Contemporary graphic design festivals, storytelling events and book art festivals are steadily making an impact in the capital, with a new audience and art lovers thronging these niche creative events.
The inaugural edition of the Kuala Lumpur Illustration Fair (KLIF) is next on the list. It is set to kick off this weekend at the GMBB creative mall in Kuala Lumpur.
From May 5-7, the entire 3A Level of the building – plus its Grey Box area – will be an international illustration fair where creative talents - young and old - will show us the impact of illustration and design in transforming how we see the world.
At this debut fair, there will be an art exhibit featuring works from illustrators and artists from Malaysia, Indonesia, Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand and the Philippines; an immersive art showcase by digital artists; a two-day conference focusing on the practice, aesthetics and opportunities of commercial illustration in the global industry; and workshops and networking opportunities.
Visitors can expect a line-up of over 100 international and local artists, each with their own unique style and approach to their craft.
“As the fair dates draw closer, we are incredibly excited to welcome the creative community for our debut. Finally, a premier hub for all things illustration that is accompanied with quality showcases and dynamic programming! The main idea was to steer away from a conventional art market setting, and instead provide an engaging and supportive hub for illustrators all over to showcase, exchange ideas and connect with other professionals in the industry,” says Billie Almashoor, chairman of KLIF 2023.
“The unique selling point of KLIF is how we resonate with the vision of providing a niched international arts platform that solely focuses on commercial illustration. We pride ourselves in the quality of showcased work – from a varied array of young and upcoming illustrators, who went through a meticulous shortlisting process; alongside internationally famed creatives such as Jackson Tan (Singapore), Adhira Putra (Indonesia), Steven Choi (Hong Kong) and Viput A (Thailand),” she adds.
KLIF is a collaborative project by Creators Project Associates (Billie and Ng Si Juan), Filamen (Abdul Shakir), Studio Behind 90 (Lai Theng Seng) and iNCH LAB (Chau Chie Jang), founded on their love for all things illustration. It is also an event partnership with KL Art Book Fair; KLIF had a pop-up booth at the Art Book Fair in December 2022, where it first reached out to artists and other creatives in the community.
What started off as a singular passionate idea between five individuals from very diverse backgrounds, quickly developed into an ambitious vision for KLIF as the team started to stitch all the content together.
Billie notes that illustration art on its own is a dynamic industry that is fiercely prevalent, and constantly finds ways to illuminate through these fast-paced times.
“It is a powerful tool for visual communication – to engage the viewer and convey messages in a way that words alone cannot. There are many other forms of art, but oftentimes there is a lack of recognition and awareness of the opportunities within the illustration world. Stemming from a singular vision of pushing illustration art for further recognition, KLIF 2023 aspires to affirm as a platform for discovery and grow as a progressive community to connect, learn and grow. We also aim to push for international recognition for young talent and provide support to current creatives on how they can diversify further their work,” she says.
KLIF is an annual event with the fair as its anchor, with smaller satellite events held throughout the year for continuous engagement with the illustration community, such as smaller illustration showcases and workshops. There are also plans to collaborate with illustration fairs from different countries.
A list of activities
This year’s fair is expected to attract around 2,000 visitors over the weekend at GMBB, which is a building designed to host such creative events..
At the art exhibition, each artist will have a curated booth to showcase their art and identity as a brand. There will also be artisanal illustrated goods and merchandise, as well as interactive displays.
Don’t forget to swing by the Immersive Artspace curated by new media specialists Filamen, where over 30 digital artists have their artistic creations projected in a designated space, enabling viewers to “enter” the work of art and become a protagonist within it.
Additionally, the two-day conference brings together a diverse range of artists, publishers, editors and other industry professionals to share their knowledge, experience and inspiration. The topics focus primarily on the competencies required to succeed in the creative industry today, which includes the components of creativity, collaboration, opportunities; nurturing the art of visual storytelling; developing resiliency and appreciation of cultures; as well as innovative problem-solving.
Speakers will share their unique story of their career paths, creating an opportunity for attendees to learn from others, collaborate on projects and gain exposure to different styles and techniques.
There will be four international keynote speakers – Ardhira Putra (Indonesia), Jackson Tan (Singapore), Steven Choi (Hong Kong) and Viput A. (Thailand) and eight Malaysian guest artists and studios. They are: Driv Loo, Fizah Rahim, Jaemy C, Kenji Chai, Loka Made, Soefara Jafney, The Alphabet Press and Two People Studio. Everyone will be sharing their craft and experience at this conference.
Each session will last 40 minutes, with an open forum at the end of each day to allow the audience to engage with the speakers.
“KLIF promises to be an exciting celebration of quality illustrations; a space where visitors can learn, connect and engage with the illustration community; and offer a new perspective of commercial art and the opportunities available.
“We highly recommend spending the weekend to fully experience each showcase, have a colourful experience with friends and family, and of course connect with our friendly participating artists.
"We are welcoming students, artists, creatives, enthusiasts, creative agencies, galleries and just about anyone who loves good art!” concludes Billie.
KLIF is on at GMBB in Kuala Lumpur from May 5-7. Art exhibition tickets are RM15 (one-day pass) and RM23 (two-day pass). Conference tickets are RM98 (one-day pass) and RM168 (two-day pass). Conference tickets include art fair entry. More info here.