Book illustrations; one down many more to go

It has been a month since I last had a posting up in this old blog. I know, I am guilty for abandoning this blog but I was/am so busy with house chores and book illustrations that I hardly have time to update frequently. It is challenging. Don’t ever think that working from home is easy. It is not.

So, what have I been up to?

From early January, I had been illustrating a book for a Shanghai publisher. The working title is Over The Bridge. But I like to think of it as The Other Side of The Bridge after reading the story. I took about over a month to finish all the illustrations. In total there were 14 spreads (equivalent to 28 pages) of illustrations made. The book will be launched at AFCC,Singapore in May. I think I will be there for the launching, just to collect my copies. Or perhaps attend some talks and what not.

So here are some of the illustrations made:



After this one, I will be illustrating two commission picture books and 3 of my own. By the time I finish all, I think I will be busy for October trip to Frankfurt (again! For the 4th year) to promote my books and work on getting them licensed internationally.

Shanghai; where the East meets West

“So how do we get to our hotel from here?”, asked my niece, Wanda, upon arriving the Shanghai Pudong International Airport last November. Wanda had always wanted to follow me overseas and I said she could follow me to Shanghai under few conditions; partly pay her flight tickets and have her own pocket-money as this auntie was broke. Luckily she works to support her study, while having her own money to buy what she wants. Very independent girl.

“Ha, ha, I have no idea! I thought you did the research on how to get there?” I asked back. “Haha, I did not. Been busy with my A Level exam, remember?” was her reply.

We apparently had not done any research on the ground transportation in Shanghai. So both of us went around the airport looking for a way to get to our accommodation at Zhizaoju Road, Luwan District, Shanghai. We saw that the Maglev train would cost us ¥50 each, so I decided that we should take the cab. I was lazy to go through the hassle to get on the train and then get  on a bus to a place that is unknown to me; I mean how do I know where to get off? Taking a cab is much easier anywhere in the world as all I need to do is get in the cab, hand over the printed address to the driver, sit back and relax, and enjoy the view.

We arrived at the hotel about an hour later with ¥140 poorer. That’s RM70, and I thought it was not bad after all as I had to pay the same from Ampang to KLIA.

We were both very tired and the room was not ready even when I requested for an early check-in. We had to wait for about half an hour for the hotel to clean a room for us and we got to the room, it was not even like what was shown on the internet. Talk about ‘for illustration’ purpose only!! I should have known better. That would had not been the case if I had the money to stay in one of the hotels under the moonlit sky with many stars on the other side of the river in the heart of the city. This hotel that I booked was shining dimly under a couple of stars. I was broke, I certainly could not lavish on anything above than that.

I could see the disappointment on Wanda’s face but I told her that we wouldn’t be spending much time in the room as we would be out the whole day for 5 days. We just need a place to dump our things and beds to sleep at night.

The main reason for the trip was for me to attend Shanghai International Children’s Book Fair (CCBF) for 3 days and the other 2 days for us to explore Shanghai.

On the day we arrived, we slept until 3pm and decided to go out to find something to eat. It was cold and windy and we had no idea where to go. From Zhizaoju Road to Xietu Road, then Mengzi Road, then across Xujiahui Road to arrive at Madang Road Station.



walkluwan3Top two photos were taken around 4.30pm while the bottom one around 5.40pm. 5.40 was like 8pm already.

It was around 4pm but it was getting dark because hours of daylight are getting shorter with the onset of autumn. We thought of taking the train to Shanghai City Center but then scrapped the idea as we would be having the same problem of finding a place to eat at the city as we did not have a map or guide of places to eat; in our case the halal ones. So, we just walked aimlessly out of the station to Madang Road. We walked about 10 minutes before we saw a bakery shop, and a sushi restaurant few doors away. We bought some breads for later and had Udon noodles, Shrimp Spring Rolls, Chinese tea at the sushi restaurant.


We did not even know the name of the restaurant; we asked but the waitress replied back in Chinese. Luckily the menu was in English/Chinese. So we knew what to eat. Phew. Oh, the place seemed to have WiFi and once again we had a problem asking for the password. I just handed the phone to the cook (who went out for the kitchen to help us as the waitress had no idea what we were asking about) to type the password. Voila! We were connected back to the world known to us; Instagram for me and WeChat/Whatsapp for Wanda!! I posted some photos while eating. One must be wondering how on earth did I got on Instagram as it was blocked a month earlier following a protest in Hong Kong. A ‘little bird’ told me to install an app from Google Play before I leave for Shanghai and so I did. And that led me to share photos of beautiful Shanghai with Instagram friends.

On the second day, we went to the CCBF located at Shanghai World Expo Exhibition & Convention Center, Guo Zhan Road by cab.



The second edition of the CCBF was held from 20 to 22 November was a feast of children’s publications for industry professionals and young readers to enjoy. Supported by the official Chinese publishing-related bodies, the 2014 CCBF offered a rich agenda of activities and opportunities to meet key players at all levels of the publishing industry with the aim of stimulating international rights trading, opening up new sales and distribution channels for children’s publications and, ultimately, expanding partnerships in the global market. I met with a Chinese publisher to show some of the work done for their future books and quickly got the deal. It will be launched in Singapore around May 2015.

