A digital artist based in Kuala Lumpur, Merissa Victor is comfortable dabbling into different mediums including (but not limited to) film, illustration and animation. With her use of melancholic imagery and whimsical color swathes, she explores themes of identity, place and nostalgia in touching detail. Her work, Electric City, is currently being screened at Vancouver's Mount Pleasant Community Art Screen.
How did you first start out in the creative scene?
My launching off point in the creative scene was definitely at university in Vancouver, Canada. There I developed my multidisciplinary art practice, produced short films with local artists, exhibited my work locally and internationally, was awarded as an Adobe Creative Scholar and freelanced with a film production company based in Vancouver. Today, I’m working on merging into the KL creative scene as I continue my practice through my freelance and personal projects.
How would you describe your art style? Has it evolved?
I would describe my art style as intimate, magical, contemplative and full of movement. These threads run through all my work, even my earliest pieces, but the way I express them has definitely evolved and is constantly evolving.
What are some themes/motifs that you are constantly exploring in your works and why?
My work primarily revolves around the subjects of identity, place, technology and nostalgia. To me these ideas are as concrete as they are abstract, and I guess revisiting these themes help me process my thoughts and fascination about them.
We love that you're such a multidisciplinary creative that dabbles in different visual mediums! How do you personally keep up with learning new techniques?
Thank you! When it comes to working with mediums I’m unfamiliar with or learning new techniques, it truly boils down to a lot of experimentation, trial and error. I’m not one to follow recipes or instructions well, rather I go into a piece or project knowing what I want to achieve and am creatively open to the “how” I achieve it. Sometimes this method leads me down a straightforward path to my goal, but oftentimes it opens up to avenues I’ve never considered before. It’s this incessant cycle of curiosity and discovery that drives me to learn new modes of expression.
Can you share some tips for aspiring creatives in Malaysia on how to overcome creative blocks that worked for you?
I tend to overcome creative blocks by stepping away from whatever creative project I’m working on and logging off for a while. I journal, binge read, binge watch— do anything that allows me to dissociate for a while and clear my head. Distance and time away from a project and social media truly helps me refresh and refocus, and helps me approach whatever I was working on with newfound vigor and life. Good music helps too! Whatever puts you in/ facilitates a state of flow.
Which project has been the most impactful or significant for you and why?
One of my earliest pieces was a short documentary I made in 2018 about Vancouver based artist, Ruth Scheuing and her work carrying on the legacy of her husband through the magic lantern. I’ve yet to share this piece publicly but essentially the documentary mediates her story, illustrates the level of care she has for this instrument and captures the wonder and magic of the early projection device. I feel this piece encapsulates what I aim and hope to achieve with my art— thematically, stylistically and the conversations I hope to spark.
What has been your guilty pleasure lately?
Over analysing cringey rom coms, eating way too many Oreos, binge watching Drag Race.
Can you share with us your creative process on how you turn concepts into stunning visual elements?
I usually start off with a very loose idea and some very clunky sketches. As I refine my idea and figure out what I really want to say or achieve, I refine my sketches to complement this. It truly is a constant process of brainstorming, experimenting, trial and error, until I get my visual elements to where I want them to be.
It’s this incessant cycle of curiosity and discovery that drives me to learn new modes of expression.
Who or what are you constantly inspired by?
Books! Books about filmmaking/filmmakers specifically. I’ve recently read “Fake Love Letters” by Annie Atkins, the creative genius behind the graphic design in Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel. Some of my other favourites include; “Yasmin How You Know” (a compilation of anecdotes about Yasmin Ahmad), “Starting Point” by Hayao Miyazaki and the shooting script of (500) Days of Summer.
What do you eventually hope to achieve with your art?
I hope people who experience my work will feel and reflect upon the intimacy and separation of the worlds I explore, revel in its joy and embrace its quieter moments. Ultimately, I hope my art will one day contribute to bigger conversations around the ideas of self, belonging and acceptance.
How much of your personality is reflected in your works?
I tend to think that my pieces are really pages ripped from my journal. They are as reserved/wild, contained/all-over-the-place, introspective/expressive as I am— truly a bleeding heart packaged within a short film, animation or illustration.
Lastly, please share with us 3 of your local creative crushes and their IG handles to shoutout!