Featuring Sirhan Haziq
HOW DO YOU create art in Singapore? How do you create art anywhere? You just do, right? After all, author Neil Gaiman's famous advice states: Make good art. He made it sound as if that would suffice and tide one through all the dry periods of creativity, replenish the lack of artistic knowledge and magically induce talent in the unexceptional. Is that advice alone enough?
For Sirhan Haziq, writer, illustrator, and one of the brilliant minds behind The HeartThrob Project, the advice is embodied and lived out in inspiring fashion.
Most of the times, it is not as easy as simply doing it. You gather courage, you set your mind in the right attitude, you grit your teeth and pull up your socks. You ask for help. You keep asking. You do anything. You must do everything.
Make good art.
A Soul's True Redeemer
In the cold grasp of a dent in character,
A fatal chink in the armour.
Amidst the cloud of retribution
And all things wrong in a human being.
Therein lies the naked soul,
If a man does wrong,
Is he bad to the bone?
Or if a man does right,
Does he call heaven home?
Man is God-made,
Out of raw good will.
And oft the things that are raw
Need guiding still.
God will not speak to you so forgive yourselves.
God will not comfort you so redeem yourselves.
God will not exist in our kind and sympathetic words.
God exists in our actions.
So if your soul be heavy by some regrettable bearing
And on your knees be bruised by the gravity of guilt,
There lies the tip of a sword on your shoulder
At only your command lifting you higher
Til you arise Not keen to recover,
But instead to carry on, broken and all
As if you were some blessed knight still shining in armour.
God will speak to you when you’re forgiving yourselves.
God will comfort you when you’re choosing to redeem yourselves.
God is as still as our written words.
God lives in our actions.
Having received little artistic influences in his childhood, which was dominated by sports, Sirhan grew a penchant for literature after studying it in Junior College. The initial interest blossomed into passion, which he refined in a solitary environment, in a place where he needed to clear his mind, during National Service. In the gap year he took afterwards, he picked up illustration and began writing more. Sirhan decided that talent was not something he had- that of course, I can hardly agree with. But still, even so, he had a gnawing desire within that, talented or not, did not deter him from satisfying. He had something greater than talent, something more valuable and something indispensable. He is defined by his willpower. That, of course, I can hardly agree with more.
Make good art.
Sirhan came onboard The HeartThrob Project in June 2012. His writings were featured, his stories went onto Petua, a collection of stories about local superstitions which was published by HTP and sold at major bookstores, and his illustration skills took off. Sirhan had zero formal education on illustration and drawing, and yet his works are vivid and carries a distinctive style. But it should come as no surprise since he took to YouTube videos, spent countless hours experimenting illustrating, and even sought help from potential teachers. His work paid off, no doubt because of his determination and affability, of having illustration maestro Ziq, who hails from Visual Inconsideration, as his mentor. Within a span of 2 months, Sirhan's creations evolved from simple sketches to flavourful visual designs. Sirhan is proud of his 'unschooled' art and he ought to be.
But making good art is not all about oneself. In the bigger picture, Sirhan wants art to be a daily motivation to Singaporeans. These days, plagued by unhappiness and discontentment, Sirhan see art as a solution, since "art expresses emotions, which relieves tension and builds a healthy environment." Sirhan also visions HTP to be a platform for people like himself, people who still feel conservative yet wishes for expression through art. In his eyes, HTP aims to become an open platform to encourage people to hop onboard the art scene and for seasoned artists to showcase their work.
Sirhan Haziq represents an invaluable impetus in the maturation of the local arts scene, not because he is talented, not because of his acute sense of artistic direction, not because he speaks and connects well; Sirhan symbolizes handwork and resourcefulness and stands for will power and a never-give-up attitude. He is fearless because he knows what he must do and that can never go wrong.
Make good art.
When I Look In The Mirror
The moment I took
The unconventional step to jump off
The conventional train.
The times when I bathed in hurt and anger,
The disappointment of shattered dreams,
The recovery of a million fragments.
That unfinished business.
The courage pill that came with
The underlying strength
God secretly planted, deep in the dirt.
The unexpected opportunity
To stop and appreciate
The good things.
The availability of time,
Others believed wasted,
To build a warrior.
The unflappable reflection
When I look in the mirror.
The enduring animal.
Forever, the kid with a chip on his shoulder.