During Malaysia’s first Movement Control Order (MCO) last year, many of us struggled to fill the extra hours we would otherwise have used to go out and socialise. For some, it meant slowing down and taking stock of what really mattered while for others, it was an opportunity to finish little projects that were previously neglected. For Siow Yves Saint, it was a chance to get creative.
Having worked in marketing for quite a few years, Siow was used to a hectic lifestyle, but the change of pace during the movement restriction allowed her to give artistic pursuits such as acrylic and resin pouring a go. “I have always loved artistic things but I never imagined myself doing art. When I was younger, everything was about fine art, like detailed acrylic and oil paintings, and I wasn’t good at that. I prefer something more abstract.”
Inspired by online videos, Siow began with acrylic pouring, a technique that involves a loose paint mixture that is poured onto a canvas (or other surfaces) to create a pattern or design that is unique. “I actually realised that the finishing for acrylics was quite matte. So, I began looking for an art medium that provides a more glossy and effective finish, and that was resin.”
Siow purchases the resin from overseas and was very cautious about the safety of the materials she worked with. She really took the time to research viable materials. The resin she uses is non-toxic and non-flammable, has no solvents and produces no fumes, and is safe for food contact once it is cured. This early diligence made the transition from hobby to a full-fledged business far easier for her.
After Siow started experimenting and making a stunning range of resin poured designs on trays, friends and family encouraged her to take her hobby to the next level. Last August, she launched With Saint — a resin art business that sells a range of trays, coasters and more, all sporting unique designs. Siow also took a leap of faith and quit her full-time job to completely commit herself to this venture.
At her first pop-up bazaar, she realised how unfamiliar the Malaysian market was with resin art. “Most of the customers did not really know what resin was. So, I introduced it to them and explained how I actually handle this art medium, how long it takes to dry and all that,” she says.
Siow found that people wanted to see her pieces physically rather than via her online platforms. “My customers prefer seeing the pieces in front of them because of the glossy and effective finishing. The photos I’ve taken and posted online don’t really do justice to my works,” she adds. This proved quite a challenge, especially when the MCO was back in effect or standard operating procedures did not allow for bazaars and pop-ups.
Initially, it was also a struggle to order the necessary resin and base trays but once the delivery companies found their rhythm with the restrictions, it became a lot easier, she says.
With Saint launched with two main collections — Seascape, which portrays waves on a beach, and Marble, which features shimmering gold and an effective marble finish. Other than resin poured trays of all shapes and sizes, it also sells striking vases and coasters, both with alcohol ink art. Siow decided to launch a new series for each festive period and has created a Chinese New Year collection with vibrant reds, pinks and flowers, as well as a Raya range that features deep greens and sparkling golds.
What makes With Saint’s resin poured pieces popular is that each item is different. Siow pours all of them by hand, so no two are the same. She says the artworks are created, like all art, with emotion and that results in something quite distinctive and unique. She also accepts custom orders and is able to adapt her collections, reinterpret them with colours that a customer wants or even use trays of different sizes..
With the MCO on again, Siow is focusing on her website and Instagram page, trying to familiarise people with her brand and selling her pieces online. Like everyone else, she is looking forward to being able to interact with people and her customers again.
Siow hopes to expand her range of items to include canvas pieces that can be hung up. “I prefer creating paintings on a much bigger scale so that we can see the details. Then, when you hang one up, it will give your interior that something special.”
This article first appeared on May 24, 2021 in The Edge Malaysia.