Paint­ing re­flec­tions

> Re­lent­less in the face of autism, Yuli Yap finds his pas­sion and pur­pose in mak­ing breath­tak­ing art

The Sun (Malaysia) - - YOUTH - BERNARD CHEAH

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 (face­ 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.

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