Welcome to Episode 45!
Our guest for STIMY Episode 45 is Lim Pui Wan.
Lim Pui Wan is a Malaysian miniature artist who discovered her love of miniatures at the age of 14 and has, since 2014 under “Picoworm”, become a full-time professional miniature artist. In 2020, she was even part of Ryan Reynold’s “Ryan Doesn’t Know” Snapchat series!
In this STIMY episode, Pui Wan shares what it takes to forge a path to becoming a professional miniature artist.
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Who is Lim Pui Wan?
Pui Wan shares how she first got into the world of miniature art at the age of 14 when her older sister bought her a book on miniature art from Japan.
- 4:10: Figuring out how to make miniature art
- 8:02: Making her first miniature art
- 9:08: Joining her first competition by remaking a Studio Ghibli dollhouse!
- 11:25: Behind-the-scenes of making miniature art
- 14:17: Why she loves capturing dirt
- 16:52: Why Pui Wan loves Chinatown
- 22:42: Why she ended up studying mechanical engineering
- 24:08: Being tempted to drop out of university early
Becoming a Professional Miniature Artist
While completing her university degree, Pui Wan started studying business because she knew she wanted to become a professional miniature artist. And she shares the step she took to do just that!
- 27:31: Turning a hobby into a business
- 28:15: Doing market testing
- 31:23: Pricing her works
- 33:33: Her first commercial sell
- 34:43: Giving up?
- 36:45: Filming with Ryan Reynolds
- 40:06: Advice for those who want to become miniature artists
- 43:33: Making personal miniature art every week for the year 2021
If you’re looking for more inspirational stories of people in the creative field, check out:
- Ep 44: Joe Sidek: Malaysian’s top festival director of the George Town Festival
- Ep 22: Alena Murang: Sarawakian sape player, visual artist & heritage advocate
- Ep 21: Saw Teong Hin – Director, Producer & Writer (most known for directing Puteri Gunung Ledang & Hai Ki Xin Lor)
- Ep 10: Benjamin Von Wong – Mining engineer turned photographer/social artivist who’s generated over 100 million organic views with his work in the social impact space
- Ep 2: Red Hong Yi – Malaysian architect turned artist who paints without a paintbrush
If you enjoyed this episode with Lim Pui Wan, you can:
- Tag us at @Picoworm & @sothisismywhy
- Tweet your thoughts & takeaways from the episode to Ling Yah here!
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Some of the things we talked about in this STIMY Episode can be found below:
- Picoworm: Website, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Etsy
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Ep 45: Lim Pui Wan [Picoworm] - Miniature Artist
Pui Wan: During the stage of moving from diploma to degree, I actually tell my parents that I wanted to drop out from the school.
I just wanted to do this full time. At that moment, I was dreaming it all the time. I just wanted to do it full time and make this for living from miniature art. But then of course my parents urged me to continue because they say it's so sayang, if you drop out because you have the full scholarship.
So why not you just continue and do this as part-time.
Ling Yah: Hey, everyone. Welcome to episode 45 of the So This Is My Why podcast. I'm your host and producer Ling Yah, and today's guest is Lim Pui Wan.
Pui Wan, also known as Picoworm is a self-taught miniature artist who upon discovering miniature art at the age of 14, fell completely in love with the craft and knew she wanted to pursue it full time.
She launched Picoworm, where Pico refers to a tremendously, small unit in the metric system and worm is derived from the word bookworm when taken together, Picoworm signifies someone who loves to devote time in making something small, which is an apt description for Pui Wan.
In this episode, she shares her journey in figuring out firstly, how to make her first miniature art, a lollipop, before graduating to making doll houses and barber shops that used to operate at Jalan Panggung in Kuala Lumpur, to the competitions she participated in. And most recently, how she ended up in the limited Snapchat show with Ryan Reynolds AKA Deadpool himself.
If you've ever wanted to understand the world of miniature art and know what it takes to become a professional artist, then this is the episode for you. any you time out, love it. If you can hop onto any platform, you're listening to this podcast on to leave a review and help others find this podcast.
Are you ready?
Pui Wan: So I have three sisters and one younger brother. So my sisters, they are my mentors all the time, because they are older than me.
And I would say the one who really love miniature is my second sister.
She used to collect miniature art. But by that time I was still young, so I couldn't afford it. So instead of buying like her, I just started to make it myself.
Ling Yah: You mentioned that your sister collected all this miniature art, but you weren't actually interested in, right?
You're didn't really look at it, but I think you were already interested in art at the time? You were watching Art Attack on Disney and you loved it?
Pui Wan: Yeah. I definitely love it. I really love to make crafts. I mean, instead of drawing, I think I prefer craft. I mean, doing something out of nothing. Out of paper, out of anything else.
So it, in a way also affect me that I can go into this journey because I love to do something with my own hands. And yeah, like you said at first I'm not really into it, but after I read a book, so that book is talking about how to make minature from daily life objects.
