After nearly five years of working at an international design firm in Singapore, Tunku Khalsom Ibrahim decided to strike out on her own. To her, the only thing scarier than leaving a stable desk job was actually staying in it, especially when her heart found its calling elsewhere in the realm of paintbrushes and hand-cut butterfly motifs.
“I hated everything about the idea of working for someone else—getting up in the morning, having to be in the office, doing what the client wanted to do—it wasn’t for me,” shares the Johor-born artist who has lived in Singapore for the past 12 years.
What started as small paintings that she sold to friends for S$100 soon grew into massive S$4,500 art works commissioned by total strangers. Her paintings have made their way into the homes of private collectors across Singapore, Malaysia, Brunei, Hong Kong, the Philippines, France, Greece, the UK, the US and Australia.
Known for their vivid use of colour, texture and movement, Khalsom’s works have been featured in shows at prestigious venues like ARTitude Galeria and Gardens by the Bay in Singapore, with upcoming shows slated there as well at the Hollandse Club on March 4, and the Selegie Arts Centre on March 23 – 27.
“I love to create art that people actually want to live with, art they would want to have in their homes, not works that require some out-there explanation as to the meaning behind them,” she explains.
Revealing the ups and downs of being a full-time artist, Khalsom clues Tatler in on her most ambitious art project and her foray into the brave new world of NFTs.
I love to create art that people actually want to live with, art they would want to have in their homes—not works that require some out-there explanation as to the meaning behind them.— Tunku Khalsom Ibrahim
What has it been like painting professionally?
It’s gone really well, really quickly. This is my fourth year painting. Last year was exhausting: I made 78 or so paintings throughout the year, selling about 80 per cent of them. It was full-on constantly. I’m obviously so grateful for it but at the same time, I really need a holiday.