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An Interview with Artist Speak Cryptic


Hi Farizwan! I think people may not know that the mural outside our storefront was painted by you. Do remember any fun stories from working on it?

Being able to hang out at the store when I was painting was actually a whole lot of fun. I got to hang out with everyone including the cats and then to be around books....sounds like a good time to me.


You’ve published ‘The National Archives’, a collection of drawings from 2011 to mid-2013. How much have you grown artistically since then?

Art to me, as I believe it is for so many people, is another form of communication. It is a language that I am currently learning to speak and I would like to think that I am getting better at it. But that has been the main intention for me; to be able to encapsulate everything I want to say in one image. But again, it's going to take me a while to get there, although I think it's a life long pursuit.


What’s different about working on large-scale pieces like graffiti and murals compared to smaller pieces, and how does working on murals overseas compare to Singapore?

There is no difference in regards to the process, to be honest. The scale does play a part, but once I get over that, then it's pretty much the same thing. I am, however, trying to work a little slower since I'm so used to trying to get things done as fast as I can. I am not too sure whether that has impacted the work in any way as of yet.

The public murals, no matter if it's in Singapore or overseas, has always been site-specific and I approach each wall with the awareness of where it is, what it is facing and whether if this mural that I will be doing will bring any value to the people who have to see it every day. So in a way, the work is really just reacting to the immediate environment.


Fear seems to be quite a consistent notion on your mind – that all of this might be for nothing, or that it doesn’t hold meaning. Could you tell us more about how you grapple these fears and what keeps you moving forward?

I have a lot of faith, at the end of the day....which was something I didn't have much of just a couple of years ago. As I get older, I realize that I shouldn't worry about the things I can't control and just try to have a stoic approach to life, which could be impossible at times, since I can get really emotional, which is not something I am trying to stop, but more of something that I am trying to be aware of in regards to where it's coming from and then deciding if this is something of value to me. But I don't see fear as the enemy, but more of a friend who nags, who forces me to wake up every day to show up and get to work.


You mentioned in a previous interview that “(you) love Bukowski because he uses certain words that just looks good on paper and makes (you) move and feel a certain way. (You’re) very much in love with the written word, not necessarily what it means but how it looks.” What do you mean by this “look”?

I am still trying to articulate this statement since it is something I tell people all the time. But I still don't really know... I get a visceral reaction to some words and sometimes it is based on how it looks; like how a particular letter is shaped and how it fits with the next letter. For example, the word "PAVEMENT" is just more interesting than the word "FLOOR", although they kind of mean the same thing. But the former just has more weight to it, and how the "A" fits with the "V"'s just aesthetically nicer to me. Or the word "ZENITH" or even something like "BUTTON" and "FRIDGE" and random phrases like "SNAKES IN THE GRASS". They are just exciting to look at, so full of life. And in the case of Bukowski, he has this way with stringing words together that conjures up this particular reaction that it's hard for me to truly explain.


What is one book you would pick to translate its “look” into a visual piece, and why?

I've been getting into a lot of non-fiction lately but am not reading as much as I should, I think. There is this one book however that, if I can finish it, has been on my mind for a while and I would love to have a crack at creating something for it. It's called The Room by Hubert Selby Jr. It is such a heavy, HEAVY book. I am not talking about its physical weight, of course, but it's so dark, intense and emotionally dense that I still have yet to read it till the end...I just don't have the stomach for it yet.


Which part of your creative process brings you the most joy?

Oh, where do I even start! I love everything about it, from the opening up a new bottle of paint, to the feel of an old brush, the sensation of dragging a pencil across a nice piece of even watching the paint dry. Everything about it gives me great joy, even when it gives me the most trouble. But even when it gives me sh*t, I am still having the best time.


Finally, where do you find inspiration these days?

With all the stuff that's happening around the world, it is pretty easy to get inspired as there is always something to react to. But recently, there has been too much of a sensory overload which has sort of led me to wish for the world to slow down. It's hard to take it all in sometimes. But we do the best we can.

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