For example, something really impressed me is you know, the medicine capsule. So that tutorial book also teach me on how to use this capsule. So it just pulled out one side and you can make it as a glass bottle. So attach with transparent earring stud and also this capsule to make it as a glass bottle.
So, which is impressed me very much. And I couldn't imagine that oh we can make something so tiny out of our daily life objects. So this was the, I would say some book to me, to me, really go into miniature art.
Ling Yah: And this happened when you were 14, right? So you fell in love instantly.
Pui Wan: Yeah, I do.
Ling Yah: So you read the book and were you like going online to forums, trying to find other people who loved it, what were you doing?
Pui Wan: Yeah, because by that time, our house we only have one computer. We didn't really like very accessible like nowadays. I was really into it. So I traditionally go to cyber cafe and I tried to search it from the forum and also some Japanese artist blog.
So just trying to figure it out how I can learn more about miniature art. So we doesn't have YouTube tutorials by that time. So I just can try to read what the artist is trying to say in their Japanese blog. Of course I use Google translate, but then I eventually, I really learned Japanese myself and try to understand what they are saying and what is the material they are using.
But then there's a problem is I couldn't find the materials in Malaysia. that's another thing is not only found some Japanese artist blog, but I also found some Malaysian artists blog. So that's a small group of people. They also doing this in Malaysia. So I have a chance to visit their exhibition because they just had a really small exhibition in central market.
I'm not sure if you know this, but after a few years they really work out on the market and exhibition in central market, like every year. So when I was browsing through artists' websites, I was so true that, wow, that's a group of people really doing this in Malaysia. And then I will visit their exhibition and I was so in love with. And I also talked to them talking about how they do this because I was no idea on how to make at all.
And this is how I first started.
Like I said, I couldn't find what's the material. And I couldn't find it in Malaysia. Then I just try to use some cardboard tries to use some scrap woods that my cousins gave it to me.
But the time when I really have a chance to make it myself was about Form 4 Form 5, which is 16, 17. Yeah. So it takes about two years for me to actually discover where I can get the materials right.
Ling Yah: What kind of materials were you looking for? Because as I understand, you even had to work part time just to afford these materials, right?
Pui Wan: Yeah. You know I don't really work part time to get the material, but I just wanted to save some money in order to buy something love. But then I never imagined that it takes lots of money. So eventually I really put all of my part-time salary into the material. So the material wise at first I was looking at and some tools like tweezer like the brushes, I mean, because I'm not really into art.
I mean, I will study in science class in secondary school. So I don't really know about art that time, so everything I have to figure it out myself from zero.
So in terms of buying the paintbrush I have to figure out which sizes and which fur is better to use as well. So I really have to learn it all the way from zero.
So talking about a toothbrush, I really use it because when we are dealing with clay to make miniature food, so we actually need to use toothbrush to get the texture.
Ling Yah: And I believe the word that you just mentioned is more quality wood that's easy for you to carve, right?
Pui Wan: Well, balsa wood is a very soft wood, so that was one who I learned it from the book.
But then after some trials and errors, I actually found another type of wood is e ven better. So it takes lots of experiments. You know, it takes a long time and effort to do the experiment, trials and errors and stuff like that.
Ling Yah: So your very first project was a single lollipop. How did that go about?
Pui Wan: Because I managed to buy stock of clay.
So this clay comes with instruction, paper on how to make lollipops. So that is how I first doing this lollipop thing. I just follow the instruction and try to make it myself.
Ling Yah: And how were you giving yourself this project? Because now you do mega recreations, of like the insides of barber shops and restaurants, and you started from a lollipop.
So how did you slowly scale up?
Pui Wan: Well, I would say I really appreciate it because I have the chance to join the competition. Because you have the competition. So you really push yourself to learn even more than you expected because when you set up a team, what you really want to make, so you will face some problem because there's a lot of things that you never make before.
So you have to really try it out. I mean, practically. If you just think about it, how to make, does it make sense? I mean, you can learn anything, so you really have to do it practically to learn it yourself.
Ling Yah: Talking about joining your first competition. I think that was a doll house competition when you were still in high school. How did that go?
I mean, that's quite an ambitious project if you will.
Pui Wan: Yeah, it is. But I just wanted to give my self a chance to go further, I guess, as I said, I started with a lollipop. So eventually we are doing lots of small items. You really want to gather up, everything to make it as a doll house and make it as a shop or something else. So that combination also drives me to actually work out something complete.
So that time the theme of the competition is doing fairy tale. So what I chose is bakery shop from Studio Ghibli anime, which is the Kiki's delivery. So I really love this movie. So I chose this team and make the bakery shop. So to make up a bakery shop, you have to make the basic structure of this dollhouse.
You have to make the wood furniture inside a display rack the display cabinets, something like that. And most importantly, of course, the bread and some decorations, flowers, the pots, things like that. So you really have the chance to explore some thing new because I really love shopping.
