Act 1: World Upside-down
Being an ever-smiley baby has at least one disadvantage. One of my earliest memories was getting tossed in the air by my uncle (a story he verified). As I choked and gasped for air, I must have still been smiling because I heard him say, “Look, he’s laughing!” …and I knew what was coming next. I tried to say, “STOP!” but instead uttered, “Ehe!” Convinced that I was enjoying it, he tossed me again.
From that very moment on, I realised I needed to learn effective communication. “Ehe” won’t do.
Act 2: Journey To Communications
During school holidays, my first “job” was to don a Carebear outfit like this one at the mall for 20 bucks a day. Then I wrote in to the editor of The Straits Times and landed a series in the papers based on my cartoon character “Theophilus”. Having an audience in the mall, and in the newspapers was insightful, particularly in learning what worked and what wouldn’t from the Editor.
This lead to more comics over the years, such as “The Puns”.
I wound up graduating in Computer Science from NUS for the love of computer graphics. There wasn’t too much in terms of creative choices back then. An artist studying Computer Science doesn’t sound like fun, but it felt like heaven compared to the compulsory military service prior. Still, I was like fish out of water in a land where lecturers and students alike did not seem to take English as their first language :0 It was undoubtedly the most painful leg of the entire life journey, yet it concurrently holds some of my best memories.
Act 3: Nirvana
It was a distinct advantage being an artist able to program just about anything with the tools of the day. This in turn led to many iconic media projects in healthcare, nutrition, hospitality, engineering, etc. and in the process learning the rigours of bankers, hoteliers, nurses, flight attendants, and even breast-feeding advocates.
And then back to my first love, cartoons!
So communicating is important to me. Perhaps seeing the world upside-down inspired me to be an artist. Eleanor Davis sums up this calling in a memorable quote – “Maybe really good artists just expand their definition of “me.”
Serving in the creative media industry as a cartoonist, multimedia creator and animator has made me see “me” in everyone. In a construction worker. In an autistic boy. In Johnny T (who?). According to Johnny T, never be too proud to “Get out of the way”. Johnny T’s advice works for us media directors & producers – don’t get in the way of good creativity.