Teebai: Art comes from the bond with oneself, others, and the environment


A Malaysian visual effects artist who worked on iconic movies such as “Life of Pi”. Today, this man owns a humble studio to express his art through drawings, sculptures, and experiments. This is Teebai.

With long earlobes and flowers for eyes, Teebai’s iconic character is a white human-like figure inspired by “Guan Yin Ma” (Goddess of Mercy) that helps portray elements of freedom, humor, and sarcasm. Primarily created with the color white, his artworks are imbued with movement through characters, colors, or texture that brings you on a sensory and playful experience. If you look hard enough, you may spot his doodles on the streets, walls, signs, your friend’s phone case, and many more random places.

This week, Teebai invites us into his world to understand the concept behind his iconic character, his struggle as an artist during the pandemic, and his perspective on art with the self and strengthen a bond with our loved ones.

Tell us about yourself in 10 words or less.
I’ve never actually thought about it hahaha

One color that defines who you are. Why?
I don’t have a specific color. There are too many. Different moments represent different colors for me.

Teebai Kittie Yiyi Cross The Line Christmas Campaign

Share with us the resolutions you achieved in 2021 and goals for 2022?
2021 was not bad, I had quite a lot of happy memories. Sadly, people around me were not due to the stress of the Covid-19 pandemic. A lot of events happened that made them lose their jobs.

What I’m proud of this year is my consistency. If what I did was not fun or doesn’t have the outcome that I wanted, I would stop doing it. Honestly, I don’t have any goals, I just go with the flow. Of course, many things are going on right now, but whatever happens, good or bad, it’s okay. Such as in 2021, I don’t know what will happen.

How did the pandemic affect your work?
Initially, I planned to have an exhibition but we couldn’t execute it. Since people mainly stayed at home, the pandemic made it more fun for me to doodle my artwork on roadsides. It’s only wrong if you get caught hahaha

Your artwork features a character in white inspired by the Chinese Bodhisattva - "Guan Yin". Could you tell us more about that?
When I was young and did something wrong, my mom would always tell me to kneel in front of the “Guan Yin” statue. I spent a lot of time staring at the sculpture and realized her earlobes were very long, her face was peaceful. I asked my mom, “why are her earlobes so long?”. She said it represents good fortune. It was very inspiring.

Tell us about the messages you want to convey through your art.
I hope everyone can see reality from another perspective, see reality as heaven. Heaven to me is a place of freedom. In life, many things are very simple, it’s not complicated.

Why should we experiment with our art with different mediums?
It’s fun! Why limit yourself to one medium when you can try and explore everything?

What is your advice to budding artists out there who are looking for their style or expand their reach in the art industry?
Don’t look for the answers outside but focus on the inside. Spend more time with yourself and express it out. Don’t judge yourself too much.

How do you encourage your children to be creative?
I’ve never specifically encouraged her. I let her be to explore and support whatever she wanted to do. 

What can you benefit from bonding with your family through art?
When I share the thought process of each art piece with my family, they can see the world through my eyes, gaining a new perspective while understanding each other. It’s a way to communicate, learn, and appreciate each other better.

What is in your mind when you create an artwork with the “Cross The Line” liquid eyeliner pens?

The “Cross The Line” liquid eyeliner is a very fun tool to play with. I tried to use other types of pens to draw on my face. Because our face has oil, it’s hard for the color to stay in place. When I brushed this eyeliner on my face, the vibrant color appears and stayed on my face. It’s very fun!