But what I shop is craft store or bookstore, you know, I really love to explore as many as I can, the materials and the tools so I can make something out of stuff.
Ling Yah: Would you say this is the point where your hobby turn into something of an obsession and you started to dream of wanting to be a miniature artists?
Pui Wan: Yeah, it is. still remember. I was thinking on how can I become a miniature artists as a full-time job, like all day long, every night, you know, you have a dream too. You really want it. And when you look at the Japanese artists, they really do this as a living. So I was thinking, why can't I do this in Malaysia?
Because Japanese can do this. So why not Malaysians?
Ling Yah: I mean, one of the most famous ones is to Tomoko Tanaka. right. He does amazing Really amazing. Yeah. Wow. My favorite, I mean, he's the best artist I love the most.
That's incredible. So, take us into your world a little bit.
I mean, when you do a shop, for instance, as you said, you clearly have to plan so much in detail before you even start buying the materials equipment and then putting it all together. like, what kind of things do you need? Do you plot it out with a computer? Making sure all the dimensions are right.
How does it work?
Pui Wan: Definitely we need the plan first because in miniature art, the most important thing is the ratio. So because you kind of make it the table is big and the chair is small, so it doesn't make sense, right. So definitely we need to make sure everything is perfect in the ratio.
So I would need to plan in advance from the doorway. So basically I use computer software to draw it out first because it can easily squeeze. Down in any scale you want. So it's also easier for you to make changes instead of drawing it in a paper. Of course, sometimes I do for a small things, but doing a dollhouse, like shop, like I say, so we definitely need to draw it in the computer and also do some research.
For example, what do you want to make? What do you want to include in this scenario? So what details you wanted to enhance in this whole scenario? So sometimes I will imagine myself if I am the shop owner. So what would I do? for example, I am in the barbershop. I own a barbershop. So a barbershop, you need a scissors, of course. You need your hairdryer.
So what would a barber do in the daily life? So you can imagine all the stay and just be yourself. Just imagine yourself in that shop. So you can figure it out as many details as you want. And also combined with the, research you do from the internet. You can actually figure it out, the whole image of this diagram.
So this is the initial stage planning and drawing sketching. And then when we first started doing this minature, we have to make the basic structure first, if we are doing a shot, so definitely you need a ground. You need a wall, you need a roof, for example. So after this, we will go further into some big items like furniture like hairdryer, as I said, scissors, things like that.
I mean, from big furniture to small items, so everything has to include in the scenario. And then the last stage, it would be the most important part, which is the weathering, because whether it gives life to this whole scenario, you have to include some wear and tears, some stains or dirt on a floor, on a wall, et cetera.
So this thing it can enhance the whole miniature artwork, because it makes you feel like people are really in band doing stuff. So you can feel like there's somebody experiencing something in there, which is pretty amazing.
Ling Yah: I mean, the dirt, the stain, that's clearly such a huge feature of what you do.
know, you really try and recreate that scene. And I imagined you go beyond just imagining what it's like being a barber, but you actually go and visit the place and you take photos of the stains as well. Right. So you really, you really observe the surrounding. Tell a little bit about that.
Pui Wan: Well, you know, sometimes it's really interesting because I mean sometimes for example, I think I discovered that, Oh, there's a plastic bag hanging in there.
So you will think about why is it there and what the barber would do, and why is this appear in this place? and then you will figure it out something interesting. If you observe more I would say this is a bit creepy because you know, you're trying to observe something that people don't usually d id. I really loved this very much.
I love to capture the dirt at a corner and I like to catch up what they do. Like when nobody's in there. Very interesting.
Ling Yah: What has been the most surprising or favorite thing that you've captured so far?
Pui Wan: Well, I think it's the moment of the people doing the stuff. I mean, they doing their own job, so you can, because normally when I take the photographs or whatever, I will get their permission first of course.
And sometimes they have their own customers, so they just ignore me, just let me take photos, whatever. And then she checked to get it with me. I mean, with the customer as well. So we will share a life. I mean, sometimes they just share their daily life with me and say so what they do and how's the business going, I would just ask.
just like normal to check thing with your uncle and then You find that they are mostly friendly. As long as you're friendly to them, they will be fine. They also share lots of their story with you because there's once I just sit down in a kopitiam and then I was just taking some photos and then the uncle sit beside me, just asked me, what are you doing?
And then eventually when we talk, he said, Hey, I think I remember I saw your article in the newspaper. Oh, wow. Really? And then, you know, we started conversation again, which is so funny. And we share with each other what we do for living. So he told me that he's an engineer. So doing the construction nearby.
And so, you know, I am literally doing tiny engineering because I built houses. Right. So it's so fun to share that experience with people like this. Yeah.
Ling Yah: One of the places you love going is L Chinatown. What was it about that place Because you have created so scenes from that place before they were referred to it.
