NUR SHAFIQ, better known as Juan Villanueva, started his career at the tender age of 18, at local animation studio Animasia Studio.
“They appreciated my art and gave me a job in the Clean Up Department, where an artist cleans and carefully recreates accurate character designs for animators to create the animation sequence.”
Later, he became one of the animators.
He considers himself lucky to have worked on projects for Disney and Cartoon Network, as well as having a great circle of friends and being able to learn the art of animating from the best mentors.
He says: “It is amazing to have that kind of energy when you are growing as an artist.”
In 2017, he started a new career as a freelance visual artist. Once again, he considered himself blessed to be able to collaborate with artistic people from the world of art, music, fashion and film.
“They have allowed me to explore their world and to create something together,” said the 27-year-old.
“I have adored fashion ever since I can remember and it is just amazing to meet so many talented fashion designers and models.”
Juan has created several fashion arts pieces for Malaysian Fashion Week and Kuala Lumpur Fashion Week. He has also worked on album covers for a few singers.
What are the themes you love to tackle in your work?
“I cannot say that I have a theme in my work. I work on so many styles and so many forms. But one thing that stands out is that I love using the colour gold in my work. Gold has been a constant colour from my childhood years. I remember my mother and my relatives loved wearing this colour.
“Besides that, gold has a significant history within human existence through art and technology. In terms of art, gold has always been used to make amazing illustrations. In terms of technology, gold is an excellent conductor.”
Where do you get inspiration for your work?
“I always find that inspiration comes to you when you least expect it. Inspiration could just come from gazing out of a car window when you are taking a drive. I think in the end, all inspiration comes from emotions.”
What are some of the best compliments you have received about your work?
“The best compliment came from Jimmy Choo (the famed shoe designer). He said my works are very vogue. I was so starstruck by the compliment because Carrie Bradshaw (played by Sarah Jessica Parker on the early 2000s TV show Sex and the City) wears his shoes. I will always remember his compliment.”
What is the worst criticism that you have received about your work?
“Someone said that my art looks disproportional. But I do not mind. To be fair, my works are meant to be over the top, because they are supposed to enhance reality. I am always putting imagination into my works. It is super fun to defy every logic, and get people to see things my way for a change.”
Who are some of the visual artists you admire?
“I admire the work of Sanuri Zulkefli. I love his dreamy landscapes, and the way he uses his ink brushes. It is very entertaining to watch him doing fast strokes with his brush. The other artist I admire is Haris Rashid. His colours are striking, yet subtle.”
What advice can you give young artists out there?
“Put a date on every work you create in your sketch book from the moment you start your career. I know it is tedious to do that. But it will be worth it. Years later, when you look back at your sketch book, you can see how your style, your perspective and your perception have changed over the years as an artist. Trust me, it will be an exciting discovery.”
What is the biggest change you would like to see taking place in the art world?
“Please pay your artists fairly, especially if it is a commissioned work, and never forget to credit your fellow artists’ work. One of my biggest challenge as an artist is getting paid for the work that I have done. It is annoying but it happens. My only advice for artists out there is to keep an invoice. It is a life saver.”
What are your future plans?
“One of my dreams is to host a cooking show, because I love to talk and I love to eat. I would love to work on any kind of art from fashion to films. I would also love to create clothes. I might even want to direct a short film. I have always seen myself as a creator, not just a visual artist.”