2022 IOTM Lizzie'S interview PODCAST
Audio Edited by: 18B0125, 'Izzati Hanani binti Khairul Shaffarani (Public Relations Officer, Executive of Media and Public Relation Officer)
Written by: 22B6030, Lew Yan Yan @ Vanessa (Public Relations Officer, Executive of Media and Public Relation Officer)
Interviewer: 22B0001, Nurul Ain Zulaikha Binti Abdul Aziz Mohamad Shahrin (Public Relations Officer, Executive of Media and Public Relation Officer)
To conclude our last Community IOTM this year, we welcome Siti Nurazizi binti Haji Marali (also known as Lizzie). Lizzie is an accomplished artist from UBD’s FASS department, majoring in Design Creative Industries. She has contributed much to UBD and her community- as the director of UBD SPECTRUM 2022: INFINITE, Representative of Brunei in IFAC 2017- an art competition from Japan and as the Vice President of Global Discovery Program (2020-2021).
Lizzie describes her inspiration for becoming an artist in two ways: one practical and the other, sentimental. On the sensible side, she finds inspiration in anyone who she comes across, as she believes each and every person leaves an impact on one’s life. Lizzie illustrates that we are human representations of stained glass- a mosaic of individuals we have encountered, and our experiences; Therefore, she is inspired by her teachers, friends and those around her.
The sentimental reason behind her creative journey lies in one person: her late father. Before he passed away when Lizzie was at the young age of 9 years-old, she vividly remembers their close relationship, the many memories they share- as her father was, too, an artist. Lizzie reminisces the days her father would indulge her with drawings of hyper-realistic animals, upon her request and knowing her love for animals. These moments were special to her, as she was fascinated with her father’s abilities, the contrast of a muscular body-builder, wielding a thin 2B pencil and sketching the fragile, feather-like details of a bird, encapsulating the soft feelings an image holds, onto paper. Lizzie wishes to capture such feelings in her own creations of visual expression.
Lizzie’s creative journey started at an early age. In her earliest memories, she remembered celebrating Hari Raya as a toddler, where she would bring her Doraemon comic book and sketch pictures of the cartoon character, gleeful that her drawings looked just like the ones in the comic book. The childlike wonder made her want to create her own comic book, stories that people could relate to, with beautiful imagery. As her journey progressed, she leaned towards creating more of a safer space for people to relate to- an escape from the harsh reality. She believes that it is a human’s right to be able to express themselves, especially the vulnerable parts of themselves, as not everyone has the luxury to feel safe; She expresses that everyone deserves to experience this freedom at least once in their life.
Lizzie finds gratification in art, as it gives one the power to be able to create whatever they want. For instance, she references the movie Sharknado- in her words, it is almost like a blessing and a curse. For one, art enables them to come up with wicked, creative ideas and the ability to bring it to life; all the world-building and concepts in one’s mind produced into a story. On the other hand, it could be outright ridiculous and makes people question- Why? It can be chaotic and fun- art lets people express themselves and have fun at the same time. Lizzie exclaims how she wants to experience her life in an enjoyable way, to ‘kick the bucket’ with dreams and goals accomplished, without regrets.
Despite all, Lizzie comments on the many challenges of working in the art industry. She starts off by saying that art and creativity is a very intimate expression of yourself, it represents one’s emotions and state of mind. It is difficult to feel appreciated when faced with the hardships in Brunei’s art industry, as our nation is still at the beginning stage of allowing art to flourish. There are few platforms that creatives can depend on, to kickstart their career as artists because the small market pool is still slowly growing. The lack of financial support as well as discouragement towards pursuing art- usually perceived as a hobby or side activity- results in risky decisions, fearing they have nothing to fall back on.
Lizzie connects the art pathway to mental health- for people who have found their love in art and cannot imagine themselves committing to anything else, choosing a different career path and doing it just for the hope of financial stability can be very harmful to one’s emotional state and mental health. Lizzie has experienced the distress of restricting herself to the science stream during her ‘O’ Level years. Although she scored well, she felt very dissatisfied and found it difficult to continue. Hence, she tried to seek change and confronted her own mother, who was hesitant at first- something that Lizzie acknowledges and understands, most parents might not be open to the abrupt change in course. Out of care and affection for her daughter and her hardships, Lizzie’s single mother allowed her the chance to experience formal education in the arts.
Even so, the transition was rough, she studied in Maktab Duli (MDPMAMB) and was advised to remain in the science stream. Lizzie stayed firm in her decision- but had more hurdles to overcome. Once her relatives caught news of the change, they criticized and chastised her mother for “leading her to failure” and daring to, as a parent, “doom her future”. Her family was suffering the pressure and judgement from others, as well as carrying financial burdens and grieving over the passing of her father. The stress from both her school and home life eventually built up and she had to stop creating art temporarily, to focus on herself and seek help in the form of therapy. It was a challenge she had to overcome and is still trying to overcome.
The lowest point in Lizzie’s journey was when she was graduating- she scored enough points to qualify for an international studies loan program- where there are more resources and a bigger market catered to her interests. Despite all of her hard work, applying to five universities (2 of which she received unconditional offers for), there was a miscommunication with the representatives responsible and the loan offer was rejected. She explains how usually, the harsh words and discouragement from others would only ignite the fire of determination within her to prove them wrong, but when those insecurities and fears are suddenly confirmed, it made her question herself. She took a gap year to rethink whether or not she should pursue art, but she realized she could not part from her passion- and discovered UBD’s DCI program, which she enrolled in and found home in a community who shared the same struggles as her- “when you are sad alone, it is sad; but when you are sad with friends, it is not that bad”.
