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Get To Know Fairuz 'Zabady, Local Graffiti Artist

"In a country of limited freedom of expression, there should be a drive to produce more mind awakening art."

1003320 4414185931085 939645478 nEditor's Note: We are happy to introduce you to Fairuz 'Zabady. He's a recognised figure in the street art scene in Brunei. In this feature, Fai shares about his humble beginnings and offers sage advice from years of practising this craft. Follow his journey on Instagram @stain.bn and reach out to him for all things murals, graffiti and art supplies and workshops. Keep up the good work, bro!

Tell us about yourself.
For my day job, I'm a film maker working at Origin Films. But my first love has always been painting. I graduated from University of Southampton, UK with a Masters Degree in Fine Arts and have been actively painting (specifically Graffiti Art) since 2005.

When did your passion for art begin?
Both my parents are creatives, I guess that's where I got most of the drive from. I've always enjoyed drawing, scribbling and painting ever since I can remember. But about 2005 was when I first picked up and fell in love with spray paint, graffiti and its culture, the rest was history. It was unique, rebellious and I was determined to be the best at it. It became my main medium of producing art.

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How did you develop your talent? Share with us your choice in medium of art.
I never considered myself talented, but people started noticing my work. Maybe because spray paint was not an ordinary medium to use for painting, and the attention that I received from it, drove me to do better each time I produced an artwork. I spent a lot of time experimenting with my medium, trying out different techniques and brands, analyzing my latest work, and to identify what needs to be improved, added, removed in the next one. My work consists of a lot of visual problem solving to achieve a piece of work that is visually pleasing. I spent years with this process. I painted almost daily when I could.

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At the start, did you have a mentor or attend workshops?
With graffiti, it's a very lonely world when you are starting out. It still is. Maybe it's because of the negative connotation that lingers around it. You secretly sketch in your sketchbook out of interest / curiosity and there isn't anybody to tell you what's wrong or right. It was the same for me too. I never attended any workshops nor had a mentor, and everything in my practice is self-taught. This was because these resources were not easily available. All I had were "graff" friends and we bounced ideas and sketches off each other and that's how we improved.

After a while, you will start to notice your own weaknesses in your work and act upon them. We were our own mentors. We had to figure out ourselves how to work the spray paint, which nozzles to use, which brands to use, etc. But today, with the advanced technology of internet and social media, everything is within reach. A simple search on YouTube can already teach you the basics of graffiti.

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In your perspective, what do you think about the art scene in Brunei?
Young and a little bit all over the place.

It's not a bad thing, and because it's dominated by the youth, the drive is strong. Everybody wants to prove something in their work and it's great. However, it's not as united as it should be. Maybe because the support given to creatives are limited, whether in the sense of education or even professionally. We grow up brainwashed to accept the skewed fact "If you aren't smart enough, you go to art class". So when artists try to make a living here professionally, we are considered less equal and less valuable by majority of the public regardless of how talented one is.

Within the art communities itself, it is noticed that the political / personal agendas affect the unity of the art community as a whole. The unity between the different generations (young & old) of artists is also non-visible. I strongly believe, Art should speak as one, art should have a united voice. There is much growing up to do in the current art scene in Brunei.

Any suggested solutions?
A more focused syllabus in the art education system. Also, greater support for the local artists by relevant bodies. And of course, someday an arts district to be allocated, where everything creative is in one area/place, including more wall space for our mural art.

Are they any future projects or something you're working on that you'd like to share with everyone?
The second Graffiti Art competition "Write This". Which is scheduled to happen middle of the year. If you've missed last year's, check out these videos on YouTube.

Finally, any advice to those who want to get into graffiti art?
A lot of of the younger creatives that I've met always question their ability to produce good work. They don't believe in themselves enough to produce good work, or refuse to challenge themselves to produce work because they are scared of judgement, or come up with many excuses to start making good work, for example the latest I've heard when I asked, "When are you gonna start with spray?". To my surprise their answers were along the lines of "nda berani bro, tunggu handal bro." Which loosely translates to "I'm not courageous enough, wait till I become an expert".

In a country of limited freedom of expression, it should be a drive to produce more mind awakening art. But instead we see a wave of "Let's not do that because we might get into trouble". We need to rid ourselves off this mentality. Work within your bubble, but make the bubble grow. My advice is, to tell you the hard truth. I did not get to where I am just by talent alone. It took years of almost daily painting and practice to master my art, and I am still learning constantly.

Every day is a learning process. The more you wait, the more you are scared to learn from your mistakes and another day is lost for improvement. If you are interested in graffiti, just pick up that spray can and do it. There's nothing to lose if you start now. If you need specific technique advice, just contact me on Instagram, I'll do my best to advice.image3

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