After the book fair we went to the River Mall located across the road. We thought of looking for a place to eat but could not find any suitable ones, so we headed back to the hotel. After taking shower, we walked around the hotel to look for something to eat. We were always hungry as we walked a lot and that the weather was cold. We found Carrefour Express few blocks away from the hotel and guess what we found? Mamee Chef!!! We we laughing like crazy all the way to our room.


With a full tummy, we got ourselves connected to the Internet afterwards to keep up with home and to upload photos. And then slept. I woke up around 5am and stared on the ceiling. Used the time to draw some.

It was the same routine the next day and we went to the book fair. I did some side income there drawing for people. Sold some of my painted bags as well. Within few hours I became ¥500 richer.

After the book fair, we went back to the hotel to keep my drawing tools and then took a cab to the Old City of Shanghai. We paid ¥14 as the old town is situated on the same side of the river. Our main transportation here was cab as we do not want to get lost and spend our time finding our ways around. It was an ideal choice for an old aunt and her niece.

oldcityOur photo was photo-bombed by this Pakistani couple. LOL.

The Old City is the area inside the ancient walled city of Shanghai; it is one of the most picturesque areas of the city, with many buildings in traditional Chinese style. The city began as a walled medieval town at least 1000 years ago. The walls, built mainly for protection against Japanese pirates, ringed the city around what are today Remin and Zhonghua Roads. The walls however, have been demolished.

We bought something for people at home as well as something four ourselves; Cheongsams to wear on the last day of the book fair. It costs me ¥340 for both cheongsams! And I was broke again. Anyway, I made same plan again for the last day of the book fair and thought I could be rich again if I draw more. We discussed and wished that we could make around the same amount or maybe a bit more.

It was around 9pm that we decided we spent enough. We hailed a cab but was not successful. One cab asked for ¥50 but knowing that the fair was much cheaper, we decided to walk out from the area a bit. We walked pass a market and to the main road.


After unsuccessful waiting for half an hour and being overtook by some locals, we decided to cross the road and quickly got ourselves a cab.

viewfrompbView from the pedestrian bridge.

Come the last day of the book fair, our wish came true. I made ¥1200!! Yippee! It was a great experience as I had never done that before. I should be doing that a lot to cover my travel cost, kan? But seriously, it was tiring. I took a break few times and told the people that I will be back in half an-hour but before it was even half an-hour, they were already queueing.

medrawAll these were sold. I was out of paper!

We set aside for our fare to airport and spent the remaining to visit Tianzifang and The Bund on our last day in Shanghai.

Tianzifang is a renovated residential area in the French Concession area of Shanghai, China. Also known for small craft stores, coffee shops, trendy art studios and narrow alleys, the place has become a popular tourist destination in Shanghai, and an example of preservation of local Shikumen architecture.

Tianzifang is largely hidden from the neighbouring streets, as it grew from the inside of the block outward and has more than 200 diverse small businesses such as cafes, bars, restaurants, art galleries, craft stores, design houses and studios, and even French bistros.


The Bund is a waterfront area in central Shanghai. The area centres on a section of Zhongshan Road (East-1 Zhongshan Road) within the former Shanghai International Settlement, which runs along the western bank of the Huangpu River, facing Pudong, in the eastern part of Huangpu District.

The word “bund” means an embankment or an embanked quay. The word comes from the Persian word band, through Hindustani, meaning an embankment, levee or dam (a cognate of English terms “bind”, “bond” and “band”, and the German word “Bund”.

The Bund houses 52 buildings of various architectural styles, generally Eclecticist, but with some buildings displaying predominantly Romanesque Revival, Gothic Revival, Renaissance Revival, Baroque Revival, Neo-Classical or Beaux-Arts styles, and a number in Art Deco style.

bundWanda walking at The Bund.

bund2Shanghai buildings seen from The Bund.

bund3One of the classic buildings at The Bund.

We were both tired from walking and decided to go back to the hotel around 5pm. We had a rest before walking again to the sushi restaurant. We packed our things to leave for home the next day.

We took a cab to the nearest Maglev station, had coffee, paid ¥100 for the Maglev ride, reached the airport in 10 minutes!, checked-in, had lunch and coffee again, walked to the security area and boarded the flight. And that wrapped our trip in Shanghai.


Shanghai, till we meet again.  Zài huì!

Original book illustrations – SOLD


A full set of original illustrations of Biring Sikunani for sale. SOLD!!!

Illustrations details:
Mixed-media on paper. Size: A little bit larger than A4.

Basically, the publishing right belongs to ITBM and this collection is entirely for COLLECTION PURPOSE ONLY and collector cannot, in any way, republish this set. But of course collector can re-sell it to other party with higher price, over times. It is best to buy this set altogether.

Below is rationales (that I copied from on why you should buy original book illustrations.
Why collect Illustration – Are illustrations good investments?

Children’s books are especially adept at achieving this and many can be read time and time again by anyone. A good story can be read and enjoyed at any age. Filmmakers, therefore, go to great lengths to ensure that the imagery they create reflects what we have all come to expect from a book.

