Artist unleashes creativity through a realm of traditional and contemporary mediums to express his notional ideas

RIZAL AZIZ is a firm believer in adopting the sponge mentality when it comes to creativity. As a full-time illustrator, Rizal constantly keeps his mind open and ready to absorb a wide range of influences.

“Inspiration can come in any form,‘’ he explained.

“However, I tend to resonate more with my own feelings of struggle, pain and love.”

This approach also impacts his other areas of creativity. In fact, the Malacca-based artist is known for utilising both traditional and contemporary drawing tools.

“Although I mainly do digital art and software, I also experiment with different kinds of art mediums like clay, punch needle embroidery, line art and silk screen printing. I believe that experimenting with other art forms, especially the traditional form, will help improve my digital art skills.”

What made you decide to pursue art professionally?

I was initially interested in becoming a visual effects artist. However, during my time at university, I could not cope with the stress. So, I decided to quit and stop doing anything relating to art completely. But it was during these difficult times that I decided to pick up the pencil and start drawing again.

It was art that actually helped me cope with my mental health. Hence, I decided that I should do art for a living and fully focus on it. Support from family and my followers on social media helped me to create meaningful art and relearn everything from scratch.

Can you describe your creative process?

I always start by jotting down the key points for most of my creative tasks.

For example, if I am illustrating a book cover, I will discuss the elements for the cover with the author, from the subjects to the colours that they prefer.

From these key points, I will lay out the ideas in rough sketches. Next, I will look for references and make an initial sketch and present it to the client. Only upon approval will I start finalising the illustration.

Is the process the same for all the different mediums?

Most times, the process is similar. Be it digital or traditional, it usually requires me to list out the key points before breaking them into rough sketches. Research and references are very important to me as an illustrator as it helps me understand certain things that I may not be sure of.

What do you usually strive to convey through your illustrations?

Coming from a colourful family background – Malay, Chinese and Portuguese – I always try to convey the concept of dualism through my art. From masculine and feminine, hard and soft, East and West to the concept of nature and human.

I believe that drawing inspiration from your personal life makes your art more relatable and unique to viewers. Hence, why I would describe my art as a spectrum of different things that work well together without barriers.

How do you cope with creative block?

I do experience periods of creative block. In fact, the longest and worst stretch was three to four months. I was not able to create anything at all even when I forced myself to. But I generally take this as a sign to rest. So, during such periods, I will get into reading and watching TV series or movies. I also find simple daily exercises of sketching to be useful.

How has it been working as an artist during a time like this?

I would not have been so lucky if not for local brands. Due to the pandemic, I had to close my Shopee art shop for fear of going out (of the house).

Since there were no courier services in my area, I did not want to risk infecting my parents.

Fortunately, local TV stations and news outlets have gone the extra mile for local artists during this pandemic. In fact, some big brands and local companies have put out great initiatives to financially and creatively support local artists. It is such an amazing effort and gesture!

What are your plans for the future?

My big goal is to write and illustrate my own children’s picture book and to get it produced by a top publishing company.

Other than that, my main goal is to have a graphic T-shirt line, more art merchandise and be consistent in improving my art skills.