PETALING JAYA: Presenting Malaysia’s famous landmarks from a totally new perspective is something Penang-born artist, Tan Yong Lin takes endless pleasure in.
The 25-year-old photographer and digital imaging artist, who prefers going by the moniker YongL, is a master at transforming local landmarks into creative visual displays that will get you doing a double-take.
He first unleashed his creativity on the iconic Petronas Twin Towers by transforming both into rockets having just lifted-off into space.
Then he elevated Malaysia’s beloved breakfast, nasi lemak, into a ‘mountain’ towering majestically over the land. Yet another one of his pieces is a ‘building’ constructed from kuih lapis, a tea-time favourite.
Particularly artistic is his work of a rain-drenched parking lot, where three beautiful Japanese koi are superimposed onto the visual, swimming at leisure.
He tells FMT that his inspiration to put his creative spin on local landmarks stem from his love for the country he was born and raised in.
“I want to be able to share my work with everyone, not just Malaysians. I want people around the world to know of the beauty of Malaysia,” he shares.
There are ideas everywhere, he says about where he gets his inspiration from, adding, “It is easy to overlook the small things around us but if we simply listen more intently and pay more attention to them, inspiration is all around us.”
He tells FMT that he got interested in photography and digital art in Form 5 and begged his mother for a camera although he knew the family could ill afford one.
YongL says his parents took three years to pay for it by instalment and adds, “I am really grateful to my mother for believing in me and my dream to this day.”
YongL says he’s been obsessed with art from as far back as he can remember and used to spend his days drawing just about anything that came to mind. Then he discovered the magic of photography.
“I began my creative adventure with traditional drawing and painting when I was younger and slowly progressed into digital art and finally ventured into photography and film.”
YongL says he has continued to evolve and improve his art by adapting to new concepts and as a result, his style has changed significantly over the years.
Rather than create a signature look, he says he wishes to use his art to express himself in ways that words cannot.
“My current style is more surrealistic and conceptual. It emphasises on the story behind the artwork which can be bizarre and out of this world or have significance. It can be anything I want it to be”.
An award-winning artist, YongL talks about the two awards that are the most memorable to him.
“The most significant win for me was my first competition that started off my career. It was a contest in a local Chinese newspaper and I was able to earn RM30,” he says.
His also fondly remembers the 2015 Sony World photography awards. “It was my first time travelling to a foreign country all by myself. It took some effort to convince my parents but in the end it was all worth it.”
Not wishing to burden his parents financially, YongL continued to participate in competitions throughout his academic years, both as a means to earn money and to be able to afford the expensive equipment he needed for his artwork.
He is grateful for the opportunities his work has afforded him, especially travelling abroad and experiencing new cultures, something he hopes to do with his parents soon.
Like many others in Malaysia and across the globe who are reeling from the effects of the pandemic, YongL too is struggling with the numerous lockdowns as it has greatly affected his work. However, he is determined to stay positive.
“I am hopeful that better days are coming and soon I will be able to continue sharing my art with the world, and inspire and uplift others”.
Do check out more of YongL’s creative artwork on Facebook and Instagram.