I just love a crazy full, infinite Instagram feed, so I follow a lot of accounts, but there are a few stand-out Instagram accounts that I check in on a few times a week to make sure I haven’t missed a single post. @nadianizamudin is one of those accounts, I stumbled upon her work one evening and then had to browse her entire back history. I love her use of color, embroidered embellishment, and playful collage. In this new monthly feature, “Instagram Crush,” I had the privilege of asking this inspiring artist and Instagram creative about her work, process, and thoughts on marketing, balancing a day job with her creative passion and her advice on how to find the Muse when you’re stuck. She was so generous and thoughtful with her answers, I hope you’re as motivated by her devotion to keeping up with her artistic process even as she commutes between three cities, travels for a high-pressure job and spends time with her family! Read on for the interview and more images from her breathtaking Instagram account!
Berry from Trial by Inspiration: What prompted you to start your Instagram? Have you always been into painting and collage?
Nadia Nizamudin @nadianizamudin: I have been resisting the idea of having an art Instagram because initially, I have always thought that artists should be ‘discovered’ instead of marketing themselves. However, after following a slew of my favorite artists and seeing their growth through social media communities and support, I began to think that maybe I should put my work out there. It was also partly self doubt – I did not have a formal arts education – and I allowed that got into my thinking.
Talking about style, I have always been painting since I was a kid but it was mainly restricted to watercolor painting because of its accessibility and price. Collage was also my favorite go to art; it was easy, and I love creating a whole new narrative to the original images.
TBI: Where do you reside? Tell us a little about your city
NN: I live in Nilai, Malaysia, but I also spend time in Subang Jaya every week to visit my in laws. Nilai is a small town about 45 minutes away from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia’s capital. But because I work in the heart of the city (in the Golden Triangle where the KLCC Twin Towers are) it’s just easy for me to say I am from Kuala Lumpur because it’s where I am most of the time. So in a way, I divide my time equally between these three places.
Kuala Lumpur is your typical thriving bustling city. It’s like any other city in Asia – Singapore, Jakarta, Bangkok – with its tall buildings and malls and traffic jams. It’s also where the arts workshops or festivals are located. Subang is a quiet surburb with its own small center of shops, cafes, and malls. I grew up in Subang and most of my resources are in this town out of comfort. Subang is where I have my screens printed, my textiles stretched and framed, my products sewn. Nilai is a sleepy town where my parents are. It’s quiet, the weather is always stifling during the day, but relaxed. My studio is in Nilai, and I work with the sounds of birds chirping, squirrels running around.
TBI: Your work has this great spontaneous, narrative quality, how much is your process about planning and how much is trial and error?
NN: 99% of my work is spontaneous and in that moment; I do not have an idea what I would do until I am in front of my table and flipping magazines. the 1% lies in knowing that I want to do that particular day.
For example, I would tell myself that I wanted to do collage on the wood block. If I’ve not painted the blocks before I would spent about twenty minutes painting them – immediately I knew just what colors I would use – and while the wood block was drying out I would flip through the magazines for my images. I would never know what it would be, all I knew it that something would catch my eyes and the rest will follow.
It is the same thing with my textile art, which is why I love it. Painting the fabric is fun, there’s no rules to it. I always paint using one brush because I love how the colors blend. I do take some time to go through the colors of my embroidery thread, just so that the colors go together. But the embroidery is all purely fun and uninhibited.
I would say the only thing that I plan if my printmaking. I would go through the process of knowing what I plan to carve on my blocks (eg: leaves, or birds) or what I plan to have on my screens. I also have to plan the colors beforehand, the fabric choices. Printmaking is a much more organized art for me, with sketches and color palette swatches.
TBI: How do you choose your collage subjects, color, and embellishment? Tell us about your process
NN: I have a stack of magazines on my table that I keep for collages. I always like to make my collage pretty and cheerful, something that would brighten up a room or an area or get people to talk. So the first thing I do is to choose the people in it. I like it if they are doing something, engrossed with their work. I would add some illustration if the collage was on paper. The colors I choose were mostly instinctual although I hardly stray from pinks, oranges, yellows and blues. Currently for my woodblock series I add butterflies I got from an old encyclopedia of butterflies and for this particular work I would take my time to choose the size and colors of the butterflies to go with the other images.
TBI: If you had to choose, are you more rewarded by your creative process or the end product
NN: If I HAD to choose, I would say end product. As much as I enjoy the process I love the gratification of seeing the finished work, especially if I love it. I still get affected over works that I don’t quite connect. I am a runner and I find that the art process is the same with my running; there are many days where the running itself makes me feel tired but I am always always triumphant and happy after its done. I am not tired doing my art but on days where time is pressed or life takes over you just want to do a small thing and call it a day. Which is why I reserve a small sketchbook which I do daily with my oil pastels and ink. I always finished it, and I am sated and happy.
TBI: Do you have any tips for how to get unstuck creatively, when you can’t find your muse?
NN: I have a sketchbook that I keep and go to when I find that I cannot continue with my current work. I give myself permission to doodle, make a mess out of it. It breaks the monotony of my thought and focus from the work I am stuck in to something totally new. I also paint with my little girl – she has inspired my color choices many many times. I do other side projects – mostly crafts. I also use this time to focus on tasks that don’t require creativity: admin stuff, emails, studio organization. If all fails, go outside, watch a movie, exercise, eat indulging food and laugh.
TBI: Do you have a day job? How do you balance your professional time with your creative time?
NN: Yes I do. I have a full time job as an Instrument Engineer for an oil and gas company. It’s a hectic, demanding work that sometimes requires me to travel for a period of time, living in places where doing art is not as accessible. Also, it is technical and I have to undergo technical competency test every year. It’s exhausting, and my art suffers a little during the exam time. I work on my art in the evening after work. I probably get about 30 mins to 1 hour each night which is why planning my schedule is a MUST. Weekends I go all out. This is mainly the reason why artwork is mostly in smaller sizes (collage work, painting) so I could cut the finishing time, and why they are also portable (embroidery, collage). I would love to go back to painting big canvases again but I am impatient to get to the end result and often lose steam halfway due to mental fatigue of juggling work and life.
TBI: Do you sell your work? How can people get in touch with you?
NN: I do, but I do not have an online shop at the moment. I mostly sell my work in art bazaar and art fairs, and online, customers contact me directly. I am currently committed to doing a lot of shows and exhibitions so my focus is mostly on making more work. I keep telling myself to set up an online shop and it is halfway through so wait for it! I am still at the stage where I am absolutely enjoying doing this and feeling quite attached to every single pieces I made. It’s always a bittersweet feeling when I say goodbye to one!
For the moment I am contactable through my Instagram account @nadianizamudin. My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you so much, Nadia for your candid conversation about your work and Instagram! Your commitment to make time for your art by painting with your daughter, traveling with a sketchbook and balancing the scope of each piece with your real, available time inspires me! Please keep us up to date on what’s next for you!
All Images provided by Nadia Nizamudin