Lim Zhi Wei — a visual artist-preneur known as Love, Limzy — uses flowers, everyday objects, and things she finds in nature, turning them into gorgeous, inspirational portrayals of ordinary moments. A fine art graduate from Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts Singapore (NAFA), she is originally from Malayasia, and is based in Singapore.
As her art reflects a simplicity, but intricacy of life, she is also learning to cook simple and healthy dishes through her new venture into vegetarianism. An avid traveler, she doesn't have a favorite travel spot, but always finds different definitions of beauty in each place, country, culture and people. She plans to travel along the South Coast of Australia and is excited to see the jacaranda trees, and to visit Japan during early December to witness the vivid autumn colors there.
Limzy's art inspired me from the first time one of her pieces came across my Instagram feed. I was thrilled that she was willing to chat with me. I wanted to get more insight into the creation of her art, what inspires her, and advice she has for those wanting to infuse their lives with more creativity.
dabble | How did you get started with your petal art?
Love, Limzy | It was a gradual transition. After graduating from NAFA (Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts Singapore), I worked as an art teacher and later an art gallery assistant, before taking the leap of faith to become a full-time artist early last year.
When I was teaching children, I realized I had no time to paint at all, or even to visit art shops. But there were always leftover material from my lessons, e.g. leaves, alphabet macaroni, stones, broken crayons, and such, and I started to play around with them after work.
One day, I was figuring out a gift for my grandma's birthday. I plucked a rose from her garden and somehow thought that it looked like a puffy dress. I press-dried it and made her a little artwork. She loved it almost instantly! The immediate response from my grandma gave me such a huge inspirational kick, that I have always been looking for a zero-distance experience in art with people. From then, I expanded a series of floral artworks.
Flowers and other ordinary materials can easily be comprehended by almost everyone. In college, we were encouraged to do projects with serious topics and abstract ideas, but I personally feel it creates a barrier between the art, the artist, and the viewer. This approach is straightforward and simple, un-overanalyzed and genuine, that even my grandma understood it. So to me, it was also a break out of my comfort zone for my artistic direction.
D | Do the petals on your art wilt or die?
LL | It all begins from the garden or park. I pick up wildflowers and twigs, or blooms and soil from my grandmother’s garden. My art comes from nature, and it goes back to nature. The idea behind that beauty is perceived in both life and death is evident in my works. I use photography to freeze the moment of its paramount beauty and capture my artistic interpretation through mixed media (photography, painting and natural elements).
D | How do you keep the flowers looking fresh?
LL | I don’t intend to keep my works literally forever (to me, capturing them in pictures already are), but I do love each and every twig or grass I collect, so I try to dry them in all sorts of manners. Be it hang-drying, dry pressing, microwave etc. But ever since I discover preserved flowers in Japan and China, I have been using them for works that require a test of time, like exhibitions and installations.
D | How long does a piece take you?
LL | I use to work and create in a very organized and systematic way. But I learn to just let go of my worries and be more versatile, as how nature has taught me. Sometimes I have an idea in mind, but when I don’t have the suitable materials, or the timing or location is not right, I will keep that ‘sketch’ in mind. Other times when I travel, I find the most extraordinary materials or inspirations that I have to complete on the spot. This happens for daily practices. But when it comes to organizing and selecting works for an exhibition or installation, it is however another tedious story to tell. It took nearly eight months to plan from scratch and execute my recent solo exhibition at Wollongong Australia.
So, to answer the question, I could be done in thirty minutes, or an intensive 3 hours under the sun, or a stretch of months. I also learned that ‘done is better than perfect’. My works are mostly about that very moment I feel and visualize with nature. It might not be the best work at that point of time, but it best represents that particular story and context.
D | What inspires your creativity?
LL | This sounds cliché, but I find inspirations in everyday life, nature the most. I spend a lot of time outdoors. I love to swim, walk around parks, pick up wild flowers and broken twigs, bird watching, travel all the way to Kyoto just to swoon myself over cherry blossoms, and feel the heat of the sand under my feet. I also love visiting a local artist or join a workshop when I travel.
