Sunday May 27, 2012
The bigger picture
Marini Ramlan finds creativity in expression through her art.
Marini Ramlan, fondly known as Nini, does not believe in chance happenings. "I am a creative explorer and there isn't anything random about finding something interesting and reacting to it; everything inspires, anything can trigger something else," said the 34-year-old enthusiastically. She has a gazelle like elegance about her, and her style is very much eclectic bohemian.
The statuesque Nini is many things - painter, illustrator, creator and designer. One can find a great many of her creations and the ripple effect it causes on her blog called Nothing Random.
"This is a place for my general musings, thoughts, inspirations and explorations. For me, Nothing Random keeps me in touch with a side of myself that would otherwise get drowned in everyday things. I believe in constantly learning; in sharing and expanding the mind as well as the heart," she says when describing her online warehouse of inspiration.
Nini is, as explained, a creative individual but digging further, she was greatly influenced by her mother, who majored in fashion and textile, and lectures in UiTM (University Teknologi Mara).
"My mum was always particular about colours. When I went to school, I never had the normal poster colours all the other kids had. Instead, I had Guache paints and a very large set of colour pencils. Poster colours were a novelty to me. My grandmother too, had a large influence on me as I see her as a strong person and I admire what she had gone through and felt she had so much wisdom to share. She also influenced my sense of style along with mum. While growing up, it was normal for my mum to have coloured hair and shoes. In terms of clothing, my mom stressed on offsetting colours as opposed to matching. Mum is a lecturer, hence she is also a purist and a perfectionist - with a specialty in colour," divulged Nini as she glanced towards the row of vintage dresses she brought for the shoot.
With creativity flowing through her blood almost literally, Nini says that she felt that it was her birth right to be a painter and never doubted that it was her path in life.
"I went to do my Visual Communications degree in England in Birmingham City University in Central England. I majored in Time-Based Media and minored in Fashion Illustration. I must say that although unique, this is the best degree ever because it teaches the concept of why! It was about conceptualisation as opposed to execution and that is a way of thinking I have adopted in my every day life," declared Nini.
When she returned home after graduating, she ensured that her art was never put aside while she joined the daily grind of a 9 to 5.
Nini's artistic accounts have expanded beyond canvas painting and has grown to include many fascinating collaborations including with soft furnishings company Island and Republik, painting murals for well-known KL restaurants Palate Palette and Wau Penyu, working on the new Levis GO FORTH campaign and magazine illustrations for leading brands including Her World and Harper's Bazaar.
In 2008, Fendi commemorated the 10th anniversary of its' Fendi Baguette and invited local celebrities and artists to design their own Baguette on a limited anniversary canvas edition. Among them was of course the very talented Ramlan who had the chance to combine her world of art with the world of fashion as she painted her vision of a 360 degree experience with "Fluidity and Movement" as the key theme.
With 2012 fast becoming another year full of creative joint ventures, her latest projects include a range of stunning smartphone case designs, as well as a collaboration with Nike where Ramlan painted a pair of Nike Cortez sneakers for the brand's 40th anniversary. Another effort that was close to her heart was her experience with local label thirtyfour. A passion project, Nini and thirtyfour's founder - Shuennkee Chong created a range of stunning jewelry where each sterling silver piece of jewellery is dipped in yellow gold and rose gold, as well as oxidised silver and pure silver. As both have their preferred style principles - Shuennkee likes geometric and clean lines, while Nini is partial towards anything organic - the merger was a good one. Hand-casting means that there are imperfections and textures unique to each finished piece, which gives it a one-of-a-kind character not found in common machine-cast jewellery. This became the very essence of the collection which is called "dipped". Painting however, remains her passion.
"I always maintained my love of painting and have just recently decided to get into it a bit more with my first exhibition held at the Warehouse Gallery on Jalan Tun H. S. Lee in March 2011. I even did a live painting at the exhibition where I painted a phoenix! Drawing and art is an activity where I find I forget where I am and so doing the live painting was a rather interesting experience," she shared.
On the challenges faced with her creative career, Nini said: "It does come down to balancing my time, but art has introduced me to many people and opportunities which have been tiny dreams that have come true. In the end, one has to always remain curious and enthusiastic about what they do and the changes it brings. Do what you love and the rest will fall into place, really."
Her self made mantra is "Art for life" which means to search for your ‘art' and what you are good at. It is also not dismiss your true self but nurture yourself and allow yourself to grow. Nini is also involved in some charity work and goes to Chow Kit on weekends to give the kids art classes, or what she prefers to call "imagination class".
"I want them to think about not thinking, as well as to help guide them and spend time with them. They are between the ages of five and twelve with most of them coming from difficult backgrounds. It's just very exciting to see a child apply what you have thought them in their own lives and to see that imagination is still very much alive in Chow Kit. Sharing my art is very much my proudest achievement."
Nini, of course, is also known for her style, and she spoke of her love for vintage clothing: "I love vintage clothing as the clothes have such a sense of history as well as reflecting a time where women were so particular about everything they wore. They also have a bohemian element which is how my style has been described."
Looking to the future, she says she would love to paint full time and she wants to explore how far she can take it.
"I want to move people through the sharing of ideas, creativity and imagination. All it takes is for us to see what others have done to be awakened. I want to share my love for art with whomever I attract and show them all that transcends, unites and expands us all. A creative mind is an imaginative mind. Art for life, love and good vibes."
She harbours the dream of being invited to paint all over the world and to lend her ideals globally be it on a canvas or on walls. For the moment, she is taking a step towards it as she reveals that she has scheduled her second exhibition at the end of the year.
"I am currently researching and coming up with ideas for the show but as it stands right now, it seems my work will be magnified versions of a micro view. In other words, my paintings will be of an enlarged peacock feather or perhaps even fish scales. Zoomed in images of natures gifts," she says and adds, "I also may have a special corner that I will call ‘The Dream', which will be a series of paintings of a dream I had that was just so vivid earlier this year. I sketched it down in my sketch book and will soon be putting it on canvas. I'm not sure if I will have that section in the end but I am curious as to how it will turn out."
The bigger picture for Nini, however is that she hopes to combine art and education. "I want to travel around the world some more and bring back to Kuala Lumpur my experiences as I feel the city needs to slow down and learn to appreciate different outlets in life. I would like to personally see to the development of young minds in Malaysia and hopefully set up an institution for alternative education."