TO immerse into the creations of illustrator Amanda Patamakanthin means transporting oneself into otherworldly dimensions. The nuances in her digital paintings remind me so much of the storybooks I favoured as a child.
Yet there’s nothing childlike about the artist herself or her artworks.
Perhaps this is accounted for by Amanda’s unique life as a hearing-impaired person. Undoubtedly, her inborn condition has been preparing the now 21-year-old alum of The One Academy of Communication Design for reality as we all know it: gritty and complex.
Is that why her visual panache is always so sombre?
A Malaysian of Thai and Chinese parentage Amanda laughed, quietly musing: “It was not always dark. I used to draw brighter things. It’s only recently that I discovered dark fantasy artworks, and I just fell in love with them.”
The self-taught Amanda grew up in a family with a strong art background. Her mother, who was present during the interview recounted her child’s early artistic inclinations, which gave her hope that it would help ease her and them through life.
Now able to appreciate sound, thanks to hearing aids, Amanda says: “My family made me appreciate art. Every time I painted, I wanted to create more. So I have always wanted to be an artist.”
PIXEL PERFECT TURN OF EVENTS
Nowadays, she is recognised by real-time admirers and 1,560 Instagram fans for her digital illustrations. She also works on illustration projects on a freelance basis — which she picked up after graduating from art school last March.
Describing her style in art, which she perfects with Adobe Photoshop, Amanda says: “Definitely dark fantasy. I like dark and stylish types of illustration; they are more realistic than cartoonish. I also like to illustrate people, characters or trippy things that are not fictional.”
One cannot help but notice the raw, almost feral energy embodied by her illustrated subjects, all captured in layers of hyperfine lines and strokes. With such microscopic attention to detail, how does she not keel over on Photoshop?
The secret lies in the sleek technology of her Wacom tablet, stylus that’s easily tethered to her MacBook Pro.
Not one to shy from sharing her Photoshop tips and tricks, Amanda explains: “The stylus makes the strokes finer and softer, like in real life. It’s not the same effect with a mouse.”
Contrary to perceived notions, being a freelance illustrator is not all that different from full-time work. Meeting deadlines, catching up with her peers and digesting inspiring updates from her favourite artists Zeen Chin, Kim Jung Gi and Peter Mohrbacher online does not leave her with much free time.
When she does have it, she bakes and sells cakes. She also helps her sister, Alyssa, create hyper-realistic costumes every now and then.
On keeping a balanced life, she says: “Time management is the key. You just need to focus on completing your tasks on time. You really have to know your priorities.”
STEADILY PAINTING THE FUTURE
What are Amanda’s thoughts on her future as an artist? And does she think her condition would affect its trajectory?
“Not at all. I actually don’t think my disability affects what I can or cannot do. I am just like everyone else. And I believe I communicate well,” she said.
With an affinity for “going with the flow”, Amanda insists that she currently has no specific plans for the future, other than to keep working on her craft. “I am a quick learner. I like to challenge myself with different things and achieve more experiences.”
Citing travelling as her hobby, Patakamanthin hopes to reach more people across the world with her work. She says, “I often post my artwork on Instagram and ArtStation, and people tend to find me there. Sometimes, they would ask me for a commission or take up a project.”
Asked if she has any advice for aspiring artists and illustrators with any form of disability, she was quick to refer to self-belief and awareness as the only real tools for growth. “Keep practising, keep exploring. Create more of your art, even if you feel like your art is not good enough.”
Amanda continues: “Most of all, you make it happen. It is all up to you. It can be difficult and frustrating to be disabled, that sometimes we would feel like ‘freaks’ because we are different from the ‘normal’ people around us. But we must have faith in ourselves and learn to accept and embrace our differences.
“People may look down on us, mock us or see us as weak. But if we stay strong, we get to do what we want. Never ever let anyone hinder our dreams and goals.”
Amanda’s works can be viewed at Facebook: mandysasaaa; Instagram: mandysasa
CHASE YOUR SPLASH
Five fantastic art apps to keep your challenged child going.
1. Doodle Buddy
A user-friendly application that helps refine motor skills, Doodle Buddy can be enjoyed by artistically inclined children as young as kindergarten. But don’t be fooled: the app’s simple mode can easily be changed to complex as your kid grows older and their strokes, more seasoned.
2. Splatter HD
If your child is obsessive-compulsive and super fearful of getting his hands dirty, then Splatter HD is great for giving them the satisfaction of colour splashing without all the gooey mess. The app’s impression of a controlled environment also helps minimise potential meltdowns.
3. Colour Vacuum
Specially made with autistic children in mind, Colour Vacuum is a wonderful way to develop your child’s intuition and exceptional recognition of the colour spectrum. What’s great about the app is that it is also programmed to help one associate day-to-day things, subjects, actions, and answers with specific colours. Talk about utility!
This made-for-iPad app is perfect for older geniuses with a penchant for hyperrealistic art. The easy-to-use brush tool and opacity setting make for smooth transitions between actions, thus ensuring minimal hiccups — and emotional dwellings — along the way.
5. Zen Brush 2
Why not take your child’s artistry up a notch with Zen Brush? This delightful app, designed to emulate the sensual flick of a brush, helps nurture a love of Japanese calligraphy. Extend your bonding sessions with your little one with narrated histories of Japan to keep things atmospheric.