Since 2006, Tiger Translate has been providing a platform for emerging Asian artists to show off their talent internationally. Now in its sixth year, the Global Showcase made its return to Sydney on the 23rd of November with a live art and entertainment event hosted by Tiger Beer at Alexandria's Sun Studios.
Tiger Translate is a unique event which brings together international artists from both the East and West to work collaboratively on an artwork. Australia was represented by local artists Beastman, Numskull, Creepy, Phibs and Matt Stewart while the international contingent was represented by Singapore and Shanghai collective MOMOROBO (aka MMRB), Mongolian artist Lhagvaa Enkhbat, and South Korean artist Junkhouse.
Walking through the venue doors crowds were immediately treated to a Tiger Beer (of course) and a three-metre wall transformed into one long continuous piece of art. This bright and colourful creation was thanks to the collaborative efforts of artists Beastman, Creepy, Numskull, Junkhouse and Phibs.
The mural represented the chosen theme for this year’s event, 'Growth', and proved to be a great inspiration. As Beastman explains “We decided to create a large mural that we thought would simply grow itself. We had no preconceived idea or sketch, we just made it up as we went, so it grew and grew. And of course we also included references to growth such as plants and patterns found in nature.”
"We used only natural colours and patterns and I added some words that were inspired by 'Growth',” adds Numskull.
It was an organic approach, and through this informal and dynamic way of collaborating each individual artist was exposed to a different artists creative process. “Aside from it just being fun, it’s always a refreshing challenge to try and create some art with other artists who have totally different styles and techniques,” explains Beastman. “You can learn some things and also just be influenced by their work.”
Numskull adds, "Sometimes it can be hard to work towards someone else's idea, but in the end it turns out better."
While the mural was a “big mash up of patterns and style,” according to Creepy, it was possible to glimpse the distinct styles of each individual artist. From the signature swirl of Melbourne graffiti artist Phibs to the geometric, abstract object from Seoul-based graphic designer Junkhouse, each artist’s unique stamp was on show. Local Sydney artist Numskull, a painter and illustrator, added his stamp by showing off his signature skills for hand lettering. There were also hints of the incredibly detailed patterns and organic lines that Beastman is so well known for and glimpses of the abstract characters and imagery from Creepy.
Down a long corridor from the mural, the main atrium opened up to a buzz of DJs, Tiger Beer bars, live painting, a photo booth, and other interactive experiences including OHP Ping Pong where participating artists illustrate with pens onto transparency which is simultaneously projected onto the wall with an overhead projector before the audience.
For emerging Mongolian artist Lhagvaa Enkhbat and Australian artist Matt Stewart, two recipients of the Tiger Translate art prize it was an opportunity to create a piece of work in front of an audience of their peers.
"The highlight for me was being able to be around/paint with such talented artists from both here and internationally. Some of them I admire a lot and to be involved in something with them is a definite buzz." Matt said.
Matt and Lhagvaa worked side by side each other to create large-scale canvas prints. Both drew on their obvious cultural influences with two very different interpretations of the image of a tiger. Lhagvaa’s canvas featured traditional Asian symbols and emblems while Matt took a more modern, graffiti approach.
For Brisbane-based artist Matt Stewart this cross-cultural partnership with another artist with almost no English speaking skills proved to be a rewarding challenge.
"With such strong opposing styles, it was a challenge, but one which I think we overcame to produce an impressive final piece. Colours, shapes and sketches between us both were used to depict what we each had in mind, therefore enabling us to fuse our concepts together and create our collaboration piece."
While there was an obvious contrast between East and West for an event like Tiger Translate it’s a perfect example of how art can bring people together from different cultural backgrounds.
Steve Lawler, the Creative Consultant of Tiger Translate and a talented artist in his own right, is passionate about raising the profiles of Asian artists in the West. He believes that the exposure is not only beneficial for the artists featured, but it also allows them and the audience to see “new ideas and new points of view”.
Matt Stewart agrees, "Art is a very personal thing, and allowing these cross-concepts between collaborators opens the artists mind to new ideas. It also allows people to see that the end result of a collaboration where both artists have opposing styles can actually be quite visually pleasing."
Reaching a worldwide audience is, of course, one of the important challenges faced by all artists and Tiger Translate helps to expose their work to a global community.
For Morris Lee from creative collective MOMOROBO, who has collaborated and worked for such big brands as Nike, Adidas and Converse he believes his involvement in the Tiger Translate Global Showcase has moved his career forward by providing him a platform and an opportunity to promote his work on an international level.
Events such as Tiger Translate also means a great opportunity for emerging artists, such as Lhagvaa Enkhbat who won the 2011 Tiger Translate competition in Mongolia, to have their work seen outside their own country for the first time. Another perk was the opportunity for Lhagvaa to get his first passport and overseas trip.
Beastman ably summed up the strength of such events, "It's important for art to continue to grow as a global community, and events like this bring together artists from lots of different locations and backgrounds."