D | Is art something you always wanted to do, or something that you fell into?
LL | I was drawing before I knew anything else as a child — always drawing and vandalizing my home furniture, so my parents sent me to art classes when I was four. I wanted to be either an artist or a vet. Though I majored in biology science during high school, I have never forsaken my art. After high school, I was even sure that my childhood instinct was the most accurate and decided to focus on my art. Maybe this is the best combination of both (biology and art).
D | What does a regular day look like for you?
LL | Art creating is a huge part of work for an artist. But we are also freelancers and entrepreneurs ourselves. So first of all, if I am at my home studio, my day starts with the usual office procedures from replying emails, brainstorming proposals, to meeting clients. After lunch, I will start working on my art.
I have to gather materials a day before. But if they're plucked from my garden or elsewhere, I have to create my work as soon as possible. I usually start creating in the evening in my front yard. That is when the sunlight turns perfect for photo taking. If it's windy, I will work inside my studio.
If I am travelling, I bring my laptop and camera everywhere, regardless how heavy they are. I could work anywhere in my apartment, a coffee shop or at the park.
If I am setting up an exhibition, my team and I usually have to work tirelessly for at least a week.
D | What is the Big Yaard?
LL | Big Yaard is a visual art studio and creative platform in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia for the young, young at heart, and the creative soul. We aim to bring art closer to life, and life closer to art.
As we believe that it is better together, we are eager and passionate to connect and unite the creative individuals and brands to the public around the region.
We curate interactive events from workshops to skill sharing sessions, and aim to organize exhibitions, flea markets and creative bazaars in future.
D | How did the Big Yaard begin?
LL | After working as a full time artist for almost 2 years, I tend to get a lot of questions from students and fellow art mates on how to sustain my career in art. Or emails from someone who tells me they have given up their dreams for long after adulthood overwhelms everything else in life. I understand the journey of pursuing one’s passion could be daunting at the beginning, and sometimes lonely, or you don’t event know where to start, market or present your works. I feel I have a bigger purpose calling to help our fellow artists and designers who are so talented yet underrated in the industry. Instead of focusing only on my own artistic journey, I wish to share more as I choose to believe we could all make it.
Hence, after months and months of planning, my childhood buddy Wennie and I have ventured a new arts brand direction called Big Yaard (@big.yaard, you know, it all began from the big front yard), a place where we would like to help connect as many local creative to the public as possible, and have our share to boost the local art scene, and also to improve the quality of living of many via arts, history and culture. We did our very first workshop in Kuala Lumpur and it was such a hit.
D | I see that you recently did a floral workshop for the Big Yaard. If a reader would like to create this art on their own, what supplies do they need?
LL | I did a workshop on how to create your own mixed media art with paint and preserved flowers on canvas. As the materials are not widespread, they can be difficult to source. But you can always make your own floral art with a piece of canvas, paint and dried flowers.
D | How do you fit creativity into your life?
LL | I take my current series as daily art practices. I will try to complete a few artworks a week. Sometimes I get tired or uninspired, I love to travel and give myself time to wander. I learn a new skill or revise an old one by visiting workshops and artist friends regularly.
When we were in college, we used to paint large paintings that took a month or so to complete. So doing something small everyday was a new challenge to me when I first started. It’s the 21st century, the era of over-flooded information and knowledge. Besides getting inspired by everything, it is also important to lessen or deduct things that you do not need, so that you keep things organised and prioritised in your mind. So whenever I have some crazy ideas, I will note them down and keep them in my ‘mind closet’. When the right time comes, I just do it without hesitation.
D | What are a few tips you have for someone who wants to get started in expressing themselves through art?
LL | I believe that fundamentals are the backbone of any industry or passion. Keep practicing, but always be curious, innovative and observant when it comes to searching your own artistic style and journey.