“Its not about how famous you are, its about making a statement and inspiring people, and live that art from your inner self.” – Shia Lynn
Happy New Year everyone!
Before the year ended in 2016, the Creative Girlboss team had a wonderful opportunity to sit down with Shia Lynn – Founder of The Artsy Craftsy (T.A.C)! The Artsy Craftsy is Malaysia’s first Creative Lifestyle Blog, Shop and Studio. Shia Lynn being a Jane of all trades also manages the T.A.C Shop and conduct creative classes for T.A.C Workshops. Simply put it, she is an artist passionate about her work and what matters is how she can use art to inspire someone’s life.
1. How did this desire of having your own studio and business come about? Has it been something you wanted to do all along?
Shia Lynn: I have been running my own creative business ever since I was a college student to earn on the side. I started off with fabric painting and took personalised orders and commissioned for brands and boutiques. I was very young back then, and there was always the pressure of getting a ‘real’ full time job.
Fast forward, I started The Artsy Craftsy in 2008. Originally, it was meant to be a studio which I tried many years back, but it didn’t work out so I moved on to focusing on The Artsy Craftsy as a blog instead. Every blogger need to monetise their blog and offer products and services. Years later, I decided to expand The Artsy Craftsy into a blog, shop and studio. I guess everything that happened, happened for a reason and hopefully timing is right.
2. What were you doing before you started out on your own?
Shia Lynn: I was a copywriter before I started out on my own. I was working for one of the leading design colleges, in their creative department. Working with a team of graphic designers has taught me a lot about art direction. I was always assigned to bigger projects where I get to meet with different creative speakers from the animation and design field. I think that motivated me every day, to see art and creativity in a bigger picture. I stayed on with the company for many years because I wanted to learn the trade, and when it was time, I knew I had to do it otherwise it was now or never.
3. Do you work with a team? If not where do you seek help in terms of work?
Shia Lynn: Thankfully, I have a couple of friends who are constantly there to help me out when I need help with certain things for T.A.C. One of them is a graphic designer, who helped me with my art direction and brand image. Most of the time I am a one woman show, running everything from A to Z.
But that’s the thing for entrepreneurs, hustling is our middle name, and sometimes when you want to get things done, you need to see things in a bigger picture and barter to get things done.
4. If you were to be given a chance to turn back time, is there anything that you would do differently?
Shia Lynn: If I were given a chance to turn back time, I would have been bolder when facing discouraging or demotivating situations. About 12 years ago, I met a client who commissioned me to paint on their line of evening wear collection. The client wanted it to be painted yet they didn’t understand the value of handpainted. As service providers, it is our job to educate our clients, help them understand the value, time and skill that they are paying for. Unfortunately, when you are still young, sometimes, clients try to take advantage of the situation too. In my case, my client told me that this sort of hand painted job can easily be done by anyone, and I shouldn’t even be charging much but yet they wanted me to paint on the many dresses that they have already prepared.
10 years ago, the community was very different. People still couldn’t appreciate handmade or hand-painted, but stereotype it as ‘central market handicrafts for the tourist’. Back then a formal education in the arts mattered too. For someone like me, who is a self-taught artist, people used to tell me that you need to be qualified to be creative or to be artistically skillful. Little did they know that you cannot buy creativity, it is an inward experience that only you alone can find and develop.
Photo via The Artsy Craftsy
5. What has been your greatest achievement and the hardest setback, in terms of running your own thing?
Shia Lynn: I think my greatest achievement is to actually want to do something for myself, leaving my full time job and actually making it happen! Personally, I think one of the hardest thing right now is making sure that I find and create that balance between freedom and making money. Everyone wants that freedom, but to have that freedom, sacrifices and compromises has to be made so that you can enjoy that freedom.
Sometimes it gets pretty challenging as well because you have friends or enquiries from companies or brands writing in asking you to work for ‘free’. And I get the strangest requests, ie. running a workshop for free, doing crafts at an event for free or blogging for free. As much as I love my job, I cannot say yes because when you run a business, every hour, every material and every effort put in counts.
6. How do you define success for yourself?
Shia Lynn: Success is when you have made a good, well-balanced life for yourself, and appreciating that you get to wake up to live and breathe each day. To understand the literal meaning of what goes around comes around, and live the concept of cause and effect in life. To be able to understand what it means to love yourself and to be able to live your life passionately each day, and being able to do what you love and love what you do.
Success isn’t measured by how far in a career you have gone or how famous you have become but the journey that you have lived and experienced.
7. Has there been a progress in the creative community and art scene in Malaysia comparing the past and now?
Shia Lynn: Compared to 10 years ago, there is definitely a lot of change in the creative community. Back then promoting yourself was a lot harder, compared to now we have social media and Facebook or Instagram is everything to us. It has improved a lot, its good that Malaysians are much more open to arts and craft right now. And people actually want to buy arts and craft!
8. What has been your most exciting project up to date? Tell us more about it.
Shia Lynn: One is The Craft Affair which just ended. It was on the 3rd and 4th Dec, a joint collaboration craft & hobby event at Publika with two other brand names, Craft Haven and Ryl Designs. Second one is a collaboration with Pelikan Malaysia. We are working on a blog post together, featuring their latest paint boxes and brush markers. Third is conducting a corporate art jam session for HSBC.
The Artsy Craftsy artwork in collaboration with local brands
9. Who are your role model(s) in the industry?
Shia Lynn: Frida Kahlo is my role model, she is a deceased artist. She may be long gone, but her art, life story and colours still lives in today’s creative world. Frida has endured pain and love altogether profoundly and with that she has unravelled her own creative blockages and found her ‘edge’ as an artist. Right now, what motivates me is my edge as an artist and going all the way to create a legacy with it.
10. What can we expect to see from you moving forward? Or rather what are your goals for the near future?
Shia Lynn: I think it will be good to start 2017 with more blog posts. And I think it is a good time for me to focus on my niche with workshops like art journaling and fabric painting. Plus I am looking forward to conduct corporate art activities for brands and companies. On a different note, I am hoping to bring back T.A.C Shop and offer more commissioned projects too.
We admire you Shia Lynn for your amazing talent and for being as humble as you are, we know you’re going places! Thanks again for your time! Credits to Jov Makeup Artistry for Shia Lynn’s hair and makeup.
Do check out similar stories of creative entrepreneurs such as this – My Pride and Joy: Grace Tan. If you wished to be profiled or to share your story, reach us via email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or leave a comment on our Creative Girlboss Facebook page.