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Impact 0358: Using fine art as a platform for sustainable change

Kelly Ser · 22 February 2022
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Kelly Ser, 35, is a fine arts artist and the founder of Kelly Ser Atelier. Kelly Ser Atelier is more than just a platform to showcase her art, but also an avenue for her to give back to society through art by making it accessible to all while promoting the history, culture and heritage of Singapore to the world. Today, she gives us a look into her world!

Tell us more about what you do!

I am Kelly, a Singaporean fine arts artist. Inspired by my Singaporean identity and life experiences, I transform mundane encounters and daily routines into modern contemporary creations.

My art works have evolved over the years and they are now more contemporary and predominantly executed on the canvas. I work mainly with acrylics and oil paints using a kaleidoscopic palette, which makes my works instantly memorable and recognisable. I have also dabbled in the NFT art scene, with one NFT art collection that is inspired by the need to embrace diversity and our national passion – food!

I love to express myself and translate the world that I see onto a canvas. Art is a pleasure for the senses, and the creations at Kelly Ser Atelier aim to awaken the viewer’s sense of sight and touch. 

What inspired you to start this?

If you told me 10 years ago that I would be a full-time fine arts artist, I would never have believed you. My Bachelor’s degree is in Chemistry, and I have two Masters – one in public policy from the University of Oxford and another in Corporate Communications from Singapore Management University (SMU). I never received any formal arts training, and have been painting and honing my craft for the past 10 years. 

I took the plunge to leave my career in civil service to become a full-time artist in 2021 and have never looked back since. Pursuing my passion, waking up every day to do what I love, and working with people who enjoy my art have been such a rewarding journey. 

I believe that art is a communication medium that transcends culture, language and geographies, and is one of the best ways to bridge divisions, spark discourse and engage communities. I create with this belief in mind and hope that I can continue to create art that inspires conversations around topics such as embracing diversity, Singaporean culture, mental wellness and more.

Have you faced any challenges so far? How did you overcome them?

Art started as a hobby for me, and after I founded Kelly Ser Atelier, it went from a hobby to running a business as a female entrepreneur. As a one-woman show, I have to wear multiple hats all at once all the time – artist, brand ambassador, marketer, accountant, public relations, procurement, delivery man… and the list goes on. 

It is challenging to get everything done on my own, and I have learnt to manage my time more efficiently by prioritising tasks, collaborating with the right partners on projects, and most importantly, always reminding myself to focus on the now and not the future. 

Don’t be overwhelmed by the “what ifs” and the things you cannot control in life. I used to be really worried about the sales of my artworks, but I have now come to realise that creating art in itself has always been a process I enjoy a lot, and even if the artworks are not immediately purchased, they can be admired by people who see them in the retail shops. That’s still sharing joy through art!

The journey of an entrepreneur can get lonely at times, and my life motto is that you miss 100 percent of the shots that you don’t take – so keep trying and learn from the experiences, whether they are good or bad ones. 

If you could share one piece of advice with your fellow youth, what would it be?

If you have clarity on what you want to do in life at your age, it is good to chart your path to pursue the relevant knowledge, skills and experiences that will help you get there. If you do not, don’t fret – most of us don’t have such clarity earlier in life. Keep an open mind, and be open to trying new things – that will show you, at least, what you don’t want to do!

What are your hopes or plans for the future? What do you want to see or perhaps do?

My goal is to build a sustainable and empowering global lifestyle brand using my art, one that transcends the canvas and can serve as inspiration for designs that help promote mindfulness through art. 

I hope to be able to showcase my artworks internationally, and to work with more like-minded brands to help promote the Singaporean culture and identity to the world through art. I want to continue taking inspiration from our very unique Singaporean identity and to create memorable works that can be enjoyed by audiences both locally and internationally.

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