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By all means, create!

November 12th, 2012 Technology / Science

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Muid Latif showing his digital art skills accompanied by Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra in conjunction with KLCC Art Festival 2010.

Muid’s creative pieces.

Muid’s creative pieces.

TO an artist, it does not matter if one’s weapon is a paint brush dipped in water colours or a stylus streaking across a touch screen. What’s important is the ability to express through one’s creation and the experience one gets from the process. Muid Latif is one such artist who believes both mediums need to co-exist.

A fine artist and sculptor, Muid is better known as a digital artist and he creates both physical and digital art works. He is considered a serious creative practitioner within the local arts and multimedia scene. The 33-year-old who graduated from Universiti Teknologi MARA’s Faculty of Arts and Design is also the project head of Creative Commons Malaysia and plays his role as Behance Ambassador for Malaysia.

“I am a digital artist, illustrator, graphic designer and new media advocate. However, I still consider myself a ‘manual’ artist who appreciates the real experience of using art tools such as watercolours, marker pen and pencil, while keeping up with the current trends. I complement my works with the use of computer application from Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator to 3-D softwares like Cinema 4D, 3D Max, Sketch Up and others. You can’t feel the value of art until you start sketching or illustrating it using various medium. In fact, you are able to learn technically how great art has contributed to society, especially in the history and economic growth of one country,” says Muid who hones his skills as a multi-discipline creative practitioner during his spare time. He has a regular 9-to-5 job.

He carries a marker pen, a sketch book and his iPad wherever he goes. “Technology is amazing, you can create wonderful graphics but it will run out of battery. So you need something physical as back up. I also create sketches using pen and paper whenever I feel bad, mad, or sad. This is my therapy,” says Muid showing off his black book and thin line marker pen. The artist also taught himself programming using HTML, CSS and JavaScript, as well as manipulate Adobe softwares such as Photoshop, Illustrator, Lightroom, Flash and Dreamweaver.

He says: “I did attempt to produce artworks using Wacom tablet or Touchpad Stylus on iPad. However, the experience will never be as accurate as what I want or how I craft my work using real tools like pencil, brush, etc. Having said that, I must say that I can’t live without Adobe Photoshop as it is one of my core software to produce magnificent digital art.

“My current work focuses on digital space painting and digital matte painting. In fact,  the recent launch of Adobe Creative Suite 6 enables me to work more proactively and more efficiently. In future, I plan to learn and master more things from contemporary computer applications like Autodesk products to learning traditional methods of creating art such as batik’s manual wax-resist dyeing, lithography, woodblock printing and others.”

DECADE-LONG JOURNEY

Growing up with 1980s cartoons such as Transformers, Thundercats as well as Dungeons & Dragons, Muid also loved reading Datuk Lat’s Kampung Boy and Marvel comics like X-Men in his youth.

He says: “My passion for art emerged when I was a kid. I still remember making robots with manila cardboard  in my teenage years. I’m influenced by comic artists like Andy Kubert, Joe Madureira, John Romita Jr and Jaafar Taib.”
His venture into the digital world started during his time as a Fine Arts undergraduate whose first study was sculpture. “In my final years at UiTM, I worked part time at a cyber cafe. If you remember, in the late 1990s cyber cafes were booming, services like IRC were popular and ASL was a normal greeting. I got access to the Internet and played games like Quake. Seeing the rich texture of the game, I wondered what kind of applications were used to create the graphics. I began to explore the Internet and created websites on platforms like Geocities and Tripod,” says Muid.

After graduating, Muid worked with various technology and multimedia companies but he considers his time at Multimedia Development Corporation one of the highlights of his career. “We were tasked with promoting Saladin and I developed its Flash website. We also dressed up as Saladin characters. I was Tarik and went around to promote Saladin and educate people about the creative industry. The experience has helped me in my role as motivational speaker, something I do quite often and most of the time addressing college students who are still learning about multimedia, graphics, arts and such,” he says.

SUPPORT FROM FAMILY AND FRIENDS

Muid is lucky to have family support even though his father, a retired army officer, and mother, who still works with the police force, would prefer if he stuck to a 9-to-5 job.

“My parents are not artistic by nature, I even asked if my grandparents were, but no! However I make sure my siblings are involved. I try to inspire them to be creative-savvy. As a result, my sisters and brothers are into photography and can use graphic edition applications like Photoshop.”

Muid also believes that the people you meet can also be a source of inspiration and influence you. “At one point of my life, I convinced my sister, Abby, who was frustrated with her job in the corporate sector, to start our own freelance outfit called Digital Nusantara Studio. We offered our services as digital artist and photographer and we got to work with many other talented people such as Atilia, Ferhad and Jeff Timmons of 98 Degrees. These folks, especially Jeff, whom I first met via MySpace, are so humble and honest. I hope to be like them when I am as successful,” he says.

While Muid has a long list of achievements, he prefers to focus on the present. “I’m just grateful to be able to achieve this far. I think 15 years ago, when I saw any digital artwork, I felt like those are the impossible things that I could never achieve,” he admits.

SPREADING ART SENSE

Muid wears so many hats that influence the way he creates. To date, his works have been showcased online and offline, and at  exhibitions such as the recent Akar & Kukubesi group exhibition at Galeri Shah Alam, Selangor, In-sight, Contemporary Malaysian Designers Exhibition at Centre of Creative in Shizuoka, Japan and Live Digital Art Performance with Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra at Dewan Filharmonik Petronas in KLCC.
“I felt a great creative sensation when I performed with the MPO during the Painted Notes art festival in 2010,” he says.

Many of his works have found a home at www.muidlatif.co, a site that leads visitors to his portfolio hosted by Behance. Behance is an online platform to showcase and discover creative work. According to Muid, creative professionals can upload works on the fly and use it as a working portfolio. Artists can lead people to their site and visitors get to click on the Appreciate This button below a work to send genuine kudos to a creative professionals.

“Sometimes, I revisit my old works to see how much I have evolved from being an amateur artist to someone who can inspire myself and others. Right now I totally dig Digital Space Painting as what you can see in my recent artworks. Most of the people who know me have always seen me as a pro-orientalist artist who love to embed Southeast Asian cultural elements such as batik, songket and Malay woodcarving but if they look at my portfolio at Behance, they can see more sides of me. I like to change my audience’s perception by shifting to different styles or approach so they cannot spot the similar patterns that I used to carry in my earlier works,” he says.