Pui Wan: Yeah. It was quite fateful because my older sister, her wedding photo was taken over there in that shop, in that alley. So that was very long time ago. And then When I saw this photo, I was so surprised because I remember that I read it from a book. So that book is talking about KL history.
So I remember this place because from the book and at the same time I saw this place so beautiful. And then by the time I was still studying in the university, so I had a chance to, you know, sometimes when we finish the class at 1201, so I have lots of free time. So I would just drop by KL to have a walk because I wanted to really see what is going on in KL and compare with what I have read from the book.
You know, I just wanted to discover that history, which is so interesting. And then I just dropped by the kopitiam and also this Lorong Panggung. So most famous thing is one street light pole, at the back of the kopitiam. It stays there for a hundred years.
So I just wanted to have a look myself when I was, wow, this is a hundred years old. Like, you know, just doing it out of curious. And then I really love this place because the food is nice obviously, and the uncle and auntie there just, you know, I just randomly talked to them and asking them, Oh, how long is this place in the hair?
So they told me about 60 years and was inherited from his father. And that was also the first time I actually discovered that the building nearby in this Lorong Panggung was so old. It was built, I mean, in the early 20th century which is so precious that I really wanted to preserve all this thing. All this history and also the building structure into my miniature art.
So that is why I started this project. So by that time I was started in about early if I'm not wrong. But then they, announced that they going to refurbish by may of 2018. So that's about a year for me. because I was just doing. It for my own, so it's not a job. So I doing it slowly.
when I went back again to this kopitiam, so the uncle told me that they are going to reconstruct this place. not only kopitiam, but also the wholeLorong Panggung. So I feel really sad because I really love this place as original as it is. Because as I said, I love the building structure.
I love the doors. I mean, the doors is so beautiful. They are in blue. I love the colors, almost everything. Yeah. This is why I really wanted to make something I love into my minature. Yeah.
I like the Ho Kow Kopitiam . And also for Mr Voon, the master of the scissors sharpener.
Ling Yah: It must be really special for you to chart history because you didn't just make it.
You also did an entire video that featured an interview with him as well.
Pui Wan: Yeah, that was an accident actually, because I didn't know that this, the wood shop at first, but there's once my friend actually brought me to his shop because it's really incite the Lorong Panggung. You couldn't find it if there's no one bringing it there.
So I had the chance to go to this place with my friend and just chat with him. So I took some pictures, just a feel, I mean, not much, not as detail as I told the Ho Kow Kopitiam. but then before Ho Kow Kopitiam was refurbish. This shop this Caesar's shop and a shop the uncle has already moved back to his house.
So he's going to retire as well lah.
And then once I was thinking back this uncle, I mean, he's a craftsmenship is really precious to me because you know, there's not much people are really doing this kind of craftsmanship anymore.
And then I figured out all the ways. I mean, try to dig out his phone number, his contact number.
I, am asking thing the uncle from Ho Kow Kopitiam as well and also asking his grandson, I mean, and also asking some of my media friends no one has his content.
And at the end I found it from a YouTube channel. So a short video about this shop, and then there's one contact number in the disclosure out.
I was so, and then I tried to call, I'm not sure if this is correct, but I tried to call and then yes it is. And then, so I successfully contact Mr. Voon and I just went to his house and do a short documentary about his story.
Ling Yah: Was Mr Voon very surprised that this young person he wants to do his story?
Pui Wan: Yes, it is. Because I remember when I was visiting him we actually talk about his famous stuff because he was interviewed by lots of people as well. I mean, by the students nearby and by the media, because like I say, at the craftsman ship is very precious. So some media actually interview him before.
So I actually took the photos. Of what he was interview from the war, because he staked the newspaper on his wall. And then was so happy because I would say this is fate because I am able to find his content and allowed me to do the documentary and I was so blessed.
And so appreciate.
Ling Yah: So it's clear, you know, as you're talking about your stories, you're hunting down these people who mean so much to you, that you love this work so much. So. Why did you end up doing mechanical engineering at Tunku Abdul Rahman University college? That is totally different.
Pui Wan: Well because as I said, I was from science class in a secondary school, I just doesn't want to study about accounting, you know. Numbers is just a nightmare to me, but then I love science. I love physics the most. So I just decided to go for this course.
I'm not really into this course when I first started this in a university, but then eventually I think I love it. I can learn a lot about what is going on in life because engineering is basically happening our life. I mean lots of appliances, lots of occasions actually is doing with engineering. So I'm still loving it.
But then I know clearly myself that my passion is doing miniature art because obviously every day when I was finished the school when I go back to home, I just learn how to make miniature art. I practice a lot, like almost every day.
So I know myself I know my main, passion is doing miniature art. But I just wanted to, you know, sit for a second chance is doing miniature art can't pay my bill. I would just go for engineering.
Ling Yah: Yeah. I mean, you were there on a full scholarship. So were you ever tempted at any point to drop out early and pursue miniature art?
