One-stop indie platform to showcase, discover and support Malaysian artists


In these pandemic times, Buttermilk is a useful directory platform for Malaysian artists to reach a broader audience. Photo: Handout

If you’re a Malaysian artist who’s finding it hard to get yourself noticed in these difficult pandemic days, check out new digital platform Buttermilk.

Set up by Penang-born Chan Yi Hui last October, Buttermilk has nearly 300 artists as part of its steadily growing platform.

“Essentially, it is a directory platform to showcase, discover, and support Malaysian artists, ” says Yi Hui, as she is fondly called.

The idea for Buttermilk came about when the KL-based software company product manager realised that it’s not easy to search for Malaysian artists online.

“It takes time to manually scour through social media platforms and the Internet to find Malaysian artists.

“There are many platforms out there for you to do that, but they also cover artists worldwide. So you’ll still need to find them manually.

“That’s how I arrived at Buttermilk – a platform to showcase and discover Malaysian artists, ” she shares.

'I don’t know if Buttermilk can help artists find jobs or monetise their work yet, but if all goes well, it will at least help them gain more attention, ' says Yi Hui. Photo: Handout.'I don’t know if Buttermilk can help artists find jobs or monetise their work yet, but if all goes well, it will at least help them gain more attention, ' says Yi Hui. Photo: Handout.With Buttermilk, Yi Hui, 27, says an artist can benefit “by using it as a stepping stone to get more exposure. They’ll be featured alongside other artists around Malaysia, and hopefully, gain more visibility for their work.”

The platform is filled with new and young talent, which you wouldn’t usually find in commercial art galleries. You might not find that many accomplished fine art gallery-based practitioners, but what you will get is a list of independent illustrators, digital artists and designers who are working equally hard to get their art across.

“My hope is that if Buttermilk takes off, it will be the go-to place to easily and quickly find local artists to match your liking, ” she adds.

“On top of that, artists themselves can also find other like-minded artists and support their work too.”

The sight of Malaysian artists flooding Twitter with the #ArtistofMalaysia hashtag last month is a sign that there is a whole world of undiscovered local talent out there.

Buttermilk, as an independent initiative, is definitely moving in the right direction. In keeping things simple, Yi Hui says all an artist needs to do is fill in their details on a form.

Upon approval, the artist will be immediately added onto the directory for free. Visitors can then use filters to locate the artists they’re trying to find.

Yi Hui started Buttermilk from “a place of appreciation and admiration for artists and their art, mainly because of the fact that they are able to create art out of nothing at all is something that is astonishing.”

“In a sense, this is a way for me to give back to the local community for the art they’ve been creating. It doesn’t matter if the artists are just starting out or experienced, as long as they do art, they’re welcomed to join, ” she says.

However, she is aware that a platform like Buttermilk cannot solve all the woes of Malaysian artists.

“At this point of time, I don’t know if Buttermilk can help artists find jobs or monetise their work yet, but if all goes well, it will at least help them gain more attention, ” she says.

But Yi Hui is already working on solving that. She reveals that she is planning to build a local online marketplace for local artists.

“I’m still in the phase of researching and testing out tools to integrate into my current stack as well as planning out what to include in this phase.

“There are also other things to figure out, such as deliveries, protecting intellectual property rights, payment gateways and so on, ” says Yi Hui.

Ultimately, Yi Hui also hopes to make art more accessible to regular Malaysians.

“I like to think Buttermilk can help democratise art here – people can be exposed to different kinds of art forms, not only traditional art.

“Hopefully, people might come to find an art form that’s closer to home for them, ” she concludes.

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