Lizzie emphasizes the importance of having a good foundation, connections, hard work, knowing the right people and resources as key components to her success. It can be unlikely to mesh passion with career- either deciding to pursue your passion and risking financial stability or pursuing financial stability and risk letting go of your passion. Thankfully, the art industry in Brunei is slowly evolving to be more inclusive, connecting the old generation of artists with the newer generation, encouraging talents in freelancers, graphic designers, fashion designers, models and exhibitions. However, Lizzie stresses, it all depends on one’s strength and willingness to sacrifice many aspects of life, as well as their determination in pursuing this pathway.
Lizzie was the director of UBD Spectrum 2022: INFINITE, an exhibition of final year projects. Each batch would have their own brand of UBD Spectrum, she wanted to encapsulate the different skills and talents of all the final year students when they finally decided on “Infinite”, representing the infinite number of skills they own, leading an impact towards an infinite number of ripples of influence and inspiration to everyone. Lizzie had been tasked to curate the event while simultaneously working on her own project and booth as well as writing her research paper. She would overlook 53 students and ensure good progress in their research and projects- as 53 projects were promised to the public; including her own project, she managed to pull off the ambitious work of drawing animations frame-by-frame, whilst writing her research paper. Lizzie focused on curating the event and finding sponsors and an audience, also ensuring each exhibitor was ready to present and market themselves to seem employable and ready for the workforce. This event gives exposure to the individual exhibitors, attended by CEOs, corporate workers and ministries. It dawned on her, how this was their first step into the workforce, when a member of the royal family requested for a low-key visit and the vice-chancellor, dean and students worked together to present their ideas and projects.
Lizzie describes her most memorable experience as an artist as the time she proved her relatives wrong. Lizzie and her batch of ‘A’ Level Art students were finishing up projects for their exams, where they had a quota of paintings to submit in order to obtain a grade- when her art teacher announces the need for a representative in Brunei for an art competition, where the winner gains a free trip to Japan. The students were ecstatic, until they found out there was a $600 participation fee. It was unaffordable and they lost hope, but their teacher walked in the next day- claiming the fee has been waived and how they desperately needed a representative, with the catch- it had to be submitted the very next day. Determined, Lizzie jumped straight into painting, she worked past midnight but by 4am, she felt defeated, it was impossible to finish the painting on time. She explained the situation to her teacher, who then suggests submitting one of her exam paintings to be sent to Cambridge. Lizzie was adamant, the risk was too high- the painting would not be returned and she would be one painting short of the examination requirements.
Nevertheless, Lizzie’s teacher secretly submitted her work- a self-portrait, to her horror- immediately, before she could argue. Lizzie was frustrated, she had to work double the amount to make a new piece of art, worthy of Cambridge’s strict criteria. Then the day came when she received an email, entirely in Japanese- the teacher confirmed, she had won the competition and would be awarded a free trip to Japan, along with a guardian. Lizzie shared the good news with her mother, who would not believe her at first. Then the tickets came, and she saw true joy and pride in her single mother, who was thrilled to let her relatives know, that she will not be able to contact them, as they will be in Japan. Her relatives were flabbergasted and Lizzie was satisfied, it was a memory she deeply cherished.
When asked how her peers would describe her, Lizzie answers that they see her as a weird person, in a whimsical or eccentric way. She has numerous ridiculous ideas and she makes them laugh by actually proposing and going through with it- it makes good memories and projects as enjoyable as it could be. She has also been characterized as a kind person, inspirational and approachable, in a way that lets people feel free to express themselves and open up to her. A mixture of these attributes hence results in our inspiring nominee for this community category.
Lizzie values people around her, her emotional support comes from family and friends- her mother, for not giving up on her and her younger sister, for listening to her lengthy rambles and bouncing suggestions and feedback back to her, to develop her ideas. When her family goes through a tough time, she finds support in her friends as well. Lizzie tributes her success to Aqidah, also known as Q, who she met through GDP and bonded over similarities and struggles, her senior Namira, who she calls by Mia, who taught her strength and standing up for herself, and Hadi Hamdilah from BJFA, who she shared her mental health journey with. Her friends had the courage to approach her seemingly-fierce Asian mother, to plan a surprise birthday party for her, and that is a memory she holds dear. Lizzie sees herself as a floater, someone who prefers not to stay in the same group for a long time, but she is thankful for and cherishes these people in her life who have stayed thus far; although it is a small circle, it is really all she needs.
Currently, Lizzie is working towards freelancing, building up her portfolio and looking for people to collaborate with, as well as her own mental health. She has plans to intern in a creative agency and create a collaborative project in illustration and animation. In five years, Lizzie imagines herself working as a teacher in a community, perhaps overseas, teaching the basics of art. She is thinking of doing her master’s degree in either arts or teaching.
Lastly, as the Community category’s creative Inspirasee, Lizzie would like to convey to her readers to always: give it your best, even in mundane tasks such as brushing your teeth and making your bed, because simple things can get hard; so even if it is just that, at least you tried your best and that is more than enough. Lizzie quotes Wade Wilson from Marvel’s Deadpool: “Maximum Effort”, which he says before attacking- maximum effort is how she perceives to give it your best.
Finally, one quote by Lizzie that she would like to convey to everyone is:
“ Your 'best’ varies with each individual, don’t beat up yourself just because your best is different from the next person. At the end of the day, this is your life; you are stuck with you, and it is good to just give it your all because you deserve the best, in your own definition. "
To contact Lizzie, she is available via:
Lizzie expresses to anyone who would like to do collaborative work, that she is excited to see what type of mosaic you will bring to her stained glass of a person.