Pui Wan: Yes, I do. But while I was two that you found out that I have a full scholarship, I do. Because I was studying diploma at first and then go into degree.
During the stage of moving from diploma to degree, I actually tell my parents that I wanted to drop out from the school.
I just wanted to do this full time. At that moment, I was dreaming it all the time. I just wanted to do it full time and make this for living from miniature art. But then of course my parents urged me to continue because they say it's so sayang, if you drop out because you have the full scholarship.
So why not? You just continue and do this as part-time. So, of course, I think this is their delayed plan. They wanted me to be an engineer, I guess. Yeah. I think they wanted me to be an engineer, but they just urged me I can do this part-time so just continue the study. then I listen at the end. Of course.
So I just decided, all right, I will just go on, but you know, I never regret about this because I think studying in degree actually give myself lots of time to really practice and also learn on how to do your own business. Because as an artist, I think you can't be just make art. You have to learn a lot more than that.
You have to know about management in terms of financial, in terms of time, in terms of a business, you have to manage everything. I mean, because you'll want it to be self-employed so you can't just make art.
So during my study, in the degree, I actually read a lots of books about business. I just bought books from the bookstore and read a lot and also plan in advance on what I'm going to do after my graduation, because I have decided I wanted to do this after the graduation.
And no one could stop me, even my parents. So, you know, I planned a lot. So I just wanted to be myself, ready to get this thing done. I wanted to be full-time. So I have to actually do something to persuade my parents because they doesn't know what you can do as an artist. I mean, they can't understand. So I just wanted to prove to them because I'm not just saying it, but I'm doing it myself.
So eventually they just let me go. They know nobody can stop me. They know I am stubborn. So they also know I am good in planning and execution. They know, I mean, my parents know me the best. So they know my Characteristic that I can do that of course they have a lot of worries. I mean, when I first started in full time, they worry a lot.
They also urge me that they want to find a full-time job first and do this part-time again. So they come back. But then I was so lucky because I still managed to get orders and also can feed myself. I can pay bills. So after, I guess after a few months they just stop the urge.
Ling Yah: So, I mean, that's the big thing thatartists always face, right?
How do I turn my hobby into a business? So you graduated in 2016, but I believe in September, 2014, that's when you launched Pico worm. So it was Picoworm out of the whole plan. What was the thought process behind that?
Pui Wan: Yeah, I would say I have already wanted to plan the whole business. Also the vision about this. I mean, it's not that clear at first because you have to really experiment what is the market preference and also who is your niche who really would buy stuff like that. So you have to do some testing, so eventually it gets clearer and then you would just make a path out of it.
Ling Yah: So how were you doing the testing?
Pui Wan: Well, I joined some art market, of course, because you wanted Picoworm to be exposed. So the best way is from social media and also art market, because art market, you can approach lots of different kinds of people because by that time, Instagram it's not that hard, I would say. Just at the beginning stage.
So I also do lots of study also about the photography, because I realized that if you can't show your work in good vision, people will not interested to look further about this. So I also bought a camera. I don't have much money, but I just do part-time job and save some money to get the tools that I really need to make this business.
So by that time, the way I do is really simple, but in terms of marketing, you have to introduce what is miniature art, because it's not that popular in Malaysia. By that time you have to educate user on what is this and why is it so expensive? I would say this is not cheap because it takes a lot of time and effort to do it.
So you really have to educate your user.
this is in terms of business, but in terms of personal, I really focused in improving my own skill because you can't stop learning when you do in art. Because there's lot of different thing, or I would say new techniques coming in, so you really have to keep yourself improve in order to, catch up into that stage, like at say, you have to find let's say your inspiration or your mentor.
like I say, I, my favorite artists is Tomo Tanaka. So his work always inspired me. And also I would always tell myself I really wanted to make as detailed as I can just like him. So you'll find a goal. You find inspiration from a person you really liked, and eventually you would drive yourself towards it.
Ling Yah: Was it hard to raise awareness initially to a Malaysian market that had never seen this before.
Pui Wan: Well I would say yes, and also I joined an art market in Singapore. It's also the same over there, but it's better. I mean, better than leisure. But then I remember I was so upset when people can't really understand, but then again, I tell myself you have to stand firm on what you believe.
You have to understand. what is your bottom line? What's the thing that you really believe in? And you think this is true. So along this way, you just keep telling people, even though they, will not agree with you in front of you. But then I think in some point they will change their mind in some point.
So I think I would just do my best to tell them about what I can do and also to educate them about this market. And eventually you see the social media start to pop out lots of miniature art and then they accept it. So this is how it works. I mean, you have to stand firm on what you believe, and then eventually people will understand that.
Ling Yah: Was pricing something that you struggled with? I mean like how do you price art? Right. It's so subjective. And then you have Malaysians who are like, oh, it's so expensive. And then you'd be like, Oh, should I lower my price? But it devalues the worth of my art. How do you think it through.
