“If one has fire in one, and soul, one can’t keep stifling them and – one should rather burn than suffocate. What’s inside must get out”, said Vincent Van Gogh in one of his back and forth letters to his brother, Theo. Art is a very abstract and fragile matter, respected by all and accepted in unique ways. Back in the days, when one wants to express the love for art, it was a little difficult to do so due to the lack of easy and accessible medium, at least when compared to today. Speaking of medium, technology has made the lives of the generation a lot easier and the art has been included as one of the categories that technology has impacted. Like the quote earlier from Van Gogh, people are finding ways to let out what is inside and nowadays, the new category of art, namely, digital art has been emerging and emerging fast due to its flexibility and unbounded means for creativity. 

Thus, in Myanmar, it has been growing internationally as the quality and creativity of the local artists are beyond comparable to those of the international artists. For the determination to get to know more about the lives of  the local digital artists, Khin Wathan Oo speaks to the talented Thet Htar San, also known as Summer, who is currently working in the digital art industry. 

Summer is a digital artist at Pencell Studio, one of the fast-growing and award-winning animation studios in Yangon. During the exclusive interview with Summer, she mentioned how her interest in art started ever since in her younger ages. When we look at the art style and the concepts of the digital artists, most of them are largely influenced by the artists from eastern region but Summer grew up with the western art styles, such as Disney’s Mickey Mouse, Looney tunes and so on, hence, she pursued her style accordingly. As she grew older, she was introduced with Japanese art styles through its infamous anime series, “Naruto”. 

“Pokémon also was the major part of my art journey”, she giggles.

“My practices were more encouraged when I got my own smart phone when I was in high school and I started my digital drawings with my thumb since I did not own any pen or tablet”, she added. “Fortunately, Pencell Studio was calling for an internship when I finished high school and I was lucky enough to get in as an intern and that’s how I started working as a digital artist”.  

In her earlier days in work, she illustrated for the calendars and other small projects together with Pencell Studio. Later, she got a chance to get involved in the creation of infamous music videos, “Tha Di Ya Dal (GROUNDED)” with Big Bag and “Nga Yeesar Ga Po Mite Tel” with Frenzo Production by Sai Sai Kham Hlaing which were the major turning points for the digital art and animation industry in Myanmar. To be specific, the former music video, “Tha Di Ya Dal” by Big Bag was screened in many international film festivals and received Best Music Film Award from Ringerike International Youth Film Festival, while the latter one with Frenzo Production received Best Animated Music Programme/ Series Category from Asian Academy Creative Awards). 

As much as Summer is glad to see the industry growing, she believes there is still a long journey to go. “I do not expect much, yet the acknowledgement and advance should be equivalent to that of other Asian countries. To be able to get to a certain level of achievement, the government needs to support young artists, especially the proper schooling and education for the digital arts”, she mentioned. 

“Also, it is very heart-warming that a lot of people from Myanmar are becoming more and more aware of the Intellectual Property (IP) concerning artworks and that promises us the future of high potentials”, Summer added. 

Not only the animations and anime from other countries, the culture of cosplay, which has become more apparent lately, has a notable impression on the exercises of creating digital art. Through such activities, Myanmar’s youth will become more aware of the digital artists and start to appreciate the hard work of the artists. 

As Summer mentioned earlier, it is for the better if the international investments in art education could get into business here, in Myanmar, for the future of young Myanmar artists. So far, kudos for the hard-working artists and their astonishing art works!

Follow Thet Htar Sasn on Facebook @summerartzz.

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