Born in Alor Setar, a small town in northern Malaysia, Elaine Wong grew up with a passion for technology and drawing. “If you were to ask my primary school friends, they would all tell you that my schoolbooks were always full of doodles and sketches.”
Her artworks were featured on classroom bulletin boards and she was once asked to design the school mural. But it was her childhood ambition to work with computers that led to her finding a job in the IT industry and soon she found herself in hospitality systems, going to hotels or hotel headquarters to assess and implement computer systems as well as provide training and support for them.
As a result of her job, Elaine has had the opportunity to travel around the world, staying in hotels in the Maldives, London, India, Vietnam, Thailand, Bali and China. But over time, this busy work life left Elaine little time to pursue other interests, like art.
All changed in 2010, however, when she suddenly decided to pick up her brushes and paint again. Walking into an art store to purchase supplies, she ran into an artist who had started a 30 day art challenge. What began as a personal challenge himself, later grew into a movement for artists around the world. The goal was to produce forty works in thirty days and blog about it every day until the mission was complete. Elaine, facing her first time in front of a canvas in many years, dove headfirst into the challenge. She applied for 30 days of unpaid leave from her job, to the stunning disbelief of her boss, who she eventually managed to convince of her mission. Soon, what started as a a quiet hobby became known to everyone around her from friends to co-workers.
They encouraged her to showcase her work and sell it, which she eventually did in an art show called “In Between Midnights”, in an eccentric art space in Kuala Lumpur. “The name came to represent the time and space I usually had to be in to create the artworks – for I could only find time and inspiration to make art in the wee hours of the morning and in between work projects.”
Shortly after her art show, Elaine took another huge leap in her life and moved to Munich, Germany. Curious to see what life was like in Europe, she applied for a vacancy at another IT firm in hospitality systems and got the job. She sold all her things, packed two suitcases and left to begin a new life and adventure. “I came alone, all by myself to Germany without knowing anyone here and not knowing a single German word at all, I just emerged myself fully in this foreign culture.” One which she calls a challenging experience that she will never regret.
Since she first began her journey back into art, Elaine has started her own artistic movement called Arts for the Love of Elephants. Inspired by her friend Sangita Iyer’s documentary, Love for Asian Elephants, the project like the documentary, brings awareness to the suffering of Indian temple elephants. But Elaine started her collaborative project as a way to bring together elephant loving artists and art lovers. Through the movement, art and elephant lovers can contribute to the cause of saving the elephants since half of the proceeds of the artworks made for the project being donated.
Now, more than three years after her move to Munich, Elaine is contemplating going into art full time, dedicating her weeknights and weekends to books and online classes which teach the business side of selling art. She also recently launched a website with her blog and portfolio and declared her ability to take commissioned works. Plans are in the works to showcase some of her pieces in an art show in Munich.
As she sits at her desk at home, working diligently towards her goal of becoming a full time artist, she stares at her favorite piece called, It’s Show Time. “The painting depicts the silhouette of a black cat facing a tight cluster of colourful blobs akin to the scene of a DJ on stage facing his screaming crowd, ready to rave to his music.” Elaine says it represents her burning desire to show her work to the world and makes her realize that finally, her dream is beginning to come to fruition.
What other artists do you draw inspiration from?
I admire lots of artists that I stumble upon online. One of them, whose works I covet, is a self-taught, abstract artist named Swarez. His works inspire me mainly due to the bold and energetic personality expressed through his art. Another one I admire is a Miami based artist named Alexander Mijares, simply because his works are so colourful and influential.
What sorts of materials do you work in? Do you exclusively paint or draw or do other things as well?
I use acrylics and marker pens on stretched canvas. I also doodle digitally on my iPad and share the works on my Facebook and Instagram.
How did you hear of about.me and what made you sign up for it?
I was searching for a simple, one page, no frills website that could represent my personal brand and all my social media links in one place that is easy to use. I signed up at first to try it out, and now I love it!
What’s your favorite feature on the platform?
I love all the features so far, but one thing I like most about this platform is really its self explanatory name – about.me. Compared to other similar platforms offering the same services but using different names, your audience might not know what they are going to see if they click on the link. You have to say ‘to learn more about me, click this link’, whereas if I just put my about.me link on any website, people instantly know this will bring them to a page about me.
How are you using the platform on other digital mediums?
I use it on my Twitter, my personal Facebook account, and also on my Facebook page.
Have you used about.me to connect with others on the platform?
Oh yes, I have made a few great connections on the platform. In fact, I am currently working on a collaboration project with a Korean Canadian songwriter, jae10, to produce a multimedia representation of our work which will be featured on The House of Acoustics. We found each other on about.me and I really appreciate the opportunities the platform has given me to find interesting, artistic people online.
Learn more about Elaine Wong and her works on her page.
Eliana Arredondo is the Community Manager for about.me. She is a graduate of Stanford University.