Pui Wan: Well, you got that point because it's so struggled to actually do this.
At first I was just doing in a simple formula because you just have to figure it out. What is your material cost and how much time do you spend over this project. And then that's the chance I met with an artist. I mean, meet in the internet with him.
So he is an artist from Hong Kong. And then his work is so amazing as well. And he, I mean, in Hong Kong, he said that the market over there is also the same. I mean the same as Malaysia. So the worst part is someone bought his work and then resell it. which is so, I mean, just so bad, you know, this situation is so bad, and then we discuss about pricing.
So I have some point from him that you have to know what is your own value? I mean people can't value you. but you can value yourself. So what is the thing that you think you have put in the most and you can do some comparison, for example when I was talking with this artist from Hong Kong, so you just share with me on what is his pricing?
So I would just compare myself with him because I think I'm not that I'm not as good as him, so he can price in that way. So what about me? I think you can do in this way when you just started to price your art work. But then eventually when I improve in my own skill and I put lots of money in refining my own techniques.
So, you know what effort you have put in, I mean, the one who can understand is yourself. So you can just eventually increase the price or think about some arrow because sometimes you may make, some mistakes, so you have to add in some arrows into that value.
So this is how I do the pricing.
Ling Yah: Do you remember your first sell and what that was like?
Pui Wan: Well, Like I said, I was very lucky because I met a guy from the art market. So he's doing on puzzle business and he really loves my artwork and he appreciate it. He said that, wow, I love your work. You will famous one day.
I want to buy from you now
told me that, Hey, can you help me recreate this, thing from a photo? And then I said, yes, of course. So I just recreate something out of this photo exactly the same. And then I just charged him a reasonable price, and he is okay to it. So I was thinking that actually there's some people they will buy your work because they appreciate it.
But some people, they will just say that this is shit to me, so why I have to pay for it. So there are people who really appreciate your work, but there are also people They don't appreciate it. So I would just change my mind. So if people, they don't appreciate it.
So just bit it nevermind. Eventually there will be someone really appreciate your work.
Ling Yah: Did you ever go through really tough period where you thought, Oh, this is not for me. Maybe I should be a mechanical engineer.
Pui Wan: Well, I do. that was just last year. I would say. But I never think about going back to engineer Vous.
There was a time I was so confusing. You know, during, the MCO, I mean, I was so, so dark about myself and I doesn't know what I can do I don't know if that is the environment that causes me into this thinking and then the point when I have opened my mind is that I started to make something I love.
I make a scenario about. Detective Conan, because I love Conan a lot. I mean, since I was young, I love to read the comic and even now I love to watch the movie because they have the movie every year. was just telling myself, why you choose this path at first? Because I love it. So at this moment you are so upset.
You're so frustrated. Why not just do something you love? So just forget about any work, forget about the pandemic, forget about other projects. So I just sit down and just do it thinking back that this was my hobby, and then I turn it into a job. So I just found the passion back.
You know, I was so happy that I did this because sometimes you just have to go back to the basic. You have to go back to the basic to find yourself.
Ling Yah: And wasn't last year the point where you decided to do with theme of recycling, materials
Pui Wan: Yeah. We were all locked down at home, so I was thinking, why not? We just do something out of the materials we can grab everywhere. At the same time, I think lots of other people also having the same problem with me. We are so boring at home. We have nothing to do.
So why not? We just you know, try to create something out of the materials from our daily life. this is also the reason why I record the tutorial to share with the artists.
Ling Yah: So, thankfully you continue it because I believe last year was when Ryan Reynolds team contacted you and you appeared limited Snapchat show.
Ryan doesn't know. Can you share with us a bit about how you got involved in here?
Pui Wan: Well I just received an email one day saying that, Oh, that email was from the production team of this Ryan doesn't know show. So the production team actually contact me saying that he was locked down at home because of the pandemic.
So he bronze through the internet and found some interesting idea of what he gonna do for this show. So I was very lucky to be one of it, and he just bookmarked and ask the production team to contact me. So I was very, very lucky.
Ling Yah: What was it like filming the actual thing as well, and teaching me how to make that little hairdryer.
Pui Wan: I actually worry a lot before we start the shooting because I couldn't imagine because you know, he's funny. he is very interactive, so I am so afraid that I couldn't cope with his joke. I mean, I am afraid I'm afraid a lot of things. but then worry is just too much because he is so funny and along the, show, the shooting, he makes lots of jokes.
And of course we know that this show is not going to be serious because the team doesn't expect that he can really make a hairdryer. also expecting that he's making something weird. So I was just there to actually talk to him and I mean, teaching him on how to make everything else. He just has to figure it out himself. Yeah.
Ling Yah: I mean, he had a full array of tools and you said you have more tools than
Pui Wan: yeah, they do. They actually prepared lots of things for him.
