> Relentless in the face of autism, Yuli Yap finds his passion and purpose in making breathtaking art
H Emay be quiet, but Yuli Yap has a lot on his mind and he transforms these thoughts into art. Being diagnosed with autism did not stop this Ampang lad from obtaining a degree in graphic design from Curtin University, Australia. It certainly did not restrain him from setting up his own studio Predator Art and Design (facebook.com/ YuliYapDesigns/), where he produces various artworks to serve the needs of skateboarders, surfers, bikers, hot rod enthusiasts, and metalheads. His artworks have been Rings
featured in two solo exhibitions and other events such as The Best of You Exhibition 2015, Hong Kong International Art Fair in 2013 and the 7th Malaysia International Dive Expo 2012.
How long have you been making art? I have been drawing since I was four years old, but I started the art studio in 2010. I use all kinds of mediums, ranging from digital to pen and ink, watercolours, acrylics, markers and pencils.
What inspires your artworks? I am inspired by all kinds of things. For my acrylic paintings, I am inspired by nature and the cities. I like painting a lot of Japanese scenes as I am fascinated by Japanese culture, Zen and its simplicity.
I am trying to diversify into other types of paintings, beyond Japanese culture. I get inspiration from vintage toys, hot rods, motorcycles, classic cars, video games, comic books, heavy metal, punk culture, movies, fast food, action sports, skateboarding, surfing, and tattoos.
Can you share about your fascination with Japanese culture and heavy metal. I really like samurai and the Edo period of Japan before the Meiji Restoration. I am in love with the katanas (swords) and the armour that the samurai wore. What interests me most is the kabuto (helmet) with its intricate detail in design, in addition to the horns and the mask which were modelled after the Japanese rhinoceros beetle.
I like martial art such as ninjutsu and bushido, as well as the numerous weapons they have. I am also very fond of the Japanese tea ceremony, the art of growing bonsai, and the principle of Zen and simplicity, as well as Japanese mythology and folklore such as dragons, kappa, oni and tengu.
A lot of heavy metal graphics often reflect the mythological or legendary aspects of cultures of the long forgotten bygone era.
Besides autism itself, what are some challenges you had to overcome growing up? I faced a lot of bullying in school and university, and rejection in general.
As a result, I took up skateboarding, an activity that helped me to do something on my own unlikes team sports like football and basketball. Through skateboarding, I learnt balance, met new people and improved my self-confidence. I also started listening to metal and punk music to cope. From these, I channel all my angst into art.
Tell us about the stigmatisation of those living with autism. A lot of people do not recognise autism in Asia. Those with Asperger’s Syndrome are perceived to be rude as they lack social cues, the ability to read body language and fit in with others. To most people, they come across as eccentric. In addition, it’s difficult to find employment because most corporations see autism as a liability.
What’s next for you? I plan to keep producing art and make a name for myself in the art scene.
Any advice for aspiring artists? Try not to be influenced by too many people. Art is a reflection of who you are; be yourself and it will reflect in your art. Individualism is sacred.
Having autism did not stop Yap from opening his own art studio and taking up skateboarding.