Malaysians are united in the love of food. We draw comfort in what we eat.
Nurul Amyra Azman, better known as Mya, finds pleasure in depicting our chow through her art.
“For me, drawing food is very therapeutic. It’s very fun to do,“ says the freelance illustrator and designer.
“I realised I love drawing both food and portraits, and then got the idea of combining both themes in one drawing.”
The Selangor-based artist’s Instagram account (@myasquerade) has just over 2,500 followers, but is fast growing, with many people captivated by her cute and quirky illustrations.
Mya works as a Robotic Trainee, which is something outside the scope of her Bachelor of Arts degree.
However, she refuses to waste her talent, working as a freelance artist, selling merchandise featuring her art.
Her hard work is paying off, as she recently took part in a collaboration with local brand Projek SembangSembang’s 2021 calendar.
She also completed a commission by Minyak Masak Alif to draw illustrations for their Hari Raya packets.
In this email interview, Mya shared the story behind her art.
“I started drawing when I was five or six,” she said.
“Just like any other kid, I just drew whatever I wanted or what crossed my mind the time, mostly girl figures with different clothes and hairstyles. I think back then, food was also something I enjoyed drawing.”
The second of three girls, Mya grew up surrounded by art, thanks in part to the influence of her father, who is a graphic designer, and her mother, a math teacher with a natural talent for art.
“When I was little, they would often teach me the correct way to draw and colour,” she explained.
“I remember asking my dad: ‘How do you draw a cat? How do you draw a figure?’ and without realising it, I was actually learning how to draw better.”
She gets her inspiration from various sources.
“Sometimes, I find my inspiration from my surroundings, movies or a series that I watch. Sometimes, it is from songs and other times, in people’s conversations.
“I am a person who can be very chatty at times but I am not really good at explaining or expressing something verbally. I just tend to observe a lot, and speak through my art.
One signature of Mya’s art is a group of three girls who represent the main races in Malaysia. They feature prominently, either together or on their own, especially in festive-themed artworks.
“I created them during the final year project for my degree,” Mya said.
“We were told to create a campaign related to Malaysia, because we were going to display our artworks in one of the universities in Indonesia.
“That's when it started to happen, I decided to continue drawing three of them to come up with ways to embellish my ideas.”
Almost all her artworks feature a diverse group of female characters, for one simple reason.
“Have you ever felt like you want to be ‘her’, but you can’t? You want to wear this outfit, but for some reason, you can’t?
“I create a lot of girls, or draw all the girls that I aspire to be. If I can’t be like them, at least I can draw them.”Despite only freelancing in art at the moment, Mya has big dreams for the future.
“I dream about having my own studio, to produce merchandise of my artworks and sell them. I want to build my own label and brand.
“I just want to share the emotions and thoughts that I’ve expressed through my artwork, and when people buy it ... I feel like spreading my expression and being heard by them.”
Asked what advice she would give to other budding illustrators, she said: “If you have passion and love what you’re doing, don’t let this talent go to waste. It may take time to develop your skills.
“Sometimes, I do feel out of place because I’m not confident enough to achieve my dream and to become an illustrator. I tend to give up easily, then I wonder if I was the one who turned off my own spotlight.
“Life is too short to not be able to enjoy what you love doing. Get up and just go for it! Where there is a will, there is a way.”