Ling Yah: Amazing. So after you appear, I imagine everyone, all the media must have suddenly noticed you and knew who you were.
So how was it like after it was aired?
Pui Wan: Wow. So I was so honored to be there. Of course. I mean, I really appreciate that they gave me this chance. I couldn't imagine an artist like me in Malaysia can be featured in his show. And then of course, lots of media, they actually contacted me. So I was just telling myself that be calm. Be calm. Just do what you usually do.
Just don't be, you know, don't feel yourself under the spotlight. You just continue do what you wanted to do.
Ling Yah: Do you feel like there was a sudden uptake in demand for your work?
Pui Wan: Yes, it is. I'm really happy for this because at least during this time I keep working on different projects.
So you don't have to worry about whether the sales is going down or what but then I also wanted to give myself some break. I wanted to do something I love. So let's say some projects that is not really attract me because I have one get a project to do minature letter back, but then the company, they actually using the real animal leather.
So this is what I'm not maybe supporting. So I would just reject this. You have choices. I mean at least after this explosion, you have choices to say no to some certain projects.
Ling Yah: People who want to be miniature artists. What do you think is the thing that they should be aware of before becoming a professional miniature assets?
Pui Wan: You have to be patient because you are turning your hobby into a full-time job. So that means you are working on nature at all times. And especially this thing, it takes lots of time. So he doesn't have time to think about the other thing.
You have to take care of your own body because especially your eyes, you keep focusing on small things for such a long time. So I actually eat carrots every day, seriously, for real, for real, I eat carrot every day. I wanted to protect my eyes. And then sometimes when I cook myself, I am such a, bad Coker.
Sometimes I cut my own finger, which is really bad because you have to work on miniature and your hand, your eyes, are the most precious thing you have to protect them really well.
Ling Yah: Give your hands a break sometimes or otherwise.
Pui Wan: Yeah. Yes. Correct. I mean when I was doing this at full time for the first.
So then once I was falling on the wood and I didn't notice it takes us such a long time. And then when I just leave the falling to my hand was trembling, which is so scary to me. I was like, Hmm, I know this is your job, but you can do this to yourself. So you have to relax. You have to give yourself a break.
And then it goes into time management, which is so important. It's such an important subject to me, to a self-employed artists. So you have to really arrange well, your own schedule what is important to do first and where is not, and which thing you can say. Yes. And which one you can say. No.
Ling Yah: I mean, you run your own business, as you say, and your work is very solitary and you never actually went into the end of the corporate world.
So was it difficult for you to find a community around you that you could, what way and get to know and collapse.
Pui Wan: Well I would say because nowadays we are living in a social media world. So because of the social media I have the chance to actually collaborate with some companies. So I never really approached them myself.
I mean, because sometimes I think if we are doing it for commercial purpose, so it has to be for some certain project, for example, for advertising for post shooting, whatever it is. So I would just leave, this To those advertising or marketing company. because at first I actually has collaborate with some advertising company.
So when they have the job when they have the opportunity, they would just call me. and then eventually you spread this name. I mean because Malaysia at this moment malicious still doesn't have a lots of manager artists. So when they really need one, so I am the one that can pop out immediately in the internet so they can find me easily.
So I think at this moment, It's not difficult for them to find me if they really need me nature products for any commercial purpose.
Ling Yah: And 2021, you have started this 52 weeks of art. How did that come about?
Pui Wan: Well, because last year I wasn't really creating something new because as I say, I was kind of frustrated during this pandemic period.
So I wasn't really creating much as I expected. So this year 2021, I think why not? I push myself further to create something like every week. Instead of doing projects for work. So why not you choose some tiny stuff? I mean, anything, it can be anything. So I have already sometimes about this.
So why not? You choose some later things to make out of your own favorite stuff. I just wanted to make something I love. A tiny one that is enough. I just wanted to push myself a bit further and also a bit more active on doing miniatures.
So because sometimes the work I do for commercial purse or even some personal collection, I couldn't reveal it. So, which is so sad. I wanted to make myself more active and also sharing more works to the public. To, actually inspire people that even though we are in the pandemic right now, we still can set a goal for ourself and keep doing this.
Ling Yah: I mean, you say it's small, but you were making things like a whole box of oranges that were wrapped in plastic and making a whole pencil box set, a bunch of paints. I mean, that's so much work, so much intricacy involved. So were you setting aside a lot of time for these personal art projects?
Pui Wan: Well, it normally takes a day, seriously, at least a day to a two.
So I will do this during the weekend or when I was free at night. I mean sometimes after the dinner, I would just sit down to do a little bit of it. Before I go into the caution watching TV, I have some free time. So I would just do this during the free time. and so I would just do the same during the free time, but at least I have the goal for this year.
I wanted to create 52 hours during this time, just to keep myself remember that you love this thing and you will never forget. what is your initial goal to do this job, or to go into this hobby because you know, what is your passion about this thing?
