Interview: Travis Low

Hiya guys! Were you good during my absence? Well, I was away in Taiwan for a trip and boy, was it fun! In one of my adventures, I actually stumbled into a shop that sold yaoi and hentai manga. And porn. =x

In fact, other than the shopkeepers, I was the only female around. Haha. Okie, anyways…today our awesome guest is Travis Low, the dude behind Funics. I’m sure our local comics artist will know him very well. In fact, he is the one organising the Comics Star Awards. =)

So let’s read on to see what kind of advice he has for you aspiring comic artists then!


Tell us a little about yourself. How did you get into comics in the first place?

I start to read and doodle comic since young. When I was 14, I start trying to send my comic to the Chinese newspaper, Lianhe Zaobao and the takes about a year for my first comic to appear in the newspaper (and it takes another year for the second comic to get published in newspaper.)

At the age of 16, I joined 联合学生通讯员 Lianhe Xuesheng student correspondents and switched to their Student comic club, Comix Fastfood漫画快餐 later. During the days in Comix Fastfood, I get to know many local comic artists and started to get involve in producing comics with a themes for newspaper too. I’ve also become Zaobao’s comic columnist in the later part. I was in Comix Fastfood for 14 years before I left the club officially.

Why did you choose to expand into China?

China has a big market with more opportunities and lower cost. Most importantly, it is a young and upcoming market. In contrast, cost in Singapore is very high, and the market size is smaller and diverse. If I continue to stay in Singapore, I’ll see myself earning a living as a comic course operator and providing illustrations and comics services for commercials, while doing comic in an “interest” basis, but that is not what I want. I wanted to produce original comics and learn the professional ways to market it.

You have done so many things from being the Founding Chairman of Nanyang Academy of Arts to organising events like the ComixJam 24 hours Comic Competition in 2005. What inspired you to take such an active role in promoting comics and art?

We have not yet establish a comic industry, there are so many things we can do. I hope to see that one day we’ll have a comic industry in Singapore, local creators can go into professional field make a living out of it and local talents & creations are able to stand side by side with comics and creators of any other countries. So whenever there is an opportunity, I’ll try my best to do something that I feel it’ll do good to our local comics scene.

Last year, I started the Association of Comics & Creative Industry Exchange, Singapore whose main aim is to establish a network of local comics and creative talents and to help promote and showcase their works and talent locally and globally. I am more familiar with the great China market, so there is a part I can play in bringing good local comics to other markets. For example, I’ve got a local comic《朝九晚五》by 无语 to get published in a China comic magazine 《幽默大师》 starting from this January. And I’ve also imported the Comics Star Awards星漫奖 to Singapore. Comics Star Awards is organised by Tencent, one of the largest web portal in China. They have a structured platform and scheme to groom wannabe into a professional and they are willing to give Singapore creator the equal opportunity. So I help them to bring it here.

In your POV, how should a writer or comics artist market themselves in order to be successful?

The best way is still to make your creation speaks for you. In my POV, when someone needs to market himself, he is providing a service. If you have a product(creation), you market your product. For creator, you will success when your creations are well received by the market.

What is the best advice someone has given you as a comics creator?

The best advice I had is from Mr Terence Choi, founder of Malaysia Gempak Starz. “做好的漫畫,只有不斷地畫畫畫畫畫畫…….作品不斷問巿.成績一定會出來的。一年基本要3至4本作品問巿,才可能集人氣、集讀者群。” The only way to produce good comic is to keep creating and get them published. One need to publish at least 3 to 4 books in order to get yourself known and build your readership base. This is fundamental, we know it but not many of us are practicing it.

The 1st Singapore comic character that made it into MMS and mobile comic in China

Most of us wanted to be a professional comic artist, but don’t draw that much because they treat it as a hobby. Some are productive but they have problems getting their work published. Some published their work, but when the sales is no that good, they stop drawing. So I think if you are serious in becoming a professional, Terence advice will be useful.

Is there anyone (writer or comics creator) that you think I should interview? =)

I’d like to recommend the secretary of our association, Rhys Leong, to you. She was once a comic columnist but stop drawing for many years. Recently she started to pick up drawing and created 100 comic strips in 3 months time and published it to ebook, available for android, kindle and IOS. I think she is one of the pioneer in local comic scene who create specially for e-platform. P/S: and to create and produce 100 comic strips after work is not easy, but not impossible.

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Travis Low (Comic Creator) is the multi-talented comics artist who has achieved many a title under his belt. He’s the:

  • Managing Director of Funics (Singapore) Pte. Ltd and Funics Creative (China) Co. Ltd
  • Founding Chairman of NanYang Academy of Fine Arts, Character Design Club
  • Adviser of Taiwan Comic & Animation Culture and Creative Industry of International Development Exchange Association
  • Mentor for Noise Singapore, Apprenticeship Programme 2007
  • Organiser of Character Design Carnival 2005 and ComixJam 24Hrs Comic Competition 2005 & 2007

Impressive, right? Heh.

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