Artistic Journey with Sharon Chin

The journey to being an established artist is one that is filled with sacrifice, rejection and internal conflict. Sharon Chin has experienced all the above and she shares with us her journey and the passion that drives her.

Sharon, tell us a bit about yourself and your background.

I grew up urban, fluctuating between lower middle, middle middle and upper middle class, according to the fortunes of my family. I was a shy kid, teased throughout my school years for being fat, and loved reading. Books saved me, they made my soul when I was young. I have unending gratitude to books and my mother for leading me to books. On her bookshelf I found Tolkien, Tolstoy, Trotsky, Atwood, Asimov, Einstein, Lessing and more.

In college I wanted to be an animal doctor. Art was a pretty random choice. I was rejected from the first fine art university program I applied to, in New Zealand. They offered me art history instead. Eventually I got into another fine arts program in Australia. My art career has mainly been unlearning a lot of concepts about art that I acquired in university. Now I can speak more truthfully and directly about what I think art is, should be and can be.
As an artist, what are the challenges you have faced and what you have done to overcome it?

My parents supported my higher education overseas. When I came back to Malaysia in 2005, my father wanted me to work for the family business. Saying no to that was the hardest thing I have ever done. Most of my friends thought that I should 'pay my dues' for a few years, save money and then follow my passion. But I knew deep down that I would regret those years, that there is no limit on 'repaying' the support of parents - you can do it all your life and never feel as if you have settled your 'debt'.

This decision had real personal costs. Anything worth having is not easily come by. I lived with guilt and internal conflict. I was distant from my family for a couple of years. Over time, my father came to accept my choice and is proud of what I'm doing now. I think we are all happy about how things turned out.

After that, all the artistic or career problems I've faced are easy in comparison.