Ling Yah: So I previously interviewed an artist, Red Hong Yi.
She was episode two and she also went through this period where she was like, Oh, I want to be more creative, do something personal. So she started a series of food, art projects, and it was just personal. Did it every single day. And she said, I felt more creative at the end of that process. Do you feel the same way as well?
Pui Wan: Yes, I do. I mean, because you are not doing this for a job. You are doing this for your own. You just wanted to relax yourself. You just wanted to, to immerse yourself into the creating process. So I think when you set a personal project, it is also a process of healing from your frustration. So this is how I see these 52 projects like I said, I was so frustrated last year, so I just wanted to set a clear goal for myself this year.
Ling Yah: So you started, when you were 14, you have been doing this for more than a dozen years now. Very, very long time. Have you projected into the future and thought of what you want to be What is the ultimate goal?
Pui Wan: I have lots of favorite artists from around the world.
So I wanted to be like them. Like for now I wanted to actually go to join there's a group called IGMA. So IGMA is the international guy miniature institution. So this institution, they actually have lots of master teaching lots of professional. I mean, even more profound national scale on making me nature in a really specific thing.
Like they have woodworking metal work in miniature, which is so specific. So I actually wanted to save money and join this group one day and also learn more professional skills. And I wanted To hold an excavation one day for myself, but for now I think I don't have enough artwork. So I just wondered, I'm giving myself about three to five years to actually build a lot more projects for my own.
And then eventually I can collect enough amount of the artwork to do the exhibition.
It is such a joy,
Ling Yah: to hear you being so passionate about why you doing, which you discovered when you were so young, what is the best way for listeners to support what you're doing?
Pui Wan: Well I think sometimes I find really happy just looking at the inspirational commands because you know that there are people actually supporting you.
They really like your work. And sometimes you even think that they are inspired by you. You know, sometimes I found out secondary school students or even some of my friends. they are giving their kids do it doing some craftsman, atrial Croft. So they told me that it was inspired by me.
So I was so happy that because I am here to actually inspire the other, just like how Tomo Tanaka inspired me. So I really wanted to, you know, give some other people that the inspiration to do what they love to do. So yeah, I would say as long as they are supporting me from the social media, they are giving me kinds words.
That is smarter enough to me. because, you know, at least I know that they are a bunch of people actually love my works and this is what drives me. Keep going on this thing.
Ling Yah: Well, Pui Wan is such a pleasure to have spoken with you. I normally end all of my interviews with this question.
So, first one is this, do you feel that you have found your why?
Pui Wan: Yes I do. O bviously I found my own why that I know clearly what is my passion, what I am doing for my whole life. I have decided when I was in a young age that I wanted to be a miniature artist for my whole life. and I did it.
So I think that when you set your own goal, you find yourself that you are driven at all times. So at least you are not, confusing on what you like or what you're busy in life because lots of people, they actually doesn't know their own. Why. So at least I find I found my own Y which is my passion.
This could be my best decision ever, I would say,
And what kind
Ling Yah: of legacy do you want to leave behind?
Pui Wan: Well, I never thought of this, but I really hope to inspire the young generation. So, you know, in, in these days, people just tend to keep activity. they active in the social media, but they don't really go into something. I would say art and craft is a good process to, find yourself to keep yourself in a peace You can spend some time to yourself. I mean, talking to yourself and understand what, do you love? So I think if I could give the inspiration to the young generation, I think that would be the best thing I could make for them.
Ling Yah: And what do you think are the most important qualities of a successful person?
Pui Wan: I think persistence is quite important. Like I said, when I found my passion, I, I have never thought of doing other things other than miniature art. I was locking myself into this path because I just wanted to do this. I have a really clear mind and I persist to do this until I achieve it.
So I think I had a persistence pretty important.
Ling Yah: And where can go to connect with you, out what you're doing and, buy your work?
Pui Wan: Well I have an Etsy shop but then, because I have some other jobs pending, so I have close it at the moment, but normally you can just send me an email or they can just send me an email of what you wanted to do in miniature art, so you can send me pictures so we can discuss further on it.
So of course you can find me from the social media, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube.
Ling Yah: And that was the end of episode 45. The show notes and transcript can be found at www.sothisismywhy.com/45. Alongside the link to subscribe to this podcast's weekly newsletter.
Last week's newsletter covered Red Hong Yi's latest TIMES art cover, which she burned down. That's not the climate change. The new $1 million creator first program that Substack has launched to encourage more local news journalists. And the ultimate NFT canon by A16Z.
And stay tuned for next Sunday, because we'll be meeting one of Malaysia's most well-known CEOs who, after a decade, as a management consultant became the CEO of Asia's first successful low-cost long haul airline carrier, to CEO of Asia localized answer to Netflix. And now. The startup founder of a digital health platform that seeks to transform the industry but this holistic approach to wellness.
Want to learn more?
See next Sunday.