Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Chin Yew's Clouds

At Seksan's, just as we were packing up, a young man called Chin Yew came up to me and put his book in my hands.

The Boy Who Loved Clouds
is whimsical and beautifully illustrated. I told him I could see the influence of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry and he said that indeed Le Petit Prince is one of his favourite books.

I had no idea of the interesting story behind the book until I found Chin Yew's website and read this article in KLue.

He graduated from Lim Kok Wing majoring in animation in 2001, but due to a lack of job opportunities he found himself working a nine to five job in printing sales. Then he decided to break free in a spectacular way! :
In 2005, he rented a room near his house for 30 days, and bought 40 large four-by-four foot canvases. He then blogged about this whim, firmly stating that come August, he would paint each canvas within a month and blog an entry of the artistic and personal process daily. He soon found out that this escape was rather over ambitious.

Firstly, he had to leave his house in a shirt and tie, and make it seem he still went to work for the sake of his parents. As tedious as it sounds, like most, his dad never saw art as a proper job. Secondly, and most importantly, he would have to face himself as his biggest critic. For one, Chin Yew hadn’t picked up a brush since school – his techniques would be rusty, while his expectations of his capabilities still remained. “It’s a painful thing for an artist. I felt like I was dirtying the white canvases instead of beautifying them,” he admits. But he trucked on anyway. Focusing only on the colours black, white and red, Chin Yew successfully churned 40 paintings, spurring much interest and praise.

On his 30th day, he passed the torch to his friend who underwent the same project for that month of October. And ever since, the site has been hosting guest artists who want to try the 30-day project for themselves. Chin Yew himself has been annually tapping into 30-day series. In 2006, he explored The Boy Who Loved Clouds. In 2007 and 2008, he produced a graphic novel, I See So Many Butterflies,
It sounds like a sort of Nanowrimo for art! (Nanoartmo?) You can see some very exciting artwork from Chin Yew and others who have particiapted in the project here.

Amir Muhammad who knows a talented illustrator when he sees one has baggsied Chin Yew to illustrate his next volume of Politicians Say the Darndest Things. Let's hope his fortunes change ...


Anonymous said...

i saw Boy Who Loved Clouds in Kino and browsed thru it. there were so many grammatical errors in it!

he should really get an editor to work on it, if children are going to read this book!

bibliobibuli said...

he apologised as he handed me the book for the grammar errors ... and yes, you're right. what a small easy thing to get right and what a shame it isn't.

but grammatical mistakes dog almost all malaysian publications. it's very rare to come across something that is properly proofread. i sit and read with a pen in hand always now so i can (tactfully, i hope) tell the authors in time for their reprint.

Anonymous said...

oh, nowadays i even find glaring errors in foreign publications! don't know if it's general growing laziness in the publishing industry.

bibliobibuli said...

the problem here is not laziness as much as 1) a lack of basic competence in english coupled with a lack of concern to get things right
2) even among editors / proofreaders who are otherwise highly competent there are certain blindspots with usage - the trickiest areas being sequence of tenses, use of perfect tenses, and real vs unreal condition. i feel a bit of a pedant when i point things out though ...

Chet said...

It could also be an over-reliance on the computer's spelling and grammar checkers to help make up for the lack of basic competence in English.

bibliobibuli said...

could be, Chet

anyway back to the subject of this book - although there is text, it really is an art book with words i think, rather than an illustrated story book. if i were shelving it i wouldn't put it in the children's section anyway ...

and the art is very good indeed!

Damyanti said...

I will be in Kino next week, will look out for this book. The concept sounds very interesting.

I've had a mixed experience with Malaysian books. Though I've found proofing errors in some (I was a proofreader for a patch of my life), some are actually quite alright.

lil ms d said...

oh wow! went to the site. wonderful!

bibliobibuli said...

some are actually all right. yes.

my proofreading prizes go to "legacy" by shahriza hussein, "fatimah's kampong" another. didn't come across any in "malaysian book of essays" ... erm ...

Anonymous said...


i came across it in Kino in the graphic novels (comics) section!

Damyanti said...


I use the "alright" spelling, maybe because most of my English grammar and spelling has been garnered from reading fiction and journals, where it is not uncommon :).

Merriam Webster:

One entry found.

Main Entry:
al·right Listen to the pronunciation of alright
\(ˌ)ȯl-ˈrīt, ˈȯl-ˌ\
adverb or adjective

: all right
usage The one-word spelling alright appeared some 75 years after all right itself had reappeared from a 400-year-long absence. Since the early 20th century some critics have insisted alright is wrong, but it has its defenders and its users. It is less frequent than all right but remains in common use especially in journalistic and business publications. It is quite common in fictional dialogue, and is used occasionally in other writing: The first two years of medical school were alright — Gertrude Stein.

Btw, I was reading Brian Gomez's Devil's Place, and haven't found any proofing errors yet.

Anon, thanks, will look it up.

bibliobibuli said...

damyanti - there are some in "devil's place" - told brian and he said "i know, i know!"

bibliobibuli said...

actually it's pretty much ok though

Chet said...

My favourite is still the one from Preeta's book, which even she didn't know about - "dropping nipples, like panda eyes" (page 284).

But nothing beats that book that was proofread, but then the un-edited, un-proofread version was sent for printing.

bibliobibuli said...

oh yes indeedy Chet!

Amir said...

The first editions of *all* Matahari Books titles have typos. Sigh.
I am aiming for "New Malaysian Essays 2" to reverse this trend. After all, Chet has volunteered to proofread it!

bibliobibuli said...

Chet is really good :-D

Chet said...

You realise the only reason I noticed the "nipples" typo was because of the word "panda" next to it. Anything with the word "panda" makes me take notice.