Stan C.H Lee is a veteran illustrator, who took part in the first Art Battle Malaysia recently. But the experience was not a first for Stan, who has prior been in two art battles in Canada. Despite being known as  “sifu” (master) by many practising artists in the industry, Stan didn’t shy away from measuring up against young cikus. He shares with Eksentrika his personal take on duelling with paintbrushes…

Art Battle is over. I got knocked out first round. This is not the first time I lost at Art Battle.

The dust has hardly settled when a good friend asked ” You are retired. Why do you keep putting yourself in that situation where you get beaten by young unknown artists all the time? It damages your reputation.”

I almost choked. REPUTATION ? What reputation? In my view, I am equally unknown. Fact is, I have never won any art contest in my life.

Image credit: Allie Hill

Image credit: Allie Hill

Even in school, my “simple” drawings were always rejected in favour of more “artistic” oil paintings of sceneries and flowers when it came to showings in school hall exhibitions.

The only thing I know was, I can draw. In fact I draw so well that I actually had a pretty good 30+ years run as an illustrator.

Always working quietly in the background, my works did not adorn exhibition walls. They leapt out at you in Advertisements. Always unsigned.

So are they art? I have never viewed myself as an Artist. I was, to all intents and purposes, a service provider.

Art Battle Malaysia organising director, Ruby Subramaniam with Stan C.H. Lee. Image credit: Allie Hill

Art Battle Malaysia organising director, Ruby Subramaniam with Stan C.H. Lee. Image credit: Allie Hill

Need airbrush work? Call Stan. Hired artist sick? Call Stan. Need good figure work? Call Stan. Need storyboards pronto? Call Stan. Need to put things in perspective? Call Stan. Need…
You get the drift.

As I have already mentioned. I was a backroom boy. Loner type. Shy. Introverted. And I hardly get out of the studio to meet my clients who were more than happy to keep me there as I provided great service. So much so that I have had to frequently cancel holiday plans and stopped windsurfing just to cater to demands. In time, it began to feel like a prison and I felt the need to get out.

So when I first came across competitive painting in Canada, I stepped up to the plate. Butterflies in my tummy. Terrified. Trembling, even as I picked up my brush.

Image credit: Allie Hill

Image credit: Allie Hill

But when the countdown began, I felt a such a rush of adrenaline course through my body that I was on a high for days after that. It would have been nice to have won something, but what mattered more is that I can now work in full glare of the public eye. Under intense scrutiny. Not being bothered by what goes on around me. Whether negative or positive.

I joined Urban Sketcher in Dec 2015 and took to the streets with other artists when I returned to Malaysia. Then I discovered Doodle Malaysia. 

Image credit: Allie Hill

Stan with Rizal and Alex Lim of Happy Boy fame. Image credit: Allie Hill

To me, that is a sign that I have finally escaped the Box that was my studio.

My personal “Think out of the box” moment.

Even my call card now says I am Artist at large.

I now wait impatiently for the next art battle because it adds colours to my blood. It is now red, yellow, blue, green..

Stan C.H. Lee (not to be confused with Marvel’s Stan Lee) can be followed on Facebook. Additionally he can be contacted at 012 377 8023. Have an artsy story to share? Send em over to