A journey towards transcendence

Ting took a bold move by leaving her cushy job as an art director of an advertising agency to become an abstract contemporary artist


SWITCHING careers is not an easy decision as it requires a lot of courage and that leap of faith.

While many people switch careers due to their unhappiness and dissatisfaction with their work environment, some do it so that they have more flexibility in their decisions, while others want to change their goals according to their philosophy in life.

For Peisy Ting (picture), a change was necessary for her to be an abstract contemporary artist, a decision that made her leave her cushy job as an art director of an advertising agency.

Visitors will be in awe with Ting’s bold colours and composition, which also enable a visceral sensory experience

A visual communications graduate from Birmingham City University in the UK, Ting spent more than a decade working as an art director in international advertising agencies including Ogilvy & Mather and Saatchi & Saatchi.

“I was in the line for too long. I was there for over 15 years, so it came to a point when I actually started to question if I should stay or go?

“If I stayed, what was going to change in the next five years? It would probably be the same. It would probably be something I expected, and all is going to be the same type of work, same type of clients,” Ting said.

If she continued in the advertising agency, she’d be like a broken record that plays a song on repeat.

The artist in Ting was more inclined to unconventional working life and freedom.

It took her a while to decide as she didn’t jump straight into art right away.

She went on freelancing after she quit her job at the agency, which somehow gave her some sense of direction.

“It gives me some freedom to really search outside and try to think about what I would like to do. I was searching for some directions and I tried many different things in other fields as well — businesses, startups…,” Ting said.

She later realised that as a true creative person, be it in the creation of advertisements, doodling or making jewellery, it is the process that she is missing.

“So at one point, as lame as it may sound, I was sitting in my own living room staring at a blank wall and decided, hmm…I need a painting on my wall. So maybe I’ll just try something out,” said Ting.

Utilising used paints, canvas and an easel that her uncle left behind quite a while back, she just went for it.

“I started my first painting doing that. I kind of enjoyed the process. It was pretty liberating. And I continued with the second piece… and then the third piece and got some positive feedback and some encouragement.

“So, I continued with some support and encouragement. Then I thought, maybe there’s a path yet to be explored,” she recalled.

Ting didn’t attend any formal lessons in painting, but as an art director, she might have possessed that certain quality honed by many artists. She is observant, and rather sensitive to aesthetics, colours and compositions.

“It might just be my second nature. I actually don’t need to take up any lesson to learn to do that. It’s already part of me.

“I might have that foundation to start with. I do have that knowledge and understanding of visuals, aesthetic quality, colours and compositions, perspective and lighting,” she said.

As a self-taught artist, she would learn her art through trial and error, experimentation and exploration.

“Of course, there’s someone that will teach you or guide you. Perhaps you will save a lot of time. But you do miss out on that fun of experimenting and exploring that sense of wonder,” Ting added.

Nowadays, there are a lot of tutorials one can learn from online — from beginners to intermediate.

Ting, however, didn’t rely on any as she prefers to explore painting herself. She’s more like a “kid playing in the sand”.

Her journey so far included several group art exhibitions, both locally and internationally.

Among them were “Art Beat” in Thailand, “FLUX Exhibition” in London and “Painting from the Heart: ART FOR GOOD” in Bangsar, Kuala Lumpur.

This year, she finally has her first solo exhibition called “Transcendence — A Visual Exploration of Self” at Zhan Art Space at Jaya One, Petaling Jaya.

The exhibition aims to explore the boundaries of introspection reflection and emotion in its purest abstraction.

Visitors will be in awe with Ting’s bold colours and composition, which also enable a visceral sensory experience.

The exhibition aims to explore the boundaries of introspection reflection and emotion in its purest abstraction

“I had this title set before Covid-19 happened. At that time, it was more on a personal level because looking back from the transition of agency life to trying different things, and then an artist.

“It is looking back at the work that I produced these past years… The progressions, the growth, the transitions — from one style to another,” she explained.

Although the exhibition was initially about her, it now seems like a reflection on everybody who is struggling due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“It resonates to more people. Where we are now and what has given us what we need. And we do need to actually push beyond human crisis into progression. That’s what ‘Transcendence’ is all about,” she said.

Transcendence is ongoing right to Sept 27 from 11am to 7pm daily. Admission is free. For more details, you can log on to https://www.zhanart.my/.