Amy Amin, the cat painter
IRIS GRACE HALMSHAW, a five-year-old autistic painter made headlines in September when she was dubbed the next Picasso. Some have even called Halmshaw a mini-Monet because of her impressionistic style. Her paintings have been praised and sold across Europe, Asia and America.
One of her source of inspirations is Grace’s Maine Coon Cat named Thula which can be clearly seen in her painting ‘Raining Cat’.
Thula is also a therapy cat, helping Halmshaw cope with her autism.
Another artist who shares the same muse from the feline species is Amy Amin, a Kuching-based cat illustrator.
The 26-year-old full time visual artist who owns four cats said, “When I need inspiration, I just look at my cats. Besides focusing on cats as my theme, I also emphasise on my materials. I prefer to use grey cloth as my medium in my painting. I think I understand grey cloth better more than other materials like canvas.”
Amy usually receives orders for paintings from customers interested in giving gifts to their pet cats.
She spends most of her time painting but if there is a free slot in her daily schedule, Amy turns her focus to sewing.
“Making these cat-inspired tote bags is my side-project,” Amy said.
Her side project called ‘The Tribes of Borneo’ tote bag series are hand-sewn tote bags featuring Amy’s cat artwork which also feature cultural elements unique to Sarawak.
So far she has come up with three limited editions of the series; Mariek Empang Cat, Ketapu Tunjang Cat which are inspired by the Iban traditional and Terendak Melanau Cat inspired by the Melanau hat.
The tote bags are made with a technique called screen printing where Amy imprints the fabric with a blocking stencil of her artwork.
Looking at her talent in art and fashion, no one would have guessed Amy holds a degree in Geology and graduated from Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS) about four years ago.
‘Follow your passion’ seems to be the leading career advice for Gen Y in Western countries but in an Asian country like Malaysia, only a few are bold enough to pursue it.
For Amy, she decided to take a second shot at education by pursuing a part-time degree in communication from Open University Malaysia.
When asked about parents’ reactions to children who pursue their own dreams off the beaten path, Amy stated: “I think every parent is supportive. It all depends on us and as long as we are strong willed. There will always be obstruction but we must persevere.”
She may no longer be venturing in the geology field, but that doesn’t mean Amy is short on ambition. “My long term goal is to have my own gallery one day. For now I want to focus on inspiring young artists.”
Amy is also part of 9 Lives, a group of nine young artists recently established in October this year to promote and expose artists from Sarawak.
In March, Amy took part and sold some of her works at Rantai Art Festival Kuala Lumpur, an event which gathered new and experienced art-enthusiasts.
On the local scene, she is no stranger to Live @ Wayang Street, a series of events organised by Azam Youth Central for youths to get involved in self-development activities where Amy has exhibited her artwork.
Check out Amy’s Instagram account amy.amin for cats’ photos and artworks. She is also kind enough to share behind the scenes photos and some instructions on how she made the tote bags there.