Kaylee Ho: See Kaylee Draw

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Image Kaylee Ho

It’s very difficult to admit this, but while we were scouring the Klang Valley and beyond for artistic talents to gush about, we almost missed out on one hiding right under our noses. Almost literally! See, it happened like this: one day, we were fooling around in the office, when suddenly something caught our eye. We looked closer, and we realised it was one of our sister magazines, Prestige’s graphic designers, Kaylee Ho, drawing up a storm on her computer, and we were flabbergasted! How on earth did we overlook this talented miss?! Instead of smacking ourselves around, we decided to check this quiet, unsuspecting girl out!

Where were you born and raised?
I’m a city girl with a kampung heart. I was born and raised in KL, but I’m always jealous of people who have a hometown because I don’t really have one.

Where did you study art, and what was your experience studying it like?
I studied art at PJCAD, which I normally introduce to people as “the building opposite PJ Hilton-lah!” There’s where I found out that art is my soul mate. I want to learn everything about it, anything related to it. I’ll never give up on it! Unless it wants to break up with me. Then I’ll be sad. But I don’t think it will [winks].

We don’t think it would dare. What inspired you to pursue art?
First of all, play. Playing with paint, pencils, clay, emotions. Nothing is easier than playing with art. Secondly, my oh-so-talented brother, who is a graphic designer-cum-artist himself. He once told me, “there is no such thing as talent, only practice,” to which I retorted, “yeah right, then how come you could draw such beautiful goldfish when you were only 3?”

Such a modest guy. Who are your favourite artists, and why them?
I really like Minoru Furuya, because he draws ugly yet cute faces and actions. Also, Junji Ito. He draws horror comics and faces brilliantly! Matt Groening, because who doesn’t like The Simpsons?? I also love Kathie Olivas’ works, she does amazing character designs with beautiful sculptures. I guess you can say I like ugly, yet pretty things. I think ugly can be beautiful too.

Oh, stop flattering us [blush]. Did you always want to be an artist? If no, what did you want to be when you were younger?
No. When I was young, I could only draw Chinese eyes and noses that looked like d*cks. I thought I wanted to be a psychologist, actually, but it turns out you have to have good grades in science, which I didn’t! Then I found out that art is very subjective, and practice really makes perfect as long as you’re interested in it. There’s really nothing easier to do than your interest and passion.

What kind of music do you like? Does that inspire your art?
Recently, a friend of mine pointed out that I like “happy upbeat music with a touch of old school and vintage.” At first, I was in denial, but now I have to agree. Indie pop would probably be my first choice. I listen to Lykke Li and Bittersweet while illustrating. I can’t explain why them, they just really get me in the right zone. I hope you see my kind of music in my art!

We definitely do! What other mediums of art have you worked with, and which is your favourite medium?
Acrylics, watercolours, paper clay, charcoal. My favourite medium right now is my Wacom Bamboo and my Mac machine. They’ve been with me since I started studying art and Wacom is just too easy to work with, how could I not love it? But we must not neglect traditional art. We should always start from traditional art forms, and practise it. It’s like English, you can’t learn it without knowing the alphabet. Foundation is key.

What do you enjoy doing other than art?
What else can a fat girl do other than art? Eat-lah! (laughs) Everything is art to me, every minute is spent doing something related to art. I can be out observing people on the street, in cafeterias, in parks. Even while in the washroom, you can generate ideas! Creativity is everywhere, we’re practically living in art. From the way your hair parts to how you tie your shoelaces. Don’t ever think you can escape it!

Damn it. What’s your favourite food, and where do you go to eat it?
So many! My mother’s food cannot be forgotten, obviously. Beef noodles in Petaling Street, Hokkien and Hainan mee in Cheras, chilli cheese fries in Carl’s Jr, tiramisu in Alexis, caramel macchiato in Starbucks, Illy coffee, etcetera! I also love having local food served in the places I travel to. Food is a huge part of culture, and when we consume local food, it’s as though we’re “tasting” the culture of the place.

What kind of advice would you give to other aspiring artists or designers?
Don’t ever force yourself into art. Play and experiment with it. If the experiment fails, it means you’ve gained good experience. Enjoy life! Go travel, watch movies, attend gigs and concerts, look for really good food, meet new people. You will find that ideas come easily when you know how interesting life can be. Observation is knowledge. See things not just with your eyes, but with your pen, lenses, music. Art never gives up on you, so don’t give up on art! 

Kaylee has been working with Catcha for a year now, and is happy because it allows her to be versatile and dabble in a variety of styles. Her motto is “Live with a dream!” and she’s got an eccentric outlook on life, which is translated into her art. Check out her quirky style at her blog, kayleeho.blogspot.com.

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