INSPIRASEE OF THE MONTH:
MOhammad nixlan bin kasah @ johan
Mohammad Nixlan bin Kasah@Johan is a 2nd year Design and Creative Industries(DCI) major. The 21 year old student is a budding artist, he works on his independent projects and at the same time, collaborates with his peers in the same industry. He also hopes to find a venue to exhibit his artwork.
Nixlan’s venture into the creative industry began in Year 9, when he studied Art as a subject in school. He scored an A for ‘O’ Level Art, and continued on to study ‘A’ Level Art, whilst also learning art independently in his free time. His formal art education carries on today as a DCI major. Although he is often told that he has a talent for art, Nixlan believes that it is his knowledge of the fundamental elements of art that enables him to produce the work he puts out.
In 2020, he got a career boost when a few of his peers and him were chosen by Progresif as artists for their commission work to design Chinese New Year packets. Nixlan was also appointed as the leader for the project. The same year, he was also commissioned by the same company to design Hari Raya packets.
“2020 was my year!” exclaims Nixlan.
Art is an outlet for Nixlan to express his feelings and thoughts through a canvas. “A painting speaks louder than a voice,” says Nixlan. He hopes that his paintings inspire others and that they will be able to uncover the hidden messages behind his work. He reveals that his professional arts career was completely unexpected. Nixlan was simply doing what he loves and being recruited by companies for art commissions wasn’t part of his plan. That was the turning point for his success. Yasmin Jaidin, who was his ‘A’ Level Art teacher at Maktab Duli and a local artist is one of Nixlan’s biggest inspirations and supporters. She encouraged him to use his art to explore and go beyond his expectations of what he can achieve.
As mentioned before, he was selected as the leader for the Progesif Chinese New Year packets project. This was a valuable experience for Nixlan as he learned to lead his team following ethics. He also mentions that the “leader” title is not important as everyone contributes, so in a way every member is a leader in their own way. From that experience, he is now confident in working with both his friends or people he did not know personally. Being involved with Progresif was very memorable and fun, he hopes that other young creatives will get the opportunity to experience it as well.
Sometimes, Nixlan’s final piece of art does not turn out as envisioned. There have been instances when he threw out the pieces he wasn’t satisfied with, this naturally caused stress and feelings of anxiety for him. Now, he has learned to just trust the process and go with the flow while keeping in mind that the final piece will not always turn out the way he wanted it to.
He is currently undertaking his own independent work studying the cultures of the 7 indigenous groups in Brunei Darussalam. He believes studying their culture is important for appreciation to prevent it from disappearing in the modern, fast-paced world. He studies the cultures by consulting his friends and relatives to seek knowledge about their traditional food, languages and dances, just to name a few.
Nixlan has been doing photography since his secondary school days. However, he has only decided to create an Instagram account to showcase his work last year and expand his career. He has since done commission work for weddings and graduating friends.
As multitasking isn’t Nixlan’s forte, he prefers to do things one at a time. This is his strategy for managing his time as an independent artist and university student. He will not start a new project before completing a current one.
Group work is inevitable, not only in a university setting but the creative industry as well. Nixlan’s best advice to avoid any difficulties when working in a group is to delegate the tasks fairly, respect each member and be aware of the deadline. Working with a group of people is hard, but clear communication with each member of the team will ease the process.
When asked about a memorable experience he has had, he recounts the time when he was hospitalised for a few days due to overthinking and overworking himself for commission work. “Tragic memories,” describes Nixlan. He does not recall any particular harrowing experiences working with others, he believes that every person is different in how they undertake group work. Nixlan’s key approaches are to get to know his group members better and to understand their viewpoints, this will create a good relationship between group members and will certainly translate to better group work experience.
Nixlan’s signature art style can be described as a mix of contemporary and traditional. His distinctive style arouses interest as people often ask him how he manages to come up with such ideas and his inspirations. Nixlan can’t exactly explain his ideations, but he says that he tries to be unique in everything he does.
He has learned to lower his ego in order to improve himself and to work better with others. One of the notable challenges in the creative industry is the lack of proper respect and appreciation for art. Nixlan comments on how difficult it is to find a community that values art for its quality and message; artists are often told that their work is not relevant or does not resonate with the times. Oftentimes, they are also told that their paintings are too expensive. All these negatives can be stressful and demotivating to the creatives. On a brighter note, Nixlan has seen the support for the creative arts community increase over the years, he is hopeful that this support will keep on growing.
When Nixlan is met with moments of failure, he assures himself that this is not the end of the world. “Don’t give up, bear in mind that there is time for you to change and improve,” advises Nixlan. He credits his friends and family members for supporting him throughout his life and through the progression of his career.
He aims to constantly improve himself, follow his passion and be successful in the future. His vision of success is how one appreciates and loves themselves; and that they work to satisfy themselves, not merely other people. He is grateful that government sectors and companies such as Progresif and RTB have extended their support for the creative community. The encouragement from huge sectors really pushes the creatives to be better and have a clear vision of what they want to do.
Nixlan would like to convey to all listeners/readers that: “Failure is not the end of the world. Do what you love, whenever you want. Success doesn’t just come in the form of academics. Love yourself. Always surround yourself with positive people and your loved ones, your friends.
His advice for any aspiring creatives is to focus on your passion, be your own person, and not try to be like others. Self love and appreciation are also vital.
Get in touch with Nixlan via @nixlanjohan on Instagram. His artwork can be viewed on @njfolio and photography work @nixandmatch_