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Drawing from the ground up

SINGAPORE — It started out as an experiment to apply the techniques learnt in his interior design classes to his drawings, but the hyperrealistic illustrations of 22-year-old Mohd Ashraf Abdul Malik have, in only four months, attracted fans and customers from across the globe.

SINGAPORE — It started out as an experiment to apply the techniques learnt in his interior design classes to his drawings, but the hyperrealistic illustrations of 22-year-old Mohd Ashraf Abdul Malik have, in only four months, attracted fans and customers from across the globe.

After carefully examining how a structure is built, the LASALLE College of the Arts undergraduate would draw the structure accordingly — creating highly-detailed and realistic images of buildings.

His first piece of the Eiffel Tower was quickly snapped up by a Belgian collector, who bought it for €2,300 (S$4,010) after the artist posted a photograph of it on Instagram in August. Since then, Mr Ashraf’s Instagram account has garnered about 4,000 new followers. He now receives up to 10 requests a month, and most of his work is sold to customers overseas.

“Usually, when people look at a building, they look at the big picture. But I tend to look at it closer and how it was built,” said Mr Ashraf. “For instance, the Eiffel Tower was built from the base, ground up. I used the same approach for my drawing.”

Mr Ashraf told TODAY he was “totally blown away” by the response to his hyperrealistic drawings but sees his new-found fame as a way to further spread his art. “All of this happened so fast, especially from the shares on social network ... (But) the increase of followers only means one thing to me — that I managed to spread my art to people of all age groups. I am truly blessed,” he said.

The self-taught artist, who hopes to be an architect or interior designer, dedicates his art to his late grandfather — who was an avid sketch artist — for instilling in him the qualities of discipline and patience. “I think drawing is really about patience. This is something my grandpa had taught me ... Trust me when I say I can draw one eye for six hours!” said the interior design major.

Detailing the long hours of planning needed for each artwork, Mr Ashraf said a typical project begins with almost two days of planning as he decides on the correct technique, such as dotting or cross-hatching. After that, the artist would spend close to six hours daily to complete his piece.

Projects that have sentimental value are the most challenging, he said. He recalled a customer from New York who requested a drawing of his wife’s favourite horse. “The guy wanted to surprise his wife with the drawing. It was for Christmas, and he told me she loved the horse very much,” said Mr Ashraf. “I knew it was something sentimental to her, so it was challenging to do justice to it. It was really stressful and I had to really focus at the end.”

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