Riding the digital wave of art

CREATIVES in Penang capitalised on the vast opportunities afforded by the country’s first creative economy e-commerce live streaming event.

Held over four weekends since December, The Journey of Art: A Shelter for Artists allowed participants to reach potential customers virtually anywhere.

The sessions saw some promoting products, while others shared insights into their respective crafts. They attracted several thousand views each.

An initiative by the Penang tourism and creative economy office of exco member Yeoh Soon Hin, it was meant to help local creatives transition their businesses and activities to the digital arena.

This was necessary due to challenges and logistical limitations brought about by Covid-19, such as the closure of international borders and implementation of various degrees of the movement control order.

Award-winning internet platform Quinton Group sponsored the event and helped participants set up e-shops on their e-commerce website.

Screengrab of a lion dance performance by Penang Hong Guan Culture Association.Screengrab of a lion dance performance by Penang Hong Guan Culture Association.

Adeline Tan, artistic director of Spring Production and Art Studio that managed the livestreams, said response was encouraging as many viewers called up or visited the e-shops after viewing the sessions.

“Online channels allow artists and creatives to reach a larger audience and boost their sales. But they have to be engaging as they promote and market themselves, ” she said in one of the sessions.

The first weekend on Dec 12 and 13 featured handicraft and saw homegrown vendors and artisans promoting various decorative items and accessories.

This included candles, sculptures and figurines, rattan baskets, bracelets, beaded items, necklaces, chopping and serving boards, engraved signs and succulent plants.

Art took centre stage on Dec 19 and 20. Several local painters shared about the methods and inspiration behind their oil, watercolour and acrylic works alongside those who dabbled in calligraphy and photography.

One of them, Koh Teng Huat, welcomed such initiatives and said they helped artists like him overcome some of the challenges brought about by the new normal.

The Wak Long Music and Art Group performing Gamelan.The Wak Long Music and Art Group performing Gamelan.

“As artists, we need to stay connected with our collectors and buyers. With exhibitions not as practical currently, this gives us a different way of showcasing our works.”

The Dec 26 and 27 sessions were dedicated to performances and featured local musical groups like Culture Shot which played instruments of different cultures and gave folk songs fun twists.

Wak Long Music and Art group performed wayang kulit and gamelan, while Penang Hong Guan Culture Association put on a lively lion dance routine.

The final sessions on Jan 2 and 3 had local tourist attractions, souvenir shops, boutiques and galleries promoting their unique offerings.

Penang House of Music director Paul Augustin said they were pleased to offer their venue at Level Four of Komtar, to support the state’s artistic community.

“With participants sharing about their processes, techniques and materials, it was good for documentation and education. This complements what we’re trying to do here, ” he shared.

The live streams can still be viewed on the Facebook pages of Yeoh, Penang House of Music and Quin Pavilion.

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