Malaysian artist transforms store room into a 'spaceship'


  • Arts
  • Thursday, 26 Mar 2020

Ahmad transformed his tiny storeroom in his low-cost flat in Kuala Lumpur into a spaceship cockpit and command centre. Photo: Ahmad Fathil Zakaria

What can you do with a tiny room? Not much, you might think. But with the power of imagination, anything is possible.

Just ask self-taught artist Ahmad Fathil Zakaria. With just a few cans of paint and a creative vision, he turned his storeroom in his KL low-cost flat into a spaceship flying through the cosmos.

The artist blasted off to fame after he posted the photos of his intergalactic painting project on social media on March 22.

Ahmad's Facebook album "Dekorasi Extreme Musim2 Covid-19" (Covid-19 Season Extreme Decoration) has gone viral, now shared over 57,000 times.

“I was very surprised. I got so many notifications, it made my phone hang! But I’m also very happy that the world has seen what I can do, ” says Ahmad, 32, in a phone interview.

According to Ahmad, he was first inspired to take on this home project at the start of 2020. One of his New Year resolutions was to become a professional artist. To do so, however, he knew he would need a cool working space to be inspired.

And so, he decided to convert a 6.3sq m storeroom in his PPR Seri Alam flat into a spaceship.

“I chose a spaceship because of what it symbolised. Spaceships can fly to the edge of space... as far as you can imagine. And I hope that I too will be able to fly very far, ” he adds optimistically.

Welcome to space! Ahmad takes a selfie inside his spaceship room. Photo: Ahmad Fathil ZakariaWelcome to space! Ahmad takes a selfie inside his spaceship room. Photo: Ahmad Fathil Zakaria

Ahmad has always loved art, having shown interest since the age of four. At school, he would often win drawing competitions.

At present, he also works as a delivery rider to supplement his income. He recalls working on painting his storeroom for about four to five hours after work each day.

Converting his inner space to outer space took about a month, starting in mid-February and ending on March 14. His project finished just before the announcement of the Government's movement control order (MCO) on March 16. The MCO started on March 18 will continue through April 14.

Ahmad remains candid about the timing of the MCO since he now has a lot of time on his hands.

“If I had worked on it full-time, it might just have taken a week. But I never really felt tired when working on it, because it was so much fun," he mentions.

A 'before' and 'after' image of a part of Ahmad's new spaceship room, which costs him about RM500 to complete.A 'before' and 'after' image of a part of Ahmad's new spaceship room, which costs him about RM500 to complete.

The Kuala Lumpur-born artist began the project with a series of notepad sketches. Ironically, Ahmad admits he is not a huge science-fiction fan.

To get ideas and designs for his spaceship room, he watched sci-fi movie trailers and film scenes on YouTube. Some of his influences included the Star Wars movies and Guardians Of The Galaxy.

The artist first painted the whole room black, making it easy for him to paint on borders and details. Painting outer space, he reveals, was the simple part.

What was more challenging was bringing the cockpit to life. It took him several attempts to get it right.

Just like a movie production set, Ahmad initially mapped out his spaceship design with chalk. Photo: Ahmad Fathil ZakariaJust like a movie production set, Ahmad initially mapped out his spaceship design with chalk. Photo: Ahmad Fathil Zakaria

He credits his wife Nur Hidayu Aziz, and his three year old daughter Tia for helping and supporting him.

“Tia is the most excited one about this room. She loves to watch her favourite shows inside the room!” says Ahmad.

Ahmad also worked to keep the costs low, and estimated to have spent less than RM500 on his pet project. The main cost came from the use of high-quality paint, which he was lucky to have on supply through his job as an artist.

“Everything else I got cheap or made it myself. Like once, I was at a junk shop, and found a very cool-looking swivel chair. It was just like something from Star Trek! It was a little damaged, but easily fixed. I think if you really have talent, you don’t need to spend much to make something."

A repurposed 'command centre' chair tucked in the corner of the spaceship room. Photo: Ahmad Fathil ZakariaA repurposed 'command centre' chair tucked in the corner of the spaceship room. Photo: Ahmad Fathil Zakaria

With the Covid-19 stay home situation, Ahmad is dreaming up more plans to transform his flat into a 3D museum.

This plan, however, will take some planning, and a bigger budget.

For now, he is going to enjoy his spaceship room, which he says was finished at just the right time.

“Now, I’m all prepared for the home confinement. I may have to stay at home, but in the spaceship, I can ‘fly’ anywhere!” concludes Ahmad with a laugh.

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