Do you remember the good old days where all you did was watch your ah ma cooking at home, having your lunch at school from a Tiffin carrier and visiting the uncle at the neighborhood kedai?
If you have forgotten about it, fret not as Lim Pui Wan has etched our memories into her artwork by creating miniature art based on Malaysian culture.
It all began during secondary school, when Lim Pui Wan was 14 years old, her sister gave her a book about miniatures from Taiwan. After reading the book she began to fall in love with miniature art and that was where her journey began in the miniature world.
One Small Step
In 2014, Pui Wan decided to launch a website and social media pages under the name PicoWorm to showcase her artwork and market her products.
“Pico is a tremendously small unit in the metric system; Worm is derived from the word ‘bookworm’. The meaning behind PicoWorm is signifying somebody who loves to devote time in making something small that—person is me. Nestling in it are also the initials of my name, P.W.,” she explained.
“I started to love miniatures and browsing the internet about it every day until now. When my passion grew stronger when I got older, I began to make some and sell it to friends, eventually it became my full time job after I graduated from university.”
Her love for miniature art began as a passion. “I’ve been dreaming to be a miniature artist when I was studying in secondary school and university. I always longed to make miniatures for living. So after I graduated I put my foot down to make it as my career,” said Pui Wan.
Even though she studied Mechanical Engineering during her university days, she didn’t want to find jobs in that field but she wanted to pursue a career in miniature artwork.
“It’s risky as you may have no salary to pay for your bill, but I think it is good to start when I am still young as I didn’t have much commitment,” she added.
The Smallest Details Matter
Creating miniature art is no easy feat as it requires paying attention to meticulous details and having very steady hands. Even more so when you are a self-taught artist, where the only way you can learn is by making mistakes.
When she began as a budding miniature artist, Pui Wan struggled through the initial stages as she didn’t have the support that she enjoys now.
“During that time, I think and read a lot every night. Figuring out what you need and your self-positioning, and all these, you are the only one who can decide who you are, not by others. At the end of the day, you can find a clearer picture of your own,” she added.
It also takes a while to complete a project as it depends on how complex it is.
“It’s hard to say which is shortest which is longest, because sometimes I may face problems on creating and it may take a longer time to figure out other ways to make it. Small items like Tiffin carriers can take me a few days, but since I’m working more on dollhouse/scenario, it usually takes 1 to a few months to complete,” she explained.
Who Exactly Is It For?
Since Pui Wan does miniature art as her career, she earns a decent income to make a living by selling her artwork. However one might wonder, “Who actually buys miniature art and why?”.
“Most of my clients are individuals (miniature collectors), corporate (they need it for advertising or other purpose), museums, and etc,” she explained.
The price for her artwork is not exactly cheap too as she puts in a lot of effort into it. “What I think is, you need to sell your work with a price that is tally with your hard work, time and effort you’ve put in. Therefore the artwork usually isn’t cheap.”
“Artists are just like the others, we have bills to pay, so there’s no way to lower down your price in order to get more ‘business’. Besides, building relationships with your clients or potential clients is also a way to get yourself to have constant business/orders,” she added.
The World Through Different Eyes
For the average Joe, we see things in a normal perspective, however Pui Wan sees things from a different perspective.
“I love to observe something that is inconspicuous, which has always been ignored by others. For example, walking on a street I love looking down to the trash alongside, dirt and stains on the wall… Eventually it helps me to apply what I saw into my artwork to make it more realistic,” said Pui Wan.
According to her, making her artwork realistic is one of the keys that makes it attractive.
“By just looking at them and playing around with them, I think it is relaxing and relieving. I don’t know how others think about miniatures, but when I personally crafted it, I felt great satisfaction and excitement by completing them,” she added.
For her final thoughts on all things miniature, she mentions that most of her artwork is based off pictures but some are from memories too.
“In fact what I’ve made is not exactly where I lived or where I went to. It’s kind of like a combination of my memories and my own creation.”
Feature Image Credit: PicoWorm