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An Interview with Artist QimmyShimmy


Thank you for agreeing to this interview! Please tell us a bit about yourself!

I call myself an ‘accidental sculptor’ because it was not something I intended to do when I started my creative journey. I am formally trained in design and am currently working full-time as a UX designer in an experience agency.

Everything that I know about sculpting was self-taught. I was experimenting with many different kinds of art forms growing up, but was never really able to find my personal style until I discovered sculpting. Sculpting gives my ideas a tactility and dimension that I am not able to achieve through illustration or painting.


When I see your work, I see such intricacy and delicacy in your sculpting of cherubian features... I am in awe of your abilities! I am curious to know, what is the standard reaction you get when people come into contact with your work, and is it any different from the reaction you hope for?

Thank you so much for that! It is not easy to describe a standard because the reactions sit on such a huge spectrum. Some people love it and find it intriguing, and some people find it discomforting and really hate it. If you were to look at the comments of my works or videos online, they can be quite polarising. But that saying, I do not really hope for any kind of reaction so long as there is a reaction, so I am grateful for all the good and bad.


Do you ever feel limited by your style or subject matter? Will you experiment with other motifs?

At the moment, not really! But I will definitely be open to explore other motifs and materials when I have the time and space to work. I do have many ideas sitting in my sketchbook, and it is all about having the right moment and opportunity to execute them!


How do you view the art scene in Singapore and where do you see yourself in it?

This is a tricky question because appreciation for my art never grew that much until I was based overseas in the Netherlands. Until today, most of my more successful shows took place outside Singapore, so I am not sure if my works have not properly connected with the local audience, or I have just not found the right space and people to work with yet.

The local art scene is vibrant and young, but somewhat on the safer side. In my opinion, many Singaporeans are so preoccupied with labelling and categorising art, and when a work does not fit into anything they can describe or understand, they tend to shy away from it. I also think most Singaporeans have not really learned to trust their own tastes (in regards to art). Instead of discovering beauty through their own eyes and experiences, many prefer artists and works that are trending, or have already been discovered or made known. We tend to look for someone else’s (preferably someone with credibility) “stamp of approval” before we can appreciate someone’s genius and creativity fully and confidently. This can really hinder undiscovered talent trying to shine and stand out.


What is one of the best things you have heard someone say about your works?

People have said memorable things about my work, but the best ones usually come from people that I really look up to and respect. Alan Oei, one of my mentors and the art director of OH! Open House and Substation, told me that he feels my works have surpassed one of my biggest art idols growing up. I do not know if he said that because he finally relented to my practice or was just trying to make me happy, but that really meant a lot to me!


From what I observe your works are grotesque, but also so polished, intricate and ethereal. What inspired you to merge these disparate characteristics?

I have always been quite taken by imagery that are both dark and beautiful. As a child, I have never been into stories and characters that were too saccharine and perfect, finding them too one-dimensional and unrealistic. Instead I was drawn to Tim Burton and Studio Ghibli, where characters were more complex and nuanced. I believe that everyone has a “dark” and “light” side, and it is usually the interplay of the two that gives us our personality.


What do you enjoy in your free time?

I love being immersed in a good story, so I spend a great deal of time (especially during my commutes) listening to podcasts, reading, or watching drama series. If time (and money) allows, I also like travelling, especially exploring old cities and understanding their histories, cultures, and people. I used to love spending every waking minute working and can spend days without leaving the house, but now I am learning to balance it more by spending time with people I love.


What can we hope to see from you in the future?

I will be focusing mainly on my design practice for now, but will find some time to make some art every now and then. I have some group shows lined up for London and Rome. And will hopefully be holding a solo in Portland end of the year, although it might be postponed due to the pandemic. Stay tuned for that!


Photo credit: Ong Wee Kiat

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