Artists usually say that this was what they’ve wanted to do all their lives but not me. I was this nerd who was busy studying for the PSLE and making sure that I had perfect As. Art was out of the question because I didn’t like it and was always told that I wasn’t any good at it.
I had an epiphany somewhere in 2003. I started seeing a psychiatrist and part of the process was to talk about my likes and dislikes. She wasn’t trying to fix me or anything; she was trying to figure out what defined me as a person. We started talking about art and why I was totally blasé about it. It’s because I had teachers who didn’t really give a damn at that time.
My doctor encouraged me to give drawing a shot. We did this for six months or so and after that, I noticed that while it was nothing fantastic, there was definitely an improvement in my drawing. I guess she did it to prove a point. A lot of comic artists assume that I’m a big comic fan. They’re always asking me what comics I read and what I like. I always tell people that I’m not a comics fan. I do read comics here and there but Marvel and DC? I don’t read those because I don’t like superheroes.
In 2006, I started on comics and I decided that I wanted to draw comics about Singapore. I realized that there was no way in hell that I could draw comics about Singapore in New York. You can’t run a music label and go home to work on a comic; you’ve got to do this full-time.
At that time, I wasn’t thinking of doing this whole comic thing permanently. It was supposed to be like a sabbatical. I thought I’d come back, have my ass handed back to me and that I’d return to New York.
But actually I started a website and put my stuff online and people started reading it and actually liked it. Before I knew it, I’d published a book and now I’m stuck in the whole business. Life always sends curveballs at you.
I managed Elvis’s music when I was working for BMG in New York. I love Elvis! He’s the only guy I know who makes more money dead than alive. We were getting a lot of revenue out of him. I also got to hang out with Barry Manilow and Christina Aguilera; it was fun. But it also became quite a burden because we sort of had to take care of the artistes all the time.
I came back to Singapore because I found a calling here that is far larger than what New York could give me. I have inklings of plans to go back one day but as much as I love it, I also had a lot of down-in-the-dumps moments there. It’s the reason why I ended up having to see a doctor and so I am not really prepared to go there and unlock all those memories.
I’m the perfect example of how people should never underestimate the future. People keep telling you to study as hard as you can so that you can have a really great life. Obviously I screwed that up somewhere along the way. I followed that straight path up the way everyone thinks you should and I got clinically depressed and totally ruined everything.
I’m piss poor right now; this process is brutal. I don’t make any money. In fact, I’m losing money all the time. I have every reason to stop doing this but every night that I feel depressed about not making any money, I wake up the next morning still bent on doing it.