Owning an original published illustration is very satisfying. Compared to some works by established artists they can be acquired at reasonable prices. An average oil painting may cost many thousands of Ringgit, whilst many book illustrations retail from just a few hundred Ringgit. It is always enjoyable to know that the art hanging on your wall is familiar to thousands of people.

Classic illustrators have seen a sharp rise in prices. At a London auction of Beatrix Potter’s children’s illustration, a small but delightful illustration sold for over £250,000.(One day, I will be gone and in many years after that, I will become as classic as Ms. Potter).

So what is the future of Illustrations?

The art of illustration can still be seen at work today, but it is under threat. Our modern world wants things to be delivered to a very short deadline and many publishers are not exempt. This has forced illustrators to either create fast character drawings or reach for the powerful graphics software packages that are available today. This allows them to move parts of the image around, change colours and generally modify the image to the requirements of the publisher and author in an instant. A great innovation, but all these deadlines and the need to make corrections on the fly has meant there is no physical artwork.

Is this the end to fine illustration art?
There are a group of dedicated illustrators willing to produce real art and some understanding publishers allowing them the time to create these little masterpieces.

The good news for the lovers of original illustrations is that their treasured paintings are soaring in value as the market wakes up to the idea that an era is coming to an end. Illustrations are sound investments that can be enjoyed by anyone who sees life as filled with wonderful adventures.

The Walk in Mainz

October 12, 2014.

It was around 10am when my publisher friends and I reached the Mainz Hauptbahnhof. We had travelled by train from Frankfurt am Main Hauptbahnhof 38 minutes earlier. The air was cool and windy, and the sun was hiding. We had anticipated the weather and each of us wore thick jackets.



Not one of us were sure how to get to Gutenberg Museum and so we decided to depend on GPS on my mobile phone. I had bought a local sim card with data plan on the first day I arrived in Frankfurt. From my past travels to Frankfurt, I figured that it is a whole lot easier to get local card and get in touch with other people online while on the move. Besides, I am an avid Instagrammer and posting photos with the current location seemed more fun.

*For more info on the local sim card, read my post here.


Basically, we walked about 20 minutes and en-route the museum, I had captured a lot of photos that appealed to me. I am reliving the moment and invite you to take the walk with me now. Interested? Let’s walk.

hotelThis is Hotel Königshof Mainz, just opposite the train station.

thewalk2Chairs opposite the hotel.

berlinerBerliner Gemüse Kebap, Große Bleiche. This was where we had our late lunch on the way back.

thewalk3Somewhere at Steingasse Street.

thewalk4 Pandora outlet at Schusterstrasse.

 lowenLöwen Apotheke am Dom at Markt Square.

 thewalk5Dom Cafe at Markt Square.

 mainzerdomMainz Cathedral or St. Martin’s Cathedral at Markt Square. This 1000 year-old Roman Catholic cathedral is predominantly Romanesque in style, but later exterior additions over many centuries have resulted in the appearance of various architectural influences seen today.

lamaisonLa Maison du Pain, Markt Square that serves French pastries.

Overall, I have a total of 209 photos from Mainz but it is impossible to share all. Hehe. So let’s skip to the basic information about Mainz.

Mainz is famous for its university, its Roman heritage, its status as a media hub and regional capital, and its three most defining features: the Romanesque cathedral, the Gutenberg printing press and the Rhineland carnival. The people of Mainz have good reason to be proud of their city’s history spanning almost 2,000 years.

For over 1,000 years the city’s skyline has been dominated by one building, Mainz Cathedral. Towering majestically in its central location, the cathedral is one of the most important churches in Germany. Its foundation stone was laid in 975 AD under the aegis of Bishop Willigis. In its shadows lie the medieval and early modern quarters of Mainz.

The city is dominated by two architectural periods: the modern age, as evidenced by the town hall, the Hilton hotel and Rheingoldhalle complex, and the Renaissance-Baroque with the Neues Zeughaus, the Deutschordenshaus and the Electoral Palace. According to some art historians, the unusually ornate, nuanced design of the Electoral Palace’s facade surpasses even that of Heidelberg Castle.

Mainz also offers a wealth of fascinating museums. The Gutenberg Printing Museum and the Central Romano-Germanic Museum in the Electoral Palace stand out as the best in the city. The palace’s pre-history and early history collections, along with those on Roman and early medieval history, are complemented by large restoration workshops that enjoy an international reputation – even Ötzi the Iceman, found in the Alps, has paid a visit. An even broader spectrum, from the Stone Age to modern times, is explored at Mainz State Museum, founded in 1803 with 36 paintings donated by Napoleon.

The Cathedral and Diocesan Museum in the cathedral provides information about the history of the episcopal church and the bishopric. The Museum of Municipal History gives an extensive insight into the development of Mainz, while the Natural History Museum is the largest of its kind in Rhineland-Palatinate.

The Kunsthalle Mainz art gallery rounds off the museum highlights in impressive fashion: the strikingly redesigned building at the former customs port is now encased in glass and even features a sloped exhibition floor on a seven degree incline.