How art jamming puts creativity in the hands of the common man.
BY MARCUS GOH
Published on 30 August 2016
BY MARCUS GOH
Take a brush, some colours, and give life to your imagination — that’s the essence of art jamming. A surge of art jamming studios has given the man-in-the-street more options than ever when it comes to this therapeutic experience that unlocks the inner artist in you.
Participants are given a canvas and some paints to express themselves through freestyle painting, which is done in small groups. Acrylic paints are recommended for beginners, as they dry quickly and are the easiest to control — mistakes are easy to paint over as compared to oil paints or watercolours. A reference image is provided on request to stimulate the imagination, and snacks are often part of the package. Painting is hungry work, after all!
PHOTO My Art Space
Participants range from two-year-old children to 90-year-old members of the pioneer generation, although parental guidance is required for younger children. Most art jamming studio owners agree that majority of male participants are there to accompany their female companions. “For guys, they want to impress a girl, so they’ll bring their dates art jamming,” says owner of Artify Studio, 27-year-old Jae.
Art jamming has gained popularity in recent years due to the relief it provides from the hustle and bustle of daily life in Singapore. “It provides liberation from the stress that most Singaporeans experience. People are able to detach themselves from the fast-paced life in these sessions,” says Luth Seah, 28, marketing manager of Arteastiq.
The trend started in Hong Kong in 2000 at a studio known as artjamming, which bills itself as ‘home of the original paintertainment experience’, before it spread to Singapore in 2005. One of the first public art jamming sessions here was Red Art Jam, held at the Red Dot Design Museum in 2006.
The art jamming scene quickly blossomed after that, with bigger players like Arteastiq and My Art Space leading the way. They also grew to include other more advanced art classes for art jamming fans. “People will not come back if you don’t give them something beyond a one-time experience,” says Chankerk, professional artist and art entrepreneur. The 47-year-old owner of My Art Space notes, “According to our statistics, they’ll come twice, maximum.”
Meanwhile, Hong Kong’s art jamming scene evolved to include themed art jamming sessions, as well as special sessions where celebrities and other notable figures would take part as well.
Chankerk likens art jamming to karaoke in terms of how it helps make art accessible to the public.
“Before we had karaoke, if someone wanted to collect money for providing people a place to sing, they would be laughed at. But the reason karaoke is so successful now is because it’s so accessible and enjoyable. It’s the same for art jamming,” explains Chankerk.
A practicing artist since he graduated from the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts in 1983, Chankerk has held multiple exhibitions; his most recent, Contemporary Asian Landscapes, was held at the EY Art Gallery.
He also provides advanced art classes where an artist gives participants personalised guidance for painting. “It’s like an upgraded version. Participants don’t mind slowing down, listening, and discovering themselves, instead of just expecting a good result in the span of two hours.”
Likewise, the 34-year-old owner of ARThaus, Carolyn Law, provides a progressive art class with step-by-step teaching of techniques and applications of different mediums, in addition to art jamming sessions.
“We wanted to get people to learn about painting and the fine arts. That’s why I introduced art jamming, to allow for those who want to get a taste of the medium. If they like it, they can sign up for a regular class after that,” says Law.
“I believe there are people who always want to do art,” says Chankerk. “But I don’t see that it will go to another level, like Hong Kong.” He’s observed that although many art jamming studios have sprung up in recent years, they’re usually around for only one or two years.
But art jamming will continue to thrive. Law says there has been a definite increase in participants over the last couple of years, as more and more people know about it.
Ultimately, just like other forms of art, art jamming is all about people. “Art is just a form of expression,” says Chankerk. “Life is art, art is life.”
BRUSHING UPON FUN Art jamming, which makes art accessible to the public, has participants ranging from toddlers to senior citizens. PHOTO Arteastiq
Give art jamming a go at these studios.