As part of the team at The Core Studios and a freelancing graphic designer, Fion Koh is a visual artist through and through. With her dreamy and calming use of colours and typography that remind you of a pink oasis and compelling words of comfort, her designs on her much-loved Instagram account, @artsbyfion, does exactly what it states to do - to heal and inspire. Below, we spoke to Fion on her self-love journey, why it's important to her art and more.
When did you first begin your creative journey?
After graduating from high school, I originally wanted to study business in Australia. At that time, I had no idea which major to choose. I explored a lot of other different options and also reached out and asked people for their opinion. In the end, my sister encouraged me to study graphic design. I had no foundation in Adobe Photoshop or whatsoever, but I’ve designed some posters in the past. She saw my potential and asked me to give it a go. It ended up being the best decision ever, and I enjoy my course from the first day of university. Since then, I just keep improving my skills and go from there.
How would you describe your artistic style and creative direction? Do you feel like much has changed?
I would describe my artistic style as dreamy, quirky, romantic with a hint of retro-futurism. It looks cute and pastel at first glance, but you will notice some raw psychedelic aspects that go along with gradients and texture if you look deeply. I want the message to feel intimate, emotional but easy to digest.
I feel like a lot has changed because I get bored easily so I like to experiment with different styles and art mediums. In the end, they are all my voice that turned feelings and ideas into unique forms. I discover a new piece of myself whenever I publish a new work so I’m excited for my artistic style and direction to grow and evolve further in the future.
As a graphic designer, there are already tons of creations out there on the Internet. How did you find your own niche to create works that are distinctly 'you'?
As an artist in general, we must stop thinking about what others or the mainstream media wants, and fly solo. When we let our unique vision soar, we lift the world with us. This has been a constant struggle of mine previously because I don't know what's my unique voice in my art. Now I’ve made peace with it and instead of overthinking about my personal style, I just spend time creating and eventually my work speaks for itself.
I think being authentic with your work is very important because there is a human behind every screen and they crave for raw connection, authenticity and real unfiltered content in this digital world. Besides making beautiful and compelling imagery, I want my work to speak deeply into their hearts and create a space where people find comfort.
You've also come back to Malaysia after working in New York City — what are some of the key creative takeaways you've learned there that you brought back to Malaysia?
I like how New Yorkers are just very unapologetically themselves and they speak up for what they believe in. I’ve met the most inspiring and ambitious people there, people that I believe will shape the future world. I would like to build this community here in Malaysia, where artists are more collaborative and supportive of each other instead of seeing one another as competition. There are a lot of talented artists in Malaysia and a lot of them don’t notice their potential which is such a waste. Design and art play powerful parts in shaping the world around us and if we all stand together, we can all make a difference and contribute to this beautiful country!
What other current passions do you have and are you planning on pursuing them soon?
I'm actually designing a zine (topic revolves around self-love and healing) so that's exciting! For my filmmaking stuff, I would love to produce a short film or music video in the future.
You're very active on Instagram, posting every 2-3 days (we checked!), if not everyday. How do you constantly stay creatively productive? Any tips you can share with other local aspiring creatives out there?
When I first started this account, I posted daily for a month. It was not easy because it meant if I’m done with shoots at 10pm, I will be home to create content for that day at 12am. Designing for artsbyfion has been kind of meditative and something I truly enjoy! It is very relaxing to just design in my bedroom and vibe with my favourite playlist.
Sometimes when I’m feeling uninspired, I just experimented with different shapes and colours on Illustrator and eventually, something would came along. I do take breaks if I’m feeling burnt out because I didn’t want it to become a chore. It is also very important for me to read and absorb better content so that I can create something better.
I think being authentic with your work is very important because there is a human behind every screen and they crave for raw connection, authenticity and real unfiltered content in this digital world.
Can you share with us how your own self-love journey has been?
Right now, I am very happy with where I am, and I’m just so grateful. I’m definitely still learning but I feel like everything is slowly connecting the dots and coming together. I feel so much love in me and I want to share a piece of it with others.
Your artworks on your design account, @artsbyfion, have a strong emphasis on self-love and positivity. Why do you feel it's important to explore these in your art?
I started @artsbyfion last year when I was going through a rough patch so my arts were a reminder for myself. There is something about pain and heartbreak...you have to experience these struggles to truly look inside of yourself and grow. 2020 was a tough year for a lot of people. And for me, it is a journey of re-discovering my identity, what self-love means and how to stay positive during these tough times. I believe a lot of other people feel the same way, and that’s why it’s important to send these messages through my art. It is hard when you are blinded by your own thoughts and feel like nothing matters; if my art could speak to one person then that's all that matters.
What's one thing most people don't know about you?
I listen to a lot of oldies and I secretly enjoy rock music!
What are your ultimate dreams and visions as a creative?
Ultimately, it’s about staying true to myself and creating work that provokes questions and conversation about social injustice and discrimination in modern society. If I could serve my purpose, I’d want to confront these issues. I believe we can create the future we want and we have to be the change we see in the world.
Lastly, please list 3 of your local creative crushes and their IG handles that you wish to shoutout!
I love their work because I think they stepped outside the mainstream and pushed against the tides in order to remain true to themselves. It makes my heart beat whenever I see that creative spark in someone’s work.