To be discovered as an artist is not an easy task. While there is an appraiser for every type of work of art, there aren't many platforms where you can instantly connect the artist to the appraiser.
In practical terms, Twitter could be a place for an artist's work to get around, but the clout they get from retweets can only last so long after the momentum of sharing subsides.
"I knew there was a loophole in the internet presentation and search for local artists because you can either find artists through referrals, explore galleries or comic / art markets, or search for them manually on the internet," Yi-Hui told the Vulcan Post with.
Although she wasn't personally looking for artists to hire, she wondered why there wasn't a place where Malaysians could easily and quickly find local artists to suit their needs.
With a little research, Yi-Hui found that there were platforms for artists to showcase their work online, but it covered artists worldwide and didn't do much to fill the void.
"That's how I came to Buttermilk, a platform to showcase and discover Malaysian artists," said Yi-Hui.
An ally of the art movement
Yi-Hui currently works as a product manager at a SaaS startup, but is not an artist herself.
The spirit behind Buttermilk Art / Photo credit: Buttermilchkunst
She is drawn to artists not only because of their talent, but also because she understands that her art usually comes from a place of hard work and persistence.
“It takes years of improving your craft, with many endless iterations, to get to where you are today. I think that's an incredibly admirable quality,” she admired.
Creating buttermilk was their way of giving back to the community for the art they create, whether it be artists just starting out or with experience.
The idea of making buttermilk came to Yi-Hui around September 2020 and was implemented in October 2020. She takes care of the platform herself.
A snippet of what the website looks like / Photo credits: Buttermilk Art
Her decision to name the platform "Buttermilk" was not based on a particularly profound reason, just because she saw a surge in the buttermilk F&B trend and felt that name was an accessible and memorable name for the brand .
Buttermilk was made on a web development platform called Webflow that did not require coding.
"I can't afford to get a developer on board to help me build the platform. So I've done a lot of research, especially no code tools," she said.
"Most of these tools aren't free, but they are definitely cheaper. There aren't many code tools that couldn't have been simpler, but Webflow has given me more design flexibility."
As soon as Buttermilk got up, Yi-Hui went to see some artists who are her friends to start with the platform. They also helped her promote the platform and attract more artists to join her.
Art by Qi Xyuan Tan, illustrator, concept designer and visual developer
Most of the traction she originally received came from the hashtag #ArtistOfMalaysia (created by @sueannajoe_) on Twitter. After she tweeted her launch with the hashtag, more artists poured in and joined the platform.
The platform is now almost 3 months old and has over 200 artists so far. Half of the artists on buttermilk joined in alone, while the other half was discovered by Yi-Hui.
The majority of the artists on the platform specialize in digital art, but Yi-Hui tries to attract other artists from a variety of media such as oil and acrylic painting.
Acrylic on canvas by Ranerrim with the title Stay Together For The Kids (2020) 90 x 60 cm
Plans for an artist online marketplace
The platform is completely free for both artists and those who want to work with them. Yi-Hui doesn't make a single cent from buttermilk right now.
Art by Edward Yong, illustrator and conceptual artist
While she doesn't have any examples of how Buttermilk has helped artists share, she has touched on a few issues that Buttermilk could help with the issues suggested by users.
These suggestions include being the directory where people can properly recognize artists for their work, as well as a potential marketplace for local artwork that Yi-Hui Buttermilk would like to expand into.
“I plan to build a local online marketplace so that artists can actually sell their artwork. There are still a few things to figure out like shipments, intellectual property protection, payment gateways, etc., but I hope to get at least the beta out in the coming months, ”she told Vulcan Post.
"It's a lot of work, but I'm looking forward to learning along the way and seeing how much I can build. And of course the existing features on the site are continually improving, such as better filters, and here and there smaller functions are added. "
- You can find out more about the art of buttermilk here.
- You can read about other art articles that we have written here.
Selected image source: Yi-Hui Chan, founder of the buttermilk art (left) and Qi Xyuan Tan, artist (right)