [influences] some of my favourite artists (Ben Young and Ann Upton).

“Besides, the unpredictability of resin makes every piece unique and one of a kind.”

How do colours play an important role in your creation?

“Colours do play an important role. Colours can impact our emotions and behaviour. In art therapy, every colour has a different meaning such as anger, sadness, joy, and strength.

“My choice of colours for my art is often calm, cool, comfortable and warm. This is what I want you to feel when looking at UNDRART’s works.”

What kind of materials do you use?

“The materials range between Paulownia wood, all-natural bamboo, Quercus Suber with a layer of acrylic and layers of resin coat. For earrings, I use the brass for the rings with my resin made jewellery.”

What is the meaning of UNDRART?

“UNDRART means ‘under’, as in under the ocean or the sea, under nature. What hides under it, what it may look like, is what inspired me to start UNDRART.”