Artist of the Month: Billy Ma

Tell us an interesting story that occurred during art-making.

I’ve had many corporate jobs in the past, mostly in the creative field. My first piece “Tiong Bahru”, which drew a huge response from the public, was the catalyst for my Booda Brand prints. This phenomenon was actually a response to a client that had been stifling my creative process.



Share an experience that helped to shape your perspective as an artist.

I had grown up in Canada since I was 7 but I have spent these past seven years traveling and experiencing parts of Asia with Singapore as my base. Straddling the line between Eastern and Western philosophies gives me a diverse perspective on my approach to my aesthetic.



Where do you draw inspiration from?

Humanity is a bottomless well of inspiration for my work. It could range from serious topics such as human trafficking to the obsession of the selfie generation. Most topics are treated with wry and wit and allow for voices which often go unheard to be heard.



How do you keep up with what’s happening in the art community today?

How we access art has certainly changed with the digital world. I think it’s become more democratic where it’s no longer just for the affluent collector, but anyone and everyone. The finest example of this is Herb and Dorothy Vogel, who were not driven to collect for the potential value of the art, but by their passion and love for art. I keep up with art trends and what my contemporaries are producing by aggregating galleries, artists, art periodicals and social/political views on to my Facebook feed, which has become a morning ritual for me. The downside is that it often lacks human elements which I’m sure was the primary source of inspiration for the great art works of the 18th,19th and 20th century. I also try to attend as many gallery openings as possible.



Words of wisdom, or a favourite quote you live by?

It’s imperative to be brave as an artist. I try to focus more on my creative process rather than what others will think of my work. My mantra of late: “My burden is my conscience” “My salvation is my art”.



What are you currently reading, watching, listening to or looking at that inspires and fuels your love for art?

I’m currently obsessed with the U.S. political party nominations and subsequent presidential elections. On a less serious note, it’s never a dull moment and makes for good fodder. On a more serious side, it never ceases to amaze me how far the American society has edged toward moral and ethical bankruptcy. Why should I be so interested in it as a Canadian living in Asia? Because we are all part of globalization and the U.S. is a big influencer for better or worse.



What are you trying to communicate with your art?

I’ve always looked at humanity and the world from different perspectives. By gathering many different insights on a certain topic, I am able to communicate my perspective through my art with as much positivity and compassion as possible. If I’ve brought some awareness to a viewer or have given them that an “AHA!” moment, I’ve accomplished something with my art.



What’s the best advice you can give on how to be more creative?

Creativity is a discipline that became a lifestyle for me. I’ve been fortunate enough that it all came quite naturally. There are many who are super creative but lack the tools and skills to communicate their ideas. There are some who are excellent technicians but lack the imagination to be unique. I’ve been blessed with a little bit of both. My advice is to always to be open and expose yourself to as much stimulus as possible. Being brave and accepting change is also a good thing. A few glasses of wine never hurts.



What is your dream project?

My dream project would be a collaborative effort with Ai Wei Wei. An installation that would bring awareness and change people’s lives for the better.



What is in store for 2016?

My loyal Booda Brand fan base is always on the lookout for our newest print to drop so I’m always engaged in producing new works.
I will be traveling in late March into the mountainous northwest region of Vietnam to visit indigenous tribes, which should provide inspiration for new works.
In the fall, I’ll be taking a motorcycle trip into the Himalayas with some mates in the hopes of bringing school supplies to remote villages.

I have always partnered with galleries every year for the Affordable Art fair in SG and this November will be no different.
Beyond that, I started my art career with the majority of my works having an Asian influence over those 7 years but there has been a call to create a Canadian series by my fellow countrymen. This year will see me start that process for a future show in Canada further on down the road.


For more information and more artwork from this artist,
click on the link to view the artist profile.




Leave a Reply