Remember the British art programme on TV for kids, Art Attack? The show with its brightly coloured set and outsized props of art tools helmed by the exuberant presenter/co-creator Neil Buchanan. It captivated young Malaysian audiences with its wonderfully creative yet simple DIY ideas when it was aired around the noughties on Disney Channel over Astro.
Fast forward to today and there are now episodes produced specially for South-East Asia, along with a new host from Malaysia.
Qushairi Mohammed Razali, 34, or better known as Qi, has been handpicked to lead children in the South-East Asian region in a creativity-fuelled adventure every week in Disney’ Art Attack, the latest incarnation of the well-known TV series.
As the name suggests, it is about making art mad, messy and fun. The premise is that art can be created with things found around the house, and the message is to have fun with it!
A big draw of the show is Big Art Attacks, where pieces of art are done on a large scale. It is also Qi’s favourite segment, along with papier-mache and anything to do with art and music.
“We did an arm-eating monster from a mineral water bottle, a helmet from balloon and papiermache, and a guitar.
“In the guitar episode, we also taught kids about music and sound. I think that’s my favourite episode,” he says in an interview in Petaling Jaya, Selangor.
Qi has always loved music. He played drums in OAG and even recorded a couple of albums. He left the band in 2000 to study graphic design in college.
Malaysians may not be unfamiliar with the Penangite, who has since 1989 gained recognition as a face of TV commercials, host of local TV series like Jalan-Jalan Cari Makan, Field Trip USA and Destinasi Bajet, as well as an emcee. He is also noted for starring as the blogger-cartoonist in the 8TV series Blogger Boy two years ago.
When Qi got the chance to audition for Art Attack, a job that comes with regional exposure no less, the chap was truly excited. What’s more, he used to watch Buchanan’s show as a kid.
After snagging the right to wear the trademark red sweatshirt on the set of Art Attack, the delighted guy flew to Buenos Aires, where he remained for one-and-a-half months to film all 26 episodes of the first season. It was gruelling work but fun.
The Malaysian is one of nine new international presenters recruited to update the show for Disney. The others are from Britain, Italy, France, Belgium, Germany, Portugal, Spain and India. They were gathered at the Argentinian capital for the filming.
“I love art; I draw and sketch all the time. I tried catching a few old episodes but not too many because they wanted freshness in the show. For example, we have a new segment on origami, which was not featured in the original series,” he says.
While Qi may have experience in hosting, presenting Art Attack requires a somewhat different style, thus giving him a chance to hone his hosting skills. The programmes he helmed previously were mainly freestyle hosting, whereas his latest is more formatted.
“It has helped me become a better host,” he says.
He is particularly happy to be able to discuss the technical aspects of art in a way kids will understand.
“We talk about toning and shadowing. We had to do a lot of research and the writers were very good at explaining it in a way that’s easy for kids to grasp. Apart from that, the series allows me to be a big brother and friend to our viewers, and show them that art can be crazy and fun.”
His advice to kids regarding art is to “approach it without fear and boundaries”, adding that they should be free to try new things.
Keeping to its aim of inspiring kids to be creative and artistic, the show focuses on matters that are relevant to its young audience.
“We do art on space and aliens, as a catalyst for kids to explore art. You have a carton, don’t throw it away. Let’s make a rocket. Instead of having kids playing computer games all day, we have them sitting down and making things. It’s dangerous to lose your childhood to technology. There should always be a balance,” says Qi, sounding like a big brother all right.
The presenter says he is inspired by nature, movies, music, people, and mostly children because they have an imaginative mind and are unafraid to experiment new things.
“We forget this as we get older, and to a certain extent, I feel I am STILL a kid deep down. I still collect toys and comics. I love being around kids; they can be a handful at times but are always full of laughter, which is good for the heart,” says the young man.
Qi defines success by being able to find one’s passion. “Success is when you start putting in effort to work towards your goal. It doesn’t matter if you get there, but doing what you love is success in itself.”
He reckons it takes a combination of talent, luck, communication and hard work to make it in the entertainment world, along with a strong sense of self-belief and being one step ahead of the pack. Doing things that have been done before is not his thing, he says. So he always strives to think outside the box.
As he prepares for the premiere of Art Attack, Qi is already working on other projects, including hosting a food show and more acting and music gigs.
“I hope to be both in front of and behind the camera in five years’ time. I want to conceptualise shows and also revive my musical career because ultimately, music is my passion!”
* Disney’s Art Attack premieres on Disney Channel (Astro Channel 615) at noon this Friday; regular showtimes are Saturday and Sunday, noon.
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